Archives for January 2013

Pride

Pride is one of the 7 deadly (capital/cardinal) sins and the sturdy platform upon which the others (wrath, greed, sloth, lust, envy, gluttony) are built. It is therefore considered the most dangerous sin. It is the opposite of the virtue of humility.

So, what is pride? It is self-love that places one above others. It is being really impressed…   with yourself. St. Augustine said “it was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” St. John Climacus said “humility is the only thing that no devil can imitate.” (More Saint quotes: here.)

Pride is the most basic tool of the father of lies (Satan), expertly used to feed and build vanity. When we see ourselves through prideful eyes, we can not fully know our true self, others or God. We compete with God, not loving Him above all else and we can not love our neighbors as ourselves. In other words, pride directly opposes the two greatest commandments.

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them [a scholar of the law] tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

I have been thinking a lot about pride lately. The more I look at it, the more it looks like an iceberg with just the tip visible. Superficially it seems much more benign than it truly is. It is very insidious in that way.

So, I want to understand it better…   a sort of “know your enemy” thing. Part of my approach is to mentally review my thoughts and interactions to analyze what happened and how to improve. A play-by-play approach. This is a bit like a football team watching films of their last game. Why did I think that? What was my honest purpose in saying such and such? Did I realize that small accomplishment was a grace from God? Was I trying to elevate myself over another – or worse, trying to lower them? This has been helpful and I feel that it can lead to enduring improvement away from this sin (although avoiding it completely seems almost impossible to me).

Another part of my strategy is prayer. I ask the Holy Spirit for help in understanding something then I listen. The response does not come immediately nor all at once, but it comes. For me, the best place is before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration. Three things that I have learned about pride so far are:

  1. Pride is taking credit for that which is accomplished by God’s grace. Our achievements are through God’s gifts to us. He is the source, not us. We take a dim view of people who steal credit for someone else’s work. How much worse then is it when we steal from God?
  2. Pride is a black cloud which smothers the light of God in other people. We are all God’s greatest creation. Pride focuses our attention inward making us act as though God’s greatest creation is ourselves. In essence, we sever ourselves from the Body of Christ and thus can not love our neighbor (seen lesser) as ourselves (seen greater).
  3. Pride is putting yourself on a pedestal, from which you will surely fall. It is inevitable – and even positive. In the past I viewed such falls as embarrassments which is defined as “the shame you feel when your inadequacy or guilt is made public.” I have come to view these humbling moments as welcome and instructive blessings. It is interesting to me how this perspective replaces embarrassment.

He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #86)

This week: The story of another abortion survivor. Biased, pro-abortion media is a worldwide problem. The vocation story of a lost sheep. Altar boys. Progress correcting “spirit of Vatican II” inspired liturgical excesses. Dominican Fathers and Brothers explain the Divine Office. Some thoughts on gun control.

— 1 —

Imre Téglásy, another abortion survivor and pro-life inspiration:

— 2 —

Biased (extremely, extremely biased that is) media is not a problem unique to the US.

Spotted by Matthew Archbold

— 3 —

“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”

A vocation story of a lost sheep and the meaning of suffering. Father John Nepil’s path to God.

Spotted by Marcel

— 4 —

The point of altar boys is not for children to have some kind of opportunity to perform for the parish. It is not about them at all, but about the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and exposure to priestly vocations.

Spotted by Father Z

— 5 —

The one disappointing thing about the Catholic Church is the glacial slow pace things are done. Usually. It seems that the “spirit of Vatican II” (i.e. changes not actually called for or approved by Vatican II) were made in the blink of an eye. Undoing that damage is taking much longer. There is alas, some movement on the liturgy.

— 6 —

Dominican Fathers and Brothers (of the Western Province of the Order of Preachers, the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus) explain the beauty and power of the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours).

— 7 —

Is gun control the hot, new “flag burning” issue for congress? Traditionally, they distract attention from other things they are doing (e.g. killing religious liberty and otherwise expanding oppressive government).

We already have a ton of gun control. It impacts only the law abiding, reducing their ability to protect themselves and those they love. That is legitimate defense as described by the Catechism (CCC 2263 and 2264 – see also this piece).

Rational thought and having our priorities straight would be nice for a change. Then again, considering our collective national insanity, my expectations are very low.


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!

Elsewhere: leaving Planned Parenthood

Today, on this sad 40th aniversary of Roe v. Wade, one of the rays of hope are all those who have left Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry. Not only have they left their old positions in promoting and performing abortions, but have often become highly active members of the pro-life community.

One of the most wildely known stories is that of Abby Johnson who was previously a director at one of Planned Parenthood’s “clinics”. Her story is recounted in the book unPlanned.

There are many more. The Catholic World Report tells the story of just 3, beginning with Annette Lopez. Like many, she wanted to help women and youth. Like far too many people (inside and outside the industry), Annette did not initially understand what Planned Parenthood was really all about. Here is her story:

Annette Lopez worked as a program assistant for Planned Parenthood in the Los Angeles area for five years. Her job was to visit high schools and teach teens about “responsible choices” relating to sex.

She first learned about Planned Parenthood while in college. A nominal Catholic, her views were rather vague on the abortion issue, and she was assured it was a small part of Planned Parenthood’s business.

Lopez initially liked her job. “I wanted to help youth,” she explained. “I had a niece who got pregnant at a very young age, and I wanted to help them avoid making her mistake.”

As Lopez was seldom at clinics she rarely saw pro-life demonstrators, and what little she knew about them was negative. Her perspective on pro-lifers came from such media depictions as the 1996 HBO movie If These Walls Could Talk, in which pro-life demonstrators are angry and violent. (Cher portrays the caring and kind abortionist, Dr. Beth Thompson, in the movie, who is harassed relentlessly by pro-lifers. At the close of the movie, she has just performed an abortion on a relieved Anne Heche, and is gunned down by a pro-lifer who bursts into the procedure room.)

In her final year at Planned Parenthood Lopez began dating her future husband, a pro-life Catholic who gently queried her about her work. “He’d ask, ‘Don’t they do abortions there? Is that right? You’re a loving person and you love your family, why are you there, where they hurt babies?'” she recalled. “He got me thinking.”

In her final six months of employment, she began working in a supporting role at a clinic. Her new manager suggested she train to become a medical assistant, as budget cuts could eliminate her education position. He also suggested she watch an abortion. Lopez recalled, “He said, “That’s what we do. Every staff member should know what it is.” I knew I didn’t want to work there anymore.”

Lopez also was involved in “counseling” women with unplanned pregnancies. She’d tell them that they had three options: keep their babies, put them up for adoption, or have abortions. If the patient expressed any interest in abortion, she was instructed to schedule one. She said, “We wouldn’t really tell them about alternative options. We were trying to push them towards having abortions.”

Lopez attended a pro-life conference, and one of the speakers was Abby Johnson, who told the story of how she left employment at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. As she sat listening, Lopez prayed for guidance. She said, “I knew I had to go talk with her. I spoke with her after the talk, and she gave me the strength I needed.”

The next day she quit.

She began volunteering for Los Angeles Pregnancy Services (LAPS), a pro-life clinic in a poor Hispanic neighborhood which offers women alternatives to abortion. The pro-life facility is surrounded by abortion clinics that advertise their services in the neighborhood. “It was an amazing experience,” Lopez said of her time at LAPS. “I’m so happy I got involved. I discovered that pro-life people are compassionate and loving, and not the way Planned Parenthood portrays them.”

Lopez married, and has a child with another on the way. Wanting to better understand fertility cycles, she and her husband took Natural Family Planning (NFP) classes. Realizing that NFP could benefit LAPS clients, she and her husband are now training to become NFP instructors.

Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, director of LAPS, was grateful for Lopez’s time at LAPS: “She is awesome. She saved many babies.”

The article goes on to detail the similar story of Sue Thayer and well as that of Dr. Anthony Levatino. Read about them and more in: Abortion Insiders Turn Their Backs on the Industry.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #85)

This week: If only the president meant his empty words defending life. Would nudity defeat the March for Life media blackout? A touching story of life and love. Hollywood stars again enlighten us (mega-hypocrisy alert, as usual). Peter Kreeft explains where morality comes from. Episcopalians warmly embrace “gay marriage” at their National Cathedral. Father Barron’s Catholicism: The New Evangelization project now underway.

— 1 —

I could not have said it better myself. Listen to our president. If only he meant those words…

Related: Tom Hoopes piece at CatholicVote.org: We Are the Civil Rights Movement Now.

— 2 —

January 25th will again mark the annual media blackout of the March for Life rally. A half-million people march and the (blatantly biased, extremely liberal) mass media sees nothing. The march is always completely invisible! (With the possible exception of a handful of counter protesters.)

Matthew Archbold has an interesting tongue-in-cheek solution: Let’s March for Life Naked!!!.

— 3 —

Newlyweds Jason and Marie Taylor soon knew great joy and great sadness. The parents of premature triplets share their experience on life and love:

Pick-up the story at LifeSiteNews.com.

— 4 —

Hollywood stars, using their superior intellect, have made a video backing gun control. No surprise there, nor in their hypocrisy. Said same stars profit handsomely in the promotion of gun violence. Here is their video, enhanced with scenes from their “work” interspersed:

(This video is no longer available.)

— 5 —

Prof. Peter Kreeft explains where morality can not come from and where it does:

— 6 —

The Episcopal Washington National Cathedral welcomes “gay marriage,” effective immediately. Ironically, the church is also known as the “Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.” I wonder what they would think about that (well, not really, I know what they would think).

The press release says “all weddings at the Cathedral are conducted as Christian marriages in which the couple commits to lifelong faithfulness, love, forbearance, and mutual comfort.” Apparently they have no idea what the sacrament of marriage is.

Fr. Jay Finelli (a/k/a iPadre) produced a podcast on family and marriage that is truly excellent. Listen to it here (starting around 8:15). Father also talks about this topic on his blog (here).

— 7 —

Father Barron has a sequel to his excellent Catholicism Project. The new work is just getting started. It is called Catholicism: The New Evangelization:


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!

Elsewhere: sex abuse hypocrisy

What would be the reaction to a significant, on-going sex abuse scandal in a Catholic diocese? Would the national media cover it for weeks, or years, if there were 18 new (not decades old) reports? How big would the outrage be if those 18 cases were at a single Catholic elementary school?

You can bet that it would occupy the national media’s attention for a long time. Calls for swift and stiff prosecution would be shouted from the rooftops. Who were the priests involved, are they in custody, who covered it up, how many lawsuits have been filed, what can be done to clamp-down?

If this were the case, such outrage would be *justified*. I have written about sex abuse before (see sex scandal).

The situation is much worse. Not 18 cases but more than TEN TIMES THAT – 189 (so far). ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY NINE.

Why have you not heard about it then? Because it is not damaging to the Church but is damaging to a public school. To the completely biased, political agenda driven national media, public schools and their teacher unions are a protected class. The story simply does not fit their narrative. Shameful, completely shameful.

The Media Report (a media watchdog) has the story:

Reports of rampant child sex abuse committed at an elementary school in Los Angeles continue to explode. On the heels of other recent shocking reports involving child sex abuse in L.A. schools, NBC4 in Los Angeles has reported:

“On the same day that attorneys for students at Miramonte Elementary School announced that four additional lawsuits have been filed against LAUSD [Los Angeles Unified School District] over alleged sexual abuse at the school, the district said it faces 189 claims resulting from the scandal…

“The claims are on behalf of 126 students, with the remainder from their family members, [LAUSD general counsel David] Holmquist said.”

189 claims?? 126 students? From just one school?

Is there any doubt that if there were 189 claims at a single Catholic parish that there would be screaming front-page headlines in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Huffington Post? One can easily imagine the folks at the Times becoming hysterical and calling for the federalization of the Catholic Church.

Once again: Double …   standard.

The article and comments are here: Where’s the Outrage? Another L.A. School Sex Abuse Shocker: 189 Abuse Claims at Just ONE School!.

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