Archives for September 2011

I Hate It When This Happens! (Friday Funnies)

Cut it OUT! Sheeeeeeeeeeesh! Now I have to install a cloaking device. Do you have any idea how much that will cost?! I’m going to take that out of your allowance Boy Wonder.

Now sit there and listen to this song on You Tube. But …I’m grounding you from Facebook, Mister!

H/T Jean Elizabeth Seah.

Pray For Anu Garg? You Betcha!

Remember me and my pal Anu Garg? We went around the block a few times. Well unlike all the other times I’ve posted about him and his A.Word.A.Day website, this time my hat is off to him. Maybe caught wind of today’s readings.

Whatever the reason, in a string unmatched in my memory every single one of the words featured on his list this week had a trademark Thought of the Day that could be appreciated by believers as well as atheists. Amazing grace! [Read more…]

The Church And New Media by Brandon Vogt (A Book Review)

About ten years ago, (Hmm…let me check my archives), no scratch that, about a year and a half ago (sheesh, it seems like ten years!) I was hosting the YIMCatholic Bookclub selection The Great Heresies by Hilaire Belloc. Looking for ways to get readers involved (a “new media” hallmark, no?) I asked for volunteers to cover several of “Old Thunders” chapters for me.

You know, like my wife does with her bookclub in our neighborhood. For the most part, folks were lined up none deep. But in the case of chapter 5, an earnest volunteer surfaced by the name of Brandon Vogt. He was a great helper, once I let him get a word in edgewise.

You know? This guy
needs to grow a beard!

Who knew what he was up too then? I reckon Our Sunday Visitor and God knew, but not me. Maybe it was 4 or 6 weeks later when I saw on Brandon’s blog that he had signed a book contract with OSV. I thought to myself “Huh? Wow…this guy is on a mission!” And he surely was, and still is. A mission to spread the Word by any means possible. And to not be shy about using new forms of information technology to get that done.

Before going any further I’m going to say that this book belongs in every parish as a reference book. Period! If your parish office doesn’t have this book sitting right next to the computer, they are (as aviators would say) flying upside down without instruments and don’t even know it. That’s serious!

Brandon has teased awesome essays from all sorts of knowledgeable folks while putting together this gem. A veritable Who’s Who of Catholic bloggers (Jennifer Fulwiler, Mark Shea, Marcel LeJuene, Taylor Marshall, I think I got all the Aggies in there, etc.) and other creators of new media (Fr. Robert Barron, Matthew Warner, Tom Peters) share their insights on new media channels while also offering best practices in how to use these technologies to not only evangelize better, but to help people experience our Church better. And Brandon ties the whole thing together with interesting tidbits as diverse as relevant Conciliar documents to reviews of Catholic websites that are on the web currently.

But lest you get the idea that this is some dry, boring, reference book destined to only gather dust in the parish offices of the world, let me assure you that it is not. You need to read the book too, see, whether you are a creator of new media for the Church, or just Joe and Jane Six-Pack, “average pewsitter.” Why? Because Catholics are called to do more than just show up at Mass on Sundays and this book will give you ideas on how to more effectively engage in the calling you are destined for: to spread the Good News to the world by any means necessary. This book is chock full of actionable ideas for accomplishing the mission of the Church. This may even be your ticket to figuring out your own calling too.

But don’t just take my word on how solid a resource this book is. I’m a lilliputian compared to the folks weighing in on the value of this book. And I reckon I’m the last guy to review the book too. Just have a gander at the number of reviews over at The Church and New Media’s Facebook page. Or check out it’s Twitter feed. Did I mention the book’s website? Oh, you want to see the trailer?

Survey says: It’s a Go!

Seriously, Brandon has practiced what he is preaching by getting the word out about this book via every known channel of the “new media” that is available. Heck, he’s an engineer too so he’s probably developing some new channel in his off time as we speak. Did I mention all of the royalties from the sale of this book go towards establishing computer labs for the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya?

Bravo Zulu Brandon! Thanks for writing and editing this helpful, important, nay, necessary book and for convincing all these great folks on the importance of sharing their ideas with the rest of us on how to bring the Good News to the many.

When New Media Users Meet the Christ…

They will actually have to do more than just “friend” Him. The poster above says that in a nutshell, doesn’t it? An encounter with Christ doesn’t demand that you do more…you just want to do more. H/T Brandon Vogt (whose book review will be posted this evening…promise!).

Update: Remember this? Seems like 10 years ago!

Thoughts (A Few Words for Wednesday)

I love this photograph of Fr. Abram J. Ryan. Maybe it’s his hair, or perhaps it’s his stare. He has that look about him that says “I don’t care who you are, here comes the goods.” Last summer I shared his Song of the Mystic, and his background information, in this space. There’s a connection between him and me because (for a time) he was the pastor of the parish where I attend daily Mass. I bet he was a great preacher too.

I can imagine hearing him raise his voice at times, opening his eyes wide to make a point, sweeping his mane aside and raising his hands to heaven. And within a moment, dropping his voice fall into a whisper that leaves you on the edge of your seat hungering for the nectar he has teased from the readings. A priest who had seen war in both the heights of it’s glory and the depths of it’s desolation, and then applied what he saw to the Word. I bet it was something to behold.

But he was a poet, see, not just some hell fire and brimstone preacher. He was a mystic, a man of prayer. As well as a thinker and a doer. He was no poseur, as a poet either, as a reading of the following verses will make clear.

Thoughts, by Fr. Abram J. Ryan

By sound of name, and touch of hand,
Thro’ ears that hear, and eyes that see,
We know each other in this land,
How little must that knowledge be?


How souls are all the time alone,
No spirit can another reach;
They hide away in realms unknown,
Like waves that never touch a beach.


We never know each other here,
No soul can here another see —
To know, we need a light as clear
As that which fills eternity.


For here we walk by human light,
But there the light of God is ours,
Each day, on earth, is but a night;
Heaven alone hath clear-faced hours.


I call you thus — you call me thus —
Our mortal is the very bar
That parts forever each of us,
As skies, on high, part star from star.


A name is nothing but a name
For that which, else, would nameless be;
Until our souls, in rapture, claim
Full knowledge in eternity.

See what I mean? Maybe you have to be Irish, but…this guy is good!

Hey Gen-X: Be Rebels…Slow Down…Have Kids…Stick it to the Man

It’s the Catholic thing to do. Or you can keep doing what you’ve been doing, as the survey below reports, and continue on the treadmill to oblivion.

Study Finds Gen-X Overlooked in the Workplace

A new study by the Center for Work-Life Policy finds that despite being the smallest generation (46 million), Generation X might be “the most critical generation of all” for employers.

Gen Xers are of an age (33 to 46 years old) that should put them at the prime of their lives and careers, stepping into leadership roles and starting families. However, a recent study, titled “The X Factor: Tapping into the Strengths of the 33- to 46-Year-Old Generation,” reveals that due to challenges and circumstances out of their control, Gen Xers are taking a different life path.

That’s it…we’ll get them to plead “it’s out of my control” and before they realize it, their “prime years” will be gone ( and be all ours). Bawahahahahahahahahahahaha!

The study found a large number of Gen Xers are choosing not to have children. Their extreme work schedules (nearly a third of high earning Gen Xers work 60+ hours a week), strong career ambition, the current economic challenges, as well as changing mores, and life choices are all factors that contribute to their high level of childlessness compared to other generations.

Looks like we got ’em right where we want ’em. Keep working harder kids…that’s the answer! Besides, no babies and no diapers equals no little league games, no soccer, no ballet recitals to attend. This way, you can just keep grinding away for Mammon and the man. 60 hour work weeks can become 70 hour work weeks.

Gen X, born between 1965 and 1978, might be called the “wrong place, wrong time” generation, says the Center for Work-Life Policy. They were hit by an economic triple whammy: college-related debt, multiple boom and bust cycles (including the 1987 stock market crash, occurring just as Gen X entered the work force), and the housing slump. As a result, Gen X is the first generation not to match their parents’ living standards.

And they just might not ever…if they stick to our evil plan. Snicker, snicker.

While these economic woes have impacted most generations, they have hit Gen X the hardest in their work lives, the study found. Due to their own financial concerns, Boomers (grrrrrrr) are not retiring and are choosing instead to work an average of nine years longer than anticipated. This delays Gen X’s career progression, resulting in their feeling stalled in their careers and dissatisfied with their rate of advancement.

Heh. And perhaps we can convince them that it is more important to save for retirement, and worship at the altar of the almighty $$$ than it is to tend to their souls. Cackle, cackle.

Go read the rest here. Like I say in the title, continue to play the game to the world’s music and Gen-X will go down in flames (and so will the “Millenials” and all of us). Go the other way, dare I say it, the Catholic way, and you won’t. And even if you still crash, you’ll have at least lived your life to the fullest.

For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?

Exactly! The girls can tell you,

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And the boys too,

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All together now,

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Catholic Blogger Goes Missing In Action…

And there are several reasons why:

Reason #10. It’s September 24th, which means it’s only 5 weeks until Halloween! Time for my youngest to get outfitted for the event. Let me present Jango Fett, the father of Boba Fett. Bounty hunting: it’s the growth family business of the future. Henchmen lackies of the world…UNITE!

Reason #12. My daughter is a homeless person this weekend, living in a cardboard box behind the parish hall (since last night) with other members of the parish youth group. Today they are helping out the homeless along with the good folks at Catholic Charities of East Tennessee. I built her the best box I could find, because I want the best even for my homeless daughter. We’ll pick her up tomorrow after the 8 o’clock Mass.

Reason #15. My son is studying for a massive Chemistry test that is due to hit on Tuesday. All weekend long we’ve been building the storm shelter of knowledge by studying and quizzing, and my horror days of high school chemistry class are being revisited. Truthfully, I’ve learned more about chemistry this weekend then I ever did in high school (yep, I never studied then). Orbital notationare you kidding me?

Warning: stormy Weathers’ in the forecast

Reason # 73. My dad, who lives about 2 hours from me, stopped through town for a visit while attending his 55th year high school reunion(?!). We visited, ate barbecue, and paid our respects to my grandparents at the cemetery. Sort of a reconnaissance mission for the All Souls Day vigil I’ve got planned.

Life is short, Fall is here, and it’s a beautiful day. Blogging can wait. If I tried to write anything today, it would probably be like this, but not sound nearly as good.

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A Message on Mortgage Debt from the World

Just a quick note to parish finance committees from Joe Six-Pack, Catholic layman (in the world, but not of the world). The chart above shows the interest rate on the 10-Year U.S. Treasury Note from 1962 until the present. See the dot on the chart in July 2001? That is just for your reference.  The 10 Year Treasury is a bench mark for mortgage rates. If at all possible, it’s probably a great time to refinance parish debt. Or your own mortgage if you can (and haven’t already).

That is all.

It’s Like Elizabeth Says…

I hope it comes on in my neck of the woods. New idea—I’m going to ask my public library to purchase it!

I got an email tonight from a woman who read this post and realized that the reality of the world “as it is” makes her unhappy.

Well, combating the world “as it is” requires us to teach and admonish, not with the tactics of the world, but “in wisdom made holy” through the love of Christ. If we do that correctly we will — like the early Christians — attract others, and thus assist the Holy Spirit in the turning of the world toward the light.

If we do it incorrectly, we will only repel those who are perhaps in the greatest need to come to know the love of Christ and his salvation. And then we will have to deal with a turned-off, tuned-out world whose heels are stubbornly dug-in to the darkness.

Worse, we will have to answer to Christ as to why we trusted the worldly way of confrontation — the way of anger and distrust and scored points and power — over His way, and the way of His saints, the way of patience, humility and love.

Bl. Pope John Paul II famously said that we Catholics must look at the world clearly and see it “as it is” before we can help to form it into something more perfect-in-Christ.

To do that, we to pray, certainly, and we need more than prayer, but we are not sure what that might be.

I believe this effort by Father Robert Barron’s Word on Fire — its instruction, it’s beauty, it’s passion and it’s profound humanity in exploring the Incarnational Christ and His church — may well be the precise and timely tool we need to learn how to respond to the world “as it is,” because it tells us things about ourselves, our church and our Savior that many of us do not even know, or have perhaps forgotten.

Go read the rest. We’re on a mission from God!

Gone Readin’ Helena by Evelyn Waugh

Why haven’t I been posting much lately? You can blame Fr. Steve Grunow, who suggested the book you see above to me a few days ago. I’ve never read anything by Evelyn Waugh, and I’m not ashamed to say that for most of my life I figured Evelyn was a lady, and I wasn’t much interested in what she had to say.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve got me a college degree and all, and after I became a Catholic and snooped around a bit I learned that Evelyn was a man, a Catholic, and he wrote some great novels that were turned into classics for Masterpiece Theater. Still, I was about as excited to read anything written by him as I was interested in say…watching paint dry, or grass grow. Yawn.

But then I found that neat book about the True Cross by Louis de Combes, and Fr. Steve suggested Waugh’s book. I checked the catalog at the library, noted a copy was on the shelf, and I strolled over there and picked it up pronto. I haven’t been able to put it down since. Here’s a taste:

“Chlorus, is it true what they are saying in Ratisbon: that you are going to be Caesar?”

“Who say that?”

“The governor’s wife, the widow of the banker, all the ladies.”

“It may be true. Aurelian and I have spoken of it before. After the battle, he spoke of it again. He has to go to Syria now, to tidy up trouble there. After that he will return to Rome for his triumph. Then we shall see.”

“Do you want it?”

“It’s not what I want, ostler; it’s what Aurelian wants that counts, he and the army and the empire. It is nothing to be shy of, just another, larger command—Gaul, the Rhine, Britain, possibly Spain. The empire’s too big for one man; that’s been proved. And we need a secure succession, a second-in-command who’s been trained to the job, knows the ropes, can step in straight away when the command falls vacant; not leave each army to declare for its own general and fight it out as they’ve done lately. Aurelian is going to talk to the senators about it when we go to Rome.”

See? Clear thinking like that is what I was just talking about a few days back. And does everything go according to plan? As if!

I’m not going to tell you anything more about the book but this: Helena has just embarked on her quest to find the True Cross and you can forget about me posting anything remotely intelligible until I finish this book. Color me gone!