Guest Posted By tim, The Godless Heathen
Two things I'll do today to commemorate the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade SCOTUS decision.
First, link to Mark Shea who speaks from his heart and for me:
The right to life remains the fundamental issue contested in our culture. God defend children from the scourge of abortion and God forgive us for enshrining a right to murder at the heart of our civilization.
May Roe v. Wade and all its evils be blotted out someday and this tragic choice to find happiness through murder be finally repented just as definitively as the choice to find prosperity through slavery was.
He's got a video over there detailing why some of us fight for this issue. Go and watch.
The second thing I'll do is post this brutally honest picture that speaks for many of us:
God bless her bluntness.
God give more of us courage to stand up for the unborn, for the dignity of every human life.
“The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right -- it is the very opposite. It is a deep wound in society.”
~Pope Benedict XVI
The difference between Christianity and secularism is not the difference between two competing
worldviews, faiths, or philosophies, but a difference between a meaningful universe and and objective silliness. The project of secularism has not been to assert anything non-religious (for indeed, how could one assert a ‘non’?) but to rename the religious. The cathedral becomes the museum, Christmas becomes Wintertide, Charity becomes philanthropy, the ethics of Christ become the ethics of ‘rational and advanced human beings’ (with modifications), the sacrament of marriage becomes a ceremony, the City of St. Francis becomes San Francisco, baptism becomes a useful literary symbol, we forget the ‘holy’ in ‘holiday,’ the ‘God be by you’ in ‘goodbye,’ as the French forget the ‘a dieu’ (to God) in adieu — this ‘renaming’ is really no more than a separation of things from their origins and of words from their meanings. The universe that results is obscure, awkward, ill-fit, absurd — everything without explanation. But this is the perverse blessing of secularism, that the degree to which everything is without explanation is the degree to which Christianity asserts herself as the explanation.
There's much more and it's truly rich.
Consider passing it on to that friend of yours who's constantly haranguing religion in general and Christianity specifically.
Watch the veins in his neck bulge.
You know that's fun.
Late last night, post the President's State of the Union address, Dana Milbank over at the Washington Post, put up the following:
Not since before the 2001 terrorist attacks has there been such a disconnect between the nation’s focus and the condition of the world. As threats multiply in the Middle East and Europe, President Obama delivered on Tuesday night an annual message to Congress that was determinedly domestic. And his inward-looking gaze is shared by lawmakers and the public.
Thousands of foreign fighters have joined with Muslim extremists in Syria and Iraq, and their fanatical cause has inspired sympathizers across the globe: 17 killed by terrorists in Paris; terrorism raids and a shootout in Belgium; a hunt for sleeper cells across Europe; a gunman attacking the Canadian Parliament; an Ohio man arrested after buying guns and ammunition, allegedly with plans to attack the Capitol. Even Australia has raised its terrorist threat level.
And yet, when it comes to countering the terror threat in America, the State of the Union is nonchalant. “We are 15 years into this new century, 15 years that dawned with terror touching our shores,” Obama said at the start of his speech. “It has been, and still is, a hard time for many. But tonight, we turn the page.”
I post the Milbank piece because much earlier in the day, I came across this horrifying news put up over on Yahoo News:
The UN on Tuesday decried numerous executions of civilians in Iraq by the Islamic State group, warning that educated women appeared to be especially at risk.The jihadist group is showing a "monstrous disregard for human life" in the areas it controls in Iraq, the UN human rights office said.
The group, which controls large swathes of territory in Iraq and in neighbouring war-ravaged Syria, last week published pictures of the "crucifixions" of two men accused of being bandits, and of a woman being stoned to death, allegedly for adultery.
Numerous other women have also reportedly been executed recently in IS-controlled areas, including Mosul, spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters.
"In just the first two weeks of this year, reports indicate that three female lawyers were executed," Shamdasani said.
A number of other groups are also targeted by the jihadists, Shamdasani said, pointing to "the ruthless murder of two men, who were thrown off the top of a building after having been accused of homosexual acts by a so-called court in Mosul."
Minorities are not the only ones suffering, with IS meting out "cruel and inhuman punishments" to anyone accused of violating its "extremist interpretations of Islamic Sharia law, or for suspected disloyalty," she said.
More detail on some of these heinous and un-Godly events over at Vice News but be forewarned, that link is not for the faint of heart.
While Obama turns the page on terror, the terrorists are rewriting the book on what it means to be evil; his head buried in the proverbial sand while the derrières of far too many innocents are increasingly exposed.
I've had the sense for some time now that something big, something ugly, something calamitous is coming. My hope is that it's nothing more than paranoia fed by the ineptness and apathy being shown by this administration and my reaction to the evil the world seems to be ignoring.
Lord help us all if it isn't.
There'd be lots of Olympic hopefuls looking to compete and it seems there'd have to be a butt load of qualifying heats to get to the main event given the number of participants I'm seeing actively engaged in bitching about this Pope on social media.
The latest Papal kerfluffle has to do with these words used to respond to a question about birth control:
I think the number of 3 (children) per family that you mentioned, it is the one experts say is important to keep the population going,. three per couple. When it goes below this, the other extreme happens, like what is happing in Italy. I have heard, I do not know if it is true, that in 2024 there will be no money to pay pensioners (because of) the fall in population.
Therefore, to give you an answer, they key word is the one the Church always uses all the time and even I use it: it is responsible parenthood. how do we do this? With dialogue. Each person with his pastor seeks how to do that responsible parenthood.
That example i mentioned shortly before about that woman who was expecting her eighth (child) and already had seven who were born with caesareans. That is an irresponsibility (That woman might say) 'no but I trust in god' But God gives you methods to be responsible. Some think that, excuse me if i use that word, that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood! This is clear and that is why in the church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can seek and i know so many, many ways out that are licit and that have helped this. You did well to ask me this.
Another thing in relation to this is that for the most poor people, a child is a treasure. It is true that you have to be prudent here too but for them a child is a treasure. (Some would say) 'God knows how to help me' and perhaps some of them are not prudent, this is true. Responsible paternity but let us also look at the generosity of that father and mother that see a treasure in every child.
The bolded words are what's generating lots of heat in hater circles. So much heat.
This morning I found that which I think best deals with what's going on from Simcha Fisher:
Look, this is our Pope. He’s kind of a blabbermouth, and sooner or later, he’s going to irritate just about everybody. And no, this isn’t the first time he’s said something that makes me go, “Oy.” All the more reason to pick your head up out of the constant stream of gabble in the media from time to time, take a deep breath, and focus on your own family and your own spiritual life, rather than diving headfirst into the outrage du jour. (And yes, that means you might end up reading my blog less. Go ahead, I can take it!)
Anyway, Phillips was nice enough to recommend my book as an antidote to some of the confusion over what the Church actually teaches about family size, and how to balance the seemingly contradictory ideas of responsibility and generosity. I do hope that it helps!
I guess if Catholics want the beautiful teaching of the Church to be better understood by a skeptical world, then it would behoove us to spend our energy, you know, using these dust-ups as an opportunity for sharing and explaining that teaching, rather than constantly bitching about the Pope.
Catholicism is indeed a beautiful faith. Easily misunderstood, let there be no doubt, by the shallow who refuse to go deeper yet the beauty remains, beauty that will be found by the honest seeker.
Catholics concerned about the Pope's words need to look at the longer view here. The strategy is to attract people to the faith, to give society the opportunity to speak about the important moral issues of the day, to bring people to Christ, to do so by in essence speaking their language and meeting them where they are. The pope is doing that.
Let's be patient with him.
Let's not squander these opportunities.
Let's not look to participate in the Pope bitching.
Let's finish the much larger race and not be distracted by the enemy.
I don’t believe in transubstantiation (i.e. “the bread and the wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist become, not merely as by a sign or a figure, but also in actual reality the body and blood of Christ.”) Here’s a funny story (at least to me). I was talking with a Catholic friend a long time ago about communion. I had totally gotten the Catholic perspective wrong. I thought they believed that it literally turned into flesh and blood. I teased and told him to go take communion and when he came back I would stick my finger down his throat and we would see what came up, bread and wine, or flesh and blood. LOL I now understand that the doctrine is not literal. I am assuming that it is meant to be understood spiritually. I am guessing it helps worshippers to feel part of the mystical body of Christ. However, it doesn’t make sense to me. Aren’t Catholics always a part of the body of Christ, even if they for whatever reason haven’t had communion for a while. My thoughts: I believe that communion is an indispensible church rite that affects or can affect worshippers in a profound spiritual way. In fact, I believe that when taken by faith it has the effect of strengthening or re-strengthening (not sure the best use of words here) the bond we have with Christ. I guess in a way if reaffirms in the heart of the believer who they belong to (again, not sure the best way to describe.) But to say “the bread and the wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist become, not merely as by a sign or a figure, but also in actual reality the body and blood of Christ” is untenable to me. And another point: Suppose I believe that communion is purely symbolic (which I don’t) and suppose I take communion with all the faith humanly possible and yet don’t know or understand that God may do more in the spiritual realm than I realize, does my lack of understanding prevent God from blessing me more fully (spiritually). I don’t believe it does. I’m sure that many catholic’s have no depth of understand of what may or may not take place spiritually when they take communion, but the fact that they take it by faith symbolically or otherwise is what matters. I don’t see the need to divide people (i.e. differentiate true believers from non-true believers) on this point. But my lack of belief in transubstantiation as I understand it disqualifies me to be a catholic – correct?
There is no real way, in a single post, to deal with the subject at hand in a comprehensive way. There simply isn't. What I can do however is first have the reader (and hopefully Pastor Pete) watch what follows, something that I think gives an excellent introductory perspective to the notion of The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist:
I recall my own struggle with the Real Presence.
I remember wanting to believe but not quite crossing the chasm that existed. But then, during RCIA, I had a brief but powerful confession with the priest who is now my pastor and he helped me bridge the divide.
I've not been the same since.
Many others have crossed that same divide including Mark Shea:
And the more I read Scripture and church history, the more convinced I became that it was. For Jesus wasn't kidding around when he said, "This is my body. This is my blood." Yes, the Sacrament is symbolic. Even the Catholic Church says so. My mistake, as an Evangelical, was to try to insist that it was only symbolic. But from Jesus (who said, "This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51)) to Paul (who warned the Corinthians that in receiving Eucharist unworthily they would be "sinning against the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:27)) to a host of Fathers, saints, martyrs, virgins, theologians, and doctors of the church, the resounding cry was unanimous: Eucharist was not only symbolic. It was, in the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch (a man who heard St. John the Apostle with his own ears), "the flesh of our Savior, Jesus Christ" (Epistle to the Smyrnaeans). This was why St. John Chrysostom, echoing the unanimous Faith of the first thousand years of the Church, declared of Eucharist: "When you see it exposed, say to yourself: Thanks to this body, I am no longer dust and ashes, I am no more captive but a free man." Indeed, he boldly states, "This is that body which was once covered with blood, pierced by a lance, from which issued saving fountains upon the world, one of blood and the other of water" (Commentary on Corinthians).
In short, I discovered it was my Evangelical "mere symbolism" approach that was the new kid on the block. It was the Catholic picture that was the clear outgrowth of the biblical and patristic data. The Eucharist really was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. It was not only beautiful, it was true and rooted as deeply in the apostolic teaching as the Resurrection. And that was why I came to believe in it and in the rest of the teaching of the Church. Beauty, practicality, comfort, happiness and the rest were glad bonuses, to be sure. But it was truth that won me.
I hope this post serves not as an end-all to Pastor Pete's (and anybody else's) objections but as an appetizer of sorts to seek more on this.
Carry on dear reader.
UPDATE: Kathy has in the comments published a link to the transcript of the following Fr. Barron video, one I linked to above, that I think does an outstanding job explaining not only the Real Presence but how mechanically the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.
Excellent find Kathy:
~Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Thoughts for Daily Living)
The place to begin is not in the minutiae but in establishing whether the Church has authority and is trustworthy. If one settles that question in the affirmative, the rest is about conforming our will to God's.
It's with that in mind that I link to Fr. Longenecker's latest piece on the importance and relevance of Apostolic Succession when defending the Catholic faith from its detractors:
Whenever I am involved in conversations with non-Catholic Christians I go straight to the authority question. If that question is not resolved then every other discussion is only matter of swapping opinions.
It is important, therefore to be clear on the basics of the Catholic understanding of authority.
It is rooted in the fact that Jesus Christ was sent by God and had all authority on heaven and earth. (Mt 22:18)
Jesus exercised this authority by 1. Teaching the truth 2. Healing the sick 3. Vanquishing the Devil. He told his apostles to continue this work. (Mt. 22:19)
He delegated that authority to his apostles because he said, “As the Father has sent me I am sending you.” (Jn 20:21)
The apostles appointed their successors who are the bishops and priests of the Catholic Church.
Fr. Longenecker then cites a number of early Christians to bolster his case and then concludes:
This is why Catholic priests and the Catholic faithful need to be true to the teachings of the Catholic faith. Without it we are simply trading in our own opinions. When we contradict church teachings, dissent from Church teachings we are taking ourselves outside the line of authority and our views–no matter how seemingly reasonable and no matter how passionately we hold them–are dust in the wind.
They have no more authority or weight than anyone else’s opinions. You may argue your point and rage against the authority of the church, but step outside it and you are on your own.
The analogy I use is that of the barque of Peter. Launch out on your own and your on the wild and wide open sea in little more than a self inflated life raft.
The barque of Peter may be an old ship. She may be creaky and leaky at times. She may have troubles in the engine room and the cargo in the hold may be rotting, but she’s still more seaworthy than your own little lifeboat, and even though she may be tossed about by the winds and stormy seas she’ll make it to the port at last.
I go back to something I said in the initial post of the series:
If, as Pastor Pete suggests, we are disqualified to be Catholic, we are disqualified only by our unwillingness to see and recognize authority outside of ourselves.
Glad to see that I'm saying, less eloquently, what Fr. Longenecker is saying.
It means I'm learning.
The massacres in Paris were horrific, and people are rightly scared and outraged. Nothing justifies the slaughter, and the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue is dead wrong to claim that the editor ofCharlie Hebdo is partly to blame for “the role he played in his tragic death.” Stéphane Charbonnierand the others who were killed were victims of an evil terrorist act (as were those murdered at the kosher Hyper Cacher supermarket), and to suggest they somehow contributed to their own deaths is to go too far toward justifying the killing.
In the reaction to the massacre, however, those who died at Charlie Hebdo have been claimed not only as victims but as heroes and martyrs for free speech and tolerance. This makes me uneasy. Not every victim is a martyr, and one does not become a hero simply by offending people. Hustler’s Larry Flynt did not make himself a hero of free speech by running cartoons of women being gang raped as “entertainment.”
People who defend the right of people to offend, on the other hand, sometimes do act heroically. Some might claim the ACLU as heroes for defending the right of neo-Nazis to march in the heavily Jewish town of Skokie, Illinois. No decent person, however, would claim Frank Collins and his pathetic band of Nazis as heroes for trying to provoke the citizens of Skokie.
As the Skokie case illustrates, the right to offend is rarely as clear-cut as defenders of free speech make it sound. A friend of mine who lived in Skokie for years has remarked on how odd it is that you can march down the middle of the street brandishing swastikas and chanting anti-Semitic slogans, but you can’t smoke a cigarette within thirty feet of a public building. The difference between the two acts can be explained in terms of the difference between speech and acts—or “names” and “sticks and stones”—but even liberal societies recognize that some kinds of speech can break bones. At all levels of society there are sanctions against “hate speech.” Although Germany today is a liberal democracy, it is illegal to march there under the Nazi banner, because some kinds of speech have real consequences.
The editors of Charlie Hebdo themselves recognized the importance of some limits. In 1996, they gathered 170,000 signatures on a petition calling for the right-wing National Front party to be banned. In 2000, journalist Mona Chollet was fired from the magazine after protesting an article by editor Philippe Val in which he called Palestinians “non-civilized.” In 2008, Val fired veteran cartoonist Siné over an article deemed anti-Semitic.
Such limits, however, did not seem to apply in other cases. Charlie Hebdo published cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in pornographic poses, nuns masturbating, a black cabinet minister as a monkey, and the three persons of the Trinity locked in a homosexual orgy. They did not just lampoon Muslim terrorists à la The Onion, whose first post-9/11 issue hilariously declared “Hijackers Surprised to Find Selves in Hell.” Charlie Hebdo attacked Muslims as such, as well as Christians and many others. In a liberal society, they certainly have the legal right to do so. To hold them up as heroes and martyrs for tolerance, however, seems acutely inappropriate.
There's more at the link and it aligns I think with what the Pope had to say yesterday on his flight to the Phillipines, words causing lots of teeth gnashing in certain circles.
And in an irony of ironies, overnight I was unfriended on Facebook by a Catholic who was quick to criticize the Pope for his words but quicker still to unfriend me when I defended him.
This, from Jim Patterson over at The Hill.com, is devastating particularly since he was earlier an Obama supporter:
The utter failure of the Obama administration can be measures in so many ways, from the number of beheaded American journalists, to embarrassing heads of state by spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkle’s personal mobile phone, to callously calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a war hero, “chicken shit” and a “coward.”
Secretary of State John F. Kerry, a longtime member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggests Israel is an apartheid state. By supporting Hamas and its ally the Palestinian Authority, Obama and Kerry have threatened the lives of Jews around the world in the name of human rights for terrorists.
He doesn’t realize Gaza is occupied by terrorist Hamas intent on killing Israeli children until they destroy the Jewish state. Kerry thinks Tweeting will stop the Russian war on the Ukraine. America is without a foreign policy at a dangerous time.
Obama and Kerry sit on their hands as international cyberattacks proliferate raising security costs for U.S. corporations and small businesses, and prices for consumers. They allow cyberterrorists to steal national security data and threaten the White House, NATO, the National Security Agency, the Defense Department and other government agencies.
Due to Obama’s total inaction, the U.S. is great risk of a crippling cyber doomsday, a day when there is no Internet. The president gets tough on nuclear enabled North Korea for hacking a worthless Hollywood film, while he does nothing to prevent such attacks on the national security of our nation and military, diplomatic and industrial assets abroad.
Our country is leaderless on security. Voters realized this in November and voted for change in Congress. Voters want Congress to reverse the leaderless Obama administration with strategies to prevent the continued decline of the United States that Obama is helpless to address.
Both Obama and Kerry refused to participate in the Paris rally for liberty in the wake of radical Islamic terror attacks on press freedom. What are their priorities? They won’t participate with the civilized world by declaring war on radical Islam. What are their values? They are inviting more vicious killings of journalists and freedom loving people around the world by doing nothing.
Americans, including this writer, symbolically voted for an African American president in hopes he could lead our country nationally and internationally and that he could put to rest lingering racial issues. Racial tensions are greater today than in the 1960’s. The world is on the brink of disaster.
The Obama administration is asleep. The president doesn’t want to wake up until his term is over so he can proclaim his great single accomplishment: Being the nation’s first African American president. His record is void of any substantive accomplishments.
Congress has considerable work to do bring our nation back from the brink of Obama’s multiple leadership disasters. I am confident Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and the growing rank of Democrats disgusted by what Obama has done to our country and the globe can reverse course.
Congress must realize Obama is no longer relevant. He has wasted his opportunity to lead. He has lost the confidence of the American people and world leaders. It is Congress that must lead.
That, and more, from a former diplomat being... diplomatic.
Here’s why America’s failure to be represented at the Paris unity march was so profoundly disturbing. It wasn’t just because President Obama’s or Vice President Biden’s absence was a horrendous gaffe. More than this, it demonstrated beyond argument that the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national security policy in the next two years. It’s simply too dangerous to let Mr. Obama continue as is—with his current team and his way of making decisions. America, its allies, and friends could be heading into one of the most dangerous periods since the height of the Cold War.
Before I continue, I have to tell you that I’ve never made such extreme and far-reaching proposals in all my years in this business. I’ve never proposed such a drastic overhaul. But if you think hard about how Mr. Obama and his team handled this weekend in Paris, I think you’ll see I’m not enjoying a foreign policy neurological breakdown.
That, and more, from a former New York Times columnist being... less than New York Times-ish on this President.
It's the hope and change many of us have been looking for. The question for us all, is it too late?
I pray not.
The Anchoress reacts to a Frank Bruni piece in The New York Times arguing for limiting religious freedom in the public square.
Bruni argues that our society would not tolerate a Muslim refusing service to an unveiled woman, or a Mormon refusing to serve a coffee drinker, but does he mean it? How far is he willing to take that supposition? If an African-American launderer refused to wash the sheets of a klansman, what would society say? I’m pretty sure society would say, “The conscience of the African-American launderer matters, and he is entitled to it, especially when the klansman has other launderers to choose from.”
That has nothing to do with a church. It is a matter of a person’s conscience.
I could be wrong. Society might surprise me and say, “the launderer has no right to his conscience and must serve the klansman.” And then we will have the same cause to be concerned about rights and freedoms in 21st century America, had the question involved a church. Once we start hammering away at conscience and religious freedom, where does it stop? Does Bruni have no worries that down the road a Muslim hal-al butcher, his religious freedom become fragile under repeated assault, could theoretically find himself compelled to serve bacon, because the neighbors really, really want it, and his shop is the closest?
I’m only half serious about that last bit. But it’s a serious half.
Bruni offers a conciliatory note, here:
I respect people of faith. I salute the extraordinary works of compassion and social justice that many of them and many of their churches do…
Does Bruni realize that these extraordinary works he so admires are born of a long-standing Christian conscience that demands a preferential option for the poor? Catholic men and women were the ones inventing social services and free hospitals and educational programs for women and for the masses before the government even thought about it. Those social services he supports, advocates and admires are a legacy of Catholicism, fully engaged with the world.
And I support the right of people to believe what they do and say what they wish — in their pews, homes and hearts.
And there they are, the brass knuckles hidden within the velvet glove of praise: Bruni supports not the free exercise of religion but a freedom of worship; keep it in the pews, in the home, in your heart, and he’s fine with you, but don’t bring your religious conscience into the public square, where he has to encounter it, because his tolerance does not extend too far.
Of course there's more and it's worth your time.
Elizabeth Scalia is always worth your time.
Looking forward to what it is Don Johnson is doing:
Why would intelligent, successful people give up their careers, alienate their friends, and cause havoc in their families...to become Catholic? Indeed, why would anyone become Catholic?
Will definitely keep an eye out for what promises to be a most interesting project.
I don't listen to him as often as I once did. Maybe this had something to with it. Maybe.
But I'd like to know if he's responded:
Pope Francis is insisting that his concern for the poor and critique of the global economic system isn't some novel, communist-inspired ideology but rather the original and core "touchstone" of the Christian faith.
Some U.S. conservatives have branded the first Latin American pope a Marxist for his frequent critiques of consumerism and focus on a church "that is poor and for the poor." But in an interview contained in a new book, Francis explains that his message is rooted in the Gospel and has been echoed by church fathers since Christianity's first centuries.
"The Gospel does not condemn the wealthy, but the idolatry of wealth, the idolatry that makes people indifferent to the call of the poor," Francis says in "This Economy Kills," a study of the pope's economic and social teachings, excerpts of which were provided Sunday to The Associated Press.
Specifically, Francis summarized a verse from the Gospel of Matthew which is the essential mission statement of his papacy: "I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was in prison, I was sick, I was naked and you helped me, clothed me, visited me, took care of me."
"Caring for our neighbor, for those who are poor, who suffer in body and soul, for those who are in need: this is the touchstone. Is it pauperism? No. It is the Gospel."
He cites church fathers dating to St. Ambrose and St. John Chrysostom as expressing the same concerns, and noted somewhat wryly that if he had said the same "some would accuse me of giving a Marxist homily."
"As we can see, this concern for the poor is in the Gospel, it is within the tradition of the church, it is not an invention of communism and it must not be turned into some ideology, as has sometimes happened before in the course of history," an apparent reference to the Latin American-inspired liberation theology.
I'd like to know what Limbaugh's response either was (if I missed it) or will be (if I haven't).
And I'm hoping this time, he's more thoughtful.
Leave it in the comments if you know.
“Another escape hatch for unadmitted guilt is cynicism. The difference between the pessimist and the cynic is that the pessimist carries on the losing battle against life in his own soul, while the cynic tries to wage the battle in someone else’s soul. His own inner defeat, the cynic projects onto others; because he is unhappy, he tries to make them unhappy by ridiculing the basis of their inner peace. Such a person tries to free himself from guilt by projecting it onto his neighbor.”
~Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Lift Up Your Heart)
2014 was a big year for our family when it came to weddings.
My oldest son married his sweetheart, we saw two nieces and my cousin's daughter get married, and we attended the wedding of an old friend of mine, someone I worked with many years ago.
In June, my youngest son will be married, and there are hints of yet another marriage in the family being planned.
Which brings me to a song I've listened to numerous times before but only this morning did I really pay attention to the lyrics.
Here's what the writers of the song had to say about it:
“Marriage is tough. We bring a lot of fairytales to the picture when it comes to marriage. We bring them to the altar with us [thinking]: ‘This is going to be perfect. We don’t have to be apart. We can just wake up together every morning and no one is going to have morning breath. We’re not going to have any problems.’ And then the problems hit and you don’t know where to file those into your picture. . . The idea I’m trying to say is: ‘Can you lay down who you thought I was and love the ‘me’ that is? Can we take this from where we are now and realize that I can’t be that person?’ Only God is going to be able to make this work and broken people can be broken together. To me, it’s probably the most important song on the record.”
Find a quiet place, particularly if you're married, whether newly so or not, and give this a listen and a ponder:
I don’t believe that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus and I don’t see any reason to hold that view in order to be saved from eternal damnation and be catholic. She obviously needed to be a virgin at the conception of Jesus in order to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah concerning the virgin birth of Jesus. The Bible definitely refers to Jesus’ brothers and sisters, despite attempts to explain them away. So what if she was intimate with Joseph after Jesus’ birth. I say good for her and good for Joseph. Marital intimacy is a God given blessing. It isn’t something to look down on as immoral or some sort of human imperfection. It is something to praise God for. So unless there is some reason that escapes me, I don’t see the reason to divide people (i.e. differentiate true believers from non-true believers) on this point.
I think it best to start with what the Catechism (499-500) teaches:
Mary - "ever-virgin"499 The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ's birth "did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it." And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the "Ever-virgin".500 Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, "brothers of Jesus", are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls "the other Mary". They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.
More on the latter point:
The perpetual virginity of Mary has always been reconciled with the biblical references to Christ’s brethren through a proper understanding of the meaning of the term "brethren." The understanding that the brethren of the Lord were Jesus’ stepbrothers (children of Joseph) rather than half-brothers (children of Mary) was the most common one until the time of Jerome (fourth century). It was Jerome who introduced the possibility that Christ’s brethren were actually his cousins, since in Jewish idiom cousins were also referred to as "brethren." The Catholic Church allows the faithful to hold either view, since both are compatible with the reality of Mary’s perpetual virginity.Today most Protestants are unaware of these early beliefs regarding Mary’s virginity and the proper interpretation of "the brethren of the Lord." And yet, the Protestant Reformers themselves—Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli—honored the perpetual virginity of Mary and recognized it as the teaching of the Bible, as have other, more modern Protestants.
For most of Christian history, Mary’s Perpetual Virginity was a commonplace belief, even well into the Protestant Reformation. But in our hyper-sexualized culture— and, like it or not, this is the culture in which Christians and non-Christians are now submerged like fish in the sea—people find it extremely difficult to contemplate the possibility of a life of virginity as anything but one of unbearable deprivation. So before we ever get to discussing what Scripture says, we’ve got a gigantic cultural hostility to virginity to overcome.Moreover, of course, our cultural biases aren’t confined to sex. Many card-carrying members of our consumer culture will wonder why anyone would choose to believe in something like Mary’s Perpetual Virginity. Behind such thinking is the notion of the Catholic faith as a mere smorgasbord of “belief options” that are there to accessorize our fashion choices. And so, conventional wisdom says: If you’re one of those strange souls who “like” virginity, then you can choose to believe in Mary’s Perpetual Virginity because it “suits your lifestyle.” But if you’re not one of these odd ducks, then why bother believing it?The answer is that the Catholic faith is not a product of consumer culture. It proposes certain truths to us, not because they suit our lifestyle, but because they’re true.
If, as Pastor Pete suggests, we are disqualified to be Catholic, we are disqualified only by our unwillingness to see and recognize authority outside of ourselves.
UPDATE: A cyber-friend of mine made the sound argument that I had left unanswered Pastor Pete's objections to the Catholic notion that Mary and Joseph were never intimate, particularly in light of Pastor Pete's rightly expressed opinion that God blesses marital sexual union. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls it “noble and honorable,” established by God so that spouses can “experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit.” (#2362).
Answering Pastor Pete's objection lies in first coming to understand how Catholics see Mother Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant.
HH Ambrose, in a piece titled 4 Biblical Reasons Mary Is The New Ark of the Covenant, covers the following points in detail:
The Old Ark Was the Physical Dwelling Place of the Shekinah Glory
The New Ark Was the Physical Dwelling Place of the Word Incarnate
Ark Contained the Commandments, Manna, & Aaron’s Rod
New Ark Contained Christ Our Lord: Logos, Bread of Life, King/Priest
King David & the Ark
Elizabeth & the New Ark
The Old Was Lost
The New Ark is Found
Read Ambrose's entire piece and then, with that as background, ponder this from a Catholic named Aaron Traas who answers Pastor Pete's question directly:
What would have been so horrible about her and Joseph enjoying the intimacy God provided for a married couple?
It's not that it would have been horrible -- indeed, it is good for a man to know his wife in this sense. In Catholic teaching, however, there are two other things at play here: the notion of sacrifice, and piety with respect to the holy. When we sacrifice things, we sacrifice good things. This goes for burnt offerings and little penances alike. When, for instance, a monk or a nun take vows of poverty and chastity, it isn't because sex and wealth aren't good things -- indeed, they are! But the spiritual good is better than the temporal good, and they are choosing, out of love of God, to give certain things up to seek further spiritual nourishment.
Piety and reverence to the holy is something that in the Catholic/Orthodox do a bit different than other traditions. For instance, traditionally the vessels of consecration, the tabernacle, the altar, etc. are all veiled. Women, traditionally, veil their head in prayer, particularly in the presence of the blessed sacrament. The veiling hides them from plain sight, not because they are bad, but because they are holy and beautiful. Joseph abstained from relations with Mary because she was the tabernacle -- she contained Jesus within her. She was the ultimate sacred vessel -- the Theotokos -- who bore God. Out of reverence, awe, respect, and love, he had forgone relations with her.
It makes so much sense... does it not?
UPDATE II: I've put up a new post I'm making a part of the series. It doesn't respond to any of Pastor Pete's objections in a particular sense however, I think it applies to them all in a more general sense. Go here and partake.
Simon was a very nice English guy, diffident, intelligent and self effacing with a good sense of humor. He had received a typical mainstream, liberal education and was an Anglican priest of the broad church, progressive opinion.
After a couple of drinks at the bar I said, “Tell me. Straight up. I’m interested. What is it you actually believe?”
He was embarrassed. In England even clergyman are not expected to speak openly about religion…
“And Jesus Christ?”
“He shows us what God is like. He’s an example for us.”
“Uh huh. Virgin Birth, Incarnation, all that stuff?”
“Well I don’t think there is any such thing as an objective theology. These are terms that were useful in their time given the context, the religious and philosophical structures that were in place. Now? I’m not sure that sort of language works in this day and age. Still, maybe they work on a kind of poetic level.”
“More than symbols perhaps. A metaphor. A way of speaking about truths that are, in the end, I suppose ineffable.”
“Uh huh. Another drink?”
“Don’t mind if I do. Thanks.”
Over the next drink my tongue loosened a bit and I said, “You know Simon, I have to admit, I believe the whole thing.”
“What do you mean?”
“The old, old story. Sinful man. God’s son. Death on the cross for the sins of the world. Virgin Birth. Angels. Shepherd. The whole thing. I believe the whole thing.”
He laughed out loud. “You don’t.”
I laughed back. “I do! I really do! Miracles. Feeding the five thousand. Walking on the water. Raising the dead. The forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead. The life everlasting.”
“I’m not. You see, I’d rather believe too much than too little. When I get on the other side I reckon it will be easier to be forgiven for believing too much doubting too much. I’d rather take the risks of being gullible than being cynical. Call me a little child, if you like, but I remember that it is the little children who get in through that low doorway, so I’m going with the full works. The whole shooting match.”
He shook his head incredulously. “You’re a fool.”
The fool's got more.
And this fool enjoyed it all, immensely.
The world needs more fools.
Yesterday, I encouraged readers to read Tom McDonald's piece responding to the terrorist attack in Paris.
Today, I'm asking you to read Mark Shea's response:
So, yet again, Bronze Age savages with 21st century technology have inflicted a wound on civilization by demonstrating that a statistically significant swath of the Religion of Peace can’t cope with people who make fun of it. The massacre in Paris is one of a thousand others like it and we recognize that this kind of Radical Muslim evil is of a piece with similar acts around the world. Not all, or even most, Muslims do this filth but this filth one of the major exports of Islam nonetheless and Muslims have to do far better in extirpating these people and destroying their power. Of which more in a second.
The question is, what do we do about it?
One thing to ask is “What are the savages hoping we do about it?” Several things are sought by terrorist tactics. Terror (duh), anger, stupidity, rashness, and folly are all desirable outcomes for the terrorist. They all lead us victims to make ourselves more, not less, his victims. He doesn’t have a lot of staff and he doesn’t have a lot of firepower. So the idea is to use technology as a force multiplier: to make it so a handful of Bronze Age thugs dominate, first the airwaves, and then our emotions for years to come. From a purely tactical standpoint, it’s a smart move for people with limited resources and, as 9/11 demonstrates, it can be enormously successful–if the victims don’t wise up to the strategy.
And happily for the terrorists, our media are incredibly slow to wise up. So this news cycle on this story promises to go on and on and on, making these guys superstars. First, will be the breathless reportage on the Manhunt. Then, the hyperfocus on the biographies of each of the savages, with photos and names and interviews with those who knew them (“He was quiet, kept to himself”) and analyses of their motivations and terrified speculations on where people like this might strike next and breast beating about the “chilling effect” this will have on a free press and color stories on “Terrorism in Our Schools: IS *YOUR* CHILD NEXT?” and, of course, calls from the Fear News Network to “over-militarize our police“. Because only the transformation of America into a police state that regards the population as enemy combatants who should be tortured, or shot first and questions asked later, can keep us safe.
All this, which promises safety, only delivers power into the hands of terrorists. It makes them famous (even in death), places us in the permanent thrall of fear of them, and turns us (as evil always seeks to do) into the image and likeness of that which we hate.
So what can we do instead? Well, I think Exodus gives us an interesting clue.
Interesting indeed. And I think, should this tactic be employed, it'd be effective. Read it all and decide for yourself and pray that we'll heed Mark's advice.
"The devil is no fool. He can get people feeling about heaven the way they ought to feel about hell. He can make them fear the means of grace the way they do not fear sin. And he does so, not by light but by obscurity, not by realities but by shadows; not by clarity and substance, but by dreams and the creatures of psychosis. And men are so poor in intellect that a few cold chills down their spine will be enough to keep them from ever finding out the truth about everything. The devil does rob us of clarity by casting us about in shadows. But he fools us into thinking that the shadows are light. Our illumination is only illusory."
Via Elizabeth Scalia.
In the aftermath of the evil that took place in France early this morning, what follows from Tom McDonald ought to be a must read for all:
How broken is Europe?
That’s their response to the murder of twelve of their fellow journalists at the hands of jihadists.
You cannot measure my indifference to the wholly imaginary thing called “Islamophobia,” which, like “homophobia,” is a way to pathologize those who disagree with a dominant narrative. A phobia is an irrational fear. In this case, it’s perfectly reasonable to be concerned about a religious movement that has rained blood on the world since its so-called “prophet” claimed to have the final word of God to man.
There’s nothing gained by sloppy sentimentality at moments like this. Charlie Hebdo and its staff were no friends to anyone of belief. They were cynical, nihilistic, and blasphemous, as is their right in our post-Enlightenment, pluralistic world. This relativistic individuality may or not be a good and healthy thing, but now isn’t the time for that debate.
What’s obvious is that these writers,editors, and cartoonists were able to offend Christians and Jews without any fear of reprisal. They published one of the most offensive cartoons I’ve ever seen. I’ll link it here, but be warned in advance: it shows Jesus (crown of thorns, holes in his hands and feet) sodomizing God the Father and being sodomized in turn by the “Holy Spirit.”
There’s no deeper meaning in the image: it’s just a child’s outburst. It’s offensive, yet I never considered killing anyone over it. My religion makes it clear that kind of reaction would be a violation of God’s laws. Islam, however, is considerably less clear on the subject, with both the Koran and the Hadith offering dozens of passages alternately urging violence and peace. And therein lies of the problem of the West’s long and violent interaction with Islam.
The outpourings of solidarity and sympathy in France and beyond show that we are still capable of shock and outrage. Good. We’ll need it.
The other thing we will need is faith.
Read the whole thing. Please.
We do indeed need faith. We'll need it to get past the fear and anger engendered by this kind of senseless evil. We'll need it to believe that light can come from darkness. We'll need it to believe that hope can triumph over hatred.
God, grant us faith.
“We fit a creed to the way we live, rather than the way we live to a creed; we suit religion to our actions, rather than actions to religion. We try to keep religion on a speculative basis in order to avoid moral reproaches on our conduct. We sit at the piano of life and insist that every note we strike is right – because we struck it. We justify want of faith by saying ‘I don’t go to Church, but I am better than those who do.’”
~Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Peace of Soul)
I used to justify my non-attendance by making the claim that she (the Church) was filled with hypocrites. I really did think I was better than them.
Now I say, thank God there was room for one more.
This Lauren Daigle song is beautiful.
Give it a listen.
I am guilty
Ashamed of what I've done, what I've become
These hands are dirty
I dare not lift them up to the Holy one
You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be
I've been hiding
Afraid I've let you down, inside I doubt
That You still love me
But in Your eyes there's only grace now
You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be
Though I fall, You can make me new
From this death I will rise with You
Oh the grace reaching out for me
How can it be
How can it be
You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be
A lot of things are blamed for the state of religious belief today: The Reformation, The Enlightenment, Modernism, Post-modernism, Secularism, and on and on. I can see how all of these things have contributed, with varying degrees, to the lack of religious fervor we are witnessing today. We have, as Cardinal George of Chicago once wrote, “replaced a provident God with the myth of human progress.”
We now see ourselves as controlling God along with everything else (e.g. nature, history, technology) and since we control God, he cannot make any demands on us. Religion has become a hobby, something we do for an hour on the weekend in between going to sporting events, BBQs with friends, and mowing the lawn. Faith is now a leisure activity, not a way of life. We squeeze it in where we can.
Now since God is powerless, going to Church (if we go at all) has become another weekend activity we do to connect with friends. Since other weekend activities are seen as on par with going to church, more and more churches refuse to mention anything about objective truth because that would conflict with our feelings about our subjective freedom.
Therefore some parishes devise plans to have people feel welcomed while, perhaps unintentionally, reaffirming their small ideas about the meaning of life. These parishes believe this will lead to people staying in the pews. Any assertion of authority or sermons about reforming one’s life could be interpreted as overbearing, hostile, and offensive; therefore, they are avoided at all cost. Cardinal George states in his book, The Difference God Makes: “…we have focused too much on belonging and not enough on conversion.”
So what should “church” mean for Catholics?
He gives an excellent answer.
Read it all.
I'm reminded often, implicitly or explicitly, passively or aggressively, that I'm a loser.
Well meaning people, and those who are just flat out mean old (and young) cusses with apparent personal problems, are at times quick to point out my flaws and how I don't measure up to their standards. Some are open about their disdain. Others try to mask it but usually fail in their attempts to be covertly contemptible.
It all leads to some seriously awkward situations when avoiding these folks is, in fact, unavoidable.
The struggle, one I fail too often to overcome, is to not act similarly in response. We tend to fall into the trap of treating others like they treat us. And then we look upon the other as a loser and the cycle spirals downward.
All that to lead to this David Mills post I found this morning that touches on it all rather profoundly. He called his piece, "Christianity Is For Losers":
Jesus called as his closest friends, his insiders, the first century equivalent of the plumber. When, after a long day, he shut the door and collapsed onto a chair, it was those guys he talked to. He hung out with prostitutes, drunks, and small-time criminals (the tax collectors), the world’s losers — and with the Pharisees, whom the gospels show to have been losers in their own way. But the first knew it and the second didn’t.
Because they knew it — the world would not let them forget — they were more likely to hear and to take the offer from the savior who said, “Take this. It’s a gift. You’re not getting out of the mess on your own. You’ll just screw up again, and again, and again. But I love you and want you to be happy.” Pelagianism is bad for sinners. The loser who knows he’s a loser can most easily give his life to the loser who died on the Cross.
You really need to read the whole thing as it likely isn't what you might think initially it's about.
An intriguing post to say the least.
My personal takeaway, likely an off-shoot of the intended point Mr. Mills was attempting to make, is simple.
I'm a sinner. I know I fall short and need some help. Often.
I've found that help in the Church and I want to do whatever I can to attempt to convince others they too can find help there.
Carry on... loser.
Life is full of choices. I can follow my self-centered will and repartee unkindness with unkindness or strive to be the better person, trying to control my volcanic temper when it is churning into an all out eruption–an eruption that never benefits anyone. Witnessing someone else who exhibits self-control in the midst of adversity, awakens admiration and inspires like-mindedness.
A priest once told me that he knew of more than one young man who entered the priesthood because of Blessed Mother Teresa’s smile, nothing extraordinary, just her smile. But in many ways her smile was extraordinary. It was a reflection of her soul beaming through her joy-filled eyes. Those joy-filled eyes are like the eyes of my friend who takes the time out of her busy schedule to say hello, how are you? I have time for you! When we are engaged in a conversation, she could be self-absorbed and monopolize the conversation talking heedlessly about herself, but she does not. Those little acts of kindness, which appear to go unnoticed, can mean the most, especially in times of stress.
At the same time, going to church is not just about the friendships that encourage, but also about the grace that sustains us in the midst of sorrow and weakness. There are plenty of churches that offer a lively Christ-filled community. But there is only one Church that offers an intimate union with Christ, a union that offers the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. There is only one Church that offers the grace to overcome all obstacles to holiness. There is only one Church, rich in God’s love and mercy, which offers us the opportunity to cleanse us of our sins to begin anew.
These are powerful reasons for going to church. Along the way, seeing faith put into action, embodied by those around us, can be a source of encouragement. Through others, we can experience God’s loving kindness in a concrete way.
We live in a world of competing values and virtues. Too many are dazzled by the glitter and glitz of the rich and the famous, the “hottest” sports, TV or movie celebrity making the current gossip on social media or the latest cover of People magazine. Too many admire the wrong people for the wrong reasons, subconsciously imitating their poor choices and like moths who are attracted to bright lights in the night end up getting burned.
A new year is traditionally a time for new starts.
Elizabeth Yank is offering what could be the beginning of something seriously grand.
Think on it.
U.S. Navy veteran Dario Raschio was all smiles Saturday as he awaited a special honor from U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, who joined him at Portland Community College's Southeast Campus to present the 100-year-old with a handful of medals.
Shortly after Wyden began speaking, though, protesters erupted in the back of the room, shouting "hands-up, don't shoot!" More than 100 pushed through the doors, banged on the windows from outside and hoisted signs.
Raschio and his daughter, Pam Brown of Portland, had a front-row seat to the spectacle. Raschio's smile faded.
Demonstrators across the country have used "don't shoot" and "hands up" as rallying cries following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last fall. "I can't breathe" references the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in July following a chokehold by a New York City police officer.
The medal presentation was to be the first event at a Wyden town hall, one of several the senator, D-Oregon, is holding around the state this week. After 15 minutes of shouting, Wyden persuaded the group to stop and let him proceed with the medal presentation.
Using a ceremony purposed in honoring a 100 year old WWII vet's service to his country as a platform to hoist your petarded protest movement is beyond stupid and irresponsible. It puts that movement in the same boat with the bigots who protest homosexuality at funerals.
May that boat sink back to the bottom of the pit it came from.
Quickly and irrevocably.
Loving Father, we entrust little Bella to Your care this morning; guide with wisdom and skill the minds and hands of the medical people who minister in Your Name to her, and grant that every cause of illness be removed, may she be restored to soundness of health and grow up to live in more perfect harmony with You and with those around her. Be also with her parents and all who love her, embracing them with the security that comes from knowing they are in Your arms. Send Your Holy Spirit and reveal Yourself to all tangibly in this circumstance we pray. Hear us Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Welcome to the third in a series of posts dealing with objections to the Catholic faith sent to me by an old friend who happens also to be Pastor of a Protestant church (we're calling him Pastor Pete for purposes of the series).
I've spent quite a bit of time researching how best to respond to the gist of Pastor Pete's initial objection (the first of 6 sent me) and had lined up numerous links and published pieces that I thought would best defend the dogma of Mary's Assumption but then came across a post put up just a few short months ago and thought, why re-invent the wheel.
It best responds, in a single piece, to Pastor Pete's problems with the assumption (see the second post in the series to see exactly what he had to say about it) and it's written by none other than Elizabeth Scalia:
While the dogma was only made definitive by Pope Pius XII in 1950 (Munificentissimus Deus), the tradition of Mary’s assumption after her death at Ephesus is an old, old one that, as demonstrated by early-fourth century Ethiopian apocrypha (Liber Requiei Mariae (The Book of Mary’s Repose), pre-dates the Bible.
But I’m not interested in apologetics or in re-arguing sola scriptura, an idea which, ironically enough, is also not found in scripture. I believe in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary not because my church tells me to, or because I am particularly pious. I believe it because of scripture and science, and frankly, for me science has the edge in the argument, because of microchimerism. I’ve written about this these past four years; learning that every child leaves within his mother a microscopic bit of himself — and that it remains within her forever — made the dogma of the Assumption a no-brainer for me.
In Psalm 16 we read a curious reference to body and soul:
And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your Holy One know decay.
Christ’s divine body did not undergo corruption. It follows that his mother’s body, which forever contained a cellular component of the Divinity — and a particle of God is God, entire — would not be allowed to corrupt as well, but would be taken into heaven and reunited with Christ. Mary was a created creature and moral. But she was no mere mortal; she could not be, once the particles of God had entered her chemistry.
I hope you (and of course Pastor Pete) will read her entire piece as it also links to a post by Msgr. Charles Pope covering the biblical roots of the Assumption and, on a related aside, delves into why we as Catholics yearn for the Eucharist where we get to "share a small portion of Mary’s larger reality".
Please read the whole thing. Lots there that makes so much sense.
The next post in the series will address the perpetual virginity of Mary.