Little Sisters of the Poor: Doing God’s Work. Fighting Goliath.

 

The Little Sisters of the Poor, the stand up nuns who’ve taken on the Obama administration over the HHS Mandate, are a bunch of tough customers.

I mean that in the best understanding of the word “tough.” Providing frail elderly people with loving care on a 24/7 basis is work that would make the average Navy Seal turn weak in the knees.

When I say 24/7, I mean twenty-four hours, right around the clock; every single day, right around the calendar. Caring for a frail elderly person is more demanding in a lot of ways than caring for a toddler. They are both sweet, precious and strong-minded. The differences are that the toddler isn’t always trying to die on you, and they don’t have a memory of having once been a strong, independent adult.

The Little Sisters of the Poor do God’s work here on earth by providing care for people who are at the end of their earthly journey. The last phases of life are not a waste, and they are not a bother. Elderly people are beautiful, wonderful gifts to all of us. The fact that they require a bit more of us than our me-ism allows only makes them more precious.

The closest anyone will ever be to God in this life is not while sitting in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, but when they are sitting on the bathroom floor at 3 am, holding a croupy baby while the shower runs, or when they are changing the sheets on the bed of their incontinent elderly parent. Jesus is standing right beside you when you do these things, because when you do them for the least of these, you are truly doing them for Him.

This work of caring for those who can’t care for themselves is the life’s work of the Little Sisters of the Poor. They have given their lives to caring for Christ in the disguise of our frail elderly.

It’s no surprise to me that someone like this would become such a thorn in the side of the mighty and powerful United States Department of Justice. It’s also no surprise that those who want to force these sisters to accede to the will of a galloping secularism that seeks to mow down religious expression in public places in these United States should find the Little Sisters so problematic.

How do you turn public opinion against a bunch of nuns who have given their lives to care of the frail elderly?

The usual method in cases like this, where the problem persons are just too good to attack directly, is to redirect your venom by choosing an easier target. You might, say, go at a Catholic Supreme Court justice and that mean old Catholic Church and, of course, everyone’s favorite bugaboo, the Catholic bishops.

The trick is to make the fight about something other than those sweet little nun ladies with their bedpans and rosaries. Shift the focus and make the fight about the big, bad Catholic Church and you can count on the Pavlovian Catholic haters lining up on your side of the argument.

But the fact is, the argument is precisely about the Little Sisters of the Poor, along with their bed pans and rosaries. It’s about every Christian everywhere who wants to exercise their right as free Americans to practice their faith without government interference.

As much as its proponents try to twist and turn it, the HHS Mandate is a direct attack on the Constitutional protection of the free exercise of religion of American citizens.

The HHS Mandate is a regulation, promulgated by an appointed committee and signed by the president. It has the force of law, but it is not a law. It is a star-chamber bit of special interest government bullying that seeks to make an end run around the First Amendment of the Constitution. It is a vile piece of work that directly contradicts the guarantees in the Affordable Health Care Act, which is the legal authority by which the HHS Mandate was created.

Did that last bit go in a confusing circle? There’s no surprise in that, since it is circular. Congress passed the Affordable Health Care Act, which contained guarantees of religious exemption. The act also gave regulatory powers to the Department of Health and Human Services. Then (deep breath) …

… HHS created a committee to draft these regulations, and this unelected committee of representatives of special interests wrote the HHS Mandate which goes against the specific language in the law guaranteeing religious exemptions that gives the committee its power to promulgate the regulation in the first place.

Now. Is that clear as mud? The truth is, if the whole thing seems circular, it’s because it really does go in circles. But, to add to the confusion, this circle, unlike every other circle, has a starting point.

That starting point is a president who lied.

The HHS Mandate directly contradicts the president’s own executive order guaranteeing religious exemption as part of the enforcement of the Affordable Health Care Act. The fact that the president signed the HHS Mandate and has staked his presidency on it, means that he lied when he issued that executive order, in the promises he gave Congressman Bart Stupak and to the American people.

Enter, the living saints, the Little Sisters of the Poor and their tough-as-nails insistence on their Constitutional rights as American citizens.

What to do with a bunch of nuns who take care of sick old people?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see attacks on the nuns themselves sooner or later. That would be the usual behavior track. But for now, the administration apologists are confining themselves to attacking the Church.

In the meantime the Little Sisters continue to do God’s work in many places, including, here, here and here.

For information about the on-going debate on this topic at US News and World Report, check out Frank Weathers.