Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter

Friday, October 31, 2008

More Food For Thought

The Catholic Conscience

Yesterday, the priest at daily Mass emphasized the primacy of the right to life as an election issue. He encouraged each of us to study, pray, then vote. We must follow our conscience, but it must be a well formed conscience. To help you in that regard, here is a thoughtful video.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bishop Loverde Adds His Voice

I am very happy to add my own bishop, Bishop Paul Loverde, to the growing list of bishops who have spoken out about the primacy of the right to life in the upcoming election. You can read his full letter here.

More change. We must clearly understand and willingly share the fullness of Catholic teaching with those we encounter in our everyday lives. The depth and breadth of Catholic teaching, rooted in Sacred Scripture, Tradition and natural human reason, is a great gift from God and a resource available to us all. Unfortunately, Church teaching regarding the most vulnerable and most weak has been misrepresented time and again. The Church’s position (regardless of what any individual member of the Church might assert) is, and always has been, clear: life starts at the moment of conception and a direct abortion is, in any circumstance, an intrinsic moral evil. It would be difficult, indeed quite rare, to find an issue that is proportionate in both importance and gravity to the issue of abortion, which takes the lives of thousands of precious human beings each day in our country. On Election Day, every issue deserves our prudent deliberation, but this year we must not hesitate to identify an issue which is intrinsically and undeniably evil and overwhelming in its human cost. Change is needed regarding the fundamental issue — respect for the right to life - a change that I endorse

Even more change should occur. I would like to change the misconception that forming one’s conscience based on the aforementioned teaching of the Church, which recognizes that some issues carry more moral weight than others, and then voting accordingly, somehow makes one a “single issue voter.” This way of thinking is flawed, and it is simply not true. ALL issues, not one single issue, drive Catholics to the polls on Election Day. Furthermore, we must reject the idea that abortion is solely a “Catholic” issue. Certainly, Catholics are vocal about protecting life in all stages — the fight against the death penalty is another example of defending human life. Abortion, however, is an issue which is not only intrinsically immoral, but also unjust. In fact, it is the most fundamental injustice imaginable. An entire class of human beings is denied the most basic right of all: the right to life. Accepting the concept of a “right” to “choose” to kill an innocent unborn child requires a gross rejection of the dignity of the human person. A change in our understanding this truth is badly needed: a change that I endorse.

Bishop Finn Calls the Church Militant to Action

Every Catholic must read this:

Warriors with Our Eyes Fixed on Heaven

Last Saturday I had the privilege of consecrating the restored church of Old St. Patrick. This is the oldest existing Catholic church in Kansas City. It will serve as the Oratory for the Latin Mass community which first began here under Bishop John Sullivan, and for many years has shared the parish of Our Lady of Sorrows.

One of the beauties of the Traditional Latin High Mass that I celebrated is that it highlights a most profound aspect of the Mass, namely our participation with the Communion of Saints. The high altar, multiple candles, incense and Gregorian chant, collectively give us a striking image of the Heavenly Jerusalem which is our ultimate home. Every Mass celebrates this reality, but I must admit that the traditional Mass captured this magnificent expression of the ultimate hope and goal of Christians in a powerful way. We should reflect on this often, because the ultimate goal of everything we do is to get ourselves to heaven and bring with us as many as we can.

The month of November begins with the two great celebrations: All Saints day (November 1) and the Commemoration of All Souls (November 2). These feasts celebrate our communion with the "Church triumphant" in heaven, and the "Church suffering" in purgatory. Today I would like to share a few brief comments about what we have sometimes called the "Church militant," the Church here on earth.

We, the Church on earth, have a very special challenge as participants in the grace and life of Jesus Christ to "fight" against the enemies of Christ's justice and truth and light and life. We must be attentive to the demands of this daily "battle" in a peaceable but serious manner.

I am sometimes amazed at the casual manner with which Christians, Catholics included, take up our life within what Pope John Paul II rightly called the "culture of death." The Church, by comparison, reminds us that we are engaged - by reason of our Baptism and Confirmation - in a battle, "not with flesh and blood, but with the principalities and powers, with the rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in heaven." (Eph 6:12) Jesus Christ has won the ultimate battle, but we, in the course of our human life must make our choice, determining on whose side we will live and die. Whose side will you choose?!

What is at stake in this battle is our immortal soul, our salvation. My responsibility as bishop is with the eternal destiny of those entrusted to my care. My total energies must be directed to the well being of those who otherwise may come under the spell of a radically flawed and fundamentally distorted moral sense, at odds with what our Mother the Church teaches. There are objective and transcendent truths. There is such a thing as right and wrong. There is a legitimate hierarchy of moral evils, and the direct willful destruction of human life can never be justified; it can never be supported. Do you believe this firm teaching of the Church?

Did you know that in Canada priests and Christian ministers have already been brought before tribunals for preaching and teaching in support of marriage? They are charged with "hate speech" against homosexuality. In light of the tyranny of choice growing each day in our own beloved country, we ought to be ready for similar attacks on religious freedom. We must not fail to preach the Gospel. We can not withhold the truth of our faith. That is why I will never be silent about human life. It is why I am proud of so many others - bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity - who are not afraid to speak out about the values that matter most. What about you?!

Our Lord told His apostles that they would be hated by the world, just as He was. Nearly all of them died a martyr's death. As warriors in the Church militant, we must never resort to violence. But we must stand up fearlessly against the agents of death, the enemies of human life. Human beings are not Satan, but we know too well that they can come under his spell. They can become willing agents of death, numbed and poisoned in this culture of death. What about you?!

As we begin this month of November, the month of the Church, let us call upon the Saints to inspire us, befriend us, and pray for us. Let us offer many prayers and sacrifices for the poor souls who have gone before us. They need our meritorious suffrages to help them reach heaven.

And let us resolve to be warriors of the Church militant; warriors with our eyes fixed on heaven. Let us ask God's mercy and strength to persevere in our call - individual and collective - to holiness. Mary, Mother of the Church, Pray for us!

Pro-Life Mission of the Domestic Church

In this intensely political climate as we are on the home stretch to the elections, we must not lose sight of the fact that there will be a November 5. The elections will be over. Whether or not or pro-life candidates are victorious, the pro-life movement must go on. If the culture of death wins this battle at the ballot box, those of us who fight for the dignity and rights of those who have no voice must work even harder to change hearts. When the culture of death enacts laws that enshrine the taking of innocent human life we will face an uphill battle in changing hearts. Too many in our culture assume that if it is legal, it must be moral. If we were in this battle alone, we would surely fail. But we are not in this battle alone. God will stand firm with us. As the Angel Gabriel said to Mary, “With God, all things are possible. Therefore, we must remain faithful no matter how the winds of our culture blow.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland asserted this as he assailed the passage of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill. Speaking at the conference of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, he offered these words:

Cardinal O'Brien contended that it is the "underlying values that must change first before the laws will follow, not the other way round. Yes of course the legislative agenda is important and it cannot be neglected but neither should the very pressing social agenda."

Thus, the prelate affirmed, "passing on a pro-life culture surely must begin in our families, but it must grow from there to our neighborhoods and communities, our workmates and colleagues. If those we live beside and work beside don't know we campaign in defense of life, if we don't at least attempt to persuade them of the merits of our case whenever the opportunity arises -- the people we meet and greet and spend so much time with every day -- then what chance do we imagine we might have with a remote Parliamentarian and a postcard?"

"The world is groaning under the misery of wars and division," Cardinal O'Brien continued. "Our human rights campaigners are astonished that torture and oppression remain despite their protestations for a fairer world. They have lost sight of the deep root of evil that has been bedded in any system that justifies abortions; they are unaware that its poison tarnishes all our other noble aspirations."

Contrary to the assertions of Doug Kmiec and many others, the bulk of pro-life work is aimed at cultural change, not legislative action. It is those committed to the pro-life movement that man the crisis pregnancy centers and offer assistance to women and children in this situation. I wonder how many “pro-choice” women put efforts into supporting women through a pregnancy instead of just pushing them into the expedient solution of abortion. I keep seeing this bumper sticker (often joined by a pro-Obama or other pro-abortion candidate bumper sticker) that says if you want peace, work for justice. How can there be justice when the powerful are given the right to wantonly kill the powerless? We must tirelessly stand up for the powerless—the unborn, the sick, the dying, the elderly, the disabled—against those who deem these lives are disposable. We must stand up for them in the legislature and in our children’s schools. We must teach our children the sanctity of all human life and prepare them to stand firm against the culture of death indoctrination they will undoubtedly face in school and in the media. It is a gargantuan task. But with God, all things are possible.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pelosi: 1=2

But I do tell you that if the Democrats win, and have substantial majorities, Congress of the United States will be more bipartisan," said Pelosi.

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

Please note that the word “bipartisan” begins with the prefix “bi”. That refers to the number two—as in two parties. If the Democrats win with substantial majorities in both the House and Senate (You do know we have a bicameral legislature, don’t you?), that would be one party running the show. It is hard to see how that is bipartisan.

You know in just the last few months you have declared that the Catholic teaching on the immorality of abortion is only about fifty years old, that natural gas is not a fossil fuel, and now that one party controlling everything is bipartisan. I have to wonder if you and I are both speaking English because I really don’t understand what you are saying.


Catholic Mom
(Actually, I am not sure you know what Catholic means either)

A Beacon of the Gospel

Today is the feast of Sts. Simon and Jude. The Gospel reading for today includes the call of the twelve Apostles. At Mass this morning, Father brought to our attention how many of the Apostles are related. Peter and Andrew are brothers. James (the Greater) and John are brothers. St. Jude is the nephew of St. Joseph so is the legal cousin of Jesus. James the Lesser is also thought to be a cousin of Jesus. The point of this is that evangelization begins at home. While we may want to speak to the world we must first speak to our spouses, our children, our parents, and our siblings. If each of us developed our own domestic church into a beacon of the Gospel, the evangelization of the world would take care of itself.

Bishop Gracida States the Truth Clearly

Bishop Gracida of Corpus Christi, TX says no Catholic can in good conscience vote for a pro-abortion candidate. We shall see how many listen to him.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Faithful Citizenship Novena

The USCCB encourages to pray a novena (nine days of prayer) for faithful citizenship. The Novena prayers can be found here. You can find it in both text and podcast formats.

Today's prayer is:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in us the fire of your love.

Ps 8:2, 4-10

O LORD, our Lord,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!
You have set your majesty above the heavens!
When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and stars that you set in place—
What are humans that you are mindful of them,
mere mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them little less than a god,
crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them rule over the works of your hands,
put all things at their feet:
All sheep and oxen,
even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!

How will I praise God today? How will I show respect for
others, especially my neighbor or those in my community
who are not like me?


God of love,
may we grow in our love for you
by respecting the dignity of all people we encounter.

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily
takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from
every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning,
deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the
children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both
national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God,
deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of
God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Catholic Carnival 195!

Christine at A Catholic View is hosting this week's Catholic Carnival 195. When the world seems to have gone mad it is so refreshing to refocus through the lens of Catholic sensibilities. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Steps on the Journey

In the post below I mentioned I was intending to post something on the phases of one’s spiritual journey but got sidetracked. Well, a commenter on that post asked me about the Church’s teaching on contraception. That is actually a really good bridge to this topic.

I am currently moderating an adult study class of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. We are using the Christopher West series Introduction to Theology of the Body. Pope John Paul II uses the language of the mystics to describe a spiritual journey. He divides it into three phases: purgative, illuminative, and unitive.

Of course, before one even gets to the initial stage of the journey, one must commit to making the journey in the first place. I can say I want to travel to New York City, but if I never look into the travel options, costs, lodging, and sites to see I will never find myself in New York City. It isn’t really my destination.

The same is true of our spiritual journey. Do you want to be ultimately united with God for eternity? Is Heaven really your destination? If so, what have you done to get yourself headed in that direction?

The normal process when planning a journey is to consult the experts who have made the journey before you. If I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail but never looked at a map or read a guidebook or looked at recommendations of those who had already made the trek, my chances for success are slim.

For the journey to eternity with God we have some very good guides. We can start with the Scripture:
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn 14:6)
Jesus gave us His words as recorded in Scripture. But Jesus gave us even more. He gave us His Church:

Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Mt. 16:17-19)

Therefore, it is important for us to acknowledge the Church as the authoritative guide for our journey to eternity with God. Her teaching authority, given to her by Christ, is the Magisterium. As long as we withhold such recognition, we will struggle with the Church teachings and our journey is in peril.

You don’t have to take my word for this. In fact, my credentials as a guide are pretty limited. I am a sinner on the road just like you are. On the other hand, the saints are quite credible witnesses. They are the Church Triumphant. They have successfully navigated the journey. How did they do it? They followed Christ through His Church.

Now you have come to terms with the idea of the Church serving as your guide. That is just the very beginning of your spiritual journey. Many teachings of the Church are not intuitive. Consider the commenter’s question about contraception. What is so bad about contraception? It would prevent abortions wouldn’t it? In spite of your misgivings, you work to act in concert with Church teaching. This is the purgative phase of your spiritual journey. Through force of will you are following the rules, but your heart isn’t really in it. If you never move past this purgative phase, the chances of your continuing to “follow the rules” and stay on the journey are not very good. You cannot stay in this phase indefinitely. I think this is where a lot of people just give up and say, ”The Church is not for me. It doesn’t agree with me.” That is why the Church never wants us to just follow blindly. If you find your heart is not in concert with Church teaching you are obligated to study and pray to understand why. You may be surprised to find out that the problem is not with the Church but rather it is with you.

Through study, prayer, and discernment your heart can change. Little by little the wisdom of the Church teaching will become clear. As you see Church teachings in this new light you enter the illuminative phase of your spiritual journey. No longer are you following the rules just because you have to but rather because you want to. Using the example of contraception as an example, you come to understand that marital love is supposed to be an icon of the love of Christ for His Church. It should be total self-giving with nothing held back. Children are a gift from God. No life is conceived by accident. Every life has a role to play in God’s plan for salvation history. We must acknowledge the superiority of God’s wisdom to our own. As this teaching is illuminated more and more in your heart it becomes easier and easier to follow. It is no longer a struggle of the will. It is incorporated into your ethos.

When your will is in perfect alignment with the will of God, you have reached the unitive phase of your spiritual journey. Truthfully, it is the work of a lifetime to have every aspect of your being aligned with God’s will. None of us can kick back and say we have arrived. There is always one more step to take.

I can honestly say that over the years I have had my share of questions about Church teachings. I can also say that given time, prayer, and grace, there has not been a teaching that I could not embrace—some more easily than others. Every time I experience a conversion of heart, it becomes easier to trust the Church and conform my conscience the next time I feel conflicted. So whenever you feel like the Church is dragging you kicking and screaming, don’t give up. You are just in that purgative phase of the journey.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bishops Speaks to Those Who Want to Just Reduce Abortion

This is big news! The Bishops have some very clear words for those “Catholics” who are supporting Obama because they speculate his economic policies will reduce the number of abortions:

Recently, some have called on the Church to abandon most of this effort. They say we should accept Roe as a permanent fixture of constitutional law, stop trying to restore recognition for the unborn child’s human rights, and confine our public advocacy to efforts to “reduce abortions” through improved economic and social support for women and families.

The Catholic community is second to no one in providing and advocating for support for women and families facing problems during pregnancy. Catholic hospitals, charitable institutions, and thousands of pregnancy aid centers, provide life-saving care and compassionate alternatives to the violence of abortion. We have advocated for universal health care coverage, generous family leave policies, increases in the minimum wage, humane welfare policies for women who are pregnant or caring for young children, expanded funding for WIC and other nutrition programs, and a federal children’s health insurance program that includes coverage for unborn children and their mothers. Because some women still feel pressured by economic hardship and lack of support to resort to abortion, our task in this regard is far from over.

These efforts, however, are not an adequate or complete response to the injustice of Roe v. Wade for several important reasons. First, the Court’s decision in Roe denied an entire class of innocent human beings the most fundamental human right, the right to life. In fact the act of killing these fellow human beings was transformed from a crime into a “right,” turning the structure of human rights on its head. Roe v. Wade is a clear case of an “intrinsically unjust law” we are morally obliged to oppose (see Evangelium vitae, nos. 71-73). Reversing it is not a mere political tactic, but a moral imperative for Catholics and others who respect human life.

Another Bishop Speaks Out

The chorus of bishops speaking out about the need to keep the moral issues front and center in this election is growing. Take a look at the words of Bishop Wenski of Orlando:

And whether as citizens or as elected officials, if we are to be faithful to the truth about the human person, we must oppose uncompromisingly policies and laws that undermine the common good precisely because they originate in a defective understanding of the human person. For this reason, the Church –clergy and laity – while agreeing to disagree on other matters of prudential judgment cannot but oppose the evils of abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning and so called same sex “marriage." In these areas, there can be no other legitimate Catholic position. And, as Catholics, we best contribute to our democratic process by voting as faith filled and faithful citizens; that is, in a way coherent to our Catholic beliefs and teachings.

Welcome Visitors!

Welcome to all the visitors to my blog from Obama supporting sites. It seems an anonymous commenter is going to these sites and posting the same comment: "What makes me angry is when other bloggers say that it is morally illicit to vote for Obama". He then links to my blog. He is probably the same anonymous poster on my blog post below. In any case, welccome to the blog. Feel free to comment, but I do ask that your comments be civil. We try to keep things family friendly around here.

In response to my angry anonymous poster, I will offer the words of Bishop Hermann:

I have no doubt that there may be some so-called good Catholics who are reading this column and who may be really angry about now. I ask the question "Why would such a person be angry?" If we do good deeds, then our conscience is at peace. If we do evil deeds, then our conscience bothers us. It is my hope that this column will lead some of our so-called good Catholics to study the Catholic Catechism.

Why the Blogosphere Exists

Have you ever wondered why blogs have flourished? Are there so many of us who are egocentric enough that we just have to see our words published for the world to see? Or maybe it is that we are so frustrated that the current mainstream media is actively promoting a world view that is very foreign to our own. They are no longer purveyors of objective news but rather cogs in a great big propaganda machine. Read this piece by Orson Scott Card. It should serve as an examination of conscience for every American journalist:

These are facts. This financial crisis was completely preventable. The party that blocked any attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party. The party that tried to prevent it was ... the Republican Party.

Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie. Instead, you criticized Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout!

What? It's not the liar, but the victims of the lie who are to blame?

Now let's follow the money ... right to the presidential candidate who is the number-two recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.

And after Freddie Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who made $90 million while running it into the ground, was fired for his incompetence, one presidential candidate's campaign actually consulted him for advice on housing.

If that presidential candidate had been John McCain, you would have called it a major scandal and we would be getting stories in your paper every day about how incompetent and corrupt he was.

But instead, that candidate was Barack Obama, and so you have buried this story, and when the McCain campaign dared to call Raines an "adviser" to the Obama campaign — because that campaign had sought his advice — you actually let Obama's people get away with accusing McCain of lying, merely because Raines wasn't listed as an official adviser to the Obama campaign.

Please read the entire essay. The above only gives you the flavor. I am not saying that blogs are objective sources of news and facts. I am saying that the once respected job of a journalist as the guardian of full public disclosure has degenerated into the fully partisan spin doctor. There are sides to every story that are being intentionally left unsaid. Blogs are trying to fill that gap.

(H/T to David Alexander for the link)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It is Morally Illicit to Vote for Barack Obama

This week’s lesson in my course on bioethics deals with the principles of cooperation with evil. It is a long recognized principle that it is impossible for an individual to do good in the world without having some association with evil. In light of the Anonymous comment to my last post, I want to evaluate the action of voting for a pro-abortion candidate, specifically Obama, using the principles of cooperation with evil.

Let me first state my premises: Abortion is an intrinsic evil. It is never justified. It cannot be tolerated. Barack Obama supports abortion as is evidenced by his past senate votes and 100% NARAL rating, his endorsement by Planned Parenthood, and his promise to sign the radical Freedom Of Choice Act as one of his first official acts as president. An astute and very precise legal analysis of the dire ramifications of the Freedom of Choice Act can be found here. It can also be assumed that Obama will support US funding of abortions as part of foreign aid packages as well as the performance of abortions on military installations. In addition, it can be assumed that he will appoint Supreme Court justices who are sympathetic to Roe v Wade (in spite of the fact that many legal minds have denounced the legal thinking of this ruling). Therefore, the election of Barack Obama will cause the increased vulnerability to abortion of the unborn on a world-wide basis. This is an intrinsic evil.

The question brought up by our oh-so-courageous anonymous commenter is whether or not it is morally licit to vote for Barack Obama. The first step is to decide if a vote for Barack Obama is formal or material cooperation with the intrinsic evil of abortion. If one is voting for Obama specifically because he supports abortion it is formal cooperation. Formal cooperation with an intrinsic evil is always morally illicit. That was easy.

What if you oppose abortion? Does electing Barack Obama contribute an essential component to the increased vulnerability to abortion of the unborn on a world-wide basis even though that is not your intent? I suggest it does, because not electing him would make this dramatic increased vulnerability impossible. This would make your cooperation immediate material cooperation. Immediate material cooperation with an intrinsic evil is also morally illicit.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument, that electing Barack Obama is not an essential requirement for the increased vulnerability to abortion of the unborn. Though this will be the result of Barack Obama’s election, the voter does not intend this result. Therefore, such cooperation by electing Barack Obama would be considered mediate material cooperation. Such cooperation can only be tolerated if all four of the following conditions exist:

1. the cooperators act (voting for Obama) is itself morally good or indifferent
2. the cooperator does not intend the evil (making the unborn more vulnerable to abortion) of the principle agent (Obama)
3. the good effect is not achieved by means of the evil
4. the good effect is proportionate to the bad effect

It is condition 4 that makes the cooperation (voting for Obama) morally illicit. There is no proportionate reason to tolerate the increased vulnerability to abortion. You can see a very long list here of all the bishops who have spoken to this.

Therefore, using well-established principles of moral reasoning, I can confidently say it is morally illicit to vote for Barack Obama.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Modern Day Battle of Lepanto

I wanted to post a rather philosophical musing on the phases of one’s spiritual journey, but something far more urgent and far more practical must take precedence. Please read all of this exhortation by Bishop Hermann of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Here is a snippet:

Save our children! How can a so-called good Catholic vote for a candidate that supports laws that take the life of innocent children, when there is an alternative? If there were two candidates who supported abortion, but not equally, we would have the obligation to mitigate the evil by voting for the less-permissive candidate.

Save our children! How can a so-called good Catholic vote for a candidate that supports laws that justify the killing of a child that survived a botched abortion? How can such a so-called good Catholic receive the Holy Eucharist?

In Chapter 10 of St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, he states: "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? ... You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons."

Save our children! Have some of our so-called good Catholics become so hardened against the Gospel of Life that they believe that other issues outweigh the Gospel of Life? Have some of our so-called good Catholics put politics ahead of the Fifth Commandment, in which God states: "Thou shalt not kill"? Do some of our so-called good Catholics, who may go to Mass every Sunday and receive the Holy Eucharist, really believe that voting for a pro-abortion candidate, when there is a clear alternative and therefore no justifiable reason for so doing, is really not voting to have children killed? This election is all about saving our children!

Even more important than the Bishop’s clear teaching on voting for a pro-abortion candidate, is his call to take action.

Save our children and save our so-called good Catholics who have abandoned Church teachings in favor of personal gain. Pray the Rosary. Pray it every day. Get the whole family to pray the Rosary daily. Prayer is more powerful than contentious arguments. Spread the word to other families. In praying the Rosary, children's votes count as much as adult votes. Sometimes they pray with purer hearts than we do. If you are disgusted with the TV news, then turn it off and turn on the prayer Internet. What we hear in prayer leaves us in peace. When we pray for our country and for our fellow citizens, we are filled with peace. St. Paul tells us that our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and powers and the spirits of darkness.

Prayer is our protection. Let it also be a protection for our country. If you want to make Satan angry, pray the Rosary for the sake of Life. Pray that as a nation we will choose leaders that will say "no" to the culture of death and say "yes" to the culture of life. Save our children! Pray the Rosary.

Just a few days ago, on October 7, we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. You may not realize this feast is tied to a great military victory.

Battle of Lepanto

On October 7, 1571, a great victory over the mighty Turkish fleet was won by Catholic naval forces primarily from Spain, Venice, and Genoa under the command of Don Juan of Austria. It was the last battle at sea between "oared" ships, which featured the most powerful navy in the world, a Moslem force with between 12,000 to 15,000 Christian slaves as rowers. The patchwork team of Catholic ships was powered by the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct material disadvantage, the holy pontiff, St. Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory. We know today that the victory was decisive, prevented the Islamic invasion of Europe, and evidenced the Hand of God working through Our Lady. At the hour of victory, St. Pope Pius V, who was hundreds of miles away at the Vatican, is said to have gotten up from a meeting, went over to a window, and exclaimed with supernatural radiance: "The Christian fleet is victorious!" and shed tears of thanksgiving to God.

What you may not know is that one of three admirals commanding the Catholic forces at Lepanto was Andrea Doria. He carried a small copy of Mexico's Our Lady of Guadalupe into battle. This image is now enshrined in the Church of San Stefano in Aveto, Italy. Not many know that at the Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Spain, one can view a huge warship lantern that was captured from the Moslems in the Battle of Lepanto. In Rome, look up to the ceiling of S. Maria in Aracoeli and behold decorations in gold taken from the Turkish galleys. In the Doges' Palace in Venice, Italy, one can witness a giant Islamic flag that is now a trophy from a vanquished Turkish ship from the Victory. At Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome, close to the tomb of the great St. Pope Pius V, one was once able to view yet another Islamic flag from the Battle, until 1965, when it was returned to Istanbul in an intended friendly token of concord.

The Rosary

At Lepanto, the Victory over the Moslems was won by the faithful praying the Rosary. Even though they had superior numbers, the Turks really were overmatched. Blessed Padre Pio, the Spiritual Father of the Blue Army, said: "The Rosary is the weapon," and how right he was!

The Battle of Lepanto was at first celebrated liturgically as "Our Lady of Victory." Later, the feast of October 7th was renamed "Our Lady of the Rosary" and extended throughout the Universal Church by Pope Clement XI in 1716 (who canonized Pope Pius V in 1712).

Once again we are facing a great battle. Bishop Hermann is following the model of Pope Pius V as he calls us to pray the Rosary daily. The forces of the culture of death seem poised for victory and, unfortunately, many Catholics have been seduced to support this evil. Please join in fighting this spiritual battle. Offer a Rosary for Life every day.

UPDATE: In response to the Anonymous Comment below, please see my next post.

UPDATE: It looks like Bishop Finn is pushing this same strategy!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Coming to a Community Near You

Since we know many liberal candidates are supportive of same sex "marriages", consider this possibility in your community:

The 18 Creative Arts Charter School students took a Muni bus and walked a block at noon to toss rose petals and blow bubbles on their just-married teacher Erin Carder and her wife Kerri McCoy, giggling and squealing as they mobbed their teacher with hugs.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, a friend of a friend, officiated.

A parent came up with the idea for the field trip - a surprise for the teacher on her wedding day.

"She's such a dedicated teacher," said the school's interim director Liz Jaroslow.

But there was a question of justifying the field trip academically. Jaroflow decided she could.

"It really is what we call a teachable moment," Jaroflow said, noting the historic significance of same-sex marriage and related civil rights issues. "I think I'm well within the parameters."

Lord Have Mercy!

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion,
have mercy on us and on the whole world!

A bunch of those "Catholics" aren't really Catholic

Every time I see one of these headlines about the split Catholic vote I want to scream! Inevitably, the article will go on to distinguish the results in terms of practicing and non-practicing Catholics.

The survey found that both Catholics (73 percent) and non-Catholics (71 percent) agreed that America needs a "moral makeover." Non-practicing Catholics — defined as those who attend church less than twice a month — were more likely to support abortion rights and same-sex marriage than the American population at large.

Here is the deal: if you don’t attend Mass and you reject the teachings of the Church, YOU ARE NOT CATHOLIC. Your dear grandmother may be Catholic. Your dear mother may be Catholic. But Catholicism is not an ethnicity. You don’t inherit it. Maybe at one time you were Catholic. You went to Mass. You received the Sacraments. But now you have rejected it. How dare you claim that your voice is part of the Catholic voice! Calling yourself a Jedi would be as accurate as calling yourself a Catholic.

I know that some may say, “Wow. That’s a bit harsh.” Maybe it is. But I can’t believe that we are doing anyone any good by allowing people to delude themselves and think they are really Catholic when they have rejected the Church. It makes all the teachings of the Church seem optional. They are not optional. To be Catholic means to accept the Church is who she says she is: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Christ and protected by the Holy Spirit from error in matters of faith and morals.

If you have wandered away from the Church and want to come home, I will support you every step of the way. The Church is waiting to receive you with open arms. I want you to come home. I want you to share in the grace and blessings of the Catholic Church. I want to walk with you on this journey of faith. No judgment. No condemnation.

On the other hand, if you have walked away from the Church and want to keep on walking away, I will pray for you. But don’t think you can take that Catholic identity with you. It is time to either fish or cut bait. Don’t cheapen the word Catholic by using it as a cultural label. Catholicism is not just a label. It is a way of life. It is a very specific faith. It is tough. Make a choice. Are you going to be Catholic or not?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Catholic Carnival 194

Take a look at Catholic Carnival 194 for a variety of posts to help you stand firm in your faith. These can be trying times and you are sure to find the current batch of carnival posts will give you strength.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

God Bless Aledo Texas

Read this beautiful story and make sure you have plenty of tissues. God bless the people of Aledo, Texas. It is clear that the parents here have raised some mighty fine children. This is a community that understands what it means to be pro-life.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Seeking Truth

How do you get the truth about the news? Read this article from ABC news and see if you can detect the bias. What is striking is that Nancy Pelosi’s name is annotated with her party affiliation. Tim Mahoney, the congressman accused of paying off his mistress to avoid a sexual harassment lawsuit is not identified by political party. Do you think this is possibly because Nancy Pelosi rooting out unethical behavior sheds a favorable light on the Democrats while Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney’s behavior puts a negative cast to the Democrats? Am I just paranoid to think that if Tim Mahoney were a Republican, ABC News would be posting that “R” every time his name was mentioned? Actually, I don’t think I am paranoid. When ABC News reported on Senator David Vitter’s connection to the DC Madame they identified him as “R-Louisiana”.

The sad truth is there is very little true news reporting from any media outlet. I subscribe to both the Washington Post and the Washington Times because I hope I can read both and tease out the truth that probably lies between them. Story choices, story placements, headline choices, vocabulary, etc all color the news to advance a news outlet’s editorial agenda. As consumers of news we need to be alert to these biases. It is important to think about what a news story doesn’t say as well as what it does say. Beware “man-on-the-street” commentary. The reporter may have spoken to twice as many folks with a differing opinion, but will only include the opinion that fits the bias of his story. Beware of statistics. A local reporter expressed dramatic outrage that 50% of the county’s residents fell below the median household income reported for the county. (That is the definition of a median). Be alert to whom an outlet chooses as experts. Anyone who offers statements from the National Catholic Reporter or hosts Fr. Richard McBrien as the authentic Catholic view is not looking for the truth.

It is only going to get worse over the next few weeks. Make sure you have a large grain of salt every time an alleged news reporter speaks.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Faithful in Spite of Frustration

O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? Are you so stupid? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain?—if indeed it was in vain. Does, then, the one who supplies the Spirit to you and works mighty deeds among you do so from works of the law or from faith in what you heard?

(Gal 3:1-5) from the Magnificat for Thursday, October 9, 2008

Yesterday I spent an hour praying in front of an abortion facility as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign. A gentleman that was praying with me expressed great frustration that the pro-life movement was not seeing more dramatic results. How can people not see the truth? I feel this frustration at times as well. Today’s first reading shows we are in good company. Do you think St. Paul was a bit exasperated with the Galatians in the passage above?

These can seem like dark days for Catholic Christians. There are dramatic persecutions in China, India, the Middle East, and Africa. Yet in the face of these overt threats, the Church is thriving. More insidious than these physical threats are the ideological persecutions in the West. Through both academic and government institutions, Christians—especially Catholics—are being marginalized. Think about these words of Mark Warner, candidate for the US Senate where he states that the Christian Coalition, Right to Lifers, and homeschoolers are a threat to what it means to be an American. Public schools have become indoctrination camps for anti-Christian agendas. In his ninth grade English class, my son had to defend his belief that human life is more valuable than animal life. The sex education classes promote the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth. One set of sexual mores is as good as another and any attempt to state otherwise is bigoted and unacceptable. In addition, many Catholics are caught up in the materialism of our culture. They close themselves to the gift of life for fear it will lessen their share of the earthly goods pie.

Christ promised us the Gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church. It is important to note that only the Church is guaranteed this protection. Powers and principalities that have their origin in Man do not enjoy such certainty. Any nation that opposes God will suffer. Not that God will send down punitive lightning bolts, though I personally have thought some selective zapping might be in order. Rather, to oppose God is to sin. Living in sin can only lead to sickness, suffering, and death. The glamour of evil may look enticing in the short term, but the tragic consequences cannot be avoided.

As bleak as this sounds, there is no reason to lose hope. As long as I keep my eyes on Heaven and my faith in Christ and His Church, I will be safe. The challenges of today are no greater than the challenges of the Apostles, the early Christians, the Catholics in Elizabethan England, or any others living in an age of persecution. I hope and pray that I will one day see my country embracing a culture of life and God’s natural law. I will not stop working towards that end. But I also know that all things happen in God’s time. The little progress, one soul at a time, may be all I am meant to see at this time. In response to my prayer partner’s frustration I told him that he is the father of three children. While he may want to be part of great legislative victories, his role in this battle may be primarily to raise up pro-life children. For myself, no earthly accomplishment can surpass the feat of adding four faithful soldiers to the Church Militant. So we take our encouragement where we can find it and press on in the face of earthly opposition. Remember the words of Mother Teresa, “We are called upon not to be successful, but to be faithful."

Catholic Carnival 193

Jay at Living Catholicism hosts this week's Catholic Carnival with a variety of wonderful posts covering life, politics and prayer. Take a look!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Slope is More Slippery than Ever

The culture of death initially proposed the abortion of disabled children as a voluntary option and presented it as a liberating act. It has now degenerated into an expectation with harsh criticism levied when the “option” is not selected. Similarly, the “freedom” to choose suicide at the end of life has turned into a duty to die if one is a burden to one’s family or society in general. Professor John Hardwig, head of the Philosophy Department at the University of Tennessee, takes this stand on BBC radio. I am afraid I cannot find the audio broadcast that features him but you can appreciate the gist of his position from this written summary:

Hardwig thinks that we may have a duty to die when the burden of caring for us seriously compromises the lives of those who love us:

* they may be physically exhausted by caring for us
* they may be emotionally exhausted by caring for us
* they may be financially destroyed by the cost of our healthcare
* they may be financially destroyed by having to give up work to care for us
* their home may become a place of grief and sickness
* other family members may be neglected as all attention is focussed on us

Hardwig says that there are no general rules - each case will be different, and he openly admits, “I can readily imagine that, through cowardice, rationalisation, or failure of resolve, I will fail in this obligation to protect my loved ones. If so, I think I would need to be excused or forgiven for what I did.”

Nor does Hardwig think that a person should make their final decision without consulting their family - although he points out the difficulties in doing this.

Since October is Respect Life month, it would be good to pray for the conversion of Professor Hardwig and all those who promote the culture of death.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ephesians 5 and the Dignity of Women

A few weeks ago our local congressional race made national news. “Ardent, practicing Catholic” Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decided to run a smear campaign against Republican candidate Keith Fimian.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has sponsored a series of postcards delivered by mail to residents of Virginia’s 11th district. One DCCC-sponsored postcard proclaims, “Did you know Congressional candidate Keith Fimian is an officer of a group that promotes rolling back women’s rights?” The postcard says that Legatus, “promotes like-minded groups who are dedicated to outlawing constitutionally guaranteed rights of women.” That “guaranteed right” is abortion.

“One of the groups that Legatus promotes advocates the end of access to contraception for women,” the anti-Fimian postcard says. “Fimian’s group Legatus even promotes a group ( so extreme that they encourage women to be more ‘submissive’ to their husbands.”…Hmmm….do you think that might have something to do with Ephesians 5? If you look at the group’s web page you see the quote:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Ephesians 5:25

Why am I bringing this up now? I just spent two days at a conference reflecting on Mulieris Dignitatem. It was sponsored by Ave Marie School of Law land the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America. It was a fabulous two days of reflection on the roles of women in the Church and in the world. I learned so much over the last two days that it will take a little time for me to digest it all and share it with you. There were several reflections on Ephesians 5 as John Paul II used this passage to discuss the dignity of women. Perhaps most memorable were the words of The Reverend Monsignor Grzegorz Kaszak, Secretary, Pontifical Council for the Family.

Exactly what does Ephesians 5 say that got the DCCC so bent out of shape?

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subject to their husbands as to the Lord since Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church is subject to Christ, so should wives be to their husbands in everything. (Eph 5 22-24)

I once heard a priest say this is the elbow jab reading. Husbands always give their wives a nudge in the ribs at these words. However, the exhortation does not stop there. As Monsignor Kaszak clearly pointed out, these words must be read in conjunction with the words that follow:

Husbands should love their wives, just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy by washing her in cleansing water with form of words, so that when he took the Church to himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless. (Eph5: 25-27)

That’s where the wives get to give that friendly elbow nudge.

This weekend I had a little epiphany about this passage. By itself it is profound. It speaks of mutual love and mutual subjection. However, when it is taken with Genesis 3:16 it is astounding.

Your yearning will be for your husband and he will dominate you.

This is not a curse. God is describing the relation between a man and a woman after the Fall. The relationship that was supposed to reflect the love of God is now broken because the relationship between Man and God is broken. Man and woman relate as the powerful to the powerless. Yet Christ redeemed us. When we read Ephesians 5 we see that the relationship between God and Man is healed and the relationship between man and woman is healed. Instead of a relationship of domination, it is a relationship of love and self-sacrifice. A woman can fully give herself to her husband without fear because he is called to love her selflessly as Christ loved the Church.

And Nancy Pelosi, et al think this is a bad thing?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Catholic Carnival 192

The election season is in full swing and the rhetoric is flying. Take a break and read truly inspired, rational, prayerful writing at Catholic Carnival 192.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

This Was A Surprise and It Shouldn't Have Been

Many bloggers and news outlets are covering the address by Sacramento Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto to the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries conference.

But there was noting ambiguous about Bishop Soto’s remarks to the group. “Sexual relations between people of the same sex can be alluring for homosexuals, but it deviates from the true meaning of the act and distracts them from the true nature of love to which God has called us all,” Bishop Soto said. “For this reason, it is sinful. Married love is a beautiful, heroic expression of faithful, life-giving, life-creating love. It should not be accommodated and manipulated for those who would believe that they can and have a right to mimic its unique expression."

At least five members of the audience walked out during the bishop’s address. When he finished speaking, there was general silence -- with only a very small number applauding.

The chairman of the conference then announced that the bishop would answer questions at a reception that would be held in another room. That led to widespread expressions of disapproval from members of the audience, who said they wanted to be able to express their responses immediately. It was agreed that those who wanted to speak would line up. The bishop was told twice by the chairman that he was free to leave if he wanted -- or to stay and listen. Bishop Soto stayed and sat quietly listening to every response.

You can read the full text of his speech here. It is definitely well worth the read. It covers far more than the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

There were many eyebrows raised, mine included, when Bishop Soto agreed to address this conference. The participants of this conference openly dissent from the Church’s teaching on sexual chastity. However, I will be the first to say that such skepticism was misguided and unfair. Jesus ate with the sinners. He reached out to the tax collectors and the prostitutes. However, he did not affirm their sins. He called them to repent and sin no more. Bishop Soto is following the model of Jesus.

I scan quite a few blogs and news sites every day. And I will admit that most of them conform to my worldview. I enjoy having my opinions reinforced. I am part of the choir so preach it, brother! It is much harder to walk into the opposing camp and stand firm. Yet that is what we are called to do. Anytime we deal with the secular culture we will face opposition to our Catholic principles. As I have written before, it is tough to be Catholic. Over the next month, much will be written and spoken about religion and politics. Pray that we all have the virtue of fortitude displayed by Bishop Soto and courageously speak the truth.

Ora Pro Nobis

I haven’t been shy about asking my readers to offer a few prayers now and then. As I scanned the blogs over the last few days I noticed there are quite a few bloggers for whom it would be nice to pray. So please remember the following intentions as you pray today:

For Barb and her father as they deal with her father’s newly diagnosed illness.

For Michelle and Bill on the occasion of their wedding anniversary and for Bill as he recovers from surgery.

For Carl Oson, his family and a little girl named Elanor

Dominico Bettinelli requests prayers for his mother and sister

Please feel free to add your own intentions in the comment box.

For these intentions and all the intentions in our hearts, we pray in Christ’s Name. Amen.