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Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Ecce homo!"

Depiction of "Ecce homo!" by Antonio Ciseri

This past Sunday, I wrote about how during Palm Sunday Mass, we read through Jesus' final hours from his arrest to his death and burial for our Gospel reading.

Easter is tomorrow! And that marks a joyous occasion for every Christian life because we celebrate an empty tomb because He is not there!  He is risen! Jesus wasn't joking!  Last year I wrote about how I noticed (seeming coincidentally) how nature itself was signifying Lent and preparing for the Resurrection.  But this year...I wanted to focus on something else--perhaps the true reason for the season.

As a Christian, it's always tempting to focus on the "feel good" parts of the faith.  Or on the "feel good" parts of Scripture. And Jesus' Resurrection is definitely one of those "feel good" moments because yes, He conquered death! Yes, He opened up Heaven! Yes, this is the source of our future resurrection in Him! Yes the Resurrection is what saves us! And all that jazz.

But sometimes it's too easy to get caught up in all that, as if it was the only thing that mattered or the only thing that I should focus on as a Christian.  But, in learning more about my faith and gaining a deeper understanding of it, I've come to know and appreciate that the Resurrection means absolutely nothing unless Jesus died.  In other words, there would be no point to the Resurrection unless Jesus first had to die.

And not just any kind of death.

No, no.

Death! On a cross.  But even the death on a cross is just a portion of all that He had to endure.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

I was at a retreat this past weekend (future blog post), and the priest leading the retreat mentioned how one of his old students texted the link to the YouTube video below.

First, some background.  For most Christians, the Sunday before Easter is known as Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday.  On this day, we commemorate Jesus' triumphant arrival entering into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19: 28-40, John 12:12-19).  This was a big deal because the people of Jerusalem had heard about the works of mercy and miracles Jesus performed in neighboring cities.  And they welcomed him by laying palm branches and their cloaks on the ground as he rode in on his donkey with his disciples following him.

For Catholics, Mass always begins with a procession.  And for Palm Sunday, usually the priest invites the congregation to meet outside of the church for a blessing of the palm branches.  Then he reads a Gospel account of Jesus entering into Jerusalem.  After this, the priest and his helpers (deacons, acolytes, altar servers) process in with the congregation carrying palm branches to signify this triumphant arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem.

And every Catholic Mass has a reading of the Gospel, and every Palm Sunday, an account of the Passion is read from Jesus' betrayal to his burial in the tomb because it prepares us for Holy Week and to reflect on the Passion before we celebrate His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.  I'm not sure how other parts of the Catholic world read it, but at least here in the United States, the Passion is read in parts.  Usually the priest reads what Jesus said, another speaker reads stuff like what Pilate, Herod, and other individuals said.  Another person narrates.  But the whole congregation participates too at certain points.

For example, you can read Luke 22: 14-23 and kind of see how you could split the dialogues into different parts.  Now, this is not a performance even though everyone has a speaking part.  It is an active participation of the Gospel, moreso than usual, for everyone.  Yes, in words, but with the intent of really placing ourselves in that setting of Jerusalem 2000 years ago.  Or at least, everyone needs to be fully engaged and actively participate.  But why? Why do it this way?  Do we get anything out of it by doing it this way?

With all that in mind, that provides the context for this video and perhaps it illustrates the answer to why it is done this way:

Crucify him! Crucify him!
- JD


Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Pick Up Line Song

Here's the "Catholic Pick Up Line" song by a fellow Aggie Catholic:

David Casper was a familiar face at St. Mary's while I was in college.  We were on retreat staff for Aggie Awakening #85. But, I didn't meet him officially until last December when he did the Mass music for a friend's wedding as well as be the DJ for the reception.

You can check him out at, on Twitter @dcaspermusic, and on Facebook.  Apparently he's got a new song about the new pope.

Lastly, he's performing this Saturday at The Shepherd's Cafe, a local monthly Catholic event with a Holy Hour and coffee house entertainment afterwards here in DFW.  Check 'em out here:

Sadly, I won't be in attendance because I'm gone all weekend for different Catholic reasons.

I'd be a second-class relic if you just give me a kiss ;-)
- JD

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pilpino Papal Potential

Yeah, a new pope has already been elected...but I just wanted to post this because...
  1. He's Filipino
  2. Cardinal Tagle was my dad's high school class' valedictorian
  3. He's probably still going to in the running for the next Conclave down the road
Pinoy ako, pinoy tayo.
- JD

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

Maybe I'm just still a young adult having lived through my high school and college years, and alcohol seems to be a popular drink of choice, stereotypically so for people of my age.  Well, thank goodness I'm Catholic and drinking alcohol isn't a sin, but the abuse of alcohol is.  But hey! We apparently even have a beer blessing! And some Trappist monasteries also brew beer! And we have patron saints of brewers like St. Augustine, St. Nicholas, St. Luke, et al!

Anyway, I find it interesting that here in the United States, most holidays are justifiable reasons to go drinking.  I mean, it's 5PM somewhere everyday, right?  Haha.  But, I think the one holiday that sticks out to me the most in terms of drinking to celebrate the holiday is St. Patrick's Day.  I remember when I went on a high school band trip to New York City during Spring Break, and we passed through a pier bar.  I couldn't help but notice how hardcore people take their dressing of green and drinking seriously.  Even in college at Texas A&M, Northgate was a sea of green rather than its usual sea of maroon.  And of course most people know Northgate is Texas A&M's "bar scene."  

Being Filipino, I never really cared too much for St. Patrick's Day. Yeah it's fun.  It's cool to wear green.  I'm not too much of a drinker so you won't find me at the bar/club on that day.  Watching the parades is cool.  Maybe one time I dressed up my old dog, Poco, in a festive hat...

Even his eyes are festive!
Alternative Caption: my Chihuahua is Filipino-Mexican-Irish!
I get too caught up in just considering St. Patrick's Day as a day to celebrate Irish heritage and to go crazy with green beer and green clothes and green parades.  But, in my maturing of my knowledge and appreciation of the Catholic faith, I'm starting to pay more attention to the fact that this green Day (not the band) is named after a Catholic saint.

So that begs the necessary questions:  who is St. Patrick and why do we celebrate him on March 17th?  What am I raising my mug to when I down a cold one in his honor?  How and why am I celebrating the Irish on this day?


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Habemus Diem! The Other March Madness

Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Church eagerly awaited for the cardinals to get together and decide on a day to start Conclave.

I heard on Catholic radio last week that with the arrival of the last cardinal elector at the end of the week, they finally decided on starting the Conclave on Tuesday March 12th.  Up until the last week, the cardinals have been having meetings among themselves to discuss whatever they discuss as well as to get a feel for who has the potential to become the next pope.  Lots of prayer too.  And tweeting and blogging, depending on the cardinal.

This is kind of a big deal!  Now is a particularly exciting time in the Catholic Church because we're about to have a new leader! 

Back in 2005, I remember when Blessed Pope John Paul II passed away, but I don't remember following Conclave that much.  I guess because I didn't really pay attention to the news, and the social media outlets we enjoy today were still a twinkle in their creators' eyes or still infantile.  For me, Cardinal Ratzinger came in like "whoosh, now I'm Pope!"  And I was all like, "oh cool!"  And that was that.

Haha but not this time! Now, with a more mature understanding of the Catholic faith, I can follow it with a better degree of appreciation.  The one thing I need to watch out for is making sure that I follow Catholic sources regarding Conclave coverage.  When I say Catholic, I don't mean "Catholic."  And I know that secular and "Catholic" media loves putting forth their bias and lack of full understanding in order to impart ideas and desires that aren't in line with what is truly Catholic.

Friday, March 8, 2013

How To Become Pope

Yeah, it's cool to think that I mostly qualify...though I do lack that whole cardinal thing, and I don't think throwing the first pitch at the next home game counts. #pun

But I dad went to high school with a recently named cardinal...maybe that's my in...

In all reality, I don't know any cardinals personally so ... don't worry--I'm not becoming the Pope.


From Jimmy Akin, senior apologist at Catholic Answers: he points out some incorrect things in the video:

1) It wrongly implies that the pope can simply veto the name of a potential bishop that is presented to him, causing the process to start over.

In reality, the names of all three proposed bishops are presented to the pope, who may choose the recommended one, another one, select another person entirely, or call for the process to start over.

2) It wrongly refers to the "Congress of Bishops" in Rome. Actually, it's the Congregation for Bishops.

3) It wrongly states that have to pick your new name before becoming pope. Actually, this is the first thing a pope does after being elected and accepting his office.

Assuming he's already a bishop (the scenario that the video presupposes), he becomes pope that moment, before they ask him what name he wants to be called by.

4) The video wrongly states that “it’s usually at least two weeks of voting” at a conclave.

Not in recent history. In the 20th century (and 21st) no conclave has gone over 5 days. See this handy infographic:

from the Washington Post

- JD

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Clinic & Museum

Day 4 - Saturday January 27, 2013

2:26PM - January 28, 2013
On an airplane from CLI to DFW

(Ok, so I didn't really type sentences on the plane...I just made a bulleted list of what I did on Day 4)

(which brings me to...)

8:17PM - February 25, 2013
Today was our last day of major events for our Washington, DC pilgrimage.  Us group of guys who stayed at our particular host family home were quite blessed to wake up to homemade muffins of varying flavors.

So, we started out our pilgrimage getting to know each other, then we did a little bit of sightseeing of Catholic locations as well as attending the Vigil Mass for the March for Life.  All of this was to help gel our group together and prepare us to experience the Arlington National Cemetery, participate in the March for Life, and visit various memorials.  Through deepening our spirituality and appreciation for the Catholic faith the past few days of the pilgrimage, we were better able to appreciate life and death through a Catholic lens.  How precious a gift life is and how dignified death can be!

What then, is our response?  How do we take what we've gained from these experiences and put them into action?

Today we prayed in front of an abortion clinic and visited a museum.

Planned Parenthood
First thing on our schedule was to go pray in front of Planned Parenthood in DC.  I heard from one of our group leaders that this particular location usually ranks in the Top 5 for number abortions performed in the United States.  Wow.  That's...crazy to think about... since I'm used to a Planned Parenthood that isn't as busy.

Now, praying in front of abortion clinics is not a strange thing for me.  Before I further recount my experiences here at this Planned Parenthood, I must preface this by saying that while it is arguably cool that Planned Parenthood does provide other women's health services, they are not ashamed of promoting abortion.  And because some (not all) Planned Parenthood clinics do provide abortion services, that attracts folks who stand in front of clinics, praying for all involved: the women, the men, the volunteers, the  clinic workers, the doctors, the unborn babies, etc.  According to the 2011-2012 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood performed 333,964 (surgical) abortions. I can honestly say that I personally participated in two 'saves' in the past year by the simple presence of me and the group I was with...praying in front of abortion clinics: here and here.  Also, not every woman that walks into Planned Parenthood is seeking an abortion.  But, still...we pray for her health and if we're able to offer her alternatives, then we will.

Also, I must further mention that I strive to maintain an environment of peace while on the sidewalk.  40 Days For Life, a prayer campaign for life started by Fightin' Texas Aggies, made it a point that there are things that we should and shouldn't do when maintaining peaceful presence at an abortion clinic, and I definitely try to keep those in mind.  However, in my firsthand experience at the sidewalk, I find it unfortunate that some pro-life groups do not adopt such peaceful practices and exemplify the "anti-abortion protesters" stereotypes that pro-choicers love to criticize.  I assure you, dear reader of this blog post, that I do not yell Bible verses at clients or hold angry/graphic signs.  I am not yet properly equipped to provide clients with material help, so the best I can offer for now is spiritual help through prayer.

With all that said, our band of cold pilgrims approached Planned Parenthood.  However, we decided to stand across the street rather than join the groups of other people already praying directly in front of the clinic's entrance.  But one of our own went to join the group in front of the clinic.  Accompanying us on our pilgrimage was a fellow class of 2009 Fightin' Texas Aggie who works for the Coalition for Life.  I met her when she joined up with us on Day 2.  She's a trained and seasoned sidewalk counselor, so while we were off praying across the street, she was engaging clients as they walk in and out of Planned Parenthood.  Oh, and of course she talked to the volunteer escorts and other people present in front as well.

When we settled in to our spot across the street from Planned Parenthood, I couldn't help but notice this group of Dominican friars standing in front:

But, a part of me just really wanted nuns to be standing in front.  Oh well.

We were across the street praying for a good long while.  Starting out, we prayed all 20 Mysteries of the Rosary, and we finished with a Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I didn't really keep track of time, but I'm sure it was about 1.5-2 hours

In that time, lots of stuff happened.

Something I found to be intriguing were the reactions of people driving or walking by.  Mind you, this was a busy street.  Many double-takes.  Some were confused at the sight of seeing people on either side of the street in front of Planned Parenthood.  But, the reactions that weren't so nice were the ones that stick out to me, even now.  One particular gentleman wasn't particularly gentle in calling us morons, yelling out through his rolled down window.  I also remember the woman who flicked us off while she was waiting for the light to turn green.  Ooh, and then there was the guy who yelled four-letter words at us.  Of course, I understood why they were angry at us.  Perhaps, in their mind, we didn't belong there and that somehow our presence made it unsettling for them.  Whatever the case, I was not shocked by their expressions of anger.  I wasn't really bothered by it. My group just kept praying with little or no reaction to their angry words and gestures.  Someone in my group made the comment later how sometimes we in the pro-life movement are thought of as the intolerant ones.  Sure, some might be.  But in these angry moments, maybe not so much.