Because sharing is good for everyone.
Where to begin? So much has happened; my life has changed. I guess there’s no where better to start than the beginning.
I became addicted to drugs around the age of 21, and continued to use drugs more and more all the way up to The Night. By that I mean the night I walked into a St. Catherine’s in Morgan Hill, CA. It was Christmas Eve, my family was all gathered at my sister’s in Gilroy for the occasion, and I was sent out to go to the store for some last minute items.
I had never really considered religion before, except to ponder and accept that my children would be Catholic, as their mother was (I had dated two different Catholic girls, one for 3 years, and one for almost 9 years, so I was pretty sure I would marry a Catholic). I had been attending various support groups for some time now (AA, NA, and the like), as well as been in and out of several rehabs, all with varying successes, and failures. I felt helpless and alone.
Upon walking out of Safeway and to my truck, the church was beckoning. I can’t quite describe it fully except to say that it felt warm, and welcome. Something I hand’t felt in a long time. I quietly slipped in the doors and stood in the back as the Priest gave his sermon. I didn’t know all the peoples responses, or what all the symbolism meant, but I was in definite aw of beauty inside the church. At the end of Mass I went to leave when a perfect stranger put out his hand and asked who I was. Before I knew it there were three or four more people gathered around as I told my story, the one I’m telling you now, except focusing much more on the time of addiction.
To my surprise I wasn’t shunned away, like had happened so many times before, but instead was welcomed with warm greetings, hugs, and even people praising the Lord for a Miracle. We al said our goodbyes and I went back to my sister’s to finish out the Christmas holiday with my family. I didn’t speak much of what had occurred at the time; I was still processing it myself.
When I arrived at home, in Trinidad, CA, a small fishing village far north of the Bay Area, I couldn’t get that experience out of my mind. I began to explore various churches of all denominations, when Robert, my church Sponsor, came into my life. Before long I knew that there was no place for me but Catholicism. I began RCIA and was baptized on Easter last year (2013).
I thank the Lord every day for showing me the light, for bringing Robert into my life, and for showing me how to forgive, and be forgiven. I ask our Lord every day to continue to bless us all, and to show me how to live my life more like he would want me to: to walk in his footsteps, to be more honest, to care for others, and to be a better Catholic.
I just wanted to share that short testament of what is was like for me, and how great God’s glory can be!
I have the impression the activity on the forum is quite low, nevertheless I’m going to put forward a question. As you can see in my previous post, I’m working on some ideas to get the church some presence on mobile media.
My main use case is for a faithful or anyone who’s interested, to find out what’s going on in his neighbourhood. There should be a (web) app that can answer concrete questions like
- where can I attent mass later today closeby? (may include e.g. funeral masses)
- which parishes in the diocese offer midnight masses for Christmas this year?
- are any rosary prayer groups active closeby?
- where and when can I make confession?
- what’s the calendar of public activities in my parish?
- what’s the calendar of events for this church (imagining a church’s info board being labeled with a QR-code that directs to this question)
Technically, I see this as a database containing agenda data (ical/ics format, also supporting recurring events etc.), enriched with geo data and tags, so one can filter on where the event occurs and on the type of event.
Entering data should be made very easy. Anyone can submit events, on condition of providing an email address and with a moderation on parish or diocese level. On the other hand, it should be open enough to also host data for events that don’t link to diocese, e.g. private prayer or bible reading initiatives, abbeys or other catholic communities.
Because this use case is very generic and could apply to any type of open organization, I wonder if a platform of this type isn’t available yet?
If you ever need to do something with maps, make sure to look at Google Fusion Tables. I’ve used them to create a web app where you can look up on the map where in the neighborhood you can go to mass. You can filter to look for masses that start immediately, that start later today or that take place tomorrow. On clicking a church, you get a view of all scheduled masses.
Here are some links:
Code on GitHub: https://github.com/vicmortelmans/masses
Fusion table: https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?docid=1JsfBqBIs-A9Buvs-smPqrNn4iBgJ6Ckn7GbONJM
Website: http://vicmortelmans.github.io/masses/ (you’ll have to navigate to Belgium to see some results)
Android app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.credomobiel.masses
Best regards, Vic
Earlier this year, a study found that religious websites have more malware than porn websites. Unfortunately, this is not too surprising.
Pornography sites are often run by very profitable media conglomerates, and it’s in their best interests to have reliable, fast websites. Religious websites (like your parish website, or a site for a small nonprofit) are often run on a shoestring budget and maintained by volunteers, if at all.
In the past, when websites were mostly static pages, and sites were hosted mostly on shared hosting, where the hosting provider provided (somewhat) timely server patches, leaving things be didn’t cause much of an issue. But nowadays, with most parish websites running on Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, or some other CMS that involves a database, PHP, Django, and/or other layers of services, leaving things be is a very, very bad idea.
Additionally, with many more developers and small development companies seeing the value of VPS hosting instead of shared hosting, servers themselves are lagging behind in terms of updated server software (Apache, PHP, MySQL, Linux, Rails, etc.). In fact, web servers are targeted more than Windows XP by hackers, mostly because so many are way behind on security updates (or have never been updated since they were originally built!).
To web developers: When you set up a dynamic website for one of your clients, do you include in the contract and training security patches and updates? If you don’t, you can be assured some future security flaw will allow script kiddies and/or hackers to take over the website. Additionally, two years down the line, if you’re still running a two-year-old system, it will be incredibly difficult to get things upgraded. Quarterly and/or monthly maintenance is an essential part of any contract for a modern website.
To organizations and parishes hiring web developers: Even if you have a tiny budget, you need to make sure you include ongoing patching and support from whatever company or individual you hire to create your website. Even if your site is run by volunteers, you need to make sure they know how important it is to keep your site running on the latest version of whatever CMS you’re using.
It’s getting easier and easier these days to, at a minimum, keep your CMS up-to-date (at least within a major version, like Wordpress 3.x or Drupal 7.x), so there’s no excuse for your site becoming yet another vector for malware (at best), or becoming defaced and taken over by some nefarious group.
It has been several months since we launched the initial version of Saintstir, a 21st century taxonomy and social site centered around the saints of the Catholic Church. It comes with an API for application developers as well (check out our developers page).
This month we’re pleased to announce our first version of Saint Timelines. Its an interactive timeline that displays all of the saints on saintstir by feast day, centuries, as well as european historic periods. Its a great resource that combines a chronological view of the saints with one of the most slick user interface plugins around.
- Timelines rendered with the plugin TimelineJS
- HTTP-JSON based API
- Caching on memcached
- Leverages the flexibility of taxonomy schema
(see our previous blog post for details on the rest of the technology stack that powers saintstir.com)
After looking (for too many years) for ways to scrape readings for a given celebration in some usable and predictable way, I decided to undertake creating a web service that returns liturgical reading citations (in JSON) given a date.
As of right now, it works for Sundays for the current remaining Liturgical year. God willing, by the time Advent rolls around, it will include all Sundays for the entire 3-year cycle. After that, we’ll begin to tackle daily liturgies. This isn’t hardcoded with dates and their readings, we have written an engine that is able to determine a specific celebration given a date.
Please explore, the URLs look like this: http://missal.cc/?date=08/11/2013&json=true
If this web service is of use to you, we’d be happy to hear from you. We’re thinking about coming up with a donation structure to keep the service free should developers around the church find use here. And, of course, if you’d like to help troubleshoot things like “When is the feast of St. Joseph if March 19th is a Sunday?” we’d love to hear from you.
Here is another video from Father Dan O’Reilly. We’ve produced several dozen videos for Father Dan. Some videos are made specifically for students at Columbia University, but most (like this video) have found an audience beyond Columbia University. This is one of my favorites: