Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.

A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

142 By his Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company." The adequate response to this invitation is faith.

143 By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, "the obedience of faith".

148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that "with God nothing will be impossible" and so giving her assent: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." Elizabeth greeted her: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.

149 Throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary's faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God's word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.

150 Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature.

151 For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his "beloved Son", in whom the Father is "well pleased"; God tells us to listen to him. The Lord himself said to his disciples: "Believe in God, believe also in me." We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known." Because he "has seen the Father", Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.

152 One cannot believe in Jesus Christ without sharing in his Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals to men who Jesus is. For "no one can say "Jesus is Lord", except by the Holy Spirit", who "searches everything, even the depths of God. . No one comprehends the thoughts of God, except the Spirit of God." Only God knows God completely: we believe in the Holy Spirit because he is God.

    The Church never ceases to proclaim her faith in one only God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Musings

 A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...

Last week I posted fewer entries in my Friday Headlines post than I had lately been posting. That will be the trend from here on out, since the election is now over and the post-election analysis is all but finished. the news cycle has certainly slowed down. I may settle on an exact number of articles (perhaps 10 or maybe 15 per week) to give Friday's some consistency.

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Just a reminder... It is NOT Christmas! I know many people have already begun decking the halls for Christmas. I know that shopping centers, malls, and stores have been decorated for weeks. Downtown lighting ceremonies have already taken place. Black Friday is supposed to start the Christmas Season, but really it does NOT. Please keep Advent in Advent so that Christmas can be in it's proper place.

We have a cultural battle we are fighting on many fronts (life, family, morality, etc.). I know that Christmas decorating out of season seems like a small thing, but the more Christians can assert authentic Christian practices in the culture, the louder our voice becomes. If we can win at these little battles, we can gain strength for the larger battles. So, don't put up your tree yet. Don't turn on the Christmas lights. Just hold of...even if it's only for a couple more weeks. Make a statement. People may take notice and ask why. When they ask why, use that as an opportunity to share...and then share more than just decorating tips. It may open a few doors. This is bigger than just deciding when to decorate. It makes a statement of solidarity with the Church as opposed to solidarity with the world. And when others see our willingness to go against the popular trend, they may be drawn in to join with us, or at least give an honest listen to what we have to offer.

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Speaking of Advent... I will be less able to blog during this Season. Hopefully, I will finish my posts on male-only priesthood and also some of my regular weekly posts, but I may miss a few here and there. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, November 23, 2012

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like. I'll serve up more next Friday...

The Real First Thanksgiving - "On the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, also a Thursday that year, men of different backgrounds – fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, and others – reclined at table with a carpenter-rabbi to break unleavened bread and (so they expected) to take up the cup of salvation, the cup foretold in the Todah psalm of the Passover Liturgy..."

A Pro-Family Thanksgiving Top 10 - [Proving that there are still things to be thankful for, even with so many negative things going on.]

A Pope to be Thankful For - "...Joseph Ratzinger is a man, both self-effacing and serious, who has achieved (or perhaps was graced with) a remarkable and winning combination of personal humility, intellectual profundity, and deep faith."

This Thanksgiving: Rekindling the fire of holiness - From Archbishop Chaput: "Over this Thanksgiving weekend, or sometime during Advent, I have a homework assignment for you."

What's So Sacred About Meals? - "I always enjoy trying to articulate the answers to questions like this, but this one left me stumped."

Dear Simcha - [Simcha Fisher with a humorous post for Thanksgiving...answering questions from readers.]

Church of England Votes Against Ordaining Female Bishops - "Although ordination of female priests was approved at the 1992 synod, the measure regarding women bishops, which needed a two-thirds majority with the bishops, clergy and laity, lost by six votes with the laity."

Latin, Ad Orientem and Problem Priests - "In my opinion, non-use of Latin and the ad orientem posture by senior clergy has several negative effects..."

Law enforcement is about to read everyone's email and browsing history -- without a warrant - "The bill would even allow the FBI and Homeland Security full access to your internet accounts without so much as notifying you or a judge. Even your private browsing history could be searched."

Catholic Bishops: We Will Not Obey Immoral HHS-Abortion Mandate - Cardinal Dolan: “The only thing we’re certainly prepared to do is not give in — not violate our consciences and not obey what we consider to be something immoral... That we’re committed on."

Guest Opinion: Star Parker, We Have a National Crisis in Character - "Americans just re-elected a president who opposed the Supreme Court decision banning partial-birth abortion. The leader of our nation thinks it should be legal in America to kill a live, fully formed infant. What does this say about America today and our future?"

Republicans Must Win the Culture War to Regain Presidency - "Politics are downstream from the culture. Plato summarized the two most important questions in a society: Who teaches the young and what do we teach them?"

The Glee Effect: how America went gay - "The hearts and minds of Americans—especially our young people—are being changed when it comes to same-sex “marriage” and homosexual practice because of entertainment, not arguments."

We Take Aborted Babies to the Trash Just Like Our Garbage - "We live in a time where babies are trashed, literally. Even if we do not directly participate in shedding innocent blood and throwing children in the garbage, we condone it when we do nothing to stop this barbaric, evil practice of nonchalant murder called 'choice.'"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.

A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

120 It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) and 27 for the New.
The Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Baruch, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah and Malachi.

The New Testament: the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters of St. Paul to the Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, the Letter to the Hebrews, the Letters of James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, and Jude, and Revelation (the Apocalypse).
121 The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.

122 Indeed, "the economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so oriented that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men." "Even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional," the books of the Old Testament bear witness to the whole divine pedagogy of God's saving love: these writings "are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way."

124 "The Word of God, which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, is set forth and displays its power in a most wonderful way in the writings of the New Testament" which hand on the ultimate truth of God's Revelation. Their central object is Jesus Christ, God's incarnate Son: his acts, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Church's beginnings under the Spirit's guidance.

134 All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ, "because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ"

135 "The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God".

136 God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he inspired its human authors; he acts in them and by means of them. He thus gives assurance that their writings teach without error his saving truth.

137 Interpretation of the inspired Scripture must be attentive above all to what God wants to reveal through the sacred authors for our salvation. What comes from the Spirit is not fully understood except by the Spirit's action.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Musings

Almost Thanksgiving. Short week, so I'll keep this post short as well. Not sure how much I'll be blogging this week...

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Saw this on a friend's wall on Facebook:

"If you look to others for fulfillment you will never be truly fulfilled" - Buddha

It sounds like such a wise saying, that we can find true fulfillment only by looking inside ourselves. It is especially appealing if we have ever been hurt or fooled by those around us. At such times we may truly desire a type of spiritual fulfillment that allows us to detach ourselves from the hurt and look inward, away from others. But as Christians we must realize that our fulfillment DOES come from another. We seek fulfillment by allowing that OTHER into ourselves. And we seek HIM in others around us. Christianity does not offer a fulfillment in isolation.

It's easy to be sucked into these Eastern philosophies and also the repackaged, New Age pseudo religions that try to sell us on a spirituality that is divorced from a personal God - religion that seeks fulfillment in isolation. But we need to recognize this falsehood when we see it and not be pulled into the deception. Christianity teaches a spirit of Communion not isolation - fulfillment in the other and simply fulfillment in oneself.

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Thanksgiving = eucharistia (Greek) = Eucharist 

Remember that on Thursday and be thankful.

Friday, November 16, 2012

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like. I'll serve up more next Friday...

Papal Encyclical on Faith Announced - "The Pope is preparing a new encyclical on the subject of faith, to be published in the first half of next year, during the Year of Faith."

Pope to Take to Twitter - "Someone else will be typing out the actual tweets, the Vatican says, though he will be signing off on each one."

USCCB General Assembly - 2012 November - Presidential Address - [I especially liked this line...] "The work of our Conference during the coming year includes reflections on re-embracing Friday as a particular day of penance, including the possible re-institution of abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent." Which begs the question: Why is Fish Allowed on Meatless Fridays?

Cardinal Dolan to his fellow bishops: “If we want the New Evangelization to work, it starts on our knees.” - "This week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops holds its Plenary Assembly in Baltimore; during this morning’s opening session, USCCB President Cardinal Timothy Dolan addressed his fellow bishops."

U.S. Bishops Reject Pastoral Statement on Economic Crisis - [I suspect that there is more to this story than meets the eyes. I think the bishops are realizing that political activism has backfired in the past. They have too often sided with the wrong team.]

New Breviary Project approved by Bishops - "...our Bishops voted to go forward with the work of editing, amending, and in some cases re-translating the elements of the Liturgy of the Hours."

The Recent Unpleasantness - "Simply said, only raw, unadulterated, lived-out-in-the-middle-of-the-world Catholicism can save the United States and perhaps bring us back to a country that acknowledges the natural law, truly takes as its guide the American Constitution, and renounces the allure of empire, returning to its conception as the humble Republic our forefathers founded."

Republican Party Must Remain Pro-Life, Against Abortion - [Where else can pro-lifers turn for political victories?] Also, watch this rising star of the Party: Bobby Jindal: GOP Must Keep Core Conservative Principles

Double Down on Pro-Life - "We know how to change public opinion on abortion. We have been doing it for years: Telling the stories of wounded women, sharing the pictures of unborn infants and offering help that unwed mothers need."

Post-Election Game Plan for the HHS Mandate - "The election left things largely as they were: We count the same number of votes in the new Senate as in the old — not in terms of party affiliation, but in terms of pro-life position."

Bishops Will Push HHS Mandate Conscience Protections in Congress - "A top legislative staffer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says the nation’s Catholic leaders will push again for Congress to approve conscience exemptions for the Obama HHS-Abortion mandate in Obamacare." See also: Top Bishops: “We Will Not Give In” on Obama HHS Mandate

Dozens of States Reject Participating in Pro-Abortion Obamacare - [And so the fight continues on many fronts.]

New York Times Columnist Says Death Panels Needed to Fix Economy - [Oh, it's coming...]

Some first thoughts on Weigel’s call to reconsider civil consequences for Catholic weddings - "George Weigel writes in a thought-provoking essay that we should, among other things, 'accelerate a serious debate within American Catholicism on whether the Church ought not pre-emptively withdraw from the civil marriage business, its clergy declining to act as agents of government in witnessing marriages for purposes of state law.'" And here is the George Weigel piece in question.

I Figured Out The Problem. You. - "I, along with countless others, have been trying to figure out how President Obama managed to win a second term... I have been trying to figure out what the problem is all week, and then I finally did.  The problem is you."

A Victory for Creatures of the State - "One of the stark lessons of Obama's victory is the degree to which the Republican Party has become a party for the married and the religious. If only married people voted, Romney would have won in a landslide. If only married religious people voted, you'd need a word that means something much bigger than landslide."

Bishop Justin Welby Chosen to Lead Anglican Communion - "Anglican Bishop of Durham Justin Welby will become the 105th archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, succeeding the retiring Archbishop Rowan Williams."

Why Conservative Anglicanism is Doomed - "Conservative Anglicanism will either cease to be Anglican, cease to be conservative, or simply cease to be.  As a movement, it is unsustainable, for the following reasons..."

When a Letter of Congratulations Contains a Warning... - "The Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Bishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, has written a letter of congratulations to Right Reverend Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham and nominee as Archbishop of Canterbury."

Also on the new Anglican Archbishop: The Archbishop of Canterbury faces a daunting task in this Godless country

Doctor: Savita’s Death No Reason to Change Ireland Pro-Life Law - "The case has predictably evoked much criticism from the pro-choice lobby of the Irish abortion law, the Irish medical profession and the Catholic faith."

Why I Will Never Go Back to Being Pro-Choice on Abortion - "I am pro-life because of information. I was pro-choice because of lack of information."

Want to Find a Good Husband and Have a Family? Don’t Use the Pill - "The study, conducted over a 10-year period, found that female pill users are drawn to men who are less masculine, less symmetrical-looking, and who are genetically similar to themselves. In contrast, ovulating women look for chiseled-featured, masculine men who are genetically dissimilar to themselves."

When Physiology Facilitates Morality: Good News for Biological Fathers - [Interesting study on the effects of fatherhood on men.]

Do Catholic Parents Have to Raise their Children as Catholics? - "The law on this topic was in fact reworded somewhat in the last few decades, but it is surprising to find that many Catholics wrongly think that this fundamental obligation has been eliminated altogether."

Is the Bible Pro-Choice? - "Recently I've been encountering claims that the Bible is 'pro-choice,' meaning pro-abortion. I've been asked more than once how to respond to this claim. Here's how..."

Radical (Secular) Fundamentalism - "Some of my friends and professional acquaintances who are secularists complain that religious social agencies  will not provide primary services to persons who do not share the faith commitments of the agency’s sponsors."

"Convincing reasons" for faith and hope - a YouTube video of the Holy Father.

Parish Webstore - [This is a new site being billed as a Catholic Amazon - check it out.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quote of the Week

"America you are beautiful...and blessed...The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life."
- Blessed John Paul II

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.

A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."
"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."

106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more."

109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.

110 In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression."

111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written."
The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it.

112 1. Be especially attentive "to the content and unity of the whole Scripture". Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God's plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.
    The phrase "heart of Christ" can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.

113 2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church").

114 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. By "analogy of faith" we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.

Friday, November 9, 2012

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like. I'll serve up more next Friday... 

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica - "The first basilica on the site was built in the fourth century when the Roman Emperor Constantine donated land he had received from the wealthy Lateran family."

Indulgences Are a Gift From the Church - "This is a good topic to consider during November, the month dedicated to the holy souls in purgatory."

What Do Catholics Really Believe About Purgatory? -  "Purgatory might be one of the most misunderstood beliefs held by some Christians.  In this blog I am briefly going to cover the biblical foundation for purgatory, what purgatory is, and the history of purgatory in the Catholic Church."

OK, the election is over, so this will be the last time that political stuff overwhelms the Friday news round-up. Bear with me. Here we go...

Post-Election Catholic Punditry and Analysis Roundup - "A look at the postmortems of the presidential election results from the thoughtful, rhetorical and informative." [A snapshot of what was being said immediately after the election.]

Pope Congratulates President Obama, Stresses Freedom and Justice; See also: UCSSB congratulates Obama - [Nice formality... but I just ain't feelin' it.]

We Are in Enemy Territory - "Defending the unborn and defending traditional marriage are things I'm glad to fight for. And when I die I think I'll feel glad of my efforts. Others can defend how they thought preventing Republicans from slowing the rate of the growth of the budget 2% outweighed all the other issues."

Difficult Days Ahead for the Church? - "The American people and process have spoken. But a few remarks based on the election results, things I think of as undeniable facts for the Church, though you are free to offer any rebuttals."

Shake Off the Election, Let’s Get Back to Stopping Abortion -  "Too many of our fellow citizens are woefully ignorant of what it means to be truly human: to reflect the image and likeness of God."

Here's the lesson from the election, folks! - "Whether marriage is redefined now or later, whether our religious freedom is trampled now or in 10 years, these are not at risk because politicians are getting bolder, they are at risk because our convictions are getting colder."

Victory Only Comes Through the Cross - "An election like yesterday’s can cause a great deal of discouragement. The results were practically a worse-case scenario for the most fundamental building blocks of society: The right to life, religious liberty and the family. But don’t forget that Jesus Christ has only one modus operandi: The cross."

How Should Christians Respond to the Election? With Prayer - "Anger spewed forth about anything doesn’t help endear anyone to us. Prayer does. Here’s the deal: If we don’t believe prayer works, we might as well quit being believers." See also: Obama’s Been Re-Elected, Now It’s Time to Pray for Our Nation

HHS Threat Undiminished - "Given its campaign promises, a Romney administration presumably would have rescinded the mandate or broadened protections for religious objectors. The Obama administration has given less hope that, in a second term, there will be any meaningful change to the mandate."
Abandoning Pro-Life Issues Is Not the GOP Path to Victory - "Some conservatives argue that social issues led to Romney’s defeat, but they ignore the fact that the pro-life margin has been helpful to every pro-life Republican presidential candidate since Reagan, even in elections where Republicans lost."

Pro-Life Leaders Vow: We Will Not Give Up Fighting Abortion - "Now is not the time to give up, but instead, I hope I can count on you to join me in fighting the President’s radical pro-abortion agenda for the next four years."

Ron Paul goes Cassandra -  "America has for too long lived beyond its means, justifying its hegemony and entitlements as necessary, and paying only the minimum installment on the debt, leaving the bulk of it to the next generation."

Religion and Voters in 2012 - "A pre-election Pew poll showed most Catholics supporting Romney. The exit poll showed Catholics, who were 25 percent of the electorate, voting 50 percent for Obama and 48 percent for Romney. But weekly mass attending Catholics supported Romney by 57 to 42 percent."

Despite Attacks on Catholics, They Vote to Re-Elect Obama - [We certainly have a lot of house-cleaning to do.]

Obama officials will face questions on Libya attacks - [Will they answer? Will the media cover it? Will the public listen? Will it make a difference?] See also: Obama played while Banghazi burned

Senior Obama adviser allegedly conducting secret talks with Iran - "According to Kahlili's reports, attempts were made to reach agreement on the announcement of a breakthrough in the nuclear standoff before the November 6 U.S. election."

No Research Shows More Welfare Spending Stops Abortions - [Liberal Catholics need to know that they are lying to themselves on this issue. This is what we are up against...] Catholic Democrats’ Curious Claim: We’re the Real ‘Pro-Lifers’

Abortion Practitioner Admits "Yes I Am" Killing Unborn Children During Abortions -
"He told WFAA that he is a former Baptist ordained minister who is now a part of the pro-abortion Unitarian Universalist church who says he prays often about the abortions he does. 'I’ll ask that the spirit of this pregnancy be returned to God with love and understanding,' he said." [What a sick, sick man.

Woman Conceived in Rape: How Pro-Lifers Should Handle the Rape Question - "Tell me that my life was not worthy of protection and that I don’t deserve to be living, and I’ll show you who is the one who is extreme."

Pakistani mother brutally murders daughter for looking at a boy - [In other news: Liberal women in the U.S. are forced to pay for their own contraception!! - Hmmm... Where is the war on women?]

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Post-election Thoughts

A quick break from other topics to address some thoughts on the election this week.

First of all... what a depressing outcome. The Catholic Church and Christians of all denominations, and anyone who values life and religious liberty have been dealt a severe blow. We had a chance to undo some damaging policies with the election of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but the votes were just not there. Is it the shape of the new electorate? Perhaps. Maybe it was due to  apathy or an ill-informed public. Whatever it is, we have work to do, and we need to start by changing the culture, one person at a time.

It is clear from the exit polls that even Catholics - those who share our faith and worship next to us on Sunday morning -  were just as responsible for this tragic election outcome as the rest of the population. Though a majority of regular Mass attendees went for Romney/Ryan, (thank goodness), this edge for the pro-life candidate was wiped out by Catholics who attend Mass less regularly. In the end Obama won the overall Catholic vote in roughly the same percentage as the rest of America. That means that many, many Catholics voted against their own Church's teachings; they voted against life the unborn, against religious liberty, against traditional marriage... If this election taught us that we need to re-evangelize the culture, then we need to start right here in our own congregations among our fellow Catholics.

This was brought home to me in a conversation i had online with a fellow Catholic who supports the pro-choice side of the abortion debate. Below is a snippet of our conversation. (My friend will be referred to as "Confused" - for obvious reasons.):

Confused: Obama is giving us a choice. So did Jesus. It is up to individuals to make the right choice. Lets continue to pray for those to find God.

Me: Unfortunately Obama has taken away our choice on some things... He requires that Catholic institutions violate the moral teachings of the Church or face penalties. He expects us to violate our conscience. And the Democratic Party wants to use our tax money to fund the death of innocent children through abortion. I have no choice in that.

Confused: Do we really as Catholics NOT have a choice. Oh the choice may not be an easy one. No Federal Funding for Catholic hospitals. NO, sadly, we have a just isn't an easy one. Mark 10:25. How do we enter the kingdom? With God all things are possible.

Me: I'm not sure what you're implying. That the HHS mandate is okay in your books? That's not what the Catholic bishops are saying. Are you saying that Obama gives us a "choice" by supporting abortion rights, and that Jesus gives us the same choice? Explain that.
Certainly I agree that we should pray for people to make the right moral choices (as you said), but it is also our duty to support laws that uphold the sanctity of life and our religious freedom. And we must actively oppose laws that violate those principles. Obama's policies on these issues must be actively opposed by Catholics.

Confused: I am just saying I am thankful that I live in a country where we have freedoms. Even if some don't believe the same way I do, I am glad we are all given the freedom to choose. I understand what you are saying...that we shouldn't be supporting (and by this I mean both financially and morally) what we consider to be wrong. But we can't make laws that dictate how we should behave. Jesus did not demand that we follow him. He lets us choose to follow him. We can't force others to follow him either. We must allow them to make the right choice. I like having choices and not being made to do anything. Then when I choose right...I choose God, I know that it wasn't because I had no other choice. That is what I love about America. So I am saying God is still over all of us. He is still my protector. By providing more instead of less we are allowing people to make the choice.

Me: Actually we DO make laws that "dictate how we should behave." We make laws that limit our choices. That's the whole purpose of laws. Murder is illegal because we do not want people to have that as a choice. Stealing is illegal for the same reason. These things limit our behavior. Try driving over the speed limit or on the wrong side of the road...see if the law limits your choice then. What about rape? What about tax evasion? What about trespassing, or zoning laws, or age limits for drinking alcohol? And on and on and on. Every law on the books was designed to limit our choices and dictate our behavior.
But none of these laws force anyone to accept Jesus as their Savoir. None of these laws are theological in nature, and they do not establish a religion or dictate faith. You are confusing the issues. Abortion is an injustice because it kills an unborn baby. There are even atheists who are pro-life. Outlawing abortion would save lives...period. Whether or not people become Christian has NOTHING to do with it.
And, consider this: By aborting a child you take away EVERY choice that child could ever have made throughout his or her entire life. Talk about limiting choices. You even take away his or her choice to become Christian. Are you sure you are arguing on the right side of this issue?

Obviously my confused friend has been duped by the culture of death. She has been taught the radical freedom of "anything goes" and "live and let live," where religion is a private affair and we must not challenge the moral choices of others or bring our faith into the public square. She has even given it the "Jesus stamp of approval" - Jesus let's us choose sin, so why shouldn't our laws allow us to choose sin? Being pro-choice is exactly what Jesus wants.

There is so much to correct many errors. Today's Catholics are not taught natural law, or moral theology, or even the basic tenets of the faith. What they do learn of the faith they water down with a mix of pop culture gibberish and feel-good sentiment and believe that they are doing God's Will.

Yes, much needs to be done to change our culture...and we need to start right here, right now.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Quote of the Week

"The challenge facing you, dear friends, is to increase people's awareness of the importance of religious freedom for society; to defend that freedom against those who would take religion out of the public domain and establish secularism as America's official faith."
- Blessed John Paul II

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Catechism for the Year of Faith

Part of a continuing series.

A selected quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in honor of the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013)

84 The apostles entrusted the "Sacred deposit" of the faith (the depositum fidei), contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. "By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practicing and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful."

 85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith."

87 Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: "He who hears you, hears me", the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

88 The Church's Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.

89 There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the dogmas. Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure. Conversely, if our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith.

90 The mutual connections between dogmas, and their coherence, can be found in the whole of the Revelation of the mystery of Christ. "In Catholic doctrine there exists an order or hierarchy of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Musings

A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...

The only thing I have to say today is: VOTE! Vote to defend life. Vote for traditional marriage. Vote to support religious freedom. Vote for responsible government. Vote for the future of our country.

Tomorrow is Election Day and it is perhaps the most important election of our lifetime. Don't stay home. Don't be apathetic. Don't think that your vote won't matter. Standing up for Truth and Goodness always matters. Even if you stand against all odds, you must stand on the right side of history. Vote!

And most of all - Pray!

Friday, November 2, 2012

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like. I'll serve up more next Friday...

All Souls Day - "These days remind us that love is stronger than death, that Christ’s death for us means that our beloved deceased who believed in Christ are very much alive."

Announcing National Check In to Mass Sunday! - "...please join me in publicly proclaiming your choice to exercise your First Amendment freedom by joyfully attending Mass. You can join the event on Facebook I’ve created to remind you to check in on Sunday and invite others to attend as well."

Catholic Countdown to Election 2012, Day 4. Put Out Into the Deep and Vote! - "As we head into the final week of the presidential campaign, I cannot help but be preoccupied by the tone of the debate surrounding what is being referred to as 'women's issues.' This language seems to be code for abortion rights and now a mandate upon employers to offer contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients to employees."

New Polls Confirm Romney Momentum in Battleground States - [I hope and pray that it holds up.]

Romney Early Voting Lead Could Portend Election Victory - "Gallup released a new poll showing Romney leading Obama in early voting, something that had been a key part of the Obama campaign strategy. The polling firm also reported that more Republicans than Democrats have already voted by a margin of 19 to 15 percent."

Why Every Christian Voter Should Vote for Mitt Romney - "His opponent, the sitting president, is radically pro-abortion (when you support taxpayer funding of abortion, you’re beyond “pro-choice”), has launched a frontal assault on religious liberty and the most basic rights of conscience, seeks to redefine marriage, has led the most anemic economic recovery since the Great Depression, and advances a hope-based foreign policy that is imploding in front of our very eyes." See also: Why Catholics Shouldn’t Vote for the Blatantly Anti-Catholic Party

Not only *can* Catholics vote for Romney, but we *ought* to. - "I make no categorical claim that a President Mitt Romney will have a perfect record on all of these areas—only fools make categorical claims about the future actions of politicians. But the nearest to a categorical claim any of us can make is that Barack Obama, if given the chance, would continue to be the most anti-life, anti-religious liberty president we have ever endured."

What I Wish Everyone Knew About Religious Liberty - "The Founding Fathers understood that democracy flourishes when all people, including people of faith, are allowed to freely associate and thereby create civil society."

The Light Dawns: American Bishops and the State - "...the American bishops very frequently seemed to view government as the primary source of human flourishing, unconsciously joining in the demonstrably fatal modern embrace of the all-encompassing State. If one had not lived through this period of disregard for the dangers to the common good posed by the State, one could not possibly have imagined how uniformly the American bishops—and indeed, most Western bishops—would have fallen prey to the empty promises of the State’s elusive charm."

Bishop: Obama, Politicians Who Support Abortion Reject Jesus - "Bishop Jenky instructed priests in the Diocese of Peoria to read a letter this Sunday to churchgoers that cautions them about President Obama and pro-abortion members of the U.S. Senate who have rejected attempts to make it so the Obama HHS mandate does not force Catholic churches, businesses and organizations to pay for abortion-inducing drugs for women."

Catholic Bishop: Vote for Obama “Stretches the Imagination” - "It is inconceivable to me how Catholics could support such policies. Indeed, Roman Catholics who support abortion rights and vote for a candidate because of those policies, place him/herself outside of the life of the Church. In so doing, they also place themselves in moral danger."

New Catholic Cardinal: Catholics Can’t Vote for Pro-Abortion Candidates - Burke: "As a bishop it’s my obligation in fact, to urge the faithful to carry out their civic duty in accord with their Catholic faith."

Report: Enough Spent on Welfare Programs in 2011 to Write Every Poor Household a $59,523 Check - [If government welfare is really about helping the poor, then where does all of this money go? It feeds the bureaucracy! This is a sham! It is NOT Social Justice!!!]

Left, Right, and Debt - "Left and Right will never agree about abortion, capital punishment, gun control,  and a host of other issues, but one would think that when 'money talks, ideology walks.' Unfortunately our leftist pals will hold to their ideology even unto fiscal doom."

Romney: “Two Lives at Stake in Abortion, I Care About Both” - [You won't hear that from a Democrat!] See also: Mitt Romney Must Learn the Language of Life

Romney Applauded for Trying to Save Baby From Abortion - [In other news: As state senator, Obama voted to allow infants born alive during abortion to die without medical attention. - Do you see the contrast in these two candidates?]

Enough is Enough: Rape Babies Don’t Deserve Death - "Our civilization rests upon the recognition of certain inalienable human rights, and the first of these is the right to life. A rapist takes away a woman’s control of her own body in the most vile way imaginable. But an innocent unborn child does no such thing."

Election Could Decide Fate of Abortion for 40 More Years - [YES, it is really THAT important!] "Next January, the United States marks 40 years of virtually unlimited abortion under Roe v. Wade and more than 55 million unborn babies have lost their lives in this national travesty. The next president will have an opportunity during the four-year term to leave an indelible mark on the nation’s high court."

Moral Coherence and Voting: Courageous Bishop Daniel Jenky Calls Catholic Citizens to Loyalty to the Lord First  - "To insist upon the fundamental Human Right to Life is not single issue politics. Human rights are goods of human persons. When there is no human person to exercise them all the rhetoric extolling them is sloganeering and sophistry."

Bishop explains how voting can jeopardize your soul - "Bishop David Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay has gotten some attention in the media for stating the obvious. Ricken told parishioners that their souls could be in jeopardy should they vote for candidates that advocate 'intrinsically evil' positions."

No communion for Joe Biden - "Vice President Biden is a professed Catholic, but he has spoken openly of his support for anti-life measures including abortion. Together with President Obama and Kathleen Sibelius, Biden has stumped for the passage of Obamacare's Health and Human Services which provides free contraceptives and abortifacients on demand." See also this piece: Pro-Abortion Biden Claims He’s a “Practicing Catholic” In New Ad

Obama’s Voting=Sex Ad Shows He Views Women Like Playboy Does - "I’m not surprised many 20-somethings think this campaign Web ad is cool and funny; young people tend to lack wisdom. But the president of the United States, who is also the father of two young daughters? If Barack Obama really does think his ad’s messages are cool, he’s revealing more about the way he thinks of women than he may realize."

See also this piece on the Voting=Sex ad: A New Campaign Low. Presidential Character and the Lena Dunham Advertisement

Obama abandoning hope - [Let's pray that he has lost all HOPE of winning.]

Hey President Obama: Women Vote on All Issues, Not Just Abortion - "When I look at commercials released from President Obama and Tim Kaine, I routinely find myself asking, are there millions more votes coming from 18-year-old girls than I am aware? Because the 'all sex, birth control and abortion all the time' message just doesn’t play with serious women with any life experience."

Real War on Women: Obamacare Reduces Women’s Health Coverage - "In what’s become a hallmark of the president’s philosophy, real women’s health care has been shunned in favor of sexual health care."

Some Clarity on the Contraception Debate- "Ironically, the Catholic Church is in the pro-choice position on this issue. It is arguing that it and others should have the freedom of choice to decide whether or not to provide coverage for non-therapeutic contraceptives."

 Voting Ad Has Kids Singing: Romney Will Let Sick People Die - [You have to see the video... If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny.]

How did Kyle Clark get past the Praetorian Guard? - [The biased media has been largely silent on important questions that need answers!]

GOOD NEWS - China may end one-child policy! - "This week, officials in Beijing published a report from the China Development Research Foundation that calls for an end to the country's onerous one-child policy."

Islamic terrorists from Mexico infiltrating U.S. for next attack - [The Bishops and liberal Catholics need to realize that their soft approach to illegal immigration poses a threat to American lives.] 

Pope Benedict XVI Tells General Audience: The Church is the Place Where the Faith is Transmitted - "...the fact that I believe is not the result of solitary reflection, it is the fruit of a relationship, a dialogue with Jesus which causes me to emerge from my 'I' and to open myself to the love of God the Father." [Includes Video]

The Virgin Mary is an Intrinsic Element of Christianity - "If a Christian refuses to see God's glorious election in choosing the Blessed Virgin Mary as the perfect Mother of His Divine Son, then that soul does yet see the beautiful plan of human salvation."

Canonization of Saints: Why Miracles Are Necessary - "This is what adds a true theological dimension to the process of sainthood. It is what elevates it beyond mere human process in which a person is recognized as holy into one in which heaven itself witnesses to their holiness."

Winning the Battle for Souls - "A former satanist recounts her return to the Church and provides some timely advice about dealing with Halloween."

Lutheran Ordinariate? - [Maybe...maybe not. But I find it interesting that this path to unity is drawing others into the Church.]

What Google Street View Reveals About Why Women Don't Want to Stay Home - "The human mind revolts against isolation. Even those of us who are more introverted will eventually start to feel worn down by stepping out on the front porch to a silent, deserted street day after day."

Tired of Bad Church Art? Do Something About It! - "'Like what?' you say. Well, how about supporting Catholic art education so that we can get better Catholic artists?"

Of course everyone has heard about Hurricane Sandy, and many have already seen the image of the statue of the Blessed Virgin that was somehow spared amidst the rubble. That image of hope will be our picture of the week:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Male-only Priesthood, Part 7

Many Christian denominations insist that female ordination was permitted in the ancient Church. They even point to Biblical evidence of this. Specifically they rely on passages that describe female deaconesses, most notably the following verse from Paul’s Letter to the Romans:
"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is the deaconess [servant] of the church at Cenchreae." (Romans 16:1)

This chapter of Romans goes on to mention several women who had prominent roles in the Church and presumably may have been given the title “deaconess.” Also, there is this passage from 1Timothy:
“Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” (1Tim 3:8-13) [emphasis added]

Notice that women are mentioned within the context of describing the proper traits for deacons. This may indicate that women were included in this office. These and other passages which describe an active role for women in the Church are used to bolster the claim that women were ordained in ancient Christianity.

The problem with this argument is that ecclesial terminology (the language used by the Church to describe itself) was not fully developed at this early stage. The term “deacon” or “deaconess” was simply the Greek word for “servant.” (The New Testament was written in Greek.) These women were “servants” of the Church, just as men were “servants” of the Church. It is not at all clear from the text that men and women shared the same role as “servants” in the Church – it is only clear that they were sometimes both described as “servants” using the same Greek term. Did they hold the same office? Were they “ordained” as part of the clergy? Did they serve the same functions? Not likely. Paul clearly states elsewhere that women are to be “silent in Church” (1Corinthians 14:34), so it would seem that men and women did not function in the same way as servants/deacons (whatever that term may have meant to Paul).

In the first few centuries of Christianity terminology was imprecise. For example, the term “episkopos,” which means “overseer” in Greek, eventually came to denote specifically a “bishop.” But among early Christians the Greek word “presbyteros” was also used interchangeably with “episkopos,” often with no clear distinction between the two terms. Only later did the term “presbyteros” come to mean what we now call a “priest.” In today’s Church these are two distinct offices – bishop/episkopos and priest/presbyteros - but in the early Church these two terms were often used without distinction. The offices were not clearly defined. Knowing this, it would be irresponsible of us to apply our modern understanding of the clearly distinct roles of bishops and priests to the understanding of Paul and the early Christians. When they used these terms they did not always mean exactly what we mean today. Likewise, we must not assume that our understanding of the word “deacon” is what the early Church meant when using that word.

The Catholic Church today understands the Sacrament of Holy Orders to include deacon, priest, and bishop. But the clear delineation of these three offices is something that developed over time. As with any doctrine, it often takes centuries for the Church to state clearly the truth of the Christian faith against any heretical teaching or misunderstanding. Look no further than the doctrine of the Trinity or the divinity of Jesus. The precise terminology used to describe these beliefs was hammered out over hundred of years. The same is true of deacon/deaconess and the exact role of women in the Church. Over time the Church came to use the term deacon to describe a male-only office within the Sacramental priesthood. The original Greek word was assigned a precise meaning.

This development can truly be seen when one examines the writings of the Church Fathers with regard to heretical sects that did in fact “ordain” women. For instance, this passage from Tertullian concerning heretical sects of his day:

"How wanton are the women of these heretics! They dare to teach, to dispute, to carry out exorcisms, to undertake cures, it may be even to baptize." (The Prescription of Heretics 41)

And this:

"It is not allowed to a woman to speak in the church nor to teach, baptize, offer, or claim for herself any function proper to a man, and least of all the office of priest." (On Veiling Virgins, 9.1)

Or this from St. Epiphanius:

"If women were ordained to be priests for God or to do anything canonical in the church, it should rather have been given to Mary... She was not even entrusted with baptizing... Although there is an order of deaconesses in the church, yet they are not appointed to function as priests, or for any administration of this kind, but so that provision may be made for the propriety of the female sex [especially at nude baptisms]. Whence comes the recent myth? Whence comes the pride of women or rather, the woman's insanity?" (Against Heresies 79)

Clearly the Fathers were not ignorant of the term deaconess (as found in the Bible) or of female ministry in the Church. But the Church understood this role for women as a practical matter in ministering to the needs of other women. And so, at baptisms (which at the time were done in the nude), women were not the presiding ministers, but rather they assisted the priests to avoid any occasion for sin. As customs changed, and nude baptism became less and less the norm, the need for female deaconesses in this role faded.

It is not that women were viewed as incapable of performing priestly duties; rather it was seen as the proper role for men to perform the priestly function. As St. John Chrysostom wrote concerning the duties of leadership within the Church:

"Many of the subjects could easily do the things I have mentioned, not only men, but also women. But when there is question of the headship of the church... let the entire female sex retire." (On the Priesthood 2)

So, as we saw in earlier reflections in this series, the Church has always recognized different spiritual roles for each of the sexes. Women are certainly capable of ministering within the Church, but the Sacramental priesthood is a distinctly male role. Although female deaconesses are mentioned in the Bible, they have never been considered a part of the Sacramental priesthood. As ecclesial terminology developed, and as the role of deaconess became obsolete, the Church clearly taught that only men are to be ordained into the priestly office.

We will explore more on the history of deaconesses and other ministries within the Church next time…

[See also Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6]