Friday, December 22, 2006

The Only Person Ever Pre-announced

"History is full of men who have claimed that they came from God, or that they were gods, or that they bore messages from God-Buddha, Mohammed, Confucious, Christ, Lao-tze, and thousands of others, right down to the person who founded a new religion this very day. Each of them has a right to be heard and considered. But as a yardstick external to and outside of whatever is to be measured is needed, so there must be some permanent tests available to all men, all civilizations, and all ages, by which they can decide whether any of these claimants, or all of them, are justified in their claims. These tests are of two kinds: reason and history. Reason, because everyone has it, even those without faith; history, because everyone lives in it and should know something about it.

Reason dictates that if any one of these men actually came from God, the least thing that God could do to support his claim would be to pre-announce His coming. Automobile manufacturers tell their customers when to expect a new model. If God sent anyone from Himself, or if He came Himself with a vitally important message for all men, it would seem reasonable that He would first let men know when His messenger was coming, where He would be born, where He would live, the doctrine He would teach, the enemies He would make, the program He would adopt for the future, and the manner of His death. By the extent to which the messenger conformed with these announcements, one could judge the validity of his claims."

(excerpt from “Life of Christ,” Chapter 1, by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)

As we celebrate Christmas this year, remember the reason for the season. Amid the hustle and bustle to see family and "enjoy" all the pleasures we have now, remember how the Greatest came in the most humblest of ways. May God be with you and us all for evermore.

"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." - Luke 2:14

Buon Natale!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Home for Christmas

I absolutely love Aaron Neville's adaptation of Please Come Home for Christmas. The words and the music sum up my feelings right now. They are completely full of soul, full of New Orleans, full of sorrow, and full of hope. That is what I feel right now with my relationships and in my hopes for the future.

However, a more pressing thought though comes to mind. Listen to the song (provided in the clip). Now picture that is the city and of the community that it once was before Hurricane Katrina. Picture it singing those words to those who have left the city for a laundry list of reasons. It might seem like a cliché, but this is at the heart of why New Orleans should be rebuilt.

Why should we — those who have grown up, who have been raised in its eclectic way of life — not return? Would it not be turning a cold shoulder on a dear friend? What of the nation to the region? The city is still in shambles, and to prove this you need only to do a web search for recent images of the city. There are hundreds upon hundreds of homes still rotting away. Progress has not been made, and all levels of government have completely dropped the ball. The city and the region is quickly being forgotten. How can the nation forget so quickly? The people of the region are not asking for a handout, rather they are pleading for a hand up.

Read the words below; think of "the City that Care Forgot." Pray that those who grew up in New Orleans, the place of their birth, and who love it with such a passion and a conviction that defies reason at times, will return. My Aggie peers should understand this driving conviction, I hope. It is something so, so dear.

Pray that the nation as a whole will not let this situation pass into a darkness of not understanding, this struggle of those along the Coast. For when trouble strikes those untroubled and deaf to the pleas, only then will they think it matters most.

Don't dismiss something you don't know. Use it as a challenge to learn of a love that was once, perhaps to you, unknown.

Please Come Home for Christmas

Bells will be ringing the glad, glad news
Oh what a Christmas to have the blues
My baby's gone, I have no friends
To wish me greetings once again

Choirs will be singing Silent Night
Christmas carols, by candle light
Please come home for Christmas
Please come home for Christmas
If not for Christmas, by New Years night

Friends and relations, send salutations
Sure as the stars shine above
But this is Christmas
Yeah, it's Christmas, my dear
It's the time of the year to be with the one you love

Oh won't you tell me
You'll never more roam
Christmas and New Year will find you home
There'll be no more sorrows
No grief and pain
Because I'll be happy, happy once again

Ooo, no more sorrows
No grief and pain
Because I'll be happy, Christmas, once again.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Celebrating the Smallest of Miracles

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein

It is an odd thing to feel so much joy well within my heart all the while having quiet pain develop within. There is something to say of the joy one feels when being with one’s true friends. The airs of all other things evaporate at the sight of genuine friendship. The smallest of miracles that I celebrate today is the gift of friendship, of having the honor to associate myself with a cadre of people devoted to Christ. There is something to be said of being able to find such a precious jewel amid the darkness of college life. For it is dark out in the world, but through those friends the Light shines through.

As for the quiet pain that is growing, it is the strain of my patience within my heart. It is my failings that keep me from banishing the pain. I do not charge it to be of any great significance in comparisons to others' pain, for that would be too selfish of me. Rather, I see of it as something to find growth within, to explore and to find grace within. How are we not to love but feel pain at times? Our greatest example of love also shows the greatest of pains, that of our Lord's Passion.

Yet, I do not wish to speak of that subject at current, for last night—amid that cadre of friends I spoke of--we had a "private screening" of The Nativity Story (we fourteen were the only ones there at the late showing). What struck me was the spiritual strength of Joseph portrayed. Movies like that one make you think, even meditate, on the mystery of our Lord's birth. What love must that have taken for the both of them, Mary and Joseph? That love and compassion overflowed in the film.

Then there are the quiet moments among friends. Such was the case the night previous when a group of us went out for pizza rolls. That communal feasting allows the love of friendship to come forth from the shadows, to joke and jest in such a loving way that no soul is emotionally injured. What love is this! Amid all these things there are affection and charity. Acts of kindness, whether recognized or not, come forth to work with love. These are the smallest of miracles I speak about.

I am reminded of the Deacon Switzer's homily from yesterday evening's daily Mass. He implored us not to wait for the miracles to help bring us into a fuller life, rather we are to be active in our lives and allow the Lord to work within us and create within us the miracles of life.

So, I will say again. I am thankful for the presence of those among me. Without them my faith would not be as strong, my love of the world—here and the next—would be not as great, and my determination to not stray from the path be not as resolute. Praise be to God!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Deus Caritas Est... Who Am I?

It's been a week since Aggie Awakening 78 took place in Somerville, Texas, but I'm still reminded of the thrilling weekend it was.

The retreat, which has been a fixture at Texas A&M (and St. Mary's) since the early 80's, is now the largest running Awakening retreat in the nation. Visit the Aggie Awakening history page for more information.

Anyway, back to the actual weekend. This past semester has been my 7th Awakening to be a part of (either as a retreater or staffer), and each time it seems to get even more special. For the fact of the matter is that each time you staff a retreat like Awakening is, you learn something more of what the retreat is about and a little more about yourself. For me, the weekend was an affirmation of some things I've read and spoke about with others, but it was also a wake up call for me in certain areas.

I've staffed now six times, and this time—like two times previous—I was a table parent. Being a table parent involves, I think, a little more preparation than a few other staffs (there a handful staffs in all), most importantly, because of the focus solely on the retreaters at one's table. This focus can be a good thing, since it's the spiritual uplifting that we are called to work with on this retreat, but at the same time things can be lacking for those involved... namely sleep.

Fortunately the Lord graced me with enough sleep... and energy... to be ready for the weekend physically. Yet, there are two other components needing preparation for retreats like this: emotional and spiritual preparation. Why emotional? Well, if you cannot become a fortress of emotional strength for your retreaters then the weekend is lessened for them. And spiritual? In the similar vein, a person on spiritually soft footing shall not provide sound bedrock for the retreaters to reside upon.

The retreat itself was a blessing though. It was a coalescing of friends, a common cause, a love for Christ, and a passion to bring that love to the retreaters.

Aggie Awakening 78 Backdrop
Each retreat has a theme, something to focus on or bring focus to for the weekend. This semester's was "Deus Caritas Est... Who Am I?" This theme, based on 1 John 4:16 and Pope Benedict's first Encyclical letter of the same name, was a beautiful way to tie in a lot of what the retreat covers in a different light... a light that has been on my mind over the past semester, especially.

Although the fun-filled, spiritually-renewing weekend is over, the energetic buzz that I felt—akin to one of the tongues of fire received by the Apostles on Pentecost—has diminished some, but I feel that with the retreat, a quiet peace has been given to me. For this, among so many things, I feel so thankful for.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ponderings on Desires

In life there is always a search for what one truly wants in life. These wants are most certainly different than our needs, but in rare cases the two can be as one.

I have undertook the reading of C.S. Lewis' book "The Four Loves" as a result of the recent Awakening I had staffed only last week. The retreat's theme was "Deus Caritas Est... Who Am I?" which means "God is Love...Who Am I?" This theme is based off Pope Benedict's first Encyclical letter "Deus Caritas Est," whose title is from 1 John 4:16. In Lewis' book, Lewis describes needs and wants in the confines of the four loves. Through it all, the basic understanding of the book is that there is a gift-love and a need-love in many aspects of life.

However, that’s enough of those musings. They shall remain for later discussion. What it is at heart that I have pondered the past few days over the holiday is this: What do I want for my life? What is it that most pleases me to see? What are my short-term desires and my long-term desires?

You might be saying to yourself at this moment, "Why is this fool talking about his wants and desires? Isn't it good enough to want and to know God's will, fulfill it, and be content?"

Well, as I sit here admiring the sunset of another blessed day, I must say to you this cannot be. For if we are to even attempt to know God's will, to even try to comprehend God's love, one must first know oneself.

But do we really know ourselves? I can tell you at this very moment, I do not and that is not unnatural or wrong. For if we knew ourselves like God knows us, we'd already have our lives planned out until death or we'd be frozen in fear to even see our own face.

So, again, I am pondering my desires. In this pondering, I have learned a few things: the human heart is a thorny object prone to pain; one's achievement matters not on one's own ability but on the willpower granted by God; and life, in all its glory, is incomprehensible to the human mind.

In these brief observations I am reminded of the need of patience in all things, even love. So it is true of the physical and emotional as it is in the spiritual.

How are we to love without patience? By its very statement, it would provide us a paradox and an impossibility. So too is my current desire, my want of the present time. I should apply patience to my love and to my current desire. In time the Lord shall answer me with His will. Only then will my desire be validated or invalidated. Only then should my desire be pursued.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Why God Never Received Tenure at Any University

Now, after all that spiritual talk, here's something to chew on that's a little bit on the lighter side, but all so true on the spiritual. This is courtesy of one of my professors who has it posted on the front of her office door. What a classic!

Why God Never Received Tenure at Any University

1. He had only one major publication.
2. It was in Hebrew.
3. It had no references.
4. It wasn't published in a reference journal.
5. Some doubt He wrote it Himself.
6. He may have created the world, but what has He done since?
7. The Scientific community can't replicate His results.
8. He never got permission from the ethics board to use human subjects.
9. When the experiment went awry, He tried to cover it up by drowning the subjects.
10. He rarely came to class, and when He did He just told the students, "Read the Book."
11. Some say He and His Son teach the class.
12. He expelled His first students.
13. His office hours were irregular and sometimes were held on a mountaintop.
14. Although there were only 10 requirements, most students failed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Awaken Our Hearts, O Lord

The 78th Aggie Awakening is this weekend, and it has remained on my mind for the past week, and even the weeks previous to it. It's been three years since I've made the retreat as a freshman, and it has been an even greater blessing each successive semester. As my sixth time staffing the retreat, most things will be the same, minus a few kindred souls who have graduated in the past semester, but in all the heart of the retreat will remain ever the same for me. It is a consoling time in each semester, to turn away from the helter-skelter of our lives and to focus so firmly on Christ.

Some might say there is a bit of an "Awakening high" that the participants have after the week is over. Each reaction to the weekend is different to some degree, but all are affected. It is this bonding in Christ, this awakening of our hearts to Christ and in Christ, that I cherish so much. Yet, this blessing amid so many blessings does not come without cost. Alas, there has been much work put in already to prepare for the weekend, much prayer, much love. However, it should be noted that through it all it is a labor, a gift of love that is given and received by all.

It is then my prayer, that through this retreat, my faith life might grow further and the faith lives of the retreaters grow exponentially. I pray that they see the love of Christ at work and, with His love, move mountains.

For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. Those who sleep go to sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation. For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him.

Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you, and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good (both) for each other and for all. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:5-18

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail..."

I went to daily mass today. The first reading of the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, struck me as familiar. Surely enough, I remembered reading it once for daily mass at All Faiths Chapel in the past couple years. It truly speaks volumes in its poetic foretelling of the magnificent Grace that the Lord has bestowed upon us, the Faithful.
The angel brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the façade of the temple was toward the east; the water flowed down from the southern side of the temple, south of the altar. He led me outside by the north gate, and around to the outer gate facing the east, where I saw water trickling from the southern side. He said to me, "This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.

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."
Ezekiel 47:1-2,8-9,12

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Prayers & Supplications

Oh, how does my heart sing right now. It is with both a happy and heavy heart that I write tonight. For on the one hand, the Lord has granted my prayers, and on the other a friend's has yet to be answered.

Prayer is ironic. There is always the adage "watch what you ask for." This is certainly true and all-apparent. Even when I think I've worded well my prayers of petition, the Lord finds and speaks to my heart in another way. So I'll say it again: prayer is ironic.

For there are unanswered prayers. Ones that we think we receive no answer to. This type of prayers exists, but does it really in this same sense? I think not. For all prayers are answered, each in their own turn. Some are answered even before you know it, and the Lord leaves it there to bear—even many years after you first pray over something—and what you've asked for is granted but possibly not in the way you first intended.

I have encountered this many times before, even to the point of being angry at God. Mind you, this was years ago, before I grew in my faith... before the bedrock was set beneath me. This anger was misplaced. It was a set of feelings of pain, of hurt, of sorrow, and of lost. We all feel these, and we all must learn to cope. Prayer is there to do just that.

I pray that, in this current time, the pain is washed away.

How do I wish that my prayers can wash away the pain that is present now. Pain release your hold of the hearts of the Faithful. Release your grip and allow for Love to enter. For God is Love and God became a man to save us all. Show us His Selfless Love, O Father. Show us your way, O Lord.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:6-9

Monday, November 06, 2006

Remember, Remember the Fourth of November...

Remember, Remember the Fourth of November,
The Rushing, Defense and Loss,
I know of no reason why the coaching treason
Should ever be forgot.

Coach Fran, Coach Fran 'twas his intent
to blow up the Win and everything it meant.
Three score screw-ups of losing to go,
Poor old A&M to overthrow:
By God's providence he best learn
Or face the Aggies' wrath in turn.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, from the rooftops sing.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the Team!
Huzzah! Huzzah!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dinner at the Miramont: An End to a Great Week

Thursday evening was a wonderful affair. They day was filled with the regular stuff—classes, work on assignments, and a sundry of other various daily tasks. I finished the day with daily mass, something I'm trying to get back into my routine. I left mass a little late, separating from my friends as the headed to Awakening's Fourth Day activities. I had a tinge of want to just stay behind at Fourth Day, but I knew I should head on.

Where was I headed? To my Engineering Scholarship Appreciation Dinner at the all-new Miramont Country Club in Bryan. This year is first for the Scholarship Dinner, as I've been told, and I was flabbergasted when I arrived and saw the front of the country club. It is truly magnificent! The architecture was amazing; the interior was so well done and spacious. Below is the large flower bouquet in the foyer of the...for lack of better word...mansion. It has a "smell radius" of some 12 steps...and faint smells even down the side corridors.

The Flower Bouquet Arrangement in the Miramont Country Club Foyer
I started off the evening talking to various computer science peers and even a couple friends from St. Mary's. One of them in fact won one of the Outstanding Senior Engineering Awards. Again, a wonderful thing.

Then we sat down for dinner in one of the club's ballrooms, beef tenderloin with salad and apple pie with ice cream and coffee for desert! The furnishings and design were all the best...spared no expense, naturally! But what was the best thing of all was that three of us undergraduate students sat down at our table (18) and had something of nearly an hour and a half talk with our department head (Dr. Valerie Taylor). Direct discussion about everything from where we were from, what we have done, what we plan to be doing in the coming years, and even questions on the curriculum itself. Nothing seemed to be off-topic, which was wonderful.

I relished in the opulent setting, the good conversation, the rekindling of lost academic and social relationships, and above all the fun that had transpired that evening. I had to pinch myself at the beginning and at the end of the evening. How did I deserve such treatment, such a blessing, or the opportunity? I cannot feel anything but blessed.

Again this Friday, I felt blessed. I had a statistics exam on Friday after work and the night on the town. What's a guy to do to prepare? Well, again there was a presence... not of stress but of can-do attitude. This was something I could wrap my mind around. This was something that I could do and something I did do, with the help of the Lord's grace. Of which I am absolutely sure.

Things have just fit snugly into place, even after spending the entire night this morning outside Planned Parenthood in Bryan—an entire night with friends. What a blessing!!! We went through three decades of the Rosary, interspersed with Chaplets of Divine Mercy, and had discussion moments throughout. To describe it with simplicity, it was a prayerful and reflective night of prayer and discussion. No topic again seemed off-limit. What a blessing!!!

Now I am here on campus, not sleeping yet. I will make it to ESPN College Gameday this morning for a short while, take that atmosphere and get ready for the best game of the season yet, Oklahoma against my beloved Aggies. Beat the Hell Outta Those Oklahoma Sooners, Ags!

God be blessed. What a great way to end the week. Blessed be the Lord's name.

Monday, October 30, 2006


I didn't get much sleep last night. I spent the night thinking over a lot of things. And today was not much different. It's been a roller coaster of a day, and surprisingly I've felt much better this evening. Daily Mass is one of the best therapies for me. It is such a stress reliever. I am so incredibly thankful for my faith and my friends. I am blessed.

This afternoon was spent largely thinking of the words for the poem that preceded this post, The Window. It took me all of about 4 hours, from the beginning words to the finishing touches, to formulate the poem. The whole poem is an allegory, one of my sole attempts at such, and I am largely content with the attempt. However, I do not want the credit. This poem was a work of love. It was an attempt, how ever much in vain, at capturing the thoughts that have traveled through me this past day of others dear to me. I continue to dwell in the same thoughts.

The past month and a half has been a new experience to me, the thoughts, the emotions. It is the context which defines my current experiences. The purpose of the past couple of weeks of blog posts have been an attempt to sort through the many thoughts I have had to make sense of it all. This may be a rather public forum to such a thing within, but I find it a necessary step. I am sure these words are not a waste, that I have not written these words in vain, and that in due time, these words can be revealed to whom I have thought so much about.

I have felt, much like I had so many years ago, that I should have to journal my thoughts and, to a lesser extent, my feelings that I have come across in important segments of my life. I feel this is an extremely important (if only for the learning experience) period and without doing this, I feel I will have lost a part of me. I have lost enough as it is, and I am not ready to surrender a set of memories.

The Window

Among the most beautiful tapestries,
Venerable and holy relics,
And gilded works of supreme faith,
There is a window of unmatched beauty.

Its shape is complicated, its pattern broken.
Its rough glass casts a multitude of dimmed hues
That showers the darkened Sanctuary
With a rainbow of light from above.

Yet this window is not without flaw.
Amid the muted colors of the stained glass,
It has, at its center, a most grievous chip.

Some might say of the glass
That its formation was all wrong,
That its creator worked on it for far too long.

But this was indeed no flaw,
For it was the intent of the Maker
To allow this "defect" to happen at all.

For at the very spot of the flaw,
Through the darkness of it all,
The Light illuminates the Blessed Altar
And Christ the Lord who has saved us all.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Selfishness

My heart is heavy this evening. How could I be, how can I be so selfish. I have been so selfish so many times before, each time wishing my heart not to be broken. It is my fault among faults. I have sit here thinking only inward when there are so many problems in this world that need my prayers more than my own.

Why, Lord, must there be this pain of my friends, when I am here wishing to rid my own? If it is best to have the happiness of my friend, without the happiness of my own, then grant them my joy, my prayers, and my hopes. Give the Grace you have bestowed to me instead to them as their own.

My heart is heavy this evening, but the day of tomorrow seems so bright. Rid me of my selfishness, O Lord. Grant me your strength, O Lord.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Stepping into the Unknown

It certainly appears, to me at least, that I am just a little bit better with relationships than I am with Salsa dancing. It should have been a good time this evening...the Salsa dancing and the conversation. Yet, there was an air in the room, much thicker than the smoke that filled the restaurant. It was a haze that I could not cross. It was supposed to be a better day, and wasn't.

How do I wish this haze would be removed. I long for the day of a clear sky and an open heart. Until then, I must make out of lemons lemonade and do the best with gifts the Lord has given me. I must always remember to be thankful for the gifts I already had before looking to greener pastures.

If it only was not so hard. If only...

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Comforter

Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth, break forth into song, you mountains. For the LORD comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted. But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me." Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name; your walls are ever before me.
--Isaiah 49:13-16
It is through the Lord that we gain all our strength. With His Grace, I ask for the strength to accept His will. My heart wanders, but His Love remains. He has not forgotten me, nor my brother or sister in need. I pray that I may be an instrument of His will to others so that they may see His love in their lives, no matter how deep it may be buried.

Let Your love be the Pearl of Great Price, Lord. Let us fail in our weak attempts at perfection. However, I thank you, Lord, for You comfort me in my times of need. I must always remember the comfort of Your love, the only true comfort one may find in this world...or the next.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hearing the Call

The past weekend has been a blessing amid blessings. It was a fortunate quick vacation to visit family rarely seen and surprisingly to find myself among the chaos of a semester.

My inadequacies seem ever present in self-reflection, but it is my human nature to focus on them. My emotions should be more clear-cut. I falter to the wind, trying to establish a firm footing. If only my emotions were as firm as my faith, such is my prayer.

Again, this weekend resonated in my mind after returning to College Station. All the visiting, the family--all the younger cousins present amid the older generation of my father with his cousins and siblings and of the eldest generation of my grandmother and her sisters. The family reunion was the representation of three family generations amid the farm fields of Miles, TX.

Especially since the summer, which was started by the wedding of two good friends and the ordination of a local deacon (now priest), I have searched for what I am called to be. It certainly gets no more basic than that, and for me it has become a maze of sorts.

Am I called to a vocation in the priesthood, or am I called to married life? This past weekend, the Mass celebrated in Miles during the reunion, was celebrated by Father Bhaskar, who is the parish priest for three parishes out in rural West Texas. I know there are more desperate parishes throughout the world, but these parishes have little priestly representation, after so many years of giving so much to the Church through vocations, are being laid to the wayside.

Much is the case in rural east-central Texas, between Austin and Houston, in the Diocese of Austin and Diocese of Victoria. There are many rural parishes that if there were more priests, more active participation and likely priestly vocations would follow. What has today's culture done to the priesthood, or better yet, what has the "spirit" of Vatican II done to the Catholic Church in the United States? It is as though the changes in the '70's muddied something that was so pure. So much is there to be upheld, yet human error dashes the proverbial foot of the Church Faithful against the stone. Surely, this diluted group of noble men and women--the religious of the Catholic Church--is not destined to be a lamp hidden beneath a basket. Surely the Lord does not provide less than is needed for the Faithful, so I must remain optimistic for the future of the Church.

And so I am unsure of my calling. I see my younger cousins--their mother expecting again in four months--and yet I see the noble parish priest, with what seems an overwhelming load, a "Sign of Contradiction" of sorts. My heart tells me of desire for family and yet my mind sees the needs of the Church. Things are best heard in silence, and I am sitting in the silence trying to hear the Lord's voice amid the deafening silence. I pray for an answer.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When Love Is Love and When It Isn't

Attraction is a fickle thing, but that is the "love" poets and storytellers often focus on and speak of—the emotion of the moment. It is beyond that fleeting emotion that we must look to find the true Love, something that truly remains. Yet, in all things human, emotion is always behind it. With emotion I composed the following verses, which reflected a hardened heart:

Soliloquy for the Heart
Oh, how does my heart speak,
As a worn rug that is trodden upon.
No rest or comfort given to it
In it's long journey for a companion,
A companion that is but a mere mirage,
Far off in the distance but never far enough.

Love plays cruel tricks, tricks of deception.
Love's vicious cycle of attachment and detachment continues still,
Resolving itself to tormenting hearts such as mine.
Now the pangs of my heart have returned again,
Calling desperately out for affection,
For Love made anew.

It is making love anew that I am called to do, as I reassess my past thoughts. In the closing of my thoughts above, the Love I mean is agape love, which is the kind of love that is for all men--even our enemies. This is the love that should be made anew. The "love" I spoke before this is a heart-filled emotion that, as an emotion, comes and is not the true love. We crave and must have this agape love to truly be in full communion with Christ.

Love is sacrifice. This is self-evident in Christ's love. And so we, too, must be selfless in our love as Christ was in His.

It is humbly through Christ's sacrificial love that I look for the forgiveness for my past transgressions and the Grace to continue in the Lord's blessing of friends who know the difference and still forgive.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

When the Lights Go Out in Aggieland...

...Business picks up at Northgate!
...Classes are canceled!
...People actually say HOWDY!

Why the hell don't the lights go out more often?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Propensity to Linger...and Other Things

While there is such a tiring strain caused by my drive to succeed this semester, it is truly amazing how the Lord presents a calming path before me. There is both struggle and success and yes, both can coexist in the same time and space, albeit almost in a miraculous manner.

I have been busy, of which I have no doubt about, but I have also had the propensity to linger these past few weeks. I have conferred with friends about this, and I have pinned it down to an excess amount of inertia. You may ask why in the world I am talking about inertia in these circumstances. Simply put: much to the chagrin of physicists everywhere the inertia I'm feeling is of the quantitative form. Being around this campus after these few years has almost forced me to linger wherever I go. It is a bit of remember history for me, at least personal history.

Just last week I was in Blocker in the evening trying to get some Stat homework completed, and I happened to overhear a big review in one of the classroom auditorium. It was one of my old calculus instructors, Amy Austin, giving one of her nearly-world-famous exam reviews the night before the first big common exam of the semester. The room must have had only 252 seats or so, but I guarantee you the room was packed to the rafters. People all over the place--from the side aisles to the very back of the room...that even stretched to a strategically-placed bench in either entranceway to the room. Simply put, it was packed. Needless to say, I stood in the far back, just listening to the review and the frantic shuffling of review materials of the students preparing for the next night's exam. Oh, the frantic memories.

It goes without saying, I feel blessed. Blessed to have gotten through calculus in some form or fashion, blessed to be getting through this semester thus far, blessed to have family here to visit with, and blessed to have friends to just hang out with.

The game last Monday night, with the Saints playing at THE Dome...was magic. A few friends and I had a party, watched the game, and had some jambalaya that I had made. It was such a great reminder of home and of what I have found here. I can only hope to throw another party again this season. I can always use reminders of home, even if it means lingering in the past.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Speaking of Out-of-This-World Service Projects...

Knight of Columbus, Astronaut Dan Burbank outside the ISS on STS-115, September 2006.
Speaking of out of this world Knights of Columbus service projects, I believe Astronaut Dan Burbank has just done the Aggie Knights (and our Katrina Spring Break Service Project to Thibodaux, LA) one better.

It turns out Burbank, who happens to also be a Knight, has been sent up with the latest NASA mission, STS-115, up to the International Space Station as Mission Specialist. In the picture shown above, Burbank is shown in the center with his feet dangling. Talk about out of this world...I know how cliché. Read the story here.

Kudos to Commander Burbank and the rest of the crew of STS-115. Let's get this construction project completed. Pronto!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Remembering Katrina

One year ago today, a great tragedy happened, one that was foreseen but not remember. Let us all not forget the lessons learned that fateful day and those perilous days afterward. New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, and the whole nation needs healing and needs unity after such a tragic event, and healing will only come after the bickering and finger-pointing stops. Now is the time to rebuild.

We must learn and grow from the disaster that was--and still is--Hurricane Katrina. I pray that we never forget those lives lost and those lives changed forever.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Hankering for Home

Somethings here in Texas are a bit strange...and do they get strange! This is the land of Texas...bigger than any other dadgum thing in the Lower 48. Better than anything in the Lower 48. Food? Better than the rest. And music? ...You've got it. Better than any other state. ...RIGHT...uh, huh.

So I go into the local Best Buy here (a thing I normally DON'T do simply because Best Buy is horrible at stocking decent music and is WAY overpriced). I go in with the specific goal to finish off the little remainder left on my gift card from some time ago for a CD that I would really like. So I scour their meager collection of CD's while listening to their blaring pop/rap garbage (BLAH!), and finally locate the small jazz section...and I mean SMALL. I go to ask the poor teenage smuck working the floor a question. "Do you know where your Pete Fountain is?" I ask, referring to the legendary New Orleanian clarinetist. All I get back is a blank stare. "Pete who?"

ARGH! What is with these people! I thought to myself. Pete Fountain, Al Hirt...don't you know?!

"What genre of music is he in?" he asks with a blank stare still on his face. "Jazz," I reply with heavy desperation. I wanted to add "you fool" to the end of it, but I restrained myself...just enough. Finally, he goes to search his computer terminal for this "phantom" artist. Sure enough, there's ol' Pete on the screen, but by that time I mused that it was quite alright and that he needn't worry. I would be able to find it elsewhere and at a better price. I grumbled as I found a decent (but a tad overpriced) Frank Sinatra CD, Sinatra Reprise: The Very Good Years, and walked out the store.

That's it...only for me!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"The Rockets' Red Glare..."

Finally, a clear day at the launch pad! The first Independence Day manned spaceflight launch, what a sight! They couldn't have picked a better day to have to scrub to. The weather appears to be perfect and the fallen-foam problem turns out, at the first cursory glance, to be not a problem. What a great day!

"If you hear a voice within you say ' You are not a Painter' then by all means PAINT...and forever silence that voice." - Vincent van Gogh

Saturday, July 01, 2006

To the Edge and Back: The Space Shuttle & the Status of NASA

It is becoming apparent, as the days pass by, that NASA's prominence is waning. Gone are the glory years of the Space Race, where risks were taken and success was found, despite the heavy costs. Every time I listen to the news and their negative-to-a-fault discussion of this foam problem, that I am sickened at the entire problem. Similar to what 9-11 was to global politics, the Columbia accident was to the American awareness of the risks of space. While Challenger taught us as a nation not to take anything for granted, the Columbia accident has driven us to fear the unknown. However, this is not the best result for us as a nation. We must accept the inevitable and accept a certain amount of risk and do the best we can do to get what must be done actually done. Not because of some fanciful desire to fulfill someone's dream but to do what must be done, accepting danger and surmounting it. We mustn't step back from progress, but forward to the future. Simply because failure is not an option.

Godspeed to the Discovery crew in their important mission.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Softly Call the Muster...

In many lands and climes this April day
Proud sons of Texas A&M unite.
Our loyalty to country, school, we pay,
And seal our pact with bond of common might.

We live again those happy days of yore
On campus, field, in classroom, dorm, at drill.
Fond memory brings a sigh - but nothing more;
Now we are men and life's a greater thrill.

On Corregidor 64 years ago today
A band of galliant Aggies, led by Moore,
Held simple rites which led to us doth all to say:
The spirit shall prevail through cannon roar.

Before we part and go upon our way,
We pause to honor those we knew so well;
The old familiar faces we miss so much today
Left cherished recollections that time cannot dispel.

Softly call the Muster,
Let comrade answer, "Here!"
Their spirits hover 'round us
As if to bring us cheer!

Mark them "present" in our hearts.
We'll meet some other day
There is no death, but life eterne
For old friends such as they!

- Dr. John Ashton '06

Brian, you will always be present in the depths of our hearts here in Aggieland. No matter the distance in time, you our still present in our memory.

Good byes are such a tough thing, especially when you aren't even given the chance to say good bye.

Friday, April 14, 2006

TR's Words to the Wise...

"This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat to this country." - Theodore Roosevelt

These words are a wise observation from Teddy Roosevelt. Nothing less than a realization that this axiom applies to today's society would be something tantamount to the rejection of democracy as we know it in our country today.

Neither side of the political aisle has lived up to Mr. Roosevelt here in this case. We have crooked men (and women) abounding in today's society. It's isn't a coinidence that notable cases of corporate greed such as Enron (Ken Lay, Jefferey Skilling, Andrew Fastdow), WorldCom (Bernie Ebbers), HealthSouth (Richard Scrushy), and the like have occurred in recent years. It isn't a coincidence that backroom politics rather than citizens' votes have set policy for our country or that even our upper echelons of government are almost constantly rocked with allegations of (and, on the rare occasion, convictions for) crimes of corruption and abuse of power. Look no further than our current administration and the K Street corruption scandals. Look no further than the level of unbounded zeal at which the current administration is using its power to do domestic spying without warrants. Neither side has lived up to Americans of any color, of any creed, or of any political persuasion in the issues as of late. They have been and continue to be ruled by special interests. This MUST come to an end and quickly.

It doesn't worry me that the political party that I have supported are party to several documented cases of unethical behavior. It is the cases that are not caught, that are not reported on and that we--as a public--are not privy to that worry me the most. This is where President Roosevelt's words are so indelibly important. We must fear the crooked man who gets away with the crime.

Whether it be on either party, I want my news unbiased and uncommented upon. I want the facts checked, and I want, by any means necessary and legally available, all facts reported upon both fairly and in their entirety. It is time for both sides of the aisle to remove the partisan atmosphere that has cloaked Capitol Hill and the entire country in a debilitating moral haze that not only aids the enemy abroad but also the crooked man among us.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Break from It All

A respite from the ordinary once in a while is a good thing. Everyone needs some downtime and everyone is in need of time to catch up on things that have gotten the best of them. In this case, I am no different. There is so much I wish to do with this week away from classes. I feel the freedom, and it feels wonderful.

However, I must reflect what the school year in its whole has brought me, certainly both sadness and joy. This year has brought me a certain gaping hole, a void of loss. In August and September we faced hurricane after hurricane along the Gulf Coast. Dennis was immediately after the Fourth of July, chasing me from Gulf Shores, AL. Katrina wrecked havoc on New Orleans like no other in the days leading up to September. Then came Rita in an uncharacteristic swipe at Texas and southwest Louisiana. Thankfully I was able to remain out of harm's way for each, while still praying for those who were in the crosshairs of Nature's fury. One can only hope that this hurricane season is less eventful and, as a result, less destructive. Then in September I remembered the loss of Brian from late spring. New friends have entered since then but sadness for the emptiness of friends long gone remains.

And so I remember Brian as I traveled down the same highway he did coming close to a year now. I think of him each time I travel that busy state highway. I can't help but think of him and his accident. I curse the undivided stretch that took his life and bless the promise of a better road design the engineers have come up with that will, in the future, stem the number of deaths attributed to that deadly stretch of payment between College Station and Houston. So I traveled that highway with the sun blazing red light in its final moments of the day, thinking not only of the sadness but also of the comfort of being on the road.

With all that was lost in memories to my home city, with all that has changed, and with all that will never be the same, I find that in that roadway things never change. In driving those stretches of highways so many times one loses the need for road maps and even the signs and the mile markers. The buildings and the scenery act as small landmarks to guide the way and of which never seem to change. It becomes almost a comforting thing on which to rely, if only life and home were that guaranteed. Granted, those in New Orleans are fortunate to have the wherewithal to still be here today, something that one couldn't count on in years past, but I still feel a sense of loss with what I remember to be gone...and something that shall never remain the same.

In all of these thoughts I have come to the conclusion that there is a time to think of the past and what was then and there is a time to look to the future and what is to be. We can only hold on to things for so long, and we can only love what you have while you have it. Turning over a new leaf is something we all must learn to do.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Drive Home & A Waitress Named Gifty

The trip has reached its completion, all 8 hours later. We have had a wonderful time in a wonderful city and had a blast going there and coming back even though we had a number of set backs such as 10-gallon gas tanks and phantom rain storms, we made it through had a productively fun (we maximized the fun [four parades in all!] while doing actually very little) and worked our way into a week happy that we had gone.

We closed with a nice dinner at, of all places, a truck stop before heading back through Houston. No matter what one can say...New Orleans will be back and be back to stay.

God bless and have a great week.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blogging from the Frontlines: Vieux Carré and The Ducks of Tucks

Day two has reached its completion, out of our three-day weekend excursion to New Orleans with much fanfare, revelry, and a little bit of prayer. Thankfully the rains withstood for most of the afternoon, and even when they did come it wasn't a total wash. We made our way out to Napoleon Ave. in Uptown to catch two early afternoon parades so that we would be able to see a few parades in case Endymion postponed their parade. It turns out that they did for a potential downpour condition that never truly materialized.

So I bolted out the door this morning to join the parade-going bunch, less the umbrella I packed especially for the day. No big worries there. We managed to circle De la Salle a few times before getting to a suitable parking spot. We got to the Iris parade about a third of the way in progress and joined the fray for the beads. Surprisingly the marching bands were non-existent in the parade so it flew by in about 20 minutes (about half the usual time). The Krewe of Tucks followed next, without a dark cloud threatening overhead. I enjoyed their float titles, many of which were witty backhand (but justified) swipes at everyone from FEMA, to the Corps of Engineers, to the Mayor (of the "Chocolate City"). The picture above was after the second parade of our motley group, once Endymion made their decision to cancel the parade for the day (note the sunny skies above).

So, since Endymion was out the reach of our viewing eyes now for the year, we decided to meander down to the French Quarter for the afternoon. After much lengthy discussion, we managed to weave our way through several deserted neighborhoods around Claiborne, including a number of vacant (but still unsightly as ever) housing projects. We had made a sightseeing trip through the Ghetto of New Orleans. Then we managed to do more sightseeing in Mid-City, noting the still visible waterlines from August on many of the buildings). Circling around the foot of Elysian Fields, we made it back to City Hall and parked, walking back down Canal to the Quarter.

We had a nice (but crowded) visit to Café du Monde for a plate of beignets and hot chocolate; after all we are in the CHOCOLATE city after all! We viewed St. Louis Cathedral and the vista of Mississippi River from the "Moon Walk," named after the 1970 mayor of New Orleans, Moon Landrieu. Beads still in tote, most of the group went to the Saturday vigil mass at St. Louis, which is still as glorious and stately of a church it has ever been. It was nice way to cap our brief visit to the Quarter before ambling down a rather deserted Bourbon Street, finally heading to our cars back at City Hall. I remember now why I avoided Bourbon Street every year before with all of its drunken out-of-towners being a bunch of disgusting (and drunk) fools.

Thankfully we left the dreary wet weather of the Quarter for warmer and more spacious accommodations of a local eatery for some seafood and more visiting. It was an all around great day.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Second Lining to New Orelans...

Finally the week is over and done. No more tests, no more exams, no more assignments to worry about...for an entire weekend. I am free at last to have fun, to have a great time, to be with friends and family for the Carnival is here for me. It's off to New Orleans for me, and I wish all the best. Happy Mardi Gras!

Laissez les bon temps roulez, y'all!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mardi Gras 2006: Relief, Rebuild, Renew

I cannot stand those who say Mardi Gras should not roll on. I pity those who think it is not important enough to roll on that the cost is "too great." I'll argue until cannot argue any more that it is imperative that New Orleans holds this year's Carnival season, in spite of all of the adversities—past, present, and future—to overcome the loss and to overcome the pain wrought because of Katrina. This year's celebrations are to spite the storm that dared to try to take away "the city care forgot." No storm can take away a community, nor can it take way the Spirit of a community. It always remains, in one form or another. Mardi Gras belongs in New Orleans, and New Orleans belongs to us all.

We all must be supportive; we all must be a part of the celebration. One of New Orleans’ notorious nicknames, "the city that care forgot," mustn't gain a new nickname as the city the Nation forgot. The city mustn't go quietly off into the night. This year’s Mardi Gras is not a swan song for the Crescent City. This is the party to start all parties. This is the party that renews the New Orleans to the one we all knew and that will rebuild to the city it ought to be.

Laissez les bon temps roulez, y'all!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ray Nagin and the "Chocolate City"

I've listened to the Martin Luther King Day comments and remarks made by Ray Nagin, current mayor of New Orleans, and his Democrat counterpart, Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York. Nagin has recently apologized for certain parts of his comments (which can be viewed here from the New Orleans' WDSU or read from transcript here). However, those parts of the speech were merely concerning the mentioning of God sending the Hurricanes, nothing more. His comments about a "Chocolate City" and how New Orleans will be "one again" has raised a serious uproar both in the city and across the Nation. As being from the area, born there and raised nearby, I find it to be rather disparaging for the kind of frenzy he worked himself into that day. Dr. King would not be proud.

Neither would Dr. King be proud of Senator Clinton's remarks comparing the House of Representatives to that of a plantation. It is just not right. It is a spit in the face to what Dr. King worked towards, that of equality. When remarks like that are accepted by a community at large when they are not the case (and clearly the House is NOT run like a plantation), then you actually take a step back for what Dr. King had accomplished in his life. What the African-American community must realize is that neither party is looking out for their interests and neither party is truly looking for equality. There must be eracism before racism can be wiped from the Earth. We not only should we be not racist but we should also be color-blind to race all together. Morgan Freeman put it best in a 60 Minutes interview about a month ago when posed the question, "How are we going to get rid of racism?" from Mike Wallace, and he responded by saying, "Stop talking about it."

All of these thoughts led me to write in to a specific PBS show, Washington Week, which I have been watching rather regularly as of late. They had a "What were they thinking?" segment that called for viewer comments, and well, I couldn't resist writing in. Apparently they had a shortage of comments this week because mine got in! So without further ado, my ten seconds of fame courtesy of who other than Hillary Clinton and Ray Nagin...

My comment read on on-air...

In response to Ms. Ifill's January 20, 2006 request for comment on her "What were they thinking?" segment:

As a native New Orleanian currently out-of-state, I was stunned to listen to Nagin's remarks. I thought he went off the deep end. However, Nagin and Clinton were doing the same thing. They were both playing to the crowd, which that day was predominantly African-Americans. They were caught up in the moment.

Saying the House is run like a plantation is a degrading statement. It's a far cry from being as repressive as the antebellum plantation system and thus is a slap in the face of the ancestors of many African-Americans these days, the slaves that were oppressed.

For all the talk of New Orleans as a melting pot, what it is and still has been a socio-economically divided city. What Nagin did was evoke a racial tone to an already brewing pot of trouble. From any other mouth such words would make many cry foul. What would have saved him face was not to call for the city to be a "chocolate" city but instead for it to be a "Neapolitan" city again. The city is a rich mix of cultures, and to include one race without the other is completely and utterly racist.

Both set of remarks, from Clinton and Nagin, were uncalled for and cheap allegories that have no place in today's society where we must get past race in order to actually defeat racism.

John Book
College Station, TX

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Yurttasisms to Live By...

Rare is the case that a Texas A&M computer science undergraduate doesn't have the privilege to take a course from the esteemed senior lecturer, Dr. Salih Yurttas. He is famous among the computer science student body for his quotes and sayings that are often peppered amid his lectures on topics of the design of programming languages, database systems, or distributed objects programming, among others. He is programming language maven with extensible educational programming examples on everything from smalltalk and simula to java, c, c++, c#, perl and python among others. His booming (and I mean booming) Turkish accent is a memorable and sometimes unnerving sound that has been described as a mix between Count Chocula and the "IKEA Guy." I had the pleasure of taking his programming languages design class last semester and have yet to regret it since.

Some of the memorable quotes, the Yurttasisms that have come to be priceless:
In Latin, they write left to right. Arabic writes right to left. Chinese write top to bottom. No one has thought of writing bottom to top.

Our angel on the fourth floor has taken care of this for us. -Speaking of Bjarne Stroustrup

Don't tell me 'I know these things.' I know you know these things but the problem is you never do.

You know what I always say, kill three birds with two stones.

You will learn this both properly and fully.

You will never do this; that is the 1950's way of programming.

Some may argue that his teaching style can be unorthodox at times, but I will fervently argue the opposite: that we in fact need more to teach in his style of teaching by example and sometimes lofty assignments. For when one keeps an open mind, one will always learn more than by keeping one's mind closed to instruction.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Oddly enough...

I don't know how much stock to take in this, but it seems fun enough...

You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!





























What is your Perfect Major?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Roberts Confirmation and Anti-Catholicism in the United States

I've meant to comment for quite some time on this article since mid-September but due because of my schedule I have waited until now. However, the topic is still fresh in noteworthiness here in America, as it has been since the United States' founding over 200 years ago. What are the place of Catholics, especially active Catholics in tune with their moral conscience based in a foriegn state? As Catholics we believed in this day in age that we have forever banished the question: "As practicing Catholic, is a person fit to hold office?"

With the media these days, much of it filled with anti-Catholic sentiment, I guess we cannot. Entertainment is set on bashing traditional Catholicism even more than the media in their pathetic satire, so much so that Viacom (parent company of Comedy Central) recently banished one South Park episode titled "Blood Mary" that first aired on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic feast day honoring the Virgin Mary. This kind of tasteless satire is both demeaning and rude. Not mention, it's happened countless times in one form or another throughout recent years from the Pope picture-tearing on live television during on Saturday Night Live by Sinéad O'Connor, which has since also been bannished from public viewing altogether like the one South Park episode, to being the butt of jokes on the priesthood scandals—something that should not be joked lightly about.

However, this is not what I came to comment about today. I wanted to comment on the Christopher Hitchens opinion article Catholic Justice: Quit tiptoeing around John Roberts' faith from The curt words of Hitchens in his labasting of good Catholics, stating simply:
If Roberts is confirmed there will be quite a bloc of Catholics on the court. Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas are strong in the faith. Is it kosher to mention these things? The Constitution rightly forbids any religious test for public office, but what happens when a religious affiliation conflicts with a judge's oath to uphold the Constitution?
Now that John Roberts has been confirmed and Samuel Alito has been nominated to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, must we hear this nonsensical ideological garbage again? Hitchens continues to insinuate later in his piece that through the actions of the Catholic Church in the child abuse scandals and the Church's teachings on abortion and evolution (which he both clearly and fervrantly disagrees with) that Church (and its members) is solely political in nature. Hitchens must realize that moral teachings WILL collide with political issues from time to time and that does not mean there will be any resulting double allegiance issues, which worried the WASP's during the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy, our first Catholic president. This new round of insuations in merely more anti-Catholic sentiment popping up in Supreme Court issues.

Hitchens even goes so far to equate Opus Dei, an organization that Supreme Court Antonin Scalia (a Catholic) is a member of, to that of the Ku Klux Klan, a totally outrageous notion that should not be given the time of day in consideration. What does it then? Because it is "cool" to bash Catholicism.

Well, I think Scalia put it best when he addressed a group of the Knights of Columbus (which protected the Church in the South decades ago from Klan anti-Catholic violence) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana: "Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world." Amen. Give me Scalia any day over a bucketful of contemptable liberals.