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About That Graduation Speech

  /   Thursday, June 13, 2024   /   Comments(0)

Now that the dust has settled a bit, and Harrison Butker’s graduation speech (full text here) is old news, let’s take a look at it and what some have been taking offense at. The thing that really gets me is that it seems that the vast majority of the people who made comments either act like he should be tarred and feathered or like this was the direct word of God that is above any criticism. Both are way off here, but the former, some of whom have gone so far as to call for his dismissal from the Kansas City Chiefs, are just outrageous. My question is this: Can there be room to recognize the good things he has said even as we acknowledge that the speech was not perfect?

You can probably guess that I have absolutely no sympathy towards those that are all bent out of shape by what he said. Their reactions are just sheer insanity. However, there are still problems with people acting like this was just the ultimate in speeches. One person said on X that making a criticism just because the speech wasn’t perfect would be like petty infighting among Catholics. I have some sympathy for his view, and I agree we should support those who try to proclaim the Catholic faith. However, I also find it imprudent to cling to anything that attempts to defend the faith, especially if there’s something being said that is not correct.

Butker truly did try to convey the importance of family over career. He spoke of the importance of speaking up about and standing up for the faith. He reminded people about the importance of “doing the small things well” and about surrounding yourself with people who share in our Catholic faith to help build us up. We can tell that he took a strong stance just from the sheer number of feathers he ruffled.

A lot of people took offense to his comments about his wife and women as homemakers in general. While his choice of words in saying that his wife’s life “truly started” when she was married and had children was probably not the best, what he said otherwise about both his wife and himself leaning into their vocations and their family was actually very good if properly understood. He specifically mentions that his wife makes sure that he doesn’t let football and his business take him away from his vocation as husband and father.

I saw people online accusing him of relegating women to being considered inferior to men. I’ve long found this thinking to be ridiculous. Is there really anything inferior about spending your life raising souls who will one day spend eternity in Heaven or Hell rather than working for a corporation? Why is the modern workplace considered the ideal place that we need to be? I am all in favor of women having opportunities to work and make money. I am not in favor of treating economic opportunities as the most important ones or as a test of whose life is really fulfilling. Besides, just listen to Butker’s words describing the title of homemaker.

Others took offense because they felt that the life he described was just not possible for them. This is kind of a strange unwritten rule I’ve seen online that says it is not permitted to make a suggestion unless absolutely everyone is able to follow it the exact way you suggest. Look, it’s perfectly fine for someone make a suggestion that may not be possible for everyone. If circumstances don’t allow a family to have a stay at home mom, this doesn’t mean that Butker’s proclamation is wrong. Some women will have reason for working outside the home.

Like I said before, the speech isn’t perfect. Butker spends quite a lot of time talking about lack of leadership in the Catholic Church. I see where he’s coming from because, when I was his age, it was a huge concern of mine. Just go look at my earliest blogs on this site. With that being said, I think he devoted too much of his speech to this, kind of like I devoted too much of my time and energy to it when I was his age. The problems still exist, but we are in an era now where solid Catholic materials are much easier to find than they were back then.

The other major criticism that I have of his speech is that he takes a shot at natural family planning saying “there is nothing natural about Catholic birth control.” This is permitted by the Church, and so I really believe what he said was an error. NFP can definitely be abused, and it would be fine for him to give his opinion that more should consider allowing God to give as many children as he will. However, he needs to state that as his opinion. Natural family planning is permitted by the Church, so he can’t consider it “heterodox teaching.” One could also argue that he over-promoted the Latin Mass, but I don’t think what he said was really wrong.

Then, there were a couple of other things he said that are open to interpretation. So, I’ll share how I interpreted them. He uses the term “stay in your lane.” I took this to be a complaint about a trend we see in the Church that is a kind of “clericalization of the laity and laicization of the clergy.” The former part of this can be seen by the many lay people you have in the sanctuary today, especially the number of lay people distributing the Eucharist. This is really supposed to be the function of a priest or deacon. The former part is a bit more tricky. One example from over a decade ago was when the USCCB had a position on reducing the level of mercury in thermometers. Yes, I really saw that. It’s not a matter of faith, and I don’t think that’s the “lane” of the USCCB.

He also made a controversial comment about Congress passing a law making it illegal to state biblical teaching on who killed Jesus. This was taken by some as at least a potentially anti-Semitic comment. Let me make clear that I am completely opposed to anti-Semitism. While it’s possible that he meant what he said in an anti-Semitic matter, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. That proposed bill he was alluding to could have easily wandered into dangerous territory. Who interprets what is and isn’t anti-Semitism? What is to stop some anti-Christian prosecutor from going after the Gospels? It may not reach that extreme, but these kind of bills are far too open to being interpreted too broadly, and that may be what Butker was getting at.

The world is greatly in need of people who will truly proclaim the Catholic faith and who will not back down. We need these people in all walks of life, whether it’s sports, medicine, show business, manufacturing, retail, or anywhere else. While I do have some genuine concerns about some things he said, I would definitely be more likely to call this a bold proclamation of faith than I would a disaster. Let’s at least give him credit for being willing to say what he believed needed to be said.

Category: Response, Uncategorized


High Profile Conversions

  /   Thursday, May 02, 2024   /   Comments(0)

If you follow much social media, I’m sure you’ve seen news of a lot of high profile conversions lately. I mean, they’ve been happening over the years, but recently I’ve noticed a group of them. They range from people converting from a life of serious sin to famous news personalities. Of course, like everything on social media, there are a lot of different reactions. For some of these people making comments, I just can’t fathom how they can think the way that they do.

Some people get too excited and put them on a pedestal. It’s like they figure these famous people are now members of the Super Saints simply because of who they are. Truthfully, some of these conversions are heroic. There are people who sacrificed, or at least risked, a lot by becoming Catholic. However, it’s too easy to forget that they are at the beginning of their journey and will still need to grow like we all do.

Even worse are the ones who are more disparaging. You can find comments in which people have said that someone who was such a sinner could not possibly have undergone such a conversion. Worse yet, in the case of someone who turned from a seriously sinful life, there are those who seem to say that God won’t forgive them. I hope there aren’t Christians saying that, but I’m afraid there are some that are. How can a true Christian really doubt the amazing mercy of God like that!

With that being said, I’m not saying that we should throw out our common sense and ignore obvious problems that we find out about. It’s quite possible that some of the conversions that we learn about will turn out to be phony. However, we really should assume sincerity, or at least hold out hope, as long as we can. I’d much rather stand before God and hear about how I welcomed someone who was an absolute hypocrite that hear about how my snarky comments regarding someone’s sincere, even if weak, conversion contributed to him having fallen away.

Even a sincere conversion can have its weak points. Some people just experienced an emotional high and then could not keep going when it wore off. Some were not well formed and therefore had a poor understanding of what it means to be Catholic. Others may have fallen into their old sins (or other sins), and instead of hurrying back to God and going to Confession right away, they became discouraged. Just think of what reading hateful comments will do to these people. People fall away, and we don’t want to contribute to the fall.

When you add to this the public nature of the life of someone who is famous, it becomes easy to make judgements that we shouldn’t make. New converts are, well, new to the faith. There are things they don’t know yet. Maybe in their formation they learned about chastity and modesty, but it can take time to sort out the particulars of how to live it out and therefore, genuine mistakes are made. Maybe the person has lived for years, if not decades, with a worldly mindset. Chipping away at that mindset can take a really long time. We probably all have aspects of a worldly mindset that we adopted without realizing it. It may be okay to post charitable comments correcting the error, but be careful!

So, what should be our attitude towards famous converts? We have every right to be cautious and acknowledge things (but not necessarily post our opinion about them) that are not quite right. However, let’s welcome them with open arms and encourage them if we are in a position to do so. We want to pray that they will be shining lights that bring people to conversion. They’ve got the ability to reach many people. We can be excited about their conversion and also be charitable and understanding about how they, like those of us who have been in the Church a while, still have work to do.

Category: Response


Where is This Eucharistic Revival?

  /   Saturday, December 16, 2023   /   Comments(0)

I’m sure you’ve heard the 2019 Pew Research poll that suggested that around two-thirds of Catholics (however they defined a Catholic) do not believe what the Church teaches about the Eucharist. Because of this, we now are supposed to have a Eucharistic Revival going on. If you don’t believe me, here’s the website. However, I have to ask – just where is this revival, and what is being done?

Not only am I at Mass every Sunday, but I’m there a lot of weekdays as well. I’m usually at my own parish on Sunday and other places during the week. I follow Catholic news (though I don’t spend hours looking over it). If we have such a serious problem as unbelief in the Eucharist, and we are trying to do something about it, why have I heard so very little about this supposed revival? I mean, something occasionally comes up, but it isn’t anywhere close to anything that would constitute an attempt at a full scale revival.

I see there is a Eucharistic Pilgrimage going on. However, if it went through the area where live, I don’t recall hearing anything about it. There is also a Eucharistic Congress planned. However, the cost to attend is way out of many people’s price range. Merely having these events does not constitute a serious, widespread effort at a badly needed revival in my opinion. Besides, the only people who are going to be interested in these are people who *do* believe what the Church teaches. How are we reaching out to those who lack faith in this great gift of Our Lord?

An interesting turn in this is that a new study shows that, while there is still a serious problem here, the actual number of Catholics who do not believe in the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist is about one-third. The discrepancy is suggested to have been caused by the options on the original poll asking if the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ or if they are a symbol. I’m not sure what to make of this because I really don’t believe a lot of Catholics really understand that the Eucharist, despite the fact that the bread and wine actually do become the Body and Blood of Christ, is also a symbol. It’s just that the Eucharist actually is what it symbolizes and therefore is not merely a symbol. So, there could be other explanations (e.g. who was polled) for the change.

However, I digress. My point is that, if we are serious about bringing forth greater faith in this great gift of Our Lord of his very self, I can’t tell by what I have seen of this Eucharistic Revival. Like Pope St John Paul II said in Ecclesia de Eucharista (article 61), there is no danger of excess in our care for this mystery. If people do not believe or do not have enough fervor, an all out effort needs to be made.

While I would not likely be one to lead a widespread revival, there are things I can do, and so can you. Be at Mass as often as you can be. Don’t be afraid to speak of Our Lord and his gift of his very Body and Blood. Show reverence at Mass. We can let people know we are serious about our faith simply by showing how Jesus Christ works in our lives through the very sacrament he instituted. We may make only a small impact, but the combined effects of a lot of small impacts will be tremendous.

Category: Catholic, News, Uncategorized


Onward to Advent

  /   Thursday, November 30, 2023   /   Comments(0)

The month of November will be over soon, probably by the time most people read this. As we have been remembering our beloved dead, now we can prepare for the coming of the king who will bring them eternal life. It’s time to think about this and how death is not the end but is the way in which everyone who isn’t alive at the second coming is going to get to meet God face to face.

As I’ve said before, the Church knows better than to allow these great feasts, like Christmas, to just happen. We prepare. By preparing, we have a fuller celebration when the feast day arrives.

Advent is kind of difficult for me because I’m not exactly sure what to do during Advent. It has never been all that clear. Besides that, these times can be ridiculously busy.

An important thing to do is to try to live our life and especially our faith as intentionally as possible. Don’t be carried by the wind. We have to deliberately set aside time to reflect on what we are about to celebrate and do everything in our power not to let anything interfere. No matter what this world throws at us, we must remember that, though we are in the world, we are not of the world.

Category: Spirituality


Praying for the Dead

  /   Sunday, November 12, 2023   /   Comments(0)

November is the month where we especially remember to pray for those who have gone before us in the Church. We often hear at (or in anticipation of) someone’s funeral about how someone who has died is not suffering anymore. The truth is that they may be undergoing their final purification, and they will still be suffering.

For some reason, 2023 has been a year where a lot of people I have known have died. I’ve had my uncle (and my godfather), a coworker, a childhood friend, a former manager, and two priests whom I knew die this year. Because of this, it’s been important to me to make a point to offer a Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Mass intention, and whatever I can remember to pray for them.

If they are indeed in Purgatory, there is nothing they can do for themselves. Once in Purgatory, the time for cooperating with or rejection the grace of God is over. Because of this, it also means that, once there, Hell has been avoided forever. They now have only to wait for God’s purifying fire to cleanse them so that they are able to be in the presence of God for all eternity.

While they can’t help themselves, we, the living, who can still choose to cooperate with or reject God’s grace, can help them with our prayers and sacrifices. We can aid their purification. It has long been an important part of my prayer life to do this. I’ve heard one priest say that, if we don’t offer assistance to the souls in Purgatory, we won’t be able to receive any assistance when we are there. I don’t know where he got this or if it is exactly true, but if it is, then I can certainly see God’s justice in it.

One simple thing to do is to pray every time you pass by a cemetery for he people there. On our fall break, our route to our destination took us by a number of cemeteries near Protestant churches. I find it especially important to pray for those souls. Since nearly every Protestant is ignorant of or rejects the fact that there is a final purification, it’s unlikely that these congregations are praying for their dead. So, when I pass their cemeteries, I figure that I’ll pray for them.

Don’t forget that, if you were a help to someone during their final purification, they are not going to forget you when they reach Heaven. You better believe that people in the presence of God for all eternity are capable of talking to him. They will be praying for you so that you will be able to join them someday.

Category: Cathechesis, Catholic, Spirituality


Fun with Autocorrect

  /   Saturday, October 28, 2023   /   Comments(0)

Autocorrect on my iOS devices is often annoying. I might be trying to write a proper name or something known mostly in Catholic circles, and it changes what I wrote to something else. Sometimes it does it three or four times. I’ve also yet to figure out why it capitalizes e-mail addresses on my iPad when I use my physical keyboard.

I’ve seen a web site that shows some supposedly funny things the autocorrect produces, but many of those are rather risqué. So, I had some better ones I wanted to share just for fun.

I recently bought some adjustable dumbells. However, my iPad apparently thought that I now have “adjustable dumbness” as it corrected one of my entries to this. I’m wondering why I’d want to adjust that.

Last week, I needed to register for a one day retreat. Before hitting send, I realized that instead of telling the person in charge that I had sent in my registration, autocorrect was going to tell her that I had sent in my resignation. No, folks, I didn’t quit my job.

This next one is a bit harder to understand unless you are Catholic and know people in religious life. Members of orders use post-nominal letters after their name. For example, a Dominican will use “O.P.” The name will be written as “Fr Firstname Lastname, O.P.” Benedictines use “O.S.B.” However, a sister once told me that the autocorrect rearranged the letters to say “S.O.B.” Whoops!

Category: Uncategorized


What About Philosophy?

  /   Saturday, September 30, 2023   /   Comments(0)

In my last post, I wrote about how we needed to consider the practical aspects of how one will learn to practice his or her chosen profession and make a living while receiving a classical education.  There’s another side of the coin that I want to present here.  If I have a choice between my kids studying advanced calculus in high school or studying philosophy, I want them to study philosophy.  I don’t want them to waste time with asinine questions like “How do you know the sky is blue?”  Rather, I want them to learn to think.  I want them to gain wisdom.

Many people accuse religious believers of just believing what they are told and not really thinking.  If they weren’t serious, it would be hilarious!  Such people should see the ridiculous groupthink that nonbelievers seem to accept without question these days.  I grew in my critical thinking skills by leaps and bounds when I took more time to study my Catholic faith, especially in the field of apologetics.

The groupthink is precisely what I don’t want my kids to fall for.  I want them to have at least a basic understanding of the aims of their life and why they should attain them.  I don’t want them to settle for the superficial.  As for how I know the sky is blue, my answer would be “I don’t, and I do not care that I don’t.”

Category: Catholic, Response


What About Making a Living?

  /   Saturday, September 30, 2023   /   Comments(0)

Let me start by saying that I am very much opposed to utilitarian education.  In fact, I would even go so far to say that, if you think that the purpose of getting an education is to learn how to make a living, then you don’t have a proper Catholic view of education.  I definitely don’t think that we should be educating people with the end of college, which may land in the trash bin of irrelevance at the rate we are going.  We should be forming the person.

I’ve been interested in writings that advocate for a return to Catholic education.  I read with interest the book entitled Renewing Catholic Schools:  How to Regain a Catholic Vision in a Secular Age.  The book clearly advocates using a classical model of education, forming a community, and making God the center of everything.  These are all aims that I would support.

However, whenever I encounter someone writing about this, there is one thing I find missing.  At some point, people need to learn a skill that they can use to earn a living.  They need a skill that makes a contribution to society.  At what point is this taught, and how?  While I’m no fan of the career mentality of our society, the fact is that many of the professions that are practiced in the world are needed.  Where would we be without doctors, engineers, electricians, plumbers, etc?  So, while I am in total agreement that education should not be utilitarian, I think it’s important that advocates of classical education address the practical questions that arise from their writings.

Category: Catholic, Response


An Easy Way to Get Some Catholic Reading In

  /   Thursday, August 31, 2023   /   Comments(0)

In order to be able to fully live the faith, doing regular Catholic reading is vital.  We really need to be filling our mind with the things of God, and reading is one of the primary ways in which we can do it.  However, I’ve had a number of times when it has been very hard to find time to read a good Catholic book. I’ve found an idea that I want to share that may be helpful to people in that situation.

There are a number of good solid books with short chapters (or sections of chapters.  They are usually pretty easy to read, and even in a pinch, it’s often possible to read these one section at a time.  Here are a some examples:

I’m sure there are a lot of others out there also.

Anyway, to make it easier to have it with you whenever you have a moment to read, I’d actually recommend having them on your phone and/or tablets as e-books.  They are usually less expensive that way, and you can have a number of books on one device.  If you choose to do this, I highly recommend buying them as ePubs directly from the publisher rather than going with Amazon, Nook, or Kindle whenever possible.  Avoid anything sold as an Adobe Digital Edition like it’s bubonic plague.

The reason for this is that books bought with the services mentioned above contain digital rights management (DRM) copy protection.  It limits you to reading the book on their proprietary software (except for Adobe Digital Editions, but you are still more limited even here than with a non-DRM ebook).  More importantly, however, is that your rights to read the book are dependent upon your account on a particular server.  The publisher could pull the plug on your rights to use the book easily.   With today’s cancel culture, who knows when some woke company employee will decide that they don’t want to keep providing access to a Catholic book.  With a plain ePub, you can download the file and back it up and install it on anything that can read an ePub file.

I’ve been able to get more reading in doing this. It does mean that, when I do this, I’m reading lighter reading, but at least I’m able to do something.  Recently, I’ve been doing this while also working on a longer or more complicated book just to allow me to maximize the amount of reading that I can do.

 

Category: Catholic, Resources


Explicit Lyrics

  /   Tuesday, August 22, 2023   /   Comments(0)

Sometimes I like to poke fun at something while also asking a question. You see, it has long been my decision not to buy music that is labeled as explicit lyrics. I might buy a non-explicit song off an album that was “stickered,” as I used to call it, but I would avoid the actual songs with the label. However, in looking through some recent music, I’m not so sure what to make of it anymore.

Now, I have to wonder what constitutes explicit lyrics and if I can even use that standard. Take the song, for example, named I’m Offended by John Rich. It’s labeled as having explicit lyrics. The only line that I can find in it that contains profanity is when he talks about how he prays to God and says to the atheist something like “You don’t believe he exists, so why are you so p*****?” I hear that word from people who don’t use other cuss words on a number of occasions.

Another curious example is the now-famous song “Try That In a Small Town” by Jason Aldean. He starts talking about how one day “they” are going to round up all the guns and says “That s*** might fly in he city . . .” Well, maybe you could argue that one shouldn’t play that for one’s kids, but that’s hardly explicit lyrics in my mind. In any event, I found that there is a clean version from Jimmy Levy that says “That stunt might fly in the city.” It has a little different sound to it, but it’s obviously the same song.

What makes the labeling of “Try That in a Small Town” more interesting is Oliver Anthony’s now famous “Rich Men North of Richmond.” I counted four uses of the “s” word, and it’s not labeled as containing explicit lyrics. Honestly, I have a bigger issue with the way he uses the words “Lord” and “God” in the song than the profanity itself. It just goes to show that there may not be a standard that is being applied here.

The funniest thing I saw on an online store was this album being labeled as explicit: Benedicta: Marian Chant from Norcia. No, I am absolutely not joking.! This album is literally Gregorian Chant, but one of the songs was listed on two different music services as having one song with explicit lyrics. The name is “Sequence Ave Maria . . . Virgo Serena.” Search for it if you don’t believe me. I really don’t think the Benedictine Monks are dropping F bombs in Latin.

As a disclaimer, I’ll add that this info is accurate at the time of this writing as I know that sometimes the labels get changed. However, my point is that, while there is a lot of music labeled as explicit that is clearly garbage, the label itself might not be much of an indicator of anything in particular anymore. It’s worth checking out the lyrics online to see if they really are or aren’t offensive and making the decision from there.

Category: Response


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