The Pope has Spoken and I Accept It.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

 

I’ve been standing on the sidelines, watching the hate-Pope-Francis movement tear into the fabric of the Church with destructive glee for a long time now.

I have absorbed the meaning of the venomous comments, malicious misinterpretations of what he says and deliberate destructiveness without remarking on it. I’ve been silent, hoping it would run its course and wear itself out, that the obsessed people who are focusing their internal rage on Pope Francis would find another target.

But that is not happening. In fact, the disrespect and hatred directed toward the Holy Father appear to be growing. It is even overtaking Catholics who normally are more rational.

This began as the usual projections of angry people who are trying to deal with their mental health issues by turning a hapless public figure into the object of what they hate about themselves. It has morphed into a growing push to convince people to ignore and vilify the pope in favor of whatever bishop, priest or lay blogger lights the internal fires of self-deification that burn inside them.

Given that, I’ve decided that I need to take a public position of my own. I want, as I usually do, to make it clear where I stand. I don’t want anyone to be confused about me and my loyalties.

I am standing with the pope.

Schismatic individualism has overtaken and is destroying simple faithfulness in many quarters of our Church. Catholics of every sort are taking it on themselves to proclaim that they will not accept the authority of the pope to govern this Church.

They are justifying this outrageous behavior by vilifying Pope Francis, using what appear to be deliberate misquotes of what he has said. They juxtapose this with other misquoted teachings from earlier popes to “prove” their point. They weave tangled skeins of canon law, misquoted papal statements, footnotes and endnotes, like a spider, spinning a web to catch its prey.

The leaders of the rageful faithful movement range from cardinals who should know better, to priests who also should know better, to bloggers looking for something inflammatory to say that will spin their view meters. The wayward cardinals and priests enjoy a kind of tribal adoration from the pope-haters.

In this upside down world, criticizing one of them results in a wave of insults and claims that the person who did the criticizing is a every kind of lowlife imaginable. This is usually followed with attempts to silence the person by attempting to get their publisher to fire them or stop publishing their work. All this is done in the name of “protecting” the Church.

The core problem here, is, as the core problem with human failings always is, a matter of sin. In our society today, slander, lying and amorality are as acceptable to most professional Christians as they are to nihilists, atheists and satanists. It just depends on who is doing it.

Atheists, nihilists, satanists and professional Christians alike loudly proclaim that what they are doing is righteousness. They are equally committed to the idea that anyone who disagrees with them is subhuman trash that they can treat any way they want.

The sole difference seems to be that when professional Christians paste a bandaid of pious self-righteousness over the oozing slime of sin and proclaim that it is, in fact righteousness, they choose a bandaid that quotes canon law or Scripture. That way, they “prove” that what they are doing is of Christ.

I have been convinced for a very long time that satan is active in our society in a way that he never dared to be in years past. Time was, satan triumphed by convincing people that he didn’t exist. Now, he’s taking off his mask and coming right out front in satanic masses and satan worshipping.

At the same time, he has, it seems to me, taken over our public discourse. There is no sin which is unacceptable to professional Christians if it is committed by someone they want to support. The election just past proved that rather decisively.

We kicked God to the curb in the name of God.

It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the newest object of hatred and vilification is Pope Francis. After all, who else has the authority, the moral and prophetic voice, to speak against an utterly amoral, the-biggest-and-the-meanest-make-all-the-rules zeitgeist? Who else besides the pope can correct this plunge into the pit by a whole society?

There is no one except the pope who can do this.

The pope is, as he has always been, satan’s great nemesis. He is the Vicar of Christ. He is Peter.

A good deal of the anger I’ve seen directed at Pope Francis is the anger of people who have been called on their sins which they have no intention of giving up. When Pope Francis speaks of the poor, the disenfranchised the littlest of these, he gets hit and hit hard by those whose real god is their politics.

These people have conflated Jesus Christ with their politics for so long, they have fallen so deeply into the sin of this idolatry, that when they hear the Gospels spoken by the Pope, they don’t change. They condemn the pope.

The latest hook to hang pope hatred on appears to be Amoris Laetitia. I was too sick to read when this was published, and, to be honest, I haven’t bothered to read it since. I think the reason I haven’t read it is because of all the crazy carrying on about it.

I opposed the notion of opening the Eucharist to people who had not been allowed to take it up until now. I wrote about it quite a bit during the synods on the family.

But I was wrong.

Here’s how I know I was wrong.

The Holy Spirit told the first Peter in a dream that the free gift of eternal life was open to all of humanity and not just the Jews. This was a revolutionary thought at the time. A lot of people, including Peter himself, had, based on their own reasoning, held the opposite opinion. But the Holy Spirit instructed Peter, and Peter instructed the faithful and that was that.

Pope Francis is Peter. He is not saying that Christ should be shut away and shared only with a special few who come to him trailing incense and wearing lace. Pope Francis is saying, like the first Peter, that Jesus in the Eucharist will be available to more of the people that He made, the people that He came to save.

That, my friends, is just as consistent with the Gospels as the prior way of doing things was. I believe that it is a new revelation for our times, an extension of the Covenant of grace.

I don’t believe this because I have had a vision or dream like Peter did. I believe it because Peter has said it.

Pope Francis is Peter. He is the fisherman.

I am a pew-sitting sinner who does not decide who may or may not partake of the Eucharist. I am simply blessed and grateful that I can go forward and encounter the Risen Lord in the Eucharist myself.

I do not have to make these decisions. I don’t even have to worry about them.

All I have to do is follow Christ and Him crucified. It is not my job to determine who gets to take the Eucharist. It is my job to make sure that I don’t walk past Lazarus.

The pope has spoken, and I accept it.

If you want to find me, it will be easy. I’ll be standing with the pope.

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Come Out of the Cold This Advent

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Bruno https://www.flickr.com/photos/_pek_/

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Bruno https://www.flickr.com/photos/_pek_/

I need Advent this year. I think we all do.

I wrote this post, concerning Advent and renewal because I need Jesus. I need His love, forgiveness and strength. I was blessed to have someone I could go to and talk about these things; a generous, loving spiritual mother who did not turn me away.

From the National Catholic Register:

Come Out of the Cold This Advent
Praying for someone does not mean you agree with the bad things they do.

I needed spiritual guidance and I didn’t know where to turn. This election and the evils thereof had driven me to hatred and a kind of despair about people and the integrity of many Christian religious leaders.

I needed spiritual guidance, a spiritual friend I could trust to lay bare my soul, to let them into the hurt, the ravaged misery I was feeling. I couldn’t talk about the things that needed saying. I’ve learned the hard way that there are some things, some experiences, that belong between me and God.

I turned to the woman I think of as my spiritual mother. I called her out of nowhere and asked if I could come talk to her. She was busy, but she set all that aside and welcomed me.

She was the one who suggested a Novena. Her suggestion was a simple one: Go to Mass every day for 30 days and pray the prayers of the Mass earnestly. I thought it was a good idea.

I left her feeling comforted. She understood my anger and hurt, didn’t deny the reasons for it, then redirected me back to Jesus and away from the visceral hatreds of our political mess. But, it turned out, God was not done with me yet, not by a long sight. The Holy Spirit kept at me, making me miserable as only the Holy Spirit can when you’re doing something wrong.

I’m not good at being on the outs with God. When the Holy Spirit gets after me, I cannot resist for too long. After a couple of days, I yielded and went off alone and prayed. I asked God to forgive me for the hatred in my heart that this political campaign had aroused, and I asked Him to help me. He immediately soothed and comforted me, sent graces of forgiveness and calm.

But the question of a novena stayed. And the anger remained. With the help of prayer, I came to realize that you do not fight the devil with the devil’s weapons, and hatred is absolutely the devil’s weapon. But the anger that fuels a fight for justice is another animal entirely.

Anger in the face of evil is both just and necessary. It is the human response that Jesus Himself evinced when he was confronted with the leaven of the Pharisees. Anger that does not fester, that does not hate, but propels us into good, positive action to right wrongs, is not a sin. It is a force.

Hatred corrupts and destroys the effectiveness of that force. It steals the light of justice from it and turns it to destructive use that never results in any good thing but only feeds the darkness. God is love. Satan is hatred. It’s as simple as that.

That brings me back around to the idea of a novena, or something kind of like a novena. I am not talking about a literal nine-day prayer. I mean something both grander and less than that. I am talking about repentance and conversion; about turning around. I am talking about coming back to God.

This is the second week of Advent — a time of repentance, of making way for the Lord.

We need, this year far more than most, to take advantage of the opportunity Advent affords us to cleanse ourselves of the evils of this political campaign. I know full well that there are going to be recounts and fisticuffs even now, weeks after we voted. But it’s time for those of us who say we follow Jesus to stop following these little-g gods and get back to actually following Jesus.

Here’s what I’m going to suggest. If you are a Hillary hater, pray and ask God to forgive you for the sin of hating her. Contrary to what you may have told yourself, hating her is not righteousness. It is sin, and it separates you from your Maker and imperils your immortal soul. You can end up going to hell for righteously hating Hillary. Wouldn’t that be an ironic end to all this?

If you are a Trump hater, then you need to ask God to forgive you for the sin of hating Donald Trump. Just like the Hillary hater, you can end up going to hell for your righteous hatred of Trump. For all I know, your special hell may be spending your eternity next to a Hillary hater and battling it out with them forevermore.

Ask God to forgive you and then ask Him to use your good anger at one (or both) of these candidates, the anger at abortion and race-baiting and other sexual and moral depravities, to good purpose. Ask Him to give you the courage to do something useful and helpful to save lives — something real that requires a bit of sacrifice on your part, that makes you pay a price for the innocent victims of our sins.

After you pray your please-forgive-me-for-the-sin-of-hatred prayer, I want you to keep it up. If you are a Hillary hater, I am asking you to pray for her every single day of Advent. If you are a Trump hater, I want you to pray for him every day of Advent.

I don’t have any idea what, if anything, these prayers will do for them. That will depend on how receptive they are to the Holy Spirit. But I know what it will do for you. It will do the same thing that praying for those who hurt you — and they have hurt all of us with this campaign, grievously so — always does. It will clear your mind and heal your soul.

Praying for someone does not mean you agree with the bad things they do. It means that you acknowledge their humanity, that they are, like you, made in the image and likeness of God.

The most important reason for praying for both these people is that Jesus told you to do it. Jesus didn’t tell you how to vote. In fact, He said that His Kingdom was not of this world, meaning, I think, that Christians are citizens of a Kingdom without politics first, and citizens of the political kingdoms of this world second.

We have all bent our knees before the little-g gods of politics these past months. Now it’s time to bend our knees before the real God, the One Who does not want to manipulate or exploit us, the One Who only wants to bless us.

You and I need to pray for both Hillary and Donald because Jesus told us to pray for our enemies, to forgive those who spitefully use us — and we have been very spitefully used in this campaign. We need to pray every day of Advent for the candidate who is not our choice.

That is not a penance. It is obedience. It is doing what our Lord God Christ commands us to do.

It is time to lay down the nasty name-calling and spiteful self-righteousness. We all have sinned and gone astray. We don’t need more fuel for the hideous fires of hatred burning in our politically obsessed souls. We need the cleansing, healing perspective of the Cross.

This campaign has been one of the many Gethsemanes of our lives, and from what I can see, none of us — including our religious leaders — was able to wait with Him for one hour. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All of us.

We need forgiveness. And we need to change.

Of all the reasons for going to hell, senselessly hating one of these two people has got to be one of the stupidest.

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I Want You to Stop and Think for a Moment About How Much God Loves You

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by BuzzFarmers https://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzfarmers/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by BuzzFarmers https://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzfarmers/

Note: I’m re-publishing this because it didn’t come through in its entirely the first time I put it up. I hope it makes more sense this time around.

I wrote this a few months ago for the National Catholic Register. I think it’s worth publishing again at this time when we have been so deeply damaged and degraded as a nation and a people by the amoral cruelty of the election just past, and when our Church, which should be the lodestone that guides our lives, is at odds with itself.

I was in a special place of grace when I wrote this. Cancer was, for me, a powerful experience of the love of Christ. The graces He rained down on me during that time could only have come from a God Who truly is love.

Here’s what I wrote:

I’ve spent the past seven months in the hermetically-sealed world of cancer treatment. That world disconnected me from the other world of normal life with the abrupt finality of amputation.

One minute, I thought I was fine. The next, I was fighting for my life. The re-entry into what I just labeled “normal” life was as abrupt as the leave-taking. I arrived, not well, not even close to well, but wounded and battered from treatments that had just ended. The sights, sounds, behaviors that confronted me in this “normal” world seemed alien and more than a bit trivial.

I suppose it was a bit like a soldier returning from an overseas war. They get on the plane with sand in their teeth and the rattle of gunfire still sounding in their ears and get off a few hours later in the impersonal noise and confusion of an American airport. Technically they are home, but “home” feels more alien than the alien world from which they have come.

They are stunned. As I was stunned.

The single biggest change is not that I am changed physically, although I am changed physically in obvious ways. It’s the shift in values, in my understanding of what matters, that sets me apart from everyone around me.

Take, for instance, Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of Love. I think I heard something about it when I was in that other world, but I don’t really remember what. Between the drugs and the overwhelming sickness, nothing stuck except a clear memory of how wretched I felt. That, and not much else, is imprinted on my mind, in much the same way that I would keep seeing a blinding flash, even after it’s over.

I was aware, in that same vague way that I knew about the Exhortation, that there was the usual carrying on from the usual places that seems to accompany everything the Holy Father says or does. But somewhere between the words “you have cancer” and the release of the Exhortation, my relationship with my Church had changed.

That’s only reasonable, since my relationship with God had also changed during that time. I’ve never felt closer to Jesus than I did during those months of treatment. He was, to paraphrase W H Auden, my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest.

I was both too sick to care about the reaction to Pope Francis’ Exhortation and too deep in the love of God to take it seriously. Now that I am slowly getting better, tip toeing ever-so-cautiously around the rim of normal life without actually diving in, I retain the profound crystallizing viewpoint that is, to paraphrase another poet, all I know of heaven, all I need of hell.

I’ve been someplace quite rare in this life. I’ve been to hell while wrapped in the loving arms of God my Father.

I want to tell you what I learned on the trip. I learned that all we know of heaven lies in the peace of Christ Jesus. There really is a peace that passes all understanding, a love that does not die, that grows stronger when we are weak. The secret to life in Christ is no secret at all. It is not built on being sinless, pious and perfect. It is certainly not built on having the right political ideas and voting correctly. You do not get to God by hating the right people for the right reasons. Rely on yourself and your own righteousness, and you will never see heaven at all.

The only way to heaven is through the Way, which is Jesus and His love. All you have to do is trust Him. That’s all. Just throw yourself into His arms and let go of everything else.

We are so grounded in this life that we lose sight of that. It’s very difficult for earth-bound creatures like us to fly. I was blessed to encounter the terror of cancer. Cancer pushed me right up to the cliff of abandoning myself utterly into God’s hands, and in the faith that came from decades of walking in Him, I closed my eyes and stepped off.

The rest is a song of floating in His love through the white water that lay ahead of me.

During that passage, as a result of that step off the cliff, I changed. The Church became, not a set of teachings and dogma, but the living Eucharist, the Body of Christ in fact and in truth.

I encountered Jesus every day, and He blessed me over and over again, while the Church fed me with the concrete love of Christ in Eucharist. I could reach out and touch Him, taste Him, receive Him physically, while He surrounded me with His loving presence spiritually.

God’s beautiful people reached out to me with letters, emails, offers of help and assistance from every direction. They, too, became the living Body of Christ and I found deep healing in their caring.

When I heard about the Exhortation, I didn’t really care what it said. Pope Francis is Peter. Me? I’m just a back-pew sitter who has no real right to be part of this beautiful Body of Christ. I am not here by virtue of my virtue. Far from it. I am only here because God loved me from eternal death to eternal life through His forgiveness and Mercy.

I am writing this post for one reason. I want you to stop and think for a moment about how much God loves you. Stop what you a doing and just think about what He has forgiven you, and how much you rely on His love and forgiveness. Without that love, without that bounteous mercy, you and I would both go straight to hell.

That, my friends would not be a harsh judgement. It would be justice in its absolute and accurate sense. We do not deserve heaven. We deserve to go to hell.

If those people who hated me back when I was doing my worst had had their way about it, God would certainly have never forgiven me. It is a verifiable fact that some of them were outraged and bitter when I converted, that they called everyone from my bishop to other members of my parish to protest and say that I should be shunned and kicked out.

But that great Body of Christ which is the Catholic Church welcomed me home and accepted me as its own daughter.

If Pope Francis is telling us that God’s Mercy extends to everyone without regard to what they have done, he is only telling us the truth. He is not changing doctrine. He is preaching Christ.

I know only too well the kind of willful sinfulness leaning on my own wisdom can lead me to commit. I pray every day that God will protect me from my own understanding, that He will not let me walk past Lazarus.

If you are one of those who is outraged by what our Holy Father has written, stop for a moment and think. When you stand on the edge of that cliff and look out over the expanse of nothingness that is your own suffering and death, the Church will be there to sustain you.

When you step off that cliff, the arms of Christ will catch you.

None of this will happen because you deserve it. It will happen because love is stronger than death, and our God is a deeply personal and infinitely loving God of mercy.

Do not begrudge other people the same forgiveness that saves you. Do not, ever, tell anyone that God does not love them. The first is not only a cruelty, but a denial of your own salvation, as if you are throwing God’s gifts to you back in His face. The second is a lie, plane and simple.

I think that when we get to heaven one of the biggest surprises we’ll have is who we see there. And who we don’t.

Trust the Church and trust Jesus. Don’t wait until one of life’s existential trials forces you to it, trust Jesus now. And stop worrying.

Whether it seems like it or not, God’s got this. If you are His, you have nothing, absolutely nothing, to fear.

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You Can Go to Hell

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by ArtFortheGloryofGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by ArtFortheGloryofGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

I wrote this post for the National Catholic Register. As soon as it went up, there was a comment saying that there were actually two Judgements, not one, and another attacking someone besides themselves — in this case, the Jesuits — for not following Church teaching.

One of the commenters remarked that there was “nothing new” in this particular post.

All I can say about that is I should hope not. What I am saying here is old. It’s is 2,000 years old. But it is just as revolutionary today as it was when it was first spoken.

Here’s the point, and it has nothing to do with other people’s sins or nit-picking over theological points. Get ready now, you aren’t going to like this one bit.

You can go to hell.

Let me say that again, so that you understand. I am not saying that someone who commits sins you don’t commit is going to hell. I’m not saying that Democrats, Republicans, abortionists, feminists, Pope Francis, the Jesuits, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are going to hell.

This is about YOU.

You, perfect as you are, can go to hell.

You can go to mass every week, toss big checks into the collection plate, participate in the walk for life and quote Canon Law like a religious F Lee Bailey. But if you do not care for the least of these, if you do not extend your hand to help suffering people, then you can go to hell.

Now, participating in pro life walks and donating to the Church with the intent of supporting Church missions that help the weak and poor (and there are many) is an indirect way to helping the least of these. That is true.

But the Pharisees that Jesus basically said were going to hell if they did not change were obsessively conscientious about doing the “right” things while they walked past suffering people on their way to the Temple. Probably worse than that, they condemned and shunned everyone who did not measure up to their remorseless rules; they even condemned Jesus for associating with “sinners.”

Don’t be like them. Don’t do the “right” thing in an angry condemnatory way. That can send you straight to hell.

How will we be judged when our life is over? Jesus said that we will be judged by how we treat other people.

He didn’t mention one word about sniping and carping over Canon Law. He didn’t say anything at all about voting right or loudly condemning people who commit sins that don’t tempt us. He said that we would be judged based on how we treat people who can’t fight back, how we minister to those in need, how we reach out to people who are on the fringes, who are judged by society to be dirty, lost, condemned.

Far from giving us leave to condemn those who differ from us, He said that we would be judged on whether or not we reach out to those who have been condemned, many of them justly so. That’s what it means when He said “I was in prison and you visited me.”

We can not leave one person alone, lost and despised.

That is a tall order. There is no one of us, including me, who can fulfill it. That is why we need a savior. Jesus didn’t just give us a new, impossible, set of commandments. He didn’t just show up and set the bar so high that no one could possible manage to get to heaven.

He came to give us a way out.

And that way out is the Cross. We enter into the New Covenant of love and salvation by way of the Cross. Jesus is the Way, and the Cross is the door.

We have a way out of our sins, and that is repentance and turning to follow Him with all our hearts. The Church offers confession to cleanse us, the Eucharist to feed us, and clear, simple teachings to guide us.

But the bottom line is that we are, each of us, rapidly speeding toward that moment when our personal end of time arrives and we stand before the Lord. And we will be judged according to the teachings I quote in this post.

I’m going to be writing quite a bit about basic things. This election and the lack of teaching from our religious leaders has destroyed the concept of pubic morality. It has placed all of politics and thus our national thinking, in a morality free zone.

We need to understand that this is an illusion. There is no morality free zone. There is only following Christ or following the devil.

From the National Catholic Register:

Our Holy Father spoke about the end times during his Angelus on the first Sunday of Advent. We all — believer and unbeliever — know that there will be an end. The end of all things rims our lives like a horizon all our days.

The truth is, we don’t need to worry overmuch about the ultimate “end times.” We are all rushing headlong to our own, personal “end time” every single day we live.

When we die, we will be at our own end of days, our end time. The things we have done will be writ and cannot be erased. This simple fact gives perspective to our here and now.

Pope Francis reminded us that the material things, what Wordsworth called “getting and spending” don’t matter all that much when we are forced to consider the ultimate toting up of our lives. When we stand before God, what will matter is the hour we spent visiting a lonely person in a nursing home, stood by a rape victim, helped an unwed mother find ways to keep her job or continue school during her pregnancy, or reached out in forgiveness to someone who had hurt us.

It won’t matter what kind of car we drove or if we got that big job. It certainly won’t help us on that day if we spent much of our time in this life doing things — even little things — that hurt and humiliated other people, or worst of all, drove them away from Jesus.

What will matter is whether or not we loved Jesus and other people. God is love, and our love, faith and hope are all that go with us into eternity. Those who love much are rich with the only lucre that saves, both now and in our ever after.

There are no foreigners, no rich and famous, no impoverished and unknown, no powerful and mighty, when we stand before the cross. We are all one nation, one family, of fallen souls, equal in our abject dependence on the broken Son of Man hanging there.

Here is what Jesus Himself told us about the Judgement we will face.

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

That is Jesus Christ the Lord, God made human, telling us directly and explicitly how we will be judged when we stand before God.

I have three simple questions to ask you.

One: Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God?

Two: Do you believe that He said this?

Three: Do you believe He meant it?

If your answer to those three questions is yes, yes and yes, then there aren’t any more questions. You  know how you should live and what you should do.

 

 

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What is Advent?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kylie__Jaxxon https://www.flickr.com/photos/76614164@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kylie__Jaxxon https://www.flickr.com/photos/76614164@N02/

 

It’s Advent! Time to prepare for the coming of the Lord.

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Sex Education, Catholic Style

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Stephan Hochhaus https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephanski/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Stephan Hochhaus https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephanski/

The Vatican is launching a sex education program based on family and led by parents. This is very different from the secular notion of sex education which involves classes taught by Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s number one abortion provider, in schools.

This program, which is developing organically with input from parents, is based on Catholic teaching and is grounded in morality. Sex education, Catholic style, sounds like a great new-old idea.

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Is President Elect Trump Gaming Us?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by PingPing https://www.flickr.com/photos/pingping/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by PingPing https://www.flickr.com/photos/pingping/

Are President Elect Trump and his erstwhile campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, gaming all of us?

I kinda think they are.

Here’s the dealio.

President Elect Trump is doing his run-up to the oath-taking in much the same way that he did his cruel little game show, The Apprentice. You know, he called in a bunch of people and waved a “job” in front of them, then made them jump through hoops while he sat there like a little lord of the universe and either “fired” or “hired” them.

It was a sadistic show with a sadistic premise. And millions of people grooved on its sadism.

Now, we’re getting a re-run of the same show, only this time the “jobs” in question are cabinet positions and high-level postings within our government and President Elect Trump’s upcoming administration. Just like in his television show, President Trump calls in lots of candidates and puts them through various hoops in a kind of elimination finals. He parades them in front of the press and gets a fix of having people grovel before him. Then, he moves on.

I was talking about this shoddy way of doing business with friends a week or so ago and one of them remarked that they thought the Donald was using these “meetings” as a way of polling each contender for government office with the public. They think that our President Elect runs potential candidates for positions in his administration up the media flagpole of media and then watches to see how the public reacts.

That’s an interesting idea, and it probably has a bit of truth to it. But there are other factors in everything our President Elect does which I think we’re going to have to consider when interpreting his behavior going forward.

Foremost among them is the simple and obvious fact that he’s a cruel man. And he’s a vengeful man. And he cannot abide any slight to himself.

I think the latest expression of his cruelty is the very public dog and pony show he’s been running concerning the position of Secretary of State. Given the dark shadow of nuclear weapons, this is a position of some importance to our continued survival as a species. It also will have a lot to say about whether or not President Trump ends up spilling our children’s blood in an unnecessary war.

But, once again, President Elect Trump has played it like another episode of his sick little television show. Only this time, he’s gone over the top with it in order to settle a grudge.

Do you remember how he behaved after he got the Republican nomination? Remember the nasty little game he played with House Speaker Paul Ryan about how he was “considering” whether or not to endorse him? That was payback for Speaker Ryan’s refusal to endorse candidate Trump earlier, when the nomination was still a bit undecided. It was candidate Trump, playing his nasty little pay-back game and showing himself to be what he is.

I didn’t keep up with the campaign early on because I was occupied with my own life. But evidently Governor Mitt Romney opposed candidate Trump’s bid for the presidency rather vigorously.

So, everyone was tres surprised when President Elect Trump trotted out Governor Romney for consideration for Secretary of State. But there they were, smiling for the cameras, with Governor Romney looking like a puppy dog, shaking and twittering in his eagerness to please, doing the public grovel before the man he’d critiqued a few months before.

Then, just to make things spicy, Kellyanne Conway took to Twitter and the airwaves, going on about how many tweets she’d gotten from Trump’s followers denouncing the idea of Secretary of State Romney.

Now Mrs Conway has, especially since the big win in November, said things about President Elect Trump that are basically fawning in their admiration and support. She’s toed the Trump line so hard that I’ve lost faith in her willingness to part company with him if he deep-sixes pro life behind closed doors — which I am pretty sure he’s going to do.

There was a time when I regarded Mrs Conway as the canary in the pro life mineshaft. I thought that if/when President Trump sold us out, she would go at him over it and thus let us know what had happened. But I’ve put that idea away.

I’ve watched her behavior since the election, and it’s verging more and more to the role of flattering court sycophant. Just for the record, that’s what I expect to see a lot of, going forward, because I think that’s what our new president elect demands.

To get back to Governor Romney, for some reason Mrs Conway jumped off the Trump ship and began berating the Governor publicly. It appeared for all the world that she was going against President Elect Trump.

Now, I’m not stupid. I knew that wasn’t the deal. I mean, just think about her “reason” for opposing Governor Romney for Secretary of State. It had nothing — and I mean absolutely nothing — to do with what is good for this country. Nope. She said that Governor Romney had “hurt” President Elect Trump during the campaign. That was her reason.

The ridiculous reason Mrs Conway gave for opposing Governor Romney’s nomination was straight out of the Henry VIII Court Sycophant’s Playbook. None of this added up.

Meanwhile, the dummies in the press were going all agog about the “fight” inside Trump transition headquarters, the breakdown among his team over Governor Romney. As if.

Here’s what I think is happening. I think that President Elect Trump wanted big time payback against Governor Romney for his behavior during the campaign. One thing I’m sure of about our president elect is that he’s into petty score-settling.

I think the consideration of Governor Romney is phony. I think President Elect Trump gets off on making people who opposed him come groveling.

I also think that the dealio Mrs Conway is doing with the press is a deliberate thing, a planned act, to, you know, turn the knife a bit. I think they’re gaming us.

I also think it’s not the first time we’ve been gamed and it certainly will not be the last.

Our President Elect is a cruel man.

Sexual assault is cruelty. Going into the dressing rooms at a Miss Teen America pageant and oogling and humiliating the underage girls as they stand there without clothes is cruel. Grabbing people and ramming your hands up inside them against their will, or as he put it, “grabbing their p——“ is cruel.

Terrifying millions of people with the threat of breaking up their families is cruel. Racism is cruel. His television show was cruel.

He is cruel.

And the way he’s auditioning people for his administration is just another act in the crude, trashy way that he uses power to practice his cruelty.

I have no idea why anyone would want to be in the Trump administration. I can’t imagine allowing my name to be associated with his in any way. I wrote blog posts during the campaign when I didn’t feel like writing at all for the express purpose of making it clear that I did not support him. I did that because I do not want my grandchildren looking back on this time and being ashamed of their grandmother.

It made me sad at first that people grooved on this sadistic man’s sadism. It kind of scared me that he had activated the absolute worst in so many people. This is not a leader who appeals to the angels of our better nature. This is a man who inspires hatred, misogyny, racism and cruelty.

It scared me at first when I contemplated what this man is going to do with the Justice Department. His candidacy has already degraded the people of this country, including the Christians. Once the fear of him locks in — and it will — I have no idea how low we will sink.

All that scared me.

But no more.

For some odd reason, this sick little game with Governor Romney and the idiotic way the press has fallen for it shut down my apprehensions. In order to fall into the trap of President Elect Trump’s cruelty, you’ve got to be a bit soft in the head. Your ambition must override your ability to see what is in front of you.

Governor Romney did not have to go trotting over to that interview. He could have said no.

If they want to keep their dignity and their integrity, a lot of people are going to have to start saying no. It’s easy, really, once you get started. Just remember who you’re dealing with.

Are President Elect Trump and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway gaming us?

I think they are.

A lot of people like these cruel games. They’re going to keep watching and grooving on it and allowing it to make them meaner and crueler themselves.

But not me.

And I hope, not you.

We can do what Governor Romney should have done. We can say no.

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Counting My Many Blessings in the Year of Cancer.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cindi Albright https://www.flickr.com/photos/rustiqueart/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cindi Albright https://www.flickr.com/photos/rustiqueart/

 

Today is Thanksgiving Eve. It’s time to count our blessings and pause in gratitude.

I look back over the past year on this Thanksgiving eve and I am grateful that I was born an American. I am grateful that God placed me in the adoring hands of two parents who never placed limits on me because I was female, who didn’t try to form me into a half-person who knew her “place” at the back of the bus.

I am grateful for my grandmother who was a Pentecostal Holiness preacher. She was a “church planter” who started and succored into success churches throughout a multi-state area and who had a huge following for her weekly radio sermons. She gave me a vision of God as Father to all His children, including the female half of the people He made.

I am grateful for my other grandmother whose grandparents lived in the South and fought on the side of the North in the Civil War because they saw slavery as a sin against God. I am grateful that she lived long enough to tell me stories of pioneering across this great land, of following the frontier as it receded before the courage of people like her.

I am grateful for my wonderful husband whose loyalty I never doubt, and whose forbearance I often sorely test. When I walked in the house and told him I had cancer, he cried. Then, he went with me to every doctor’s appointment and every treatment. He took time off work to take care of me when I was too sick to care for myself. He loved me. He loves me. He is my spouse, my life’s mate.

I am grateful for my fine sons. I am grateful for the good men they have become. I am grateful for the loving, good-to-the-core young women, my two new daughters, they have chosen for their own life’s mates. My children are good people. My most important life’s work is a success.

I am grateful for my sweet, precious, 91-year-old baby, my mother. I love her and treasure her and am grateful I still have her every single day.

I am grateful for my beautiful, wonderful baby granddaughter. I can’t think of her without melting, can’t write about her without smiling. Just holding her in my arms is everything good in life in one sweet baby hug. She is, as I tell her often, the smartest, the prettiest, the nicest, the sweetest and just the best baby girl in the whole history of baby girls.

This has been a rotten year for me, at least in most respects. There are parts of it I don’t feel like writing about just now, but that were tough. I have already written about the other things. This was the year in which I discovered I am unlikely to live as long as I had thought I might, when I found out I had cancer, when I went through the difficult passage of cancer treatment.

Cancer changed me. It wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened to me, and it hasn’t been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But it changed me.

Cancer gave me the opportunity to mentally unpack my life and look at what parts of it I want to keep and what parts of it I want to toss. It let me understand the limits of my lifespan, and this understanding sharpened my resolve about the things that matter to me.

Cancer gave me a kind of freedom. We all know that we are marked “Return to Sender,” but for most of our lives, we tend to forget that. Cancer brought that fact into sharper focus for me. And, in that focus, is freedom.

This is an odd thing for someone who held elective office for decades, but I never was much of a people-pleaser. I haven’t lived my life by trying to trim myself, my beliefs or my actions to fit what other people wanted me to do, believe or say.

I have my parents to thank for that internal freedom. They gave it to me by telling me, from the dawn of my life that I was made for myself and not other people. My parents did not fence me in with narrow ideas about myself. They did not allow me to drink down the cultural limitations that other people sought to impose on female children.

They weren’t feminists, didn’t even know the word. They were parents who were children of other parents who had rejected these notions somewhere along the long march through the abolitionist movement, the frontier and the turn to a powerful personal faith in a God Who did not Himself impose these limits.

My childhood, and a couple of life-changing things that happened to me at the end of it, shaped me to be a go-my-own-way, do-what-I-think-is-right kind of person. That acute freedom led me into some very public mistakes, which I very publicly regretted later on. But it also led me into an incredible life in which I had the opportunity to do things that mattered, that saved lives and changed lives for the better.

As I sit here on this Thanksgiving eve, writing this post, I am grateful. I am grateful for this wonderful country, which I love with my whole heart. I am grateful for my family, and for the friends who have stuck with me through it all.

But most of all, I am grateful to my Maker for loving me, and for forgiving me my sins, for giving me my children, my husband, my parents, my sweet baby granddaughter. I am grateful to Him for my life.

I am grateful to Him for His love. For seeing me through all of it, for walking beside me in the valley of the shadow. I am grateful to Him for Calvary, for eternal life, for lifting me out of the mire of mortality and giving me the gift of endless tomorrows.

Cancer is, in ways I never considered before I learned I had it, a liberating thing. It liberates you from the tyranny of tomorrow and places you squarely into today. And for that, I am grateful.

Cancer may take away years of the time I thought I had to live. But it has given me today.

I give thanks on this Thanksgiving eve for the myriad blessings of my life.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, along with all my many blessings, the opportunity to write and communicate with you dear people who have formed this good community here on Public Catholic. I write other places, for some good-sized publications. But nowhere else do I know my readers by name and personality.

I am grateful for each of you. Thank you for your prayers and your support during this hard year just past. You are the best.

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Light in the Darkness: The Cost of Following Christ

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

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Christ, Our King

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting For the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting For the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

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