Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why Does Santa Wear White Gloves?

A friend posted that her kid asked the question "Why does Santa wear white gloves?"
That got me thinking it must have to do with St Nicholas being a bishop. Then I found this:

Liturgical gloves (chirothecœ, called also at an earlier date manicœ, wanti,) are a liturgical adornment reserved for bishops and cardinals. Other ecclesiastics, including abbots, cannot use them without a special papal privilege. They are worn only at a pontifical Mass, never at any other function, and then only to the washing of the hands before the Sacrifice.
 The colour of the gloves must correspond with the liturgical colour of the feast or day in the services of which they are worn; episcopal gloves, however, are never black, as they are not used on Good Friday nor at the celebration of Masses for the dead.
Awesome! And now you know how to answer that question if your kid asks. :) 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 7 Myths about Christmas

All info per Jimmy Akin. Pay particular attention to the Christmas trees and pagan holiday myths.

It is unfortunate that Christmas--the commemoration of our Savior's birth--is marred by so much misinformation and misunderstanding. Too often our ideas about Christmas are influenced more by images from Christmas cards or even from sources hostile to Christianity. Here are seven ideas about Christmas which range from the unsubstantiated to the flat out false.


Jesus Was Born in a Barn

People often infer this from the fact that Luke 2:7 says that Mary laid the baby Jesus in a manger. In our culture we find mangers in stables or barns, and people make the inference from that.
But at the time animals were often sheltered in caves, and there is a very strong tradition that dates at least to the 100s, that Jesus was born in a cave. Today the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over such a cave, which is next to the one that the biblical scholar St. Jerome dwelt in during the 300s. In his writings, Jerome points to evidence that the cave under the Church of the Nativity was, in fact, where Jesus was born.

There Were Three Wise Men

The account of the wise men, or magi (who were not kings, by the way), is recorded in Matthew 2, but it does not say anywhere that there were three wise men.
This number is probably inferred from the fact that three gifts are mentioned: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But we really don't know much about the size or composition of the magi's caravan. The odds are that, for such rich and visiting dignitaries, the caravan was more than three people and, in addition to the magi, included quite a number of other people, including servants and guards.

The Wise Men Arrived the Same Night

Again, the images on Christmas cards haunt us by depicting the magi arriving on the night of Jesus' birth.
We know that they associated the rising of the star of Bethlehem with Jesus' birth, and the trip from their distant homeland would have been too long to make in a single night. Matthew 2:10 records that by this point the holy family was living in a house (although it could have been a house combined with the grotto of the Nativity, for homes were often combined with caves).
Most fundamentally, Matthew 2:16 indicates that Herod sought to kill all the boys two years old and under, based on the time he learned from the magi, so they may have showed up as much as two years later (although Herod may also have padded the figure just to be "safe").

December 25th Can't Be the Birth of Christ Because Sheep Aren't Pastured in the Winter

It is often argued that Jesus couldn't have been born December 25th because Luke 2:8 records that there were shepherds pasturing their flocks, and this doesn't happen in the area in winter.
But it does.
Bethlehem is below the snow line, sheep have fleece to keep them warm, and even today sheep are pastured in the Shepherds' Field near Bethlehem at this very time of year.

Christmas Trees Are Forbidden by the Old Testament

Some Fundamentalists argue that Jeremiah 10 condemns having Christmas trees as a pagan practice.
This would be odd, since Jeremiah wrote centuries before the birth of Christ and thus before the celebration of Christmas.
A careful reading of the passage, though, shows that Jeremiah isn't talking about ornamented holiday trees at all. He's talking about idols. That's why he points out that after a tree is cut down and a workman goes to work on it that it cannot speak, that it cannot move on its own and must be carried, that we should not be afraid of it, and that it has power to do neither evil or good to us. Jeremiah is pointing out the limitations of dead idols, not Christmas trees.

Christmas Is Based on a Pagan Holiday

Sometimes Fundamentalists, secularists, and pagans argue that Christmas is just a pagan holiday that has been "baptized" by the Church. Accounts differ as to which one. Sometimes it is claimed that Christmas is based on Saturnalia or the birth of Sol Invictus ("the unconquerable sun").
But Saturnalia wasn't celebrated on December 25th. It ran from December 17th to the 23rd. It was over and done with before the 25th.
We do have records that suggest some pagans celebrated the birth of Sol Invictus on December 25th, but the first such record dates from the year A.D. 354 (on what is known as the Calendar of Filocalus or the Chronology of 354). The trouble is, even this source isn't fully explicit. It just says that December 25 was celebrated as the Natalis Invicti or the "Birthday of the Unconquerable One," without saying who that is.
We also know that some Christians had been identifying December 25th as Jesus' birthday at least a century and a half before this time. Around A.D. 206, St. Hippolytus of Rome wrote in his Commentary on Daniel that:
"The first coming of our Lord, that in the flesh, in which he was born at Bethlehem, took place eight days before the kalends of January."
In ancient Roman time reckoning, the kalends was the first day of the month, and if you count back eight days from January 1, you arrive at December 25.
It's true that we don't know for sure when Jesus was born, and early Christian writers proposed a variety of dates for his birth, including December 25th.  But what is remarkable, in light of modern claims, is that when they write about Christ's birth they never say things like, "Let's schedule his birthday here so that we can convert a bunch of pagans" or "Let's put it here so that we can subvert this pagan holiday."
When they propose dates for his birth, they use arguments to support their view, and they honestly believe that he was born on the dates they propose.

It Would Matter If Christmas Were Connected with a Pagan Holiday

Even if early Christians had scheduled the commemoration of Christ's birth to subvert a pagan holiday, so what?

How does that taint the celebration of Christmas today--by people who have never even heard of these pagan holidays? Aren't they honestly celebrating Christ's birth, regardless of the precise day on which it happened?

Further, isn't subverting a pagan holiday a good thing? Don't many Protestant groups celebrate October 31 not as Halloween (which they wrongly perceive as pagan) but as "Reformation Day" or "Harvest Festival"?

Helping people wean themselves off of pagan practices by providing a wholesome, alternative celebration would seem to be a good thing rather than a bad thing.

Still, there's no evidence that this is what early Christians were doing with Christmas, and in fact the evidence is against it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


They can be and have done great good for the underprivileged and disadvantaged worker.
But there's a caveat:

Just efforts to secure the rights of workers who are united by the same profession should always take into account the limitations imposed by the general economic situation of the country. Union demands cannot be turned into a... kind of group or class ‘egoism,’ although they can and should also aim at correcting — with a... view to the common good of the whole of society — everything defective in the system of ownership of the means of production or in the way these are managed. Social and socioeconomic life is certainly like a system of ‘connected vessels,’ and every social activity directed towards safeguarding the rights of particular groups should adapt itself to this system.

In this sense, union activity undoubtedly enters the field of politics, understood as prudent concern for the common good. However, the role of unions is not to ‘play politics’ in the sense that the expression is commonly understood today. Unions do not have the character of political parties struggling for power; they should not be subjected to the decision of political parties or have too close links with them. In fact, in such a situation they easily lose contact with their specific role, which is to secure the just rights of workers within the framework of the common good of the whole of society; instead they become an instrument used for other purposes.  - John Paul II, Laborem exercens
(emphasis added)

Planned Parenthood's Bunnies

Monday, October 11, 2010

English school bans 13 year old from wearing crucifix

Another example of religious discrimination against Catholics while allowing other religions to do as they wish.

See the full article here.

Teachers demanded Samantha Devine remove her chain and tiny crucifix despite allowing Muslim and Sikh pupils to wear symbols of their religion.
Her family have vowed to fight the decision "all the way" claiming it discriminates against Christians.
The school apparently allows people of other faiths to wear religious items and even lets kids get away with non-religious items.

In the latest clash, 13-year-old Samantha was left in tears after her form teacher told her she must remove her tiny half-inch crucifix and chain.
But her furious family yesterday pointed out the school - Robert Napier in Gillingham, Kent - allows Muslim pupils to wear headscarves and Sikh students to come to lessons with turbans and bangles.
Samantha even claims staff routinely fail to crack down on youngsters wearing non-religious jewelery, including large necklaces and earrings.
It seems a double standard is in place.

The 13-year-old, who wants to be a vet and has been getting A and B grades in her exams, added: "Other religions can show their beliefs by wearing bracelets or turbans, so why can I not wear a cross to show my devotion to God?
But Mr Devine said: "I have seen other religous pupils at the school who are not part of the Christian fath, but they are allowed to wear their religious garments and symbols without being questioned.
"So why should my daughter be told to remove a cross which means a lot to her from around her neck?"
"People in this country are too scared to say anything against other faiths because they don't want to be accused of discrimination. But it's acceptable to discriminate against Catholics.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Christine O'Donnell

The media is really playing up some comments from newly appointed Republican nominee for Senator of Delaware, Christine O'Donnell, about masturbation. She thinks it's a sin. What this has to do with her ability to be an effective senator or her platform, I don't know. Actually, I do know - It has nothing to do with it but it sure is a great way to get the public to think she is one of those crazy religious freaks like us Catholics.

But guess what - she's right. Sex is about love and procreation!

Under "Offenses against chastity," the church's Catechism says this:
By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action." "The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose." For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved."
The church's Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics adds that
masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act. The main reason is that, whatever the motive for acting this way, the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty. For it lacks the sexual relationship called for by the moral order, namely the relationship which realizes "the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love." All deliberate exercise of sexuality must be reserved to this regular relationship.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This Is War

Found this great song by a great artist, Dustin Kensrue, who is apparently Christian (he's also the lead singer for post-hardcore band Thrice). This video is for his song "This Is War" off of his Christmas album. There's an intro by Dustin followed by the music video. The video has a WWII theme and is just a little violent. Here are the lyrics:

"This is war like you ain't seen.
This winter's long, it's cold and mean.
With hangdog hearts we stood condemned,
But the tide turns now at Bethlehem.

This is war and born tonight,
The Word as flesh, the Lord of Light,
The Son of God, the low-born king;
Who demons fear, of whom angels sing.

This is war on sin and death;
The dark will take it's final breath.
It shakes the earth, confounds all plans;
The mystery of God as man."