Archives for January 2011

Elsewhere: News flash – we win!

It is easy to get discouraged. At times it seems the world is slowly dying – abortion, attacks on the family, abandonment of faith, little work ethic, worshiping the false idol of self, political correctness over actual correctness and direct assaults in many forms on Catholics and the Church.

Father John Corapi wrote in his book Letters:

As we prepare to enter a new era in politics and perhaps society in general, keep something in mind: WE WIN! No matter what political party is in power at a given point in time, in the end those that remain faithful to Jesus Christ win the war. We may have to fight many battles outnumbered and even despised and looked upon as criminals and outcasts by a society that is unraveling and degenerating into something no one could have imagined.

What matters is that we run the race to the finish line and fight the good fight. Don’t “go with the flow,” for as the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen reminds us, “Dead bodies float downstream.” More than ever we shall have to be strong in the faith. Regular and worthy reception of the sacraments, constant prayer, and rigorous study of the faith is now essential, nor merely a luxury.

The front line and primary battle is going to be the fight for life: The dignity of every human life from the moment of conception to the last moment of natural life. If we lose that one, every other battle space will be compromised. If the government succeeds in establishing abortion as an inalienable “right,” then the elderly and sick will be next. It will then be a short and slippery step to the government deciding who lives and dies regardless of their inherent human dignity.

If you don’t already pray the Rosary every day, please start at once. The prayer of the holy Rosary is the prayer of the holy Gospel, and that means it is the prayer of the Good News Who is Jesus Christ, the LIFE of the world. Many saints will be forged in the crucible of the coming years. Make sure you are among them.

Well said.

Thanks to the Courageous Priest (Jeff Gares) for bringing this to my attention.

Some leave the Church

Being Catholic, by baptism or conversion, is permanent. Notwithstanding any personal renunciations to the contrary, one can not quit being Catholic any more than one can be unbaptized or quit the human race. Yet, there are many Catholics who consider themselves “ex-Catholics” or “former-Catholics.” Other Catholics might refer to them as “lapsed Catholics” or “inactive Catholics.”

Whatever label is used, it saddens me knowing that they have reached this place on their faith journey. Some have simply stopped going to church. Others have have joined other Christian communities, other religions or even adopted agnostic viewpoints.

Christ and his Church are inseparable. “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” Luke 10:16   Vatican II notes:

This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

Lumen Gentium 14

When Catholics leave the Church they are leaving the one Church instituted by Jesus Himself and given authority to act in his name. They are abandoning most of the sacraments, gifts from Jesus that strengthen us and deepen our relationship with Him. They leave the fullness of the Christian faith for a subset…       or worse. They often move to a world where the truths taught by Jesus are often diluted and compromised.

Why then do some Catholics leave? Simple – their faith has been poorly formed. I believe that well catechized Catholics would never leave Holy Mother Church.

Knowing the faith is not a matter of “credentials” either. Among the separated Catholics are quiet a few who can claim years of Catholic school and university attendance, while never really learning the faith with an open heart.

The reasons Catholics give for leaving often follow a few common scenarios:

  • “Mass ‘doesn’t do anything for me’ and I enjoy the worship service better at XYZ.” The Mass is sacred (not entertaining) and conducted with reverence. While it includes worship, it is much, much more than that. Every Mass is a supernatural mystery where heaven and earth touch, angels and saints join us as the Last Supper and Calvary are made present. The body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus is literally confected in the Eucharist — in which we are united with Christ and each other through all time and space. The worship services of other Christian communities, however holy and reverent, are not remotely comparable to the Mass.
  • “The worship service at XYZ is so outgoing and welcoming.” Catholics are welcoming too, but Mass is solidly focused on Jesus and not a social gathering focused on how you feel. Additionally, visitors who are experienced with some Protestant churches will notice that we give them space instead of proselytizing. We have many opportunities for fellowship, but not at Mass. We welcome the opportunity to explain our faith, but do not ambush people with it. No one here will judge you as not saved.
  • “I don’t accept the Catholic teaching on XYZ.” Very rarely this is theologically based, such as rejecting the Immaculate Conception or papal infallibility. Sometimes it is due to influences from the secular world such as believing that a male only priesthood is an affront to the equality of women. These would be failures of catechesis (if they are the real reason). Often the reason is that the person wants to engage in a sinful behavior (e.g. one of the many forms of sex outside of true marriage or abortion) and finds a church that is “tolerant” and “non-judgmental” to accommodate their will.
  • “I am disturbed by the Catholic sex scandal.” All Catholics are, on many levels. Throughout history there have been a wide variety of scandals in the Church because we are a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. We are no different than every other human organization in this regard, including every other faith community. When we fail, we reform. Unlike every other organization, we are protected by the Holy Spirit to the end of time. “[U]pon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
  • “I have been insulted by a {pick one: priest, religious, someone else}.” We are human and unfortunately this happens, just as it does everywhere else. I say this only to explain the problem, not excuse it. If there were only one parish and in that parish was someone who was continuously rude or insulting to you, then at least a poor case could be made for leaving Christ’s true Church.
  • “I am ‘on fire’ at XYZ.” You may have (finally) learned part of the true Christian faith. (Along the way, you may have also learned some things that are not.) Another part of your experience might simply be emotional. The fullness of the Christian faith, including the truths that are exciting you now, is only in the Catholic Church. Steve Wood wrote an interesting piece for the Catholic Education Resource Center that you may want to read entitled How I led Catholics Out of the Church.
  • “My boyfriend / girlfriend is at XYZ and it doesn’t really matter which church that you go to.” Our brothers and sisters in Christ include those who are in other Christian communities and we pray often for our unification. The Catholic Church however, is not just another of many Christian churches, but the one founded by Our Lord Himself. It is the only one with certain truth and the fullness of the Christian faith. It is the only one that can support and nourish you through the sacraments. Other churches share with us a portion of the Christian faith but are no substitute for the Catholic Church.

In the end, we all have free will. We can “walk with our feet” if want to, but we should know what we are walking away from. It is every Catholic’s on-going obligation to learn the teachings of the Catholic Church to the best of their ability. Doing nothing more than attending Mass once per week is insufficient.

Sadly, many who leave the Church never return. It is not unusual however, for Catholics to return home. When they do, they are often “older and wiser” with a burning zeal to really learn the faith. Here are a few of their stories:

Elsewhere: A Catholic view of ObamaCare

The broad, sweeping healthcare legislation passed in the United States last year brings with it some long overdue reforms that are very popular. It puts a halt to a number of abuses by insurance companies that are simply unconscionable. It hopes to make comprehensive coverage available to everyone at an affordable cost while maintaining or improving the current level of care. These goals are compatible with Catholic teaching on social justice and should have the support of every Catholic.

HOWEVER, and very unfortunately, it does much more than that. It provides for a massive increase in support for abortions and sets us firmly on the road to socialized medicine. Regardless of any other benefit this law may provide, its support for the grave evil of abortion alone makes it unacceptable to faithful Catholics.

“An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention” (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means.

CCC 1759

Further, socialism is contrary to the catholic teaching of social justice. Around 400 AD Saint John Chrysostom (Doctor of the Church) explained this. More recently, so did Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius XI and Pope John XXIII as I wrote about last year.

At this time, a majority of the states have joined Florida in suing the federal government to block this bad law.

Last month Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula covered recent developments in an article for Human Life International:

Around the world we are engaged in a fight against the totalitarian tendencies of contemporary democracies that stifle the most basic human rights given to man by our Creator. So we have to celebrate the courageous ruling of Judge Henry E. Hudson handed down on Monday December 13th declaring that a pivotal section of the national health care reform law is unconstitutional. The case was brought by the Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, challenging the constitutionality of the law’s mandate requiring individual citizens to purchase health insurance. It is important to see how the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision is the linchpin which provides financial viability to the other critical elements of the overall regulatory scheme.

[…]

We have to keep in mind that these legal maneuvers have the purpose of transforming the constitution into an instrument of social change. These changes in the interpretation of the Constitution make it an instrument for the establishment of an unnatural regime that is contrary to the vision of the framers of the Constitution. This is a type of regime that through the constant growth of the power of the government reduces the rights of the states and erodes the space of freedom of the individual members of society. This erosion creates a clear risk that in the future the government might assault the free exercise of the religion, just as it has been constantly assaulting the rights of the unborn and the rights of families for many decades. As the Judge rightly notes, “The unchecked expansion of congressional power to limits suggested by the Minimal Essential Coverage Provision would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers.”

We have to understand well that the National Health Care Reform contained in the Affordable Care Act is evil not only because it allows and abets immoral procedures like abortion, but because it is a step towards the establishment of a totalitarian state. A state that will not only allow, but impose all sort of immoral actions like abortion and marriage between persons of the same sex and will launch a persecution against Christians. These actions by totalitarian “democracies” will be a consequence of the materialist ideology that is at their core.

This legal decision shows also the value of prayer. On the day that the Court heard oral arguments in this case, October 18th, the day of the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, Fr. Frank Papa the chaplain of HLI offered Mass for this intention. His prayers were no doubt united with the prayers of many good Christians all over the United States of America.

Read the whole article entitled Stopping Socialized Medicine.

When the Holy Spirit calls

As God’s children, the Holy Spirit is always with us. Teaching us, guiding us, protecting us and leading us to salvation if we allow Him. Often His impact may be small…   just little nudges. Other times His impact is profound and changes our lives.

The story of Abby Johnson has the “fingerprints” of the Holy Spirit all over it! Just released from Ignatius Press is a new book that is chilling, and at the same time, full of hope: unPLANNED.

Abby was a director of Planned Parenthood, running a local facility in Bryan, Texas. She was a true believer in a woman’s right to “choose,” a fetus was just a clump of cells, and so on. She liked her job and felt she was helping people. After 8 years with them, Abby’s role was mostly managerial but she also assisted in many other roles as needed. Assisting directly in an abortion was the only exception.

One morning in September 2009 when Abby got up, she had no reason to believe that day would be any different than any other. She was confident in her pro-choice beliefs and had not even the slightest intention of changing them. Little did she know that by the end of the day she could no longer accept them. Pro-lifers were the “other team” yet soon, she was surprised to find herself switching sides. Abby could not be happier, or more grateful, for the not-so-little nudge.

I can relate. One morning in August 2009 when I got up, I had no reason to believe that day would be any different than any other. I was confident in my life-long Protestant beliefs and had not even the slightest intention of changing them. Little did I know that by the end of the day I would be telling my wife I could no longer accept my Protestant faith. Catholicism was the “other team” yet soon, I was surprised to find myself switching sides. I too could not be happier, or more grateful, for the not-so-little nudge.

My story is more common. In Abby’s case, she was asked to directly assist in an abortion. No big deal, she would be operating ultrasound equipment at the request of the doctor. This is something she was trained in but had never done during an actual abortion. For the first time, she could clearly see the baby, his or her reaction to their space being invaded by the deadly probe and witness the horror of their death as they were ripped-out and crushed (it is far more disturbing as she tells it). She then knew that she had been lied to. What she saw changed everything.

The evil of that abortion could not be stopped. To my mind, the Holy Spirit used that tragedy to show Abby – up-front and very personal – exactly what it was. Abby would soon quit her job, literally cross the street and join The Coalition for Life. Now she would be outside of the facility that she previously ran, letting the Holy Spirit work through her and praying for all inside.

There is much more to this story. Some time before the Holy Spirit had been preparing Abby and her coworkers. His agent that day was a Catholic religious sister. The story is recounted in the book:

“Oh my word!” I heard a coworker gasp. She was standing by one of the front windows facing the fence.

“What is it” I asked her.

“A nun. There’s a nun in full habit standing in the driveway.”

“I walked over to the window to look, and soon several of us were gawking out the window. The temperature was near 100 degrees that day, yet there in the hot sun was a nun dressed in a heavy, dark brown habit that swept the ground. Her head and hair were completely covered so that only her face showed, a face lifted toward heaven, eyes closed, clearly praying. Believe it or not, I’d never seen a nun in full habit before – at least not in person. I couldn’t help but think of the Reverend Mother in The Sound of Music, though this nun was clearly far younger, probably about forty.

“Her face looks so sweet,” said one of our clinic workers. “But anguished.”

“There was an awkward silence. Then one of our clients, who had just had an abortion, was escorted out the door and to her car by one of the volunteers. Our eyes were glued to the nun as, her eyes fixed on the client, she moved from the center of the driveway to the side, making room for the client to pull out of the drive. And then she began to weep. She fell to her knees and wept with such grief, such genuine personal pain, that I couldn’t help but think to myself, She feels something far deeper than I ever will. She is honestly pained. This is real to her – this grief at knowing that client had an abortion. A sense of shame washed over me. I tried to shake it off but couldn’t get past the fact that a nun was grieving over what was happening in my clinic.

…”The truth was, the sister’s simple, prayerful presence bothered most of us, Catholic, ex-Catholic, Protestant and unchurched alike, as if she somehow represented our consciences. The sister was small, bubbly and joyful. She had a radiant smile, yet clearly over the months we could continue to see that she was deeply and personally grieved by the abortions. How many other people cry outside my workplace because of the work I am doing? I wondered. I didn’t like the question.”

I think about that sister, how the Holy Spirit used her, what her prayers may have been and how God answered those prayers. I can only guess what she prayed for, but the souls of the children killed, the conversion of the abortion workers and an end of abortions are good bets. That the facility director would awaken to the truth, quickly quit and join her might not have been something she envisioned. Then again, maybe – nothing is impossible for God.

The abortions have not ended. I have no doubt that Abby was quickly replaced and the evil work of that place has continued uninterrupted. What we do not know is the impact of Abby’s story on mothers in crisis and how many pro-abortion hearts have or will be converted. While the full goal has yet to be reached, God’s plan is often a path we can not foresee. The Holy Spirit was working through the sister and (simultaneously) God had answered her prayers.

Today Abby is a dedicated, high-profile and very active pro-lifer. She sees the good intentions of people on both “sides,” but now knows the reality of abortion. The Holy Spirit now uses her experience to convert others, in this book, in speaking engagements and in numerous videos. Some in the abortion industry attack her saying that Abby is not sincere and has other motives. Bull! Their hard hearts have prevented them from considering the truth. Listen to Abby as she was moved one evening to address her past friends, co-workers and their counterparts everywhere – with humility, understanding, compassion and love:

Oh, one more thing…   Abby and her husband Doug are currently in RCIA, converting to Catholicism. Abby allowed the Holy Spirit into her heart and He has guided her far from the very dark place that enslaved her.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #21)

This week: Making San Francisco safe from “Happy Meals.” Capitalizing on the Tucson tragedy. Thank our troops. I “heart” NY, unless I am an unborn child. The extinction of pro-life Democrats. Automated confessions. A quote of the week.

— 1 —

The nanny state of San Francisco bans toys from McDonald’s “Happy Meals.” This is just too funny, even if it is from The Daily Show:

If your browser doesn’t show the video above, click here.

— 2 —

By now we have all heard about the horrible tragedy in Tucson. The horror and evil speak for themselves. The purposes of the perpetrator are irrelevant and not worthy of consideration, even if they were sane (which may not be the case). Those who would use this for their own political purposes are beneath contempt, yet some were very quick to do so.

In the past I have featured some excellent videos by Andrew Klavan, a lucid and insightful commentator. His recent column is well worth reading on this issue. (Want to know who to blame? Pat Achbold has that covered over at the National Catholic Register.)

— 3 —

Let's Say Thanks

— 4 —

New York City, abortion capitol of the world! An unborn child in New York has a 40% chance of being killed in the womb. If they are black, 60% (genocide – n : systematic killing of a racial or cultural group [syn: {race murder}, racial extermination]).

These are the fruits of this proud bastion of the liberal mindset. Commentator G. Tracy Mehan notes: “All of the usual suspects, of course, have raised the cry for even more sex education and contraception without any sense of irony that these value-free approaches to human sexuality merely propel a self-defeating treadmill of more promiscuity, more out-of-wedlock births, more social and marital breakdown, more deaths of unborn children, more male irresponsibility, and the denigration of women and mothers.” Read his article over at The American Spectator NYC: The Statue of Liberty or The Grim Reaper?.

— 5 —

The termination of a pregnancy is not a choice, it is murder. Yes, that is blunt but it is the truth our faith teaches. Neither major US political party has a monopoly on good ideas or even consistent ideology. Faithful Catholics could choose pro-life candidates from either party without becoming complicit in the death of innocents (regardless of the candidates other worthy positions).

How sad it is then that one party, with some otherwise honorable goals, has gone so completely pro-abortion that it now virtually defines them as the party of death. Please read Dr. Paul Kengor’s recent piece in The American Spectator entitled Death of the Pro-Life Democrat.

— 6 —

Check-out this humorous video entitled Automatic Confession:

Thanks to Kathleen Blease.

— 7 —

Quote of the week:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

Barack Obama, 2006

Thanks to Patrick Archbold.


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

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