10 Things Catholics Must Do Now in the Face of the Next Great Persecution

clock November 7, 2012 14:40 by author John |

Prepare yourself. This might just be the most uncomfortable article you read today, and with the help of Divine Grace, I hope it is uncomfortable in a good way. On this day after the reelection of President Obama, the most pro-death president to govern this land, faithful Catholics are feeling defeated. On Twitter and around the Catholic blogosphere, I am witnessing despair, anger, and sadness over the results of the election, the state of our nation, and the unexpected and disappointing answer that was given to so many earnest and sincere prayers. So many masses, novenas, rosaries, and acts of sacrifice were offered for the election of a leader sympathetic if not invested in the common good. To many, it appears that those prayers have been left unanswered. They were answered, but perhaps not in the way most of us wished.

In the typical human way, people are dwelling on the problems. They are replaying the last few months in their heads. “What went wrong? How did this happen?” They are looking ahead to a future that doesn’t seem bright or welcoming. The unknown lies before us. How the President and the secular progressives will treat the faithful in the next four years is yet to be seen, but that uncertainty is part of the problem. We just don’t know what will become of us in the near future and it scares the daylights out of us.

Many of us are embodying the cliché “People spend 90% of their time worrying and 10% of their time finding solutions.” We of course need to reverse those percentages in order to solve the problems before us. I will attempt to do that as I lay out for you a roadmap to be used in reversing the avalanche of evil and ignorance that is bearing down on us and in some cases crushing us. Here are 10 steps to saving yourself, your family and your culture.

1. Identify the Problem

In the past 18 months, the elections have dominated our news coverage, conversations, and daily life. We have been inundated with statistics, talking points and negative advertising. In a sense, we have been played. We have become spectators. We have allowed the media and politicians to feed us our beliefs. Let’s face the hard reality. A man was elected yesterday who has failed in every major area of social and economic policy from an authentic Catholic perspective. He won roughly half the Catholic vote. If you are not puking right now, perhaps it is because reality hasn’t set in. Take the time now to let it sink in and grab a bucket.

Think about it. This man launched a direct attack on the Catholic Church and half of Catholics willingly and happily supported it. The Catholic citizenry of this nation is in a state of disgrace right now. Shame on those Catholics who abandoned their faith through ignorance in forming their conscience or willful disregard of it.

This is a problem, but it is not the root of the problem. The problem is not the culture. I mean it. The problem is not the culture. Sure the culture is corrupt, ignorant, intolerant of Truth and beauty, and increasingly hostile to our beliefs, but I mean it when I say that the problem is not the culture.

The problem is us, the 20% of Catholics who attend mass each week and even the 4% of Catholics who regularly attend confession. We have failed in our duties. We have not evangelized, catechized, rebuked, and prayed enough. We have let the culture dictate terms to us. We have let our fellow Catholics, Church-going or not live in ignorance and disobedience without fraternal correction. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this: “Have I done everything I possibly could to convert the culture?” I will answer that question for you: “No”. You are a human. You are not God. You are imperfect. You have failed in some way.

2. Contemplate the Problem and React Passionately to it

Now that we have identified the problem, our focus naturally shifts toward a solution. I propose that we first spend a little time dwelling on it. A little righteous indignation is useful and warranted. Allow the sting of this election, of this cultural rebuke of our faith and our God to sink in. Remember this day. Remember how you feel. Think about the choices we were given in this election. Neither man truly represented an authentic moral ethic. The man who lost was likely the lesser of two evils, but what does it say about our culture that the best two men we could produce to lead this country represent merely 2 evils? Think about the unknown that lies before us. Does it scare you? It scares me and that is alright with me.

God has given us passions. They are a gift to us that when used appropriately are powerful tools which motivate and energize us. If God didn’t intend for you to experience the emotions, He wouldn’t have given them to you. He also gave you a will and an intellect. In the perfect order of things, the passions are subordinate to the will and the intellect. That does not mean that they are useless.

We must use the will and the intellect to drive and direct the passions. Working together, the will, the intellect and the passions are the tools we use to achieve greatness. They propel us toward perfection, which is God. Channel the emotions, the passions, and the pain you may feel right now. Use those passions to drive you toward changing the culture, starting with yourself.

3. Pray for Fortitude

The task ahead of us is not easy. You may be passionate about changing the culture, but once you begin to engage the culture, you will soon meet with resistance. Immediately, in fact. When someone doesn’t like your message, they will attack you. How will you respond? People admire conviction, but they lash out when your conviction compels them to reevaluate their life.

Keep that in the back of your mind. You will need courage when facing the culture, but an even more challenging obstacle lies in your immediate path.  Before you can effectively engage the culture, you must prepare yourself by identifying your own sinfulness and failures. This is the step at which most people turn back. In this step, we perhaps see how we are not so different from those in the culture that personify the moral collapse we are witnessing around us. I am not giving in to moral equivocation here; I am simply telling you that the first step toward purification of the culture is purification of your soul, which I will address in the next item.

Fortitude is part resolve, a product of the will, and part grace, a product of the Holy Spirit. Direct your will to be resolute, unflinching in the face of adversity. Pray for fortitude. You will need it when facing the culture, but it is more warranted when facing your soul. Don’t just pray generally for courage. Pray for the infusion of the Holy Spirit’s most valuable gift: grace. Pray directly to the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God, which came down upon the apostles and empowered them to carry out the same mission you now face. As He enkindled in them the fire, pray that He will ignite your heart to carry out your mission.

4. Clean your soul

The first target of a sinful culture is a hypocrite. Look at the way the culture attacks the Church over the abuse crisis. Do you think abuse is limited to the Catholic Church? No. There are plenty of organizations that have experienced the same failure. The Church was attacked because of the hypocrisy of proclaiming purity while its priests lived in defiance of that call. Do not attempt to convert the culture before you have converted yourself. You cannot give that which you do not have. If you do not have grace in your soul, you cannot work as effectively for the conversion of others. A clean conscience and a spotless soul give you the freedom to proclaim the gospel to others.

Be sure that you have prayed for fortitude because this is the most difficult step in the process. You must be forthright and examine your conscience. Clean your soul. Be ruthless. Be thorough. Many times people will confess a few sins, but out of embarrassment or pride leave out sins that they allow to linger in their lives and which weigh on their consciences. This is a burden these people carry around with them day in and day out. Confess everything. Just do it. Go to another priest for confession if you are embarrassed to confess something troubling to your priest. Go to another parish. Go to another state if you want to. Just confess everything. Make a clean start.

An earnest prayer to the Holy Spirit before a difficult confession will give you the strength you need to make a good confession. Sometimes it is only by this grace that you will be able to truly be free of your sins.

5. Learn your faith

That which you do not have cannot be given. Your knowledge of the faith will be put to the test as you engage people who do not understand Jesus and His Church. Daily reading of spiritual works in necessary to grow your faith and strengthen your understanding of the many difficult requirements of being a faithful Catholic. Do not take this as a suggestion. This is an order. Actively learn the faith daily.

When I say daily, I mean it. Just as your body needs daily nourishment to function properly, so too does your mind need daily nourishment in the ways of the faith to function properly. Without refreshment of the concepts of the faith, the demands of life begin to crowd out the light of spiritual knowledge. Knowledge begets understanding and acceptance of the Truth.

Knowledge provides the foundation upon which we can make our appeal to others. The light of truth can be made known in many ways to people, but essential in any appeal, whether to reason or the emotions, is a firm understanding of the truths of the faith. If you know the faith, its transmission will come more easily.

6. Put God and your faith first

You hear this slogan often. Take it to heart. Our culture is perfectly tuned to place entertainment and work between you and God. If you have a full-time job, it likely takes at least 8 hours – one third of your day. When you factor in a commute, preparing and eating meals, taking care of children, meeting with friends and relatives, hardly any time is left over. The demands on our time do not stop there, however. We have still to satisfy the requirements of entertainment. 

The average household has the TV on in the background for more than 7 hours per day. Where, then is the time for God? How many of us, tired from working sit down after dinner and watch television for several hours, rise exhausted from our chair and go straight to bed, repeating platitudes about just not having the time for anything? We have no time for God because we do not make time for God.

We must place God first. We must make time for Him. I’m not talking about a quick prayer before bed or grace before meals. These are the bare minimum. Make abundant time for Him each day. We must not fear the impression people get when we limit the start of our day at work so that we can go to mass. Who is more important – your boss or the omnipotent and just God? Can you not make time to go to mass at 6:00 in the morning, or during your lunch, or after work each day? It isn’t convenient if you don’t make it convenient. It doesn’t have to be convenient in the first place. God should not be a convenience. He should be the first priority.

Don’t set aside time for God after work. This is the wrong approach. Set aside every other concern and pray to Him with your family. Don’t worry about time constraints, allotting God 15 or 30 minutes each day. Pray to Him and forget about everything until you are satisfied with your prayer; that you have conversed appropriately with Him. Do spiritual reading every day. Read from the Bible, the Catechism, the writings of the Saints, the Liturgy of the Hours. Give God primacy of your time.

You don’t have to give God most of your time, but you should make the time with him first and foremost. Who cares if that means you can’t make an early morning meeting. If your employer can’t respect your time, you have the option of finding another employer who will. Don’t answer calls from work while you are praying. The matter cannot be as important as your relationship with God. Don’t structure your prayer life around work or household responsibilities. Structure your responsibilities around your time for God, leaving adequate buffer so that you don’t feel rushed in your prayer.

7. Get Used to Discomfort and Make Sacrifices

Do you love God? The answer should be yes, and if it is, then you must be willing to sacrifice for Him. Love without sacrifice is shallow. Would you claim to love your spouse, your parents, or friends but refuse to help them in need? Of course not. Love demands placing the object of your love before yourself. God asks us to do difficult things in our lives. You cannot truly love God without sacrificing for Him. A virtuous life requires the pain of sacrifice.

Take sacrifice and discomfort on yourself. Perform works of mercy regularly for others. Pray whether it is convenient or not. Give alms to help the Church and those in need. Fast on a regular basis, not just when the Church mandates it. These things strengthen the will against the urges. If our urges are disproportionate to our will, we become slaves to them. Strengthen your will by making voluntary sacrifices so that when sacrifices are demanded of us, they are but an ordinary part of our life.

If you are not willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, which is your very life, you are not yet perfected in the training and strengthening of your will. Of course not everyone is at the point where they can offer their lives for God, but it should be a goal of ours to perfect our will so that we one day will have that courage necessary to offer it willingly. God loved you enough to be tortured and Crucified for your sins. You should be willing to endure the same for Him. Your reward will not be on this Earth, but in the joy of eternal happiness in Heaven among the angels and saints. Let us hope that it will not come to that in this country in our lifetimes. On the other hand, don’t think it could not happen both here and now. In every age and in every nation of the Church, men and women of faith have been persecuted for their love of God. Why should our age and our nation be any different? Cardinal George, who is a scholar of history, has said,

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

8. Be Cheerful and Optimistic

Building on the resolve which results from self-denial, we can find everyday sacrifices to be ordinary, and in time, they can even be a joy to us as we realize the benefits of grace. As we grow in virtue, we can even meet extraordinary sacrifices with peace and acceptance. Our sacrifices should never be evident on our faces. We should be cheerful and optimistic to everyone we encounter, as we bring the joy of Christ to them.

This is perhaps a bit of a superficial effort at first, as it takes time to become accustomed to it. After time, true joy will spring up in us as we feed off the reactions of others to simple things like a smile or a positive response to a difficult task.  We should seek to enjoy our reward in Heaven, and by keeping this in mind: that every good deed will be rewarded, every challenge acknowledged, and every wrong righted in this life or the next; we will be disposed to bring joy to every situation.

If given the grace, even the grim foreboding of a religious persecution can be met with composure and dignity. Using the saints as our guide, we can accept the opportunity to sacrifice for God:

Perpetua and Felicitas were exposed to a mad heifer. Perpetua was tossed first and fell on her back, but raised herself and gathered her torn tunic modestly about her; then, after fastening up her hair, lest she look as if she were in mourning, she rose and went to help Felicitas, who had been badly hurt by the animal. Side by side they stood, expecting another assault, but the sated audience cried out that it was enough. They were therefore led to the gate Sanevivaria, where victims who had not been killed in the arena were dispatched by gladiators. Here Perpetua seemed to arouse herself from an ecstasy and could not believe that she had already been exposed to a mad heifer until she saw the marks of her injuries. She then called out to her brother and to the catechumen: "Stand fast in the faith, and love one another. Do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you." By this time the fickle populace was clamoring for the women to come back into the open. This they did willingly, and after giving each other the kiss of peace, they were killed by the gladiators. Perpetua had to guide the sword of the nervous executioner to her throat. – From the book, "Lives of the saints, with excerpts from their writings: selected and illustrated" by Joseph Vann, Thomas Bernard Plassmann

9. Be a Saint

By any realistic measure, these works are difficult and fraught with failure. We are prone to error and sin. Our motivation will at times wane. We have competing desires and responsibilities. We must acknowledge our frailties, imperfections, and mistakes. We must constantly evaluate our lives and reorient ourselves toward the right path.

Frequent confession and the daily exercises of prayer, reception of the Eucharist, examination of conscience, acts of contrition, and sacrifices will help us to stay focused on Jesus and promoting His Church. In short, we must be saints. We are all called to it and we must all respond to that call.

10. Evangelize

If we ever expect our culture to improve, if we hope to prevent the next great persecution, we must evangelize the culture. John Paul II called us all to be agents of the New Evangelization. We must take this call as a serious and personal challenge. We must not be afraid to offend people by our beliefs. Their offense is not a result of the truth we convey, but of the improper disposition they maintain toward that which is right and just. We do not have to chastise at every opportunity, but we must teach, catechize and encourage virtue and truth. On an individual level, once a person understands the truth, we can charitably correct them.

This task is not easy. It is not a simple process of spewing facts of the faith and then rebuking someone. It is an iterative process whereby we are constantly teaching, encouraging, loving, and correcting with joy and truth.

Start Today

Start this process today. Do not wait for a convenient moment. Do not wait for someone to invite you. The stakes are high. You do not know what tomorrow holds for you or your ability to practice the faith. Prayer, fasting, penance, sacrifice, and evangelization are our only hope to change the culture and bring about a nation where our beliefs and freedoms are cherished and protected. No one will do this work for you. Take it upon yourself today to change the culture starting with your own soul.

The Truth will be made known to all one way or another. Throughout history, God has allowed tribulations to bring His people back into the fold. Let us work together now so that our culture does not require such stern correction and reminding of the realities of truth and justice.



Tuesday Ear Tickler Award: Catholics For Obama Confusing Consciences

clock November 6, 2012 01:02 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is a group known as “Catholics for Obama”, comprised of several politicians and shills for Obama who have either an improperly formed conscience or are outright sellouts for a quick political buck. That group’s oxymoronic title is akin to slogans such as “Vegans for Meat”, “Hamsters for Housecats”, or “Dentists for Coca Cola”. I have outlined several of the licentious claims and moral equivocation found on the website, which was designed primarily to allow people to violate their conscience in supporting the “First Gay President” as Newsweek crowned him.

Let’s get the obvious facts down first. Obama stands for unlimited abortion rights, including taxpayer funded abortion, abortion up to the last day of pregnancy, partial birth abortion, and abortifacient contraception. He is in support of homosexual marriage, which the Bible calls an “abomination”. He is also the president who has forced the Catholic Church to pay for contraception, sterilizations, and abortifacients in violation of their consciences. If a Catholic votes for Obama in accordance with their conscience, it would appear to me that they have an improperly formed conscience. If a person murdered 5 people, but gave money to 20 homeless people, would you consider them a good person? I wouldn’t. It follow then, that a person who advocates for the right to kill 1.3 million people each year could not be called a good candidate for president, no matter how much his social safety nets help people.

Caroline Kennedy of Catholics for Obama

“I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. I believe I have found the man who could be that president – not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans”. - Caroline Kennedy

I hate to break it to you Carline, but inspiration is empty if it is devoid of goodness and grace. As a Catholic, you should know that inspiration to the good is honorable and virtuous. Inspiration is evil if it promotes evil. Barack Obama promotes the culture of death. He is eyeball deep in the blood of unborn children. Shame on you Caroline Kennedy for promoting evil.

Marcy Kaptur of Catholics for Obama

“From his time as a community organizer in eight Chicago parishes, Senator Obama has demonstrated his appreciation for the Catholic Social Tradition and its focus on the common good.” – Marcy Kaptur

Marcy Kaptur sounds so shallow. Does she really not understand that the primary social justice issue is abortion? Does she really not know that abortion is murder or is she simply ignoring the fact in order to achieve a prestigious appointment in the Obama administration and reap campaign money from Planned Parenthood? Shame on you Marcy Kaptur for abandoning your conscience whether though malformation or disregard.

Senator Bob Casey of Catholics for Obama

“He has appealed, as Abraham Lincoln asked us to do many years ago, to the better angels of our nature” – Bob Casey

Bob Casey claims that Obama has “appealed… to the better angels of our nature.” If by better angels, you mean the angel of death, then yes, I believe Senator Casey is correct. Barack Obama is the most unapologetic abortion-minded president in the history of our country. If you support that man, I find it hard to believe that you are truly “Pro-Life” as Casey claims to be. Shame on you Bob Casey for muddying the waters, confusing Catholics and promoting the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, anti-Catholic Obama.

Douglas Kmiec of Catholics for Obama

“One of the things I kept discovering was that Obama was sounding more Catholic than most Catholics I know.” – Douglas Kmiec

Well, I can’t argue with that statement because I don’t know how many Catholics Kmiec knows. Perhaps that is an indictment of the people Kmiec associates with. Perhaps Kmiec doesn’t get out much. Perhaps Kmiec is being disingenuous. Regardless, that kind of moral equivocation is disgraceful. Kmiec received a comfy ambassador assignment as his 30 pieces of silver after providing cover for Obama-supporting Catholics in 2008. A man of his education should have a better-formed conscience than that. Shame on Douglas Kmiec for confusing the consciences of countless Catholics.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award to Caroline Kennedy, Marcy Kaptur, Bob Casey, Douglas Kmiec, and the rest of the disgraceful “Catholics for Obama” group.

 



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Eric Miller Hails Obama as a "Pro-Life Hero"

clock October 22, 2012 21:52 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Eric C. Miller, who makes the specious claim that Barack Obama is a “Pro-Life Hero”. Sorry, I should have warned you to put that hot coffee down before I conveyed Miller’s ridiculous canonization of the pro-abortion President. Any claims of personal injury as a result of that statement should be directed toward Mr. Miller. Anyway, without further delay, let’s get down to taking apart his argument and exposing the shallow thinking it espouses. (Miller’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

On October 3rd researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine published a study with profound implications for policymaking in the United States. According to Dr. Jeffery Peipert, the study’s lead author, abortion rates can be expected to decline significantly—perhaps up to 75 percent—when contraceptives are made available to women free of charge. Declaring himself “very surprised” at the results, Peipert requested expedient publication of the study, noting its relevance to the upcoming election.

First, we should assert that when this study mentions abortion, it fails to consider chemical abortions caused by pills/hormones that cause an “implantation abortion”, where the child is conceived, but cannot implant or dies shortly after implantation. Peipert asked for expedient publication because it had positive political connotations for the Obama campaign. If the results had been the opposite (which I now doubt could be in the realm of possibility given Peipert’s jubilant “expedient publication) I wonder if they would have been published at all.

As most observers surely know, the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) requires insurance coverage for birth control, a provision staunchly opposed by most of the same religious conservatives who oppose legalized abortion. If Peipert is correct, however, the ACA may prove the single most effective piece of “pro-life” legislation in the past forty years.

Wrong! If being “pro-life” means that surgical abortions decrease while chemical abortions increase, then perhaps this statement could be true. The same reasoning could be used to call a fielding error by the shortstop a nice hit by the batter, or a doctor who cheated on his final exams in medical school a valedictorian and top-ranked surgeon. If you want to change definitions, then you can make any statement true.

Encouraging as these results are from both a women’s health and, ostensibly, pro-life perspective, they become even more so in light of their economic benefits. Author Brian Alexander notes that, according to a 2011 study from the Guttmacher Institute, “unplanned pregnancies cost the United States a conservatively estimated $11 billion per year,” money that may be saved simply by covering the cost of birth control.

Working from a false assumption allows you to claim that contraceptives are “pro-life”. If contraceptives are so powerful and positive in their societal impact, then we would have seen great decreases in unplanned pregnancies, STDs, and abortion since their widespread incorporation into society decades ago. The opposite has happened. As contraceptives have become more widely used, these societal scourges have likewise increased. One statistic that you will not hear mentioned by the likes of Miller or other culture of death apologists is the fact that the higher the devout Catholic population of a country, the less abortion, STDs and unplanned pregnancies that country has.

Peipert himself touted this benefit. “The way I look at it as a gynecologist with an interest in women’s health and public health and family planning, is that this saves money,” he said. “When you provide no-cost contraception, and you remove that barrier, you finally reduce unintended pregnancy rates. It doesn’t matter what side one is on politically, that’s a good thing.” Dr. James T. Breeden, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called the data “an amazing improvement,” adding, “I would think if you were against abortions, you would be 100 percent for contraception access.”

Peipert has identified himself as a contraceptive pusher. Do you think that the “lead author” of a study’s personal bias would translate into skewed results? Pardon the pun, but that is surely a “conceivable” possibility. Hey I’m not the only one using lame puns. Peipert started it with his blatant reference to “removing the barrier” around contraceptives. While we are at this, if Dr. Breeden thinks that simply reducing abortions would make someone in favor of a morally corrupt way of achieving that end, then why not simply sterilize all the poor people? That would also reduce abortions. Both are morally unacceptable. That’s why. Repeat after me, “The end cannot and does not justify the means”.

But it remains the case that, by and large, those most opposed to abortion are not “100 percent for” contraception access. In fact, Peipert’s study comes at a time when more than thirty federal lawsuits have been filed by social conservatives bent on overturning the ACA’s contraception mandate. In many cases, these suits are “religious freedom” complaints, arguing that requiring religiously affiliated organizations to include contraception in their health care plans violates their rights of conscience. These claims are, in most cases, dubious given that the ACA offers a religious “accommodation” whereby the onus of contraceptive coverage is placed on insurance companies rather than organizations.

Notice the inflammatory language about conservatives? “Bent” Those federal lawsuits were filed because the Obama administration trampled on the right of conscience for Christians. How clueless do you have to be if you fail to grasp the reason that over 100 institutions are suing the Obama administration? This is the most insidious violation of religious freedom in recent memory. The dubious claims are found in the phony “accommodation” given by the administration, which basically states that religious organizations will still fund contraception and abortion-causing drugs, but the administration will pretend that isn’t the case and expect Churches to follow the lead. In a word, the policy is arrogant.

Such efforts by social conservatives to oppose the ACA betray both an unseemly partisanship and a nervous insecurity. It seems entirely plausible that, in the contraception mandate, leaders of these groups see not a violation of their own freedom so much as a weakening of their ability to dictate the terms by which their members live.

Miller claims the “social conservatives” are exhibiting an “unseemly partisanship” and “nervous insecurity”. There are two problems with that assertion. First, it is judgmental, assuming that the religious groups and private businesses have a political agenda when they are fighting for their most basic right – the right to honor God. Second, it would seem a “nervous insecurity” is warranted given the boot the President has firmly placed on the neck of the Church. Miller shows his utter ignorance of Church teaching by claiming that the Church dictates the terms by which their members live. The Church doesn’t do that, Mr. Miller. God does. The Church doesn’t want to pay for sin. It is a pretty simple concept, yet one that Miller cannot grasp.

But by addressing the problem of unintended pregnancy—rather than the politically fraught problem of abortion—“Obamacare” addresses the issue at its root. Though abortion has served as the central locus of the “culture war” for nearly forty years, it has always been a secondary concern—a problematic solution to a deeper and less sensational problem. By insisting on mere illegality, pro-life forces have turned a blind eye to the troublesome side-effects of illegal abortion even as they dedicated themselves to a largely symbolic political victory. And since the political divisions accompanying the debate have become so intractable, hope for a deliberative resolution has long ceased to exist.

Wrong! The root of the problem is immorality. If people didn’t devalue sex, we wouldn’t have unintended pregnancies. Liberals have promoted free and indiscriminate sex. The effects are plaguing our society. Illegalizing abortion will reduce abortions. Less abortion means less innocent children killed. It is a very straightforward principle. Saving lives isn’t symbolic. It is heroic. Shame on Miller for suggesting otherwise.

I am not so naïve as to believe that this conclusion is likely to be reached soon, or without further contest. Nor do I anticipate that Tom Minnery or Bryan Fischer will embrace President Obama as a pro-life hero. But it seems to me that, if conservatives really believe in the evil of abortion, they are morally obligated to embrace a policy that stands to limit it so impressively.

If Miller wasn’t so naïve, he would understand that the only force which morally obliges us is God. Shallow logic, hollow rhetoric, and empty insults do not constitute a moral obligation. Miller is ignorant of Church teaching, which precludes him from speaking intelligently about conscience, morality and religious freedom. He fills this hole in his argument with judgmental, condescending accusations devoid of merit. Miller is tickling ears and leading souls away from Christ.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, October 23, 2012 to Eric C. Miller.



Obama Drops the Ball

clock October 3, 2012 20:32 by author John |

Nearly all the political pundits (even a vast majority of the Democratically inclined) are now saying that President Obama lost the debate. I prefer to look at it as the truth being made clear to all. Obama now has 4 years of track record to defend. He benefitted so few in relation to the many he hindered.

Obama looked confused, listless, meandering, and frankly, defeated. I nearly felt sorry for him, but then I remembered the millions of unborn children lead to the slaughter under his approving watch. I remembered the assault on marriage launched by this president. I remembered the assault on the consciences of the Catholics of this country. I almost felt sorry for him. Then I came to my senses and realized this is the only way he could be undone. It is the only way his crushing path of destruction could be reversed. It will not bring back those children killed by abortion, but it will give us some progress toward ending their continued murder.

We just need a couple more debates like this.



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Paul Moses Leads Commonweal Readers into the Desert

clock October 2, 2012 04:29 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Paul Moses, writing at Commonweal, a publication that prides itself in distorting the teachings of the Church and acting as its own magisterium. Moses’ attempts to diminish Obama’s support for the murder of unborn human beings, promotion of homosexual marriage, and frontal assaults on the rights of the Catholic Church earn him the award today. (Moses’ comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

Tom Moran, a veteran New Jersey political columnist, wrote today on what he said is Archbishop John Myers’ politicking for the Republican presidential ticket.

Moses, clearly an Obama supporter, despite the many attacks on life and liberty that the president has launched, takes exception with a Bishop who speaks the truth. Myers highlights the evil present in Obama’s platform and actions. What Moses can’t stand is clarity. The Devil lives in the gray areas. Shining light on evil will make the morally weak attack from the shadows, as is the case with Moses in this piece.

The quote Moran refers to, contained in a pastoral letter on marriage that Myers released, is: “We must exercise our right to vote in defense of marriage and life. This is our duty as citizens and believers.” In an editorial, the Star-Ledger said Myers maintains it was a coincidence that the pastoral letter was issued at this point in the election season. The paper disagreed, saying that “to issue a pastoral letter such as this, at this time, is clearly intended to influence the vote of New Jersey’s more than 1 million Catholics. It may not be an explicit endorsement of Romney, but Myers’ meaning cannot be missed.”

What makes this particularly hard for Moses and many other pro-party-of-death evangelists is that the distinctions are crystal clear. When a party officially endorses unlimited access to death for the unborn, it becomes increasingly more difficult to evangelize for them without attacking those who highlight their evil positions. A person of well-formed conscience cannot help but make the right choice. Myers is simply attempting to aid people in properly forming their consciences.

It’s reasonable and necessary for an archbishop to explain the church’s position on marriage and the family. In fact, I think church authorities have stumbled on that somewhat. But Archbishop Myers had to know that reporters would zero in on his reference to the “duty” of Catholic voters in a document issued at the height of the presidential race. For my own part, the most eye-catching passage in the pastoral letter states that if Catholics are “unable to assent to or live the Church’s teaching in these matters, they must in all honesty and humility refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they can do so with integrity; to continue to receive Holy Communion while so dissenting would be objectively dishonest.”

I would think that Myers wanted reporters to zero in on the “duty” of Catholic voters. In this election, voting for the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, anti-Catholic candidate can only be done in 3 ways: 1) The voter is not aware of the candidate’s positions, 2) the voter is not aware of the moral gravity of the candidate’s positions, 3) the voter understands the first 2 points, but chooses to vote for the immoral candidate anyway. Myers is simply attempting to eliminate #1 and 2. While Moses might find Myer’s statement on worthy reception of the Eucharist eye-catching, it is a valid point, which highlights the gravity of choosing the 3rd path, namely voting for an immoral candidate willingly.

Especially since we are in the midst of a heated and divisive political campaign, this passage serves as an invitation for Catholics to follow Tom Moran’s path out the door. This evidently was not lost on the Episcopal Church’s bishop of Newark, who responded in an op-ed article: “My hope and prayer is that we can move beyond arguments about unfounded threats to the flourishing of families and focus our attention on the real threats, such as the rising tide of unemployment and poverty, which has left more than 295,000 children in our state — including 42 percent of children in Newark — living below the federal poverty level. … Let us use the reach and blessing of our religious traditions to help all families and children flourish — housed, clothed, fed and healthy.”

Moses frames the debate as a matter of driving people away from the Church due to the trouble some people have in a bishop speaking with moral clarity. A bishop cannot help a person that refuses to follow the teachings of the Church. If a person leaves the Church because the teachings are too difficult, then it wasn’t the bishop who sent them away. It was the person who sent Jesus and His commandments away.

Finally, quoting the bishop of a sinking denomination, which is losing membership by the droves due to its watered down teaching does not make for the best source. Claiming to be concerned for the “real issues” does not establish those issues as having primary importance. Protection of life and liberty should come before actions to alleviate the massive unemployment and poverty that the current administration has neglected until the election season. That is not to say that these issues are unimportant – because they are. We must first be concerned with addressing the greatest evils.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, October 2, 2012 to Paul Moses.



US Bishops Speaking with One Voice Concerning Elections

clock September 25, 2012 20:26 by author John |

What a joy it is to witness the unified and forceful way in which the Catholic Bishops of the United States are speaking with regard to the upcoming election! In every statement I have seen so far, the bishops are emphasizing the “non-negotiable” issues that adorn the Democratic Party and Obama’s platform. While I am not a Democrat, I am also not a Republican because parties are too fickle and neither represents my beliefs appropriately. In spite of this, it seems that in general, one party is clearly the lesser of 2 evils here. It should also be noted that there are exceptions to this rule, as there are a few truly pro-life Democrats, and a few pro-abortion Republicans.

However, unless you are living under a rock, if you are a Catholic, you should by now be aware of the gravity of this election. You should also be aware of the non-negotiable issues and where each candidate stands on these issues. If not, then it would seem that you are not an informed voter, which is not a good thing to be.

Here is a sample of the public statements made by some of our Bishops recently:

Bishop Morlino (Also, a good conversation about the topic on Relevant Radio)
Archbishop Lori
Archbishop Chaput
Bishop Paprocki
Archbishop Gomez



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Frank Schaeffer Rails Against Belief in Hell

clock September 25, 2012 01:09 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Frank Schaeffer writing on the CNN DisBelief Blog. We have a special treat for this iteration of the Ear Tickler Award: a good ol’ fashioned Hell denier! Schaeffer's father was a prominent Evangelical Christian Theologian, Francis Schaeffer. The apple may not have fallen far from the tree, but it seems to have rolled quite a way in this case. Schaeffer lays out his case for disbelief in Hell… (Schaeffer’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black, Jesus' comments in red font.)

My Faith: The dangerous effects of believing in hell

Is it any coincidence that the latest war of religion that started on September 11, 2001, is being fought primarily between the United States and the Islamic world? It just so happens that no subgroups of humanity are more ingrained with the doctrine of hell than conservative Muslims and conservative Christians.

I see, so we are already lumping faithful Christians in with Islamic terrorists. This seems a little over the line until you realize that Schaeffer is an Obama lackey and a “pro-life, pro-Obama” oxymoron apologist. You know, the Obama that thinks pro-lifers are a terrorist group.

So whether you're an atheist or not, the issue of who's going to hell or not matters because there are a lot of folks on this planet – many of them extraordinarily well-armed - from born-again American military personnel to Muslim fanatics, who seriously believe that God smiles upon them when they send their enemies to hell.

At first, I thought this was just a sarcastic remark. Then after reading the rest of the article, I have come to realize that Schaeffer is not well-read when it comes to the teachings on hell, justice, and mercy. I do realize that the 9/11 terrorists may have thought they were purchasing their eternal reward with their actions, but it seems a bit juvenile to plaster that belief on the people who are defending our country. A quick 5-minute look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church would have served him well before making such ridiculous comments. By the way, the issue of hell will be very important for all of us, with implications reaching far beyond the worldly ones.

And so my view of "hell" encompasses two things: First, the theological question about whether a land of eternal suffering exists as God's "great plan" for most of humanity.

“God’s great plan for most of humanity”? These are the kinds of statements that reveal his lack of understanding of the subject matter. God’s plan for us is to know, love and serve Him in this life so that we can enjoy the rewards of our actions in Heaven. Hell is a choice some of us make. God doesn’t plan on any of us going to hell. He does however give us the choice to love Him and our neighbors. If we reject that choice, in the end, God is just giving us what we wanted when we rejected Him. Heaven is the joy of eternity with God. The eternity of sadness due to the separation from God is the part of hell that frightens me more than any temporal pains from fire.

Second, the question of the political implications of having a huge chunk of humanity believe in damnation for those who disagree with their theology, politics and culture, as if somehow simply killing one's enemies is not enough.

While there are many that believe this, it seems to me that a well-educated Christian would come to the conclusion, as the Catholic Church has, that God doesn’t damn people to hell because they don't hold a theological point or two. Damnation is a consequence of our pride and rejection of God’s grace.

Since Christianity is my tradition, I can say more about it. One view of God - the more fundamentalist view - is of a retributive God just itching to punish those who "stray."

Again, this is a shallow view.

The other equally ancient view, going right back into the New Testament era, is of an all-forgiving God who in the person of Jesus Christ ended the era of scapegoat sacrifice, retribution and punishment forever.

As Jesus said on the cross: "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

What Schaeffer is missing here is the fact that forgiveness must be sought out. God does not bestow forgiveness on any and every person regardless of their disposition toward Him. It is true that God forgives people no matter how severe their sins, but we must first humble ourselves to seek that forgiveness. It’s the humbling ourselves part that many cannot bring themselves to.

While Jesus did seek forgiveness for the people crucifying Him, he also said:

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:4-6

That doesn’t sound all-forgiving to me. How about you?

That redemptive view holds that far from God being a retributive God seeking justice, God is a merciful father who loves all his children equally. This is the less-known view today because fundamentalists - through televangelists and others - have been so loud and dominant in North American culture.

Schaeffer doesn’t want a merciful father. He wants a non-confrontational grandfather who just gives his grandkids candy and a few dollars every time he sees them. A loving father disciplines His children so that they will develop virtue and love Him for giving them life, character and knowledge of good and evil. If your child runs into the street do you reward him or punish him? A loving father punishes appropriately so that the child learns from making mistakes.

But for all that, this redemptive view is no less real.

Why does our view of hell matter? Because believers in hell believe in revenge. And according to brain chemistry studies, taking revenge and nurturing resentment is a major source of life-destroying stress.

“Believers in hell believe in revenge”. How do you like that for a blanket statement? I believe in hell, but I also believe that revenge is a great way to reject God’s will for us to “love our enemies”. Revenge is a sure path to hell for the one executing the revenge. A principled person also believes in self-defense, which is what the United States is doing against those who seek to wipe us off the map.

We need “hell” like a hole in the head. It’s time for the alternative of empathetic merciful religion to be understood.

We need Schaeffer’s shallow views on hell like we need a hole in the head. Allow me to make this very clear. Hell is a choice. No one goes to hell by accident. If you end up there, it is because you rejected God and His mercy. While God is merciful, he is also just. By denying the existence of hell, you are denying God’s infinite justice. It wouldn’t make sense for all of the runners in a race to win the Olympic gold medal, no matter how slow they ran. Likewise, it wouldn’t make sense for God to award the eternal joy of Heaven to those who don’t want it or have forsaken the love of God for the instant gratification and fleeting fun of a depraved life. It would make even less sense for the reward of Heaven to be indiscriminately given to those who would live in disregard or contempt for the moral law and reject the many graces given to them to help them turn back to God.

The dangerous part about what Schaeffer spews here is that it nullifies the struggle each of us makes against evil within our own souls. If we don't believe in hell, then there is no way we can believe in Heaven either. How could a just God allow one without the other? What happens after we die? Do we all go to heaven? If so, then why should I struggle to do good if doing evil will get me the same reward? Why not have some carnal fun in the process? If there is no hell, why not just dispatch everyone that doesn't agree with me? Has Schaeffer really not thought about these questions? Or is he just trying to sell a book with a sensationalist article to get attention?

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award to Frank Schaeffer for Tuesday, September 25, 2012.



Obama Compaign Releases Several New Flag Prints

clock September 20, 2012 11:52 by author John |

The Obama Campaign has released a new flag print that adoring fans can purchase to further the destruction of liberty as well as the unborn. It seems that the campaign is unable to count, as the flag print is missing some stripes. Extra arrogance is thrown in for free – after all, it is his country now. We are just lucky to belong to it.

Obama's Flag

Doing a little digging, I found some more flags the campaign is trying to hock...

Halo Flag

The Halo flag: not only is this a patriotic expression, but religious, too.

Communist Flag

Here is a nod to the “more flexibility” that the president will have after the elections.

Remember the creepy "o" hand gesture? It seems to be making a comeback. You can bet he will be making that gesture as he strangles the freedoms from the constitution.

Anti-Life Flag

For those in the pro-choice movement.

Anti-Freedom Flag

For fans of the HHS mandate.

Mslim Brotherhood Flag

There is also the flag created for his fans in the Muslim Brotherhood.



Obama Wants Beyoncé to be a Role Model for His Kids

clock September 19, 2012 13:08 by author John |

President Obama claims Beyoncé couldn’t be a better role model for his children. Beyoncé. That’s right Beyoncé. The same Beyoncé that claims her half-naked performances are not a contradiction to her Christian faith, claiming about God, “I honestly believe he wants people to celebrate their bodies so long as you don't compromise your Christianity in the process.” I guess that is sort of like Obama defining sin as “being out of alignment with my values”.

Anyway, I thought there might be a few suggestions for better role models for his children. Here are a few:
1. Jesus
2. The Blessed Mother
3. Anyone that doesn’t dance around without their clothes on or promotes sin like immodesty, promiscuity, abortion, and unnatural relationships.


Just an idea.

 



Catholic Bishops of Illinois to Produce Bulletin Inserts for Upcoming Election Season

clock September 19, 2012 11:02 by author John |

The Catholic bishops of Illinois will be distributing 4 bulletin inserts on the Sundays leading up to the election. Looking at the introductory insert, it appears the inserts will be rather clear and speak in unmistakable terms about the upcoming election and the importance of not supporting a candidate who is pro-choice, anti-traditional marriage, and anti-religious freedom.

Some bishops have already been using very clear language about the elections, including Bishop Robert Morlino (link to mp3 download of Morlino on the Drew Mariani show), Archbishop Chaput,  and Archbishop Lori.   So the question will then come down to a basic question: How many people will follow these principles? Few will be able to claim ignorance on this one.