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Welcome to everyone who is coming over from my recent plug on The Cafeteria is Closed, as well as the plugs on CNN.com and AOL.com.

For both CNN and AOL scroll down the page and click on Blogs.

Thanks to Gerald and whoever at Sphere who thought my blog was worthy.

To all my loyal readers, thanks a bunch and to everyone new, come back. It does get better than this. 🙂

Thought DaVinci was old news. Think again. This gets more and more absurd.

From Reuters Via Yahoo News.

MILAN (Reuters) – A new theory that Leonardo’s “Last Supper” might hide within it a depiction of Christ blessing the bread and wine has triggered so much interest that Web sites connected to the picture have crashed.

The famous fresco is already the focus of mythical speculation after author Dan Brown based his “The Da Vinci Code” book around the painting, arguing in the novel that Jesus married his follower, Mary Magdelene, and fathered a child.

Now Slavisa Pesci, an information technologist and amateur scholar, says superimposing the “Last Supper” with its mirror-image throws up another picture containing a figure who looks like a Templar knight and another holding a small baby.

“I came across it by accident, from some of the details you can infer that we are not talking about chance but about a precise calculation,” Pesci told journalists when he unveiled the theory earlier this week.

Websites http://www.leonardodavinci.tv, http://www.codicedavinci.tv, http://www.cenacolo.biz, and http://www.leonardo2007.com had 15 million hits on Thursday morning alone, organizers said, adding they were trying to provide a more powerful server for the sites.

In the superimposed version, a figure on Christ’s left appears to be cradling a baby in its arms, Pesci said, but he made no suggestion this could be Christ’s child.

Judas, whose imminent betrayal of Christ is the force breaking the right-hand line of the original fresco, appears in an empty space on the left in the reverse image version.

And Pesci also suggests that the superimposed version shows a goblet before Christ and illustrates when Christ blessed bread and wine at a supper with his disciples for the first Eucharist.

The original Da Vinci depicts Christ when he predicts that one among them will betray him.

Yep, DaVinci must have known that computers were going to be invented and people would have the ability to superimpose the images and see this. I guess Leonardo DaVinci was just waiting for the invention of Photoshop. Yeah right!

Also, I find it interesting that no one has mentioned how the image of Christ become a vivid image of the Sacred Heart. That’s because people see what they want.

Anyway, and most importantly, even if DaVinci intended for these “images” to be in his painting they would only represent his own personal opinions. They could represent whatever he wanted them to. Perhaps the woman with the baby was a reference to all being called to the altar and called to personal holiness. Maybe it was a reference to the sanctity of life. We don’t know! We can only speculate. Plus, even if DaVinci believed that Mary Magdelene was Jesus’ wife, that wouldn’t give it any authority. Being a great artist does not give someone the credibility to be a historian or theologian. Just because someone or a group of people believe something doesn’t make it true.

From Brian.

WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Nope.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Today when I found out my friends mother is cancer-free. It had been looking quite hopeless.

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Not really, but other people tell me they like it. I don’t get that.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Chourico loaf

DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yes, one.

IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Sadly, probably not.

DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Me? never. 🙂

DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes.

WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? No way!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Cocoa Pebbles

DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Never

DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Yes

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Chocolate Mint

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Expressions

RED OR PINK? Red

WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? I’m my own worst critic, finding faults in me that others don’t notice.

WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My Avo (grandmother) (+1992)

WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Green capris no shoes.

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Ranch pringles

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Silence. Ahhhh, such a rare sound in my house.

IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Navy blue

FAVORITE SMELLS? Incense, sugar cookies, vanilla, and good pipe tobacco

WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? My husband

FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Baseball Go Red Sox!

HAIR COLOR? Medium brown

EYE COLOR? Brown

DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? I used to, but I need a new pair and have no money.

FAVORITE FOOD? Baked stuffed shrimp

SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings. I HATE scary movies.

LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?

WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Tan

SUMMER OR WINTER? Neither, I like the spring.

HUGS OR KISSES? Both

FAVORITE DESSERT? Chocolate cake

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Still on chapter three of Jesus of Nazareth.

WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? A picture of the moon with the earth in the background.

WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT? Didn’t watch last night.

FAVORITE SOUND? My son’s voice. When he’s not crying or whining.

ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles.

WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Rome

DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Other than playing the organ and singing? I can cook dinner, clean the house and take care of a 2 year old.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Massachusetts

Ok, someone carry it on.

Another plug for my favorite religious order. I know several of the sisters and I love seeing them in chapel and on campus.

Check out their vocation video.

and another video featuring some beautiful sacred polyphony.

On Wednesday my professor presented an interesting class activity. We were to break into groups and discuss several issues regarding medical ethics. We never made it past the first question.

Question 1) You and your spouse are expecting a child. A genetic test after the first trimester detects problems in the growth of the fetus. The results suggest that the child will most likely develop cystic fibrosis, a painful incurable condition, which usually results in death by the time a child is in her early teens. Do you terminate the pregnancy? Why or why not?

There were five students in my group. Two women and three men. We were a diverse group made up of people from different races and backrounds. I was the oldest in the group, by at least eight years.

The responses of my classmates shocked me. I imagined there would be differing viewpoints, but I didn’t expect to be the only person on the side of life. When we were debating the first question, one 18 year old girl’s comment particularly shocked me when she said that it was ok for the mother to abort the fetus “because the kid is going to die anyway”. I responded by saying that “we are all going to die. Does that make our lives less valuable.” Then I thought I had the clincher. “If you were pregnant and you knew your child was going to be hit by a car and die at 5 years old what would you do?” The resonse, “I would get an abortion”. Everyone in my group agreed with her.

I wanted to cry right then and there. This is the future of the world and they cannot see the value of life. Some of them even said they would prefer to be aborted rather than die young. My son is almost three years old and if something horrible were to happen to him, I would never regret the past three years. NEVER!

So, how long does a person have to live for their life to be “worth it”. 20 years, 40 years, 70 years and when is a person’s life no longer worth it. Although these kids don’t see it yet, life is ALWAYS worth it. To paraphrase Archbishop Sheen, There is no human life which isn’t worth living. He knew it then, and some of us now it now, but will anyone know it in the future.

After our group debates we opened it up to the entire class. On the pro-life side there were me, another woman about my age, and two students from the Rabbinical college. It’s a class of 25 students (mostly freshmen) at a Catholic college. I pray the good Dominicans will be able to get through to these kids.

Any parent of a toddler will understand this spoof. As one who has countless episodes of Dora and Diego, I have thought of a spoof similar to this one, just not nearly as well developed.

From Matthew from the Creative Minority Report.

Dora the Explorer Arrested for DUI, Drugs

Dora the Explorer, the popular star of her own action adventure show on Nickelodeon, was arrested Wednesday morning at 2:38 a.m. for DUI and possession of illegal drugs after leading police on a high speed chase over the tall bridge, through Crocodile Lake and past the Spooky Forest.

This is not Dora’s first run in with the law. In 2002, following the show’s blockbuster popularity, Dora was arrested for driving erratically and was found to be in possession of an illegal weapon in her backpack. At the time Dora claimed that it was all a misunderstanding as she was heading to Crocodile lake and was just being careful. She claimed the weapon belonged to Senor Tucan, who reportedly was passed out in the back of Azul, the little blue Train. Dora refused a breathalyzer at that time.

In another incident Dora reportedly flew into a rage over the hiring of her cousin Diego for a similar show as Nickelodeon was growing worried over Dora’s erratic behavior. “It’s the same (bleepin) show,” said Dora at the time. “They’re trying to force me out because I’m a party girl. You think I’m crazy. You should’ve seen Boots last Thursday night.” Dora reportedly no longer remained in contact with Diego, who may have been a stabilizing influence in her life.

Swiper said, “This is such a shame because she’s so talented and so bilingual. I hate to see what this is going to do to the children around the world who idolize her.” Swiper also speculated that the Grumpy Old Troll was a bad influence on the set and in Dora’s life. “Everyone knows that if you want illegal drugs you go to under the bridge.”

Dora’s Abuela said, “We’re all hoping that this is what starts our little Dora on the long road past Addiction Alley, over Temptation Lake, to Rehabilitation Road.”

Gerald has gone through the hard work of translating Peter Seewald’s fascinating interview of Msgr. Georg Gaenswein, which appeared in Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Here are a few tidbits:

Peter Seewald (PS): Herr Praelat, how is the Pope ?

Msgr. Gaenswein (MG): He’s well, feels very good, works a lot and is in “high gear”.

PS: Does he use the exercise bike that his physician, Dr. Buzzonetti, told him to

MG: The bike is in our Appartamento Privato.

PS: What does that mean ?

MG: It’s being a good bike, ready to be used.

(…)

PS: Some criticize that he is in a kind of splendid isolation, a golden cage, that it’s impossible to get near him.

MG: That’s nonsense. Every morning there are private audiences, in the afternoon the work meetings with his closest aides – and that six days a week. In addition, there are many meetings within and without the walls of the Vatican. Golden cage? Hah! I guess it might be criticism of me, that I shield the Pope too much. Entirely exaggerated.

PS: He is basically a shy man. But at the same time he’s always had something “inconvient” about him, a resistance against everything that’s too common, against stupidity.

MG: That the Holy Father isn’t an impetuous but a more reserved person is plain to see for everyone.

PS: The Pope writes all important texts himself, including the speech in Regensburg with the controversial quote from a historical book on a dispute with Muslims. Why did nobody edit the text?

MG: I find the Regensburg speech, as it was given, to be prophetic.

PS: Was the shock great when the angry attacks from the Islamic world became known ?

MG: We only heard of the crude reactions after we’d gotten back to Rome from Bavaria. It was a big surprise, to the Pope as well. The mighty trouble had started due to newspaper reports which had taken one quote out of context and presented it as the Pope’s personal opinion.

(…)

PS: Growing up, you were five children, the father a blacksmith, the mother a Hausfrau (housewife).

MG: My father ran a smithy in the seventh generation, later he haded a store for agricultural equipment, but it wasn’t a whole lot of money. Until I was six, we also had a little farm going. Sometimes we had to make the money last. My father was also very active in local politics, in many clubs and associations. Because of that, he was rarely home at night. Our mother had to do all the more, bear the burden and duty of bringing up the children. Us five had a childhood without worries, but of course we also fought.

PS: Because everything didn’t always go the way the firstborn wanted it?

MG: As the oldest, you’re supposed to be the wisest and give in – but giving in isn’t exactly my strength.

PS: Born to be wild – was that you ?

MG: At times maybe, between 15 and 18. I listened to Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd and some others, among them the Beatles. I had pretty long curly hair then, which my father didn’t like, so there were fights at times about going to the barber. But that phase came to an end pretty unspectacularly.

(…)

MG: Inititally, I was, as the oldest, supposed to take over my father’s agricultural appliances business but the happenings at the stock exchange interested me more. My idea was that there was a lot of money being made and that you had to be bright and fast. Later, a bit more mature, when I thought about it more intensively, I thought, ok if I can do all that and have money, what happens then ? Suddenly, existential questions took center stage. So I started to search and ended up, completely unplanned, coming across philosophy and theology.

PS: A long process.

MG: And a difficult one. At first, the world of theology drew me close very strongly, the priesthood was added as a second step. Of course celibacy was also a question. At some point I felt that I couldn’t drive at half speed, either I’d do it completely or I’d quit. A little theology, that’s not possible. So, step by step, I approached the priesthood.

PS: A quote from one of your homilies, on the occasion of some ordinations: “You are granted to know that you have a dignity that distinguishes you from all who aren’t priests. You are allowed to have the consciousness that you are doing something great, that you are allowed to do something great.” Pretty aloof.

MG: I’d say that again without ifs ands or buts.

PS: You take it seriously.

MG: Yes, I do.

PS: It also sounds a bit romantic.

MG: I don’t think so. They are words that were made true by life, and life wasn’t romantic. The sentences quoted by you may sound a bit ceremonious on paper but behind them there is a lot of personal experience and I did not want to keep it from the new priests that there is something grand ahead of him, that it costs something and that he has to be willing to pay that price.

PS: In 1984 you were ordained a priest, then you spent two years in the Black Forest. In 1993, you wrote your dissertation in Munich, about “Ecclesiology according to the Second Vatican Council.” Did you have moments of great doubt ?

MG: After two years as Kaplan (assistant pastor), I was sent back to Munich for more studying – of something that’s not really my preference – Canon Law. After half a year I was so fed up I said to myself, now I’m going to the archbishop and ask him to take me back into the diocese because I can’t stand it anymore.

PS: That bad ?

MG: I’d always studied gladly and easily, but studying Canon Law I felt to be as dry as work in a quarry where there’s no beer – you die of dryness. I was saved by my professor, Winfried Ayman who later made me his assistant. He helped me greatly to get out of this situation by showing me new perspectives. That helped me a lot and kept me from quitting. I am very grateful to him.

PS: Time and again these “verdicts” surface: dutiful, pious, conservative; a man of form and strictness.

MG: In the sense of “mild in form, strict in content” I can’t let that stand. When I think something to be right, I stick to it. Admittedly, patience is not my strength. Sometimes I get pretty “in your face” (literally “I drive up pretty close”), which can irritate people.

PS: What abilities does the private secretary of the head of a Church with 1.1 billion members have to have ?

MG: In a way, he has to be a jack of all trades (“generalist”), but he also has to acknowledge that he can’t do everything, and he shouldn’t demand it from himself. He has to do what the Pope tells him to do, and that with all his force, heart and mind.

PS: Was there some kind of introductory training, like a school for Papal etiquette ?

MG: Not at all. The only thing there was was a private conversation with my predecessor, Monsignore Stanislaus Dziwisz, the current Cardinal-Archbishop of Krakow. That was about two weeks after the Conclave and the move into the Appartamento. He handed me an envelope containing some papers and a key for a safe. An ancient safe, German precision work. He only said, “You now have a very important, very beautiful but also a very, very difficult task. The only thing I can tell you is that the Pope must not be “suffocated” by nothing and no one. How to go about that, you have to find out for yourself.” Period, the end. More he didn’t say. That was the entire school for Papal etiquette.

PS: And what was in the envelope?

MG: That I won’t tell you. They are things that are given from Papal Secretary to Papal Secretary.

PS: Your initial mistakes?

MG: I realized soon that the speed I demanded of myself was too high. To start in the pole position is one thing, to get through the laps and arrive at the finish line quite another. Starting at full speed, so to speak. So I had to find out the right speed. Another difficult point was the handling of the countless requests for private audiences and other encounters which were all tied to noble motivations. Requests without end – “just for a minute”, “just once, as an exception”, “the Pope has known me for a long time, he’d be very happy”. Here, the right “filter system” was needed. I had to put in a stronger filter.

PS: What do you keep from the Pope?

MG: Nothing important. All important official letters and documents, everything coming from bishops and cardinals, from the world of politics and diplomacy, I present to the Holy Father in the daily briefing. Apart from that there is a huge pile of letters, pleas, requests, proposals that he doesn’t get to see, because he simply doesn’t have the time. There, the Pope has given me room for my own judgment.

PS: Do people try to instrumentalize you?

MG: It happens, but I know how to defend myself.

PS: Does one “take off” in your position at times ?

MG: The opposite is more the case, that you’re being suffocated, pressed down. If there is a danger, it’s isolation. At one point friends said that I wasn’t around anymore and was withdrawing. That was an alarm signal, and I immediately tried to make free time to better take care of personal relationships and existing friendships. It’s important for one’s psychological health.

(…)

PS: It’s plain to see that so many priests of the new generation discover the spiritual, cultural and aesthetical treasures of the handed-down liturgy. With the new Motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”, an Apostolic letter of the Pope it has been stated that every priest may celebrate the Holy Mass also according to the earlier, Tridentine Rite. Will this bring new conflicts ?

MG: The opposite is the purpose and goal. Conflicts are supposed to be ended, existing fractions and schisms overcome. With the Motu proprio a spiritual home has been opened to a lot of the faithful. I am convinced that the letter of the Holy Father to the bishops which was released together with the Motu proprio and in which the Pope explains the goals and motivations of the document at length is the right key to its proper understanding.

PS: The French philosopher Rene Girard, member of the Academie francaise, is predicting a decisive Christian Renaissance. According to him, we are at the “eve of a revolution of our culture.” This change is supposed to make the Renaissance of the 15th century pale by comparison.

MG: The religious element enjoys an attention it hasn’t had in years. After a phase of indifferentism, people once more concern themselves with religion, questions of faith. I see that especially young people who have everything or could have everything, realize: One can do anything, one can even destroy the world – but one can’t win the soul, when the essential is missing. The Catholic Church has treasures to offer that no one else can offer. Greater and more enduring than all politicial offers of “salvation.” But, that doesn’t happen automatically. Faith comes from being heard, as Saint Paul says, it has to be proclaimed.

If you want to know what the pope wears while watching tv, or how Msgr. Gaenswein feels about being a sex idol, you’ll have to check out the full translation.

I just spent a few minutes listening at the door of the NPM Pastoral Liturgy Institute. Because the doors of the room are oak, I don’t know how many people are inside, or who was giving the talk, but what I heard was enough to convince me that my money is well saved.

The speaker was instructing the group on how to change the words of the Mass responses. He recommended that any changes be added to the end of the response in order to not cause confusion. In his words, “People are Pavlovian”.

I heard a few of the recommended texts and none of them appear in any Sacramentary and as far as I know they are not among the changes recommended for the updated Roman Missal.

Just my update from behind the door.

h/t to Barb from SFO Mom for this fun quiz

For you skeptics out there, there was no cheating involved in this either. There was, however, some guessing.

How smart are you?

Am-I-Dumb.com – Are you dumb?

TAMPA, Florida, July 24, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A judge has awarded over $21 million dollars to a couple for the “wrongful birth” of their second handicapped son. The couple would have aborted the child if they had known about his disability, the Tampa Bay Tribune reports.

Daniel and Amara Estrada have two sons who are both physically handicapped with the same genetic disorder, Smith-Lemli-Opitz, which does not allow them to properly synthesize cholesterol. The children have difficulty walking and must be fed through a feeding tube. They also have smaller heads and other physical abnormalities.

After the first son was born, the couple’s doctor, Boris Kousseff, from the University of South Florida (USF), told them that they would be able to have other normal children and did not diagnose the problem as hereditary. Consequently, when their second son Caleb was born with the same disorder, the couple sued the doctor and the USF.

“He says you have the same chance of anyone else in society of having a normal child. He doesn’t tell the truth,” said the family’s attorney Christian Searcy, Tampa Bay My Fox reports. The judge ruled that the couple will receive over $21 million dollars in recompense for the negligence of the doctor.

The couple claimed that if they had had a proper diagnosis after the birth of their first child in 2002, they could have determined by a pregnancy test that the second son Caleb had the same disorder. According to the lawsuit, if the couple had known this, they would have aborted him, the Associated Press reports.

Commenting on the situation, president and spokesperson for Florida Right to Life Lynda Bell told LifeSiteNews.com, “How bizarre that in our nation, not only have we become a throw-away generation, including our babies that are not perfect, but that now we’re holding doctors responsible to deliver a perfect baby. I think this is absurd, and I think this court is opening up a Pandora’s box to all types of litigations that say, ‘it’s not just a matter of nature, now I can hold a doctor accountable for an imperfect child.'”

Bell stated, “Doctor’s may feel that they have a responsibility to lead people to abortion just so there’s not a lawsuit.” She continued, “I’m not going to weigh in on whether or not the doctor was negligent without knowing all the facts of the case, but I think there’s a very fine line between a negligent physician and having him being responsible for an unborn child, whether or not it is perfect.” She also said that the doctor might have been sued legitimately for negligence, but not for “wrongful birth”. “Doctors are not God,” she said, “they’re physicians.”

This story is similar to the case of an Austrian doctor in 2006 who was threatened in court with paying lifetime support costs for a young girl who was born with Down’s syndrome. The mother claimed that she would have aborted her daughter if she had known about the child’s condition early enough (see http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jul/06071402.html).

Similarly, in 2003 a British Columbia, Canada court ruled that Dr. Ken Kan of Richmond must pay $325,000 for “wrongful birth”, after he failed to diagnose that a child had Down’s syndrome. The mother claimed that their handicapped child’s birth “totally disrupted our plans,” and caused the couple’s marriage to fall apart (see http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2003/jan/03013005.html).

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