The Pope at Westminster Abbey

Damien Thompson on Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to Westminster Abbey:

Even Catholics who would never be so crude as to say “the Abbey belongs to us, not to you” sensed that history was being re-balanced in some way. They realised that the Pope had as much right to sit in that sanctuary as the Archbishop of Canterbury who, to be fair, showed the Holy Father a degree of respect that implied that he, at least, recognises the spiritual primacy of the See of Peter even if he rejects some of its teachings.

The Future of the Catholic Priesthood: Vampire Hunting?

What do you do when vampires turn out to be demonic monsters and not overly-serious teens?  Call in a secret priestly order trained in destroying those pesky little blood suckers, of course.  That’s the central story the upcoming movie “Priest.”

You put all of this in a post-apocalyptic world controlled by the stereotypical fun-hating Church, add a rogue priest, and you have have all the makings for Hollywood gold!  Oh, and there is good news for those of you seeking women’s ordination, too.  Turns out that a massive demonic outbreak changes the Vatican’s mind on that matter.

(Via Creative Minority Report)

Fr. John Corapi’s Easter Triduum

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The Washing of the Feet, a Holy Thursday tradition

Holy Thursday has arrived ushering in Easter’s Holy Triduum.  The Holy Triduum is  a three day remembrance of the last days of Jesus’s life that leads up to the Easter celebration of his resurrection.  For those who are seeking to learn more about the Holy Triduum, I recommend listening to Fr. John Corapi’s three part series covering Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.  MP3 versions of these talks can be downloaded here.

For more about Fr. Corapi, you can listen to his conversion story on YouTube.

“Blessed be the mobile phone users…”

In a strange mix of religion and technology, the Times is reporting on the Anglican parish of St. Lawrence Jewry in London holding a public “blessing of the smartphones.”  Apparently picking up on the medieval “Plough Monday” tradition of blessing agricultural equipment,  the Rev. Canon David Parrott allowed iPhones, BlackBerrys and laptops to be place on the altar for a special blessing.

This was Church 2.0. Behind him, the altar resembled a counter at PC World. Upon it, laid out like holy relics, were four smart phones, one Apple laptop and one Dell…

…Then, after another hymn, came the blessing of the smart phones. The Lord Mayor of London offered his BlackBerry to Canon Parrott, which was received with due reverence and placed upon the altar.

Then the congregation held their phones in the air, and Canon Parrott addressed the Almighty. “By your blessing, may these phones and computers, symbols of all the technology and communication in our daily lives, be a reminder to us that you are a God who communicates with us and who speaks by your Word. Amen.”

Despite my affinity for both Church and tech, I find all of this a bit bizarre.

A look at the new English translation of the Roman missal

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has posted a side by side comparison of the new English translation of the Novus Ordo1 Mass.  The hope for this translation is that it will be truer to the original Latin.  This is a very good thing as it brings the English words closer to those being said in the many other local languages of the Church.  There will, however, be a great deal of kicking and screaming over this.  Some will scream that this doesn’t go far enough.  Some will see this as going backward, and some will simply oppose change from anything to which they have grown accustomed.  Like seemingly everything in the Church today, there will no doubt be a loud debate once these changes start getting implemented, but in the long run I hope people will cool down after they get used to it.  (h/t American Papist)

1Fancy Latin phrase for “New Order” referring to the liturgical changes to the Mass introduced by Pope Paul VI in 1969 after the Second Vatican Council.

Essene Jewish community never existed?

Easter must be close. I know this because every magazine is publishing their annual “secrets of the bible” issues. I’ve read most of them or heard the same stuff on the History Channel, but this article at Time.com caught my attention.  It talks to Rachel Elior, a Jewish mysticism professor, who claims the Essenes, a mysterious Jewish religious sect, never existed.  The Essenes are most often credited with the authorship of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Many also think they were where John the Baptist and even Jesus Christ himself got the basis of their radical views.  Should this view of their non-existence gain further traction, it has the potential to change the way Biblical scholarship is approached.

Obama bigger than Jesus, survey shows

A recent Harris Poll (via Catholic News Agency) shows that President Obama’s status as a hero has eclipsed that of Jesus in the eyes of Americans.

Respondents most often named Barack Obama, followed by Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Mother Teresa was the tenth most often named, while God was the eleventh most. (from CNA)

Honestly, this doesn’t surprise me at all.  The love affair with between the press and Obama is enough to make even moderates like myself queezy, and people think and do what the TV tells them to do.  What does surprise me is that George W. Bush appears on the list ahead of Mother Teresa and God.  If everyone in the world hates ol’  G.W. like we are led to believe, what does that say about our opinion of God?

England’s changing religious face

For the first time since the Protestant Reformation hit the British Isles, Catholics are on the verge of becoming the majority religion among Britons. This according to The London Times (and echoed by CWN). A combination of immigration from Catholic countries and a steady decline within the Anglican church has led to this distinction.

An interesting note in the article is that the influx of Catholics has been overwhelming in certain areas. With average Sunday mass attendance up to one million people, the Times describes the situation as both the church’s biggest threat and biggest opportunity. According to the article, the surge of workers from countries like Poland (~95% Catholic) has caused some parishes, especially in London, to offer masses from 8 A.M. to 8 P.M.

The interesting question is what is happening amongst the actual British people. Once a proud society centered around Christian religious life has slowly faded toward atheism. The Anglican Church seems to be gasping for air along with its sister chruches around the world in the Anglican Communion. Catholicism still seems to be a four-letter word considering to this day an English king or queen can neither be Catholic or marry one.

On top of all this is the issue that all of Europe faces, how long before Islam takes over? A challenge that could change the face of Europe is going virtually ignored in religious circles. Thank God for Pope Benedict XVI. Whether or not Catholics, Anglicans, protestants, and evangelicals understand it, Benedict is out in front, putting his life on the line to defend Christianity in relation to Islam. Catholic and non-Catholic alike should applaud and respect him for this.

The Screwtape Letters headed to the big screen

“The devill . . the prowde spirite . . cannot endure to be mocked.”—Thomas More (as quoted by C.S. Lewis on the opening page of The Screwtape Letters)

CNA is reporting that Walden Media has made known plans to create a movie version of C.S. Lewis’ classic The Screwtape Letters. This comes on the heels of the massive success that Walden had with Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It will be the third Walden project based on a Lewis work, as Prince Caspian, the second book of The Chronicles of Narnia, is already in development.

The Screwtape Letters is one of my favorite books. It reveals the correspondence of two demons. Wormwood the elder, accomplished devil and his young, often bumbling nephew Screwtape. Unlike “The Chronicles,” The Screwtape Letters is not a book aimed at children. It reveals the seemingly never ending struggle between good and evil for the rights to the souls of men. What makes this book unique is that it is told from the “opposing” side. While most people look to tell the story of God reaching out to take souls from the hands of the Devil, Lewis show that the other side is still fighting. Lewis shows many of the follies of “the other side” as a young Wormwood learns the ways of devilry.

Like The Chronicles, The Screwtape Letters is set in a time when Europe is dealing with war. With death and destruction all around, Lewis looks at how tempters seek to shift the balance of a soul’s desire. The book is clearly influenced by Lewis’ war experience and his conversion from atheism to Christianity.

Many feared that Christian elements of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be sacrificed for the big screen. Although I did not see many of these sacrifices in that movie, I am sure the same concerns will be raised for The Screwtape Letters. However, movies like The Passion of the Christ have proven that an unadulterated Christian message can be shown on the big screen without the financial concerns of those making the film.

I am really excited about this film. I hope they can continue to shine a light on the brilliance of C.S. Lewis. His writings and ideas are as relevant today as ever. The expected release date is sometime in 2008.