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.