David Ancell's Virtual Home

I Only Wish

  /   Sunday, February 29, 2004   /   Comments(0)

I only wish that every priest would write letters to parishoners like this when the occasion arises. Then again, our pastor does on occasion put some things in the bulletin to remind us about our obligations.

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The Passion

  /   Saturday, February 28, 2004   /   Comments(0)

My parish rented out a theatre for a private showing of The Passion. The group leaders of the Frassati Society took the opportunity to reserve some tickets and give us a chance to get them. It is well worth seeing. I do want to take the time to give my impression of it.

You need to discuss it with other people who saw the movie. There are so many symbols depicted that it is nearly impossible to catch them all. When we went out to eat afterward, people at our table mentioned a number of things that I either didn’t notice or otherwise didn’t grasp.

Here’s a question: have you ever found yourself tempted to look at the sins of others and say “What a bunch of $@@#@#!!”? I felt that way towards the Romans who were beating Jesus with the whips and laughing about it. It took considerable effort to remember that those lashes and those nails were my sins. Interestingly enough, I didn’t feel the same way about the Jewish leaders. They at least weren’t laughing about Jesus’ pain. I maintain that the anti-Semitism charges are a crock.

The movie is very well done, and it gives a good impression of the horror of sin. The time flies by despite the fact that things don’t move very quickly in the movie. I think it’s a great way to begin Lent.

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  /   Saturday, February 28, 2004   /   Comments(0)

This article makes me want to drive to San Jose and kick this guy’s butt with a metal shoe. Bishop Patrick McGrath is reported as having said:

While the primary source material of the film is attributed to the four gospels, these sacred books are not historical accounts of the historical events that they narrate. They are theological reflections upon the events that form the core of Christian faith and belief.

Uh, excuse me!! Let’s see what Vatican II said in Dei Verbum:

19. Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1).

So, what’s this again about Catholics not believing the Gospels to be historically true.

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Passion Reviews

  /   Friday, February 27, 2004   /   Comments(0)

People around my workplace have renamed The Passion to The Movie, per one of my co-workers. If you ask someone if they have seen “The Movie,” everyone knows exactly what movie you are talking about. Anyway, I just wanted to pass along this collection of positive reviews.

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More on Catholic Education

  /   Thursday, February 26, 2004   /   Comments(0)

Apparently, Steve Kellmeyer has attracted so much attention that one of the Catholic Exchange editors has entered the fray. Students are receiving poor formation from people who themselves received poor formation. When classes are available to assist, then they are either of poor quality, poorly attended, or both.

I can’t blame people for not wanting to go to what often passes for Catholic formation. I’ve been to my share of missions led by somebody who was flakier than a bowl of Raisin Bran. I’ve seen an “evangelization” program that was devoid of any meaningful content. In the Diocese of Memphis, they were offering “spirituality” classes in their Liturgical Ministry Institute that gave me the impression that they were spooky new age by their title and content listings. Also, rather than St. Frances de Sales, St. Teresa of Avila, or other well-known spiritual writers, we were offered Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

When this stuff is what we are given to start from, it’s no wonder we can’t pass on the faith to children. We don’t know it ourselves. However, who is ultimately to blame for this . . . . .

We are. We put up with this because we really don’t care. If we did, we’d be demanding proper formation. We wouldn’t have people saying “That’s so wonderful.” to mediocre presentations of the Faith with the intellectual content of the brain of an earthworm.

Besides that, we wouldn’t dare go to or send our children to universities that claim to be Catholic but are undermining the Faith. We would take the time to find out about the issues in the Church, and therefore, we would know about the problems with “Catholic” schools. We would investigate the schools we were considering, and an answer of “uh, well” or “academic freedom” to questions about a mandatum wouldn’t be acceptable to us. Those schools would either have no enrollment or would have the enrollment that matches the secular institution it has become.

On another note, I’d love to see some pastor have the guts to say “If you all don’t start learning the faith, then the Catholic school won’t be able to do its job. Get some formation or we’re closing the school.” There would be an uproar and a half. However, it may be a necessary move in some areas.

The sad part of it is that this problem, which took decades to create, will take decades more to solve. The reason for this is that those problems have been allowed to fester. The longer we let them continue, the harder they are to stop. Then again, there is one part of the solution that is easy. Get some good, solid materials, and start learning.

Don’t depend on your parish priest, religious education program, or your diocese to do it. In 1997, a committee of bishops reported on the poor quality of religion textbooks. In 2003, another committee reported the same thing. What’s between the lines here? After six years, nothing has been done by our leadership about a known, serious problem. The only way we will get needed reforms in the Church is for the laity to learn and live the faith.

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Why Doesn’t the World Stop

  /   Thursday, February 26, 2004   /   Comments(0)

I’m a day late on this. As you know, yesterday was Ash Wednesday. We are now beginning the discipline of Lent. It’s our time to grow in holiness. We can use the penance of Lent to learn self-denial.

Yet, we can see how distant the world is from all that is happening. As I drove down Germantown Parkway on the way to Mass, I could see that business as usual was being conducted. Even the sex shop that I have the misfortune to pass going down the highway (and say a Hail Mary for their conversion) is just carrying on, helping people indulge in their slavery to sensual pleasures (Then again, did I really think they would observe Lent?).

I will see this again at the Easter Triduum. I will be at the high point of the whole year. Once again, I will be fasting on Good Friday. I will be eagerly awaiting the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Vigil. Yet, in the world, it’s business as usual. They carry on as though nothing special were happening save for an opportunity to sell candy. Is anyone even aware that an important event in their eternal destiny is being celebrated?

It all shows that we have much work to do in the way of evangelization. We may be numb to the fact that the world around us conducts business as usual, but in truth it is very, very tragic. Perhaps we have lit our lamps and hidden them under a bowl for too long.

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Love Your Enemies

  /   Saturday, February 21, 2004   /   Comments(0)

What does it mean? Check this out.

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Knowledge of the Faith

  /   Saturday, February 21, 2004   /   Comments(0)

A frequent topic on my blog has been the general lack of knowledge of the Catholic faith among the members of the Church. This has been a problem that has been evident to me even before I was baptized. I remember going to “relgion class” for the first time when I was a sophomore in high school. I was expecting to be lost among a bunch of my classmates who were much more advanced that I was. To my surprise, I found that I knew more than they did. Don’t even get me started on the Biblical illiteracy. One student said point blank “I don’t read the Bible much.”

I have long hoped to help bring the Catholic Faith to my generation, especially to those who do not know it. I have sometimes had the chance to discuss it. I find that many who are either barely in the Church or who have fallen away have some real obstacles in their minds to a deep and living faith. The most common one is the worldly sense of relativism that so pervades our culture. The sad part of this is that this relativism is rarely applied solely to other people. In other words, if it doesn’t really matter “which religion you are,” then neither does it matter if you practice the faith and integrate it with your life.

Anyway, I have thought that I would do some teaching, but the opportunities for me have been few and far between. Maybe someday the Lord will open the door. In the meantime, I have a lot of work to do on my own faith life. At this point, he had brought back some of my old fascinations. Desktop publishing has been a favorite of mine. I had a newspaper creation program on my first computer when I was about 11 or 12 years old. Now, I have big toys like Adobe InDesign CS. This, as well as the Frassati Society Web Page that I put together, have given me a chance to help other people find our group that I hope will bear fruit.

By the way, check out this PDF flyer that I made.

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Teach the Children, Part 2

  /   Friday, February 20, 2004   /   Comments(0)

Steve Kellmeyer, after writing Why Catholic Schools Don’t Matter, now writes about Why Catholic Schools Matter So Much. All joking aside, there is great insight in what he writes. If you want an example of the problem, take a look at this article (free registration required) in the newspaper of a “Catholic” university. The author suggests that “religious” concerns should be thrown out the window when addressing the issue of gay “marriages.” Where did she get this idea? She definitely didn’t get it from the Catechism of the Catholic Church or Vatican II.

What kind of faith formation does this person have? Better yet, what kind of faith formation is she not getting from the university? Our Catholic schools should be helping to foster a true understanding of the faith and a zeal for living it out in the world. Instead, we find that most of the textbooks used in formation of high school students are trash. The bishops of this country can’t even decide to require that Catholic Universityies teach what is in conformity with the Catholic faith. No wonder the aforementioned article can find its way into the newspaper of a school that is supposed to be Catholic.

However, there is hope . . . . .

There are Catholic college students who are really concerned about the direction their schools have taken. Collen Carroll’s The New Faithful talks about students who are growing in faith despite the official “campus ministry” of their schools. However, this is now how it should be. Not everyone can grow in faith in these circumstances. For every one person who grows in faith, there are many who have fallen away because they have no idea of the treasure that they are leaving behind. Some may make it back, but they will be quite battle-scarred when they do.

Still, one can find good Catholic formation if one knows where to get it. Orthodox schools are available. I do believe that slowly, but surely, we will see more coming. The people who have mismanaged the Church all these years are dying out.

I do appreciate the fact that Archbishop Hughes noticed the deficiencies in high school Catholic textbooks. Now, the bishops need to get off their rear ends and do something about it. If they don’t, then they shouldn’t ask us to waste our money on “Catholic” education.

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  /   Wednesday, February 18, 2004   /   Comments(0)

I remember the days when the Internet was mainly static pages with some pages using CGI scripts. There were no cookies. People asked me if they could get a virus from the Internet, and I told them that this was impossible unless they opened a binary file (e.g. attachment).

This is no longer true. I think Microsoft’s technology has something to do with the problem. Look at how often a new security problem is discovered. People can place spyware that tracks your Internet moves. Worms now infest a lot of e-mail (and people are still dumb enough to open them). Let’s not forget that many pornography sites will make it easy to accidentally visit them. Even the spammers now have tools to get around people’s attempts to block them.

This brings forth a thought. How is it good business to jump in the faces of people who don’t want to get your mail and don’t want your product? If someone doesn’t want spam, why would they think that people who have blocked them want to do business with them? It makes no sense . . . . but I digress.

Congress really needs to do something about these people. Actually, some treaties will be in order. Our government can do nothing about people overseas who cause the problem. However, something must be done soon. It needs to be something that doesn’t intrude on legitimate users.

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