Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How NPR Marks Holy Days

On Palm Sunday, NPR interviewed an atheist about the historicity of Jesus and told a story about how James Brown was "born dead and miraculously brought back to life". Super-classy.

Thankfully they had the better taste to lay off of religion on Easter Sunday.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Breast Cancer, Artificial Birth Control, and Procured Abortion

Breast Cancer - Artificial Contraception Links

A Case-Control Study of Oral Contraceptive Use and Incident Breast Cancer (2008)
"These results suggest that [oral contraceptive] use is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer diagnosed in recent years."
"After control for breast cancer risk factors, the multivariable odds ratio for 1 year or more of OC use, relative to less than 1 year of use, was 1.5[-fold]"

Risk Factors for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in Women Under the Age of 45 Years (2009)

Study found that of a pool of women afflicted with breast cancer, artificial birth control use appears to be linked to a much greater incidence of a deadlier form of the cancer:
"Oral contraceptive use ≥1 year was associated with a 2.5-fold increased risk for triple-negative breast cancer...Furthermore, the risk among oral contraceptive users conferred by longer oral contraceptive duration and by more recent use was significantly greater for triple-negative breast cancer than non-triple-negative breast"

Effect of [injected] depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate on breast cancer risk among women 20-44 years of age"We found that recent DMPA use for 12 months or longer was associated with a 2.2-fold (95% CI: 1.2-4.2) increased risk of invasive breast cancer."

Breast Cancer - Procured Abortion Links

Women With a Previous Induced Abortion Had a Significant Increased Risk of Breast Cancer
Researchers led by Ai-Ren Jiang reported a statistically significant 1.52-fold elevation in risk for women with IAs [induced abortion] and a “significant dose-response relationship between (the risk) for breast cancer and number of (IAs),” meaning that risk climbed with number of IAs.

"The results support the inclusion of induced abortion among significant independent risk factors for breast cancer, regardless of parity or timing of abortion relative to the first term pregnancy. Although the increase in risk was relatively low, the high incidence of both breast cancer and induced abortion suggest a substantial impact of thousands of excess cases per year currently, and a potentially much greater impact in the next century, as the first cohort of women exposed to legal induced abortion continues to age."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Defense of Pope Pius XII Against Charges of Anti-Semitism

"Then Pope Pius XII said: ‘You have done well, my Jewish friend, to come to me and tell me what has happened down there in the Italian islands...You are Jewish. I know what that means in these times we live in. I do hope that you will always be proud to be a Jew!

And then the Pope raised his voice so that everybody in the room [where German officers were present] could hear it even more clearly: ‘My son, whether you are worthier than others, only the Lord knows, but believe me, you are at least as worthy as any other human being on our earth before the Lord. And now, my Jewish friend, go with the protection of the Lord Almighty, and never forget: Be always proud to be a Jew."

"In the early months of 1944 the inhabitants of the Castelli Romani were worn out by the war. Pius XII lodged twelve thousand people in the papal Villa. Thirty six babies were born in the apartments of the pope in that period. We met two of them, the [Jewish] twins Eugenio Pio and Pio Eugenio Zevini" [named after Eugenio Pacelli: Pope Pius XII]

Archives Show Church Excommunicated Nazis
"The documents indicate that any Catholic who joined the Nazi party, wore the uniform or flew the swastika flag would no longer be able to receive the sacraments."

"Zolli devoted an entire chapter in his memoirs to the German occupation of Rome and praised the Pope's leadership: '... The people of Rome loathed the Nazis and had intense pity for the Jews. They willingly assisted in the evacuation of the Jewish population into remote villages, where they were concealed and protected by Christian families. Christian families in the heart of Rome accepted Jews. There was money in the treasury for the support of destitute refugees thus hidden. The Holy Father sent by hand a letter to the bishops instructing them to lift the enclosure from convents and monasteries, so that they could become refuges for the Jews. I know of one convent where the Sisters slept in the basement, giving up their beds to Jewish refugees. In face of this charity, the fate of so many of the persecuted is especially tragic.'"

"Apparently breaking with a taboo among critics of the Catholic Church and of Pope Pius XII – who reigned during the Second World War and the Holocaust – Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican has recognized that the pontiff did actually save thousands of Jews during the years of Nazi predation."

Pius Protected Roman Synagogue under Papal coat of arms... make it Vatican property and so to protect it from confiscation and desecration by the Germans.

In the words of Albert Einstein: Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised, I now praise unreservedly. (Time Magazine, Dec. 1940)

"In Rabbi David G. Dalin's controversial [2005] book, he explodes the newly resurrected, widely accepted, yet utterly bankrupt smearing of Pope Pius XII, whom Jewish survivors of the Holocaust considered a righteous gentile...Rabbi Dalin explodes the myth of Hitler’s pope and condemns the myth-makers for not only rewriting history, but for denying the testimony of Holocaust survivors, hijacking the Holocaust for unseemly political ends, and ignoring the real threat to the Jewish people."

"In reviewing the play in 1964, The New York Times stated that its 'facts may be in dispute; the history imperfect; the indictment too severe.' America condemned the play as 'an atrocious calumny against the memory of a good and courageous world leader occupying the Chair of Peter during one of the great crises of humanity.' Cardinal Francis Spellman called the play 'an outrageous desecration of the honour of a great and good man, and an affront to those who know his record as a humanitarian who love him and revere his memory:'"

"Renowned scholar Professor Ronald Rychla: The important aspect of this document is that it shows what many of us have been saying all along: efforts that appear to have been directed to protect only converted Jews actually protected Jews regardless of whether they had converted"

"All of these allegations and others against the pope have now been carefully identified, dissected, and answered in this book by Professor Ronald Rychlak using citations, argumentation, and documentations which in the end are not just irrefutable but are overwhelming. It turns out that there never was any case against Pope Pius XII, none. "

Shoddy Scholarship in the Study of Pope Pius XII Suggests He Helped War Criminals
On the contrary, this is false and "Pius even provided evidence to use against Nazi defendants and assigned a Jesuit to assist the prosecution team."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Eucharist as Medicine of Immortality

(Following is my term paper of Spring 2010. I may revisit the topic again at a higher level in the future. I've seen a number of opportunities for improvement when I have the opportunity to write with more specificity on the topic)

Since the second century, the Catholic Church has honored the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist under the title, “the medicine of immortality.” This teaching that the Eucharist is a medicine of immortality has been obscured or omitted from most catechesis. The concept that the Eucharist is the "medicine of immortality" is a universal Christian teaching of Eastern Christian origin that is a necessary article of faith to fully understand Church teaching on the Eucharist. Although the teaching has been officially taught by the teaching authority of the Church, it seldom percolates down to the laity. Along with a fuller catechesis that teaches that the Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus, Catholics need this teaching of the “medicine of immortality” to form a more complete picture of the sacrament.

In his original unveiling of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, Jesus told us that, "Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.” This is clearest teaching on the Eucharist as a “medicine of immortality”.[1] To call this a simple explanation would be disingenuous, as many of his disciples left him over this teaching, despite the tremendous and gratuitous promise He gave to us.

Perhaps the earliest written presentation of the “medicine of immortality” concept is in St. Ignatius of Antioch's letter to the Ephesians, a non-canonical epistle. This letter is nonetheless of value to Catholics as part of a body of work that helps to interpret the Scriptures by illustrating certain teachings that follow an unbroken continuity back to the earliest Apostles. Ignatius was a “Church Father” who studied at the feet of St. John, the beloved apostle, who in turn had studied at the feet of Christ. Ignatius called the Eucharist a vital, universal part of the faith. He promised to write to the Ephesians a second time, but only, “…if the Lord make known to me that you come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith...breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ.”[2] The breaking of this bread continues to be the most important act of worship in the Church.

St. John's Gospel tells us that many things that Jesus did and said had to be left out of the book for brevity's sake, so it is conceivable that Christ himself might be the originator of the concept that His body and blood are the medicine of immortality given to us in the Eucharist. Indeed, St. Luke (notably a physician) and St. Matthew both recount the anecdote of Jesus telling the Pharisees, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.”[3] Christ Himself is the Divine Physician who gives us a remedy for death, His Body and Blood to eat. He enables us to one day have eternal life. If we are sinners who are “sick” with sin, our Divine Physician’s medicine of choice has been identified by His earliest Apostles as the Holy Eucharist.

Apocalyptic Scripture alludes to Christ providing a source of a medicine of great power. In the Bible, the prophet Ezekiel spoke of a temple, which we can presume to represent Christ, from whose side flowed water toward the east and then south.

"This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah...Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live...Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine."[4]

St. John tells us in his book of Revelation that he was shown by an angel a scene that was a clear parallel to this prophet's vision. John clearly identifies the source of the water:

“Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its street. On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.”[5]

By the time these words were committed to the page, the apostles had already begun the evangelization of all peoples, bringing this Blessed Sacrament to the lips of all nations. This passage in Revelation has multiple beauties about it. When Christ's side and heart were pierced, blood and water flowed from the wound, becoming our Baptism and Eucharist. This vision of a throne issues water from its side, nourishing the tree of life, a clear illustration of how Christ’s grace provides us with the Holy Eucharist.

Christ's cross is the tree of life, the contrast to the tree in the Garden of Eden that brought death to mankind. The fruit and leaves of this tree of life are together the Eucharist that nourishes us and at the same time is our medicine for all nations. Among those who worship Christ it is a particular grace to be able to receive the produce of this tree with the opportunity to share in eternal life with Christ.

As Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Francis Cardinal Arinze remembered St. Ignatius’ words, giving us a rare exposition of the doctrine. He tells us simply that in the Eucharist, Christ gives us “a pledge of eternal life, of our bodily resurrection, since Jesus promised that those who so receive him in this sacrament have eternal life and he will raise them up at the last day. Therefore St. Ignatius of Antioch called Holy Communion ‘a medicine of immortality, and antidote of death.’” [6] Arinze takes it as a given that the Eucharist is a medicine even while it is the sacrament of the altar.

The medicine of immortality analogy is still accepted today, having been listed in the Catechism parallel to other names for Holy Communion, “the bread of angels, bread from heaven, medicine of immortality, viaticum.”[7] The medicine of immortality is also named in like manner in John Paul II's Ecclesia De Eucharistia[8]. For his part, Pope Benedict XVI sees an additional strong tie between the Eucharist and the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. The latter is given to those in such circumstances as imminent death, along with viaticum, the Eucharist given as “bread for the journey” toward Heaven. Benedict states in Sacramentum Caritatis that. “On their journey to the Father, communion in the Body and Blood of Christ appears as the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection.” [9]

The graces that we receive by taking and consuming the Eucharist are a medicine for the soul. Just as a medicine conforms the body to health, the Eucharist conforms our fallen nature to Christ. It is the stronger substance that turns us into Christs; instead of just being consumed as normal bread, it acts on and consumes those who eat the Eucharist.

It is important for us to go to Christ the physician to be healed. Church discipline has long prescribed a period of fasting before receiving the Eucharist, just as a surgeon requires the same of his patient before surgery. Our fasting better prepares us by causing us to hunger for the Eucharist, allowing Christ's hands to work on our souls. Just as "God formed our inmost beings and knit us in the womb"[10], He also repairs our inmost beings through such means as this medicine of immortality.

For those who revere Christ, there are practical benefits to receiving a medicine that brings us to eternal life. The benefits may not be recognized as immediate, but the effects are certainly lasting, indeed eternal. In the short term of mortal life, the availability of the Eucharist prepares us for Heaven and teaches us to avoid sin. Like periodic Confession, frequent Communion encourages us to seek and to stay in a state of grace by avoiding sin and cultivating an active prayer life, which better disposes us to face our final judgment. So, just as His disciples asked Christ, “Sir, give us this bread always,”[11] we must also ask our Lord to give us this same gift, this medicine of immortality in the Eucharist.

[1] John 6: 54 (NAB)

[2] St. Ignatius of Antioch, “The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians”, New Advent [website]; available from (accessed 21 April, 2010).

[3] Luke 5:31 (NAB)

[4] Ezekiel 47: 9-12 (NAB)

[5] Revelation 22:1-3 (NAB)

[6]Francis Cardinal Arinze. “The Holy Eucharist Unites Heaven and Earth,” September 25, 2004, USCCB, (accessed April 22, 2010).

[7] Catechism of the Catholic Church Second Edition, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, (1997), 1331.

[8] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Church of the Eucharist (Ecclesia De Eucharistia), April 17, 2003, #18, Vatican,

_20030417_ecclesia_eucharistia_en.html (accessed April 22, 2010).

[9] Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacrament of Charity (Sacramentum Caritatis), February 22, 2007, #22, Vatican, hf_ben-xvi_exh_20070222_sacramentum-caritatis_en.html (accessed April 22, 2010).

[10] Psalm 139:13 (NAB)

[11] John 6:34 (NAB)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Arizona Law on Illegal Immigration

Arizona has been given a really raw deal. Most of the fifty states don't have a border with Mexico, and none has the amount of crime, human trafficking, and drug smuggling that comes up through Arizona's border. It is WRONG for them to bear this alone, it defeats the purpose of being a part of the United States.

We need a reconciliation and mutual cultural assimilation with the immigrants. The latter is how America is supposed to work. We're supposed to become one people with our immigrants. Assimilation can't happen with people who can't become a part of society. The Catholic Church says that immigrants are supposed to respect and accommodate the laws of their host. So many things have already gone wrong.

I think this problem needs to be fixed soon and a solution needs to include equal measures of generosity and consequences for those who have entered the country illegally. There are some really dehumanizing aspects of this ongoing situation. I'm really tired of Congress failing to fix this decades old problem (but I also doubt that I would like any "solution" that this Congress would come to.)

I fear that the Democrats will be tempted to give amnesty to a broad swath of the illegal immigrants in a naked attempt to buy votes, which would be good for exactly NOBODY. This really wouldn't help illegal immigrants or us because I think becoming documented would price most of them out of a job. (Considering minimum wage laws, historically pushed by Democrats) But I can't be sure of this because I haven't heard anyone make this argument. Certainly, I think there needs to be an expanded guest worker program, perhaps one where they are allowed to work below the minimum wage (as many currently do).

I think some Catholic bishops are tacitly welcoming illegal immigration as part of an ongoing avoidance issue they have. The state of catechesis and the liturgy are pretty much in the crapper. American Catholics aren't passing the faith on to their children. They themselves don't even know what it is they have. The faith is often rendered so bland and inconsequential when Catholicism is rich and other-worldly in its natural form! Many bishops welcome these immigrants as a stop-gap solution to declining numbers of Americans in the pews, but they're going to see that if they don't fix their presentation of the faith, the immigrants' descendants will one day simply drop Catholicism, too.

Back to politics, I really believe in state sovereignty, America's AND Mexico's. Mexico needs SERIOUS reform but I don't know what we can do to help them without reaching in and violating THEIR sovereignty just as individual citizens of their country regularly do to us. We can't unilaterally fix Mexico. It needs to be a country where its own citizens can thrive, instead it's becoming something that can be described as a kleptocracy, a narco-republic, etc.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Greeley: Implementing a revolving door at the rectory

Fr. Andrew Greeley is at it again, or at least this week's reprinting of his article makes it look like he is. Apparently someone at "US Catholic" thinks his 2007 article is timely again. It is an argument for some sort of short term priesthood. And look who commented!
By tour86rocker (not verified) on Sunday, April 25, 2010
Marriages and ordinations are more alike than people are saying here. Catholics can't divorce but they can separate for a good reason. They remain sacramentally married (unless they were never validly married in the first place). It's the same with priests, they can be separated from their ministry for a good reason but they remain ordained.

It is unnatural for man and wife, who are one flesh, to be separated, but it can become necessary if the husband is abusive, for instance. If a priest's actions abuse or scandalize the faithful, he should be separated from his spouse (the Church) as well.

It is unnatural for a sacramentally ordained priest to be separated from the ministry that his nature is indelibly ordered toward after ordination. Why on Earth should it ever become common to make temporary promises with your lips when your very soul makes a commitment for a lifetime? It's like the body speaking a lie against the soul.

I agree with my fellow critics, this is psychologically related to the male aversion to commitment in this culture. So many fathers are emotionally distant from their wives and children and are looking for an out. So many marriages end in divorce due to a privation of manhood! Apparently some priests are looking for an out, too.

(Greeley's reference to monks and nuns who make temporary vows is a big, fat red herring intended to confuse those who don't understand the sacrament of Holy Orders. Religious sisters and brothers don't take part in any sacrament as a virtue of entering a religious order. The religious brothers and sisters are apples and the priest is an orange. Ask me why if you're wondering. It's just really unfortunate that Greeley lumps all forms of religious commitment together into one big ball of "stuff that keeps you from getting married". Religious life is supposed to be freely and joyfully chosen, not burdensome!)

In short, we'd quickly see liturgical and catechetical horrors yet-unheard-of. And I, for one, have heard of too many already. Implementing a revolving door at the rectory is the surest way to keep our shepherds' memory of tradition very myopic and there would be no reason for them to be concerned with episcopal censure, after all, their swing at being a priest would be just a temporary volunteer position (albeit with a lot of educational prerequisites!) that they'd soon move on from. And don't forget, they'd probably move on to marriages with the same privation of commitment. If you thought you'd seen failed Catholic marriages before that day...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Honest Journalism on the Abuse Scandals and Journalism Scandal, A Short List

Church is on the side of the victims, not the abusers:
Tearful pope says church will better protect young: from Associated Press
Cardinal Hummes: ‘Above all we are on the side of the victims’: from Catholic World News
Abuse victim in Malta: Pope Benedict XVI is a 'saint': from Catholic News Agency

Process to protect children is shown to have improved:
Evidence of Renewal: from National Review
U.S. bishops tracking foreign priest abuse complaints: from the Washington Post
Bishop Wenski: "Crisis...has been surmounted": from Orlando Sentinel

Pope was never personally responsible:
Fessio: Let's Get the Story Straight: Defrocking and Divorce: from Insight Scoop
The mob should lay off. The pope is completely innocent: from The Guardian (UK)
Abp Nichols: The Church is not trying to cover anything up: from The Times (UK)

Dishonest Journalism:
Journalists abandon standards to attack the Pope: from Catholic Culture
Ed Koch: Anti-Catholicism Evident in Media: from Zenit
Why is the unashamed child abuser Polanski lauded while the repentant Pope is vilified?: from Daily Mail (UK)

Defenders of Pope:
President of the Italian Senate condemns 'unmerited' attacks on Pope Benedict: from Catholic News Agency

Figures about real abuse prevalence are lower than people think:
How Spotlights Leave Many Other Things in Darkness: from Archdiocese of Washington blog
**Weigel: Scoundrel Time(s): from First Things
The media fires up its inquisition: from the Star Tribune
Forgotten Study: Abuse in School 100 Times Worse than by Priests: from Life Site News
Sex Abuse by Teachers Said Worse Than Catholic Church: from NewsMax

Opportunities for improvement:
Prominent Chicago Catholic Calls On Pope For Tougher Action: from WBBM Chicago

Voris: A Little Balance, Please!

Nobody is comforted about the priest abuse scandal by learning that teachers abuse more, anyway. It's NOT a comfort and I think it makes us look bad to to lean heavily on such an argument.

We should be saying instead that we're doing all that we can to kick out pedophiles and pederasts in the priesthood and screen them out before they make it into a seminary. Our bishops have implemented reforms that have reduced such new cases of such abuse to approach the more acceptable level of zero.

Voris did an interesting thing here. At minute 3:00 he started to explain that there was a reason that there were more abuses by teachers than by Catholic priests: there are more OF them. Instead of doing the intellectually honest thing and calculating the abuses per teacher and abuses per priest, he just sort of CHANGES the subject. I didn't like that he did that. I believe that God is best served by truth.

So I decided to calculate it myself. I had to listen to the video about three times to write down all of the number of abuses and then I looked up the number of priests and teachers (of minors) in the U.S.

Voris (or Shakeshaft?) does us a disservice by giving us only apples to oranges comparisons of abuse figures. But for my calculation I'm accepting their average for the 1990's of 29,000 abuses per year by teachers and 220 per year by priests.

According to US News & World Report, there were about 32,300 Catholic priests in the US in 1995. That makes it about 8 abuses per 1000 priests in 1995. <1>

Another article from the same periodical claims there were 2.5 million teachers in 1996, making it about 12 abuses per 1000 teachers in 1996. <2>

These aren't the best data sources and I failed statistics twice, so I'm open to criticism. I'd say that although teachers appear to have abused more, the rate is too close to say which one abuses more in any given year. And the abuse prevalence of priests and teachers is almost equally unlikely, to such an extent that neither group should be stereotyped by it! I don't have the right data to compare apples to apples but the data I have would have to be off by magnitudes to make a difference, and I don't see any reason to assume that this is the case.


#2 is the best I could find after searching for an hour, an hour of my life that I'll never get back. We don't know what teachers that number includes or excludes, like preschool, special ed, private schools, parochial schools, etc. (or, where it overlaps with priest-teachers)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Western Catholics need to know their Eastern extended Family

My sister heard about someone with the same first and last name today and that totally weirds us both out. We have a pretty rare last name to start with. I'm used to having a very uncommon first AND last name. In my life I've fielded hundreds of comments about my first name, hopefully in a charitable manner.

What is your reaction when you meet somebody with the same last name or even full name? When I hear of someone with the same last name, it makes me glad! I have lots of extended family, but only one living grandmother with my last name and I don't think anyone else outside of my immediate family. We didn't grow up with any extended family living in the same STATE and very few (I think less than a dozen) opportunities to go to Oregon meet extended family.

It's my nature to see a tie between the way things make me feel. Maybe having very little family growing up is why I was so excited to learn about the Eastern Catholic churches when I was a high schooler. It was something I learned about on my own and it was like finding out I had long-lost family in my own city. Most Catholics are Roman, and most Romans never have an experience of the divine liturgy outside of their own parishes, or even know that the Roman Church is one of almost two dozen (much smaller) Churches in the Catholic Church, most of which were spin-offs from Orthodox Churches. They have distincive liturgical rites descending from about half a dozen non-Roman traditions, but all holding the same Catholic beliefs about what takes place in the Mass/Divine Liturgy.

If you are Catholic, please check them out! Pope Benedict XVI is going down in history as the Pope of Christian Unity, and it really behooves us to be knowledgeable about Eastern Christianity in order to grow closer to the still-separated Eastern ORTHODOX by learning more about the Eastern CATHOLIC Churches that centuries ago came back to us from them.

While we profess the same faith and doctrines, the Second Vatican Council urged Eastern Catholics to return to their distinctive traditions, as some had been coerced into adopting some Roman traditions. Roman rite Catholicism isn't supposed to become Eastern or vice versa in order for us to have more unity but it's good for us to know more about Eastern Catholicism, as they know a lot about their more widely known Roman sister church. It's only polite.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

When Lenten Penances Are Too Light

From Matthew Kelly's book, "Rediscovering Catholicism":
The forty days of Lent are an ideal period for renewal. Lent is the perfect span of time to form new life-giving habits and abandon old self-destructive habits. But most of us just give up candy and, when Easter arrives, we are no further advanced spiritually than we were at the beginning of Lent.
In the interest of full disclosure, my only formally avowed Lenten penance was to drive exactly the speed limit. For some people, that might be huge, but for me, I already never drove more than 5 mph over. Kudos to those who caught the faulty self-justification in my italicized words there. So anyway, my Lenten discipline brings me more peace on the road, but as I told some friends, I didn't feel that it was sufficiently "Lenty" enough when I resolved to do it.

I post this quote because it hit be right between the eyes when I read it. If I'd had more presence of mind I'm sure I would have told myself "aw snap, me!" but as I said I was stunned, and thus introspective at that moment. Ah, opportunity: missed.

My knee-jerk reflex when reading a passage like the Matthew Kelly above is to self-justify. Ex: Sure my Lenten discipline is meager but "I'm doing more spiritual reading this year" and "I'm planning on entering a theology undergraduate program" blah blah. But I do enough self-justifying...and it's endemic to the culture.

Anyway, I love this book of his but I've been listening to some of his talks online and I don't like them at all. It's really weird because the other day I just about came to blows (figuratively, internet-style) with somebody who was knocking this book. I took it as a personal affront. (The guy is clearly still wrong, by the way :^)

But I'm going to be honest, if I ever meet Mr. Kelly and he utters one of his buzz-phrases such as "best version of yourself" and "Spiritual North Star", I'd beg him to never, ever use those phrases ever again. I've become aware that I'm not the only one who finds his overuse of those phrases tiresome. For the love, Mr. Kelly, please: think of the children.