KITCHEN TABLE CHATS

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 Jägerstätter

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We do not need an American version of NICE

Remember how I warned the stimulus package contained an American version of the British commission known as NICE? This commission assigns monetary values to human lives to determine who is worthy of medical care. The name for the American version is Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. (FCCCER?--don't go there)

But don't forget that everyone agrees that health spending is already too high. So the stimulus also devotes $1.1 billion to create a new bureaucracy called the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. A billion dollars isn't nearly enough to conduct the rigorous clinical studies needed to provide more information on what medical treatments result in the best outcomes. But Democrats want to get this "health-care Fed" on the books now so it's around when they pass the next entitlement expansion -- for the entire middle class.

When government finances start to buckle under that subsidy, the comparative effectiveness outfit will start to ration care to control costs, much like the United Kingdom's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). The draft report accompanying the House portion of the bill notes that procedures and drugs "that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed."

In sum, what we are really getting in this stimulus bill are several more steps in the gradual government takeover of the health-care market.


George Will has some words about this new agency as well:

The stimulus legislation would create a council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. This is about medicine but not about healing the economy. The CER would identify (this is language from the draft report on the legislation) medical "items, procedures, and interventions" that it deems insufficiently effective or excessively expensive. They "will no longer be prescribed" by federal health programs. The next secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, has advocated a "Federal Health Board" similar to the CER, whose recommendations "would have teeth": Congress could restrict the tax exclusion for private health insurance to "insurance that complies with the Board's recommendation." The CER, which would dramatically advance government control — and rationing — of health care, should be thoroughly debated, not stealthily created in the name of "stimulus."


UPDATE: PLEASE SEE THIS POST FOR MORE OMINOUS INFORMATION ABOUT THIS NEWLY FORMED AGENCY.

A Bibliophile's Lent

As of yesterday, we are four weeks from the beginning of Lent. Have you thought about it? How are you going to make this Lent spiritually fruitful. Let’s move past the dieting that is going to make your Easter dress a size smaller than you wear right now. Lent should be so much more than a jumpstart on getting in to summer swimsuit shape. If you are going to sacrifice food for Lent, give the sacrifice a spiritual dimension. Offer it up. Join your sacrifice with Christ’s Passion and do it for the Poor Souls in Purgatory or for our deployed soldiers or for an end to abortion or some other greater good. A self-centered sacrifice is not really a Lenten sacrifice.

I find Lent is an excellent time to take on reading for spiritual growth.

I will be reading On Conscience written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI. You may also want to consider the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

This question-and-answer format book takes you through the key points of the Catechism. Jesus of Nazareth, The Apostles, or The Fathers are other books by Pope Benedict that would make excellenet Lenten reading.





Peter Kreeft is another author that offers a wide variety of wonderful spiritual writing. For middle schoolers on up, his book Because God is Real is a tremendous study in apologetics.


His book Making Choices helps navigate the process of moral decisions.

Biographies of the Saints also make a great Lenten reflection. I have not read but have heard great things about the biographies of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Assisi written by G.K. Chesterton.

Finally, I can never make a suggestion for spiritual reading without including The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.


As the saying goes, “So many books, so little time” I hope this gives you some ideas for a Lenten reading program. Let me know if you have other suggestions as well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

To Be Fair...

Not every wasteful piece of pork in the "stimulus bill" supports the culture of death:

"Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before."

So said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in November, and Democrats in Congress are certainly taking his advice to heart. The 647-page, $825 billion House legislation is being sold as an economic "stimulus," but now that Democrats have finally released the details we understand Rahm's point much better. This is a political wonder that manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years.

We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe it. There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There's even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.


UPDATE: Apparently, allowing religious worship disqualifies you from receiving stimulus package money.

FOCA--piece by piece

Remember what I said about sleight of hand? While the pro-life movement focuses on the mega bill known as FOCA, the contents of FOCA are being submitted in piecemeal fashion. Thomas Peters has the info on the Prevention First Act.

I've contacted my senators. How about you?

Just Catholic

Last week I added my own reflections on the Mirror of Justice blog discussion about being Catholic and Church authority. Greg Sisk has posted a very good addition to this thread of posts.

As fallen human beings, we will find ourselves thinking from time to time that our personal concept of law, society, culture, or politics is preferable to what the Magisterium appears to be teaching on that point. When we encounter such a conflict, we usually should regard it as an occasion to reconsider our temporal and secular position in the light of Church teaching. After all, the Deposit of the Faith was entrusted by Christ to the Apostles, not to the lawyers or the professors or the politicians or, for that matter, the theologians. No Shadow Magisterium exists within the universities or the courthouses or the market-places. When we face a challenge to our personal beliefs about life, law, and politics, we should ask whether our discomfort with Church teaching is attributable to our own selfish or ideological propensities, to our desire to be well-liked by our acquaintances, or to our temptation to conform to the spirit of the age.

After reading all of Professor Sisk’s entry, take a look at this piece by Mark Judge in the Washington Post:

On one side are the liberal Catholics, who specialize in social justice and the poor. They are in the tradition of Dorothy Day: critics of consumer capitalism and helpers of the poor, against war and nuclear weapons, champions of Vatican II, the 1960s council that sought to modernize the church. They read E.J. Dionne, the New York Times, Commonweal magazine. Homosexuality doesn't bother them, but the fact that the church will not allow female priests does.

On the other side are the conservatives. Willing to call Iraq a just war (with some cause I think), and pro-capitalist, they insist that Vatican in no way called for the changes that liberals assume. They watch EWTN - Mother Angelica's orthodox network - read First Things, join the pro-free market Acton Institute, and love Justices Scalia and Thomas. Most importantly, they are pro-life, noting that to be such is to be classically liberal: that the pro life cause is about social justice for the weak and vulnerable as much as the Civil Rights movement was.

So which would Sister Carol be?


The answer to that last question may surprise you. While there are Melkite Catholics, Byzantine Catholics, Chaldean Catholics, and Latin Rite Catholics, there is no such thing as a Liberal Catholic or a Conservative Catholic. There are just Catholics. However, it must also be understood that Catholics accept the teaching authority of the Magisterium. Those who set themselves up as loyal opposition to the teaching authority of the Magisterium are not Catholic, even if they choose to call themselves so. They are, by definition, Protestant. Liberal and conservative can fairly be used to describe how faithful Catholics apply Catholic teaching. A liberal may favor more government intervention in the aid of the poor or provision of health care. A conservative is just as concerned about the plight of the poor and access to health care but may favor a strategy involving less government intervention. Both views can be in line with Catholic teaching. The Magisterium has stated in multiple documents that we must be in solidarity with the poor but we must also respect the principle of subsidiarity—the help should be given at the lowest appropriate level. On the other hand, in dealing with abortion, both a politically liberal and a politically conservative faithful Catholic must state life begins at conception and ends at natural death, that abortion is a grave moral evil, and that the sanctity of life must be protected in all circumstances. A faithful Catholic, whether politically liberal or conservative, cannot support legalized abortion.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One Small Step

Perhaps it is a good thing that Speaker Nancy Pelosi sounded like the reincarnation of Margaret Sanger when she defended the inclusion of hundreds of millions of dollars for contraception in the economic stimulus package. The outcry was enough that President Obama has requested House leaders to remove this provision from the legislation. I truly thank him for this action. He did the right thing. Thomas Peters has more information and analysis here.

That is one small step for moral and fiscal responsibility. There are some giant leaps still to go. Stay tuned.

Candlemas: It Is Not Just the Day After The Super Bowl


Living the liturgical calendar takes some planning. That is why I am giving you a heads up that next Monday, February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas. It is not a Holy Day of Obligation but it is definitely a Holy Day of Opportunity. The good folks at Catholic Culture have a very nice explanation of this day along with links to suggested prayers and activities.

"In obedience to the Old Law, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. This is another 'epiphany' celebration insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. Christ is the light of the nations, hence the blessing and procession of candles on this day. In the Middle Ages this feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or 'Candlemas,' was of great importance.


If you live in the Northern Virginia area, Holy Spirit Parish in Annandale will be having a Solemn Mass for the Feast of the Presentation complete with the blessing of candles at 7:30 pm on Monday. Forgive me as I praise my own parish a bit, but the liturgies are just getting better and better. I am sure this one will be beautiful. And… we will be bring the Monday night CCD classes to this Mass. At least some of our youth will be exposed to the rich liturgical heritage of our faith.

Of course, thinking about Candlemas brings me to thoughts about Candles. Do you light devotional candles in your home? I do. I light a candle when we say a family Rosary. I also have a supply of tall devotional candles that have pictures of saints on the glass containers. Most days I light one of those. I will be taking my supply for the upcoming year to the Candlemas liturgy so they can be blessed. Devotional candles bring a Catholic environment to my home. They also keep me praying all day. Every time I see the flickering flame it brings to mind the intentions for which I lit the candle and I offer another prayer. When my older children come home from an evening out, a lighted candle tells them Mom has been praying for them.

The custom of lighting candles during home prayer is waning. When I asked my CCD class about devotional candles in their homes I got blank stares. One boy mentioned that was something he saw at his grandmother’s house. Well now, didn’t that make me feel young and spry after my recent milestone birthday! Actually, I don’t think it is just that the practice of lighting candles is waning. The practice of home prayer is waning. We need to reclaim time within our busy days to offer prayers as a family. Right now, many families are lucky to say grace before a meal once a week. There is no prayer more powerful than a family Rosary. However, if you don’t think you can manage a whole Rosary, why don’t you try this:
Gather the family together and ask if there are any intentions for which they would like to pray. If not, don’t worry. Pope Benedict XVI has monthly intentions for which he would like us to pray. They are listed on my sidebar. Then offer an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be.

Trust me. The more often you do this the bigger the positive effect you will see in your family. Generosity, patience and many other virtues will flow from this simple act of family prayer. You might even find that every now and then you can expand the prayer time to include a decade of the Rosary or even a whole Rosary. Start slowly and just nudge your family along to holiness.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Economics (Eugenics): Nancy Pelosi Style

More Trojan horse politics from the Obama led government. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi claims that contraception is needed to stimulate the economy. More babies being born are a drain on the economy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.

This runs counter to the truths of basic economics.

Population aging also depresses the growth of government revenues. Population growth is a major source of economic growth: more people create more demand for the products capitalists sell, and more supply of the labor capitalists buy. Economists may be able to construct models of how economies could grow amid a shrinking population, but in the real world, it has never happened. A nation's GDP is literally the sum of its labor force times average output per worker. Thus a decline in the number of workers implies a decline in an economy's growth potential. When the size of the work force falls, economic growth can occur only if productivity increases enough to compensate.


What “Ardent, practicing Catholic” Nancy Pelosi is really saying is the “wrong” people having babies is bad for the economy. Rich folks like her are welcome to have all the children they want. She is following in the footsteps of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger who advocated contraception for the poor, especially ethnic minority poor, to get rid of the “human weeds”. Eugenics. Coming to a government health plan near you.

Maybe Obama’s recent support for the United Nations Population Fund that contributes to the coercive reproductive policies of China stems from this attitude as well. It is not out of the realm of possibility that this administration will try to limit the number of income tax deductions for dependents since anyone having more than two children is burdensome to the economy. In fact, I could see President Obama and Speaker Pelosi leading the charge to tax those extra pitter-pattering little feet. Maybe they will try to force those of us with more than one or two children to seek carbon offsets for the strain we are placing on the environment.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This Doctor is Pro-Eternal Life

I am in awe! Please read this article from today's Washington Times. It is a perfect antidote to the culture of death happenings in Washington. Here is a snippet:

Which is what she does whether serving as a nun and doctor for the poor in the District or Kakuma, Kenya, through Catholic Charities, or as a U.S. Army doctor in Afghanistan.

She's a healer, and in her unique position as a nun and general surgeon (she also is board certified in family medicine) she's concerned with life here on Earth — and the hereafter.

"I'm not just a pro-life doctor, I'm pro-eternal life," she says. "God makes it very clear that he is working through me. … God gave me the opportunity to be a physician, and he creates the miracles."

This Little Light of Mine...Let It Shine!

President Obama rescinded the Mexico City policy to free up United States taxpayer funds to support abortion abroad. This was not unexpected. Of course he made this move on Friday evening so it doesn’t make the evening news and in hopes it will be forgotten by Monday. Only something truly evil tries to slink around in the darkness. It is our job to shine the light of truth on this moral catastrophe. After President Obama rescinded the Mexico City policy under the cover of darkness, he appended this notice to the statement:

In addition, I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries.


Jack Smith at the Catholic Key, the blog of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, further illuminates the evil emanating from the White House

This action could be even more monstrous than the reversal of the Mexico City Policy. The U.S. government ceased funding the UNFPA after independent investigations found the agency complicit in China's coercive one-child policy - coercion that includes forced abortions.

Following the State Department's own 2002 investigation, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote a letter to Congress saying, "UNFPA's support of, and involvement in, China's population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion."

UNFPA funding has been withheld for that reason since 2002 and the State Department continued to monitor China's coercive "family planning" regime.

The following U.S. State Department notice on UNFPA China policy has been removed from it's site, but is still available in Google's cache:

UNFPA China Program

The Government of the United States is disappointed that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has decided to continue to provide financial and technical assistance to the Chinese birth limitation program under the direction of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission. We have made our views known at the UNFPA Board meeting, which is currently reviewing the proposed new country program for China.

The U.S. opposition to this program is a matter of principle. It is not directed at UNFPA as an institution. Rather, it is based on the strong opposition of the United States to human rights abuses associated with coercive birth limitation regimes. While the United States has acknowledged that China has made some progress in its approach to population issues, Chinese birth limitation policy continues to contain clearly coercive elements in law and practice. The United States remains deeply concerned about these remaining coercive mechanisms, such as the "social maintenance fee" for "out of plan" births and regulations that leave women little choice but to undergo abortions.

The United States understands that UNFPA does not approve of these policies. Nonetheless, UNFPA’s continuing support for the Chinese coercive birth-limitation program unfortunately provides a de facto UN "seal of approval" on these activities. UNFPA should insist that all coercion end in the counties where it operates. Chinese birth limitation laws and policies are inconsistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the commitments undertaken by the Government of China at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.


Understand that this is the modus operandi of this administration. For all of President Obama’s big talk about transparency, he is a master illusionist. He diverts our attention in one direction only to accomplish a sleight of hand in the other. He says he is talking about a stimulus package but he is really talking about setting up a commission to ration health care based on the perceived worthiness of a person’s life. We think he is just rescinding the Mexico City policy but he is actually expanding the role of the United States in the coercive abortions in China. We must be vigilant. We must continuously shine light on all the dark corners of this administration.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sentire Cum Obama

Looks like President Obama has moved into his Chicago-style power and and intimidation mode and does not tolerate dissent:

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.

That wasn't Obama's only jab at Republicans today.

In an exchange with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) about the proposal, the president shot back: "I won," according to aides briefed on the meeting.

"I will trump you on that."

Sorry, Mr. President. You cannot claim to be protected from error. Dissent is allowed.







Friday, January 23, 2009

Sentire Cum Ecclesia

A fascinating series of posts has developed over at Mirror of Justice. This is one of my favorite blogs. A group of Catholic lawyers explore and develop the concept of Catholic Legal Theory. For a doctor to say she loves reading what a bunch of lawyers has to say is high praise indeed! Doctors and lawyers usually get along like cats and dogs. You can start with this post and then scroll forward for a whole variety of posts discussing conservatives, liberals, progressives, traditionalist, institutionalists, and a few other labels. I would say that most of the lawyers seem pretty faithful to the Magisterium. There are a few who openly dissent from Church teachings. The discussion going on over there has to do with whether or not there are enough “dissenting views” to provide adequate balance.Father Araujo offers an excellent discussion of this.

As a priest, without modifier liberal/conservative or orthodox/heterodox, I, too must counsel those who seek my pastoral advice. Moreover, I must be satisfied that the advice and teaching I relate is sound. It cannot be what I think or feel is right. In providing this ministry, I must think with the Church, and explain, as best I can, what she teaches with mercy and tenderness, surely, but also with clarity. To be “truly diverse” is not the question about what is needed for God’s people. What is truly needed is objective and moral truth that is not mine or yours but God’s which can be known and conveyed with prayer, with discernment, and with union with the Church in thinking with rather than against her. I will not call someone else sexist, homophobic, or corrupt knowing that I, too, am a sinner who seeks fidelity for me and for others and God’s mercy and forgiveness. But I must not be paralyzed in failing to convey what the Church teaches and why it teaches when my responsibilities as priest, teacher, and disciple are exercised. This is the challenge of discipleship that is not open to some but to all in occasions appropriate to their calling as followers of Jesus Christ. However, if “progressives” conclude that they do not need the Roman Catholic Church to be Catholic and seek my response to what they have concluded, I will accept the summons and argue respectfully why the Church considers such conclusions erroneous.

If I may be so bold as to offer advice to lawyers, I think there has been a loss of the distinction between dissenting from the Church and struggling with a Church teaching. It is common for a Catholic to struggle with one or more of the Church teachings. Each of us will find at least one teaching of the Church that is difficult to fully appreciate or understand. It doesn’t seem intuitive. The easy thing to do at this point is to become a dissenter. We decide that we will disagree with the Church and reject this teaching. We then spend our time trying to bolster our arguments for why we are right and the Church is wrong. Doesn’t that seem a bit arrogant? After all, as Catholics we believe the Church is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church, founded by Christ, and protected by the Holy Spirit from error in matters of faith and morals. To say we are right and the Church is wrong in matters of faith and morals is in effect to say we are smarter than the Holy Spirit.

The more difficult path, but the one we are called to take, is to embrace the struggle we have with a given teaching. We must pray about it. We must study it. We must reflect on it. We must not reject it! With God’s grace the teaching will grow clearer. This often doesn’t happen easily or quickly. Believe me. I have struggled and still struggle to accept several teachings. It is definitely an exercise in humility. However, I can also say that honest, faithful study with a truly open mind and heart always leads me to the wisdom of the Church. Therefore, rather than expending energy to defend dissent, it is much more valuable to seek to think with the Church. Sentire cum Eccesia.

An Indictment

Here are some strong but very true words from Dr. William Blazek, Jesuit scholastic. (Please read the whole article. The following is just a snippet.) Dr. Blazek will be a welcome addition to the community of Jesuit Priests.

Catholics Abandon the Unborn in the 44th Presidency

A simple web search for the order of presidential succession in the newly-minted Obama administration makes clear what a profound debacle the '08 election was for the pro-life movement in the United States. The country's top leadership now looks like a Who's Who of the National Abortion Rights Action League's "100% pro-choice" club. Largely ignored in the last election, abortion remains a massively important political issue. Catholics who did so should be ashamed of themselves for voting with disregard for a ticket and party that is inimical to a central moral tenet of their Church's teaching. Abortion kills.

I Was There!

I was there! Yesterday I gathered with hundreds of thousands—please note the mainstream media will only say scores, thousands, or even tens of thousands—to make a stand for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. It was a joyous and uplifting event. Of course, the message of support from the President that we have enjoyed for the last eight years was missing. There were numerous members of Congress who joined us to make a stand.

This is not a Catholic event. Orthodox Jews and many Protestants were there. But it was striking to see the Catholic clergy and religious. I was excited to see the number of young priests and sisters. Take a look at the Sisters for Life. These young women are vibrant, beautiful, and just exude holiness. I would be honored to have my daughter be among their number.


I was also excited to meet up with my blogging buddy Rosemary. She was there with her three lovely daughters.

You know, the Washington Post coverage devoted as much space to the pro-abortion protesters as the pro-life group. But I never did see a counter protester. According to the post there was a group organized by a 16-year-old student at a Catholic high school. The Post reporter had to throw in this young lady attended a Catholic high school. I don’t think they would have identified her as a public school or secular private school student. They didn’t name the Catholic school. I wonder why? The other laughable aspect of the Post coverage is that it listed Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United as leaders of the pro-life movement. These two groups are shills for the Democratic Party and ardently pro-abortion. Their solution is not to provide legal protection to the lives of the unborn but to hand out contraception instead. Didn’t anyone ever tell them that both contraception and fornication are against Catholic teaching? The use of “Catholic” in their name is a lie. The Post coverage was also buried in the front section of the paper with only a grainy black and white photo that in no way conveyed the massive crowd. You know that every anti-war demonstration with twenty people gets a color photo on the front page. My little photo in front of the Supreme Court building shows more people than the Post photo.


It doesn’t do any good to write a letter to the editor. The Washington Post, like the rest of the media, is handily in the pockets of the pro-abortion forces. That makes it harder, but not impossible to get the word out. Thanks to the internet and media outlets like EWTN, The National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor, the pro-life message will not be a secret.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It Is More Than Abortion...It is About Life

Many blogs are reporting how overnight the White House web site has morphed into a pro-abortion site. Where are all those “Catholics” who said pro-lifers were over reacting and Obama was really going to be good for the pro-life issue? He has wasted no time in declaring his primary objectives.

As bad as this is there is something even more ominous on the horizon. President Obama, his Health Secretary Tom Daschle, and Congressional Democrats are now going after the end of life as well. From the Wall Street Journal:


In Britain, a government agency evaluates new medical products for their "cost effectiveness" before citizens can get access to them. The agency has concluded that $45,000 is the most worth paying for products that extend a person's life by one "quality-adjusted" year. (By their calculus, a year combating cancer is worth less than a year in perfect health.)

Here in the U.S., President-elect Barack Obama and House Democrats embrace the creation of a similar "comparative effectiveness" entity that will do research on drugs and medical devices. They claim that they don't want this to morph into a British-style agency that restricts access to medical products based on narrow cost criteria, but provisions tucked into the fiscal stimulus bill betray their real intentions.

The centerpiece of their plan is $1.1 billion of the $825 billion stimulus package for studies to compare different drugs and devices to "save money and lives." Report language accompanying the House stimulus bill says that "more expensive" medical products "will no longer be prescribed." The House bill also suggests that the new research should be used to create "guidelines" to direct doctors' treatment of difficult, high-cost medical problems.


How does this work? The government agency puts a “value” on your life. It then looks at the treatment. If your life is worth more than the treatment you get it. If not, you don’t. This is the utilitarian model of bioethics. Human life is judged by what it produces. It is this thinking that allows an unborn child to be killed if he does not fit into the plans of his mother. It is this thinking that justifies euthanasia. It is this thinking that supports eugenics.

How is it working in Great Britain? Take a look at this post from Wesley Smith. He is a bioethicist who strongly supports intrinsic human dignity and opposes the utilitarian model of bioethics.

When I was in the UK in the wake of Terri Schiavo, advocating for Leslie Burke's right to have a feeding tube when the time came that he could no longer swallow--Burke has a degenerative neurological disease akin to a slow motion Lou Gehrig's and he sued to make sure he wouldn't be dehydrated--I saw the legal briefs NICE filed against Burke's position. It wanted total control by the doctors over whether he lived or died when he became totally disabled based on quality of life/resource standards. Horrible, just horrible.

In 2005, I wrote about the case for the Weekly Standard in "The English Patient," which included a quick description from official testimony about how the NICE works. From my piece:

"[Under NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) standards, an] assessment is made of the cost of the treatment per additional year of life which it brings, and per quality adjusted life year (QALY) . . . which takes into consideration the quality of life of the patient during any additional time for which their life will be prolonged. The clinical and cost effectiveness of the treatment under review is then used as the basis for a recommendation as to whether or not . . . the treatment should be provided in the NHS..." In other words, medical care is effectively rationed by the National Health Service under guidelines set by bioethicists based on their beliefs about the low quality of life of patients whom they have never met. While the views of patients and families are to be taken into account when deciding whether to provide treatment, they are not determinative.


In the name of editorial fairness I must disclose this has suddenly become very personal. Just last week my mother was diagnosed with leukemia. All indications are that it is Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. The great news is that this form of leukemia is readily controlled by one pill a day. The name of the medication is Imatinib mesylate . (Trade name: Gleevec) However, Gleevec is incredibly expensive. Insurance helps and Novartis, the maker of Gleevec has a generous plan for subsidizing the cost. The plan being supported by Obama and Secretary Daschle and being considered by Congress could say that my mother’s life is not worth the cost of this medication. Do you want a government agency deciding what your parents’ lives, your children’s lives, or your own life is worth and dictating what medical care you are entitled to receive?

It is important that we do not allow our focus on abortion to give Obama’s agenda of death a free pass on other life issues. Being pro-life is more than being against abortion. It means supporting the intrinsic dignity of the human person from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And So It Begins...

From LifeNews.com:

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- Officials with the incoming administration of Barack Obama have confirmed that he will indeed overturn a pro-life policy of President Bush on his first day in office. Despite campaigning on the rhetoric of wanting to reduce abortions, Obama will make one of his first actions promoting them globally.


Today my husband, two of my sons and I attended Mass. We prayed for our country and we prayed for our new president. Then we came home and prepared a birthday brunch: omelets, grits, sausage, and biscuits. It was much more enjoyable to celebrate my birthday than to focus on the political happenings in DC.

Looks like I better enjoy today. As the above news item shows, President Obama is wasting no time in implementing his culture of death agenda. I hope all those "Catholics" who claimed President Obama was going to be the real pro-life candidate add their voices to the protest of using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions abroad.

Bishop Vasa has strong words for Catholic legislators that vote to expand abortion:
Such a vote would be tantamount to a public declaration of their intention to abandon the Catholic faith. It would be imperative that the faith consequences of such a declaration be allowed to fall fully on the heads of those who would make it.

Those "Catholics" who continue to unconditionally support Barack Obama as he dismantles pro-life policy after pro-life policy make a similar declaration and should suffer similar consequences.




Monday, January 19, 2009

The Purpose of Mass

Fr. Z points us to this letter by Fr. Greg J. Markey in Norwalk, CT. (I’ve linked to Fr. Markey’s site but I think this letter may be replaced on a weekly basis so you may need to find it at Fr. Z’s site.) There is so much good stuff in this letter that it is hard to pick out just one passage with which to entice you. Try this one:

Yet how many Catholics truly understand what the Mass is: the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Christ’s crucifixion to God the Father? (Catechism #1367) Some people are still coming to Sunday Mass expecting liturgical abuses or to be entertained by the priest, rather than the real reason we come – to worship God, offering this perfect sacrifice according to the means handed down to us by Mother Church.
If only more people understood that novelties and priestly creativity in the Mass take away from this transcendent reality, and suddenly the sacred act is profaned, taking on the mere personality of the priest. No! As Padre Pio says, at Mass we are to humbly pray like St. John and Our Lady at the foot of the cross. Would that more people’s comments to me about the Mass reflected this understanding.


What exactly does paragraph 1367 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church say?

1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice. “The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an unbloody manner…this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.” [Council of Trent(1562) Doctrina de ss. Missae sacrificio, c. 2:DS 1743]

So you see the Mass is not about us. It is not about entertaining us or giving us a warm fuzzy feeling. It is not about fellowship and making friends. Entertainment, warm fuzzy feelings, fellowship, and friends are wonderful things. But, the sacrifice of the Mass is about worshiping God in the most perfect form of worship we have—The Holy Eucharist. The Mass occurs with or without us in the pews. We come to assist in this worship. Our role during Mass is to give. We are made more ready to give by examining our consciences and repenting of our sins. We are better prepared to give as we are nurtured by The Word. But in the end, our purpose for being at Mass is to give our humble prayers of thanksgiving, praise, sorrow, and supplication to Almighty God.

Here is a little experiment. Instead of speaking of attending Mass, try talking about assisting at Mass. This is a subtle way to communicate the self-giving purpose of being present at Mass.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Words I Needed To Hear

From today's bulletin:

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving Father who cares for you today, will care for you tomorrow and everyday. Either He will shield yu from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.

--St. Francis de Sales

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Consequences

Many blogs are posting the statement by Bishop Vasa of Oregon entitled "Those who profess to love God, but back abortion are liars". If you have not read this statement yet, head over now and read the whole thing. If only every bishop in the country would echo this sentiment and every priest would relay it from the pulpit. Specifically, pay close attention to these words:

Thus I strongly urge all who have a glimmer of concern for the lives of pre-born children to engage themselves in this postcard campaign. This is not an action which would limit or alter present permissive abortion laws, which some so-called Catholic pro-choice persons might object to, it would simply preclude a dramatic expansion of that permissiveness. Thus it would be very difficult for any Catholic, no matter how much in favor of abortion itself, to find a reason to refuse to participate in this campaign. At the same time, I do not see how any Catholic senator or representative could vote for the passage of FOCA without recognizing that such a vote would constitute a direct and intentional declaration of their disdain for Catholic teaching. Such a vote would be tantamount to a public declaration of their intention to abandon the Catholic faith. It would be imperative that the faith consequences of such a declaration be allowed to fall fully on the heads of those who would make it.


Why do we need such strong words? Right now, the gentle "pastoral" approach has convinced way too many Catholics that dissenting from Church teaching on grave moral issues is no big deal. Catholics dissent on issues of abortion, contraception, fornication, cohabitation and figure that they are justified by the norms of our culture. But Jesus himself instructed us to be in the world but not of the world. This is not a matter of asserting the power of the Church. This is a matter of the salvation of souls. Bishops who minimize the effects of such moral depravity risk leading many souls into sin. The time is passed for coddling those who publicly dissent from Church teaching. To a bishop or pastor it may mean missing out on a big donation or an invitation to an exclusive social event. So be it. It is time to turn over a few tables.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What She Said He Said!

Julie, at Happy Catholic, has a great quote up today. Read the whole thing, but this is what really set me to thinking:

What Mary has chosen is not so much the contemplative life but the focused life. She is anchored, rooted in the unum necessarium, as the Vulgate renders this passage. The implication seems to be that, were Mary to help with the many household tasks, she would not be "worried and distracted" by them, since she could relate them to the center, and that, were Martha to sit at the feet of Jesus, she would still squirm with impatience since her spirit is divided. As is so often the case in the spirited life, the issue is not what they're doing, but how they're doing it. Indeed, the surest sign that something is off in Martha's soul is that she even tells God what to do!

January 20. 2009

Sorry it is has been a while since I posted. There has been a steady stream of significant family issues so blogging has been on the back burner. I always say every challenge is an opportunity for virtue. With God’s grace and lots of prayer I think I have weathered the week with virtue intact. I will also say that through every challenge I can see God’s hand steadying and supporting my family and me.

Living as I do in the DC Metro area, the whole place is abuzz over the upcoming inauguration. Of course, I would like to think all the fuss and the cancellation of work and school is in honor of my milestone birthday. I will just pretend it is so and enjoy having my husband and sons home to celebrate with me.

I did not support Barak Obama for president. I find his position so firmly in support of abortion to be deplorable. I believe that he can have a devastating effect on the moral fiber of this country with his acceptance of moral relativism. I am not convinced of his grasp of military and national defense issues and I do not perceive much respect for the military from him. But having said all that, on January 20, 2009 he becomes the President of the United States. Several years ago I participated in a small prayer group. We met once per week to reflect and pray on living a faithful life and spiritual growth. On the eve of initiation of combat operations in Iraq one of the women in the group spoke with great disgust and hatred for President Bush and the military. I commented that whether or not we agreed with this course of action, we should offer support and prayers for both President Bush and the military as our nation undertakes a military action. Her response was, “Why? He is not my president. I didn’t vote for him.” On January 20, 2009 I do not want to sound like this woman. I did not vote for President Obama. Certainly I want him to fail at implementing an assault against human life through the successful passage of legislation and policies like FOCA. I will use my rights as a citizen to oppose efforts that I think are not in the best interest of the United States. He is still my president. I want him to succeed as a strong, moral, righteous leader of our country. With God, all things are possible, so I will pray for President Obama as fervently as I prayed for President Bush. I will also offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessing of living in a country where there is a peaceful transition of power. A quick survey of countries around the world show that this is a blessing we cannot take for granted.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What He Said

My hat is off in profound respect to Fr. Joseph Sirba. In one article for Homiletic & Pastoral Review, he has summed up the message I have spent hundreds of blog posts and three years trying to send. The first part of his article is a summation of the worrisome state of Church membership. The real meat of his article, though, is his strategy for addressing the problem:

So what’s to be done? Is there any hope? Yes! With God all things are possible. In recent years, faithful Catholic groups and organizations have networked and now form a solid foundation that is beginning to rebuild and renew the faith. They are being supported by a growing contingent of bishops who recognize how deep the rot has gone and are determined to do something about it. There are more and more young people who are on fire with the love of God and who are willing to live the faith to its fullness. They are certainly not a majority but they are now present and visible in many places. Not a few have entered the seminary or novitiate. It will be these young people of today who will be rebuilding the Church in America.

However, if this rebuilding is to have maximum success, we need a plan. The first step in solving any problem is to admit that a problem exists, something many Church leaders have thus far been unwilling to do. However, the survey results make it painfully clear that we do have a problem. That said, the next step in solving any problem is to identify its causes.

Saint Paul said, “If the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” (1Cor. 14:8) Clearly, for those Catholics of the baby-boom generation, uncertain notes were the only ones being played, with the result that one-third of our fellow Catholics have now left the field. Furthermore, of those 53,775,000 American Catholics who remain in the fight, except for the elderly, most are so poorly catechized that they continue to be highly vulnerable to invitations from evangelical congregations or to the secularizing influences in our society. In a word, our problem has been dissent tolerated by weak leaders, which in turn has led to confusion as to what we as Catholics believe and how we should live.

The final step in solving any problem is action. To that end, we must work to stem further losses and then begin to go out and seek those who have left and invite them to return. I might add that this survey is a godsend because it has already identified for us where our work is most urgent.

Like generals marshaling their forces, our bishops need to do several things. First, make sure that everyone is presenting a clear message. All remaining dissenters must be expunged from their positions within diocesan offices, major parishes and influential positions in the Church. This is especially crucial in Catholic colleges and universities, which form the weakest link in the nascent renewal we are experiencing. For the most part, they are still seriously undermining the faith of our young people, young people who will be our nation’s leaders. This must stop if we ever hope to have well-formed Catholic leaders in business, education, politics, science, the arts and medicine. Bishops and donors must apply pressure to our Catholic colleges and universities to reform their theology and philosophy departments. Bishops must also apply pressure to the religious orders that run many of our schools to support the needed reforms.

Second, the survey results reveal that the faith is weakest among the young. We must act immediately to reverse this trend before we loose the better part of yet another generation. Consequently, our parish religious education programs must be reformed. In our present culture, an hour a week in religion classes is not enough to make our young people Catholic. Parents must be re-engaged in the process as well. I think all pastors would agree that when parents are not practicing the faith, our efforts to educate their children are almost fruitless.

Along these lines, we need to take a good hard look at our Catholic schools. Often, lots of money is spent with little to show for it. We end up offering an alternative to public schools to parents who do not practice their faith. It should be noted that some religions, such as the Mormons and Jews, offer strong religious education programs that cost far less than running a school while retaining more of their members than do Catholics. We should reconsider what role Catholic schools should play in the twenty-first century and where we can get the greatest bang for our buck. Perhaps parish funds could be better spent on well-designed religious education programs or by supporting online schools that don’t require expensive infrastructure.

Third, aggressive steps must be taken to retain the many Hispanic immigrants coming into our country (who now number nearly half of all Catholics ages eighteen to twenty-nine). We cannot let these people slip away into evangelical congregations or into the growing unaffiliated group.

Fourth, while men and women have an equal dignity before God, they are not the same. We must recognize and acknowledge the significant psychological and emotional differences in men and women and how they view the world. The overt and covert feminization of the Church must end. Men and boys need strong male role models to look up to and to emulate. Masculine approaches to the faith must be developed and affirmed if we are to erase the significant gender gap that now exists and retain more of our male members.

Finally, we must reach out to those who have fallen away. They are the lost sheep of today. As this group is diverse, we must address at the very least the larger segments within it. For example, it has been this pastor’s experience that many former Catholics who have joined evangelical congregations tend to be very zealous members of their new congregations. For the most part, they are good, faithful people who love God but who were not fed in their Catholic parishes. They were attracted to these congregations because of clear and strong homilies, Bible studies, youth programs for their children and good music. They need to be shown that Scripture alone is not enough and that we need the Eucharist and the rest of the
sacraments as well. On the other hand, former Catholics who are now part of the educated, unchurched secular group need to see that science alone cannot explain all we experience in the world and in our hearts. To that end, because few pastors have the ability or the knowledge to answer or address all of the questions and concerns specific to each group, diocesan programs need to be developed to reach out to these groups and others.
It’s now far beyond the time for half measures. We must act now to clean up the messes that remain and to develop reasonable, workable plans to move forward. Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Matt. 12:30). Tolerating dissent has led us to where we are today. It’s time for some intolerance.


Amen! Amen! Amen!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

No Excuses

When I wrote yesterday that I took consolation from the Gospel account of the feeding of 5000 as I offered my mere one hour per week of catechesis to my seventh grade students, I really had no idea that today’s Gospel reading was this same passage from the Gospel of Mark. Having a chance to once again reflect on this reading, I realized St. Mark is offering a challenge as well as consolation.

Every time I am tempted to inaction because I can’t give enough money to make a difference or I can’t give enough time to make a difference or I am not enough of an expert to speak up or I am not skilled enough to offer any help of value or…or…or… excuses ad infinitum, I need to remember the five loaves and two fish. Jesus is God. He could have whipped up a banquet out of nothing. But he did not do that. He asked for our meager human offerings then multiplied them to create an abundance. It is not up to me to provide sufficient money, time, expertise and skill to solve the world’s problems. I am called to put forth whatever meager offerings I have and trust that Christ will take care of multiplying them and making them more than sufficient.

Monday, January 05, 2009

St. John Neumann: Pray for Catechists

In addition to being the Twelfth Day of Christmas, today is the feast of St. John Neumann.The collect for today reads:

Almighty God, you called St. John Neumann to a life of service, zeal and compassion for the guidance of your people in the new world. By his prayers help us to build up the community of the Church through our dedication to the Christian education of youth and through the witness of our brotherly love. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.


St. John Neumann was the fourth bishop of Philadelphia and a great promoter of parochial education. He knew that the future strength of the Church depended on the proper faith formation of the youth. Unfortunately, the zeal for catechesis has waned in recent decades. Catholic schools are closing and religious education programs are struggling. A large number of our Catholic youth never complete the three Sacraments of Initiation. While most receive Baptism and First Communion, the Sacrament of Confirmation lags behind.

As a seventh grade catechist I do Confirmation preparation. About one third of my students attend Mass regularly and have received a solid education in their faith at home. Another third of my students attend Mass occasionally but their families have no interaction with the Church outside of Mass. Catholicism seems largely irrelevant to them. The final third of my students rarely attend Mass. They may go to Mass on Christmas and Easter. Several have expressed open hostility to the Church.

The grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation is for each of these groups of students. Certainly, the better prepared students are better able to cooperate with the grace of the Sacrament. The second group is still open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is a spark of faith that can be fanned into a flame. It is tempting to throw up my hands and give up on the third group of students. Yet these children need the grace of Confirmation more than the others. It will only be by such grace that they will find Christ. They are floundering and trying to steady themselves with material pleasures. Sex, power, and wealth are their gods. Every single one of these thirteen-year-olds has a cell phone. Several have iPhones and Blackberries. They have never known want for any material good.

Tonight I asked for the intercession of St. John Neumann as I taught my class. It is vital for the souls of these children that they receive a solid Catholic education. Yet my little hourly session every week seems woefully inadequate. But then I think about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. I will give this hour to Christ and trust him to multiply it enough that it satisfies the well-catechized, the lukewarm Catholics, and those who resist or reject the Church.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Vocations Awareness Week

Today is the Solemnity of the Epiphany. This is so much more than just the commemoration of the historical event of the Magi visiting the Christ Child. It is a reminder that we are to be like the Magi and diligently seek Christ. Once we encounter Him, we will be changed. He is truly physically present to us—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—in the Eucharist. He is spiritually present to us in every person we encounter. He dwells within our hearts. He waits for us. But it is up to us to seek Him.

Our newest priest, ordained only this past summer, used today to talk about diligently seeking Christ and the discernment of a vocation. National Vocation Awareness Week begins January 11. At the end of Mass, a young man from our parish who graduated from high school this past spring spoke about his first semester in the seminary and the true happiness of following his calling. By the end of Mass I had tears in my eyes. (Of course, I am pretty weepy today. My two college children returned to school yesterday so after having my parents, my oldest son and his fiancée, and my two college children home for Christmas we are back down to just the three of us—my husband, my youngest son, and me.) All I really want for my children is for them to hear God’s call and follow it faithfully. Our young priest and young seminarian are doing just that. It is a joy to behold.

It is so common to hear the words discernment and vocations in the same sentence when people talk about the priesthood or religious life. I would like to see these two words used more when speaking of marriage. It is as if marriage is the default position if you don’t follow a vocation. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Marriage is a vocation just as much as being a priest or being a religious sister is a vocation. Both Marriage and Holy Orders are Sacraments of Service. Choosing marriage requires the same level of discernment and commitment as choosing the priesthood or religious life. It has been twenty-five years since I attended pre-Cana classes but I don’t recall the word “vocation” being used at all. My son and his fiancée will not attend pre-Cana classes until after his deployment to Afghanistan. I will be interested to see if it has changed much. I am grateful that they do seem to be approaching their upcoming life together as an opportunity to do God’s will through the vocation of marriage.

Understanding marriage as a vocation is sure to build stronger marriages. Stronger marriages mean stronger families. Stronger families are more conducive to religious vocations. So as we follow our bishops’ lead and reflect on how we can support more vocations to the priesthood and religious life, it is not irrelevant to also reflect on the vocation of marriage.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Marley's Lesson of Divine Providence


By Christmas afternoon, the nine of us had attended Mass, enjoyed a sumptuous Christmas feast, and exchanged presents. The whole group piled into two cars and headed to the movie theater to see Marley and Me. What a fun movie! Of course, it probably helped that we have our own “Marley” at home. The animal shelter named our Labrador mix Marley but we changed her name to Athena when we brought her home. After seeing the movie, I now understand why she initially earned the Marley moniker. There is something about that breed that just exudes mischief. Do all Labradors find lingerie tasty?

The movie explores much more than the exploits of a rogue Labrador. John and Jenny Grogan move from being a couple of “yuppies” to parents of three. Their values and priorities mature throughout the story. Jenny starts out with a checklist of events and accomplishments that she feels are required for a successful life. Several years into the marriage, John asks Jenny how she is doing on her life’s checklist. After all, the dog, living in snowy Pennsylvania, and having three kids were not on her list. She responds with great wisdom. She has tossed the list. John is right. The dog, the snow, and three kids were not on her list. But what she has is so much better than anything on her list.

I love that scene. The movie never mentions God or Divine Providence, but that is really what Jenny is talking about. We can try to control everything and come up with all kinds of plans and schemes for our lives. Yet if we think we are really in charge we are deluding ourselves. If we trust our lives to God’s will and quit insisting on imposing our own will, we will find that God will provide so much more than we could have imagined for ourselves. On the one hand, it seems so obvious that an all-knowing and all-loving God would have the perfect plan for our lives. On the other hand, the pride inherent in our fallen human nature makes it difficult to humbly submit to this Divine plan. We prefer to stumble along towards our own agenda.

As we resolutely march into the new year, may we do so with the humility of God’s obedient children. God’s gifts of grace far exceed anything our human efforts can fashion. May our hearts be open to accept these gifts.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Reflections

I started writing this blog nearly three years ago. Since the average lifespan of a blog is about four months, I guess this blog is a survivor. I have to admit that my motivation for starting a blog was rather selfish. I am a writer at heart and needed an outlet for this creativity. I was trying to figure out how to actually produce an income by arranging words on a page, but until I did, I needed the discipline of practicing this craft. The blog served that function well. I’ve always heard you should write about what you know. I know about being a Catholic mom, hence the title.

A funny thing happened after I started writing. People began reading. I’ve developed some really great cyber buddies and have even met some of them in person. I found a wonderful community of faithful Catholics with whom I can share and grow in faith.

I also found that I am not always preaching to the choir. Especially during the recent election cycle, I found that my writing touched a few nerves and angered at least a couple of readers. My words made some uncomfortable. Should that concern me? No. Actually, I want to make some people uncomfortable. If I stay in my cocoon with only those who think exactly as I do, I will be a failure as an evangelist. Christ’s Great Commission to “ go and make disciples of the whole world” means I am called to reach out to those who disagree. I can respect the dignity of every person and respect the sincerity of their beliefs, but I cannot give erroneous claims the same regard as the Truth proclaimed by Christ and His Church. Sometimes, I must say, “I believe you are wrong.”

The concept that one can have faith and believe one’s faith is the absolute truth has become foreign to our culture’s “multiculturalist” sensibilities. A few weeks ago I was teaching my seventh grade CCD class about the Catholic Church as the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church”. One of the students piped up with the comment “It sounds like you are saying that Buddhists, Hindus, and all the other religions are wrong. That is not very nice.” I am afraid that the emphasis on tolerance and diversity has muddled our minds to the existence of absolute truth. As Pope Benedict XVI so aptly warned, we are in danger from the tyranny of relativism.

I can accept the existence of diverse ideas and religious practices within our civil society. However, my acceptance of the existence of these ideas does not require me to accept the veracity of these ideas. Even if these ideas find their way into legal rulings, I am not compelled to acknowledge them as “right”. Legality cannot be equated with morality. In fact, I believe there is a growing gap between what is legal and what is moral. In judging actions I must use the firm standard of morality and not the arbitrary shifting standard of legality.

Phil Lawler offers a thought provoking piece on building up a Catholic culture.
But what if some of us were conspicuously unified in our beliefs and in our behavior? What if there were enough of us striving to live an authentically Catholic life so that our neighbors couldn't help but notice? Inevitably they would notice, too, if there was something a bit different about the way we lived: something distinctive, something attractive, something clearly in keeping with the teachings of the Church. We need to bear witness to the power of Christian principles, to act as the yeast within our society.


A new year is a time fertile for reflection. As I reflect on the reasons I write this blog, I find my primary motivation has shifted from stretching my literary skills to evangelization. My goal is to sow and nurture the seeds of a truly Catholic culture. I ask you to join me on this journey.

January 1, 2009--Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God