Great video on Altar Servers

Through Facebook, I discovered this great video on one young man's experience as an altar server:

I definitely agree that the altar server can distract from the liturgy if he is not focused on his duty, and that priests should encourage the use of cassocks and surplices instead of albs. A large reason for my joining the Seminary was my experience as an altar server, assisting some very humble priests who were great representatives of the Church and very close to Jesus—and this was reinforced by how reverent and dedicated they were to the celebration of Holy Mass.

Archdiocese of St. Louis and Catholic Charities sue federal government over HHS Mandate

From the press release announcing the lawsuit:

The Archdiocese of St. Louis and Catholic Charities of St. Louis are taking legal action against the federal government of the United States of America. During a press conference today, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson announced that a lawsuit challenging the legality of the HHS mandate was filed in court this morning.

Archbishop Carlson stated that the Church “had pursued every other imaginable option to correct this problem,” and added that, “Right now the future is unclear, and any scenario that forces us to violate our moral convictions is unacceptable. At the same time, any sce- nario that forces our St. Louis area hospitals, schools, and charities to close would be dev- astating to the many people employed and served by these institutions.”

See the press conference video, posted to the Archdiocese's YouTube channel:

Freedom from Choice (Reasons to be Catholic)

I recently read a blog post titled 'Freedom from Choice' from the Red Sweater Blog (a blog by Daniel Jalkut, a Mac programmer) with great interest, considering the subject matter (Steve Jobs, computing, and free/open source software). In the post, Daniel speaks about how Steve Jobs' decisions to restrict certain 'freedoms' on the iOS and Mac platforms has helped Macs, iPhones, and iPads become more focused and consumer-friendly devices.

The reason for this is that the user no longer has to worry about making a thousand decisions to accomplish a simple task.

Daniel said that Richard Stallman, a staunch 'everything must be free' software programer, "paints Jobs as a robber of freedoms, first and foremost, while neglecting to acknowledge the many liberties he brought, for example to those of us who can’t, or don’t want to build our own computing infrastructures."

This is readily apparent and admitted by those in the computing world who realize that giving people a command line/terminal and telling them to go to town is a very bad idea. Most people I know would (and do) quickly ruin their computers because of the level of control they have over them. How many people do you know have laptops that are always locking up, shutting down, or messing up due to software people installed on them, additions people made, or simply the little things people have done to their computers for the sake of making them 'their own'. (It's the same with many Android phones, in my experience...).

Is it not the same in our personal lives, in the realm of morals and faith? Everyone subscribes to some moral system or faith/religion (whether it's formalized or not), and some people (like me) choose to belong to a faith (Catholicism) which helps us make the decisions that will help us be better humans, free of the 'malware' and ailments that eat at our souls and self-images.

Two from the Review - Sunday Obligation + Marriage in a Church

This week's St. Louis Review has a few excellent articles that I thought I should share here for the benefit of those reading this blog who may not be from St. Louis.

First is a column from Archbishop Carlson, in which he stresses the importance, and individual responsibility, of the Sunday Obligation. He definitely doesn't sugarcoat things—we need more of this from our leaders!

There is simply no excuse for missing Mass on the Lord's Day. If through your own fault you miss Mass on Sunday, you are committing a serious sin. You should not receive holy Communion until you have gone to confession. (Continued...).

Next up is a 'Dear Father' response from Fr. John Mayo, a friend of mine, concerning the need to celebrate Wedding ceremonies inside physical Church buildings (rather than having 'destination weddings' on beaches, or at otherwise secular locations):

Technology and Faith

CUatMass - Faith and Technology Illustration by Lisa JohnstonThe St. Louis Review published a 'Living Our Faith' section on Technology and Faith in their most recent newspaper (Feb. 25th issue), and it highlights the fine line between faith and technology.

Two issues I have been thinking about more than others lately are technology as a distraction, and the distance between the Church and mainstream culture in implementing new tech/media initiatives.

To the first, the article reminds the reader, through the words of seminarian Gregory Carl, "Media and technology have a way ofgrabbing up a lot of your time and drawing attention to itself. In a certain sense, our object is to use this means of communication so that in due time, we can set those things aside and be in communion with Christ. There's almost a kind of dichotomy there."

Natural Family Planning (NFP) and Contraception

There is no end to the amount of criticism the Catholic Church receives in regard to her teachings on marriage and sexuality, especially with regard to acceptable methods of birth regulation. Society has a basic rule that anything goes—whatever form of contraception seems safe and has a relatively high rate of success in preventing pregnancy is good for partners. But the Church's teaching begs the question: Are some forms of birth regulation better than others? Is there a fundamental difference in moral status between one form of regulation and another? And what of the 'contraceptive mentality;' is this a healthy framework in which to place human sexuality?