Tuesday, April 30, 2013

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)

977 Our Lord tied the forgiveness of sins to faith and Baptism: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved." Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that "we too might walk in newness of life."

978 "When we made our first profession of faith while receiving the holy Baptism that cleansed us, the forgiveness we received then was so full and complete that there remained in us absolutely nothing left to efface, neither original sin nor offenses committed by our own will, nor was there left any penalty to suffer in order to expiate them. . . . Yet the grace of Baptism delivers no one from all the weakness of nature. On the contrary, we must still combat the movements of concupiscence that never cease leading us into evil "

980 It is through the sacrament of Penance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the Church:
Penance has rightly been called by the holy Fathers "a laborious kind of baptism." This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn.
981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles "so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations." The apostles and their successors carry out this "ministry of reconciliation," not only by announcing to men God's forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:
[The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ's blood and the Holy Spirit's action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.
989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day. Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.
992 God revealed the resurrection of the dead to his people progressively. Hope in the bodily resurrection of the dead established itself as a consequence intrinsic to faith in God as creator of the whole man, soul and body. The creator of heaven and earth is also the one who faithfully maintains his covenant with Abraham and his posterity. It was in this double perspective that faith in the resurrection came to be expressed. In their trials, the Maccabean martyrs confessed:
The King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws. One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him.
996 From the beginning, Christian faith in the resurrection has met with incomprehension and opposition. "On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body." It is very commonly accepted that the life of the human person continues in a spiritual fashion after death. But how can we believe that this body, so clearly mortal, could rise to everlasting life?

997 What is "rising"? In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus' Resurrection.

998 Who will rise? All the dead will rise, "those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment."

999 How? Christ is raised with his own body: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself"; but he did not return to an earthly life. So, in him, "all of them will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear," but Christ "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body," into a "spiritual body":
But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel. . . . What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. . . . The dead will be raised imperishable. . . . For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.
1000 This "how" exceeds our imagination and understanding; it is accessible only to faith. Yet our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ's transfiguration of our bodies:
Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God's blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection.
1001 When? Definitively "at the last day," "at the end of the world." Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely associated with Christ's Parousia:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
1003 United with Christ by Baptism, believers already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen Christ, but this life remains "hidden with Christ in God." The Father has already "raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Nourished with his body in the Eucharist, we already belong to the Body of Christ. When we rise on the last day we "also will appear with him in glory."

1005 To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must "be away from the body and at home with the Lord." In that "departure" which is death the soul is separated from the body. It will be reunited with the body on the day of resurrection of the dead.

1010 Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." "The saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him. What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already "died with Christ" sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ's grace, physical death completes this "dying with Christ" and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act:
It is better for me to die in (eis) Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. Him it is I seek - who died for us. Him it is I desire - who rose for us. I am on the point of giving birth. . . . Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, then shall I be a man.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Musings

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

We are right in the midst of First Communion celebrations around here. So, I'll probably post something on the Eucharist this week. But I also wanted to take this opportunity to extend my congratulations and prayers to all those who are receiving Holy Communion for the first time. It is a tremendous blessing to receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and I hope that the depths of this mystery continue to nourish you spiritually as you grow in the faith.

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This thought occurred to me at Mass on Sunday: Is it just me, or did the new translation of the Mass just go off without a hitch, without any disruption, without confusing anyone or alienating the average layman? Did we have riots or huge protests? Did people walk away in disgust or beg for a return to the simpler, dumbed-down version that we had before? Did any of the dooms-day secnarios occur? You know what I mean...the stuff that all the liberal/progressive Catholics warmed us about. Did any of that happen?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

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Well, today is Monday...and indeed it felt like a Monday. So I don't have much else to say. I'm just ready to call it a day and try again tomorrow.

Friday, April 26, 2013

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...

Pope urges Christians to remember final judgment - "Christians should not be frightened of the final judgment but should let it affect how they live, Pope Francis told the 100,000 pilgrims who filled St. Peter’s Square." See also: Christian life is a time to prepare to enjoy heaven, pope says

Pope Francis at priestly ordinations: “You are pastors, not functionaries” - "Beloved brothers and sisters: because these our sons, who are your relatives and friends, are now to be advanced to the Order of priests, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised." [Full text of homily]

The 4-Minute Speech That Got Pope Francis Elected? - "Before the recent conclave, Cardinal Bergoglio gave an intervention, which didn't even last four minutes but which got the attention of his brother cardinals. According to some, this speech was a major moment in his path to becoming Pope Francis."

Pope Francis Film Is in the Works - "When producer Christian Peschken watched Pope Francis appear on the balcony in Rome on the day of his election, he thought: 'This will make a great scene for the end of a movie about his life up to the point where he became Pope.'"

Benedict XVI and the End of the “Virtual Council” - "...notwithstanding all the banality, all the pathetic liturgies, all the congregationalist ecclesiology, the Virtual Council of the Media has lost its dynamism.  It is no longer potent.  It no longer sets the course of human lives; it no longer inspires rebellion.  It too has become boring and sterile."

Pope Benedict XVI’s Legacy: Faith and Future - "The new springtime for the Church hoped for by Blessed John Paul II has found its great advocate and defender in Benedict XVI.  He has been an indefatigable defender of Tradition and renewal in the light of both the Second Vatican Council and the crisis that has been its aftermath. "

The Vatican doctors approve the miracle to make Wojtyla a saint - "The medical council has recognized one healing as inexplicable If the theologians' OK were to arrive, John Paul would become a Saint only eight years after his death"

Three Prophetic Insights from Pope Leo XIII That Still speak powerfully 120 Years Later - "There are three influences which appear to Us to have the chief place in effecting this downgrade movement of society. These are–first, the distaste for a simple and laborious life; secondly, repugnance to suffering of any kind; thirdly, the forgetfulness of the future life."

Gosnell’s Media Cover Up: Lifeists vs. Abortionists - "Once you wade through the political rhetoric, the media cover-up and the overall ugliness surrounding the Kermit Gosnell trial, there’s an important message to take away: The abortion debate is transparently becoming less and less about when life begins, and instead about two groups of people separated by an increasingly large ideological gap."

Abortion Backers Hope No Media Coverage Will Make Gosnell Go Away - [Let's show them that it won't go away! Share these stories with friends and relatives!]

Members of Congress Shocked After Watching Kermit Gosnell Documentary - "Members of Congress were described as shocked after seeing a documentary on Friday that profiles the House of Horrors abortion clinic run by Kermit Gosnell where gruesome late-term abortions and infanticides occurred."

Eighteen Members of Congress Expose Kermit Gosnell in Speeches - "The speeches were organized by Rep. Marlin Stuzman (R-IN) and were delivered during designated times when Members are given one minute to speak on the subject of their choice."

Kermit Gosnell's Horrors Prove Legalizing Abortion Didn't Make it Safe - "In light of their demands that abortion be legalized for safety reasons, it is the ultimate form of hypocrisy that abortion advocates refuse to support regulations that would make facilities safer for women." See also: Back-Alley Abortion Never Ended

Planned Parenthood and NARAL spin webs around Gosnell murders - "Planned Parenthood’s abortionists regularly behead babies inside the womb at the same age of many of the babies Gosnell beheaded outside the womb. Would Planned Parenthood or NARAL care to explain the difference? "

Obama Will be First Sitting President to Address Planned Parenthood - "...he will speak to 1,000 supporters of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The big question is whether he will address the murder trial of abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell." Here's a slightly different take on the President's speech to Planned Parenthood: Why is Obama Distancing Himself from Planned Parenthood? Answer: Gosnell

And here's the answer to the question above: Obama Ignores Kermit Gosnell Murder Trial in Planned Parenthood Speech; and he also said this: Obama to Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz: “God Bless You”

Abortion is the Number One Killer of Black Americans - [Ironic that our first black President is also the most pro-abortion.]

Most Young People Don’t Know Planned Parenthood Does Abortions - [Yikes! Would that organization receive so much support if the American people knew the truth?]

Southern Poverty Law Center Linked to Shooting at Pro-Life Group - [You know, I read about this sort of thing, where a pro-life, pro-family center is targeted, and I wonder why pro-life Christians and right-wingers are labeled "terrorists" while this guy is ignored by the media...]

Pushing Abortion Was Always a Main Goal of Obamacare - "Twice, the Institute of Medicine Committee on Preventive Services for Women shut out pro-life groups from making official comments about the implementation of ObamaCare. The panel shut out pro-life groups in November 2010 while allowing Carolyn Westhoff of the Planned Parenthood abortion business and Judy Waxman of the pro-abortion National Women’s Law Center to testify. It did so again in January 2011." [Unfortunately, too many Catholics sold their souls in supporting this evil law.]

Bill Maher Exposes the Leftist Islamophobia Ruse for Even Leftists to See - "There's only one faith that kills you, or wants to kill you, if you draw a bad cartoon of the prophet.  There's only one faith that kills you, or wants to kill you, if you renounce the faith.  An ex-Muslim is a very dangerous thing.  Talk to Salman Rushdie after the show about Christian versus Islam.  So I'm just saying, let's keep it real." [If Bill Maher can see the light then ANYONE can.] Here's another piece on the same incident: That’s “Liberal Bullsh*t” – Atheist King Bill Maher Defends Christianity

Christianity and Islam: Cooperation or Conflict? - "The main question is whether the differences between Christianity and Islam can be worked out or whether there is an unbridgeable chasm between the two faiths."

Bomber phoned mother to say 'I love you' - [Something is sickeningly wrong with Islam, that it can produce men who love their mothers and yet blow up the mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers of those they never met.] See also: ALLAHU ACKBAR! Mother of Boston Bomber doesn't care if kids die

The Boston Bombing's Hidden Victim - "...I wanted to look at another aspect of this horrendous story: a victim whose suffering may not be getting its due: Katherine Russell, the widow of dead bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev."

What is Napolitano hiding? Is Homeland Security arming the next generation of terrorists? - "Over the past year the Department of Homeland Security has upped its purchase of ammunition to more than 1.6 billion rounds. Those billions of rounds are purportedly intended for the use of some 70,000 DHS officers. There is now an average of 1,300 to 1,600 rounds intended for each officer."

The Church and Science: The Right Place at the Right Time - "We have to remember and realize there are still many prejudices about the Church, and people think the Church is against science and research, which is not true. The Church states very strongly that the research must be performed in the framework of moral values."

Unborn child just a ‘parasite’? Cutting edge science shows fetal cells heal mother for life - "...science paints a vastly different picture about the actual relationship between a baby in utero and his or her mother, showing that, far from being a parasite, the unborn child can help heal his mother for the rest of her life, as beneficial cells from the child pass into the mother’s body during pregnancy."

Now You Can Watch Your Unborn Child in Ultra-Creepy HD - [The images from this new ultrasound are really neat... But the fact that the author of this piece calls it "ultra-creepy" is a sad symptom of the culture of death. This sort of subliminal messaging chips away at an otherwise life-affirming advancement in technology.]

Seeing “us” again on a flight to Texas - "It is an ugly cycle: the more we abort children with disabilities, the fewer the opportunities to learn from them, the more ready we are to abort those who are 'different.'"

Future of Catholic weddings in Britain in doubt, MPs and Peers told - "He told MPs and peers that, unless urgent changes are made, Catholic bishops may have to reconsider whether priests can carry on performing weddings, in effect, on behalf of the state." [Is this the future in America as well?]

Gay Marriage Activist: “It’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist.” - "It’s a pretty shocking claim. Shocking not because of what she says – that much is obvious – but because of the rare honesty of someone willing to say it."

What year was Jesus born? The answer may surprise you - "You often hear that Jesus was born around 6-7 B.C. The evidence from the Bible and the Church Fathers, however, support a different year. Here's what the evidence says..."

Desperately Seeking a Catholic Mass - "The bottom line is that, for most people in most circumstances, it is not that hard to find Masses to attend on Sundays and holy days of obligation."

Why Aren’t Demons Saved? - "Like us, the demons sinned and experienced a fall. Like us, demons are self-aware, have minds, and possess a will—the ability to choose between good and evil. This makes demons rational beings like us. But we were offered a chance at redemption while demons were not. Why is this so?"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

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)

963 ..."The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer. . . . She is 'clearly the mother of the members of Christ' . . . since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head." "Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church."
Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: "Woman, behold your son."

964 Mary's role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. "This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death"; it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:

966 "Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death." The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:
In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.
967 By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity. Thus she is a "preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church"; indeed, she is the "exemplary realization" (typus) of the Church.

968 Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. "In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace."

970 "Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it." "No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source."

971 "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration." The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Quote of the Week

"It is not man who is on the quest for God. It is God who is on the quest for man."
- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Musings

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

Don't forget that it is still Easter!! Be counter-cultural...embrace your Catholic culture... continue to celebrate the Easter Season even though the pop culture has packed it up and moved on. Find ways to keep the Season alive in your home. Set out candles to remind you that Christ is our light. (We use candles at meal times during the Easter Season to remind our kids - and us - of the Paschal Candle that is featured prominently at Mass during this liturgical time.) Leave out other reminders of Easter, decorative eggs, floral arrangements, what ever reminds you of Easter Sunday morning and keeps that memory fresh in your mind. Indulge in candy and treats! Don't follow the popular trends, don't leave Easter behind when we still have more time to celebrate. Bring the liturgical calendar into your home and celebrate it.

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I've kind of left in limbo the "Male-Only Priesthood" series of posts that I was working on a few months ago. I never actually finishing them, although I have the material I was going to use for the last couple of posts. I'm thinking I may reboot the whole series - possibly start over with a re-write so that I can tighten them up a bit and give them a proper finish. Look for that in the near future.

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Last year, before I purchased my new missal, I used my Android tablet with the iMissal app installed so that I could follow along at Mass. I felt a little awkward and tried to hide the fact that I was using an electronic device, because I was afraid to create any unnecessary distractions for people around me. This was especially true since we go to the early Mass where most of the congregation is elderly and may not know what I'm doing with a large glowing screen in my hands...

Well, I guess I don't have to worry about that anymore. A couple of weeks ago an older gentleman sitting across from us was using what looked like a Kindle Fire (or a similar device) to follow along with the readings. I suppose the new technology is beginning to catch on at our parish... and here I am back to using old fashioned books.

Friday, April 19, 2013

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...

Pope Francis: Where Calumny is, There is the Devil - "The Church has many men and women who are maligned through calumny, who are persecuted, who are killed in hatred of Jesus, in hatred of the faith. Some are killed because they teach the catechism, others are killed because they wear the cross ... Today, in many countries, they are maligned, they are persecuted ... they are our brothers and sisters who are suffering today, in this age of the martyrs."

Sacrifice necessary for Christian life, Pope teaches - "Whichever way we are called to follow Christ, the Holy Father taught, we must remember 'one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life.'"

Many Years! Happy Birthday Benedict - "Last year, when celebrating Mass on the day of his 85th birthday, Pope Emeritus Benedict opened his heart up in a homily. It offers us insights into who he is. It reveals his personal, living faith, the beauty of his spirit, and his capacity for profound theological reflection. So I offer a few excerpts..." [How fitting that I post this piece about Pope Emeritus Benedict's birthday, which occurred earlier this week, and today it is the anniversary of his election as Pope.]

Even amid the celebration of his life, there remains this question: Are we about to lose Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI?

Yes, There Is A Gosnell Trial Coverup by the Big News Organizations - [This trial has NOT been given the publicity that it deserves. To counteract that in my own little way, I have assembled a number of articles that expose the horror that was perpetrated by this man and, by extension, the abortion industry in general.] Here are a few more articles: Report: Mainstream Media Still Ignoring Gosnell Murder Trial ; Gosnell Trial Highlights Media and Regulatory Failure to React to Abortion Abuses ; 72 Members of Congress Demand Media Coverage of Gosnell Trial ; Why I Didn't Write About Gosnell's Trial--And Why I Should Have ; Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell's Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story ...Please share these and other stories about the trial so that word gets out... The mainstream media is not doing its job.

Kermit Gosnell is No Exception: He’s the Face of Abortion - "Kermit Gosnell has been accused of “snipping” the spinal cords of babies born alive in his Philadelphia abortion clinic. Is such behavior crazy, or does it simply follow the logic of an industry that believes the mother’s choice overrides any right to protection that the baby has?"

From Roe to Gosnell - [Very long article to wade through...but it offers much to think about.]

GosnellGate: It’s the A-Word - [The author of this piece is still pro-abortion...but you get the sense that the Gosnell trial is deeply affecting those who hold this view.]

Gosnell Trial, Long Ignored by the Media, a Potential Game Changer - "This is why the Gosnell case can be a game changer for the American conscience: Because decent people shudder at the notion of a baby’s neck being “snipped” on an operating table, they are forced to realize that the same disturbing procedure is legal when performed inside the womb."

The Lethal Logic Behind the Abortion Rights Movement - "...I suspect they are avoiding the story because it demonstrates an undeniable fact: abortion is an act of violence against an unborn child."

In related news: Obama Can’t Comment on Gosnell, Because Obama Stands With Him ; and a friend wrote this piece: On Kermit Gosnell - An Open Letter to the President

Margaret Sanger, the Soviets, and Democrats: Loving Abortion - "It took Democrats a while to get there, but, finally, almost a century after the launching of the Bolshevik Revolution and Margaret Sanger’s organization, they’ve finally arrived at where Sanger and the Soviets found common ground. They indeed act as if, as Sanger said about Stalin’s Russia, 'birth control… is part of the regular service of the government.'"

Author calls for US 'Catholic subculture' to regain identity - "'My critique of Americanism and of cultural assimilation is very real,' he explained. 'What has happened has turned out not to be in the best interest of the Catholic Church in the U.S., but no one started out with bad intentions.'"

Will the Government Tell Christians to Shut Up? - "The First Amendment is supposed to assure citizens that the government will not interfere with their right to free expression. In recent years, however, lawmakers have tried to protect certain groups—women, racial minorities, religious minorities, and homosexuals—by punishing speech that offends those groups."

The Slide Toward State Control - "President Obama, has made his disregard for the consciences of Christians as well as his disregard for religious freedoms, sufficiently clear.  His stance on these issues has provoked a blizzard of lawsuits.  The President does not mind Christians worshipping on Sundays, but he strenuously objects to them practicing their religion during the rest of the week."

Archbishop Lori: ‘We Cannot Evangelize If We Cannot Engage’ - "The U.S. bishops’ point man on religious liberty affirms the continuing need for Catholics to live out their faith-based values in the public square."

Why is the World Ignoring an Islamic Declaration of War of Christians? - [Though this article focuses on Egypt, it is a timely piece considering the developments in Boston.]

Pope Francis calls on Bostonians to "not be overcome by evil" - [I don't really have the kind of blog that can keep up with a story such as the Boston Marathon bombing. But as the story develops it is important to reflect on the spiritual and moral repercussions, which often get lost in the headlines.] And there is this piece: Human Goodness Shines Through, as Boston Reacts to Unspeakable Evil And this post: Boston Marathon: Can We Still Believe in Easter

12 people dead, 60 still unaccounted for in Texas plant explosion - [Please remember this community in your prayers.]

'I just see a huge train wreck coming down,' Senator warns - "Baucus says that people do not understand how the law will work. Speaking to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, he noted that 'You and I have discussed this many times, and I don't see any results yet.'"

A Vigil for Your Marriage - "I realized again how important one hour can be. Making the extra effort, regardless of how busy or fatigued or ready to quit for the day you may be, can be a huge blessing to your marriage."

Marriage Equity Makes Sense - "There is no limiting principle to marriage equality. If all those who seek to marry are to be treated equally, i.e., equal to a man and a woman who seek to marry, then on what basis can we deny two women from seeking to marry one man? On what basis can we deny a father from marrying his daughter? These are not hypothetical."

Justice Sotomayor and the Path to Polygamy - "Surprisingly, the polygamy problem that same-sex marriage presents was raised by an Obama appointee, the liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor interrupted the presentation of anti-Prop 8 litigator Theodore Olson to pose the following question: If marriage is a fundamental right in the way proponents of same-sex marriage contend, 'what state restrictions could ever exist,” for example, “with respect to the number of people . . . that could get married?'"

Is Christianity Homophobic? - "No true Catholic church can preach that Jesus hates gays. “Love your enemies” is the message of Christ. Hate the sin and love the sinner is taught as gospel truth in Catholic schools. This has been Catholic doctrine for 2,000 years."

Why the Church would be so ridiculous as to oppose IVF - "The evils and difficulties that result from IVF are not the reason IVF is wrong, they are the natural result of separating life from the act of love, indicators of something rotten at the core of this scientific procedure that holds high the banner of compassion."

Has Stephen Hawking made God unnecessary? - "Stephen Hawking is a brilliant expert in the area of physics, but just because someone is an expert in how one part of reality works does not mean he is an expert in how all of reality works (or what is called metaphysics). Hawking's claims in this area should be reviewed carefully and not taken solely on his own authority."

Visibly shaken Obama bemoans defeat of gun bill - "Obama, now as a lame-duck President has been quite busy between rounds of golf. He has attempted to push through sweeping immigration on a number of issues, however restricting the easy access to guns for citizens was his preferred priority, and remains so."

So Long, and Thanks for All the Intersex Fish - "He's not trying to force you to eat organic food, and he's not trying to prevent you from putting hormones in your body.  He's just reaffirming his right not be forced to supply those hormones to his employees."

Why Gregorian Chant Rocks - "One reason is that it conveys the sacred to the secular. Contrary to the agitating sounds of hip hop, hard rock and heavy metal, Gregorian chant is instead a soothing balm for weary souls and a source of comfort for unsettled hearts. "

5 Reasons to Kill Christian Music  - "Jacques Maritain sums it up: 'God does not ask for "religious" art or "Catholic" art. The art he wants for himself is Art, with all its teeth.'"

Everyone going forward at a “healing Mass” for Anointing of the Sick - "The recent and widespread practice of anointing anyone who is 'not feeling well', or even 'along with a sick person but who doesn't want to be left out', is not consistent with a plain reading of the law of the CCC."

Surprising Debate: Rabbi Lapin asks Penn Jillette if he thinks world would be better if all Muslims became Evangelical - [You really need to watch this. Very interesting exchange. It helps to know going into this that Penn Jillette (from the Vegas duo Penn & Teller) is an atheist.]

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Gosnell Trial Gives an Opportunity to Change Hearts

The inexcusable silence of the mainstream media concerning the Kermit Gosnell trial has meant that pro-lifers have turned to less conventional means of spreading public awareness - blogs, social media, and even just plain old word-of-mouth - in an attempt to raise public awareness. If the news outlets won't cover the trial, then individual pro-lifers must take up the slack. The result is that one-on-one conversations and friendly (or not so friendly) chats are taking place in com boxes, news feeds, and around the water cooler on the socially taboo issue of abortion...

"Have you heard about that late term abortionist who's on trial now for murder?"

"No. It hasn't been in the news."

"I don't see how anyone can support abortion when you hear the stories of what really occurs during a procedure. This trial ought to open some people's eyes."

"What do you mean by that? I'm pro-choice..."

Who wants to have THAT conversation with a friend or family member? Well...frankly, we all should. Certainly it may be uncomfortable and perhaps emotionally charged, but standing up for the truth usually is uncomfortable when the whole culture is lined up against you. If we as Christians are called to transform the culture and evangelize, then we cannot afford to sit idly by, keeping our mouths shut for fear of offending someone. It is our duty to speak out on behalf of the voiceless.

It was just such a recent conversation I had on Facebook that yielded a promising result. I had just commented on an article posted in the news feed that dealt with the Gosnell trial. During the course of my comment I used the terms "pro-choice" and "pro-abortion" interchangeably, meaning of course that to be pro-choice on abortion rights makes a person by default pro-abortion, whether you like that label or not (read more on that here). Well, a pro-choicer read my comment and took exception to this equating of pro-choice with pro-abortion, saying:
"I am not sure if I would call pro-choicers...pro- abortionists...[J]ust because someone may believe in the right to decide [to terminate a pregnancy] in their body does not necessarily mean that they want all people to go out and have abortions...I do not believe in abortions myself but I do think that if the choice is a back alley abortion or a clinic...that I would rather they were in a hospital... [P]eople have to live with their own choices in life."
My response:
"If you support someone's right to 'choose' abortion, then you support abortion... Imagine someone in the early 1800's saying, 'I would never personally choose to own a slave, but I support the right of someone else to own slaves. I would not want that choice to be taken away.' That person would rightly be called be 'pro-slavery.' To use a paraphrase of your own argument (substituting 'slavery' for 'abortion'): I do not believe in slavery myself but I do think that if the choice is an undocumented slavery or a state regulated slavery that I would rather they were state regulated... That's a pro-slavery statement. Your's is a pro-abortion statement."
You cannot really argue with those facts. But the problem is that most pro-choicers are never confronted with the stark reality of their position. They believe that they can live in the shady grey area, between personal opposition and public support of abortion rights. But just like slavery, there is no comfort zone: you either favor killing babies, or you oppose it.

Amid the back-and-forth of this conversation, I eventually received this response:
"Personally I would never have [an abortion], I believe in adoption. However to someone who has been raped or molested or any number of other factors it is their choice... It is not a method of birth control and it is abhorrent to me that some people (women) choose to do that instead of a myriad of other things they could be doing....keeping their legs closed, birth control, adoption..etc. etc. I do see your point however and will think on it." [Emphasis added] 
And that is about as good as we can expect for a first step when spreading the pro-life message amid the pro-abortion culture. If they will at least "think about it," if they open their minds to the possibility of being wrong, rather than give in to the cultural pressures around them, then perhaps they will see the truth. Most pro-choice people I know are "personally opposed" to abortion and could never choose it themselves, yet they support the "right to choose" because that is what the culture tells them is the tolerant position. Perhaps the horrors of the Gosnell trial can provide a wake-up call for these half-hearted pro-abortionists so that they can see the logical error of their position.

But we pro-lifers have our work cut out for us. The mainstream media has its own agenda that is decidedly anti-life. Perhaps if we take it upon ourselves to spread the story of the atrocities committed by Gosnell (and other abortionists) we can wake up those who have been lulled into a passive acceptance of this brutal and inhumane practice. It may not be a comfortable conversation to have, but it is a necessary one. Now is the moment to have it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Quote of the Week

“The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts--a child--as a competitor, an intrusion and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the dependent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners.”
- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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)

947 "Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others. . . . We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important member is Christ, since he is the head. . . . Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments." "As this Church is governed by one and the same Spirit, all the goods she has received necessarily become a common fund."

948 The term "communion of saints" therefore has two closely linked meanings: communion in holy things (sancta)" and "among holy persons (sancti)."
Sancta sanctis! ("God's holy gifts for God's holy people") is proclaimed by the celebrant in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of communion. The faithful (sancti) are fed by Christ's holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.
949 In the primitive community of Jerusalem, the disciples "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers."
Communion in the faith. The faith of the faithful is the faith of the Church, received from the apostles. Faith is a treasure of life which is enriched by being shared.
950 Communion of the sacraments. "The fruit of all the sacraments belongs to all the faithful. All the sacraments are sacred links uniting the faithful with one another and binding them to Jesus Christ, and above all Baptism, the gate by which we enter into the Church. The communion of saints must be understood as the communion of the sacraments. . . . The name 'communion' can be applied to all of them, for they unite us to God. . . . But this name is better suited to the Eucharist than to any other, because it is primarily the Eucharist that brings this communion about."

951 Communion of charisms. Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit "distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank" for the building up of the Church. Now, "to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."

952 "They had everything in common." "Everything the true Christian has is to be regarded as a good possessed in common with everyone else. All Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help of the needy . . . and of their neighbors in want." A Christian is a steward of the Lord's goods.

953 Communion in charity. In the sanctorum communio, "None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself." "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." "Charity does not insist on its own way." In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this communion.

954 The three states of the Church. "When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating 'in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is"':
All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards God and our neighbors, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ cleave together.
955 "So it is that the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who sleep in the peace of Christ is in no way interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the constant faith of the Church, this union is reinforced by an exchange of spiritual goods."

956 The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."
Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life.
I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.
957 Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself":
We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!
958 Communion with the dead. "In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them." Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.

959 In the one family of God. "For if we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity - all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ - we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Musings

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

Something struck me in the Gospel this Sunday... I've noticed it before, but it really stuck out this time for some reason. After fishing all night unsuccessfully, the Apostles are told by the risen Jesus to cast their nets out and try one last time to catch some fish. As they haul in a huge amount of fish, they realize that it is the Lord standing on the shore, and Peter swims to Him ahead of the boat. Peter finds Jesus already cooking some fish on an open fire. Jesus tells the disciples to bring some of their fish so that He can cook it for them.

What struck me is that Jesus already has fish. He can already feed us without our help. Yet we bring what we have as an offering to Him, He asks for it and He receives it and prepares it for us. He already has what we need, but He takes what we offer to Him, and He perfects it and gives it back to us. And truthfully it is not even our fish that we bring to Him...after all, it is because of Him that we caught the fish in the first place. Without Him we would still have empty nets. It all comes from Him, and He offers it to us in abundance.

I know this is a theme that has been discussed many times before, but like I said, it really struck me this Sunday for some reason.

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I saw this article this morning, and thought I would post it today rather than wait until Friday with the rest of my headlines. This one isn't so much a "news" story as it is just a cute anecdote. It's just another example of Pope Francis' humble style... “But I’m the Pope. Sit down.”

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Finally, and most importantly, prayers go out to the people affected by the terrorist bombings in Boston today. Pray for healing, for comfort, and for justice. Pray for the lives lost and the lives disrupted by this senseless and cowardly act of evil and hate...

Friday, April 12, 2013

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...

8 things to know and share about the Annunciation - [This Feast Day was transferred to April 8 this year because March 25 (the usual date for the Annunciation) fell during Holy Week. Here are a few facts that may be worth sharing.]

Archbishop Gomez On Our New Pope's Challenging Vision - "Our new Pope is reminding us that everything starts from our deep life of prayer and our intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. But we can't stop there. We can't forget that the Church exists to evangelize."

Christian Marriage and Family is a Vocation and Call to Holiness - "From antiquity the Christian Family has been called the domestic church. This is more than piety, it is to become reality, by grace. "

The Preservation of Marriage: A Battle Worth Fighting - Pope Francis: "At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts."

Same-Sex "Marriage" Is Not a Civil Right - "The much disputed question of whether same-sex relationships are morally good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, is beside the point at this stage of legal consideration. The first question is about identity and difference. This is the material legal matter of properly recognizing and identifying what exists and distinguishing between marriages and auto clubs, between schools and banks, between friendships and multinational corporations. It has nothing to do with civil rights."

The World is Upside-Down - "Increasingly today, what is undeniably evil is depicted as good and what most traditionalists, at least, used to agree is good passes often for evil."

Three Arguments the World Can Still Hear -  "...when every statement we make is answered by “You are a hater,” what can we talk about?" See also, this great video by Fr. Barron: Fr. Barron on Gay Marriage and the Breakdown of Moral Argument

Four Reasons Why the Media Isn't Covering the Gosnell Murder Trial - "Although Gosnell was charged with eight counts of murder, witnesses have testified he murdered over 100 babies over three decades. If true, this would rank Gosnell as one of the top five known serial killers worldwide of the 20th and 21st Centuries by victim count." [Warning: There are some disturbing images in this article.] See also: Philadelphia abortion clinic horror: Column

Congressman: If Gosnell Killed Babies With a Gun It’d Be National News - "Will Americans ever be informed by a conscientious, unbiased news media that in the past 40 years, over 55 million child victims have been brutally killed by abortion—a staggering loss of children’s lives that equates to the entire population in England?"

Teen Worker at Gosnell Abortion Clinic: “They Looked Like Babies” - "Ashley Baldwin, a 15-year-old sophomore at University City High School, found herself employed at Gosnell’s abortion clinic and, despite no medical license or training, working alongside him performing gruesome late-term abortions."

“Is It a Baby?” Abortion Clinic Workers Respond - [The response may surprise you.]

Post-Newtown Gun Control is Not About the Children, but Control - "Anyone. And I mean anyone who does not want to talk about Kermit Gosnell’s actions and our abortion-saturated culture but does want to use Newtown to push gun control because of our gun-saturated culture does not care about saving kids. They care about control."

‘The Ugliest Form of Misogyny’: Sex-Selective Abortions and the War on Baby Girls - "Every year in India and China, more baby girls are killed by abortion and infanticide than are born in the United States."

Did You Know? 90% of Babies With Down Syndrome are Aborted - "We blame things like misinformation and prenatal testing, but there’s a much more disturbing problem simmering beneath the surface: the lack of Down syndrome parents willing to speak out against it."

Obama seeks protection from Church subpoena - "The documents filed by the Obama administration also claim that Supreme Court decisions of the past should protect his administration from having to provide the documents, except in extraordinary circumstances."

No King But Cesar - "What exactly were the Google executives thinking? They could have let the day pass unmarked, and nobody would have minded. Instead, they chose to pay tribute to an obscure cultural figure on a day when hundreds of thousands of their users were celebrating the holiest day of their liturgical year."

Breaking: DoD Lumps Catholics in with Al Qaeda and KKK as Examples of "Religious Extremism." - "That's right, your taxpayer money is going towards training reservists to view Catholics as dangerous as terror groups intent on America's destruction."

Is the Church a Thermometer or a Thermostat? A Biblical reply to those who prefer a trendy and compliant Church - "The Church does not exist to merely reflect and parrot the views of her parishioners, gleaned from polls and focus groups. She exists to reflect the views of her founder and head, Jesus Christ."

Disney World and “C & E” [Christmas & Easter] Catholics - "...we have countless thousands of Catholics who are not actively practicing their faith marching into our parishes twice a year and we are doing very little to win them back.  This group is possibly the most fertile ground for our evangelization efforts.  How can we help them?"

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Answering Questions about Marriage

Honest debate is important in a fee society. This is especially true of issues that deal with the most fundamental aspects of human experience...freedom, justice, equality, life, death, family, and the topic of this post - marriage. Below you will find a conversation between me and a supporter of gay marriage. This was not an actual conversation, in the sense that it is not a verbatim exchange that I had with a single individual, rather I have constructed this exchange from several conversations I have had over the years, including most recently during the Supreme Court hearings over the issue of homosexual marriage. I have edited together some commonly asked questions about traditional marriage, along with my responses to those questions. Hopefully it will present a cohesive argument in favor of marriage between man and woman.

Please take  note of one thing in particular... The argument in favor of traditional marriage can be won without relying on religious reasoning. That is an important fact to remember when engaging in any kind of public debate. Now personally I have a deep religious commitment to marriage between one man and one woman. My faith firmly supports this traditional view and if I were to make the marriage argument to any fellow Christian I would appeal to God, Scripture, and faith. But we must remember that when arguing in the public square, many people will simply reject outright any faith-based argument. Instead we must make a solid case for traditional marriage based on sound reasoning that even an atheist can accept. Otherwise we have lost the fight altogether.

So we begin. The questions I present below are paraphrased (though in some cases exact quotes) from actual conversations I have had with friends who support gay marriage. So they represent the real thoughts from those on the other side of this issue. My response to each question follows...

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Question: Don't you think that two people who are in love but happen to be of the same sex should have the same rights as two people of the opposite sex?

People of the same sex have every right to be in a sexual relationship. I'm not saying that homosexuals should not be allowed to be together.  But "marriage" is not just about allowing a certain freedom... it is about the State regulating a specific behavior. People have relationships (even sexual ones) every day without State involvement. So, the question is: why should the State regulate a sexual relationship?
The fact is that heterosexual sex produces children. The State has an interest in protecting and encouraging couples who produce new citizens. Homosexual sex does not produce children. There is no reason for the State to be involved - no new citizens can be produced through homosexual sex.

Question: But homosexual couples could adopt. Shouldn't the State be interested in encouraging them to raise adopted children?

For that matter, single people could adopt too. There are any number of possible alternatives to care for children who cannot be with their biological parents. Orphaned children can live in group homes and foster care (not ideal, but it does happen). Often grandparents and aunts and uncles take in children whose parents have died or for some reason cannot care for their kids. There are many ways that society tries to help these children in need. And this is an important service to the community as well as to the children involved. But all of that is a separate issue from the question of "what is marriage?"
The role of adoption or caring for children outside of the natural father-mother unit is not the point here. The point is not "who can care for a child when parents cannot." Marriage is not the back-up plan for children without homes. It is THE PLAN for children to have homes in the first place. This is why the State encourages one particular sexual relationship over all others. The ideal situation is for a child to be with his or her natural parents. And the State recognizes this very natural fact by elevating heterosexual sex in the institution we call "marriage." Only one type of sex produces children - heterosexual sex - and that fact ought to set apart heterosexual couples in the eyes of the State. If we truly care about children, then we would want to elevate the sexual relationship that gives us children. It is the basis for forming children into happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults.
Bottom line: "Marriage" has always been the institution in which babies are made...citizens are produced. THAT is why the State issues a marriage license - to encourage a stable relationship where citizens will be produced and the population will grow.

Question: Marriage isn't about producing new citizens anymore. Times are changing. Marriage is because you love someone enough to stand up in front of your family and friends, and take a vow to be true to that person. Aren't you a little "behind the times" if you really think that marriage is about babies?

Sex is a natural act. Biologically speaking, heterosexual sex can produce offspring. There is nothing old-fashioned or behind the times in acknowledging the scientific facts about sex. The State recognizes heterosexual sex as a benefit to society because heterosexual sex produces new citizens. If we redefine marriage to mean only "love" (without any regard to children, and only for the happiness of the spouses), then why have State-controlled marriage at all. If that's the case then the State should get out of the business of marriage altogether. Why should the government regulate love?

Question: What about couples who are infertile? They are not able to produce citizens. Should the State deny them the right to marry?

No. The idea behind marriage is to hold up heterosexual sex as unique. Only sex between a man and a woman can produce a child. A man and woman who are infertile (for whatever reason), or a couple who choose to not have kids, still meet the requirement for heterosexual sex in the eyes of the State. If they are incapable of having children or choose not to, then that is between the man and woman and their doctor. But the State still has an interest in the potential for children and an interest in preserving the institution of male-female marriage.
A similar example would be driving a car. The State issues a license to drive a car the same as it issues a license to marry. I both cases, you must first meet the requirements to receive your license. To drive you must pass a written test, an eye exam, a driving test, etc. To marry there must be a man and woman; they cannot closely related; neither can be currently married, etc.; some places require a blood test, and so on. Now, once you receive a driver's license no one forces you to drive a car - you can drive or not drive as you wish. The same is true of marriage. You receive a marriage license from the State, but you are not forced to consummate your marriage or produce offspring. The license is not there to compel you to have sex or reproduce. It is there to recognize a sexual relationship that is unique.

Question: On a personal note, is that the reason you married…to make babies? Did you get married to make new citizens? How insensitive of you to call the beautiful babies that come from a marriage "new citizens." Is that what you call your kids?

I got married because I love my wife AND because we wanted to "make babies." The State was involved for the second of those two reasons: because our sex can produce children. Otherwise I would not have involved the State in the matter at all. I do not want the State to regulate my LOVE…but I do recognize that the State has a responsibility to encourage  the birth of new citizens.
No, I do not refer to my children coldly as little "citizens." But you can bet that the State does. The State rightly views me, my wife and my children as "citizens" and that is why my marriage is regulated by the State. Because frankly that's what the government does: it regulates, sets limits, writes laws and sets boundaries. The State does this for heterosexual marriage only because heterosexual marriage produces citizens. But why should the State regulate homosexual love? If marriage is only about love (as you say), then why should the government be involved at all? You realize that, (without the possibility of producing new citizens) the gay community is asking the government to regulate their LOVE. That is a frightening power to give to the State.

Question: Well, you said earlier that marriage is a way for the State to encourage a "stable relationship" - gay people are just like everyone else and can have long, monogamous relationships just like straight people. The marriage license is to know who is attached to the whom in a stable relationship for tax purposes so that gay partners can enjoy the same tax breaks as heterosexuals. Why not give gay people the same tax breaks?

Why should the State give you tax breaks for sexual love? Or, why does the government give tax breaks for marriage in the first place? -- Answer: to encourage couples to stay together and produce offspring. Again, this comes down to producing the next generation of citizens.
The State gives tax breaks for many things. And these tax breaks are generally to encourage a certain behavior which then benefits the State and society at large. So, for instance, the State gives a tax break to people who put insulation in their attics because this activity saves energy and lowers the cost for others and so spurs the economy and helps the environment and so on. There is an obvious benefit to the State and to society - a direct benefit - and so the tax break rewards this behavior.
Now we are back to what I have been saying all along: the State is benefited by heterosexual sex because it produces a stable population and generates new citizens. Therefore the State gives tax breaks to encourage heterosexual marriage. It's a give-and-take. The State is benefited by the production of citizens and the married couple is benefited by the tax savings. Homosexual marriage does not produce new citizens...there is no benefit to the State, so why give a tax break?

Question: The gay community needs the government regulation of their marriages because some people won't marry them and recognize their union legally. Some churches won't marry gay couples, nor will most town halls and civic organizations and the like because it's not legal. Shouldn't the State be interested in expanding marriage as a civil rights issue? It's just like interracial marriage being prohibited decades ago.

No it is not! Why should the State require other groups to marry homosexual partners? Sex is a private act. No one should be required to officially recognize a sexual preference which happens behind closed doors. The only reason heterosexual sex is publicly recognized in marriage is that it can produce new human life, and that makes heterosexual sex unique - it means that heterosexual sex can impact the population outside of the bedroom. Homosexual sex does not have direct implications outside of the pleasure that the two partners experience. And frankly the State has no interest in forcing other people to officially accept private sexual pleasure.
Interracial (heterosexual) marriage is different. It most definitely should be legal (as it now is) because men and women from different races can have sex to produce offspring and raise children just like same-race couples. Laws that prohibited interracial marriage were certainly a violation of civil rights. But homosexual sex is not a matter of civil rights, but rather a case of biological facts. Gay sex does NOT produce babies…and it never will. You have the right to engage in homosexual sex, but you have no authority to force others to accept your private behavior in some public institution.
(The fact that you would even suggest that CHURCHES should be forced to perform gay marriages is frightening. Religious freedom is a Constitutional right that is explicitly spelled out and protected. Gay marriage is not!)

Question: Well, I still say that marriage is not about making babies anymore. Marriage is about love and staying together through thick and thin, working on problems together and being in a long-term relationship. How can you oppose such a relationship being recognized publicly?

Many relationships are based on what you described: "love and staying together through thick and thin, working on problems together and being in a long-term relationship " Heck, I can have that relationship with my dad, with coworkers and friends, with my own children.
But marriage is unique, because it creates human life. Love is a beautiful thing, and should most certainly be present in every marriage. All of the things found in a loving committed relationship should be present in marriage. But the traditional definition of marriage includes love AND procreation...because marriage implies SEX and heterosexual sex produces LIFE.
The really sad thing about this current marriage debate is that LIFE is being pushed aside in favor of sexual pleasure. It all comes down to human life, and sadly your definition of marriage removes life from the picture. For thousands of years the relationship between man and woman has been held up as sacred and unique, precisely because it produces new life. Now you are saying that we should do away with this whole "baby" thing because it's outdated. Marriage isn't about that anymore. You say that we can have the pleasure of sex, the love between two people, the commitment and companionship, without the mess of new human life. Marriage isn't about babies anymore.
That's a dangerous road to go down. The State (and society) ought to value human life. Marriage is the prime institution where human life is protected, nurtured, and cared for. The State that rids marriage of its life-making purpose is the State that is on its way to a slow extinction.