Our Rosary App for the iPhone reaches 25,000 downloads!

rosary2I want to take a moment to celebrate with you as our first iPhone application, “Mysteries of the Holy Rosary“, reached 25,000 downloads this week.

This free application is a meditation and instructive aid for those praying the Rosary. It does not replace your Rosary beads, but rather helps you focus on the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

As a new Catholic, I had a difficult time remembering which mysteries matched each day. Although many other great iPhone Rosary apps allow you to ditch your physical Rosary, I wanted to experience the beauty of those venerable beads, as a tool to meditate on our Lord. So I built this app specifically to require zero input. Just open it and it will automatically select the mystery that matches today. If you’d like more you can switch to other mysteries, focus in on the beautiful artwork, or see simple instructions on how to pray the Rosary.

appstoreIf you haven’t had an opportunity to look at the app for yourself, you can download it at the iTunes App Store.

If you like it please consider letting others know by rating and leaving a short review on iTunes. And a special thanks to the 350 of you who have already done so!

Lent for Life: Education

WombDuring this season of Lent I’m walking through the four approaches to pro-life action as suggested by the USCCB’s Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities. With each of the approaches I hope to discuss how we might get involved in tangible and practical ways to “respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life.”1

The Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities begins with Education and offers some essentials for action:

  • Biblical and theological foundations that attest to the sanctity and dignity of human life
  • Scientific information concerning the humanity of unborn children, especially that made available by modern genetic science and technology
  • American founding principles, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence, that reflect unchanging truths about the human person
  • Society’s responsibility to safeguard every human life, to defend life by non-violent means wherever possible, and never purposely to destroy innocent human life
  • Discussion of effective and compassionate care for those who are terminally ill and for persons with disabilities
  • Information about effective, compassionate, and morally acceptable solutions to the very real and difficult problems that can exist for a woman during and after pregnancy, as well as help for those who suffer from the consequences of abortion

Evangelization: Let Us Define

shepherds hear gospelIn my two previous posts on evangelization, I focused on our need to both proclaim the gospel and to witness to it in our very lives.  I discussed its ontological nature, in that evangelization, goes to who the Church is as Church.  I also discussed that for evangelization to be effective in our world that real, true, and visible unity among God’s people is essential and I made an argument for ecumenism as a necessary means to evangelize. 

In this post, I thought it might be helpful to examine the word “evangelization” and what exactly it means.  Evangelization in its original Greek means to bring or announce good news, to preach or proclaim as glad tidings.  In its nonbiblical, Graeco-Roman usage it described the public proclamation of significant events such as an announcement of the Emperor Augustus’ birthday, “the birthday of the god [=emperor] was for the world the beginning of joyful tidings (evangelia) which have been proclaimed on his account.” 1  Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [now Pope Benedict XVI] explores this meaning of “gospel” showing how it relates to the kingdom that Jesus ushers in:

Lent for Life

Ash WednesdayLent is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting to prepare us for the hope-filled death and Resurrection of our Lord. This can include giving something up (think chocolate and television, not exercise and vegetables), or focusing more intently on a particular spiritual discipline (i.e. Lectio Divina or the Rosary). Lent (like Advent) can be a great time to build a habit that continues throughout the rest of the year.

For me, as I received the mark of ashes today, I’m particularly filled with a deep repentance for my apathy for the unborn. It’s not for lack of belief, but rather my belief has come with little action. But as St. John tells us in his first epistle, we ought to be concerned when our belief does not love with actions and truth.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

Ecumenical Evangelization

In my last post, I discussed that evangelization goes to the essence of who the Church is as Church.  The missionary mandate that Christ gives is not something added to the nature of the Church; the Church is missionary in its very nature.  It is intrinsic to who we are and thus evangelization has an ontological focus.  It is, in the words of Ad Gentes, a “universal sacrament of salvation.”  And, as a Church we need to constantly be of renewal and a visible witness to the salvific love of Christ.  We also need to proclaim the “good news” of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. 

I wanted to emphasis our need to “share” our faith because I do believe that for many within the Catholic Church, this is a foreign concept.  We have come to view evangelization as simply doing good and being good.  The sense that we need to articulate and express our faith is a stretch for many within the Church.  There are many reasons for this due to confusions regarding questions of salvation, Rahner’s “anonymous Christian,” grace versus nature, the necessity of the Church for salvation, and what about those people who never hear or come to know Jesus.  These questions are just a sampling of some of the underpinnings that need to be explained for the Catholic faithful to again capture the evangelization fervor of Pentecost. 

Evangelization: Who We Are As Church

saint-paul-preaching-in-athens-3511-mid1Do you know what is the nature of the Church? You might come up with various answers, but when the Church asks who are we at our very nature, it responds–missionary.1 Evangelization is at the core of who we are as Church–to go out!

Orthodoxy is necessary for evangelization to occur. Without it, one hasn’t anything to share, but their own conjecture and opinion. Without orthodoxy, there is nothing to share, and no need to share it. For evangelization to have meaning there is a necessary precursor of catholicity (right thinking-truth, fullness of faith and universal mission). Evangelization is about conversion of hearts, leading others to Christ through word and proclamation, into his visible body, the Church.

Book Review: Taylor Marshall’s The Crucified Rabbi

Marshall bookMy dear friend Taylor Marshall has recently published a fantastic new book entitled: The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity. This is a book for anyone interested in understanding Catholic teachings and practices more, and particularly their biblical and Jewish roots. The book is clear and accessible to a wide range of readers, and it is beautifully written. Its orientation is certainly popular, but the scholarship that went into producing this text is apparent in the text itself as well as in the endnotes which conclude each chapter. I would recommend this book to both Catholics and non-Catholics. It is a quick and enjoyable read (I had difficulty putting it down when I first began reading it—I’ve read it twice already and am looking forward to reading it a third time when I am able). 

The Crucified Rabbi is available for only $14.95 from Amazon.com. Marshall’s book encompasses a wide-range of topics exploring their OT and Jewish roots: Jesus’ messiahship; Mary as Queen mother of the fulfilled Davidic kingdom (the Church); the papacy; Catholic view of baptism; the Mass and the Eucharist; Catholic priesthood; priestly vestments; cathedrals; parishes; monasticism; Catholic views on marriage; holy days and the liturgical calendar; Saints; and the afterlife. His book also includes a very helpful appendix which lists over 300 OT passages Marshall believes Jesus fulfilled in His NT life and mission. His bibliography includes both useful scholarly and popular works for further reading. This book is a must read. 

Presidential Dollar: Mirror of the Times

fillmore-presidential-dollar

The United States Mint recently unveiled the new designs for the Presidential $1 coins that will enter into circulation this year. It has frequently been said that a nation’s coins are a mirror of its values. In the United States we have an incredible mix of people and motivations which shape our culture. As a result our coins reflect both good and embarassing elements. The first coin of 2010 will honor former Presidents Millard Fillmore. The obverse design on the Millard Fillmore dollar is by United States Mint Sculptor, Engraver Don Everhart. The common reverse design of all the Presidential coins is also by Everhart and features a dramatic rendition of the Statue of Liberty. Inscriptions on the reverse are $1, and United States of America, E Pluribus Unum, 2010, and the mint mark with 13 stars appearing on the edge of the coin. Translated from Latin, the motto “E Pluribus Unum” means “Out of Many, One.” This motto first appeared on U.S. coinage in 1795 and became a mandatory inscription in 1873. The motto “In God We Trust” first appeared on US coinage in 1864. Since 1938, all US coins have carried the inscription.

Becoming a Saint in the Midst of the World

In the Catholic Church, Masses are celebrated every day of the year (except Good Friday when only Communion Services are held), and from the Lectionary, Bible passages are read, on a liturgical cycle, every day at these liturgical celebrations [the readings for the day may be found here. My wife and I used to be members of an adult education group at our old parish in Dayton, Ohio, which hosts short reflections on each of the day’s readings [available here]. My wife and I each still usually write two reflections a week for their website. I try to provide points of application at the end of my reflections. Often, I’ve had people come up to me and ask how we lay people are supposed to put some of these applications into practice: how are we to pray continually? How are we to share our faith? How can we devote our lives to serving others day-to-day? I’ve often encountered objections like the following: sure, I could pray continually if I were a monk or nun in a monastery. Sure, I could share my faith with others if I were a full-time missionary, like a religious brother or sister in some foreign country. Sure, I could devote my life to service if I were a Franciscan. But what about those of us who stay at home all day with children? What about those of us who work long hours in our various occupations, with computers or in manual labor or in other professions? 

Papacy in Scripture VII: Peter in the Gospel of Mark

St. Mark
St. Mark

In this post I’m moving first to Mark’s Gospel before looking at any other major books or passages of the NT because the tradition of the early church, following the testimony of Papias (preserved for us by Eusebius) is that Mark’s Gospel is a summary of Peter’s preaching in Rome. What is interesting about this view is that the general contours of Mark’s Gospel follow the general outline of Peter’s preaching recorded in the Book of Acts. If you take a look, for example, at Acts 10:36-43, we see that Peter begins his preaching about Jesus with Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Of all four Gospels, only Mark begins in this way. Moreover, in 1 Peter 5:13, we find Peter referencing a “Mark” as his travelling companion, both of whom send their greetings from Rome. 

The Petrine nature of Mark’s Gospel, although dismissed by most scholars, is noted by Dr. Richard Bauckham. Dr. Bauckham points out that,

Since Matthew’s Gospel has a special interest in Peter…it is very noteworthy that Mark mentions Peter by name considerably more frequently than Matthew does. Furthermore—a point of considerable importance for our argument that Mark’s Gospel claims Peter as its principal eyewitness source—Peter is actually present through a large portion of the narrative….1

Love and Truth