Archive for the “General” Category

I really enjoyed Mike Huckabee as a candidate and though I haven’t seen much of him since he joined Fox News, I do enjoy him there as well.  The below is his Christmas message to his viewers.

Below is the transcript of the message. (more…)

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Tradition tells us that this feast of appreciation and brotherhood begins with the Puritans. This article provides some interesting and little know information about the Holiday.  As the article points out, the traditional Thanksgiving feast in this country clearly is rooted in the protestant, puritan origins.  Nevertheless, it is an interesting read.

This history books will tell you that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims in 1621. Not true.

An interesting bit of trivia is that the first American Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered.

A second similar “Thanksgiving” celebration occurred on American soil on April 30, 1598 in Texas when Don Juan de Oñate declared a day of Thanksgiving to be commemorated by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Catholic origins of Thanksgiving don’t stop there. Squanto, the beloved hero of Thanksgiving, was the Native American man who mediated between the Puritan Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Squanto had been enslaved by the English but he was freed by Spanish Franciscans. Squanto thus received baptism and became a Catholic. So it was a baptized Catholic Native American who orchestrated what became known as Thanksgiving.

Hat Tip to Deacon Greg Kandra.

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I haven’t seen it yet, but I have heard some interviews with Ben Stein on this movie and am happy to see it doing so well (as reported by the Christian Post). Once again, the media elitists in this country have underestimated religion in this country, assuming that their control over the education system had relegated creationism to the “fringes.” WRONG!

“Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” the pro-intelligent design documentary featuring actor Ben Stein, made history this weekend as it propelled full speed into the top 10 box office. It opened as the widest and one of the most commercially successful releases for any documentary film.

In an impressive opening weekend, the film debuted at No. 9 at the box office, earning a respectable $3.2 million while only appearing on 1,052 screens.

“Leatherheads,” the story of a struggling football team based in Duluth, Minnesota, and written and directed by George Clooney, trailed the new documentary film, placing at only No. 10 its third week at the box office, despite showing at over twice as many screens.

Although the new pro-intelligent design documentary had struggled with a reported marketing and production budget that ranged only in the single digit millions – a miniscule figure compared to the standard $117 million regularly burned by Hollywood productions – the film proved to defy expectations and panning by critics.

From the beginning of its conception, the film had been heavily criticized by scientists who dismissed the film as inaccurate, misleading, and dishonest in its portrayal of the shortcomings of evolution.

Reviewers were also among the film’s vocal critics, and in an article written for the Orlando Sentinel, Roger Moore was among those who believed the film would fail commercially, describing the film as a “mockery.”

“’Expelled’ is a full-on, amply budgeted Michael Moore-styled mockery of evolution, a film that dresses creationist crackpottery in an ‘intelligent design’ leisure suit and tries to make the fact that it’s not given credence in schools a matter of ‘academic freedom,’” Moore wrote in his description of the film.

Producers of the film, however, had hoped that while disadvantaged and outmanned in the realm of Hollywood, active marketing and outreach with Christian groups and homeschoolers could help propel the movie, in the manner of David versus Goliath, into a box office hit – a strategy that appears to have worked.

In one such campaign, the producers of the film offered to award as much as $1,000 in a contest among church groups to bring the largest crowds to see the film.

Christian groups in general proved to be receptive to the film’s message.

Anthony Horvath, executive director of the Athanatos Christian Ministry, an online apologetics academy dedicated to the defense of the Christian faith, praised the film.

“The outrage expressed by the atheistic community at Ben Stein’s movie, ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’ has been so palpable you could bottle it up and sell it as an energy drink. They are practically foaming at the mouth,” he said in a statement.

“The blogosphere reveals the utter disdain that the hard core atheists have for anyone who merely suggests that it might be possible to scientifically detect design. If all Stein’s movie accomplishes is revealing more publicly what many in the scientific community have been saying quietly all along, that is a major accomplishment,” he added.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, gave the film a thumbs up, commenting, “I think it should be required viewing for anyone who wants to understand what is going on and what is at stake in the debate over worldviews in this society,” according to Baptist Press. “This is one of these times when you can vote with your pocketbook. You can vote with your economic franchise, and Hollywood will listen when they see the dollar signs.”

“Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” is a feature-length documentary film about researchers, professors, and academics who claim to have been marginalized, silenced, or threatened with academic expulsion because of their challenges to some or all parts of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Makers of the documentary said the movie doesn’t seek to champion intelligent design as the sole truth but calls for more academic freedom, where challenges to any scientific theory including Darwinism would be fairly considered.

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Last weekend, we made a trip as a family to a retreat given by Michael Brown of Spirit Daily in Natick, MA and to Stockbridge, MA to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy for Divine Mercy Sunday. I had planned to blog about it throughout the weekend. Unfortunately, I forgot to pack the power supply for my laptop and tonight is my first opportunity since I returned home.

The weekend was really a special one for the family. The retreat was an interesting event. Looking back at it, I wouldn’t actually call it a “retreat” in that it wasn’t the soul searching, faith enriching experience which I have come to associate with retreats. It was however a very interesting presentation of the kind of material Brown writes about on Spirit Daily. The theme of the event was Spiritual Warfare. Its focus was largely on analysis of near death experiences and how they consistently relate to Catholic teaching on purgatory, heaven and hell and prophecy. The material was impressive and Brown is an engaging presenter and a deeply faithful man.

The irony of our weekend is that the Spirit Daily retreat took us to Massachusetts and it was largely because we were already in the state that brought us to Stockbridge and the Divine Mercy Shrine, and yet it was our Divine Mercy Celebration that was one of the most deeply spiritual events I have ever experienced.

My wife has developed a very special devotion to the Divine Mercy of Jesus over the past year. Despite the fact that the Michael Brown retreat included a celebration of Mass, she was trying to figure out where we would go to Mass on Sunday when it occurred to her that the National Shrine is in Massachusetts.  Though it was two hours away, we decided to make the journey, and was it ever worth it.

We were among 12,000 pilgrims to the shrine that day.  The principal celebrant of the Mass was Theodore Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, DC and concelebrated by Bishop McDonnell of Springfield, MA and many priests from the resident order of the shrine, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception and other clergy.  It was the largest assembly of priests I have seen since I had the honor of attending an outdoor Mass in downtown Philadelphia said by Pope John Paul II in 1979.

It was an amazing spiritual event to be joined by so many faithful and the Mass itself was truly beautiful.  The Cardinal’s homily was really wonderful (We recorded it on EWTN and I’m trying to figure out how to get it onto the computer so I can post it) and the music was beautiful.  After mass was an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which completed right about 3PM (the hour of Divine Mercy) and we all  (all 12,000 of us) prayed the divine mercy chaplet.  The music that accompanied the chaplet was so incredible that none of us have been able to get through an hour without singing it in our head all week.

After we left the shrine and checked into our hotel we drove through Stockbridge to get some dinner.  As we approached the town, there was a rainbow right over the shrine.  The rainbow was almost entirely a band of red and a band of yellow and clearly represented to us God’s pleasure with the day.

This will be a day all five of us are likely to remember for the rest of our lives.  More to come when I get the homily available to share.

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I need to apologize that it has been almost two weeks with no new blogging. The past few weeks have been part of an intense push at work. The project I am running is at a critical juncture and the entire team has been putting in very long days and weekends. Between 60 hour workweeks, important family time, other ministries and Lenten observance, FaithBestowed has unfortunately lapsed. I am very much enjoying this blog and finding it to be strengthening in my own faith, so I am glad to be back to it.

I will say that times like this tell us something about ourselves. For me, times of intense pressure remind me of prayers like “Footsteps in the Sand.” There is no question in my mind that during the past month there have been times where Jesus has been carrying me.
Footsteps in the sand
Footprints in the sand – Author unknown

One night a man had a dream.

He dreamt he was walking along the beach with the Lord.

Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand -one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:

LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

The LORD replied:

“Oh my precious. precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, I didn’t leave you, it was then that I carried you.”

This poem/prayer has always been one of my favorite Christian images. Of course the poem talks about sadness, but I think it applies equally to all of our stresses. It is ironic yet both accurate and appropriate that during Lent, while remembering everything that Jesus has done for me and His own sense of abandonment, I find myself so dependent on Him to deal with stresses and anxieties that relatively speaking are trivial. I also find that He reliably is there to help me do so. Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it.

When I was young and dealing with stress, my Mother would pray with me offering up my day to Jesus. The exact words of the prayers I don’t recall, but the message was that “With Jesus I can do anything. Without Him I am nothing.” Even though I can’t remember the exact words, I still call on this prayer in difficult times.

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Coach Dungy speaking at a Super Bowl prayer breakfast in 2006.

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Happy new year to all of you. I hope that 2008 is a year rich in family blessings and one of growth in your family’s relationships in Christ.

We had a really good family night at home watching movies, watching the ball drop and reminiscing about 2007. Traditionally, this is the night that we watch It’s a Wonderful Life, my wife’s all time favorite. We didn’t have enough time for that this year so we watched A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott instead (with the proviso that we would watchIt’s a Wonderful Life later in the week) . I hadn’t seen that in many years.  We paused the movie at around 11:45 to fill our glasses for a New Year’s Toast and to watch the ball drop, make some noise and recognize the passing of another year together.

2007 was a good year for us as a family and we are looking forward to a successful 2008.

May 2008 be rich in peace, love and togetherness for your family!

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Do you think you are you influencing your family’s faith, values and behavior? The answer is almost certainly yes. The more important question is how you are influencing them. I know many good men who struggle in numerous areas of demonstrating and leading faith in their families. I know many church attending children who regularly attend services with their siblings and their mothers. I also see many of them (mostly the daughters) active in church activities being dropped off and picked up by their mothers. (more…)

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I hope that everyone had a very happy and Blessed, Christ-centered Christmas. It was a very special day for my family.

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Sadly, my initial attempt to get this site started (over a year ago) was not very successful, due to a combination of procrastination and (honestly) some self-intimidation. Since you are reading this, I have overcome both of these issues.

I have over the past year thought about this blog and the critical topics I want to discuss herein almost every day. However, the commitment to put this out into such a public forum has been admittedly awe inspiring. Nevertheless, through continued prayer and encouragement from my wife, I am ready to get this going.

I recently read an article from an unlikely source encouraging Catholics to blog about their faith. In the article, Cardianl Camillo Ruini of Rome speaks directly about blogging about Jesus to the youth. However, the themes of his speech really speak to the motivations I have for opening As parents, it is equally important that we use the tools at our disposal to share the Gospels and their meanings in our family lives. As the primary educators of our children – especially with respect to faith-formation – it is our responsibility to be “showing them the true Jesus.” So many of the Catholic youth (as well as other Christian youth) have a great curiosity and passion for Christ, Christian service and a yearning to understand their faith. I think that the role of fathers, active in their own faith and devotion is a critical part of directing that yearning toward a life in Christ.

The role of fathers in households of faith is so important. I know many fathers in Christian families who play only a small role in the faith formation of their children. Some of them are good friends of mine and are good men, so I don’t intend to demean. However, Americans have developed a dominant tendency toward what I call the “drop off culture.” Parents drop their kids at school, drop them at the soccer field, drop them at CCD, drop them at church and expect others to deal with critical aspects of their formation.

There is no greater role that we have a Christian parents than to introduce our children to Christ, ensure that they understand God’s love for them, that they learn to love God and share Christ’s love with one another. This is a tall task for sure, but it becomes nearly impossible if we as parents – both Dads and Moms – aren’t involved in our own faith and in theirs.

There are many great, faith-filled, Christian people who have reached their state of faith and grace without the benefit of two faithful parents, but statistically speaking, this is far less likely than those who have grow up in a household of faith.

Please join me in the dialog to promote the life of Christ in all of our homes.

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