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First Sunday of Advent

What is Advent?
We are now in the holy season of Advent where we prepare for both the coming of Christ at Christmas and the second coming at the end of time.  It is a spiritual period in which to meditate on these two mysteries and prepare for them.  We use the wreath and 4 candles to mark down the 4 weeks before Christmas.  

Three of the candles are purple and one is pink.  The purple symbolizes preparation through penance and prayer.  Purple is also used during Lent.  Another way to see it is purple is a physical sign of healing. When we get hurt, the injury becomes purple.  During the time of healing, it remains purple until it clears up.  Sin hurts us and we need time to heal from it by using the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, Prayer, Fasting, Indulgences and a genuine Spiritual life.  

The pink is for the third Sunday or Gaudete Sunday which means ‘Sunday of Joy.’   We are joyous because we are getting closer to Christ’s birth.  As each week goes, we light the candle that corresponds to that week.  

Today’s readingshttp://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112915.cfm

The first reading tells us of the ‘just shoot’ who will come from David.  “He shall do what is right and just in the land.”  This ‘shoot’ of course is referring to Jesus who comes from the lineage of King David (Matthew 1).  Christ was promised to the people of Israel and in due time would be born (Isaiah 7:14).  He would come to bring justice to all. During this time of Advent, we must seek Christ and prepare our hearts to receive Him. We must lift up our souls to the Lord as we read in the Psalm for today.

“To you , O Lord, I lift my soul.” We must work out our faith and not expect God to do everything for us (Philippians 2:12). The more we put into our salvation, the more we grow (2 Peter 3:18). God will teach us His ways and will guide us in truth (Psalm 32:8). God is our savior.  There is no one else who saves (Acts 4:12). This is why we wait on the Lord during this season of Advent. Not only do we wait for Him in regards to Christmas, but also in His second coming (John 14:3).  We must be prepared for this time. The readings at the onset of Advent always remind us of this final day when Christ returns. Now that we have time, we must ask the Lord to show us the way; to be merciful to us especially now that we are beginning the Year of Mercy on December 8th (Isaiah 55:6 ). “All paths of the Lord are kindness…” so we must take advantage and prepare our souls for when Christ returns.  All of this work must not be focused solely on us, but on others as well. We must abound in love as we read in the second reading today.

May God increase love in us, we are told in the second reading. This love is not for the self, but for “one another and for all” (John 15:12).  Pope Francis has been stressing this ever since he took on the ministry of Peter. He has reminded us that we have to meet people where they are at; not to judge them, but to be compassionate and merciful to them (Luke 10:25-37). From there we can help them get to Christ.  This work of love will show that our faith in God has value; that we are not just believing just to believe (James 2:14-26). We must be blameless before God, especially when He returns (Psalm 24:4).  This can only be done if we behave as God wants us to behave. We cannot live life like a mindless sheep. Instead, we must be aware of what we do and say and realize that these have consequences (Titus 2:7). It takes just one slip on our part for someone else to lose faith in the Church or in God because of us. This is why we are told in the second reading that how we conduct ourselves is important. Christ can come at any moment, so we must take advantage of the time we have in order to fix ourselves and help others fix themselves (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us that “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.”  He continues describing many things that sound scary but are meant to capture our attention.  The details of the signs are not that significant.  What matters is that Christ will return; the Son of man will come in a cloud to judge the living and the dead (Daniel 7:13, 2 Timothy 4:1).  This is what matters to us especially during Advent. Jesus makes it clear that we cannot dose off and think we are going to live life on earth and that He would not come to judge us all.  He tells us, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”  We must be vigilant.  We must not let our guard down otherwise Satan will jump in to attack and cause us to fall like he did with our first parents Adam and Eve (1 Peter 5:8).  Jesus will return one day, no one knows that day (Matthew 24:36).

Our task is to be ready for it. Advent reminds us that Jesus is coming and that we have to prepare for His second coming. We shout ‘Maranatha’ or ‘come Lord!’  We do this because we prepared to receive our Lord and more importantly because we want to see Him as the Apostles saw Him.  We want to experience Him as Mary and Joseph did. For now, we experience Him via the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. These Sacraments are there to prepare us for the second coming of Christ. Again, we must be vigilant. Already we are seeing these ‘signs’ in the world. The world is changing dramatically.  What was good at one point is now bad and what was bad is now good (Isaiah 5:20). Christians are being killed left and right.  The Church is under attack from all angles even from within. In this we see Satan at work. Satan is a liar and murderer (John 8:44). That is all he knows and presents to the world: lies, violence and evil. It seems like he is winning now, but in reality he is not.

We may see marriage being dissolved merely into what man decides. We see the killing of unborn children presented as ‘women’s healthcare.’ We see fanatics using Islam as a justification to kill others, especially Christians. We see Catholics attacking the Pope, some refusing to acknowledge him as the Pope by calling him simply Jorge Bergoglio.  The list goes on and on but we can see the seeds of the father of lies taking hold in the hearts of many in the Church and outside of the Church.  The smoke of Satan is no longer entering the Church; it has entered the lungs of many, clergy, religious and lay. Advent is a time of penance and preparation. Let us take this time to reflect on what is really going on in the world and what is behind it (Ephesians 6:12). Let us meditate on the first coming of Christ so that we can better prepare for the second one. We await the Son of Man and cry out to Him to come quickly.  O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive all the souls of the world.

My take on Kandra’s “From a reader: ‘That Corapi account is fake” post

A follower of mine on Twitter sent me a tweet this morning asking me my thoughts about an article written by Deacon Greg Kandra of the Diocese of Brooklyn.  He blogs on Patheos and Aleteia. Anyhow, this article is titled “From a reader: ‘That Corapi account is fake.'”

Here is the tweet I received:

The article the deacon wrote seems to cast doubt on the Linked In profile I found which was picked up by Matt Abbott of Renew America after apparently seeing it on my site since I was the first to report on it. Unfortunately, he did not give me credit for the information after being forced to update his article where he does not seem too confident in his ‘reliable source,’ but that is beside the point. Deacon Kandra is correct when he writes that “Neither John Corapi nor the people at his religious order, Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (S.O.L.T) have made any public statements about the curious LinkedIn account bearing his name that appeared earlier this month.” However, this can be for several reasons:

  1. Why would John Corapi make a statement about his LinkedIn account?  He clearly wants to attract clientele in order to support himself; so why bring drama upon himself and possibly scare clients away?

 

 

 

Therefore, I think it is safe to say that neither party is going to release any statement. Most likely they are not even aware of all of this.  The reason why I even found this LinkedIn profile was after readings several blogs regarding Matt Abbott’s claim that a ‘reliable source’ told him that Corapi is reconciling with his order.  As a former atheist and natural skeptic, the use of the words ‘reliable source’ without naming names was a red flag for me. Moreover, I have friends at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, CT and neither of them believed the claims either.  They knew him personally, some even taught him!  Corapi did really ‘vanish.’ Nevertheless, I gave Abbott’s story the benefit of the doubt.  I did some investigating by looking at several social networks and only found groups or profiles defending Corapi and one on Twitter mocking him under his ‘Blacksheep dog’ persona. Eventually, I came across the LinkIn profile when the  Linked IN system recommended I connect with people with similar interests as the ones that I hold. When I saw the profile, I was surprised and quickly took screenshots and video before it disappeared.  Next, I wrote the post http://www.sacerdotus.com/2015/11/john-corapi-is-back-returned-to-faith.html to share my findings and came to the conclusion that Corapi is really gone and not coming back. Now, Deacon Kandra writes on his aleteia blog the following:

A few people at the time, as I noted, found the LinkedIn CV a little odd, and one priest wrote to tell me he didn’t think the dates and degrees added up. Late Wednesday, a reader sent me a copy of Corapi’s official bio, which was routinely used a few years ago in promoting his personal appearances. The reader’s point: “That LinkedIn account is fake.” Compare the two and you’ll see some notable differences in both substance and style. Fr. John Corapi’s CV Dr. John Corapi’s LinkedIn CV The conclusion is unmistakable: these can’t be the work of the same person.

He seems convinced that the profile is a fake simply because of the wording and the opinions of a priest and reader.  However, all parties failed to acknowledge the photos on the Linked In profile which are above in the heading of this post.  They are clearly of John Corapi.  One appears to be taken in a hotel room and the other is a ‘selfie,’ or one he took himself while holding a cell phone over his upper torso. Now ask yourself this, “How can someone creating a fake profile have access to the selfies and private photos of another person?” The only person who would have access to a ‘selfie’ photo is the one who took it: the person in the ‘selfie.’  We can say the same of the photo of Corapi in what looks like a hotel room.  Now, one can say that perhaps Corapi texted those photos to someone else and that someone else created the ‘fake profile,’ but there is problem there too because as you will see in this video, there are actual real people with real secular businesses and positions rating Corapi for his performance as a speaker.

How can other individuals rate a speaker or writer if the person they hired was not the person in the profile? Also if you notice in the ‘selfie’ photo, there are poacher trophies in the background on the wall.  This is significant because Corapi was on a hunting site and was photographed with ‘kills.’  See:

 

 

 

 

 

These images can be easily found if you Google “John Corapi Hunter.”  You can also see them here: http://www.visionquesthunts.com/Gallery2013.php.  I am sure PETA would love to see this.  St. Francis of Assisi weeps. So clearly this LinkedIN profile is not fake and is really John Corapi. Suppose I hire Deacon Kandra to give a retreat and rate him on a LinkIn profile I saw him on.  How can I rate him on a fake profile if I used that profile to find him in the first place in order to hire him? I think we can conclude that this profile is real and that those saying it is fake are those Catholics who are still in denial of Corapi’s fall and will say anything to exonerate him even if their conclusions do not fit the facts and are irrational. In this case, they have been proven wrong for a picture did tell a thousand words. Lastly, if you compare the education credentials of the sources Kandra used, there is not much difference. The sequence of degrees adds up as well as other information. What I see different is the emphasis.  The document sent by the reader Kandra mentions shows Corapi puts an emphasis on his religious formation which would make sense since he was an active priest at the time.  In the LinkIn profile, the tone is more neutral in regards to religion and focuses more on his background as a writer and speaker. This would make sense if Corapi is working in a secular environment. Here are screenshots of both so you can compare:

 

 

 

Another Twitter user also noticed that the information is pretty much the same and told Deacon Kandra via a Tweet, see:

 

It is safe to say based on the evidence at hand that Kandra’s conclusion and that of his priest friend and reader is erroneous.

Kandra asks “So what has happened to Fr. Corapi?”  Well, I think we can ask those who hired and rated him that question since they have encountered him and gave him high ratings post 2011.

Let us pray for Corapi and wish him well on his new career as a speaker and writer. He sinned, I sin, you sin; God forgives.

The Good Dinosaur Movie

I have just come out from watching The Good Dinosaur with my nephew.  The movie I must say was very powerful.  In fact, I think this movie is more for adults than for children.  It is a very deep and heavy movie for kids to really absorb and process, in my opinion.  The movie is clearly not scientifically accurate (was not meant to be).  For example, it begins with a scene from space showing an asteroid getting bumped off course in the asteroid belt.  Its trajectory is towards the Earth, however, it missed the Earth preventing the annihilation of the dinosaurs.  As many of you probably remember, paleontologists and others believed that an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago allowing for human beings to evolve and become the dominant species.  Later on, we see cavemen in the movie.  Scientists do not believe that human beings and dinosaurs coexisted in real life.

This movie takes a different spin by allowed the dinosaurs to survive and somewhat evolve into intelligent anthropomorphic creatures who can speak. The audience is then introduced to the main characters of the movie who is a family of brontosauruses.  A male brontosaurus is shown tilling the field and watering them as the female brontosaurus is at home and announces that their eggs are about to hatch.  These characters are ‘poppa’ and ‘momma.’ Both enter the home and watch their three children hatch.  Libby, Buck and then Arlo hatch. Libby and Buck come out large and healthy while Arlo comes out extremely small for his species. He is also scared of any little thing.  These young dinosaurs begin to grow and take on different chores.  Each does well except for young Arlo who is still very timid and clumsy.  As winter approaches, the dinosaurs store corn in a tower.  Poppa then makes a mark with his foot using mud, then momma does the same.  He explains that each dinosaur has to earn his/her mark by doing something greater than him or herself that contributes to the good of others. Buck and Libby earn their marks except for Arlo.  Arlo becomes frustrated and feels like he is incompetent. However, Poppa reassures him that he will come along and will be like him and more than him.

Poppa notices that a ‘critter’ is stealing corn so he gives Arlo the task to capture the critter and squish it with a branch.  If Arlo accomplishes this, then he would earn his mark.  Both set up a trap for the critter and Arlo is on watch.  The trap captures the critter which turns out to be a caveman boy.  Arlo is happy by scared at the same time.  He grabs the branch and is about to crush the little boy but then feels bad and drops it.  He lets the boy go and the boy grows at him like a dog. Arlo becomes terrified and runs off. The cave-boy runs off. Poppa finds out and gets upset with Arlo and both chase after the cave-boy.  They run into a valley with a river following the mud tracks of the cave-boy, however, it starts to rain. The mud tracks begin to wash off which anger Poppa who rushes Arlo and gets frustrated with Arlo’s weakness and inability to catch up.  However, both see it is futile to go after the young cave-boy and head back home.  The journey back is interrupted by a storm which develops and causes the river to swell and rush fiercely.  As both try to get to higher ground, Poppa is not able to climb up and is washed away.  We then learn his fate when we see a tombstone on the farmland where he once tilled the soil. Arlo becomes depressed as Momma tries to do the job that Poppa did but struggles. Arlo tries to help but as he is storing corn, he notices that cobs are being thrown out of the storage tower. These cobs are eaten up.  Arlo looks inside and sees the cave-boy there eating the corn.  He becomes upset and tries to chomp the cave-boy, but the cave-boy gets away.  Arlo chases him, but both fall into the river and get washed far away from their original position. The cave-boy escapes while Arlo finds himself back on land and tries to return home but is lost.

He tries to build a tent to cover himself from the rain but is unsuccessful. While trying to get berries from a tree by standing on a large rock, Arlo falls causing the rock to move and pin his hind leg. He tries desperately to free himself but cannot.  However, he wakes up and finds that his leg was dug out from under the rock allowing him to take it out.  Arlo notices that it was the cave-boy who dug his leg out and begins to search for him.  He feels that his dad (Poppa) died because of the cave-boy and wants revenge, however, he starts to realize that the cave-boy is not bad. At first he wanted to crush the life out of the cave-boy, but changes.  Both begin to befriend each other.  The cave-boy brings Arlo an iguana to eat, but Arlo lets it get away.  Then the cave-boy brings a large bug, but Arlo gets disgusted especially after the cave-boy rips his head off. However, when the cave-boy brings berries, this is when both begin to understand each other.  In one scene, Arlo uses sticks and a circle to represent his family.  The cave-boy understands and makes his own showing his parents died by burying the sticks representing them.  Later on, both run into a triceratops who wants the cave-boy as a pet.  He begins to name the cave-boy using different names and tells Arlo that if the cave-boy responds to a specific name that he gets to keep him.  However, Arlo wins after the cave-boy responds to ‘Spot.’  The new friends grow closer and in one scene eat spoiled fruit and get ‘high.’ Both begin their journey back home to Arlo’s farm but run into pterodactyls. Arlo believes they are good but when one of them finds a fox and devours it, he realizes that they are just predators. These villainous dinosaurs smell Spot (cave-boy) and go after him in order to eat him, but Arlo defends him. They get chased by the pterodactyls but are defended by three tyrannosauruses. Arlo gets scared of them but realizes that they are looking for a herd.

Each party agrees to help each other from this point on.  Arlo offers Spot’s ability to sniff in order to help them find their herd.  He is successful.  The tyrannosauruses find the herd and agree to help Arlo get back home by following the river. Arlo’s father had told him to always follow the river in order to get back home. As the dinosaurs are herding large buffalos, they run into feathered raptors who attack them.  Arlo beings to gain courage and helps the tyrannosauruses fight them off.  As they continue on their journey, Arlo sees the large mountain near his home and wants to part ways with the tyrannosaurus. They eventually do and Arlo and Spot head to find the river and find it.  While there, both run into other cavemen.  Spot tries to approach them, but Arlo stops him because he did not want to be alone. They continue on their way but then run into the pterodactyls again who attack and take Spot away to eat him.  Arlo tries to rescue him but falls down a cliff and gets stuck in vines.  As he tries to get himself free, he bangs his head and becomes unconscious.  He then sees his father Poppa free him.  Arlo hugs him and believes Poppa was still alive.  Poppa proceeds to walk back home and Arlo follows him but then realizes that he has to save Spot.  Arlo stops, but Poppa continues walking.  He yells ‘Poppa’ but Poppa continues walking.  Arlo is confused as to why his dad is ignoring him, but he realizes that he is making footprints in the mud while Poppa is not.  Arlo realizes that this is his dad’s spirit or ghost.

He tells Poppa that he has to go help Spot because he loves him.  Poppa stops and turns around smiling and tells him that he knew Arlo had it in him and that Arlo was like him and even more.  At that, Poppa begins to dissipate.  Arlo wakes up empowered and goes after Spot to rescue him.  He finds the pterodactyls trying to eat Spot and rescues him.  However, a storm comes again and the waters begin to rise. Arlo becomes scared after being traumatized because that was the way he lost his father.  Nevertheless, he faces his fear and continues with the rescue.  However, the river swells and both he and Spot get washed away and fall over a waterfall.  They both survive and come ashore. After recovering, both head back to Arlo’s farm but run into the cavemen again.  This time, Arlo pushes Spot to go with them and not continue the journey with him.  Spot does not understand and returns to Arlo.  However, Arlo pushes him back and draws a circle around him and the other cavemen. Spot then understands that Arlo wanted him to go with that family.  Spot does, but becomes emotional and embraces Arlo.  They part ways and Arlo returns home.  His mother is working the field and sees Arlo and runs after him to embrace him.  Arlo then puts his print on the tower showing that he earned his mark.

This movie was very powerful and deep indeed.  As I stated in the beginning, it was a bit heavy for kids. I was not expecting the movie to show death, vore and violence in the way that it did. In fact, I was expecting the movie to be silly/cartoonish like the Minions or Madagascar.  The movie is very well made in my opinion, however, I think the tearing off of the bug’s head, the eating of the fox, the violent scenes and the death of Arlo’s dad was a bit too much for kids to process.  I noticed adults were crying.  My own nephew got a bit emotional as well and was shocked when he saw the vorish scenes. This movie will definitely start a conversation in the car or at home.  The movie shows the importance of family, friends, perseverance and standing up for oneself. The Good Dinosaur is a movie for older kids 8+ in my opinion.  Parents of younger kids should weigh their options based on how mature their kids are.  The movie reminded me a bit of The Land Before Time which was also a heavy movie and a tear jerker, so to speak. This movie is good to start a conversation about the death of a loved one which is inevitable in our species as well as a good way to teach kids to believe in themselves, keep trying, have a support system and be themselves while at the same time cooperating with others.

It is a bit of a ‘coming of age’ film.  Prior to the film, we saw Sanjay’s Super Team which I found interesting. This short film highlighted an Indian boy and his father. The boy is caught up in a television show about a superhero while his dad is trying to get him to pray their Hindu prayers. The boy is reluctant until the father shuts the TV off.  Both knee before their shrine and being to pray, however, the boy becomes distracted and bored.  He then fantasizes with the gods of Hinduism fighting a demon like character. After that scene is over, we see the father looking at the boy with a sad face. He is troubled because his son does not seem interested in their faith. However, the boy shows the father his art book where he drew the Hindu gods as superheroes.  The father and his son then enjoy the art.  This short film I felt was a good way for parents to understand that kids perceive things differently. We have to be careful how to introduce prayer and faith to them.  It must not be so rigid and formal that it bores a kid.  The kid in the short film did not understand the Hindu ritual, but at least he understood it his way by drawing the gods as heroes.  In closing, overall, The Good Dinosaur was a good film to watch. My only issues were the scenes that were a bit too much for kids to really process as well as the drug scene where both become ‘high.’ Some psychologists believe parents should not shield their kids from reality while others say parents must keep their kids in their own world until they are ready.  Parents know their kids better than anyone else, so to me it makes sense for parents to decide how to present the ‘facts of life’ to their kids.  The Good Dinosaur touches on such ‘facts of life’ such as death and surviving this harsh world.