Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The following is a neat little teachings from Father Corapi. I like it and wanted to share it. Pray it and enjoy it.
All of us have had times and experiences when we’ve needed help. Spiritual help, right now!
In the United States and Canada, the telephone number used to call for
police, fire, or ambulance emergency services is “911.” When we call “911”
we need help immediately.
Well, it often happens that people, suffering many and various things, need
help from God right now. I have a “Spiritual 911” for you if that’s the case.
I received most of the inspiration for this from Mother Teresa of Calcutta, although she didn’t relate any of it to the term “911.”
If you find yourself in dire need of help from God pray the following prayers
with as much trust as you can muster. This trust, or childlike confidence, is of extreme importance. In a sense the more you trust God, the more you permit Him to help you.
NOTE: All prayer is centered on Jesus Christ. Know with absolute certainty that all that we give to Mary, she takes to Jesus.
With great trust pray:
9 Memoraries. “Remember, o most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to Thy protection, implored Thy help, or
sought Thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I
fly unto thee, o Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To Thee do I come. Before Thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in Thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.”
1 Rosary. Pray 5 decades of the Rosary (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, or
Luminous Mysteries. The choice is yours). Try to meditate well on the Mysteries, bringing them into your own life. Pray the prayers of the Our Father and Hail Mary with great love and trust. The prayer of the Rosary is the prayer of the Gospel. That is why it is so powerful. When we pray the Rosary, we are praying the Gospel. The Gospel or “Good News” is Jesus Christ: Infinite Power!
1 Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This is an age especially in need of God’s
mercy. Jesus gave this prayerful devotion, dedicated to His Infinite mercy,
to Saint Faustina. Once again, pray with trust, even if it hurts. Just do it! It
is not a feeling. It is a decision. An act of the will. The prayers “Eternal Father, I offer you the body and blood, soul and divinity, of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world;” and “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world,” are filled with power. The ending prayer “Holy God, holy mighty One, holy immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world” call down Gods grace and mercy on us and all of our brothers and sisters.
So, you have a direct line to God. Call to heaven with the Spiritual “911” when you need to send a distress call for heavenly help.
It will take less than an hour in most cases. If you don’t have that much time, make the solemn intention to do it as soon as possible. God loves you and will help you. He may not remove the problem, but he’ll always give you the strength and means to triumph over it.
1 Chaplet of Divine Mercy
May God bless you and keep you safe in his merciful love!
Father John Corapi, SOLT
At least not as long as it does not threaten their power or their plans to enslave us. Make no mistake about it. There is a deliberate plan to reduce the American people to the socialist slave status that is inflicted on most of the rest of the world.
This plan is a conspiracy conducted at a much higher level than the Office of the President of the United States. It is being orchestrated from a higher level than the United Nations. These are but tools in the hands of the enemy.
The enemy of is Satan, i.e. Lucifer, the Devil, the Adversary. I reference Ephesians 6:12
"For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." NRSV-CE
Our leaders in Congress and the President are going to continue to march us down the path of godless socialism whether we want to go that way or not. Every time we resist their agenda, i.e. the overwhelming “no” to amnesty for illegal immigrants, they just put it on the back burner and look for ways to do an end run around the Constitution and the people.
Unfortunately at this point, I do not believe this can be fixed through the ballot box. There is too much division among the people. To many Americans are able to vote themselves money and benefits from the neighbors' pocket.
Just look at the Cap and Trade legislation. This is one of the worse pieces of legislation ever written by any government. It is based on bad science, bad economics and bad faith. The majority of Americans would never vote for such a pile of lies. Yet the Democrats in the House of Representatives bribed and bought their fellow legislators to strong arm passage of this America killing bill.
Here are two examples. Rep. Buchanan (Rep.) from Fl. voted for the bill after securing from Rep. Waxman millions of dollars of taxpayer money for a hurricane study center in his district. Rep. Marcy Kaptur secured an amendment that provides as much as 3.26 billion in taxpayer financed loans for her district. These are just examples of the many “deals” that take place everyday in Congress. This is nothing more than influence peddling, blackmail and bribery.
There is just too much money and power in Washington, DC. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
So, what do we do about it? That is the question I am most often asked. Here is the best answer I have.
We must first realize that they (the corrupt leaders in DC) are only able to do this because we let them. We need to realize that we the people have the real power in this country. Let them pass their laws. Let the Supreme Court make their rulings. Then let them try to enforce them.
I am talking about peaceful civil disobedience. To quote Nancy Reagan, “Just say no.” You are under no obligation to obey an illegal or immoral law. In fact you have a moral obligation to disobey such a law.
Let me give an example of what I am talking about. The Supreme Court says no prayer in schools, no prayer before high school sporting events, or at commencement ceremonies. I say to the Supreme Court, I don't care what you say. You have no jurisdiction in the matter. If the majority of the people in my community which to pray at school events then we will pray. If you don't like it, you are free to move to another location.
The point is this: America does not want a law demanding that people pray at school events, nor should she tolerate one prohibiting such prayer.
The first amendment states that Congress shall not establish a religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof. In other words, the government does not have a say in whether or not we pray in our schools. It is only because we let them that they have inserted themselves where they don't belong.
They do this because in the public schools they control the money. These state (government) run schools and the unions that support them are going to continue to support those that feed them and give them the money. To end this tyranny we must cut off the money.
Now is the time for us to join together and just say no to the tyranny. The smart people need to figure out how to organize the 10's of millions that are ready to move in acts of civil disobedience to expose the absolute tyranny of those who wish to destroy our country.
Tea parties are nice and represent a great starting place. But they do not go far enough. As long as the people continue to pay their income and withholding taxes and continue to support this corrupted government, those in power are more than content to allow “tea parties.”
This is a call to return to the limited self-government of our Founding Fathers. This can only be accomplished by a return of State Sovereignty. The President is often referred to as the most powerful man in the world. That is certainly true in many ways. But he is not a dictator nor should he be perceived as such. Externally, to the world, he is powerful because he is in charge of the most powerful nation of the world. Internally however, he should only be a normal citizen elected to represent, to the world, the collective voice of the 50 sovereign United States of America.
I could go on in this rant. I will however, pause here and wait for some feed back. I hope to hear from my fellow patriotic Americans soon.
God bless you and thanks for taking the time to read this blog.
Monday, June 29, 2009
The following is from a prayer card I carry over the visor in my truck. I pull it out and pray it as I travel across America. Please join me and share it with others. Our Mother loves us and will certainly come to our aid. Let us pray to save our country and our fellow citizens from the grasp of the evil one.
O Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, who as Our Lady of Guadalupe didst aid in the conversion of Mexico from paganism in a most miraculous way, we now beseech thee to bring about in our times the early conversion of our modern world from its present neo-paganism to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of thy divine Son, Jesus Christ, starting in the Americas and extending throughout the entire world, so that soon there may be truly “one fold and one shepherd,” with all governments recognizing the reign of thy Son, Jesus Christ, the King.
This we ask of the Eternal Father, through Jesus Christ His Son Our LORD and by thy powerful intercession – all for the salvation of souls, the triumph of the Church and the peace in the world.
This prayer card does have ecclesiastical approval.
Thank you and God bless.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
First, I want to share it to honor him and his service to our country. He flew bombers in WWII and is a bonafide, decorated hero. He has earned the right to have his voice heard.
Second, he is 87 years old and still fighting the enemies of his country. This is a great lesson to all of us. The battle never ends and neither does our call to serve. He is a great example to his children, his grandchildren, and future generations to come.
The third reason is he has lived through several different phases of American history. He has seen many Presidents and administrations come and go. He has a valuable perspective on the current situation in America. It would do us all well and good to listen to the voices of those who have the experience and wisdom that come only with age.
Letter to the editor
Having fought in three wars for the United States of America, beginning with World War II, I never thought I would ever hear a U.S. President disgrace my country the way Obama did on his recent trip to Europe.
The asinine statement he made in France claiming Americans are arrogant (notice: not “we Americans”), not only desecrated the honor and memory of Americans buried in Flanders Field in France, but it embarrassed the French people. They are well aware that Americans saved their country twice in the twentieth century.
My aircrew was sent to Europe during the Berlin Air Lift in 1948 and every time we were In France the French people were very grateful to Americans for saving them.
If there are any French people now that think Americans are arrogant it would have to be younger people about Obama's age that are as ignorant of French and American history as Obama.
It is the duty of the few of us veterans still living to speak for the Americans who sacrificed their lives in World War I and World War II because the American news media and the current government in Washington, D.C. Will never do so!
Col. Frank D. Jackson USAF (ret.)
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Many of the faithful in the Church, as well as many non-Catholic Christians, are deeply troubled by a scandalous phenomenon raging in the Church in America. Raging, in the sense that it has constantly been in the news and a major subject of discussion in all the various social media outlets.
The scandalous behavior referred to is the seemingly brazen attitude of rebellion radiating from many Catholic universities in America. Their open defiance of the bishops’ guidelines has caused much harm in the spiritual life of many people, including many non-Catholics.
The article, Key U.S. Bishops: No Ecclesiastical Sanctions against Notre Dame from EWTN news link, highlights an even more disturbing development. In the article Bishop Kicanas, in responding to the question of a university deliberately deifying the bishops’ guidelines and the need for consequences for such an action, gave a political answer of which the Clinton spin machine would have been proud.
Few are so naive as to believe there is no politics in the USCCB. But to try and spin Fr. Jenkins decision into an act of misunderstanding or blaming it on a lack of clarity in the guidelines issued by the bishops is, for lack of a better term, bovine scatology.
These bishop are more educated than most and yet most laymen can clearly understand the guidelines. This pattern of defiance has been unfolding over the course of 40 years now, the affect of which has been the establishment of an anti-Magisterium. This defacto dual system of authority has caused confusion and discord among the faithful.
No one is asking for a judgment unto condemnation for Fr. Jenkins, Notre Dame or any other university that has knowingly or inadvertently defied the Magisterium. What is being asked is why the Magisterium allows these universities to continue to engage in what appears to be acts of open defiance in the name of the Catholic faith and to do so unapologetically and with impunity?
Monday, June 15, 2009
In a very insightful and humorous way, Rev. Classen takes very complicated and deep theological thoughts and parses them into the language of the outdoorsman. He, in his exceptional narrative style, is able to connect abstract spiritual truths with everyday experiences and life.
A good example is his ability to relate the theological virtues of faith, hope and love to turkey hunting. It takes a gifted individual to pull this off but Rev. Classen does so in a winning and entertaining fashion.
Through the use of his excellent storytelling abilities, Fr. Classen brings to life the joy, adventure and struggles of hunting. Even if you are not a hunter, you will enjoy these delightful, page turning stories. Fr. Classen brings the woods to life and recreates the sense of beauty and wonderment that can only be found in the depths of the wilderness.
The hunter will find the stories truthful and real. They will be able to relate to the many trials and struggles that every hunter faces and the joy that comes as a reward for those that are successful in their endeavor.
Above all, everyone will benefit spiritually from this book. Fr. Classen demonstrates that, with a little reflection, everyday events in our lives are opportunities to put our faith into practice. He shows the reader that theology is not just the subject of stuffy class rooms but real theology affects our response to the challenges we face and enhances the lessons we learn from facing those challenges.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Tracking Virtue, Conquering Vice.
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Tuesday, June 9, 2009
There are three elements to human dignity. There is the dignity that every human is conceived and born with by virtue of being made in the image of God. There is the dignity man earns by living a virtuous life. And there is the dignity that man earns by the sweat of his brow and the fruit of his labor. This last dignity is usually represented by monies and properties.
We, as Catholics, have two great resources of wisdom. The first is the Holy Scriptures. The second is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In these pages are inexhaustible treasures of reason, logic and faith. It is a sure norm for the rightful application of our faith into our everyday lives.
Paragraph 2240 states the following:
2240 Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one's country:
Pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
[Christians] reside in their own nations, but as resident aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure all things as foreigners.... They obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws.... So noble is the position to which God has assigned them that they are not allowed to desert it.
The Apostle exhorts us to offer prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who exercise authority, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way."
So the Catechism teaches that it is right and just to pay our taxes. I joyfully submit to this teaching.
The Catechism also teaches in paragraph 2238:
2238 Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts: "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution.... Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God." Their loyal collaboration includes the right, and at times the duty, to voice their just criticisms of that which seems harmful to the dignity of persons and to the good of the community.
This teaches me that I also have a duty to "voice [my] just criticism of that which seems harmful to the dignity of persons."
I believe that, based on the reasoning presented so far, income taxes and property taxes are immoral and unjust forms of taxation. They have a direct negative impact on the dignity of all people by diminishing the dignity those people have earned via the fruits of their labor.
They also diminish the dignity of those who support such taxation by allowing them to participate in the legalized theft of their neighbors property. One should not vote for the government to do something that, as an individual, would be illegal, i.e. the taking of money or property from your neighbor by force. This is called stealing. If it is stealing for an individual to engage in this activity then it is reasonable and logical that it is stealing for the government to engage in the same activity.
This is not to say that all forms of taxation are immoral or unjust. The use of excise taxes such as sales taxes, as well as import and export taxes, are just, fair and allowed by our Constitution. They are just and moral because they are "voluntary" in that one can determine for themselves wither they will participate in the tax by their voluntary participation in the economic process.
One just has to look at the tremendous waste and bureaucracy created by the IRS to see the injustice and immorality of the current income and property tax structure of the US. There are thousands of people in jail for income tax evasion, either by deliberate attempts to avoid paying the taxes or because of honest uninformed or misinformed intentions. There are thousands of families and individuals that have had their properties, including some that have been in their family for generations, confiscated because of an inability to pay property taxes. To those that support the current tax structure and seek to expand it, I ask "How does this benefit and uphold the dignity of people?"
As a Catholic and someone trying to be faithful to the God and the Magisterium, I have a obligation to work for social justice and the welfare of my fellow man. I do not have the obligation or the right, to take by force from my neighbor the means to meet those obligations.
I cannot elevate the dignity of one person by reducing the dignity of another.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
I was thinking this morning about how much I love going to church. I realized that it was something I had often taken for granted in the past. Lately however, I had been more aware of the joy, peace and comfort I find just sitting in the pews, surrounded by....what?
Wow, I just realized what all I am surrounded by. Friends and strangers, people passing through, and people who have been here their whole lives. All sharing the Blessed Sacrament on equal footing. Rich and poor, from all backgrounds, nationalities, and races, kneeling side by side before the King of Kings.
I am surrounded by the saints that have gone before. I see St. Anthony, St Joseph, and stain glass images of the Apostles. I am wearing my medals of St. Pio, and the Miraculous Medal which reminds me St. Faustina. My brown scapula brings to mind the great Carmelite saints. I realize that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are all gathered together before the throne of God.
Of course I see the statues of the Holy Family. My Blessed Mother is there, beckoning me to come to her Son and receive all that there is to receive. The love, grace, forgiveness, healing, and the redemption of my soul are all present and available to me.
The Most Holy Trinity is here. The presence is real, alive and vibrant. I am actually in the presence, body and blood, soul and divinity of my Precious Savior.
I realize that going to church is like receiving a great big hug from God himself. In fact, that is exactly what it is.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
A friend on Twitter asked the question, “Why doesn’t the Pro-life movement and organizations response with as much speed, unity and outrage when a young lady dies from complications due to an abortion procedure, as they did when Dr. Tiller was murdered?”
Before I answer try to answer this question, let me say that I love Fr. Frank Pavone, and Operation Rescue, and all the other Pro-life groups who are on the front lines fighting the Pro-death culture. I consider these people to be heroes. I in no way wish to disparage their efforts or their faith.
The answer it seems to me can be summed up in one word, fear. These Pro-life groups were so quick to respond because they were afraid of the backlash from a corrupt government. They were afraid of the hysteria and bashing from a death loving main stream media. They were afraid of the lies and propaganda from the cruel and vicious pro-abortion advocacy groups.
And they were right to be afraid for these thing. They have all happened to one degree or another.
But the main reason thing they were afraid of is that we would not support them. I believe they were afraid that they would be left standing alone against what appears to be an overwhelming giant. And judging from recent anti-abortion protest attendance, they may have good reason to fear.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
But are the policies and programs advocated by those calling for social justice actually socially just? Do they meet the foundational standard of Catholic social teaching? Do they really uphold, affirm and elevate the dignity of all persons in society? Do they even uphold, affirm and elevate the dignity of the people they are supposed to be helping?
The answer is yes and no. Programs run by charitable organizations have proven very effective and beneficial to society. They have also proven to be very efficient and responsive to the changing needs of a community. Government programs, on the other hand, have proven to be very inefficient and non-responsive to the actual problems of society. In fact most governments programs have actually compounded the social problems they purport to solve.
Now, before someone has an aneurism, let me insert here that I know that I am speaking in general terms. There are examples of a small number of individual success stories through government programs. There are always exceptions to every rule. Please hear me out before you totally reject what I am saying.
A system in which the government is expected to solve all social inequities is called socialism. With almost one hundred years of history in the books we can now say with absolute certainty that socialism/communism does not work. It has never worked. It will never work. It cannot work because it is founded on a lie. It is a socio-economic philosophy from hell. It cannot exist anyplace where there is individual or religious freedom. There is not enough space here to delve into the historical failure of socialism. I recommend the following article by Rev. Robert Sirico, “The Great Lie: Pope Benedict XVI on Socialism” as published at InsideCatholic.com for a concise historical overview of socialism as well as commentary on Pope Benedicts XVI”s encyclical Spe Salvi.
Socialism is not evil because it is a bad system. It is a bad system because it is evil. It is rooted in atheism, which denies the existence of God. This places socialism in direct opposition to the teachings of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us in paragraph 27 that “The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God.”
Socialism should be opposed at every turn because it attacks and destroys the dignity of a person. The basics of socialism require the taking of property, possessions, or means of production from one person or group and giving this property, possession, or means of production to another.
As stated earlier in a previous posting “Social Justice and Human Dignity… (Part two),” the third element of human dignity is “the dignity humans earn from the fruit of their labor.” Socialism attacks this element of human dignity because it takes, by force of the government, from the fruit of a person’s labor, i.e. part of their dignity. It then in turn redistributes part of this thievery, ostensibly for the good of the less fortunate. I say “part” because it always keeps part for itself. This basically amounts to trying to buildup the dignity of one person by taking away the dignity of another.
This is very different from the Christian idea of charity. In Christian charity, a person is called to freely share as much or as little of his “dignity” as he feels led to do by God. In doing so, his dignity is replaced and/or protected by God Himself, thereby allowing him to uphold, affirm and elevate the dignity of his fellow man without diminishing his own dignity or that of his neighbor.
However, most social justice programs and policies today are really nothing more than socialism trying to repackage itself in better clothing. This is not a condemnation of those that support such programs. I am of firm belief that most people, especially those that are Christians, who support the call for “social justice “ programs, do so from the very best of intentions. They see the inequities that exists in our society and feel tremendous compassion for the less fortunate and downtrodden.
However, those social justice programs that call for the redistribution of wealth (property, possessions, or means of production) through the coercive power of the government, do not really bring about social justice. One only has to look at the results of the trillions of dollars spent since the inception of President Lyndon Johnson “War on Poverty” and the “social justice” programs it fostered. Again, there is not enough space here to delve into the details but suffice it to say, these social welfare programs have almost destroyed the African American community and are steadily eating away at all the lower income families in America.
(As a brief example I cite the following report: “…And Baby Makes Two“, by Emily Yoffe.)
The most recent danger posed by those the call for social justice programs is the attack on the greatest healthcare system the world has ever seen. I realize there are some problems with the current healthcare system in America. I do not pretend to be smart enough to say I know how to fix all these problems. I am smart enough to know what will not work, and that is the socialization of our healthcare system. It has not worked anywhere in the world.
Sure, some countries claim that everybody within their borders has health coverage. But having coverage and receiving care are two different things. I see very few people of means traveling to countries with socialized medicine to receive healthcare. The best doctors and hospitals in the world are located in the US for a reason. The current system has treated more people with far better care than any other system in the world.
As for the “millions” without coverage, that does not mean they do not receive care. Tens of thousands of people without health insurance are treated by doctors and hospitals everyday in this country. In many states it is illegal for an emergency room to turn away a patient, even if they don’t have any insurance--even if they have no money. Thousand of those that are in this country illegally receive some of the best healthcare in the world, with hospitals receiving only a fraction of what it cost to provide the service in return, and this at the expense of taxpayers who have to pay double (higher taxes and insurance premiums) while waiting in longer lines to receive their own health care.
This problem will only grow if the socialization of our healthcare system is allowed to expand. There is a very good argument that a large proportion of the problems in the current healthcare system are the result of government interference. Increasing the amount of government intrusion will only increase the size and scope of the problem.
The social problems facing our society cannot be solved by government. Government as it grows larger does not seek to serve the people but only serves itself. To quote Thomas Paine, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”
I want everyone in the world to receive the best possible healthcare. I want everyone to have plenty of food, shelter and clothing. I want everyone to live in peace with God and their neighbor.
I also believe that the best way for these goals to be achieved is for everyone to have the most individual liberty possible. It is through the propagation of individual liberty and freedom that the dignity of a person finds its greatest potential.
A truthful examination of history will prove my point. There has never been a more upwardly mobile society than the United States. No other country has had the religious freedom that has existed in our great land. Maybe that is why we have such a charitable heart. Maybe this freedom and the inherit understanding of the dignity that it provides compels us to share more of that dignity with our fellow man.
Maybe it is this heritage which leads Mississippi, our poorest state, to lead our nation in per capita charitable giving.
As we are challenged to solve these social issues, let us correctly identify the problems and offer solutions that not only sound good but that actually work and uphold the dignity of all people.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
The USCCB, in a document entitled "Themes of Catholic Social Teachings," states the following:
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching.
The key element of Catholic social teaching is the dignity of the human being. But what exactly is meant by the "dignity" of the human being. After much study, prayer and thought I am ready to put forth my concept of the dignity of the human person.
The dignity of humans has three elements. The first element is the dignity with which everyone is born. It is the inherent dignity that comes from being made in the image of God. Every human has this dignity and deserves to be treated with respect and thoughtfulness because of this dignity. It is from this fundamental dignity that the foundation of human rights are established.
The second element is the dignity that humans earn from living a virtuous life. The practice of the cardinal virtues lends dignity to one's life regardless of their socio-economic or political status.
The third element is the dignity that humans earn from the fruit of their labors. This is often overlooked in our society today. As we have moved further away from an agrarian society toward a post industrial society the value of a man's labor is often neglected or devalued to strictly monetary terms. This is really tragic because there is much dignity in a good day's work. There is much value to the human soul in participating with God in providing for one's self, family and neighbors.
These three elements encompass the whole of human dignity and take into account the total of a person's life not just his conception.
Let us now take a moment to reflect on Catholic social teachings with this understanding of human dignity in mind. The goal of Catholic social teachings, as I understand it, is to uphold, affirm and elevate the dignity of all humans, with special attention paid to those most vulnerable in our society. This is a most noble and praiseworthy goal. I believe it captures the essence of the gospel commandment "to love our neighbor as ourselves."
It is obvious that we as Catholics and I daresay all Christians have a moral obligation to help those that are less fortunate. I believe it is the highest of human endeavors to care for the sick, widowed and orphaned. I also believe that "to whom much is given much is expected." We in America have been blessed with much. These blessings are not just limited to our material wealth but also include the wonderful spiritual and moral heritage that we have inherited. Americans are the most generous and giving of any industrialized nation. In fact it is not even close as the following website documents. (http://www.american.com/archive/2008/march-april-magazine-contents/a-nation-of-givers) Another study showed that the per capita giving of Americans more than doubles the closest per capita giving of any European nation.
This is not to disparage another nations or peoples. I point these facts out because it is important that we approach the issues of social justice from the foundation of truth not merely political hyperbole.
Having laid now a rather lengthy foundation, I will in the next part begin discussing the difference between the common political use of the term social justice and what I have come to understand as the substance of Catholic social teachings.
Friday, May 29, 2009
What exactly is social justice? Why as a Catholic should I be concerned with social justice? Is social justice the same as the social teachings of the Catholic Church? These are just a few of the questions that have been puzzling me over the last several days. I am no expert in any field which would allow me to speak authoritatively on any aspect of the issues involved in the social justice or social teachings of the Church. Instead please allow me to present my thoughts, ideas and opinions as just that, knowing that this is an attempt to learn and clarify these issues in my own mind. Your comments and thoughts will be great appreciated as this is meant to be a dialogue not a dissertation.
The issue concerning social justice first came up when I heard the USCCB (Unites States Council Catholic Bishops) talk about the illegal immigration challenges. They spoke in terms of social justice and their tone seemed to suggest support for those breaking the just laws of our sovereign nation. At least this is how I, and others I talked to, perceived the message from the USCCB. As a convert to Catholicism and one who has great love and affection for the Magisterium of the Church, I was trouble by what I saw as the bishops taking a position I could not support.
In an attempt to not jump to any conclusions until I had all my facts straight I have set out to get a better understanding of this often used and rarely defined term of social justice.
In an effort of full disclosure let me insert here a brief description of my starting point. I am now and have always been a deeply patriotic person. I love this country and the founding fathers. I believe that the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are the two greatest political documents ever penned by human hands and are second only to the Bible in their impact on humanity. I believe in State's rights and a constitutional republic form of government. I am a fan of Austrian economic philosophy and have been an ardent free market capitalist (I am however very interested in the distributionalist ideas of those like G.K. Chesterton and Hillarie Belloc). I believe in the maxim that a government governs best that governs least.
Social justice seems to be a hard term to pin down. Since it is basically a concept, it means different things to different people. Trying to find a good definition has proven difficult as most are too vague to be of any use.
Wikipedia defines it as, "Social justice, sometimes called civil justice, refers to the concept of a society in which "justice" is achieved in every aspect of society, rather than merely the administration of law."
BusinessDictionary.com offers the following definition, "Fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice. "
These two definitions in essence contradict one another. This is the inherent problem with the term. What does it mean when someone speaks of "social justice?" The most left wing socialist uses the term to mean many things. Hence we arrive at the heart of the controversy.
In almost all of the reading and studying I have done on the subject, in the realm of politics and government policies the term social justice is usually used to either mask or a hide a particular socialist program, or is used to simply justify or deem as necessary for the cause of social justice, a particular socialist solution to a problem.
I am of the firm belief that socialism is the most evil form of government that can be perpetrated upon mankind. It is the most dehumanizing of all known forms of government. It always leads to the most murderous, oppressive kind of dictatorship. It lifts nobody up and brings down all but the very elite. I understand no form of government instituted by man will be perfect, but it is obvious that some forms of government are better than others.
Is social justice then just a left wing code word for socialism? Why do the Church and her bishops use this term to describe their social teachings? What is the effect of social justice concerns on society? I will discuss these in more detail in the next post….too be continued.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
As Charles Dickens once wrote, "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…" In this brilliant piece of prose, Dickens captures the soul of his time and of ours. This is the best of times and the worst of times simply because it is OUR time.
Man does not choose the times into which he is born. God makes that choice. God has chosen this time for us to be born. He has chosen this as the time into which we have come of age. This is OUR time.
God has chosen us to rise to the occasion and save the greatest nation the world has ever known from itself. No nation has ever been so blessed by God. No nation has ever been such a blessing to the other nations around the world. For all of its shortcomings this is by far the greatest nation the world has ever known.
The United States now faces it greatest challenge ever. It is threatened not by foreign enemies or terrorist but by its own people. It is threatened by those who would tear it apart to satisfy their own evil desires for power, wealth and control.
These enemies of our nation, some who may even have good intentions, are being used and guided by evil forces they cannot understand because they will not even acknowledge that they exist. They have denied God His rightful place in our society, thereby placing them as the only authority who can determine right from wrong, good from evil. In modern terminology this is called moral relativism.
It is our challenge to confront this enemy. We must defeat them at every turn. We cannot give them any quarter. There is no compromise with evil. One does not take a dragon a pet for it will one day turn on you. This is the task placed before us by God.
There is not a simple, single solution to winning this battle. This battle wages on many fronts. It must be fought spiritually, politically, economically, academically and socially.
The primary battlefield is spiritual. "For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Eph 6:12 NRSV-CE."
The first step in this great battle will be for us as Christians to live the Christian life. We must divorce ourselves for the materialistic, overindulgent society into which we were born. We need to transform the American dream from owning a big house with a 2 car garage and 2.5 kids, into the dream of living at peace with God and your neighbors. We must understand that we cannot win this battle while participating with the enemy in his moral decadence.
We must be willing to become martyrs for Christ if we are to have any hope in saving our nation. There is no political solution, no economic plan which can stem the tide of evil sweeping our country. We have reached the place where like at the Battle of Lepanto, only the prayers of the faithful and divine intervention can turn the tide of battle. Only after the winds shift can we began to have political, economic, and social victory. Our battle cry should be "For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Php 1:21. NRSV_CE."
We must, each one of us, be willing to take up the mantle of martyrdom, if we truly wish to see salvation return to our nation.
Once we as Christians unite through our sacrificial prayers, then God Himself will take up the battle for us. He will lead us out of this time of darkness in the valley and into a new time of joy, peace and prosperity.
Friday, May 22, 2009
One of my favorite quotes in the remembrance of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have fought for our nation is "All gave some, some gave all." It is simple and completely true. It is always moving to remember the great sacrifices so many have made that allow us the freedoms that we share. I humbly pray that I will never take those freedoms for granted nor forget their sacrifice.
I am also challenged by those memories. It is now my turn to take up the cause of liberty. My country is under a vicious attack from the most deadly of enemies. This enemy is ruthless, never sleeping and grows stronger every day. The enemy is apathy.
I look around at the news and this is the main cry I hear. We allow over 4000 unborn children to be murder everyday in this country and only a handful show up to protest this abomination. Instead of 20 people coming to a protest what do you think would happen if 20 million showed up. Why do we allow gangs to roam our streets, our towns, and neighborhoods, selling drugs, enslaving and murdering our children? Why do we allow our politicians to steal our money, give it to our foreign enemies and enslave our people in the tyranny of moral relativism and the hopelessness of secular humanism?
We are losing our country to the enemy because too many of us, myself included, are waiting for somebody else to do something about these problems. Do you really think for one moment that George Washington, John Adams, Patrick Henry, James Madison or any of the other great men that founded this nation, would tolerate the nonsense that is going on in our government today? We not only need great leaders like these men but we need to BE great leaders like these men. We can no longer afford to sit around in our Lazy-boys waiting for someone else to do the job for us.
It is time for all good men to rise up and take our place in the battle for freedom and liberty. We must rise up and shake off the chains of apathy, summon the courage of our forefathers and pledge "our lives, our fortunes and our Sacred Honor" to this most noble of endeavors. Let us pray to God the Father Almighty that we be given the strength to be counted as those that "gave all" for the glory of His Kingdom and the rebirth a free nation.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
This is a political commentary. I feel the need to write this because it is time to "call it like I see it."
There have been several articles on the Drudge Report lately reporting on the US government's involvement and eventual takeover of two of the big three US auto makers. This process has been going on for some time and has now reached the point where the current Presidential Administration is basically running General Motors and Chrysler, including hiring and firing CEOs, dictating certain financial plans, and the allocation of financial resources.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is FASCISM. I am not accusing anyone of wanting to wear swastikas, round up Jews and Gypsies in concentration camps, or start wars of imperialism. But the simple fact still remains that government control of privately owned corporations and business is fascism.
The definition of fascism is hard to pin down. Most people know there is a difference between fascism, socialism, and capitalism but they could not describe to you the difference. Although the space here will not permit a thorough discussion of the differences, the economic differences can be summed up as follows:
Capitalism is the private ownership of business interacting in a free market with a minimum of government interference. Socialism is the government owning all means of production, distribution and consumption, i.e. the market place. Fascism is the government dictating to privately owned business the means, method and amount of production and a strict regulatory control of the market place.
I realize this is an oversimplification of the complexities of each of economic theories described. However, each definition offered captures the essence of that particular economic philosophy. Therefore, looking at the economic plans of the current administration, it becomes obvious that it is fascist in its economic philosophy.
There are other warning signs that suggest that the current government of the US is in the embryonic stage of fascism. The listing of those with political, social and religious disagreements with the current dominate political party as potential terrorist threats such as occurred in the recent declassified Department of Homeland Security Document, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." The corruption of the election process to try and ensure single party dominance (i.e. the numerous indictments against the group ACORN, which is a de facto arm of the Democratic Party receiving federal funds to drum up votes for Democratic politicians, regardless of the legitimacy of those votes, hence the indictments). The total disregard for the constitutional republican form of government (i.e. the overturning of the constitutional amendments overwhelmingly supported and voted for by the people of California by a small number (3) of unelected judges).
These and several other occurrences all add up to warn us. We are far down the path to a fascist dictatorship. The question is, have we traveled too far to turn back and do we have the WILL to journey back to freedom? No nation has ever made the return trip. I believe America, unique among the nations of the earth, can reclaim her place as the leader of Liberty. But first we must acknowledge where we are and only then can we chart a return course to freedom.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Father Jenkins is not a Judas Iscariot. He is much worse than that. He is more akin to the High Priest Caiaphas, who had Jesus arrested, mocked and brought before Pilate. His actions are beyond traitorous because he should, and does, know better. His actions were the result of deliberate choice, not simply a misguided mistake. He has examined both good and evil and chosen to cast his lot with the dark side of rationalization and moral relativism.
I cannot follow the logic. Fr. Jenkins will have President Obama give the commencement speech at Notre Dame because he wants to foster dialogue with those who think it is alright to murder unborn children. Following this same logic, then we should invite Osama bin Laden and Ahmadinejad to dialogue about the Holocaust and the Jewish homeland. This is insane.
Father Jenkins has repeated Eve's big mistake. She had a dialogue with the serpent and look where that has gotten us. One does not dialogue with evil. One cannot negotiate with evil.
People of good will can have disagreements and can enter into negotiations as long as both parties are willing to abide by the results of the negotiations. But when one party has deceit and total victory as their only goal, it is foolishness, to negotiate with that party. They will never adhere to any agreement. Adolf Hitler broke every treaty anyone ever signed with him. The former Soviet Union did the same thing. They never kept any agreement the US negotiated with them. The US even broke its own treaties with most of the Native American tribes. As soon as one side thinks it has the upper hand, it will break the treaty.
Our enemy in this case is not flesh and blood ( Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic power of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. NRSV-CE). Our enemy has no interest in dialogue, negotiations or anything other than the death and destruction of as much of the human race as possible.
The arrest of Fr. Wensil during the Notre Dame protest is a great example. There was no discussion or dialogue. He protested the university's support and honoring of a person that advocates murdering unborn children and was arrested for it. Do you really think that an anti-war protester would have been arrested for protesting against a George Bush commencement address? Of course not. Such a protester would have been held up as a hero. But disagree with the current "rulers, authorities and cosmic powers of this present darkness" and you will be arrested and persecuted. They persecuted Jesus our Lord and Savior, and they will persecute us.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I just wanted to take a minute and thank all my new friends from Twitter. I have met many special and wonderful people, who have been very patient with me as I learn the art of blogging and twittering. Their Christian kindness and charity are just a small taste of heaven, and I want everyone to know how much I appreciate you and your faith. You truly make it fun to be part of the Body of Christ.
I especially want to give a "shout out" to Immaculatae for her incredible warmth and support. Her faithfulness to Our Lady and Our Blessed Savior is incredibly refreshing and encouraging. I am thankful that there are sisters and brothers out there like her that are praying for us. I will always be grateful to her for pointing me to the Mary Victrix website (http://maryvictrix.wordpress.com) which I thoroughly enjoy. Her own namesake blog, http://immaculatae.blogspot.com/ is wonderful and well worth following. Thank you Immaculatae, and may God richly bless you, and cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace.
There have been many people who have been very supportive and I hope no one is offended by not being mentioned. Everyone one of you has been prayed for and will continue to be prayed for and prayed with. (My grammar teacher would love that phrasing. LOL J) Too echo the Apostle Paul, "I give thanks to God at each remembrance of you…" God bless you all and keep on twittering.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
I have recently been reading a book entitled, The Empty Church written by Thomas C. Reeves. It describes in great detail the decline of the mainline Protestant churches in America. It is full of statistics and insightful quotes as to the cause of this decline. As a recent convert to Catholicism from a mainstream Protestant denomination, Southern Baptist, I was very interested to read his analysis.
As I read the book, I found myself quite often pausing to give thanks for the teaching authority of the Magisterium. It truly is a great blessing from God. It is also the reason the Catholic Church is able to withstand all the vicious attacks that come against it on a daily basis. Many of the same attacks that are destroying the mainline Protestant churches are actually making the Catholic Church stronger and more vibrant. There is no overarching authority in most mainline Protestant denominations. This results in repeated schism, adoption of doctrinal errors and loss of distinction between the churches and the secular world. In other words, the salt loses its flavor.
As each attack is rebuffed, the clergy and the Magisterium speak louder and with greater clarity. The laity become more aware of the teachings of the church and are better able to assimilate these teachings into their lives. A recent example of this process is the continuous attack upon the Church over her stand to defend the right to life of the unborn. This public debate has been raging between the Church and those that call themselves Catholic but refuse to follow the teachings of the Church. The recent announcement by Fr. Jenkins that Notre Dame University would be honoring the most vicious Pro-Death public official ever, President Obama, has given this disagreement a national audience and put it center stage.
The overwhelming response of the public-- over 350,000 signatures on a petition of protest against this decision-- has stunned many. The number of Bishops who have spoken out against this scandalous behavior has grown to over sixty-five. This has even encouraged a former US ambassador and Presidential candidate, Dr. Alan Keyes, to participate in a peaceful protest at Notre Dame, during which he was arrested for trespassing.
The point is that the Magisterium gives the church strength and authority especially in moments of crisis and scandal. Down through the ages, the church has been attacked, both from without and from within. The teaching authority of the Magisterium is the fulfillment of the promise of Christ that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. It is the authority of the Magisterium that allows the Catholic Church to remain true to the faith as taught by Jesus and His Disciples.
This current scandal has given our Bishops a chance to teach us and the world what it means to be Catholic in today's world. (Too bad Fr. Jenkins doesn't seem to be able to get the idea.) I challenge my fellow Catholics and my separated brothers and sisters to look more closely at this most wonderful and precious gift from heaven. There is much grace in embracing the Magisterium of the Church.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Eternal Vigilance. That is the price we must pay if we wish to maintain our freedom and pass it onto our posterity. Our enemy is old and ancient, far surpassing us in wisdom and guile. He is an ancient demon who does not rest but "Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour." 1 Pet.5:8 Eternal Vigilance. We must guard our hearts, our minds and our souls. We have been given much as a people and much is required of us. Much freedom requires much vigilance. Unfortunately, judging from the current state of affairs, we American Christians, especially we Catholics have not been vigilant. We have failed to guard our minds. We have allowed our educational institutions to exchange truth for a lie. We have allowed the enemy into the camp in the name of academic honesty when there is nothing honest about the enemy. We have exalted phrases like "dialogue" and "exchange of ideas", over the words of truth, logic and fidelity. We thought somehow that it made us stronger or more enlightened to allow the enemy to have unfettered access to our children. We agreed with the serpent, that the fruit does indeed look good. We have failed to guard our hearts. We allowed our spiritual leaders to constantly feed us milk without demanding the meat necessary for growth. We wanted our ears tickled instead of our hearts challenged. We must pray for our spiritual leaders, and prepare ourselves to be spiritual followers. We must guard our hearts by praying the Rosary and the Liturgy of the Hours daily. We must truly commit ourselves to be "soldiers of the Cross" and stand our post spiritually. We have failed to guard our souls. Have we traded our souls for the Madison Avenue version of the American dream; a big 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with 2 car garage, and 2.5 kids? The current state of materialism within the Christian community is a telltale sign that the answer to that question is yes. From the Protestant "prosperity gospel", (the belief that God really wants you to be rich, only your lack of faith prevents Him from blessing you with wealth), to the lack of charitable giving, (both in time and money) to the use of contraceptives by Protestants and Catholic couples alike (which really is a selfish and faithless act), the evidence is overwhelming. Our social standing has too often become more important than our spiritual standing. We must be eternally vigilant in guarding our hearts, minds, bodies and souls because they do not belong to us. They belong to God. We are His creation, the works of His hands. We should "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." But we should also render unto God that which is God's. Unfortunately I believe we as Christians have rendered unto Caesar that which is God's. We cannot save America from its downward spiral into tyranny until we as Christians return to our place of eternal vigilance. We must return to honoring God above honoring Caesar, fearing God more than fearing persecution and valuing human life above material possessions. May God bless us, protect us and give us courage.
Eternal Vigilance. That is the price we must pay if we wish to maintain our freedom and pass it onto our posterity. Our enemy is old and ancient, far surpassing us in wisdom and guile. He is an ancient demon who does not rest but "Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour." 1 Pet.5:8
Eternal Vigilance. We must guard our hearts, our minds and our souls. We have been given much as a people and much is required of us. Much freedom requires much vigilance. Unfortunately, judging from the current state of affairs, we American Christians, especially we Catholics have not been vigilant.
We have failed to guard our minds. We have allowed our educational institutions to exchange truth for a lie. We have allowed the enemy into the camp in the name of academic honesty when there is nothing honest about the enemy. We have exalted phrases like "dialogue" and "exchange of ideas", over the words of truth, logic and fidelity. We thought somehow that it made us stronger or more enlightened to allow the enemy to have unfettered access to our children. We agreed with the serpent, that the fruit does indeed look good.
We have failed to guard our hearts. We allowed our spiritual leaders to constantly feed us milk without demanding the meat necessary for growth. We wanted our ears tickled instead of our hearts challenged. We must pray for our spiritual leaders, and prepare ourselves to be spiritual followers. We must guard our hearts by praying the Rosary and the Liturgy of the Hours daily. We must truly commit ourselves to be "soldiers of the Cross" and stand our post spiritually.
We have failed to guard our souls. Have we traded our souls for the Madison Avenue version of the American dream; a big 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with 2 car garage, and 2.5 kids? The current state of materialism within the Christian community is a telltale sign that the answer to that question is yes. From the Protestant "prosperity gospel", (the belief that God really wants you to be rich, only your lack of faith prevents Him from blessing you with wealth), to the lack of charitable giving, (both in time and money) to the use of contraceptives by Protestants and Catholic couples alike (which really is a selfish and faithless act), the evidence is overwhelming. Our social standing has too often become more important than our spiritual standing.
We must be eternally vigilant in guarding our hearts, minds, bodies and souls because they do not belong to us. They belong to God. We are His creation, the works of His hands. We should "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." But we should also render unto God that which is God's. Unfortunately I believe we as Christians have rendered unto Caesar that which is God's.
We cannot save America from its downward spiral into tyranny until we as Christians return to our place of eternal vigilance. We must return to honoring God above honoring Caesar, fearing God more than fearing persecution and valuing human life above material possessions.
May God bless us, protect us and give us courage.
Friday, May 8, 2009
The most effective tool I have found for developing an attitude of prayer is the Rosary. It was given by Our Lady to us, for us. Please remember I am speaking as a former Protestant who did not even know what a "Hail Mary" was much less ever prayed one before. I just knew it was a type of play in football. I was 41 before I prayed my first Hail Mary.
The first Rosary I prayed lasted forever or so it seemed, but I muddled through it. Then I started praying the Rosary with Mother Angelica and the nuns at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery on EWTN radio. This really helped me as I could just follow along and become familiar with the new prayers I was learning.
As I prayed, I began to notice something. I could see and feel more of God's grace in my life. I began to have clearer understandings of Catholic teachings and the Holy Scriptures that I had read many times before, were now filled with new life and meaning. I began to realize the power of the Rosary. It released the Grace of God into my life to act according to His Will and to accomplish His Purpose.
The request to "teach us to pray" is a request to enter into the heart and mind of our Savior. The Rosary is an answer to that request by allowing the heart and mind of our Savior to enter into us.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
It never ceases to amaze me how often I forget to pray. Prayer is without a doubt the best thing a believer can do. It is our best and most powerful weapon. Yet, it is often the last thing that we do. We remember to pray only when all else fails or when we feel totally overwhelmed.
Prayer should be our FIRST response to everything, good or bad. If it is a good thing then prayers of thanksgivings and joy should flow from our hearts and our lips. In difficult times we should utter the same prayers of joy with the additions of our supplications and intercessions. How do we move from a prayer "last" lifestyle to a prayer "first" lifestyle? We must develop an "attitude" of prayer.
The best example of this attitude of prayer is Our Blessed Mother. Her attitude of prayer is best demonstrated in her answer, "Let it be with me according to your word" (LK 1:38). This is a prayer that should ever be on our lips. She demonstrates this "attitude of prayer" at the wedding at Canaan. After letting Jesus know of the need, (they had run out of wine), she simply turns to the servants and instructs then to do as He (Jesus) tells them. Her attitude was that He would do the right thing for everybody involved; we just need to be obedient? He knows our needs, and loves us with perfect love, and will never leave us or forsake us. So we pray without ceasing, always with prayers of joy, thanksgivings and supplications, in full agreement with Our Blessed Mother, saying "let it be with me according to your word." …
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I have learned more about God from my children than from all the theology books, commentaries, magazine articles, and spiritual devotions I have ever read, put together. I have learned more about God from my children than from all time I spent at seminary and college studying theology and religion.
I have learned more about God from my children than from all the CDs, videos, and television preachers and teachers that I have watched and listened to all these years. How can this be, you ask? Let me explain.
I had always heard about the love of God. As a child we are taught "Jesus loves me this I know." And as a child we accept that and understand it. But as we get older we often lose that child like acceptance that God loves us. At least that was the case for me. (Reference Rev 2:4)
Then one day as I was watching my children play, and enjoying their laughter and innocence, God gently spoke to me. He pointed to the immense love that was filling my heart. He said to me, "That love in your heart that you have for your children, is the same love I have for you."
I was stunned to say the least. I silently mediated on that love. I began to examine it and consciously allowed myself to sink deeper into it, suddenly aware that I was very close to the presence of the Divine.
It was here that the great truth of God's infinite love became real for me. Just as I loved each one of my children completely, unconditionally, and without end or limitations, so I realized that this was the way the Most Blessed Holy Trinity loved me. Just as my heart takes delight in the presence of my children, especially when I know they want to be with me and do things together with me, so I realized that God's heart takes great delight when we come to Him just to be in His presence, not wanting anything other than to sit on His lap and rest in His love.
My children can do nothing to separate themselves from my love. They can leave my presence but my love is always there. It is the same with God. Through our sin we can deny ourselves the awareness of God's presence, but His love is always there drawing us back to Him.
As I kneel during mass, at the foot of the Cross with my children next to me, I see my Beloved Savior smiling down at me. My heart can barely contain the joy and love that easily overwhelms a sinner such as I. As I prayed this past Easter Vigil, when my children were baptized and received their First Communion, "May God strike me dead if I ever forget the Great Love He has for me."
Friday, May 1, 2009
Christians missed a great opportunity to make a stand for Christ in 1962 and 1963. These are the years when the Supreme Court handed down their rulings abolishing prayer in public schools. Now I am not going to argue the legal merits of this issue. I am not even going to talk about the Constitutional issues involved. Instead I want to take an entirely different approach to the issue; one that I feel fits in with the nature of true Americans and devout Christians.
The day these decisions were handed down, all Christians should have immediately pulled their children out of the public school system. They should have either sent them to private schools, parochial schools, or home schooled them. They should have immediately followed this with a refusal to pay any taxes in support of the now "godless" system of public education, which is nothing more than indoctrination into the "religion" of secular humanism.
It should be known that I do not make these comments lightly. I understand what I am advocating. I also am putting my money where my mouth, and faith, is. I send all four of my children to private school. Is this something I can afford? The answer is no. It is only the provision of God which allows this to happen. I also know that it requires a great sacrifice by my wife, my family, and me. I am not tooting my own horn, I just want to let you know where I am coming from.
The time has come when we as Catholic and all Christians must be willing to take our place alongside the great witness of the martyrs. We must be willing to sacrifice our place in society for the message of the Gospel. If Caesar wants a "godless" school system then let him have one, but not with my children and not with my money.
The same goes with the issue of abortion. Since the government has decided to use tax payer monies to pay for abortions as well as embryonic stem cell research, at home and abroad, I feel a tremendous conflict is being pressed upon all Christians. I understand the Catechism's teachings concerning taxes and citizenship (CCC paragraph 2240). I also understand that immoral and unjust laws do not and should not be obeyed and in fact should be opposed.
The United States is unique in history in many ways. Unlike all other civilizations in the past and most in the present, we do not have a dictator, emperor, oligarchy, or theocracy which passes decrees that we must follow. We have a freedom to protest. We have the duty to peacefully assemble and petition our government for a redress of grievances. We have the right as American citizens and the duty as Christians to protest, but do we have the courage to suffer for protesting? The answer to that question will be the legacy of this generation of Christians.
Think about the poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller;
"When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
Then they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me."
We had best speak out now while there is still someone to hear.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
One of the wonderful hymns I grew up singing in my Southern Baptist church was "Trust and Obey." The words go like this,"Trust and obey, For there's no other way To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey." (Luckily you can only read this and you don't have to hear me sing it!) Simple words and a simple tune but they carry much truth.
During my journey to Catholicism I have come to learn the power of those words. Learning new theology is never an easy task nor is learning the Catholic culture. At least not for someone steeped in the Southern Baptist tradition (emphasis on SOUTHERN). Much about Catholicism is foreign to the rugged individualism, go it alone, and be your own man, rebel attitude which is engrained in virtually every southern male at birth. (It comes with the birth certificate, along with a love for football, fried chicken, biscuits and grits.)
However, to be happy in Jesus can only take place as we submit ourselves to His will. But what does it mean to submit to His will? How do we actually do that? The Catholic Church makes this easy. When we submit ourselves to the Magisterium of the Church, (whether not we understand or even agree with the them) out of honor to God, then God will honor our act of obedience by providing the grace necessary for the spiritual growth required to come into an understanding with His will. I have come to experience that the "understanding" often comes after the obedience, not before.
As with many converts, my road to Rome was filled with many questions. The traditional big stumbling blocks were the questions about the Blessed Virgin Mary, purgatory, indulgences, infallibility of the Pope, etc. However, once I accepted the teaching of Matthew 16, where Jesus gives the "keys" to Peter, everything else fell into place. I realized that the authority of Peter or the chair of Peter did not rest in man but in the promise of Christ. Because the authority was from God the Father, through Jesus His Son, then I had to obey the authority to be happy in Jesus. It was His promise that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" so the responsibility for maintaining that promise is His.
As long as I seek to honor Him by obeying His authority, it is His responsibility to guide me to the still waters. This He unfailingly does, as is evidenced by the great peace that seems to growth with each passing day. My life is still filled with many challenges and in some way the challenges are even greater now than before. But Jesus has shown me that I do not walk alone. I have the Most Blessed Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary (my spiritual mother) a whole host of Saints (dearly departed brothers and sisters in Christ), Angels, and the current body of Christ on Earth (the church, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ) all who have walked the path before me and now walk it with me.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Let's get one thing straight. I don't hate any person because they belong to a particular group, race or religion. I try very hard not to hate any person at all, although some make this very difficult. For me the issue of hate crime legislation is not about protecting or bashing one group over another. My objection to so called hate crime legislation is a philosophical one.
The hate crime legislation movement is seeking to criminalize politically incorrect thoughts, words and deeds. It is attempting to silence any opposition to its agenda. Sure the current legislation may be appealing to a certain group of people but what about fringe elements of other groups. Are we going to pass special legislation offering special protection to every special interest group or social subset out there? Do we really want the same court system that allowed O.J. to go free and sent Martha Stewart to jail, to be in charge of judging the thoughts, intentions and motivations of our hearts?
People are constantly harping on Christians, accusing them of being too judgmental, and yet they are willing to give a judge power to incarcerate someone for a"perceived" offense. The jails are already overcrowded with real criminals, serving real time for real crimes. Do we really want to waste the additional time and resources trying to enforce legislation concerning a person's thoughts and motives? It is also hard enough and costly enough to get a regular criminal conviction, now they want to place additional burdens on the District Attorneys. Hate crime laws will be make trials longer and more costly and provide more room for errors and mistrials.
The use of legislation to police the thoughts and motives of someone and to add extra punishment for a crime based on those motives completely undermines the concept of equal protection under the law. It is an unnecessary legislation, concerned more about making people feel good about an issue than actually doing anything to solve the real problem concerning that issue.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
In a video on YouTube, President Obama is shown making the following statement; "Whatever we once were, we're no longer a Christian nation. At least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, and a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers," He stated it again in an email to CBN News correspondent David Brody as reported by Aaron Klein in his World Net Daily article entitled "Obama: America is 'no longer Christian' Democrat says nation also for Muslims, nonbelievers" posted June 22, 2008. President Obama is quoted as saying, "I think that the right might worry a bit more about the dangers of sectarianism. Whatever we once were, we're no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers." He went on to say, "We should acknowledge this and realize that when we're formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we've got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community."
These comments should not shock anyone. The Federal Government has been telling us this for almost 60 years. They used the great MYTH of "separation of church and state" to force a reshaping of our Nation from the Judeo-Christian values of our fathers to the godless, secular values of modern Socialism. I realize that the U.S. has never had an official, state sponsored, established religion in the manner of most European and Middle Eastern nations, nor would we want such a system. We have, however, always been considered by everyone, both at home and abroad, as a Christian nation.
The Jewish immigrants, the Muslim immigrants, even the atheist immigrants, all knew they were coming to a "Christian" nation. They came because of the Christian nature of the country which guaranteed their religious, and economic freedom The concept that we have certain inalienable rights granted by our Creator and that we have the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (ownership of property) find their genesis and foundation only in the Christian faith. Without the belief in the Christian God we are at the mercy of tyrants, dictators and despots.
You can be an American and not be a Christian. But you will not be a free American for long if you deny the foundations upon which your freedom rest. The moment you transfer the source of your liberty from God to the government, the government will begin to take your liberty away.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Now would be a good time to answer the question, "What is Our Stay and Staff"?
The phrase came to me while reading in the book of Isaiah 3:1. "For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water," KJV. The stay is basically the sustenance or "bread" necessary for daily life. The staff refers to a "walking stick" or "rod" best pictured in common images of shepherds. Basically this verse says the LORD will remove from Jerusalem and Judah their complete sustenance or provision and their protection.
As I mediated on these verses, it came to me that Jesus Christ is our "Stay and Staff". He is our stay in that He Himself is our daily bread, necessary for eternal life. (See John 6:29-71) He is our whole stay, all that we need for life and life abundantly. He is "body and blood, soul and divinity," our complete provision. He is also our staff. The staff was used for three purposes. The first was for assistance with walking especially on the long journeys. If you have ever been hiking you are familiar with how much a good walking stick helps in the journey. Jesus walks with us on our daily journey, always there to encourage us and even carry us when the way gets to rough. The second purpose for the staff is for protection. He is our buckler and our shield, a mighty fortress for those that love and serve Him. The third purpose of a staff is for correction. Every time we go astray He gently, yet firmly corrects and disciplines us and brings back to the "green pastures."
So that is what I mean by Stay and Staff. It is just a reminder that Jesus is my All in All.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
First blog post ever so please be patient. I guess I had better start at the beginning. I was born Jan. 21… No just kidding, no reason to go that far back. My journey home to the Catholic Church is a long one and will not be interesting to most people so I will try to hit the high points.
I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church. I have always been to drawn to the Bible and God, (although I have not always lived like it). During my high school years I attended a lot of non denominational Bible Studies and learned a great deal about Scripture and Christian living from some wonderful, spiritual people. I owe them a debt I can never repay. I unfortunately also had a wild streak that would haunt me for many years to come.
I went to Charleston Southern University (formerly known as Baptist College at Charleston). It was while attending college that I decided to enter the ministry as a vocation. I got married while in school, and after graduating with a BA in Religion, moved to Fort Worth, Texas to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for graduate work. So far so good…
It was in seminary that my life took a major turn. I went through a divorce that left me confused, bewildered and basically lost. I questioned a lot of things, but the main question I was facing was why had my Faith failed. I was aware of my shortcomings. I admit I was immature and somewhat irresponsible at times. But all things considered my Faith should have been strong enough to overcome these short falls. After all, I was a devout Bible believing, sola scriptura (Bible as final authority only), sola fide (salvation by faith alone), Calvinistic, dispensationalist, died in the wool Protestant. I was fully versed in the Hal Lindsey/Jack Chick world of end time prophecy. I had a Ryrie study bible, all marked up with the keys passages highlighted in yellow. I was attending the premier (at least largest) evangelical protestant seminary in the world. My wife had spent her entire life in the Southern Baptist church. She was born while her father was attending seminary. He was a minister in a large prominent Baptist church. We had about as good a Protestant pedigree as a southern boy could hope for. And yet after a few short years we were divorced, while attending seminary no less. How could this have happened? Why wasn't the faith tradition I had been raised in strong enough to save my marriage. Why wasn't it strong enough to save me from myself?
I then began to question many things in my Baptist tradition. Where did the Scripture change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday? Where did the Scripture change the dietary laws? Where did the Scripture change the Feast Days (i.e. Passover, which the Jews were commanded to observe forever). These questions and many others could have best been summed up as "Who had the authority?" Every professor I ask had trouble answering these questions. There really was not a good Scripture-only answer to these questions.
This began an 18 year journey seeking for the answers to these questions. The next 4.5 years were total hell. I left seminary, got remarried, had 4 more kids (2 sets of twins) for a total of 5. The new wife and kids were a tremendous blessing from God. However the massive increase in responsibility, along with my inability to meet those responsibilities, added greatly to my sense of failure and futility. In my immaturity, I began to drink myself stupid every day. By 1995, I was ready to commit suicide. But God was not finished with me yet.
As I sat in the window seal on the 15th floor of an apartment building in downtown Amarillo, I had reached the end of the road. As I sat there and reviewed all that I had lost and thrown away (my 1st wife and baby daughter, on the verge of losing the 2nd family (they were living in Ft. Worth at this time), my career as a minister, my reputation and the respect of my family and colleagues, etc.) despair gave way to a deep dark depression and I decided to jump out the window and end the pain and misery that I felt and that I was causing to others. God miracously intervened at this point and very firmly and lovingly showed me that the pain would not end. He showed me that by killing myself I would inflict great pain and suffering on my children that would hurt them for the rest of their lives. It was not their fault, and they did not deserve to have that inflicted upon them. My conversation with God went like this:
God: "What are you doing?"
Me: "I am going to kill myself and end this. Look at the mess I have made of everything."
God: "That is an incredibly selfish thing to do. Is that the legacy you want to leave your children? When things get tough you just give up?"
Me: "What do you want from me? I tried to serve You. I believed in You. I believed in Your Bible. And yet here I am all messed up."
God: "You don't trust me."
Me: "WHAT? I just said I believe. I have professed a faith in Jesus Christ since I was a baby. I have always had faith."
God: "I SAID YOU DON'T TRUST ME. You believe but you don't trust."
Me: "What the hell are You talking about? (Understand, I don't normally talk to God like that but I was drunk and in great despair)"
God: "I have never seen the children of a righteous man begging for bread."
God: "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. I will honor those who honor me."
Me: "Huh?" (Me being dense) "What???"
God: "Trust. Believing is ok and good. But even the demons believe. I want you to TRUST me. You say you believe in the Bible but you do not follow what it says."
Me: "hmm… Okay how do I trust you?"
God: "Trust me"
It was at this point that I climbed back in the window and began to think about what just took place. I decided I would trust God but I did not know what He was talking about or how to even begin "trusting" as opposed to just believing. I decided I would find one passage or command in the Bible and follow it. This began the process of learning to trust God especially when things did not make since to me. I won't bore you any of the details but this began the long turn back to God.
I moved back to Ft. Worth to my family. I did not have any answers at this point but I was determined to TRUST God no matter what. At this point we began to attend a Messianic Jewish Congregation. I realize now that God had to take me back to the beginning to set few things straight. We attended there a couple of years and really enjoyed that experience. I learned a great deal there, especially about Liturgy and the fact that the Bible is a liturgical book, and God instructs us to worship Him in a Liturgical manner. (This was part of the whole learning to TRUST even when it did not make since thing.) I was however, still very anti-Catholic. I was convinced that the Catholic Church was full of paganism, manmade rules and regulations. I was also convinced that was the problem with the Baptist. I also found that to be the problem with the Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and the non – denominational churches we attended over the next few years. I could easily find errors in doctrines or traditions that I felt conflicted with Scripture. (Man, was I arrogant).
Then about 3 years ago, while staying at a friend's house in Arkansas, I watched a little program on EWTN called Mother Angelica Live. I immediately feel in love with her. I began to watch more of the programming and soon discovered a priest named Fr. Corapi. I loved his dynamic teaching and his pointed wit. Then I discovered Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Fr. Groschel and Dr. Scott Hahn. They were speaking, teaching and preaching a tremendous love for God and ministering to me in a very real and personal way. And all their teachings were extremely Biblically sound. I could not poke holes in it like I could with almost all the other Protestant ministers I had listened to (John Hagee, Jessis Duplantis, James Dobson, and Charles Stanley, etc.). And I noticed that they all had something in common. They were CATHOLIC. Uh oh. How could this be? The Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon, full of idolters who loved Mary more than Jesus, prayed to statues and after all, everybody knows the Pope is the anti- Christ. But this is not what I was hearing and seeing on EWTN.
I do not remember knowing any Catholics growing up. There were a couple in my high school I think but I really did not know any. They may have been Catholic but I was unaware of it. This is no reflection upon them. It was just that I was unaware. There were none I can think of at my college, (it was a Baptist College after all). I had met a couple of priest who were Army Chaplains and I was impressed with their piety but I figured they were the exceptions not the norm. EWTN was the first exposure I had to what the Church really taught. I, considering myself a student of theology and Scripture, decided that I would find out what the Catholic Church actually taught and then I could reject it with a clear conscience.
I got a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and began studying. I continued to listen to EWTN and even added Pope John Paul II to my list of teachers. Soon, I fell in love with the Church. I realized that so much of my spiritual heritage had been hidden from me. I discovered a depth of spiritual teaching that was absent in Protestantism. I also found the answer to the great question, "Who had the authority…?" The Church had the authority given to her by Christ Himself through Peter and the Apostles. God was saying "Trust me, trust My Church." This was the missing element of my faith, the Magisterium of the Church. This is not intended to slight the faith I was taught and grew up with. I will always be thankful and grateful for the faith I learned from my parents, grandparents and extended family. I learned to love Jesus and Scripture in a very personal way. I would not trade that for anything. But it is in the Catholic Church that I have come to find the fullness of the Faith. This past Easter my twin boys (Jeremiah and Nick, 17) and my twin girls (Katie and Hannah, 14) were received into full communion with the Church. I and my wife will be joining them soon. Please pray for us as we continue this journey.
I will post more later as I continue to fill in the missing blanks….