Sunday, July 31, 2011

To Celebrate the Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola Let us Bake This Cake

[Scroll down to the bottom if all you want is the cake recipe.]
The Society of Jesus, commonly knows as the Jesuits, was founded by one of the great Saints of the Catholic Church, Saint Ignatius of Loyola (Loyola means "wolves and pot" ).  As a youth, Inigo -- his birth name -- considered himself a playboy who suffered from vanity.  He desired to serve in the military and fight for a lady.  Eventually, he did get his wish to fight in a battle against the French.  At the Battle of Pamploma, Inigo received an injury to his leg when hit by a canon ball.  As the French entered the fort at which Inigo was defending, slaying the injured and resistent Spaniards, they were impressed by Inigo's great ferver at which he fought that they spared his life and brought him to a hospital for healing.

While at the hospital he had only two books at his disposal: the life of Christ and a book of the lives of the Saints.  Accustomed to reading the romance (Don't think Daniel Steel.  Think Kings and knights and ladies) and fantastic stories of knights, Inigo found the stories of the Saints to be uplifting and they stirred within himself something the romance stories could not.  Where the romance stories left him empty and sad, the stories of Christ and the Saints filled his heart and compelled him to goodness and service to God, which demonstrated St. Augustines, "you have created us for you O Lord and our hearts are restless till they rest in you" perfectly.

During his reading of the Saints, Inigo discovers the writing os St. Ignatius of Antioch, and he reads a line which went something to the effect: "out of the silence you created me oh God."  Inspired by the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Inigo changes his name in imitation of this Saint.  Soon after Ignatius of Loyola would begin writing reflections on the spiritual life which would later become the "Spiritual Exercises."  The Exercises would eventually become the model from which most religious orders model their retreats.

If one would list the contributions the Jesuits made over the centuries in all the fields of theology and empirical sciences a work of book length would perhaps be sufficient.  Jesuits made significant contributions to physics, biology, evolutionary theory, reformed the Julian Calendar, geology, exploration (a 16/17th century Jesuit was the first person to report on Tibet), and more.  Today, the Jesuits still operate one of the best Observatories in the World.

One of my favorite stories about St. Ignatius of Loyola happened in his early years following his conversion to Christianity.  While on a road traveling, he happened upon a Spanish Moore traveling the same road.  The two immediately began discussing religion, and the Moore proceeded to speak unkindly about the Blessed Mother.  Ignatius, infuriated over the words from the Moore, wanted nothing more than to kill the blasphemer.  Wrestling with this impulse to defend the Virgin, kill the Moore, and follow Christ, he made a brief prayer in which he asked God to guide the donkey on which he rode down the right path upon reaching the fork in the road.  If the donkey goes down the same path as the Moore, Ignatius would kill the Moore.  If the donkey goes down the other road away from the Moore, he would allow the Moore to live.  The downkey chose the later and the Moore lived.  Saints weren't always saints, and they too confronted many of the same challenges as we.

To honor St. Ignatius, the people in the Basque region of Spain bake a specific cake in honor of their Saint.  If you would like to imitate the the Spanish and honor St. Ignatius with this cake, here is the recipe.

The recipe was given to me on a Jesuit Educator's Retreat in St. Louis.  At the time I was teaching at a Jesuit School in New Orleans.

(Cake for St. Ignatius Day) 

6 egg whites
2 1/2 cups (625 g) sugar
4 c. (400 g) almonds, ground
1 1/2 c. (200 g) flour
1 c. (250 g.) butter

In a  large bowl beat the egg whites with an electric beater until quite firm.  Slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat.  After the sugar has been used up, fold in the ground almonds and the flour.  Melt the butter; when cool, add it to the mixture, folding it in carefully.

Use an ungreased large round cake pan, about 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter and 5 inches high.  Pour in the mixture.  Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and bake on a low rack for about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, or until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

O Sole Mio

Watch it and be lifted.  Does the english language has any songs of this caliber?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Notes from Hell: Hot as Hell.

A Wretched Man am I: A Lesson in Latin, Music and Theology for Michael Voris

Michael Voris, the self proclaimed measure of all that is orthodox Catholicism recently took a swing at the church hymn "Amazing Grace."  He calls for an end of the singing of this song at the Catholic Mass for the simple fact that is was written by a protestant.  Mark P. Shea already did a number on the Voris video, posted at the end.

First He has issues with the word "wretched" and assumes that the word "wretched" can only mean fully deprived of Grace (yet the song is about the saving power of grace and that it is grace that moves the speaker).  More on "wretchedness" farther down.  

Grace, She Passed Away 30 Years Ago

Second he takes issue with the lines "How precious did that Grace appear / The hour I first believed."  Voris does not like this line because he (in his misreading of the lyrics)  thinks the song to be saying that grace only appears  when and after a person starts to believe.  The speaker in the song is not implying what Voris wrongly assumes -- that grace only apear after you believe.  The speaker in the song is saying that when he finally believed, he saw that the appearance of Grace was precious to him.  This can be likend to a man who walked past a beautiful work of art for 15 years and never once noticing the precious and beautiful work of art so close to him as he walked.  Then one day, he turns his head slightly while walking the same street he has walked for the previous 15 years and notices that beautiful art for the first time.  He might call this new found work of art "precious" and "sweet" and "beautiful," for though the art was always there it is only now that he sees it and it makes, from his own perspective, its first appearance into his life.  In other words, grace has always been there, but relative to the speaker's current state of life, he was unaware of it.  Then one day, the hour he first believed, it was as if the grace that was always there had suddenly appeared.

Back to wretchedness:

The Latin word "miser, misera, miserum" can be translated into English as "wretched."  The Latin word "misereor, misereri, miseritus sum" is translated commonly as "pity" when it is in the genative case.  Both words are of a similar root (miser) and complement each other in the logic behind them. 

In the liturgy we say "miserere nobis."  "Miserere" is the second person, singular, passive, genative of "misereor", and "nobis" is the dative, plural of the personal pronoun "I"/"we" which is translated as "us."  The full phrase is translated in the Mass as "have mercy on us." Here Catholics ask for the mercy of God.  Why do Catholics ask for the mercy of God?  Remember there is a logical relation between the Latin words for the English "wretched" and "pity/mercy".  Because humanity is wretched.  You don't ask for Mercy unless you are wretched.  You don't ask for pity unless you are pitiful.  In the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Catholics imply that they are indeed wretched, and it is for that reason they pray "Lord, 'have mercy on us.'"  So, "yes," the Catholic view of man is that man is a wretch in the same manner that Saint Paul calls himself a wretch.

Catholics who have any kind of basic theological training know that the assumption is not that man is completely void of grace and goodness and is completely corrupt.  Though, one certainly can go too far with the wretchedness of man and wrongly assume that man is only a wretch, which was the case with Luthers and other Protestants sects that popped up over the years.  However, the author of the hymn was Anglican, which has different views on wretchedness than does Luther.  Though perhaps the author was influenced by John Calvin's view of the wretchedness of man.  Voris makes the gravest sin in talking about non-catholics by assuming they all have the same theology, when in fact they do not.  

It's a Song, Not an Essay

Furthermore, Voris, as well as MANY other well intentioned Catholics, fail to realize that what he is critiquing is a song and not an exhaustive theological treatise.  Amazing Grace would not be the song we know it as today if the author wrote "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a man who has fallen into sin and had become, like Saint Paul, a wretched man." That is, the author was not trying to write an essay on his experience of Grace but a sweet lyrical poem and hymn.  When a work of literature or music is critiqued, it helps to place it into the proper category in which it belongs before critiquing it.

Words, Words, Words, 

Words have meaning.  Words have multiple meanings.  The same word may have different meanings for different cultures.  For instance if an American said "Let us go have supper."  The American is saying that he is going to have his final meal for the day.  If an Australian said "Let us go have supper." The Australian is saying something completely different from  the American's definition of "supper."  In Australia "supper" is not the final meal of the day, but it is a late evening snack that comes after the final meal of the day.  Apparently when working on his S.T.B. that he so proudly touts at the end of his name, Voris never learned to use a dictionary.  What certain protestants mean by "wretch" and "grace" Catholics might, and often do, mean something different.


Voris must think church goers to be compete dolts capable of having only the wrong thoughts.  The lyrics of "Amazing Grace" can easily be reconciled with Catholic teaching based upon the proper understanding of man (wretchedness) and grace.  With the proper understanding a once non-catholic hymn is converted into a beautiful Catholic hymn.  How to help others get to this understanding?  One way is to not tear down something that is dear to many Christians that is not heretical and not anti-catholic as Voris thinks.  In what way could Voris have done this better? Simple: catechesis.  Use the song, which is a very popular church hymn, as a vehicle for doing catechesis to teach Catholics the Catholic understanding of man and grace.  By doing so, the Catholic cult will have then transformed the culture that Voris so adamantly expresses as being evil.

Lastly, I don't know how people can watch this Voris guy.  It is like he is trying to be the Catholic version of Beck or Rush.  Something the Church needs not.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Augustine on Pop Culture: Harry Potter and Tears

Been reading much about the tears being spilled over Harry Potter, when I remembered what Saint Augustin said about the tears he cried over a story.  He wrote:
I could weep over the death Dido brought upon herself out of live for Aeneas, yet I shed no tears over the death I brought upon myself by not loving [God].

Today he might have written, "I could week over the death of Harry Potter brought upon him by the sacrifice he had to make, yet I shed no tears over the death I brought upon myself by not loving [God].

Faith v. Science: Father Gregor Mendel's 189th Birthday

If you have been to the google home page today, then you have seen the "google" name doodled from the shape of pea-pods in honor of the father (in more than one sense of the word) of modern genetics, Father Gregor Mendel.  What is often not mentioned about this founding father is that he was a Catholic Priest.

There isn't enough room in all the libraries of the world to give a full count of the silly faith v. science argument.  As it is evident in Father Gregory Mendel, as well as countless other priests, that faith and science do fit together nicely.  What has happened to me is that my faith actually stirs within me a curiosity about the world in which I live.  I like to think that others, like Fr. Mendel, have had similar experiences.

For a laundry list of contributions that men of the cloth have made to not only the scientific community but also the world, I recommend reading Thomas Wood's, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.  It is an easy and informative read.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Youth Speaker's Outline: How to be an Effective Youth Speaker

[satire]Just spent this past weekend at the Archdiocesan Youth Conference for the Archdioceses of Galveston-Houston.  I've been inspired to become a youth speaker after the event.  Here is my overall structure for my talks that I will deliver.  Let me know what you think.

Title of talk

Length of talk: 60 min

I.  Obligator song with handmotions (of heaven) or game that has nothing to do with the talk. (5 Min)
II.  Tell some jokes and stories that have nothing to do with the talk (20 min)
        a.  Local crappy sport team.
        b.  My local crappy sports team.
        c.  Ethnic jokes, but only if they are about my ethnicity or being Catholic
        d.  A story that will later embarrass your child, if they knew you were telling this story, and cause years of therapy and trust issues.
        e.  Some tragedy that happened in your life.
III.  Talk about your spouse (10 min)
        a.  Guy speaker: say how much you love your wife and how holy and perfect she is and how you are blessed to have her as your spouse.  Show picture of you and your spouse being cute.  The goal is to make all the girls go "awwwwww" and "oooooooo" with delight.
        b.  Girl speaker: say how much your husband loves you and all the cute things he does for you. The goal is to make all the girls go "awwwwww" and "oooooooo" with delight.
IV.  The substance of the talk (20 min)
V.  Recap using a clever mnemonic device that can be put on a t-shirt, or plastic bracelet. (5 min)
VI.  Play a closing song and say thank yous (5 min)

If the talk needs to be padded:
1.  Make fun of some people in the crowd (especially the "too cool" kid)
2.  Make fun, for a second time, of crappy athletic team.
3.  Have an extra joke on hand -- the cheesier the better
4.  Catholic Calisthenics (kneeling, standing, sitting, praying postures in random and rapid order)
5.  Another song, teach LOTS of hand motions.  [/satire]

Monday, July 11, 2011

Larry Flynt, Michelle Bachmann, and Freedom of Speech

Prolific pornographer Larry Flynt respons to Michelle Bachmann's view on wanting to ban pornography.  I do not want to get into a back and forth born is bad, no it's my right, etc . . .  So I will offer a few observations I have made over the years.

1.  I had the opportunity to meet the super porn star Ron Jeremy.  During that meeting I asked him, "What positive influence does pornography have on society?"  He stuttered for a bit till he found the words, "I don't know.  Maybe help people have sex."  He could think of no way that pornography is good for a society.  I remember in a few of my more non-traditional college classes the teacher would always as us the question "Why should we study women in horror literature?"  To which we were to give the canned response, "It helps us understand the culture and times."

2. An insight into what pornography might be had by looking briefly at the etymology of the word "pornography."  "Pornography" comes from the Greek words "pornÄ“"which means "prostitute" and "graphein" which mean "to write."  A prostitue is simply someone who receives payment for various forms of sexual acts (to be read as meaning more than sexual intercourse).  Taking a broad definition this would mean that prostitutes are not just the woman on the side of the highway but are also the strippers, dancers, and porn stars, because they exchange money for sexual acts.

3. In 1986 the US Attorney release a study titled: Final Report of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography.  In which they central question of the study was "to examine the question of whether pornography is harmful" (31).  The long story made short is that "yes" it does cause harm to a society. To which the report then follows up shortly there after with ""And when we think about harm . . . there are acts that must be condemned not because the evils of the world will thereby be eliminated, but because conscience demands it" (32).

4.  I think agree, on very limited terms, with Larry Flynt when he writes, " If we restrict adult viewing and reading material to what is appropriate for children, there will be nothing left but Little Red Riding Hood. This is an issue for parents, not for politicians. Parents need to be responsible for supervising their children to make sure that their children do not have access to material that they disapprove of."    

Though, I would like to ask Flynt, "Why is it ok for parents to limit certain forms of freedom of expression and speech of their children; yet, why is it not ok for the US to limit certain kind of free speech?"  At what point does "freedom of speech" no longer means "say and do whatever you want."?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Educators More Sexually Abusive than Catholic Priests!?

The studies I've read on the subject say, "Yes.  Educators are more likely to abuse their students than Priests."  The major culprits are those who organize and moderate after school activities in which a student has a higher chance of being one-on-one with a teacher or coach after school hours.  Rarely does a week go by where I do not read a couple of stories about a teacher sexually abusing a student.

This guys synthesizes the data from various sources.

Be sure to check out the report done by the US Department of Education titled Educator Sexual Misconduct: A synthesis of existing literature (PDF file) from 2004.  It covers a time span from about 1987-2003.  The most interesting (to be read as "disgusting") section is the dirty laundry list extending 28 pages of Appendix I in which newspaper, news wire, and broadcast references are given, about 20 per page.  

 Now if only teachers didn't have to take vows of celibacy then maybe they wouldn't abuse their students and positions of power.  I shake my fist angrily at the United States department of education because they only allow men to be teachers.  If women were allow to be teachers then none of this abuse stuff would happen.  If only teachers were only allowed to get married.

h/t to Mark Shea.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Harry Potter vs. Star Wars

The Writer over at the blog Geek in Heels wonders
"if Harry Potter will hold the same significance to my kids’ generation as Star Wars does for mine?"
The writer makes an interesting case when comparing the two franchises. Click the hyper-link to jump to the graphical comparison.

Harry Potter vs. Star Wars | Geek in Heels
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...