Friday, May 19, 2006

So what did you think?

Have you seen The Da Vinci Code? If so, feel free to share your reaction to the film in the comment box? If you chose not to see it, feel free to share your reasons for staying away.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Da Vinci Code Resources

Posted at The Criterion Online Edition

The page includes a news story posted today by Catholic News Service about the premiere of the movie at the Cannes Film Festival, local stories both current and past, and a collection of links for more information.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Anniversary of Fatima and Pope's assassination attempt

This past Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II (May 13, 1981). A special ceremony at the Vatican marked the occasion.

The day is also the 89th anniversary of the first appearance of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.

The similarity between the two events is striking -- it was the famed "Third Secret of Fatima," hidden for years and known only by the popes and the last surviving child whom the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to, the eerily predicted the assassination attempt on the life of a pope (which turned out to be John Paul II). The late pope attributed the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima to narrowly saving his life on that fateful day -- claiming that she diverted the course of the bullet fired into him.

Even more interesting to note, I've found, is that the pope was at his weekly audience and about to announce the founding of the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family, which has since gone on to be a driving force in spreading his "Theology of the Body" and fighting the culture of death that has gripped the West.

The same institute recently sponsored a plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family. This all comes at a time when questions of bioethics and the family are becoming the major moral dilemmas facing countries and cultures.

Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Poland

Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein is leading a pilgrimage to Poland May 12-21, and has provided the intentions for the Mass that he will celebrate each day. Catholics in the archdiocese are encourage to pray with him.

I've also posted an article (available for the next 30 days) about a Marian shrine in Poland. Pope Benedict XVI will be visiting the country later this month.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Taiwanese ambassador to the Vatican converts

The percentage of Christians in the overall population of Asia is still relatively small. That is a major reason why it is looked upon by many in the Church as the last great frontier in evangelization.

Although there is in every conversion something that is unique and unrepeatable, there are also commonalities that we can learn from, especially when we are seeking to proclaim the faith in a culture as distinct as that as in China.

And so this interview with Chou Seng Tou, the ambassador of Taiwan to the Vatican, following his recent conversion to Cathoicism, might be instructive. In any case, it is interesting to hear this one man's story of his journey into the Church.

Excerpt:

What is there in the Christian faith that is missing from Chinese culture that made you convert and get baptised?

I did not adhere to any religion before. Like many Chinese I followed Confucian precepts. I can say I am a disciple of Confucius who has become Christian. I have studied Confucius quite a lot, learnt how to be a good man, morally upright, respectful of others . . . He, too, like in the Gospels, said: “Go unto others as you would have them do unto you”. On many levels, Confucianism and Christianity have many things in common. If China gave Christianity freedom, many Chinese would convert. But in Christianity there is something unique. When you pray for example, you establish a personal rapport with God, one of closeness to Jesus. In Chinese culture there is silence, meditation, but it is a rapport with oneself, not God. Through praying, saintly intercession and that of the Holy Mother, one can realise one’s wish for holiness. Man’s moral solitude comes to an end.

Archbishop Niederauer on "The Da Vinci Code"

Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco is in a good position to comment on The Da Vinci Code, having earned both graduate degrees in theology and in literature. In a recent issue of The Tidings, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, he lays out the various truth claims that lie barely under the surace of Dan Brown's novel and its coming motion picture adaptation and show how they don't stand up to the facts of history. Go here for the article.

Excerpt:

DVC: "Jesus as a married man makes infinitely more sense than our standard Biblical view of Jesus as a bachelor." [Here's why] "Because Jesus was a Jew, and the social decorum during that time virtually forbid a Jewish man to be unmarried." " ... according to Jewish custom celibacy was condemned." "If Jesus was not married at least one of the Bible's Gospels would have mentioned it and offered some explanation for his unnatural state of bachelorhood

TRUTH: Jesus was unmarried, as were the prophet Jeremiah, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, and members of the Essene community. The words of Jesus from the Cross, entrusting his mother to the care of John the Apostle, suggest the truth of this assertion.

Brown stresses the importance of the social decorum at that time. If "social decorum" had been a high priority for Jesus, he wouldn't have healed people on the Sabbath, talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, knocked over the moneychangers' tables in the Temple, or socialized often with public sinners.

As for a Gospel explanation for Jesus' "unnatural state," here is Jesus' teaching on celibacy, from Matthew's Gospel: "Some are incapable of marriage because they are born so; some, because they were made so by others; some because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it" (Mt. 19:12).

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Catholic Flash Drive

This headline from the Catholic News Agency caught my attention: Austrian diocese sending USB hard drives with Church info as gifts to young people

Turns out that the Diocese of Graz, Austria, has taken to giving 18-year-olds a birthday gift with a purpose:

Since the start of 2006, the Austrian Diocese of Graz has begun sending a curious gift to all young people who celebrate their 18th birthday: a USB hard drive with information about the Catholic Church.

According to the Kath.net news agency, the portable hard drives contain information about the Diocese of Graz presented in a manner that is attractive to young people, as well as texts about the Catholic faith and a series of basic Christian prayers.

Pretty cool -- a great way to use powerful new technology in a simple, easy-to-use way, and at the same time to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

News on Chinese episcopal ordinations

The Beijing-government approved Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), which is not in communion with the Holy See, recently ordained two men to the episcopacy.

A statement issued by the Holy See in reaction to the ordinations stated that Pope Benedict XVI received the news with "profound displeasure" and that they are a "a grave wound to the unity of the Church." Go here to read the statement in its entirety.

An official of the CCPA said that the ordinations took place because more than half of the 100 Chinese dioceses do not have a bishop at present.

Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong reacted strongly to the ordinations, calling for a halt to all future CCPA episcopal ordinations that are not approved by the Holy See.

Go here to read more about the CCPA's explanation, Cardinal Zen's statement, and more analysis of the situation.