Friday, May 31, 2013

7 Quick Takes (#9) Shameless Pulg Edition

--- 1 ---
I've been back home for a week now. Time flies when you're sicker than a dog and still trying to work your butt off.

--- 2 ---

I'm always looking for an excuse to use the above cartoon. So, what have I been doing? I volunteered for another website: I'll be blogging and putting together the unit on ethics. The biggest issue I've had so far is not being able to find a YOUCAT in all of Syracuse NY. You wouldn't think that would be an issue. Syracuse isn't that small of a town, but you'd be wrong.

--- 3 ---
Next Sunday will be my 5th article for Ignitum Today. As I am writing this, the site is down, but as soon as it's back up, you need to check it out. Writing for IT has been enormously helpful for me in developing my blogging skills. Although I'm still not a great writer, I'm a lot better than I was when I first started at IT.

--- 4 ---
I'm helping with publicity for a new organization in town called the John Paul II Center For Women. It is something that Syracuse is in desperate need of. They work on promoting Catholic teachings in regards to the dignity of women, specifically NFP and Theology of the Body. I'm running their FB page and I'm working on their blog right now. I hope to get a Twitter account going soon.

--- 5 ---
And last but not least, my Feminists for Life internship. Of course, it got going to a running start while I was in MO visiting family and friends. I was on the computer a lot more than I would have liked to during my visit. I've already been learning a lot, though, and I've met online some like-minded pro-life feminists. Including a dude. Yes, men can be feminists, too.

--- 6 ---
As mentioned above, James and I did bring home a lovely souvenir from MO. We are both full of snot. Our throats hurt. James is clinging to me, because, hey, mom's supposed to take this stuff away right?

--- 7 ---
That pretty much covers everything. I've renewed my efforts at finding work that I can actually get paid to do. I've volunteered again to review a book for Patheos. I promise it will be better than my last one. And James just pulled himself up on dad's footrest! My big boy!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Pope Francis Doesn't Value Women's Issues?

I thought long and hard about whether or not to respond to this article I saw posted online yesterday. It seems to me that the author doesn't know fundamental things about Catholicism. Maybe I'm being unfair in assuming she doesn't want to know. I would like, however, to give her readers the benefit of the doubt. Even if you don't agree with the Church, it's always good to understand people who are not like you. So, let's take this article apart and explain some things.

The Vatican has enjoyed religious authority worldwide, directly controlling more than a million bishops and nuns who are followed by 1.2 billion worshipers: more than any other Christian sect.

First of all, the Church doesn't work that way. Yes, the Pope is in charge, but he rarely exerts direct control over the other bishops. She makes it sound as if he micro-manages. He usually steps in on another bishop's turf only when stuff seriously hits the fan. Pope Francis seems to have  this view of the papacy, as he prefers to be referred to as the Bishop of Rome, not the Pope. Otherwise, the hierarchy is a lot more messy than she indicates. Nuns are not equal to Bishops, but some religious superiors are not answerable to any Bishop other than the Pope. And it just gets more complicated from there.

There is little doubt that the latest sex abuse scandals have played a major role in shrinking the Church's membership and undermining its credibility.

Actually, statistically, no. Although it has undermined our authority in "pelvic issues" among the general public, the sex abuse crisis has had little to do with the numbers of people leaving the Church.

Ending mandatory celibacy would go a long way to deal with much of the hypocrisy witnessed over the years.
Also, no. Think about it: If someone told you that you could never have sex again, would you start messing with kids? Pedophiles come in many different guises, many are "happily" married men and many never took a vow of celibacy. While the cover-up in the Church is deplorable, the rate of abuse in the Church isn't any higher than any other institution. The priesthood doesn't turn people into pedophiles, pedophiles are attracted to the priesthood because they get unfettered access to kids.

It's no coincidence then that American nuns are also leaving the church in record numbers, according to Catholic World News. Their number has  dropped from 180,000 nuns in 1965 to 75,000 in 2002, and to 56,000 today. They are expected to drop to well below 40,000 by 2020.
I'm sure there are nuns leaving the Church, but the bigger issue is that the vowed religious women are dying. Orders are disappearing because of a lack of vocations to replace those elderly nuns, not because they are jumping ship.

It is common sense that women who make up the majority of the Church's worshipers, should have equal influence over a church in crisis and incapable of truly reforming itself.
And now she shows her whole hand. She has absolutely no understanding of the Catholic priesthood or how the Church actually works. Yes, women make up the majority of the worshipers. They also make up the majority of the catechists, the majority of pastoral staff, the majority of parish councils. The Church isn't about one celibate old man pontificating from on high (pun intended). It's a community. It's the body of Christ and we all have our roles. No role is less important than any other. As Paul says:

Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

- 1 Corinthians 12:14-26 

In every parish I've ever belonged to, the true power behind the throne has been a woman. The priest was there to administer the Sacraments which are necessary for salvation, but the woman was largely in charge of day-to-day finances and staffing. She helped make sure the priest made it to his appointments and had everything he needed to do his job. Women educate the young, including those who will one day become priests, and pass the faith down to future generations.

The way I see it: I can no more become a priest than a man can give birth to a child. It isn't a glass ceiling to break through as if the Church was some kind of corporation. That's just not how the Church works. I'm not being held down in some subservient role because I'm a woman.

I can still speak up and I can still be heard. Some of the best priests I've ever met held their female staff in high esteem and often rubber stamped whatever the staff wanted to do. Not to say that the priests were doormats, but they listened and they saw running a parish as a truly collaborative job.

Women have come a long way in recent years in the Church. We still need more women theologians. Women as well as men need to learn more about their faith in order to accurately and effectively pass it on. But women don't need the priesthood.    

Thursday, May 30, 2013

10-Year-Old Needs Lung

In Philadelphia, there is a 10-year-old girl who has been waiting for 18 months for a lung due to some regulations in regards to the donor list. She will die soon if she does not get a transplant.

To quote the entire article (it isn't really long):

A Philadelphia-area family's fight over the rules that govern lung transplants is getting national attention.
Ten-year-old Sarah Murnaghan, of Newtown Square, is dying of cystic fibrosis at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
She needs a lung transplant to survive, but Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network policies say children under age 12 should receive lungs from another child, not an adult. That means it will take longer for lungs to be available to Sarah, who has been on the transplant list for 18 months.
The case has garnered attention in the Philadelphia region and across the country, and spurred discussion about the lung-transplant regulations.
Her family has started a petition on, asking supporters to urge the Department of Health and Human Services to change the regulations.
"This policy needs to change," the petition says. "The OPTN/UNOS Lung Review Board, a national group of transplant physicians and surgeons, can make an exceptional ruling for Sarah. And they can recommend new policies to OPTN."
As of this morning, more than 72,000 people had signed the petition. The OPTN said in a statement this week it can't change its rules based on one patient.
National news outlets from CNN to Fox News have picked up on the story, and some doctors not involved in Sarah's case say the policy should change.
Dr. Devang Doshi, a pediatric lung specialist at Beaumont Children's Hospital in Michigan, told ABC News that such "hurdles and obstacles" lead him to "get frustrated with the system."
He said: "It's a very disheartening thing to hear and read about because you've got a child in desperate need of a transplant to survive ... and people less qualified in terms of severity are able to get that organ instead of this child because of what's in place."
Art Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University's Langone Medical Center, told the television station that children should be given priority over adults, because kids can have more healthy years with the new lungs.
Caplan elaborated to NBC News that children should get priority in part because many adult transplant patients need new lungs because of their own actions, like smoking, while children are "non-culpable." 
"I think we should go back and revisit the system and I think we should give more weight to kids," Caplan told NBC.
Sarah's family has said she has only a few weeks to live and needs a ventilator to breathe.

I'm in complete agreement that the guidelines need to be revisited. They seem awfully unfair to children in need of lungs. There are simply not many children donors. Some parents who lose children see donating the body as an honorable thing so that other parents don't have to experience the same loss. But, other parents see it very differently. Their child had been taken from them and they can't bear the thought of their child being cut up. Both of these ideas are natural. Neither set of parents should feel ashamed of their feelings.

On the other hand, while I think "need" is a good qualifier, I think that "age" and "personal culpability" could be a slippery slope. So, is a 40-year-old life worth less than a 10-year-old life simply due to age? Is a skinny person more valuable than a fat person simply because they don't overeat? Yes, age and culpability can and should be considered as factors, but they can't be the final deal-maker or breaker. A skinny, young life is not by default more valuable than a fat, old life.

Life is life and God loves us all. Each and every life has unimaginable dignity and value. I don't envy the people who have to make these decisions about organ transplants. Their job must be horrible.

Sick kids shouldn't die because parents don't want to donate their dead kid's organs. From what I've seen, there is no reason why she can't get an adult lung. At the very least, I'd think an adult lung would be better than no lung at all. If she's within weeks of death's door, by all means, change the regulations and get her a lung now.

Sign the petition here:

Update again

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lawn Chair Catechism: A Personal Relationship With Jesus

Every Wednesday this Summer, Catholics are invited to participate in's first Lawn Chair Catechism. We are reading Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry A Weddell.

This is my addition to the discussion of the Introduction of the book.

 "How would you describe your lived relationship with God to this point in your life?"

Why is this question so difficult for me? I'm a convert to Catholicism after years and years of exploring different religions. I've been Catholic for 7 1/2 years. I graduated with my MA in Pastoral Studies last December, but my professional vocation seems to change every other week. Right now, I'm more or less on auto-pilot, just trying to get through the days caring for my son, working for my ministries and writing.

When I talk to God, it's usually in the heat of the moment when I have an immediate need. I understand completely that those in ministry are assumed to have a closer relationship. Ministry is a vocation, a calling, not a job. I'm not suffering from burn-out because there isn't much for me to get burned-out on. I think a good part of it is the fact that I'm living so far from all of my family and friends. I think I'm mostly angry at God because of that.

No discussion of my current relationship would be complete without talking about the Lay Dominicans. As someone who is considering becoming one, I pray Morning and Evening prayers and I try to go to Mass daily. In some ways it has been a lifeline for me. It forces me to keep the lines of communication open between God and I. I don't think I'd have a relationship with God at all right now if it wasn't for the Dominicans.

"What does the word “discipleship” mean to you?  Do you perceive a need in the Church today to help lay Catholics become more fervent followers of Jesus Christ?"

Mainly, "discipleship" means to imitate. Like the old bracelets say, "WWJD?" We're supposed to ask ourselves, "what would Jesus do" and act like Him.

In the Church today, we are plagued with "Christmas and Easter Catholics" and "Cafeteria Catholics" and people who go to church on Sundays simply because "that is what you're supposed to do." I admit, even I sometimes guilt myself into going to church because "I'm supposed to be a role model" and "it'll look bad to potential employers if I skip." There is definitely a need in the Church for people to better understand and appreciate Sundays, much less following Jesus the rest of the week!

"How would you describe your parish’s current efforts at discipleship?  A hotbed of discipleship?  A weekly gathering of spiritual sleep-walkers?  Or perhaps something in between?"

I would say my parish is somewhere in between because it really depends on who you're talking about. Some parishioners are on fire. On the other hand, there are some parishioners that we're lucky to see on Sunday. There are lots and lots of people who we see on Sundays but we never see them anywhere else. People in my parish do make a constant effort to get more people involved, and often it falls on deaf ears. But these people brush themselves off and try again and again. You've got to admire them for it and we are always looking for new ideas. My parish is a very old and small one, but we shouldn't (and we typically don't) use that as an excuse!

Read more reflections at

Mothers At Work: An Untapped Resource

Japan is beginning to tap the power of the mom. After centuries of discrimination, companies are discovering that working mothers are not a drag on the economy or productivity after all. Given a mother-friendly workplace, these women are fruitful and happy.

What about here in the United States? Well, a woman's income shrinks 5% with every child she has. Discrimination against pregnant women and single moms runs rampant. Are there any employers in the US who get it? Does anyone realize as some Japanese employers do that moms can be a benefit in the workforce?

Believe it or not, some do. Some companies allow babies in the workplace. Others have extended maternity (and paternity!) leave. Here is a list of the 100 best companies for working moms.

What can we do to promote this? How can we help more companies to realize that mothers make good workers? I think the number one thing to do is to educate. We need to inform companies about the value of working moms. Mothers who are in the workforce need to ask for the things they need and speak up for their seeking, unemployed sisters.

For more info:

5 Non-Negotiable Benefits for New Moms

The Financial Benefits of Having Babies in the Workplace

Practical Advice About How to Implement a Babies at Work Policy

In the Words of a Mom

An Organization that Advocates for Babies at Work

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Born to Save Her Sister's Life: The Morality of Saving Lives

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Last week, Marissa Ayala graduated college. She was conceived by her parents 20 years ago in the hopes that she could be a bone marrow donor for her 16-year-old sister who was dying of cancer.

Ethically and pastorally, this case would be a nightmare. You are dealing with a family who is looking at the very real possibility that they will be losing their daughter. They are watching her waste away. They have been unable to find a donor. In one last act of desperation, they try to make a donor themselves.

Of course, baby Marissa would not have been able to agree to the procedure. A bone marrow transplant can be a dangerous and painful procedure. I don't know exactly how they harvested the marrow, so I can't make any specific comments in that regard. There are about 3 or 4 ways that this procedure could have been done.

My third favorite book, after the Bible and the Catechism, is surprisingly unhelpful in this particular case.

The guidelines it gives for one person donating to another include: there needs to be a serious need on the part of the recipient that cannot be fulfilled any other way, the functional integrity of the donor cannot be compromised, the risk taken needs to be proportionate to the good result, and the donor and recipient needs to give free and informed consent. (pg. 106)

In this instance, the donor cannot give free and informed consent, the parents are given that responsibility. Arguably, their consent is not free at all, being weighed heavily by their concern for both the donor and the recipient. The need of the 16-year-old was clearly grave. While the donor must've gone through some pain, her functional integrity was only maybe temporarily compromised. The risk to the younger daughter was certainly proportionate to saving her older sister's life.

I don't know if this family went to any clergy in making their decision. If they did, God bless that clergy-member. If faced with a situation like this, I would only be able to help the family explore their options and help them to look at the situation thoroughly from multiple points of view. I would help them understand all of the implications of their actions and pray that the Holy Spirit guides them.

Yes, it is not right to use a person. But, a decision like this cannot be easy. The letter of the law is one thing. When the rubber hits the road, when Truth meets everyday human experience, that is when things get hard.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Holy Trinity Sunday Reflection: Dancing at the Creation

When I imagine yesterday's first reading, I see a little girl in a white dress dancing around the altar.

This reading talks about the Holy Spirit/Wisdom being the apple of God's eye. Some translations call Her "His darling" or "His partner." This isn't an example of a goddess in Scripture although I admit it seems to come close at first glance. But the truth is, our God contains all that is perfect in both the male and the female. We have no need for a goddess, our God transcends gender.

Now, that said, isn't this a beautiful image. Just like the priest re-presents Jesus' sacrifice on the altar, I think of God Himself creating the world on that same altar. As the New Adam brings our rebirth, God brings our initial birth.

This bright, loving child prances before her Maker. She has been with God since before the beginning. Since before time, before humanity, before dust. Like any little girl and her Dad, she wants to "help" Him anyway she can, even if that just means playing nearby and cheering Him on.

She adores Him, completely loves Him. He loves and adores her. They would do anything for each other.

It is out of this love, out of this dance, that all of existence is created. This is actually very Biblical and Traditionally correct. The love of the Trinity makes all life possible. It is the model of perfect love. Love that all people, all families, are called to emulate. Without this love, nothing could exist and nothing could be made. (See CCC 257 and link and link, just to scratch the surface.)


I cannot end this post without referring to the Romans passage. "Justified by faith," was one of the rallying cries of the Protestant Reformation. In recent meetings, Lutherans and Catholics realized that they weren't that different after all in regards to this teaching. Catholics don't believe that you are saved by works alone. Lutherans don't believe that works are completely irrelevant and unnecessary. To read more, see their published joint statement.

7 Quick Takes (#8) Cool News Edition

--- 1 ---
This is a couple days late because I was traveling this weekend. I've left MO where I've been for the past month visiting friends and family to go back to NY. I'm homesick already. Anything to cheer me up. :(

--- 2 ---

This momma braved the tornado that hit Moore, OK while in the hospital, in full-blown labor. 
--- 3 ---

This baby was saved by a 3-D printer. Ain't modern medicine cool?
--- 4 ---

Say it with me: Awwwwwwww... This guy made an engagement ring that could light up whenever he was near her. 
--- 5 ---

I know it isn't very Christ-like of me, but I can't help feeling good about this. The founder of Girls Gone Wild was convicted for false imprisonment and assault. He is exposed once again as the piece of work that he is. I hope he someday realizes how completely immoral it is to take advantage of drunk women to make a buck. 
--- 6 ---
Maybe we can learn a few things from Japan about how to treat mothers in the workforce.
--- 7 ---
I think we could all learn a thing or two from this woman. She didn't look in a mirror for a year, including her own wedding day. In our culture which is so obsessed with looking good, I think we could all benefit from covering a few mirrors.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Inequality and the Death Penalty

In recent weeks, there have been two high-profile murder cases brought to trial, Jodi Arias and Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell, after a plea deal, has been sentenced to life without parole. Arias will likely be seeing the death penalty. What does that say about the American judicial system?

Kill one man brutally in one state and you're sentenced to die. Kill three newborns and lead to the death of a woman through gross negligence in another state and you're sentenced to life without parole. Does this seem right? Is this a fair and equal application of law that will ultimately lead to the perpetrator's death?
Disclaimer: I'm against the death penalty on moral grounds. Murder is murder, even if it's committed by the state, and murder is always wrong.
Now that I've gotten that off of my chest, there are some major inequalities in the implementation of the death penalty in this country.
For example:
  • Only 50% of murder victims are white, but over 75% of the murder victims in cases in which the murderer was executed were white.
  • If you murder someone in the southern or the western US, your chances of the death penalty is higher than if you lived up north or in the east. 
Justice isn't blind. It isn't blind at all. The death penalty targets blacks and it targets the poor. Even if you don't agree with me that the entire concept is immoral, you must agree that the system needs a radical overhaul. The poor need the legal counsel they deserve. There are people on death row due to ineffective defense counsel. Racism needs to get out of the courtroom.
For more information:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Praying Through, Not To, Mary

Praying mantis praying through, not to, Mary. I didn't know they were Catholic.

This is one area that Catholic and non-Catholics get tripped up on all of the time. What is it with Catholics and Mary?

The most realistic picture of Mary I've ever found
Mary is the mother of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I think that all Christians can agree with that. Mary carried Jesus in her womb, gave birth to Him, raised Him and was one of His closest followers. I would hope that all of that is pretty straight-forward.

Catholics have a thing about saints. We have a ton of them.

I mean, a ton of them.
Like, a whole lot of them.
Nobody has bothered counting them, there are so many. Best estimates are somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000. And being canonized doesn't mean that you then get to go to heaven. It means that the Catholic Church recognizes by your life, works, and miracles in your name that you are already there. We know there are more saints than are formally recognized by the Church.

Now, I start by talking about the saints because Mary is a saint. She is considered to be the highest and most perfect of the saints, but she's still a saint. Now, what makes her so much better than the other saints?

First of all, there must've been something about her that made God choose her to bear His Son. Catholics believe that Mary was born without the stain of original sin. Original sin is a stain that we all get from our first parents Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God in the garden. We believe that she must've been sinless because she carried God in her womb and God cannot co-exist with sin.

Then we observe human nature. All good kids honor their mothers, right? And Jesus must've been the best kid of all, right? So. we know Mary is in heaven and as the mother of God, we figure she's pretty close to the throne.

Through the centuries, the Church has held Mary up as a role model for all the faithful. We see her willingness to have Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). We hear about her pondering things in her heart (Luke 2:19). We wish we had the openness to Jesus that Mary had and the ability to ponder Jesus' deeds and sayings like she did.

Praying through a saint is like asking your best friend to pray for you. We figure these saints are in heaven and they can talk to God directly about our needs. Mary is considered the closest of the saints, so she is given the most respect and attention from the Church. That is the best summary of an answer that I can give.  

We call her the Queen of Heaven because that's what we figure she is.
 She did give birth to Jesus, after all.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Those Guys Must Be Drunk: Reflection for Pentecost Sunday

The first reading this Sunday is from the Acts of the Apostles. In my humble opinion, I think we cut it off too short. If we go a few more verses:

They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to one another, “What does this mean?” But others said, scoffing, “They have had too much new wine.”
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them, “You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem. Let this be known to you, and listen to my words. These people are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning." -Acts 2:2-15

It's little details like this that makes the Bible human for me. I just imagine myself in the crowd at the Pentecost, hearing these guys from Galilee speaking in many different tongues. The first thing that would pop in my head would be, "Those guys must be drunk." And then I put myself in Peter's shoes and one of the first things I'd say in my own defense would be, "It's too early in the morning for any of us to be drunk."

Other stories where the humanity of the people in the Bible shine through include:

  • Pretty much any story featuring Peter. Our first Pope was very human, from offering to walk on water and failing, to promising not to deny Jesus, then doing it three times only hours later.
  • Mary's response when finding Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:48). "What are you doing, son? Your father and I have been worried sick!"
  • On a more serious note, Joseph's initial plans to dismiss Mary (Matthew 1:19). That would be a very normal response in that time period when your betrothed is found pregnant.

Friday, May 17, 2013

7 Quick Takes (#7) Warrior Momma Edition

--- 1 ---
There ain't nothing ugly about this picture. (Pardon the language though.)

Source: This awesome site called "How to be a dad"

--- 2 ---

This momma gave a part of her liver to her baby who couldn't wait any longer for a donor.
--- 3 ---

Women like Stacie Crimm, the mother of this little girl, who gave up cancer treatment for their unborn babies.

--- 4 ---
Of course, I'd need to mention the mothers who have scars across their guts and sometimes even deeper scars on their souls from births that went wrong. We've had a long, hard road to travel in recovering from our children's births. 
--- 5 --
A couple months ago, there was a tragedy in my neck of the woods. A man carjacked and kidnapped a mother and daughter. He tied up the mother and raped the daughter. The mother escaped and got the man's attention so the daughter could run away. The mother was murdered. The daughter is safe. The man is in prison, apparently having a hard time.
The mother clearly sacrificed herself for her child. She had the courage to sacrifice herself in such a horrendous situation so that her daughter could live. It's almost insulting to call her only a "warrior." She is clearly much more than that.
--- 6 ---

Doctors gave up this baby for dead, but this warrior momma gave her daughter skin to skin contact and within minutes her heart rate became normal and she was breathing on her own. All this mother wanted to do was to make sure "she didn't die being cold," but she ended up saving her life.

--- 7 ---
And a talk about warrior mothers cannot be complete without birthmoms! These are the women who held on to their babies for 40 weeks, gave birth to them, and then gave them up for adoption. These women are no less mothers than the women who raised them. They did what all mothers have to do, sacrifice themselves for their babies.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Communion Hosts Dispensers?

Since 2007, there have been these nifty things on the market called Communion Host Dispensers.

These Jesus PEZ dispensers are in use in 375,000 churches, at least one of which is Catholic. So, this makes me wonder, what would the Vatican say about such things?

Please wait as your local theology student researches answer (source)
After a couple of hours of looking through everything I have, I see nothing that explicitly says that communion has to be given by hand or that it cannot be given by a dispenser like those above. This is possibly due to the fact that in some Catholic Churches of other rites, it is not given by hand.

Like so.

Next question: Why does this go against our sensibilities then? Why are we so completely bugged by a Jesus PEZ?

The first thought I have is directly related to the phrase "Jesus PEZ." It's disrespectful to take communion the same way we take candy. Communion is unlike anything else we eat and it shouldn't be consumed in an ordinary way.

These dispensers are silver and gold, though. And isn't it important to take communion in the right frame of mind? Can't it be reverent regardless of the trappings?

The old-school definition of sacrament is: an outward sign of an inward grace. So the outer trappings really do matter.

Being in the right frame of mind is all well and good, but the appropriateness of your behavior counts. Behavior makes a difference. Take for example smiling: If you smile even when you're depressed, it will make you feel better. Act reverently, even if you're not particularly feeling it, and you'll start to feel it. But act irreverently and, even if you do feel reverent, the feeling will go away.

So, what about this makes Catholics make this face?
Simply put, we take actions and outer trappings very seriously, especially when it comes to our Sacraments. The inner life affects the outer actions. The outer actions certainly affect the inner disposition.
It might sound shallow to you, but that doesn't make it less true.