Saturday, April 02, 2005

Death of the Holy Father

As readers are probably aware, our Holy Father John Paul II passed on to his richly deserved reward at approximately 2:37 EST. I am a bit late in entering this into the blog because it took a while to confirm the information and a bit longer to get over the initial shock. Nicole and I also attended Mass at 4:00pm because we felt a need to go to church immediately and pray for the soul of the Holy Father. As much as we like to tell ourselves that this moment is going to come, it is never something that is easy to deal with. As a Catholic I know and I fully understand that the process of the death of a Pope and mourning his loss, as well as the election of his successor, is a normal process in the life of the Church. Its consistant repetition through the centuries is a sign of the Church's continued renewal and vitality. That knowledge, however, doesn't make up for the fact that God's Church has lost a Pope, the world has lost a leader, and Christians everywhere have lost a dear friend.

In addition, we can only pray that the next successor of Peter will be as much a champion of the unborn, the elderly, the defenseless, and the powerless as this Pope has been. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit will continue to provide for the Church no matter what the future might hold. I realize that this is a difficult concept for our Protestant brothers and sisters to grasp. However, the Holy Spirit has shown throughout history that He will continue to provide for the Catholic Church, just as Jesus promised 2,000 years ago. [Matthew 16:13-19] After all, no one thought that a compromise candidate for the papacy from Poland would ever become so great as John Paul II became. If the Lord can give us John Paul II, He can give us someone just as good, maybe even better, if that is at all possible.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Pope passes away-maybe not

The Vatican as yet is not confirming that the Pope is dead. In fact, the Press Office is denying that the Pope is dead just yet. Fox News is reporting that the Pope is unconcious yet alive. EWTN is reporting that the Vatican is denying that the Pope is dead.


The Pope passes away

Reuters is reporting reporting as of this very writing that the Holy Father has died...we have a Vacant See....pray for us!

Veni Creator Spiritus

The Pope takes dramatic turn for the worse

The Holy See is reporting as I type this that the Holy Father's condition has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. According to official reports, the Papal kidneys are shutting down and John Paul II has lost consciousness.

The Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome has just celebrated Mass for the Holy Father in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Pope's cathedral as Bishop of Rome.

RAI television has reported that the Bronze Door beneath a portico off St. Peter's Square which is traditionally shut when a pope dies had one of its huge doors closed as about 30 police officers (it is unknown whether these were Italian police or Vatican security) stood nearby. The door normally is closed every night at 8 p.m. and reopened the next morning.

Veni Creator Spiritus

Prayer for the Pope

V. Let us pray for John Paul, the Pope.

R. May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and may the Lord not hand him over to the power of his enemies.

V. May your hand be upon your holy servant.

R. And upon your son whom you have anointed.

Let us pray.

O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, John Paul II, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

Holy Father's condition "very grave"

By now it is being reported all over the press this morning that the Holy Father's condition is "grave." That report did not come from some liberal reporter wishing the Pope dead, but from the Vatican itself. In this way, we can be certain that it is true. According to the statement, the Pope received Last Rites with Viaticum yesterday, a sign that he himself believes that his time on earth is nearing its end. I have not heard who administered the Sacrament to him, but my guess would be that it was his Private Secretary.

This morning, I saw the unusual sight of Archbishop John P. Foley, Chair of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, on Today explaining for non-Catholics just what the Last Rites are. Archbishop Foley is often the Voice of the Holy See to the world, as it is his voice that people hear on Christmas Eve during Midnight Mass translating the proceedings to the English-speaking peoples. Rarely is he ever seen on American media outlets (even though he is American) other than EWTN, because anything he says can be taken totally out of context by the mainstream press. The fact that he was all over the morning news-talk programs on U.S. television this morning, and was attending the convention of the National Catholic Education Association, shows that Rome sees a need to send him far and wide to insure the world that all is stable in the Apostolic Palace.

A note to those who are not Catholic: The Last Rites are also called the Sacrament of the Sick. Anyone who is ill may ask for them, and the most important part of this ritual is an annointing with Holy Oil along with a "laying on of hands" on various parts of the body and prayers for spiritual and, if it is the Lord's Will, physical healing. Along with the annointing, the recipient may ask for their confession to be heard. If they are in serious danger of death, a third part of the Last Rites, Viaticum, or "bread for the journey" is also administered. It is the reception of Holy Communion, possibly for the last time, by the person whose life is nearing an end. I have had the Sacrament of the Sick and obviously I am here to write about it. Just because someone receives it does not necessarily mean they are about to die. It is the reception of Viaticum that is an indication that the Pope believes he is about to be removed from this transitory life.

Whatever the Lord's will for the Pope, let us pray with a fervent prayer that God would guide the Church in the coming days. John Paul II has been a spiritual giant, doing more good for the Church and the world during his time as Pope than ever could be put into words in these pages. He is simply irreplacable. May God guide the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church to the election of a Successor worthy to fill the shoes of this Holy man, whenever that time may come.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Death and Vomiting

First of all, allow me to apologize for an unusually late post considering all of the events that have taken place over the last several hours. As most readers are likely aware, Terri Shiavo passed away this morning at her hospice in Pinellas Park, FL. There is already some dispute as to how peacefully Terri actually died. The truth of the matter is that this is information which we will probably never know.
For the past 48 hours or so, all over the Catholic press, several irate callers to radio talk shows on EWTN and other outlets have indicated that they had called Governor Bush's office, comparing him to Pontious Pilate. The reasoning behind this comparison seems to be that Governor Bush washed his hands of the Shiavo battle at the last moment and can thus be justly compared to how the procurator of Judea handled the legal case agains Jesus Christ. After a great deal of mediation on the matter, I have come to the conclusion that there is one great difference between Jeb Bush's situation and Pontious Pilate: Pilate had the legal authority to release Jesus. He had the legal authority to do the right thing and punish the people who were using Jesus as an excuse to bring about undue social unrest.
While it can be argued that Governor Bush can and should have done more for Terri on a personal level, it would seem that he pushed his legal powers to the limit in this case. He did so fully aware of the potential political consequences. Especially in light of skewed media polls which did little to acurately inform respondants as to the nature of this case, thus ensuring that no one could make a reasoned response to those polls. In layman's terms, this simply means that the political climate fostered by the media was set against Terri and against the Schindler family and ensured that Governor Bush might have to suffer dire political consequences for siding with the Schindler family in this case. In spite of that reality, Governor Bush or his representatives in state government attempted to use ever legal avenue left open to them by a judicial system that was obviously corrupted by the culture of death. Frankly, Jeb Bush put his ass on the line. Catholics would do well to remember that if the man ever chooses to run for higher office.
Anyone who knows me knows that I just love McDonald’s. I’ve enjoyed McDonald’s since I was a child and, as far as fast food places go, I’ve always believed that, with the notable exception of Chick-fil-a, McDonald’s has the best fast food chicken sandwich. After my experience yesterday however, I seriously question whether I’ll be taking in any Mickey D’s for a very long time.
Nicole and I had to have our truck examined, as it is severely ill. While we were waiting on this to take place, we stopped at a McDonald’s in Florence, KY where I had a craving for a chicken sandwich. I ordered two small McChicken sandwiches from the dollar menu, along with medium fries and a medium iced tea. This was the first thing I had eaten all day long. About an hour after eating, Nicole and I were sitting at the mechanic’s waiting on the truck and I commented to her that I felt what I call “bushwhacked.” This is an Oatneyism which denotes sudden and unusual fatigue, the cause of which is not immediately certain.
Upon returning home, I felt the sudden need to go to bed. I also noticed that I was becoming unusually hot and had developed a fever of nearly 101 degrees. Other than that however, I had no unusual symptoms that would indicate that I was catching some sort of a bug. I began to drink lots of fluids and had the sudden urge to empty my stomach via reverse flow. An urge which had not previously made itself known. Immediately upon the exercise of this self-stomach-pumping, my fever began to break. I took a cool bath, drank some green tea and then some ginger tea, took some Excedrin for a headache, and retired to bed.
I woke up this morning feeling fine; able to hold down just about anything I would want to eat. I also had no fever this morning. Considering that the sandwiches from McDonald’s were the only food I had eaten, it would seem that I contracted some sort of mild food poisoning and my body was merely trying to flush out the filth. My advice would be to eat at McDonald’s very sparingly indeed, and avoid McChicken sandwiches.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Update on the Holy Father

After four hours of trying to get in to the page to update the blog for the day, Blogger is finally working properly.

With that, I should say that because of everything I have been through with Blogger today, my post will be shorter than it otherwise might be.

Readers will note that my discription of my weblog says that this is a journal "of social, cultural, and ecclesiastical affairs." Well, when the time comes that I think I am about to make a serious post about something social or cultural, ecclesiastical affairs seem to intervene. This morning, the Holy Father had a feeding tube inserted to assist him in getting good caloric intake. While I doubt the Pope to be near death, I also think that the Holy See Press Office is carefully keeping full details about the Papal condition from the larger faithful. I see this as necessary, because the last thing the Church needs is a panicked people.

I will say that I think that it is clear that whether John Paul II passes from this transitory life tomorrow or five years from now, we are in the twilight days of his remarkable reign. In the days and weeks to come in this space, I'll offer personal reflections on this man of God and how he has affected the Church, the world at-large, and my personal faith journey. May God Bless the Pope, and even now, in his twilight days and years, long may he reign!


Just a note to let you know why this will be a short post and not in keeping with my usual commentary.

As much as I enjoy Blogger, it has had enough problems today to beat the band. I haven't been able to access my blog for most of the morning, and when I do, it is giving me limited HTML options, making it difficult to edit the page.

A number of things have happened overnight that are making the news and I can't comment on them fully because of the situation with Blogger. Among these are the latest progression with the Holy Father's illness. As you are probably aware, he had a feeding tube inserted this morning.

A few of you have commented on the need for me to change the Easter font to a color that is more readable for you. I will do this as soon as Blogger allows me to edit the page properly.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Regina Caeli

O Queen of heaven rejoice! alleluia:
For He whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia,
Hath arisen as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.

R. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray
O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; grant, we beseech Thee, that through His Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Strange bedfellows in the Schiavo case

Strange bedfellows are made indeed when it comes to serious discussion of the case of Terri Schiavo. Initially, as we know, Michael Schiavo, her adulterous husband, would not allow for the performance of an autopsy. When it became clear that he was suspected by the State of Florida, as well as by Terri's family, of abuse of his spouse, his refusal to allow for an autopsy made him an object of suspicion even among his supporters. This morning, Michael Schiavo's attorney says that he has finally agreed to have an autopsy performed on Terri's body after weeks of the family pleading for one. Now whether he will choose to share these results with the Schindler family remains yet to be seen.

Any readers who might also read blogs that that I link to here at World will take note of the fact that my long-time friend Matt Daley and I vehemently disagree about the nature of the Schindler-Schiavo case, as well as what the most desirable end result ought to be. One thing I will agree with Matt on is that this entire case has made for some very strange bedfellows indeed. Matt has asserted that he "agrees with the people he often finds most vile." For my own part, I never for a second believed that I'd agree with the Reverend Jesse Jackson about anything! However, Jesse has visited Terri, and after visiting her, he says he believes that Terri's nutrition and hyration
ought to be restored to her. (If Jesse can come to a pro-life position in this matter, then there may be hope for him yet!)

One thing is certain: This situation is going to be a precident-setter, and that can't be good for the pro-life side. It has, however, made for some very strange bedfellows on both sides.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Whose report will you believe?

Your mother always told you never to discuss politics and religion, as those were sensative and dangerous subjects. Well, with certain of my in-laws, politics is not overly dangerous (notice I said CERTAIN of them) because there is a large segment of them which are Republicans, and pretty conservative, as Southerners (who are usually conservative by nature) go.

The subject of danger is religion...However, the problem lies not in discussing Protestantism vs. Catholicism. This would be a fruitless discussion by itself since most of my in-laws are either evangelical/fundamentalist Protestant or aren't religious at all. As I learned, however, the danger is that certain ones are of the opinion that they may have their own personal interpretation of scripture, and no one else's (including some trusted Protestant Divines) is acceptable, because we can't be sure anyone is right. For once, this kind of talk provoked a unanimous Declaration of Wierdness on which a Catholic and two Methodists agreed!

Whose authority can be trusted, and whose interpretation can be believed? Without some authority which can be relied upon to speak the truth, what is to keep everyone from coming up with their own way? If one's own way is right, but others can't be proven to be wrong, is their such a thing as absolute truth?

I think there is, and I think most Christians believe it, too. Without Authority, however, there is no way to settle on just what Truth is. We end up being like Pontius Pilate, and asking "what is Truth?"

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Resurrection of the Lord

We now enter into 50 days of the joyous celebration of Easter. EWTN has rightly described this past week as "the week that changed the world," and it is indeed true. No single week in human history has had more impact on the world than the very first Holy Week.

Can you imagine the initial reaction of the Apostles when Mary Magdalen reparted to them that the Lord was risen, for she had seen him and spoken with him? It had been a very trying weekend for them indeed. They had just witnessed the man they believed to be the Messiah be tried before two "kangaroo courts" on trumped-up charges in a manner that violated both Roman and Hebrew Law. They stood silently by and watched him be mocked, scourged, scorned, and put to one of the cruelest forms of death ever devised by the hands of men. Their hopes, they presumed, were dashed.

I can just see the scene now:

Mary: I have seen the Lord...he is risen!

Peter: Mary, its been a long few days...why don't you just sit down and relax?

Andrew: Mary, honey, why don't you just have a nice hot cup of tea?

Thomas: You saw Jesus? Sure you did sweetie...sure you did. *turns to Phillip and whispers* I believe Mary is losing is obvious she is over-traumatized. Truth is, she probably has Post-traumatic stress disorder. I know this fella, Dr. Luke, Greek dude...maybe he can help Mary, put her on some sort of medication.

Peter: Thomas, now listen, I'll not hear that kind of talk. We all ran away, but Mary saw it'd be going bonkers too...

Hey John...

John: Yeah...

Peter: Do you remember what Jesus said...something about rising on the Third Day...

John: I sure do. You know, everything else he ever said came to pass. I don't know about you, but I have an intuition to go down to the Garden and see what in Sam Hill is going on.

Peter: I'll go with you. Who knows..maybe he is risen...he said so, you know...

Thomas: You're all crazy! We all saw the way they treated him, we saw what they did to him. He's dead...we all have to live with that now.

James: Gee Thomas, don't you at least want to investigate this? You saw him raise two other people from the dead. If he could do that for others, how do you know he can't do it for himself?

Thomas: Every last bloody one of you apparently needs some sort of drug, it is apparent you have a chemical imbalance! If there is one good thing to come out of this for me, at least I'm the one that didn't lose my mind.

John: Thomas, Peter and I are going to the tomb..why don't you come with us?

Thomas: I'd rather not waste my time!

Well, however the conversation happened, we know that John and Peter saw the empty tomb that day, and believed. Praise the Lord, the tomb is still empty, 2,000 years and going!

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