Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Pope G7 Summit: Artificial Intelligence

The Intersection of Faith and Artificial Intelligence: Insights from the G7 Summit

In a historic moment, Pope Francis addressed the Group of Seven (G7) summit, marking the first time a pontiff has spoken at this global forum. His speech focused on the profound implications of artificial intelligence (AI) on society, emphasizing the need for ethical considerations and human control over this rapidly advancing technology.

Pope Francis' engagement with AI is not new; his interest in the ethical dimensions of technology has been evident for years. The Vatican's active participation in discussions about AI's future underscores the importance of a moral compass in guiding technological development. The pope's message to the G7 leaders was clear: AI should serve humanity, not the other way around.

The pope warned of the potential risks associated with AI, such as exacerbating inequalities between developed and developing nations and between social classes. He urged political leaders to take urgent action to ensure that AI is harnessed for the common good, advocating for the ban of lethal autonomous weapons and calling for AI to be a "bulwark" against technocratic paradigms.

His speech also highlighted the potential benefits of AI, including expanding access to knowledge, advancing scientific research, and relieving humans of demanding tasks. However, he cautioned that these advancements should not come at the cost of human dignity or exacerbate social injustices.

The pope's address at the G7 summit is a significant moment that brings to the forefront the ethical considerations of AI. It serves as a reminder that as we navigate the complexities of AI, we must ensure that it aligns with values that promote human flourishing and the common good. The pope's call to action is not just for political leaders but for all stakeholders involved in the development and deployment of AI technologies.

As AI continues to transform every aspect of our lives, from medicine to education, the guidance of ethical principles becomes increasingly crucial. The pope's message resonates with the broader conversation about the role of AI in society and the responsibility of ensuring it is developed and used in ways that respect human rights and dignity.

The G7 summit's focus on AI, with the pope's participation, marks a pivotal moment in the global dialogue on technology and ethics. It is a call to action for leaders and citizens alike to engage thoughtfully with the challenges and opportunities presented by AI, ensuring that it serves as a tool for positive change and not a source of division or harm.

The pope has some good reason to be concerned. AI has been used to imitate him and other leaders. It has also been used to rob people of their bank accounts and other assets using their images and voices. However, AI is still not as advanced as some people believe it is. It can be fooled and tricked. It can be outsmarted. We are not at the point some people fear in regard to popular movies like The Terminator where Skynet takes over the world.  Consciousness and morality are two traits in human beings that psychologists, philosophers, and even theologians are still trying to figure out. In light of this, human beings may never be able to create a facsimile of it on computers. The real threat are the people behind AI who may use it for evil. As stated, we already have bad actors abusing the technology to scam. 

As we reflect on the pope's words, it is clear that the conversation about AI and ethics is not just about technology; it is about the kind of world we want to create and the values we choose to uphold. The pope's address at the G7 summit is a powerful contribution to this ongoing dialogue, one that will continue to shape the future of AI and its impact on humanity.

Monday, June 17, 2024

CUNY Failed to Protect Students During Palestinian Protests

Recent Developments in Campus Civil Rights: The Case of CUNY

The City University of New York (CUNY) has recently been under scrutiny following a series of investigations by the U.S. Department of Education, which found that the institution failed to adequately protect Jewish students from discrimination. This has raised significant concerns about the enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

The investigations were prompted by incidents that occurred in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas. These events led to a surge in campus activism, which, according to some Jewish students, fostered an antisemitic climate. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) concluded that both CUNY and the University of Michigan did not comply with Title VI requirements to investigate whether the protests created a hostile environment for students.

In one reported incident at the University of Michigan, a Jewish student's request for conflict resolution was denied after they reported harassment on social media. The university's response, citing free speech, highlights the complex balance between protecting civil rights and preserving freedom of expression. Similarly, at CUNY, the OCR found that the university did not take appropriate action regarding reports of antisemitic discrimination, leading to resolutions aimed at addressing these failures.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized that hate has no place on college campuses and acknowledged the challenging moment for school communities across the country. The commitments made by CUNY and the University of Michigan to improve training about antisemitism and reevaluate past allegations are seen as a positive step forward.

Specific Incidents at CUNY: A Closer Look at Campus Civil Rights Issues

The City University of New York (CUNY) has been the focus of several federal complaints alleging a failure to protect students from discrimination. These incidents have brought to light the challenges that institutions face in maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for all students. Here are some specific incidents that have been reported:

1. Brooklyn College: In the fall of 2020, white and Jewish students in the Graduate Program for Mental Health Counseling reported being bullied and labeled as "privileged." When a student raised a complaint, they were allegedly advised by the deputy director of the program to "keep quiet" and "keep their heads down".

2. Hunter College: During two Zoom sessions of a Hunter College course in 2021, students and professors reportedly hijacked the meeting to read a statement calling for the decolonization of Palestine and demonizing Israel. This incident left several students expressing fear in the Zoom chat. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) found that Hunter College concluded without interviewing students present that the disruption did not deny access to education.

3. CUNY Law School: A video from 2020 showed a CUNY Law School student holding a lighter flame close to a sweatshirt with the emblem of the Israel Defense Forces, claiming she was going to set it on fire. The complainant alleged that this constituted antisemitic harassment and that the response from the Law School was inadequate.

These incidents, among others, prompted the U.S. Department of Education to investigate and conclude that CUNY did not comply with Title VI requirements to investigate whether the protests created a hostile environment for students. The resolution agreements require CUNY to reassess their policies and practices to better protect students' civil rights.

The settlements and the ongoing federal monitoring are steps toward ensuring that CUNY addresses these issues adequately. It is a reminder of the importance of vigilance and responsiveness from educational institutions to uphold a safe and inclusive academic environment for all students. The details of the settlement and the specific steps that CUNY will take to actively address discrimination are crucial for the university community and will be closely monitored by stakeholders and civil rights advocates.

This situation underscores the importance of clear policies and proactive measures to protect students from discrimination. It also serves as a reminder of the ongoing need for vigilance and responsiveness from educational institutions to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all students.

The resolutions agreed upon by the universities will require them to reassess their policies and practices to better protect students' civil rights. These agreements serve not only to rectify the current issues but also to set a precedent for how similar incidents should be handled in the future.

As the conversation around campus civil rights continues, it is crucial for universities to engage in open dialogue with their communities, establish clear guidelines, and provide adequate resources to address and prevent discrimination. The actions taken by CUNY and the University of Michigan will be closely watched as indicators of the broader commitment to upholding civil rights in higher education.


Sources:

Probe finds Michigan, CUNY failed to protect Jewish, Muslim students - The Washington Post

Michigan, CUNY failed to protect Jewish students, Education Department investigation finds - JNS.org

CUNY and University of Michigan mishandled Gaza protests: Feds (usatoday.com)


Sunday, June 16, 2024

11th Sunday of Ordinary Time: The Kingdom of God

The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time in the Catholic liturgical calendar is a time of contemplation and growth, as reflected in the readings for Year B. These readings offer a rich tapestry of themes and lessons that speak to the heart of Christian life and faith.

The first reading from Ezekiel (Ez 17:22-24) presents a powerful image of God's sovereignty and care. It speaks of God taking a tender shoot from the top of a cedar and planting it on a high mountain, where it grows into a majestic tree, providing shelter for all kinds of birds. This passage symbolizes God's ability to bring life and vitality from small beginnings, a theme that resonates with the Gospel reading for the day.

The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16) echoes this sentiment of growth and flourishing in the presence of the Lord. It is a song of thanksgiving for God's faithfulness and the blessings that come from being rooted in Him. The psalmist uses the imagery of a flourishing tree to describe the righteous, who thrive under God's loving care.

In the second reading, Paul's letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 5:6-10) reflects on the Christian journey of faith. Paul encourages believers to be courageous and to walk by faith, not by sight, knowing that life in the body is temporary and that the ultimate goal is to be at home with the Lord. This passage invites reflection on the transient nature of earthly life and the eternal significance of our actions.

The Gospel of Mark (Mk 4:26-34) offers two parables about the Kingdom of God, both centered on the theme of growth. The first parable describes the mysterious growth of seed sown on the land, which sprouts and develops without the sower's understanding. The second parable of the mustard seed illustrates how the smallest of seeds can grow into the largest of plants, providing shelter for the birds. These parables emphasize the Kingdom of God's humble beginnings and its potential for expansive growth.

The readings for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time invite the faithful to reflect on the nature of God's Kingdom and the role of faith in personal growth. They remind us that God often works in ways that are beyond our understanding, bringing about transformation from the smallest of seeds. As Christians, we are called to nurture the seeds of faith planted within us, trusting in God's power to grow and sustain us.

The message of these readings is particularly relevant in today's world, where patience and trust are needed amidst challenges and uncertainties. They encourage believers to remain steadfast in faith, to give thanks for God's faithfulness, and to look forward to the full realization of God's Kingdom.

Applying the readings from the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time to daily life can be a fulfilling and enriching practice. Here are some practical ways to live out the messages from the scripture readings:

1. Embrace Small Beginnings: Just as the mustard seed starts small and grows into a large tree, recognize and appreciate the small beginnings in your own life. Whether it's starting a new habit, learning a skill, or building a relationship, have patience and trust in the process of growth.

2. Nurture Growth: The readings speak of growth and flourishing. In your daily life, this can translate to nurturing your personal development and the growth of others. Invest time in education, spiritual practices, and community involvement.

3. Provide Shelter: The cedar tree in Ezekiel and the mustard tree in the Gospel provide shelter for birds. Similarly, strive to be a person who provides support and refuge for those in need. Volunteer at local shelters, donate to charities or simply be a listening ear for a friend.

4. Live Faithfully: Paul's letter to the Corinthians encourages us to walk by faith. Make decisions in your life that reflect your faith and values. This could mean choosing integrity over convenience or standing up for what you believe in, even when it's difficult.

5. Cultivate Thankfulness: The Responsorial Psalm is a song of thanksgiving. Cultivate a habit of gratitude in your daily life. Keep a gratitude journal, share your appreciation with others, and acknowledge the blessings around you.

6. Reflect on God's Sovereignty: The first reading reminds us of God's sovereignty over all creation. Reflect on this in your daily life by acknowledging that not everything is within your control. Surrender your worries to a higher power and find peace in the knowledge that you are cared for.

7. Connect with Nature: The imagery of growth and trees invites us to connect with nature. Spend time outdoors, care for plants or a garden, and let the natural world teach you about the mystery and beauty of life.

8. Engage with Scripture: Make it a habit to read and reflect on the scripture regularly. Use resources like Loyola Press to deepen your understanding and connection to the readings.

9. Participate in Community: The Kingdom of God is often described in communal terms. Participate actively in your local community or faith group. Share your talents, engage in dialogue, and build relationships that reflect the inclusive nature of God's kingdom.

10. Act Justly: The readings call us to act justly in our lives. Advocate for justice in your community, stand against inequality, and work towards creating a society that reflects the justice and love of God's kingdom.

By integrating these practices into your daily life, you can bring the wisdom of the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time into the everyday. It's about growing in faith, hope, and love, and extending that growth outward to touch the lives of others. For more insights and activities related to the readings, consider exploring the resources provided by the National Catholic Reporter and other Catholic educational organizations.

In summary, the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time offers a moment to pause and consider the gradual unfolding of God's plan in our lives. It is a time to appreciate the small beginnings from which great things can grow and to trust in the nurturing presence of God who brings all things to fruition in His time.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Situationism

Exploring the Revolutionary Ideals of Situationism: A Guide to Understanding and References

Situationism, a term often associated with the Situationist International (SI), represents a revolutionary ideology that emerged in the late 1950s. It was a movement that sought to critique and transform the capitalist society by altering the way people interact with their surroundings and everyday life. The SI was formed by a group of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists who believed that the capitalist system reduced human experiences to mere spectacles, leading to passive consumption of images and a detachment from authentic life.

The core of Situationist thought revolves around the construction of situations—moments of life deliberately constructed for the purpose of reawakening and pursuing authentic desires. This approach was a direct response to the passive consumption of the media and the monotony of everyday life imposed by capitalist structures. The SI's methods included the dérive (a form of aimless wandering that encourages new perspectives on urban landscapes), détournement (the subversion of mainstream cultural elements to create new, revolutionary meanings), and psychogeography (the study of the effects of the geographical environment on the emotions and behavior of individuals).

The Situationists were heavily influenced by Marxist theory, but they rejected the orthodox Marxist focus on the industrial proletariat as the sole agent of revolutionary change. Instead, they saw the potential for revolution in the everyday life of all people, advocating for a society where individuals could freely construct their own lives.

One of the most influential texts from the SI is Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle," which argues that authentic social life has been replaced with its representation: the spectacle. This spectacle is a social relation mediated by images that serve to maintain the status quo by pacifying the masses.

Another key figure in the movement was Raoul Vaneigem, whose work "The Revolution of Everyday Life" serves as a handbook for subverting the banalities of daily existence and reclaiming the power of individual creativity and autonomy.

For those interested in delving deeper into the rich and complex ideas of Situationism, here are some essential references:

1. "Society of the Spectacle" by Guy Debord - This seminal work lays out the theory of the spectacle and its implications for society.

2. "The Revolution of Everyday Life" by Raoul Vaneigem - A complementary text to Debord's, focusing on the possibilities of individual rebellion and liberation.

3. Oxford Reference provides an overview of Situationism, its historical context, and its lasting impact on political and artistic movements.

4. SpringerLink offers an entry that discusses the relevance of Situationist theory for critical psychology and the study of space and place.

Situationism remains relevant today as it continues to inspire activists, artists, and thinkers who seek to challenge the status quo and envision a society where individuals can live authentically. Its critique of the commodification of life and the alienation of individuals from their true desires and from each other resonates in a world where technology and media continue to dominate the landscape of human interactions.

By studying Situationism and its methods, we can gain insights into the ways in which our society operates and how we might begin to enact change at the most fundamental levels of daily life. The references provided offer a starting point for anyone interested in understanding the depth and breadth of Situationist thought and its potential for inspiring revolutionary change.

Situationism in Psychology

Situationism in psychology is a perspective that emphasizes the influence of environmental contexts over innate traits in determining human behavior. This theory contends that people's actions are primarily shaped by external factors and situational variables rather than by fixed personality traits. The debate between situationism and trait theory has been a central theme in psychology, with situationism challenging the notion that behavior is consistent across different contexts. 

The famous Stanford prison experiment by Zimbardo is often cited as evidence for situationism, where participants adopted behaviors based on their assigned roles as prisoners or guards, suggesting that the situation had a profound effect on their actions. Critics of situationism argue that it underestimates the role of individual dispositions and overlooks the complexity of how traits and situations interact to produce behavior. Despite the controversy, situationism has contributed significantly to our understanding of human behavior, highlighting the power of situational forces and the dynamic nature of personality.

In Situationism, human beings decide how they will act, behave or respond based on the situation they find themselves in. For example, we often see in teenagers a big change in their personality. They do not behave like elementary children anymore. Even elementary children seem to change from a simple infant or toddler watching Noggin, Nick Jr, Disney or PBS and making friends of the characters on television into children who seem to move past that into playing with toys and others of their own age. It gets more complicated during puberty when children leave all of this behind and even their friends to form new friends in other situations. They often feel embarrassed to associate with friends from their younger years and even family. This new situation forces them to behave differently and think differently. They decide things based on their new situation. Moreover, after high school, we often see young adults lose contact with friends they made in their teen years and seem to shift from a life that seemed based on socialization to a life of hardships and a life of trying to survive by getting a job and being "an adult."  Again, the situation forces psychological changes.

This can often bring about emotional changes that can lead to depression and isolation fueled by nostalgia for times long past. There is a sense that the self is lost. The human being becomes a prisoner of situations. He or she behaves and interacts differently based on the company around him or her and the situation. We can often find online many "Dear Abby" type articles that touch on this, in particular, when friends do not act like friends anymore and "move on."  The authors of these letters show their nostalgia and confusion as to why their friends are all-of-a-sudden disconnecting from them and behaving as if they never had a friendship. The new movie "Inside Out 2" touches on this psychological phenomenon which seems to trump the idea that human beings are controlled by their traits.  

In other situations, we often run into old friends or cousins we have not seen in decades and they seem to be a completely different person. The situations in life forced them to change and behave differently. Again, these changes can lead to confusion and hurt. 

Situationism, while influential in the field of psychology, has faced several criticisms. One of the primary critiques is that it may underestimate the role of enduring personality traits in behavior. Critics argue that situationism overemphasizes the power of situational factors and neglects the consistency of individual behavior across different contexts. This perspective is supported by evidence suggesting that when people are observed in a variety of situations over time, the correlation between their behavior and their personality traits can be quite strong, contrary to what situationism might predict.

Another criticism is that situationism relies on a false dichotomy between situational and dispositional factors. Human behavior is complex and often a result of the interaction between a person's traits and their environment. By focusing solely on environmental influences, situationism may overlook this interplay. Moreover, some argue that situationism's reliance on studies like the Stanford prison experiment, which have been criticized for ethical concerns and methodological issues, weakens its claims.

Furthermore, situationism has been challenged for its potential cultural bias. It may not adequately account for the influence of cultural norms and values on behavior, which can vary significantly across different societies. Critics also point out that situationism does not always consider the role of conscious choice and personal agency in human behavior, which can be a significant factor in how individuals respond to different situations.

In addition, the reproducibility of situationist experiments has been questioned. Some studies have found that small changes in experimental conditions can lead to different outcomes, suggesting that the influence of situational factors may not be as strong or as predictable as situationism implies. This raises concerns about the generalizability of situationist findings.

Lastly, situationism has been critiqued for its implications for moral and ethical reasoning. If behavior is predominantly determined by situations, it could diminish personal accountability and the importance of character and virtues. This perspective could have significant implications for how society understands and addresses moral responsibility.

In summary, while situationism has contributed valuable insights into the power of situational forces, it is not without its detractors. The criticisms highlight the need for a more nuanced understanding of the complex interplay between individual dispositions and environmental influences in shaping human behavior.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Movie Review: Inside out 2

"Inside Out 2" is a captivating journey back into the mind of Riley, now a teenager navigating the complexities of adolescence. Set one year after the original, the sequel introduces a new section in Riley's mind called the Sense of Self, reflecting the evolving aspects of her personality. As Riley prepares to enter high school and strives to make the hockey team, her emotions—Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust—are joined by new ones, including Anxiety, which brings a fresh dynamic to the emotional control center. 

The film explores the impact of these emotions on Riley's life, as they grapple with the challenges of growing up and the pressures of fitting in. With a mix of humor and heart, "Inside Out 2" delves deeper into the emotional landscape of its characters, offering a story that resonates with both young audiences and adults. The film's portrayal of mental and emotional development is both entertaining and educational, providing insights into the human experience through the lens of animation.

This movie was well-made and takes on a child psychology approach. We see a lot of Situationism in regard to when a child hits puberty and begins to live life via the lens of others, certain situations, and his or her own will. If you are a student taking Child Psychology courses or psychology in general, this movie is for you. Moreover, the movie is great for families to discuss life dynamics with children. The changes humans go through is normal but can have dire effects on socialization, the family, and overall development into an adult. It can "make or break," if you will.

Inside Out 2 dwells on these factors showing that though "new emotions" or sensations often appear as humans mature, the most important thing is to keep the self going and always strive for what is authentic and what brings joy. I saw the movie with my nephew and sister and we enjoyed it. The theater had a nice crowd of many adults and children who all applauded at the conclusion of the film. They were very much engaged with the film and rightfully so. This movie dealt with heavy psychological and sociological topics and managed to present them in a way a child can understand (ages 8 and older). 

This movie was very well made.  

Thursday, June 13, 2024

St. Anythony of Padua

St. Anthony of Padua: The Saint of Lost Things

St. Anthony of Padua, a name that resonates with many across the globe, is not just a saint from the past but a timeless figure whose influence extends to the present day. Born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195, St. Anthony was originally named Fernando Martins de Bulhões and came from a wealthy family. His journey of faith led him to join the Augustinian canons and later the Franciscan order, taking the name Anthony in honor of St. Anthony of Egypt.

St. Anthony's life was marked by his profound theological knowledge, his dedication to the poor, and his reputation as a miracle worker. He is celebrated as the patron saint of lost things, a title that has brought comfort to countless individuals over the centuries who have turned to him in their search for missing items. His intercessory powers are considered formidable, and the traditional prayer, "Dear St. Anthony, please come around: something is lost, and it cannot be found," is a testament to the faith people place in his assistance.

The Miracles of St. Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony of Padua, revered as the patron saint of lost items, is also celebrated for his numerous miracles, which have been a source of fascination and faith for centuries. His miracles range from the profound to the poignant, each carrying a message of faith's power and the divine's presence in the everyday lives of believers.

One of the most famous miracles attributed to St. Anthony is the "Sermon to the Fishes." In the town of Rimini, faced with the challenge of converting heretics who refused to listen to him, St. Anthony turned to the sea and began preaching to the fishes. It is said that the fish raised their heads above the water in reverence, a sight that moved the hearts of the people and convinced many to return to the Christian faith.

Another well-known miracle is the story of "The Mule's Adoration." In an attempt to prove the presence of Christ in the Eucharist to a nonbeliever, St. Anthony is said to have presented the Holy Sacrament to a hungry mule, which, despite being offered food, chose to kneel before the Eucharist in veneration. This event is often cited as a testament to the truth of the Real Presence of Christ in the sacrament.

St. Anthony's miracles also include instances of healing and even resurrection. The "Miracle of the Re-attached Foot" tells of a young man who, in a fit of rage, kicked his mother. Regretting his action and seeking penance, he approached St. Anthony, who miraculously reattached the man's severed foot, restoring him physically and spiritually.

The "Miracle of the Drowned Child" recounts how St. Anthony prayed for a child who had drowned, and the child was miraculously brought back to life, to the joy and amazement of his parents and the onlookers.

These stories, and many others, are not just tales of wonder but also serve as reminders of St. Anthony's deep compassion and the belief in the possibility of redemption and divine intervention. They continue to inspire faith and hope among the faithful, reinforcing the saint's enduring legacy as a powerful intercessor and a beacon of Christian virtues.

St. Anthony's miracles are celebrated and remembered not only in religious texts but also through art, literature, and the many churches dedicated to him worldwide. His life and works remain a testament to the enduring power of faith and the impact one individual can have on the lives of many. As we reflect on these miracles, we are reminded of the profound ways in which faith can manifest in our lives, offering guidance, comfort, and the promise of the miraculous in the midst of the ordinary.

The saint's legacy is not confined to the spiritual realm; it also has a tangible presence in the form of churches dedicated to him around the world. One such church is the Roman Catholic parish church of St. Anthony of Padua in the Morrisania section of the South Bronx. This church stands as a beacon of hope and a community center, providing spiritual guidance and support to its parishioners.

St. Anthony's teachings and life story continue to inspire and guide people. His message of love, forgiveness, and concern for others' needs is as relevant today as it was during his lifetime. His ability to deal with life's challenges with courage and to maintain a steadfast trust in God serves as a model for all.

As we commemorate his feast day on June 13, we remember not only the miracles attributed to him but also his unwavering commitment to living a life of Christian virtue. St. Anthony of Padua's story encourages us to find strength in our faith and to believe in the power of divine intervention in our daily lives.

Whether one is seeking solace in times of loss or inspiration to lead a life of service and compassion, St. Anthony of Padua stands out as a figure of immense spiritual significance. His legacy is a reminder that even in our modern, fast-paced world, the values of the past can still provide guidance and comfort. St. Anthony's life and works are a testament to the enduring power of faith and the impact one individual can have on the lives of many.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Pope Uses 'Gay' Slur Again

Pope Francis allegedly used the word frociaggine (Italian word for "Faggotry) again account to the Italian news service ANSA. They claim that in a closed meeting with priests at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome that the Pope said, “In Vaticano c’è aria di frociaggine” – meaning “In the Vatican, there is an air of faggotry.”  He also said to have stated that gay men can be "good boys" but that they should not be let into seminaries.  

This claim of his use of the word comes shy of a monthly apology for using the same phrase at a May 20th meeting with Italian bishops (see: https://www.sacerdotus.com/2024/05/pope-francis-too-much-faggotry-in.html). The Pope's usage of the word is worrisome to those who call themselves "progressive" and who have seen his papacy as such. He did say "Who am I to judge" in reference to gay people and has been more open towards the homosexual community than any previous pope. There is no confirmation as of yet if this latest incident is accurate or truthful or is just an attempt by the Italian media to garner attention for their outlets.  

Moreover, some believe the pope is intentionally doing this in order to be more forceful about the no-gays-in-seminary policy and does not want the media to control him. In any event, the use of the word does contradict his open and pastoral work with homosexuals and the comments he made to an expelled seminary student who wrote to him regarding his expulsion after informing seminary officials that he was gay (see: Sacerdotus: Pope to Gay Man Rejected By Seminary: Continue On!).  

This time there is no news of an apology so we can assume that the word was not used again and this is just the Italian media publishing tabloids for hits, so to speak.  


Sources:

What’s going on with the Pope? | Dazed (dazeddigital.com)

Pope Francis reportedly uses offensive term for homosexuality a second time | Crux (cruxnow.com)

Why Did a Progressive Pope Use a Gay Slur? | The Nation

The Pope Has Reportedly Once Again Used the F-Slur in a Closed-Door Meeting | Them

Did Pope Francis use that word again? And other Vatican confusion. – Catholic World Report

Pope Francis accused of repeating homophobic slur in another closed-door meeting | The Independent


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

St, Barnabas

Exploring the Legacy of Saint Barnabas: A Pillar of Early Christianity

Saint Barnabas stands as a significant figure in the history of Christianity, known for his role as an early Christian missionary and his association with Saint Paul. His story is woven into the fabric of the New Testament, particularly within the Acts of the Apostles, where he emerges as a key figure in the spread of Christianity during the first century.

Originally named Joseph, he was a Jewish Levite from Cyprus who embraced the teachings of Jesus Christ shortly after the crucifixion. His generosity and commitment to the early Christian community are highlighted in the Acts of the Apostles, where it's noted that he sold his property and donated the proceeds to the apostles in Jerusalem. This act of kindness earned him the name Barnabas, which means "son of encouragement" or "son of consolation."

Barnabas is perhaps best known for his missionary work alongside Saint Paul. The duo embarked on several journeys together, spreading the Christian faith and establishing churches. One of their notable contributions was the founding of the church in Antioch, which played a pivotal role in the history of early Christianity. It was in Antioch that followers of Jesus were first called Christians.

The Council of Jerusalem, a significant event in the early church that addressed the relationship between Jewish traditions and the growing Christian faith, also saw Barnabas as a key participant. His efforts helped shape the direction of Christian teachings and practices.

Despite his influential role, the details surrounding Saint Barnabas's death remain a subject of tradition and conjecture. Some accounts suggest he was martyred in Cyprus, while others propose various locations for his final days. The Monastery of Saint Barnabas in Cyprus claims to be near his tomb, marking an important pilgrimage site for those honoring his legacy.

The writings attributed to Barnabas, such as the Epistle of Barnabas, offer insight into early Christian thought, although their authorship remains debated among scholars. The Letter of Barnabas, for instance, is an exegetical treatise on the Old Testament and was once considered scriptural in certain Christian communities.

Saint Barnabas's feast day is celebrated on June 11, and he is venerated across various Christian denominations. His life and works continue to inspire Christians worldwide, serving as a testament to the enduring power of faith and the spirit of encouragement that he so aptly personified.

For those interested in delving deeper into the life and contributions of Saint Barnabas, the Encyclopaedia Britannica provides a comprehensive overview of his biography, traditions, and the facts surrounding his role in Christian history. Additionally, the biblical narrative of his journey can be further explored through the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles of Saint Paul, enriching our understanding of this apostolic father's impact on the world.


: [Encyclopaedia Britannica](https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Barnabas)

: [Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnabas)

: [Bible Study Tools](https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/bible-verses-about-barnabas/)

: [Britannica - Letter of Barnabas](https://www.britannica.com/topic/Letter-of-Barnabas)

Monday, June 10, 2024

Decline in Belief in the True Presence in the Holy Eucharist and How We Can Reverse This

The Eucharist, known as the source and summit of Christian life, has been a central element of Catholic worship for centuries. However, recent studies and surveys have indicated a decline in the belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist among Catholics. This trend is a complex issue that encompasses theological, cultural, and educational factors.

One significant aspect contributing to this decline is the lack of understanding of the Church's teachings. A study by the Pew Research Center found that only 31% of U.S. Catholics believe that during the Eucharist, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ, a process known as transubstantiation. This is a fundamental doctrine of the Catholic faith, yet it seems that many Catholics are either unaware of this teaching or do not accept it.

Another factor is the role of clergy in communicating and reinforcing Church teachings. An article from Catholic Answers Magazine discusses how clergy who do not fully understand or believe in the doctrine of the Eucharist can inadvertently lead to a weakening of faith among the laity. The article highlights the importance of clear and coherent teaching from the clergy to prevent confusion and maintain the integrity of Eucharistic faith.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on religious practices, including Mass attendance. A survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and NORC revealed a decline in weekly Mass attendance, which fell from 24% in 2019 to 17% post-pandemic. This reduction in participation may also contribute to a weakening of Eucharistic belief, as regular attendance at Mass is closely linked to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist.  This makes sense due to the fact that churches were closed, sick and dying people were denied the Eucharist and last rites. This sent a message that not even the Church believed God is stronger than a virus and pretty much invalidated the Eucharist and Sacraments.  Many Catholics found themselves asking what is the point of even being Catholic or following the rules, so to speak, if not even Church leaders had faith and many even believed Holy Communion could spread viruses and was not necessary for the sick and dying to receive the Sacrament.  

Education and catechesis play a crucial role in fostering a robust Eucharistic faith. The same CARA and NORC survey found that those who learned about the Eucharist from the Bible or through formal religious education were more likely to believe in the Real Presence. This underscores the need for effective catechetical programs that can address misconceptions and provide a clear exposition of the Church's teachings. Unfortunately, after Vatican II some took it upon themselves to water down catechetical programs and curriculum in order to align to secular values and views. We saw clerics, religious and lay people toy around with the Liturgies of the Church and set aside devotions, processions, even relics as superstitious outdated practices. Even today we see on social media some alleged Catholics calling the Eucharist an "idol,"  Eucharistic processions as "idolatrous" or vain displays and the Brown Scapular and Rosary as superstition.  

In response to these challenges, many within the Church are calling for a renewed emphasis on Eucharistic education and devotion. Eucharistic adoration, for example, is a practice that can deepen one's reverence and understanding of the Real Presence. By spending time in adoration, the faithful can cultivate a more intimate relationship with Christ and, in turn, strengthen their belief in the Eucharist.

Reversing the Decline in Belief in the Holy Eucharist: A Multifaceted Approach

The decline in belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a concern that has been echoed by many within the Catholic Church. Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses education, liturgical reverence, and personal witness. Here are some strategies that could be employed to foster a deeper understanding and belief in the Eucharist.

1. Enhanced Catechesis and Education: There is a pressing need for improved catechetical programs that clearly articulate the Church's teachings on the Eucharist. This could involve the development of engaging educational materials, workshops, and courses that delve into the scriptural and theological foundations of the Eucharist. For this to work, the material must be properly vetted. Catechists and religious education coordinators, seminary professors must be aligned with Church teaching. They must be orthodox in their doctrinal views and not use the Church and scholarshop as their personal fellowship where they can toy around with ideas that are foreign to the faith. 

2. Liturgical Renewal: The way the Eucharist is celebrated can profoundly impact belief.  Priests and deacons need to be retrained and that training refreshed every year.  They must be reminded of the rubrics and how to engage them pastorally while simultaneously adhering to Liturgical norms and regulations that present an authentic lex orandi lex credendi situation.  Encouraging practices that promote reverence, such as receiving Communion on the tongue while kneeling, receiving on the hand properly and reverently could help underscore the sacredness of the sacrament.  Our people need to genuflect before passing the Tabernacle. They need to know how to properly receive and to be in the state of grace before receiving Holy Communion. They need to know the church building and each part, in particular, the Sanctuary Lamp, its significance and the Tabernacle, Altar and other items used.

3. Eucharistic Adoration: Promoting and increasing opportunities for Eucharistic adoration can provide the faithful with a space to contemplate and worship the Real Presence of Christ in a quiet and prayerful setting.  Parishes need to be open daily for people to come. There is nothing sadder than seeing a church with its doors shut while the Church says all are welcome.  How can we say Jesus is truly in our churches while keeping the people locked away from Him?

4. Personal Testimonies: Sharing personal experiences of how the Eucharist has impacted individuals' lives can be a powerful tool for evangelization. Testimonies can be shared through various platforms, including social media, parish websites, and community gatherings. This is key and part of the New Evangelization. People learn more from others who are like them, think like them and are familiar with their customs and cultures.  

5. Clergy Formation: Ensuring that seminarians and clergy have a robust and orthodox understanding of the Eucharist is crucial. They are, after all, the primary educators and role models for the laity in matters of faith.  It is crucial for seminary instructors to be orthodox Catholics and not whatever scholar you found and hired. Deacons, priests and bishops must continue their education. Four or even seven years is not enough. Humans forget. They lapse overtime. It is important for them to get refreshment courses.  

6. Community Involvement: Creating parish groups focused on deepening Eucharistic devotion and understanding can help build a community that supports and grows in faith together.

7. Family Catechesis: The family is often referred to as the "domestic church," and as such, it plays a vital role in faith formation. Providing resources and programs for families to learn about and pray before the Eucharist together can help instill belief from a young age.

8. Integration into Parish Life: The Eucharist should be the center of parish life. Activities, from social events to service projects, can be tied back to the Eucharistic mission of the Church, thus reinforcing its importance.  More Eucharistic processions need to be held, especially on streets to give witness.  

9. Art and Music: Utilizing the beauty of sacred art and music can draw people into a deeper appreciation and awe of the mystery of the Eucharist. This can include Eucharistic hymns, art exhibitions, and educational tours that explain the Eucharistic symbolism found in church architecture and iconography.

10. Regular Preaching on the Eucharist: Homilies that frequently highlight the Eucharistic teachings of the Church can help keep the doctrine at the forefront of parishioners' minds.

11. Inviting Non-Practicing Catholics: Outreach to those who have fallen away from regular practice can include invitations to special Eucharistic celebrations and events designed to reignite faith and understanding.

12. Intercessory Prayer: Encouraging the faithful to pray for an increase in Eucharistic belief can be a powerful spiritual practice, recognizing that faith is ultimately a gift from God.

By implementing these strategies, the Church can work towards reversing the decline in Eucharistic belief and fostering a renewed love and reverence for this central tenet of Catholic faith. It is through education, worship, and personal witness that the mystery of the Eucharist can once again be recognized and cherished by the faithful.

The decline in belief in the Holy Eucharist is a multifaceted issue that requires a comprehensive approach to address. It involves not only educating the faithful about the doctrine but also ensuring that the Church's teachings are presented clearly and compellingly. As the Church navigates this challenge, it is essential to remember the transformative power of the Eucharist and its place at the heart of Catholic life.


References:

: When Priests Weaken Eucharistic Faith - Catholic Answers

: Majority of US Catholics Misunderstand the Real Presence in the Eucharist - uCatholic

: Eucharistic Adoration - What is it and How do We Practice it? - Catholic Heart Ablaze

: Survey on Catholic belief in the Eucharist prompts calls for better catechesis - Catholic News Agency

Study Shows Declining Belief in the Eucharist – The Torch | Boston College's Catholic Newspaper (bctorch.com)

One-third of U.S. Catholics believe in transubstantiation | Pew Research Center

What Should We Do About the Loss of Belief in the Real Presence?| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com)

New study shows that now almost two-thirds of US Catholics believe in Real Presence  | Catholic News Agency

The Crisis Behind the Crisis of Faith in the Real Presence – Catholic World Report

The Eucharistic Revival is missing something: the Blood of Christ | America Magazine


Sunday, June 9, 2024

Reflection For Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B: The Human Condition

The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is a moment in the Catholic Church's liturgical calendar that invites the faithful to pause and reflect on the human condition, God's mercy, and the path to redemption. The readings for this Sunday offer a rich tapestry of themes that resonate with the experiences of believers across ages.

The first reading from Genesis presents the narrative of the Fall, where Adam and Eve's disobedience leads to their expulsion from Eden. This story sets the stage for a reflection on the human propensity to stray from God's commandments and the consequences that follow. Yet, even in this account of disobedience, there is a glimmer of hope. God's question, "Where are you?" is not merely an inquiry about physical location but a profound call for self-examination and recognition of one's state of being.

The responsorial Psalm 130 echoes this theme of mercy and forgiveness. It is a cry from the depths, a plea for God's unfailing love and redemption. The psalmist assures us that with the Lord, there is mercy and fullness of redemption, a promise that uplifts the spirit of the penitent.

In the second reading, Paul's letter to the Corinthians speaks of faith and conviction. Paul encourages the community to hold fast to their belief in the resurrection of Christ and, by extension, their own resurrection. This passage reminds the faithful of the transformative power of faith and the assurance of God's fidelity.

The Gospel according to Mark confronts the audience with the stark reality of Jesus' ministry—misunderstood by many, including his own family. Yet, it also presents the inclusive vision of the new family of God, bound not by blood but by the shared commitment to do God's will. This redefinition of kinship is radical and comforting, offering a place for all who seek to align themselves with divine purpose. Jesus seems to dismiss His mother and family but He really is not. He is literally saying that those who follow God and do God's will are His mother and family. In other words, they are PART of His family. They are God's children because they are aligned to God and God's will.  Many of our separated Protestant friends often cite this passage to attack our devotion to Mary and the saints. But in close inspection, any rational person who loves reading Scripture can see that Jesus attacking or dismissing His mother would go against the Commandment to Honor Father and Mother. Jesus would then have sinned. This of course is not possible. This is why we know what Jesus meant. He did not dismiss His mom or family. He was making a comparison that if we follow God's will we become His mom and family; literally His family!  

These readings collectively urge believers to contemplate the nature of sin, the boundlessness of God's mercy, and the call to live in accordance with God's will. They challenge the faithful to move beyond a preoccupation with the limitations of human frailty and to embrace the liberating truth of God's love and forgiveness.

For those reflecting on these readings, the message is clear: despite the fallibility of humanity, God's grace is sufficient. It is an invitation to rise from the depths of despair and to sit in union with Christ, becoming part of the spiritual family that transcends earthly ties. In the ordinary time of the Church's year, the faithful are reminded that every moment holds the extraordinary potential for renewal and sanctification.


 

Saturday, June 8, 2024

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

The Immaculate Heart of Mary: A Symbol of Love and Devotion

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a profound symbol within the Roman Catholic tradition, representing the pure and loving heart of Mary, the mother of Jesus. This devotion reflects on the interior life of Mary, her joys, sorrows, virtues, and perfections, and most importantly, her love for God, her son Jesus Christ, and all humanity.

The depiction of Mary's heart is often illustrated as being pierced with seven swords, symbolizing the seven dolors or sorrows that Mary experienced. It is also adorned with roses, which may be red or white, symbolizing her purity and martyrdom. The veneration of the Immaculate Heart is similar to that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, yet it holds its unique place as it emphasizes Mary's love for Jesus and God and her role in uniting humanity with the divine.

The history of this devotion can be traced back to scriptural references, particularly in the Gospel of Luke, where it is mentioned that Mary kept all things in her heart, pondering over them. This scriptural basis lays the foundation for the veneration of Mary's heart, as it is seen as a vessel of her profound contemplation and love.

The aim of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is to unite humankind to God through Mary's heart, involving the ideas of consecration and reparation. This means that through Mary's heart, believers seek to offer themselves and the world to God, seeking forgiveness for sins and striving to live a life of virtue in imitation of Mary's purity and love.

Over the centuries, saints and theologians have reflected on the significance of Mary's heart, leading to the development of practices and prayers dedicated to the Immaculate Heart. These practices often involve acts of consecration, where individuals, families, groups, and even nations consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, seeking her intercession and protection.

The devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is not just a call to venerate an image or symbol but to emulate the virtues and love that the heart represents. It is a call to live a life of grace, purity, and selfless love, following the example of Mary, who was full of grace and completely devoted to the will of God.

Practicing Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a spiritual journey that invites individuals to deepen their relationship with Mary and through her, with Jesus Christ. This devotion is rich with tradition and encompasses various practices that can be incorporated into daily life. Here are some ways to practice this devotion:

1. Consecration to the Immaculate Heart: Consecration involves dedicating oneself to Mary's Immaculate Heart as a way of uniting with her love for Jesus and humanity. This act of devotion is a commitment to follow Mary's example of perfect obedience to God's will.

2. The Five First Saturdays Devotion: This practice involves attending Mass, receiving Communion, praying the Rosary, and spending 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary on the first Saturday of five consecutive months. The devotion is a response to the requests made by the Virgin Mary during the apparitions at Fatima.

3. Wearing the Brown Scapular: The scapular is a sacramental that signifies the wearer's dedication to Mary and her protection. It is a symbol of the wearer's commitment to live a Christian life and often accompanies the practice of daily prayer and devotion.

4. Daily Rosary: Praying the Rosary is a central aspect of Marian devotion. It is a meditative prayer that contemplates the life of Jesus through the eyes of Mary. It serves as a daily reminder of Mary's love and intercession.

5. Marian Feasts: Participating in the celebration of Marian feasts throughout the liturgical year is a way to honor Mary. These feasts commemorate significant events in Mary's life and her role in salvation history.

6. Acts of Reparation: Making acts of reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a way to express sorrow for offenses and seek to make amends through prayer, sacrifices, and penances.

7. Imitation of Mary's Virtues: Striving to imitate the virtues of Mary, such as her humility, purity, and obedience, is a practical way to live out this devotion in everyday life.

8. Spiritual Reading: Engaging in spiritual reading about Mary's life and her role in the Catholic faith can provide deeper insights and inspiration for living out this devotion.

9. Meditation and Contemplation: Spending time in meditation and contemplation on the life of Mary, her joys, sorrows, and her loving heart can foster a closer spiritual connection.

10. Community Involvement: Joining a community or group dedicated to Marian devotion can provide support and encouragement in practicing this devotion.

These practices are not exhaustive but offer a framework for anyone seeking to cultivate a deeper devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is a personal journey that can be tailored to fit individual spiritual needs and capacities. The essence of this devotion is to grow in love for Mary, and through her, to grow in love for Christ.

In conclusion, the Immaculate Heart of Mary stands as a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration for the faithful. It encourages a deeper relationship with God through the example of Mary's love and devotion. As the world faces various challenges, the Immaculate Heart of Mary reminds us of the power of pure love and the importance of keeping faith at the center of our lives.

40th Anniversary of Ghostbusters

Celebrating 40 Years of Ghostbusters: A Look Back and Forward

It's hard to believe that it's been four decades since the original "Ghostbusters" film hit theaters, forever changing the landscape of comedic cinema. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the iconic movie, and fans around the world are celebrating in style.

The original "Ghostbusters," released in 1984, was a cultural phenomenon. It combined comedy, science fiction, and action in a way that had never been seen before. The film followed the adventures of a group of scientists turned ghost catchers and their escapades in New York City. With its witty script, memorable characters, and groundbreaking special effects, "Ghostbusters" quickly became a beloved classic. The movie even spawned a classic cartoon series entitled The Real Ghostbusters.

To commemorate this milestone, "Ghostbusters" is returning to select theaters. Fans will have the chance to experience the laughter and thrills on the big screen once again. This theatrical return is a testament to the enduring legacy of the film and its impact on generations of viewers.

In addition to the screenings, New York City is hosting a special Ghostbusters Day celebration outside the iconic Hook & Ladder 8. The event promises to be the biggest yet, with live performances, exclusive merchandise, and autograph opportunities with celebrity guests from the original film.

The celebration also extends to new merchandise, including a special figure four-pack from Hasbro, which is expected to be a hit among collectors. This is a perfect opportunity for fans to own a piece of Ghostbusters history.

The 40th anniversary is not just a look back at the past but also a nod to the future. The franchise continues to evolve, with the recent release of "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire," which honors the legacy of the original while introducing new stories and characters.


The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man: From Concept to Iconic Status

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is one of the most memorable characters from the "Ghostbusters" franchise, embodying both the whimsical and the terrifying aspects of the movies. The character first appeared in the 1984 original film as a logo on a bag of marshmallows and then as a colossal, paranormal monster wreaking havoc in New York City. But what is the story behind this iconic figure?

The creation of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was the brainchild of Dan Aykroyd, who co-wrote the original "Ghostbusters" script. Aykroyd's vision was to craft a character that appeared harmless and puffy—almost cute—but could turn into something menacing under the right circumstances. This concept played perfectly into the film's blend of comedy and horror, as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man became the physical manifestation of the apocalyptic deity Gozer.

In terms of design, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is a large, white humanoid figure made of conjoined marshmallows. He dons a sailor's cap and a blue collar with a red neckerchief, presenting an image that is at once familiar and bizarre. His appearance is a stark contrast to the destruction he causes, which adds to the comedic effect of the scenes he's in.

Bringing the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man to life on the big screen was a significant feat of special effects for the time. The character was portrayed by actor and special effects expert Bill Bryan, who wore a suit to play the part. The climax of "Ghostbusters," featuring the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man's rampage, involved intricate practical effects, including puppeteers, multiple marshmallow suits, and a considerable amount of shaving cream to simulate the character's explosive demise.

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man's impact on pop culture was immediate. He became a symbol of the "Ghostbusters" franchise, appearing in various forms of media, including the animated series "The Real Ghostbusters," comic books, video games, and merchandise. Despite his initial role as a villain, the character later befriended the Ghostbusters and even helped them in their ghost-catching endeavors in the animated series.

The character's legacy continues to endure, with appearances in subsequent "Ghostbusters" films and adaptations. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man's unique blend of cuteness and chaos has cemented his status as an unforgettable part of the "Ghostbusters" lore and a beloved figure in the annals of movie history.

For fans of the franchise, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is more than just a villain; he's a reminder of the creativity and innovation that "Ghostbusters" represents. As the series celebrates its 40th anniversary, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man remains a towering figure, both literally and figuratively, in the world of entertainment.

The original "Ghostbusters" movie, released in 1984, is renowned for its witty and memorable dialogue that has stood the test of time. Here are some of the most iconic quotes that fans still recite and reminisce over:

1. "We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!" - This triumphant declaration by Dr. Peter Venkman, played by Bill Murray, encapsulates the irreverent and confident spirit of the Ghostbusters team.

2. "Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say YES!" - This line is delivered by Winston Zeddemore, played by Ernie Hudson, after Ray Stantz, portrayed by Dan Aykroyd, hesitantly denies being a deity to a powerful supernatural entity.

3. "This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions." - Dr. Venkman warns the mayor of New York City about the impending paranormal crisis, leading to a series of descriptions about what "biblical" means, including the famous "dogs and cats living together... MASS HYSTERIA!".

4. "I've seen shit that'll turn you white!" - Winston's reaction to the supernatural events they encounter, highlighting the comedic horror elements of the film.

5. "There is no Dana, only Zuul." - Spoken by a possessed Dana Barrett, played by Sigourney Weaver, this line introduces the audience to the otherworldly villain of the story.

6. "Don't cross the streams. It would be bad." - A piece of advice from Dr. Egon Spengler, played by Harold Ramis, that becomes a crucial plot point towards the film's climax.

These quotes are just a few examples of the film's enduring legacy in pop culture. The humor and charm of "Ghostbusters" continue to resonate with audiences, making it a beloved classic that celebrates its 40th anniversary with as much fanfare as it debuted. For more quotes and to relive the adventures of Ghostbusters, fans can look forward to special screenings and events commemorating this milestone.

As we celebrate this significant anniversary, it's clear that the spirit of "Ghostbusters" is still very much alive. The film's unique blend of humor, heart, and horror has ensured its place in cinematic history. Here's to many more years of ghostbusting action!

For those interested in participating in the festivities or catching a screening, be sure to check with local theaters for showtimes and ticket information. And remember, when it comes to ghosts, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Study: Covid-19 Vaccines May Have Led To More Deaths

The Impact of the Pandemic on Excess Mortality Rates: A Call for Comprehensive Analysis

The COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark on global health and mortality rates. A recent study has brought to light the persistent high rates of excess deaths in the Western world, despite the implementation of containment measures and the distribution of vaccines. This phenomenon underscores the need for a thorough investigation into the causes of these excess deaths to better understand the pandemic's full impact and to prepare more effectively for future public health crises.

Excess mortality is a term used to describe the number of deaths during a crisis that exceeds what would be expected under 'normal' conditions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, excess mortality has been a crucial metric for assessing the overall death toll, accounting for both direct and indirect impacts of the virus. The study, which analyzed data from 47 countries, found that there were approximately 3,098,456 excess deaths from January 2020 to December 2022. This staggering figure reveals the profound effect of the pandemic on the Western world.

The year 2020 saw the onset of the pandemic and the implementation of various containment measures, resulting in 1,033,122 excess deaths. In 2021, despite the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines alongside containment measures, the highest number of excess deaths was reported at 1,256,942. Preliminary data for 2022 indicates 808,392 excess deaths, even as most containment measures were lifted and vaccination efforts continued.

These findings raise serious concerns and highlight the necessity for government leaders and policymakers to conduct comprehensive investigations into the underlying causes of persistent excess mortality. Such analyses are crucial for evaluating the effectiveness of health crisis policies and for understanding the broader implications of the pandemic.

The study's results also emphasize the importance of robust health information systems that can provide accurate, complete, and timely data on mortality rates. The discrepancies between reported COVID-19 deaths and excess mortality estimates suggest that many countries may be facing a significant undercount of total deaths attributable to the pandemic.

As we continue to navigate the aftermath of COVID-19, it is imperative that we gain a complete picture of its toll. Only through meticulous research and analysis can we hope to mitigate the effects of such a crisis in the future and ensure that our health systems are better equipped to handle similar challenges.

For more detailed information on the study and its methodology, readers are encouraged to consult the original research published in BMJ Public Health. The true extent of the pandemic's impact is a complex issue that warrants attention and action from all sectors of society.


Source:

Excess deaths since pandemic need to be 'thoroughly' investigated: study (nypost.com)

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Just In Time For 'Gay Pride:" A New STD Fungal Infection

Understanding the Emergence of a New Sexually Transmitted Fungal Infection in NYC

New York City, a bustling metropolis known for its diverse population and vibrant culture, is also a hub for public health surveillance due to its dense urban environment. Recently, the city has become the focal point for the emergence of a new sexually transmitted fungal infection, marking the first known case in the United States. This is just in time fo Gay Pride where its demographics are known for introducing new diseases and spreading them among the population. 

The infection, caused by the fungus Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII, was identified in a man in his 30s who had traveled to California, England, and Greece and had gay sex with multiple men. Upon his return to New York City, he developed symptoms consistent with a fungal infection, including an itchy red rash on his groin, genitals, and buttocks. This case has raised concerns among healthcare professionals due to the highly contagious nature of the fungus and its potential to be mistaken for other skin conditions, such as eczema.

Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII is not just a concern for its physical symptoms but also for its resistance to standard antifungal treatments. This resistance can lead to prolonged infection and, in some cases, permanent scarring. The rarity and resilience of this fungus underscore the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment.

The recent case in New York City serves as a reminder of the ever-evolving landscape of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the need for ongoing public health vigilance. It also highlights the critical role of travel in the spread of infectious diseases, as individuals can acquire and transmit infections across international borders.

Healthcare providers are advised to be on the lookout for similar cases, especially in patients who are sexually active, have recently traveled, and present with unusual rashes. Early detection and treatment are key to preventing the spread of this and other STIs.

As the medical community continues to monitor and respond to this new threat, the public is encouraged to practice safe sex and seek medical attention for any concerning symptoms. Education and awareness are vital components in the fight against the spread of infections, and this case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of sexual health in overall well-being.

However, it is to be seen if gay men will take their lives and health seriously and stop their promiscuous lifestyles.  With the existence of gay apps like Grindr, JackD, A4A and others, it is most likely that we will see another endemic among gay people.  


Source:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/2819235

First case of a rare, sexually transmitted fungal infection reported in the U.S. (nbcnews.com)

First U.S. Case of Sexually Transmitted Fungal Infection | TIME

New sexually transmitted fungal infection detected in NYC — the first case in the US (nypost.com)

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Pope to Gay Man Rejected By Seminary: Continue On!

Just a few days after the pope received heat for using he word "faggotry" in Italian, he now is on he news again for another "gay story." 

This time, according to the Rome publication Il Messaggero, 22-year-old Lorenzo Michele Noe Caruso wrote to Pope Francis about not being accepted to the seminary because he was gay.  The young man expressed disappointment and concern after a seminary in Italy turned him away. He felt compelled to write to the pope after this experience and after seeing on the news that the pope used a homophobic slur and cautioned Italian bishops to admit gay men into seminaries. 

Caruso wrote about feeling bitter and disappointed at how he and others like him are treated by the Catholic Church. He referenced his work as a catechist. The young man says he is called to the priesthood and blames toxic clericalism for blocking his path. The pope responded to him via email sending a scanned handwritten letter endorsing the young man and telling him to continue his vocation. He agreed with the young man's description but never offered to order his acceptance to the seminary or any attempt to intervene in his situation. 


The young asked Pope Francis to revise a document published under the pontificate of Pope Benedict the XVI which states:


CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION

Instruction

Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations

with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies

in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders

In the light of such teaching, this Dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question [9] , cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called "gay culture" - 

 (see: https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_20051104_istruzione_en.html)

This story is confusing because it comes days after Pope Francis said a homophobic slur regarding the entry of gays into the seminary system. He made the comment to Italian bishops including the one in charge of the seminary that turned down the young 22 year old who wrote to him.  How can the pope show concern over "faggotry" in seminaries and then encourage a gay youth to continue his vocation?  Moreover, why did the pope not intervene on the part of the young man like a shepherd would?  

The whole story makes no sense and is indicative of the problem with Pope Francis since 2013: inconsistency and confusion. He says one thing and they says another.  If the pope truly is concerned about "faggotry" in the seminary then he should have reaffirmed the words in the Congregation For Catholic Education document quote above. He should have made it clear to this young gay man that homosexuals are not to enter seminary.  On the other hand, if the pope is truly open and accept people where they are at, he should have not only encouraged the young gay man but stepped in to investigate and possibly overrule the rector who turned the young gay man away.  

It seems the pope wrote this letter to down the fire from his previous gaffe regarding "faggotry" in the seminary. He is now playing it safe by simply encouraging the young gay man in his alleged vocation and not directly stepping in to help him.  Doing so would contradict his "faggotry" comment and the document of the Congregation for Catholic Education. He would then come across as welcoming homosexuals into the seminary and adding to the "faggotry."




Source:

https://www.newwaysministry.org/2024/06/05/pope-francis-replies-to-gay-catholics-letter-go-forward-with-your-vocation/

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2024/06/05/pope-francis-gay-man-seminary-248082

https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2024/06/after-gay-gaffe-pope-francis-attempts-to-mend-fences

https://catholicherald.co.uk/pope-sends-sympathetic-response-to-young-man-rejected-from-seminary-for-being-gay/

https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2024/06/after-gay-gaffe-pope-francis-attempts-to-mend-fences


Sunday, June 2, 2024

Solemnity of Corpus Christi: The Body & Blood of Jesus Christ

Today is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi or the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi: A Reflection on the Readings for Year B

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi, also known as the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, is a significant feast in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. It is a day set aside to honor and contemplate the Eucharist, the true presence of Jesus Christ in the elements of bread and wine. The readings for Year B provide a profound opportunity for reflection on this mystery.

The first reading from Exodus 24:3-8 recounts the covenant established between God and the people of Israel. This passage highlights the communal aspect of faith, where the people together affirm their commitment to follow the Lord's commands. It sets the stage for understanding the Eucharist as a new covenant, one that is not only communal but also deeply personal.

The Responsorial Psalm, Psalm 116:12-13,15-16,17-18, echoes the theme of salvation and thanksgiving. It invites the faithful to consider what they can offer to God for all the goodness He has shown. The psalmist's response is to lift up the cup of salvation—a fitting metaphor for the Eucharist—and call upon the name of the Lord.

The second reading from Hebrews 9:11-15 speaks of Christ as the mediator of a new covenant. This passage delves into the transformative power of Christ's sacrifice, which redeems and purifies the conscience from acts that lead to death. It invites believers to reflect on the Eucharist as the living presence of this one sacrifice, which continues to mediate grace and salvation.

The Gospel reading from Mark 14:12-16,22-26 brings us to the Last Supper, where Jesus shares the bread and wine with His disciples, instituting the Eucharist. This narrative is central to the feast of Corpus Christi, as it is the moment when Jesus explicitly identifies the bread as His body and the wine as His blood, establishing a new covenant.

These readings together form a tapestry of salvation history, from the Old Covenant to the New, and invite the faithful to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist. The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is not just a celebration of a historical event but an invitation to enter into the mystery of Christ's ongoing presence and sacrifice.

As the Church celebrates this solemnity, it is an opportunity for believers to renew their faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and to commit themselves anew to the covenant relationship with God that is expressed and deepened through this most holy sacrament. It is a call to be transformed by the Body and Blood of Christ, to become what we receive, and to live out the Eucharistic life in communion with Christ and one another.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is a profound reminder of God's closeness and His desire to nourish us spiritually. It is a celebration of faith, community, and the transformative power of God's love made manifest in the Eucharist. Let us embrace this feast with hearts open to the grace it offers, and let us carry the presence of Christ with us in all that we do.

Why is so much attention given to the Body and Blood of Christ?  Well, basically because Our Lord suffered and died for us.  He gave His Body and shed his blood so all can have the doors of Salvation opened to them.

Moreover, Christ emphasized the importance of His Salvific work on the Cross by leaving us the Holy Eucharist.  During the Last Supper, Our Lord took bread and wine, blessed it, and distributed it among the Apostles saying that they were His Body and Blood.  He instructed them to do this in His memory.  (Luke 22:7-20)  In other words, this meal was not a one-time thing.  It had to continue.

Was Jesus Crazy?
Was Jesus joking around when He said that bread and wine were His Body and Blood?  The answer is no.  In John 6:22-69 Jesus gave a long talk about the "Bread of Life."  He goes on to say that the bread Moses gave wasn't the "True Bread." The people asked Him for this "Bread of Life" and He then made the radical statement that HE is the "Bread of Life" and the "True Bread from Heaven."  The people began to murmur among themselves because they knew Jesus was the son of Joseph, not to mention that His words were a bit strange and in today's postmodern world would be interpreted as psychotic and delusional.

However, it gets "stranger," so to speak.  Jesus continues by saying that one has to "eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life."  This is when the people really had enough.  Many walked out on Him thinking He was a lunatic or delusional.  Jesus then turns to His disciples and asks them if they will leave as well.  Peter replies saying that they can't go anywhere else because Jesus had the words of eternal life.  Peter is always the first to speak up or to lead, this shows why the Pope is the first bishop among all bishops of the world.

Real or Symbol?
Moreover, something interesting happens here in regard to how serious Jesus was about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Many of our separated brothers and sisters in the Protestant faith believe the Holy Eucharist is a symbol and not literally Christ's Body Blood Soul and Divinity.  Let's think about this for a moment: When people started abandoning Jesus for saying that one has to eat His flesh and drink His blood, Jesus didn't run in front of them and say "Hey, wait a minute, I was joking." Instead, Jesus let them go.  This shows that He was very serious about His flesh and blood being actual things or foods that someone has to consume.  In 1 Cor 10:16  St. Paul reminds the people that the bread and wine are the Lord's Body and Blood.  He never calls them a symbolic representation of them.

Why bread and wine?
In Genesis 14:18 we read about Melchizedek - priest of God and king of Salem- giving Abram bread and wine.  He then blesses Abram.  Jesus uses bread and wine to make the connection to the Old Covenant and to show that He is the True Priest who offers the True Sacrifice - Himself.

Bread is a food that is delicious.  It has a lot of carbohydrates which in turn gives a lot of energy to the body when burned as calories.  It is a food that is easy to make but does a lot to appease hunger and give nutrients.  Then there is wine.  It is used to party with and used as medicine as well as a disinfectant agent for wounds.

Jesus as Bread and Wine does exactly that to our souls.  He appeases the hunger for God and nourishes the soul.  He brings our souls to jubilation by uniting with it when one receives Holy Communion.  He heals the soul from the harm sin has caused.

One may ask:  at Mass, the Bread and Wine still look, taste, smell, and feel like Bread and Wine, so how can it be the Body and Blood of Christ?  Well, God knows us well.  God designed the human body and mind.  He knows that human beings would cringe at the sight of eating raw meat and drinking blood.  How many times have we ourselves gotten disgusted at looking at our own wounds?  It is not easy seeing blood and flesh in a traumatic form.

A few years ago, there was a big story about the "Zombie" in Miami which involved a man high on "bath salt" drugs who attacked a homeless man and literally ate his face.  People were disgusted at the news and the reality of how a human could even succumb to this evil cannibalistic act.  That being said, God would not give us tangible and biologically tactile flesh and blood to eat and drink in the sense we are used to.  Rather, He would use matter that we are all familiar with and that we enjoy: food and drink.

At consecration, the Bread and Wine do not turn into a piece of meat and human blood with DNA, platelets, red/white cells, etc - unless a Eucharistic Miracle has taken place which sometimes does occur.  The outside of the accidents of the bread and wine remain the same, but what it is, or the essence changes.  Think of it this way:  We see leaves on trees.  During spring and summer, they are green.  However, during fall they begin to change colors.  They turn red, orange, yellow, and brown.  Now let's think:  which one is the REAL leaf?  At one point it was green, then red, then orange, then yellow, and then brown.  The leaf changed colors, so is it the same leaf when it was green?  The answer is yes.  The outside or accidents of the leaf changed, but the essence of what it is remains the same.  The same with the Bread and Wine at Mass but in the opposite manner.  The outside remains the same (bread/wine) but the inside or what it is changed and becomes the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Similarly, we ourselves go through many changes.  Our bodies grow and change as we age; however, our temperament remains the same.

In today's first reading, we read of the primitive sacrifices offered to God by way of young bulls and other offerings. Animal sacrifices were common among pagan religions which the people of the Old Covenant often found themselves being influenced by. The use of animal sacrifices and the sprinkling of their blood was a sign of forgiveness and a foreshadowing of the true sacrifice in the person of Christ, the Lamb of God (Leviticus 4:35, 5:10; Hebrews 9:22, Leviticus 16:15, John 1:29). Animal sacrifices by themselves were just symbolic and had no power.  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes,
"The blood of animals could neither 'atone' for sin nor bring God and men together.  It could only be a sign of hope, anticipating a greater obedience that would be truly redemptive." (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 133)
The true sacrifice is Jesus who died on the cross and had His blood shed for all of us as expiation for our sins (1 Timothy 2:6). Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was done once and is efficient for all to be redeemed (Hebrews 7:27). Many of our Protestant friends believe Catholic priests "re-sacrifice" Christ over and over, this is not true. The Sacrifice at Mass is a remembrance or reenactment if you will, of the salvific events of the Passion of Christ (CCC, 1366-67). In the Mass, we receive the Holy Eucharist and participate in the "cup of Salvation." 

Jesus is the true High Priest who was the sacrifice.  No longer do we have to use animal blood and sacrifices for atonement.  Christ did it already using His own body and blood on the Cross.  Before, it was demanded that Jewish priests offer animal sacrifices for the Feast of Atonement or "Yom ha-Kippurim."  This is now obsolete. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes,
"In order to understand this, we must first consider the ritual of the Feast of Atonement that is described in Leviticus 16 and 23:26-32.  On this day, the high priest is required, through the appropriate sacrifice (two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering, a young animal: cf. 16:5-6.), to make atonement, first for himself, then for "his house," in other words, for the priestly clan of Israel in general, and finally for the whole community of Israel (cf. 16:17)." (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 77)
Christ gives us His body and blood, soul and divinity under the species of bread and wine (CCC 1406). The blood of Christ is shed for all of us as expiation.  Pope Emeritus writes of this:            

"The Greek word that is here translated as 'expiation' is hilasterion, of which the Hebrew equivalent is kapporet.  This word designated the covering of the Ark of the Covenant.  This is the place over which YHWH appears in a cloud, the place of the mysterious presence of God.  This holy place is sprinkled with the blood of the bull killed as a sin-offering on the Day of Atonement --the Yom ha
Kippurim. The thinking here is that the blood of the victim, into which all human sins are absorbed, actually touches the Divinity and is thereby cleansed -- and in the process, human beings, represented by the blood, are also purified through this contact with God.." (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 39) 


Corpus Christi is a day to reflect on this and thank Our Lord for remaining with us in the hidden form under the appearance of Bread and Wine.  Unfortunately, this central point of our faith is not accepted by many in the United States of America.  According to a Pew Research survey, only 1 out of 3 Catholics accept that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist (One-third of U.S. Catholics believe in transubstantiation | Pew Research Center).  This is horrific and shows that the Church has a lot of work to do.  

To deny this dogma is just evil and comes from satan who rejects Christ.   I am afraid things might get worse after many bishops shut Catholics out of Mass, churches, and the Sacraments last year during the pandemic of Covid-19 coronavirus.  Some are still shutting out their people in other parts of the world.  This is just a travesty.  What message does this send to Catholics and non-Catholics?  If the Mass, Eucharist, and Sacraments cannot be used during a pandemic, then are they really efficacious or even necessary?  Those bishops who meant well did not pay close attention to the optics.  The message many received was that the Mass is not necessary, the Sacraments are not necessary and the Holy Eucharist is just a trinket we receive and not the true body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.  They sent the message that the Holy Eucharist is just another conduit for diseases, which it is not. There is absolutely no evidence, scientific or non-scientific that Holy Communion in any species via the reception of any form spreads disease.  It makes me wonder if our bishops really believe themselves in the True Presence.  Archbishop Chaput is one of the few brave prelates who condemned bishops for paying too much attention to the authorities and not being leaders.  St. Pope Piux X even warned about this, see here below:




Many dioceses and parishes have processions on this day. They process through the parish area with the Blessed Sacrament in a Monstrance or Ciborium.  Sometimes due to weather, it is done inside the church or a hall owned by the parish. This is an awesome event and I wish every parish and diocese did this.

As we write this post, a large National Eucharistic pilgrimage is taking place with a Eucharistic procession walking through several states ending at the Eucharistic Congress scheduled for July 2024. Many young people are participating in this pilgrimage giving hope that the teaching of the Holy Eucharist is taking a strong hold in the future generation and is spreading and growing stronger hopefully counteracting the statistics.   

I also urge you to visit our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and spend time with Him.  Many parishes have Eucharistic adoration for a period of time, sometimes perpetually. I am glad to see several New York parishes starting to leave churches open for people to enter and adore Christin the Blessed Sacrament. Kudos to the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Martin of Tours for doing this in the Bronx! Hopefully, more pastors will follow.  

There is nothing like getting lost in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.  Go visit our Lord, share your life, your activities, your stresses, your desires, etc.  He is there waiting for you.  May Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist be praised forever!



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