Ascension Press: Following Jesus to the Priesthood

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by VISION Vocation Guide https://www.flickr.com/photos/visionvocationguide/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by VISION Vocation Guide https://www.flickr.com/photos/visionvocationguide/

Ascension Press has released the beautiful video below to encourage young men to consider the priesthood. I am drawn to the raw honesty of these young men’s testimony. It also appeals to me that this is a video about vocation to the priesthood that focuses on God, instead of us.

Too much of our discussion about vocations focuses on attacks on the liturgy, women in the Church and other things that are supposed to make us more worthy of God. That leads to blaming, attacking and limiting one another. It creates self-righteousness and hurtful behavior that drives people away from Jesus rather than drawing them to Him.

Vocation to the priesthood really is about God and His call. We need to trust Him more and our prejudices and rages less.

Enjoy the video. It’s well worth the look.

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Pope Francis Calls Human Trafficking a Shameful Wound Unworthy of Human Society.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

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Vatican Announces Day of Prayer Against Human Trafficking

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by A Campaign to Drop Sales https://www.flickr.com/photos/humantrafficking/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by A Campaign to Drop Sales https://www.flickr.com/photos/humantrafficking/

Public Catholic reader Ken gave me the link to this story.

According to Crux, the Vatican has announced an International Day of Prayer and Recollection Against Human Trafficking on February 8.

Slavery is on the rise, and a lot of people who think they oppose slavery are aiding and abetting it. I could write a series of posts on the ways in which those of us who oppose slavery with our words end up buying products made by slaves, hiring people who are slaves and, yes, using prostitutes who are slaves.

One of the things I’ve heard from human trafficking victims who have been sold as prostitutes is that they fear going to church because they will see men who have bought them there. This is a startling example of how low we can go.

Don’t buy other people, and that means, among other things, do not use prostitutes. Also, do not hire people’s services when they are sold to you on street corners.

We like to rant and rave about “illegal immigration” in this country. It comes up every four years in every off election, just like clockwork. Then, after the election passes, so does the concern. Remember last fall and all the carrying on about the invasion at the border? Where is that now?

But don’t worry, it’ll be back in four years for the next off-year election.

In the meantime, corporations bring people into this country illicitly to work on their farms and similar low-skilled jobs. No one is actually going to do anything about illegal immigration because there is money to be made from it.

Human trafficking gets lost in this political demagoguery and the corporatism that drives it. Slave labor is used on a massive scale around the globe. There is a distinction between free illegal immigrants who cross the Rio Grande to work in this country and people who are brought here and used as slaves. We tend to lump them together, but the difference is that one is a slave and the other is a free human being. This difference eludes a lot of people.

I’m not going to get into the question of hiring illegal immigrants in this post. All I will say is that I know – know – that we will never pass meaningful laws against the practice. The money interests don’t want such laws, and the money interests control our government. I doubt that we can even stop money interests from knowingly using slave labor.

What is possible is for you and I to make an effort to do so. Small business people out there who hire day laborers, are oftentimes employing slaves without being aware of it. They don’t have to commit this crime against humanity, if they are willing to work to avoid it.

The easy way to avoid using slaves is to simply refuse to hire people off street corners and through shady agencies. You might also look into the lives of the people you hire. If they go home to their own home, with their own family, if they go to church and sit out in the yard on Saturday night, trading stories with their friends and knocking back a few brews, chances are good that they are not slaves.

Human trafficking, which means slavery, is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. According to many news reports I’ve read, groups like ISIS finance their operations at least in part by taking civilian populations, including large parts of the local Christian populations, captive and then selling them as slaves.

Of course, they could not do this if other people didn’t buy these slaves.

That’s the equation with slavery. Someone must sell the slaves. And someone else must buy them.

We need to join with Pope Francis on February 8 in the International Day of Prayer and Recollection Against Human Trafficking.

We also need to do everything we can to make sure that we do not buy products made by slaves, and do not unwittingly use slaves in our businesses.

And oh yes, men should stop buying women and children off street corners to use for sex. When you buy a human being, that does not make them your date. It makes them your slave, and being a deliberate user of slave labor makes you a monster.

 

 

 

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Clickbait and the Boston Marathon Bomber Trial

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ninian Reid, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ninian_reid/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ninian Reid, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ninian_reid/

An odd story has begun to circle the web lately.

It seems that prosecutors in the Boston Marathon bomber case are (gasp!) asking qualifying questions of prospective jurors. Among these questions are a query as to whether or not said prospective juror would, if the evidence warrants it, find for the death penalty.

Now, if someone asked me that question, I would say, No, I will not find for the death penalty.

At that point, the prosecutor would reject me as a potential juror.

However, if one of my friends who supports the death penalty had been answering the question, a “yes” on their part would not in any way commit them to find for the death penalty in this particular case. The prosecution still has to prove the charges, and then he or she still has to convince these people to actually do the deed and sentence another human being to die.

It’s far from pro forma.

The new hyperbole is that this particular form of jury qualification is, in fact, a method of selectively disqualifying Catholics from jury membership. The reason is that it appears that many of the Catholics of Boston actually follow Church teaching concerning the death penalty. Or else, Boston is a very liberal area and they are following the liberal zeitgeist on the death penalty. Or else, the zeitgeist and the Church combine in these people’s hearts on the question of the death penalty.

I say that because the good people of Massachusetts appear to have no qualms about electing pro abortion politicians. So, I’m thinking their followership of Church teaching is somewhat conditional.

That aside, a lot of Catholics are getting tossed from consideration as jurors in the Boston Marathon bomber case. And, this, of all things, is rising to the top of the media milk as a form of “discrimination” about which the media somewhat cares. True, they are almost gagging on their words, and quickly rushing to assure readers that their real concern is discrimination against death penalty opponents, not Catholics.

But when the dust on this argument settles, “discrimination” against an idea, in this case opposition to the death penalty, rather than a group of people,  doesn’t hold a lot of legal water. So, the line of argument is forced to circle back to anti-Catholic talk again. You can almost hear the scribes stutter as they deal with what, for them, is a great emotional conundrum.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Meanwhile, Christian bashing/hazing/mocking continues unabated in many of our universities and colleges, Christians are constantly being told to keep their faith at home and not act on it in public affairs, and Christian mom and pop business people are being told that they must participate in gay weddings or face fines, “sensitivity training,” even jail time. In one instance, ordained ministers were threatened with these things for refusal to perform gay weddings.

Elsewhere, Christians are burnt, beheaded, gang-raped, sold into slavery and herded into refugee camps. And the same pundits who are writing this latest stuff about the death penalty in the Boston Marathon bomber trial are not only silent, they often support those who seek to oppress religious freedom.

Christians are overtly attacked and mocked in the same media which has found its new cause in the supposed discrimination against Catholics in the jury selection in the Boston Marathon Bomber case.

I’m not buying it.

I do not believe that fair treatment of Catholics is the concern here. I think this is a back-handed way to attack the death penalty. While I do not favor the death penalty, I think the way to change that is through the law, not by crippling the judicial system by changing it to suit the caterwauling  section of our society.

I do not believe for one moment that it is discrimination for prosecutors to qualify jurors in this manner. They are not singling out Catholics. They are merely asking if the jurors would be willing, after considering the evidence, to find for the penalty which they, the prosecutors, are seeking.

This is a lot of things, but discrimination isn’t one of them. It is standard courtroom behavior. It is not, in itself, aimed at any group of people.

I could, if I was so inclined, frame all sorts of arguments about the death penalty based on the lopsided way in which it is applied to certain groups of people, in particular those who do not have the money to mount a sophisticated defense.

In my opinion, we talk too much about race in this matter and far too little about money. Race was a huge factor in the OJ murder trial (as a for-instance) but money was the real reason he got off. Race would never have become a factor if he had not had the money to mount an incredible defense. The same goes for a lot of other wealthy people.

The Boston Marathon bomber case is so high-profile that the question of money is not really valid. This young man is going to have a good defense.

To be honest, I’m not interested in this trial. First, I’m not a trial watcher. It’s not my idea of entertainment to watch people fight for their lives for real. Second, I had enough of terrorists and their drama with the Oklahoma City bombing. I have zero desire to revisit it unless duty — as in writing about ISIS et al — requires it. Even then, it is a sacrifice on my part that takes a lot out of me.

I am content to allow the people of Boston and their court system handle this particular situation. I don’t have to sit on this jury (thank God) and I don’t have to make these decisions.

As for the prosecutors qualifying prospective jurors in this manner, it is not discrimination, and frankly, I think most of the people raising the question are, based on their lack of concern and active participation in actual Christian bashing, mocking hazing in other quarters, insincere in doing so.

Turn the page folks and think on other things. This story is, in the words of someone I know, “clickbait.”

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Pope Francis to Lithuanian Bishops: Defend the Family

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

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Christians Need to Get Over the Things that Separate Us and Stand Together

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Wise words from Pope Francis. The gist of it is this: All Christians are brothers and sisters in Him, and we need to get over the things that separate us and stand together.

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Pope Francis: We Cannot Privatize Salvation

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

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Did the Supreme Court K-O the Seal of the Confessional?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Photo by Josh. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ncindc/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Photo by Josh. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ncindc/

Evidently, the Louisiana State Supreme Court woke up one morning and decided to K-O the legal protection for the seal of the confessional.

This legal privilege, which has long protected priests from prosecution for not revealing the things said to them in confession, has been under attack from zealous prosecutors. A few years ago, a prosecutor, who evidently never heard of building a case through the vast investigative powers of the government, decided to bug and record a confession between a prisoner in jail and his priest. When the prosecutor tried to enter this confession into evidence, the Catholic Church took him to court and won.

Now, the family of a young woman in the state of Louisiana has decided that they want a priest to testify as to what the young woman said to him in confession. The family has filed suit to force the priest to testify, so they can pursue a civil suit against the diocese. Since this confession was about the ugly topic of child abuse by an adult man, it raises all sorts of emotions and angers.

The Louisiana State Supreme Court basically ruled that if the person confessing reveals the confession, then the seal is broken and the priest can be forced to testify about the contents of the confession. There is precedent for this viewpoint in the attorney-client privilege. I have seen judges rule that the attorney-client privilege was broken because someone other than the attorney and client were in the room during the discussion, and then force the client to testify in court as to the contents of their conversation with their attorney.

However, the seal of the confessional is different from attorney-client privilege or doctor-patient privilege, or counselor-client privilege because it is a First Amendment right. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees the right to the free exercise of religion without government interference. This guarantee has kept America out of the religious conflicts which have marred other societies for over 200 years.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. By Ed Uthman. https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. By Ed Uthman. https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

The Louisiana State Supreme Court, by attempting to treat the seal of the confessional as any other privileged conversation, put its foot right through the First Amendment. Subsequent to this, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge petitioned the United States Supreme Court to overturn this Louisiana decision.

Now comes the murky part.

The United States Supreme Court sent this whole mess back to the level of the Fifth District Court in order for that court to hear arguments.

Ever since the Supreme Court did this, I’ve been reading that they allowed the Louisiana Court’s decision to “stand.” I’ve read whole news reports saying this as a fact. I honestly thought that was what had happened.

But this is not accurate. The Supreme Court did not say, go home, Louisiana’s Supreme Court was right. They basically said, get back in line.

They sent the case, which is still alive and kicking, back to a lower court to allow both sides to have their say and present their positions. That action does not let the Louisiana State Supreme Court’s decision “stand.” It just lets everybody, on both sides, have their day in court.

I expect this decision of the Louisiana State Supreme Court to be overturned.

However, if it is not, then we are going to have to come back against this violation of our religious liberties, and we’re going to have to come back hard. This is not a parlor game. It is a matter of sending our priests to jail because they will not violate the seal of the confessional. It is a question of whether or not Catholics will be free to access the sacraments of our faith without government intrusion.

Priests will have no choice in this matter. They will have to go to jail rather than break the seal of the confessional. If they don’t, the entire edifice on which the Church is built — the sacraments — will crumble. American Catholics have an absolute right to receive the sacraments without government intrusion. That right is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

It is one of the essential building blocks of all our liberties as a free people.

Most of these attacks on the seal of the confessional come from over-zealous prosecutors. This particular claim comes from a family that probably feels guilty because their child was sexually abused and they did not know about it. I understand that and sympathize with it.

What I don’t understand and sympathize with is their attempt to make money off the deal with this civil suit. I also don’t understand why they are so eager to cash in that they are willing to attack one of the bedrock freedoms Americans enjoy and the sanctity of penitents’ encounters with Christ in the confessional.

They appear to be wiling to damage their country and their Church with this lawsuit. That will not heal their grief at having failed to protect their child.

The Fifth Circuit has the case now. We’ll have to wait and see what they do.

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January 22 and Bunnygate

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, Public  by Elvert Barnes  Protest Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, Public by Elvert Barnes Protest Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

I’ve ignored the flap over Pope Francis’ latest airplane interview, mainly because it has no merit.

What I mean is that the carrying-on about the Holy Father’s use of certain phrases has no merit. It seems that Pope Francis affirmed the Catholic Church’s teaching on artificial birth control. In the process, he said that this teaching doesn’t mean that people need to have babies “like rabbits.”

Big deal.

All he meant was that people can use natural family planning. Big news.

The reaction was predictable.

On the one hand, Margery Egan, over at Crux, came out as a full member of The Pope is Catholic, Egad crowd. She reacted with hurt and outrage because Pope Francis stands by the Church’s teaching that artificial birth control is illicit. Here’s a bit of her reaction:

The news that Pope Francis has strongly defended the Church’s ban on artificial birth control left me, in a word, devastated.

I had hoped for so much more from this man.

Although he has not lived it himself, I had thought he understood something about good people living real lives in real marriages. I had thought he even understood something about the beauty of sex in marriage, the need for sex in marriage.

Then we have The Pope is Human, Egad crowd, going full tilt, as well. Most of this is showing up on Facebook and in chat rooms. A lot of people like their popes neat and straight-edged. What they want are popes who come out for display, recite Scripture and Church teaching as if they were programmed by a computer and then quietly go back inside to say their Rosaries.

In case you haven’t gotten the news, Pope Francis is not that kind of pope. He’s so completely relaxed in his papal skin that he just says whatever comes into his head. Fortunately for us, nothing that comes into his head is against the Church. Every single time he makes a comment that the press latches onto and tries to massage into a change in Church teaching, they are using an off-the-cuff comment that did no such thing. Misinterpret as they might, Pope Francis is not going to teach modern nihilism instead of the Gospels.

This good man, our Pope Francis, is Catholic. He’s also human. He’s a pastoral pope who loves to forgive sinners and who is using his papacy to say in every way he can that Jesus meant it when He said He came to save lost sinners.

Margery Egan asked if Pope Francis understands the real lives of real people, including the beauty and goodness of marital sex. The answer is yes, he does. That’s where the ‘you don’t have to reproduce like rabbits’ comment came from. All he meant was that Natural Family Planning works and Catholics should feel free to make use of it.

Now what does Bunnygate have to do with January 22? After all, Bunnygate is just Pope Francis, making good copy, and the media, proving once again just how significant the Church really is in today’s world.

If you doubt that, go stand on your front porch and should “reproduce like rabbits.” Do it several times. The only thing that might happen is that your neighbors will have something new to talk about. The New York Times, BBC, NBC, CBS, CNN and all their pals will give your behavior a big pass.

But when the pope uses such phrases, it’s front page news all around the world. Everything he says, every little gesture he makes, is observed, reported and interpreted according to the interpreter’s prejudice in every media outlet going.

Why?

Because what he says matters.

Because the Church is not irrelevant.

Because Jesus Christ, despite all the attacks and attempts to destroy faith in Him, is Lord, and billions of people bend their knee to Him.

That’s why Bunnygate is Bunnygate. It’s a big deal because the Church and Jesus are big deals.

How does that apply to January 22?

Just this.

The early Christians stopped the practice of exposing infants, primarily baby girls, by three methods. First they refused to do it themselves. Second, they went out and rescued these babies, brought them home and raised them as part of their families. Third, they said it was wrong, over and over and over, until the message finally got through.

January 22 is the anniversary of the day when we resurrected the old practice of discarding unwanted children. We went further after that with our rights talk and brought back the Baals in new form as we sacrificed our babies, our elderly, our sick and even our unhappy people to the little g gods of modern convenience.

In our world today, bunnygate matters because it is the Vicar of Christ, however awkwardly he might phrase it, affirming once again that He is Catholic and that this means that he stands for life. The Church did not waver one inch in that airplane interview. The pope just stuck his foot in his mouth a bit. That’s all.

But he said the right things. He just said them in an off-hand and humorous way.

That is the only part of the interview that matters, which is why I haven’t bothered talking about it until now. The pope reiterated Church teaching. He practiced number three of the three things the early Christians did to overturn the practices of human sacrifice and exposing unwanted babies.

We do our version of number three when we go out into the streets today and march for life. We are saying, once again, that the Supreme Court was wrong. We will continue saying it until the message finally gets through.

At the same time, pro life people must also refuse to engage in abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cells research, egg harvesting and the attendant anti-life activities that saturate our world. Our most important testimony for life is living pro life.

That means we take care of other people. We put people ahead of profit and ahead of convenience. If we believe that the right to life is the first and most essential human right, then we have to behave that way in our private lives and our public lives.

We are called to follow Jesus when we are in the shower and when we are on a stage; when we pay our bills and when we go to work. Most important of all, we are called to follow Jesus in our homes and with our families, in how we treat the people closest to us.

January 22 and Bunnygate go together because they are of a whole. The United States Supreme Court unwittingly called forth Christians to witness to the sanctity of human life. The Holy Father has affirmed that the Church does not back down from this call.

Today is a special day for each of us to re-affirm to ourselves and to others that we stand for life and that we will continue to stand for life in our homes, on our jobs and on the streets until the world finally gets the message.

 

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Newest Charlie Hebdo Makes Fun of the Pope

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Richard_Burton_-_The_Robe.jpg

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Richard_Burton_-_The_Robe.jpg

The newest issue of Charlie Hebdo makes fun of the Pope.

I doubt that the editorial staff is worried about a violent response to this. After all, they’ve already printed quite a number of issues mocking and otherwise attacking the Catholic Church.

I found this clip from the movie The Robe. It dramatizes the way that Christians respond to these things. The Robe is fiction, but the fact of Christian faithfulness, even to death, is how the message of the cross has spread around the world and is growing today.

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