Gay Activists Demand Secular, Non-Irish St Patrick’s Day Parade

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Patrick Burgler

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Patrick Burgler

This is unfathomable on the basis of discrimination or any of the other claims that have been made concerning this parade. It is, to use a word I frequently apply to today’s cultural deconstruction, nihilism.

From Crisis Magazine:

Twenty-five years ago, a small group of activists charged the New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade with being a public gesture of pure homophobia. They built their case around the allegedly bigoted “Catholic character.” The trial was held before the judges of the left-leaning secular media.

A jury composed of the general public yawned, wondering why a 250-year-old civic and religious institution needed to become a battlefield in the culture wars. The activists found this lack of popular support impossible to fathom. Enraged, they determined to do more than just march up Fifth Avenue. They sought to humiliate their enemies, including the parade’s organizers, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and the Catholic Church herself.

Then the unexpected: the committee responsible for sponsoring and staging the parade stopped defending itself against the worst of the charges. The case has now moved to the penalty phase.

This week, the victors revealed their demands: a Saint Patrick’s Day parade that is both non-Catholic and—incredibly—non-Irish. As outlandish as that sounds, all indications are that the activists will get what they want, because they’ve somehow managed to capture the imagination of the parade’s new boss—Quinnipiac University president John L. Lahey.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!


Persecution, not Divorced and Remarrieds, is the Most Serious Issue Facing Christianity Today

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab

My colleague Kate O’Hare interviewed Chaldean Catholic Bishop Mar Bahai Soro about the holocaust of Christians that is taking place in the Middle East. 

To be honest, reading this interview put the hijinks of the Synod on the Family in perspective. It made the whole thing seem a little bit like an exercise in rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It would have been better to hold a Synod on Christian persecution in much of the world, coupled as it is by increasing harassment, bashing and legal attacks on the rights of Christians in the so-called Christian West.

Christianity is under attack as it has not been since the Muslim wars of conquest in the Middle Ages. Today’s line of attack is even more aggressive because it has not one, not even two, but several fronts. Christians are being subjected to genocide in their ancient homelands. Christians endure violent persecution in places like North Korea and certain parts of India. Christians are subjected to government control and abuse in places such as China, and Christians are under social and legal attack in an attempt to drive them from public forums and banish their ministries in much of the West, including the United States.

That is the most serious issue facing Christianity today.

From Angelus:

Many, if not most, of the Christians will be forced to leave Iraq forever, but some are determined to stay and see that Christianity maintains a living presence in some of the places that first heard the message of the Apostles.

In America, there are those determined to help. They can’t work a miracle, but you have to start somewhere.

Chaldean Catholic Bishop Mar Bawai Soro resides at the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle in El Cajon, in San Diego County. It serves approximately 60,000 Catholics in several western states who are part of the Chaldean or Assyrian Rite. Many are immigrants from the Middle East, especially Iraq and Iran.

Bishop Soro was formerly a bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East. A longtime advocate of the primacy of the Apostolic See of Rome — he proudly displays thick albums of photos of the times he has met Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis — Bishop Soro was received into the Catholic Church in January 2008.

He recently joined forces with Kingdom Special Operations, a Las Vegas-based private security company. Staffed by former intelligence officers and military Special Forces members, it goes on assignments worldwide for the U.S. government and other entities.

But the CEO of Kingdom, Orange County native Roger Flores, is a Catholic and a Knight of Columbus, and he has always maintained that part of Kingdom’s mission is to help his fellow Christians.


Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!


Deep-Sixing the Ten Commandments. The Oklahoma Story.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by wikimedia commons Museum Catharijneconvent

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by wikimedia commons Museum Catharijneconvent

I know more about the Oklahoma Ten Commandments Monument story than my sense of responsibility to the people I worked with will allow me to say.

I’ve put off writing about it because, to be honest, I get angry every time I think about it.

But I finally chased myself around my house a few times and wrestled myself into my chair and wrote a post for Catholic Vote. I didn’t tell all. Not even close. But I think I told more than you’ll find elsewhere.

I. Am. So. Glad. I’m. Not. In. Office.

Here, from Catholic Vote, is part of what I said:

Ten Commandments monuments stand outside courthouses and statehouses all across the USA. They go back to the beginning of our country. This is fitting, since the legal structure of the Western world is built on those ten commandments.

For the first two hundred years of our republic, the only controversy was an occasional argument about whether the monument would be made of marble or granite. But for the past 30 years pressure groups have been working to drive religious expression from the public sphere.

The United States Supreme Court stopped them from acting as an American Taliban, blowing up historic monuments and statues because they had religious meaning attached to them. Otherwise, I suppose they would have kept going until they demanded that we burn the Declaration of Independence for its allusion to “Our Creator.”

Federal courts have upheld the placement of Ten Commandments monuments in states such as Texas. Oklahoma State Representative Mike Ritze assumed that a Ten Commandments monument that was identical to one that passed court muster in Texas would be allowed in Oklahoma.

Rep Ritz is the primary author of the legislation authorizing the monument. Rep Ritz was passionate about this bill. He was so committed to it that he even paid for the monument with his own money and donated it to the state as a gift.

I was a member of the Oklahoma House when we voted on it. Rep Ryan Kiesel, who is now the executive director of the Oklahoma ACLU, led the debate against the bill.

Without Rep Kiesel, I don’t think there would have been any debate at all. But he successfully convinced a number of my colleagues in the Democratic caucus that this bill was unconstitutional under the Constitution of the United States of America. They followed him in opposing the monument, and several of them were defeated because of it in the next election. Rep Kiesel did not run for re-election.

It turned out that Rep Kiesel was wrong. The monument was not unconstitutional under the Constitution of the United States of America.

That’s why the same Rep Kiesel chose another line of attack in his new position as Executive Director of the Oklahoma ACLU.

Read the rest here.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!


All the Christians Stand Up

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jo Naylor

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jo Naylor

If a shooter said All the Christians stand up to you, what would you do?

Sadly, this is not a hypothetical. It happened yesterday in Oregon.

What would you do, if this happened to you?

I wrote about this for CatholicVote. Here’s part of what I said.

shooter says, All the Christians stand up. 

Would you stand? Would I?

I’ve lived long enough to learn a few things about myself. One of them is that when I am under physical attack, I tend to freeze. I do really well if the situation requires moral courage. But physical courage, not so much.

I’ve had a couple of life-threatening experiences in my life where I was attacked from out of nowhere. Every single time, I froze.

So … would I stand if a shooter walked into a room in which I sat with other people and said, All the Christians stand up?

I honestly don’t know. I do know that this happened to real people yesterday in Oregon and a number of them did stand up. The gunman told them Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second. Then, he shot and killed them.

The irony in this is that he didn’t lie. These brave Christians went directly to God. They are martyrs, and their blood cries out from the ground the same as Abel’s, with the distinct difference that theirs is a cry of victory.

I cannot imagine what demon-possessed hatred inspires people to kill other human beings. But I do know that Christians are subjected to an extraordinary amount of hate speech and bashing in these United States. Read the rest here.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!


Abortion Apologists Defend the Mother Ship

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by mjtmail Tiggy

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by mjtmail Tiggy

Planned Parenthood’s mega funding from the federal coffers might be – might be — in a bit of danger.

I don’t honestly think it’s in all that much danger. Planned Parenthood has weathered worse. Several times.

But the video of their medical director swilling wine, chomping on salad and discussing the sale of body parts from babies that she’s aborted is … ummmm … damaging to their claim of being all about women’s health and whatnot.

Abortion apologists — who, as luck would have it, usually turn out to also be euthanasia, egg harvesting, embryonic stem cell research apologists, as well — rolled up their sleeves, picked up their verbal brass knuckles, chains and clubs and went to work as soon as the video broke.

The “arguments” on Planned Parenthood’s behalf have been rolling in from all the usual places. Their virtual watering holes have chimed in with a story that is all lined up and squared like it came with instructions.

The Christian-bashing atheist bloggers, the sad little faux feminists who think that abortion is all there is to women’s rights, the nihilist web sites, and, of course, Planned Parenthood’s cable news networks have all repeated PP’s talking points like a chorus line dancing and twirling to the beat in a Broadway show.

The basic line of attack is the same the basic line of attack that Planned Parenthood has used with each of these revelations. They used it when their clinic personnel were shown arranging forced abortions for pimps and human traffickers. They used it when their clinic personnel were shown arranging sex-selected abortions to murder baby girls because the parents wanted a boy, instead. They used it again when their clinic personnel were shown instructing teens on how to practice sadistic sex.

Here, in case you’ve missed it, is the standard line.

1. It’s all lies!!!!

In the case of this video, the “lie” is that this exchange of $$ for baby body parts is the cold-blooded commerce it appears to be. The hearts, lungs, livers, arms and legs discussed in the video are “tissue” and the talk of $100/body part is really an at-cost “donation” of $100/per “tissue sample.” No money is being made here, you ignorant, woman-hating religious fanatics.

2. It’s entrapment!!!!

The video is edited, because, you see, the doc who said flat-out that the law banning partial birth abortion could be gotten around by just saying that she didn’t “intend” to do a partial birth abortion, but just, you know, happens — and happens it seems quite a lot — to do them, also said some touching things about her dedication to women. The lengthy video, however, was cleverly edited to focus on the baby-body-parts-selling. The complete and unedited video was also released, but that doesn’t matter. This is foul play, you ignorant, woman-hating religious fanatics.

3. It’s just the crazy Christians and their hatred of women!!!!

This is standard Christian-bashing boilerplate. It gets taped onto just about every debate or discussion that people of faith have an opinion about. It’s prejudiced, discriminatory, intolerant and unjust. But it’s working, so we’re going to keep on doing it.

4. It’s complicated, and the dimwits who are so outraged don’t understand complication!!!!

Medical procedures are messy and ugly. Discussions about medical procedures can be upsetting to small-brained, ignorant, woman-hating religious fanatics. We will ignore, as we always do, that this “medical procedure” is in fact a murder and what we are talking about is selling the body parts of the innocent murder victim at a profit, not cost, since the mother of the murder victim already paid for the “procedure,” and disposal of “tissue” is figured into that payment, and the United States government subsidizes us like we were the military. We won’t admit for a minute that what we are calling “messy” is, in fact, grotesque. Nope. This is “medicine” and it’s “messy.” Only ignorant dim-witted religious fanatics like our critics fail to understand that.

5. Anyway, without our political clout, where would you pro abortionists be? So line up and start attacking. Now!!!!

Planned Parenthood is the mother ship of the entire nihilistic super-culture that has taken over American institutions and thinking. It must be defended at all costs.

It depends somewhat on which personal axe the culture of death apologist in question has to grind whether they emphasize points 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5.

Professional Christian bashers, for instance, can’t write a blog post about how to plant a geranium without attacking Christians. So, you know they’ll lead with the crazy, women-hating Christians trope, with a big layer of it’s complicated and you dimwits don’t understand complication layered on top.

Those who don’t have a stomach for base prejudice, or who, say, make a lot of money from the $$$ of Christians, go for numbers 1 and 2, coupled with a more politely-worded version of the it’s complicated story.

Number 5 doesn’t get talked about in public. But it’s the reason for all the crazy attack-mode carrying-on. Every member of the culture of death inner world knows that this is circle-your-wagons time. In fact, these people pretty much keep their wagons circled, 24/7.

Planned Parenthood is the mother ship. They will defend her with everything they’ve got.

Don’t get upset by this, my friends. It’s expected.

Did you honestly think that Planned Parenthood was going to sit down and say, “You’re absolutely right. We did it?”

If I had asked you three days before this video broke to list who would be most likely to defend Planned Parenthood if another of their embarrassments surfaced, wouldn’t you have already had the names of who has been doing it on your list?

To put it even more directly, if I had asked you what they would say in defense, wouldn’t you have come up with points 1 through 4 without half a thought? These are, after all, their standard boilerplate attack-defend-mode thingies they say.

Don’t get upset when the guns start blasting from the other side. All that means is that they took a hit and they’re replying, as best they can.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image


For Planned Parenthood’s reply, go here.

For the Center for Medical Progress’ counter reply, go here.

For other reactions to this video, read Simcha FisherKatrina Fernandez, Fr Dwight Longenecker and the Anchoress.


Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!


10th Circuit Rules First Amendment Protections Don’t Apply to Little Sisters of the Poor

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Goat_Girl

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Goat_Girl

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Little Sisters of the Poor are not affiliated with a specific church and they are a non-profit, so the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them.

Ditto for the Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, the Catholic organization through which the Little Sisters buy their insurance.

While that may sound a bit off-the cuff, it’s the gist of the ruling.

This is how the on-going war against people of faith is played out. It rides in on the back of the legal sophistry that the First Amendment only applies to recognized churches and then only to what is done within the aegis of that recognized church. The verbiage is to limit “freedom of religion” to “freedom to worship.” This kind of limitation effectively destroys our most cherished freedoms, including freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion.

The 10th Circuit has bought into this fiction big time, because … well … because they are idiots. Or rather, because they are ideologues. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, I repeat myself.

There is a growing — and I mean rapidly growing — opinion in this country that We the People should begin to ignore the courts. That is a dangerous notion that I will write about at length later. But the public attitude underlying it has its roots in this kind of absurd ruling. This is a re-writing and abrogation of the First Amendment that damages the freedoms and liberties of every American citizen today and into future generations.

The people who support this are throwing away their own freedoms for no other reason than a desire to get at someone whose opinion and beliefs they do not share. The courts are playing fool to this because — and this seems obvious — at least a number of members of the judiciary are ideologues with only a narrow understanding of their responsibilities to our country.

This particular move is a result of the HHS Mandate which is a result of the hubris of a president who seems addicted to an imperial view of himself and his office. How many times has President Obama made statements that he can enact policy without Congress? How many times has Congress answered him in the affirmative?

Congress has always had the power to rescind the HHS Mandate. They did not have to let it go into effect in the first place. They have not used this power in any way except as a campaign tool to win elections. If campaign promises were Congressional action, this would be an entirely different country. It would be a country in which We the People would have some hope of making a difference when we vote.

As it is, most of us have figured out that, no matter who we elect, they end up lying to us, ignoring us and doing things that hurt us. Why should we be surprised when the judges these folks appoint behave in the same way?

The 10th Circuit does not necessarily have the last say on this issue. The Supreme Court can chose to hear the case and overturn this ruling. The question is, will they?

As for the Little Sisters of the Poor, they intend to continue in their ministry and stay faithful to their faith. This is the challenge and the example for each and every one of us.

From CNA Daily News here at Patheos:

Disappointment follows ruling against Little Sisters in mandate case

Denver, Colo., Jul 14, 2015 / 11:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Little Sisters of the Poor have reiterated their commitment to following their conscience as they care for the poor and dying, following a federal appeals court ruling that they must obey the federal contraception mandate.

“As Little Sisters of the Poor, we simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith,” said Mother Provincial Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire.

“And we should not have to make that choice, because it violates our nation’s commitment to ensuring that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives. For over 175 years, we have served the neediest in society with love and dignity. All we ask is to be able to continue our religious vocation free from government intrusion.”

Sr. Maguire responded to a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the Little Sisters of the Poor on July 14.

The sisters are among several hundred plaintiffs that have challenged the federal contraception mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

Employers who fail to comply with the mandate face crippling penalties. In the case of the Little Sisters, the fines could amount to around $2.5 million a year, or about 40 percent of the $6 million the Sisters beg for annually to run their ministry.

Met with a wave of protest, the contraception mandate has undergone a number of revisions. However, the sisters say that it still requires them to violate their beliefs.


Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!


Pope Gets Gobsmacked by Bolivian President’s Adolescent Blasphemy

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez

Here’s what happened:

Pope Francis was on a Papal tour of Bolivia. He was in the process of greeting Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Now President Morales is a head of state. One would expect him to behave like a head of state and not a middle-schooler, bent on a deliberately blasphemous prank. But then … this guy’s bad news from jump street.

He removed the Bible and the cross from the presidential palace as soon as he took office and began using Andean rituals at official state functions. He is, in short, part of this army of Christian attackers and Christian bashers who are marching around the globe.

So … maybe somebody should have expected him to behave like an adolescent jerk when he was formally greeted by the pope. But evidently the assumption was that he would behave like a head of state.


President Morales must have gone to a lot of trouble to come up with the insult he directed at the pope, Christ and the Catholic Church. He gave the pope a large cross with the Communist hammer and sickle emblazoned on it. This particular cross takes on heavier significance when we remember that it was identical to a cross carried by a priest who was killed by the military regime that ran Bolivia back in the 1980s.

President Morales’ action wasn’t just a nasty prank. It was overladen with symbolism of several kinds. It was a direct affront to the teaching authority of the papacy, since St John Paul II and every pope since has condemned this blending of Catholicism and Communism that we call Liberation Theology.

Most of of us here in America look at the photo of President Morales handing this thing to the pope and think, what a creepy, childish thing for a head of state to do. But people in Bolivia are going to understand all this symbolism and react to it far more forcefully.

The pope went into a country that is being led by a man who wants to destroy the Catholic Church. By doing this he put himself in the line of attack. What has happened instead is that he has been overwhelmed by the love of the people. The cheering crowds have been enormous.

This was a dangerous journey for Pope Francis to make. It was, in some ways, akin to St John Paul II’s trips to Poland and other Communist countries. This deliberate blasphemy by the president of Bolivia was an attempt to publicly insult the pope and tarnish both him and his message of faith and hope.

Pope Francis is, when you see the photos, clearly gobsmacked by this thing the president of Bolivia is holding up. Anyone would be.

Would I have reacted in exactly the right way if someone had done something like this to me? Would you? I doubt it on both counts.

It’s ez pz when you are sitting at home in front of your tv to go all he-should-have-said and he-should-have-done. But when you’re the one in the barrel, it’s not always possible to assess, react and do precisely the right thing in a split second of surprise.

Who would have thought that the president of a nation would stoop to such behavior?

Pope Francis got gobsmacked by a jerk who was trying to assert his own primacy over the Church before the eyes of his electorate. The fact that he stooped to such a crude, juvenile method to do this tells you most of everything you need to know about the type of governance he gives to his people.

I have no doubt that the Bolivians understood this gesture far differently than we do here in America. They know the history behind the symbol and they know the policies of this president.

The photo that resulted from this will probably be used for propaganda purposes inside this country. That is a shame. But it will also be understood for what it is by a large number of Bolivians: An embarrassment to their national honor by a president who can’t behave properly.

It doesn’t matter all that much what the nuts in the USA think. Nobody outside the weird world of Limbaugh and Malkin worshippers believes that the pope is a “marxist.” We all know that is corporatist propaganda by paid talking heads who are dancing to the tune.

Most people will understand immediately that the pope was gobsmacked when the President of Bolivia started waving this thing around at a formal greeting. The danger in this lies with how the photo will be used in Bolivia, where its symbolism has more power and where the government will use this symbolism for its own purposes.

I hate to say this, but the Vatican may need to inspect the gifts that heads of state intend to offer the pope before they let these people near him. They may even need to start frisking heads of state ahead of their audiences with the pope.

It appears that we live in a world where we can no longer expect a head of state to conduct him or herself in public gatherings with the dignity and responsibility that their office requires. Instead, they can, and will, act like jerks.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!


10 Things You can Do to Save Your Family and Change the World

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Lars Ploughman

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Lars Ploughman

I’m going to launch into the political ramifications of the Supreme Court Decision destroying marriage as a legal construct in a day or so.

But before I do, I want to make a simple point: Conversion of the culture does not begin at the ballot box or changes in the law. It ends there.

Conversion of the culture does not even begin with bringing your family and friends to Christ. That’s a mid-point.

Conversion of the culture begins with yielding your own self and your life to Christ in an absolute way. That is the beginning. Everything else – everything else — flows from that.

St Paul did not jump off his mule and start preaching. He was knocked off and into the dirt and left blind. He had to come face to face with Christ and his own sinfulness before he became the Apostle to the Gentiles.

We will not convert this culture by excoriating and condemning sinners, for the obvious reason that we are all sinners. Many of the people who are condemning gay marriage have trashed their own marriages and dumped their own children.

If they are divorced, they don’t spend time with their children, or they spitefully try to keep their children away from their former spouse. They don’t pay child support and they spend their days going over and over how they were wronged.

If they are married, they sleep around, or talk to their families like they were dirt under their feet. They harangue their children and spouses, or worse yet, they are physically violent with them. How many of the people who loudly proclaim the sanctity of marriage commit adultery? How many of them sit in front of the tv and ignore their families? How many of them ignore or even abuse their elderly parents? How many of them do not show up for school plays or be a trusted best friend when their spouse is in distress?

If we want to convert the culture, we have to begin with ourselves. It’s that simple.

Here are 10 things you can do to save your family in this family-despising, family-attacking culture of ours:

1. Go into marriage with the idea that this is your only spouse. If remarriage is off the table, divorce is not going to be such an easy option.

I know that there are times when divorce has to happen. If somebody’s beating up on somebody, if there is adultery or chemical abuse with a refusal to get help, then divorce may very well be the only door open. But divorce is a civil solution to a moral problem. What God has joined together, man can not put asunder.

Go into marriage with the knowledge that this person is your life’s partner, the only one who will walk with you through your days. That viewpoint will immediately raise your spouse’s value in your eyes. Keep that viewpoint in front of you, and remember: This person’s happiness and your happiness are bound with a life-long cord.

Hurting your spouse is hurting yourself. Never forget that.

2. Put Jesus Christ on the throne of your life and your marriage. Do not do this lightly. Prayerfully consider the option of a formal enthronement of Christ as the Head of your home. I have not done this, but my husband and I are talking about it. I have friends who have done it, and I’ve seen the fruits of it in their lives. For more information, go here.

3. Get on your knees and pray together every night before bed. My wonderful Aunt Tid and Uncle Ozzie did this every day of their married lives. They had a list of people and problems that they lifted up to the Lord together before they went to bed each night. This is true communion of spirits between a man and a wife. It is a powerful uniting of life and soul. Everyone I know who does this has a marriage that is filled with mutual devotion, love and happiness.

4. Do not harangue your family members who have fallen short of your Christian ideal, even those who have fallen far short of it. Love them, continue to be family to them, and pray, pray, pray.

Remember also the things you’ve done. I worry about my kids — a lot. But I know that they are much more together than I was at the same age.

My parents never stopped loving me and they never pushed me away. Love them. Love them. And pray. And remember St Monica. And pray some more. Then, trust Jesus.

If the Holy Spirit wants you to speak up, He will open the door. I’ve had this happen, and when I speak in His time and with the words He gives me, it never fails to be the right thing. Just … trust Him.

5. Go to mass. If you can, go to daily mass. But at least go to mass every Sunday. Every time you take communion, Christ heals you. I feel it, and so will you. I need it, and so do you.

6. Be loyal to the pope. Don’t follow internet popes who attack the Holy Father. Do not be so foolish as to make a little pope out of yourself.

I hate to say this, but the bishops are all over the map on a lot of things. The same politician will be told during election years (It always seems to be during election years.) that he or she may not take communion, in, say, Sioux City, but can take communion in, say, Dodge City. It’s the same politician; the same sin. But a different bishop.

What are those of us in the pews to make of this? Does it confuse you? It certainly confuses me.

We need the pope. The pope is the only world leader of his type. He alone speaks for over a billion people who live under every government, in every clime. His voice reaches from pole to pole; dateline to dateline.

That is why the press goes ga-ga over his every utterance. It is why politicians of every persuasion alternately revile and pander to him.

But it is not why we should be loyal to him. His temporal reach has nothing to do with our call to loyalty to the pope. We must be loyal to the pope because he stands in the shoes of the fisherman. He is Peter. And Jesus Christ said that on Peter He would build His Church.

Be loyal to the pope.

7. Pray the Rosary. Pray the Rosary in a meditative way, thinking about the Scriptures the decades represent and what they mean to you. Take your fears and problems, rejoicings and griefs to Our Lady and pray with her to Jesus. If praying with your spouse binds you to one another, think how praying with Jesus’ own mother will bind you to Him.

8. Ask God to show you your sins. We are all blind to our own faults. Everyone of us is capable of the intellectual sophistry which allows us to proclaim our sins a virtue and condemn those of the person next to us. That is the nature of our nature. It is a manifestation of our fallen state. It is us, listening to the devil without the slightest awareness that this is what we are doing.

The Holy Spirit is a loving guide to our own hearts. He will reveal your self to you to the extent that you are capable of comprehending and reacting with grace to this painful truth. Trust Him. He will not dump all your sins on you like an acid bath that destroys you. He will show you what you can take at the time. And then He will be with you as you face it and convert away from it.

The Holy Spirit is a great teacher of willing souls. But you must be willing. Ask God to show you your sins, then accept and repent of the sins He shows you. Realize that this is a life-long process. Be grateful for it. He is fitting you for heaven.

9. Forgive others. This is often the toughest one of all. It’s easy enough to forgive those you love and who love you. It’s not too tough to forgive anyone who sincerely admits they hurt you and asks for forgiveness.

It gets more difficult when you are dealing with a person who has hurt you and who continues to hurt you and who claims that you deserve the hurt. It is impossible under your own power to forgive certain violations of your humanity such as violent rape or torture.

In these areas, forgiveness is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and it does not come cheaply. The cost is letting go of the great defense of anger that has freed you from victimhood.

Too often, people practice a phony forgiveness, a premature rush to proclaim forgiveness, which does not allow them the dignity of proclaiming their own worth and value in the face of what has been done to them. This is particularly true when they have suffered soul-destroying attacks on their humanity that can actually cause a kind of psychological death such as violent rape, torture, slavery or child sexual abuse.

Before we forgive, we must first know and believe to our depths that we were wronged, that we are not the receptacles for other people’s trash they these people have reduced us to. This is difficult if the world around us will not affirm this with us.

Anyone who faces this should read the book of Job. I don’t think the book of Job is, as is usually claimed, about suffering. I don’t think it is about suffering at all. I think it is about victim-blaming.

That’s what Job’s “friends” did to him. It’s what happens to any victim who is among those the culture proclaims may have “asked for” the evil that was done to them.

Forgiveness in the face of this is only possible when it comes from God. God alone can give us the certainty of our own humanity and worth that is so rock solid and absolute that we are free to lay down the defense of our humiliated rage and forgive from the heart.

This circles back to earlier points. Scripture tells us that if we “seek the Lord, He will draw near to you.” Everything I’ve listed above, including #1 is a way of seeking the Lord.

10. Accept God’s forgiveness. I’ve had a real tussle with this one and more than once. The most dramatic and public of these situations was after God showed me the full horror of what I had done by being pro choice.

I was plunged into grief, shame, remorse that went beyond the graces of confession. Long story short, after a long period of intense grief, I finally realized (this was probably from the Holy Spirit) that I had to have the humility to accept God’s forgiveness.

It is a kind of narcissism to think that your sins are bigger than God’s mercy. Nothing we can do is beyond the mercy of God.

There are times when it takes humility and trust to accept God’s forgiveness. But those moments plunge us into what He told St Faustina was the “ocean of my mercy.”

No matter what you have done, confess your sins and accept His forgiveness.

These are 10 things that you can do to save your family. Notice that not one of them is political. Not one of them involves any of the solutions that are usually recommended for marriages and families in trouble.

Every single thing I’ve mentioned is about you and your spouse, getting right with God and trusting Him.

That is how Christians change the world. We do it by giving ourselves without reservation to the One Who made us and loves us and who will be with us the end of time.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!


Coming Out … Not Alone

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo

YouTube Preview Image

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!


The Gay Marriage Ultimatum: “Choose Me or Christ”

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tambako The Jaguar

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tambako The Jaguar

People still come to me for help, solace and advice.

It’s a natural adjunct to 18 years in public office in this community. People know me, and they’ve learned over the years to trust me. Not only that, they’ve formed the habit of turning to me when they want to talk about something they can’t discuss with the people around them because they know that I won’t, ever, talk about what they tell me.

I left office a year ago, but I didn’t stop being the mother confessor for a lot of South Oklahoma City folks. I don’t know if I ever will.

The Supreme Court sent a number of people my way since last Friday, all of them looking for solace in the face of personal attacks they had suffered because of the decision on gay marriage. They called me on the phone, approached me after mass, in checkout lines and while I was running errands. I also had internet encounters of the same type that went far beyond the boundaries of my community and my personal friends.

Here’s the summarized version of what they told me:

There was a lot of yelling and screaming in certain circles this weekend. It was directed at Christians in their personal, and, heretofore, safe personal relationships. It was also directed at priests who spoke about the decision from the pulpit. One friend, who gave me permission to discuss this, witnessed an ugly blow-up at a longstanding poker game she and her husband go to. The people there hold diverse opinions about matters of faith and morality, but they’ve been meeting for this friendly get-together on a regular basis for years.

This week, the atheists in the group refused to practice civility. They cursed the Lord, called Christians bigots and homophobes and were otherwise verbally insulting. According to my friend, this began with a celebration on the part of the atheists over Obergefell. She said she felt like, “OK, you won your deal, have your celebration.” She said the Christians at the table kept silent.

But when the celebration turned to repeatedly cursing the Lord and calling Christians ugly names, she said one of the Christian men told them to shut up. It devolved from there into two men squaring off to fight one another. At that point, my friend stood up and told them to stop it.

She said, “I’ve never forced my faith on you. I don’t come here with a Bible telling you what to do. But you are disrespecting me and my Jesus and I will not stand for it. You stop this now or my husband and I are leaving and we won’t be back.”

My friend is the most soft-spoken Hispanic woman you’d ever meet. I’ve never heard her raise her voice. Not once. Not ever.

She said the room fell silent and everyone sat back down. But she doesn’t think she and her husband will be back for more fun next week. They are through with the group.

I’ve heard stories of spouses calling one another names and people walking out of mass on their priests. I also had Public Catholic readers directly ask me what they should do in the face of this hate that is being directed at Christians.

I think that my friend gave a template for how to handle friends who are not family. We really need to stand our ground. If the people we call friends do not respect us enough to allow us the space and personal dignity to hold our own beliefs and act on them, then the friendship is on sick and sad grounds. I know from personal experience how painful this is. But there is nothing we can do but let them go.

That also goes for priests who have parishioners walk out on them when they teach what the Church teaches about marriage from the pulpit. Many of these walkers away will walk back later. But whether they do or not, priests must still teach the truth. They have a responsibility before God to protect their flocks from the error of grave sin. Silence in a situation where their parishioners are facing this kind of abuse is cowardice. It is a shepherd, running away to protect himself when his flock is in danger.

Family members are a bit more difficult. There are several gay people in my family and we’ve never had a problem. The reason is simple: We love one another. I may not support gay marriage, but when my gay family member has to go to the hospital or is in trouble with the law or just lonely and feeling bereft, they know that I’m there for them. I will sit in the hospital waiting room, go to the trial and hang out with them when no one else will.

They do the same for me.

What is politics, compared to that?

However, this sort of familial sanity does not prevail in all families. Children, in particular, are too willing to use their parents’ love for them, a love they do not doubt or they wouldn’t do this, as a form of blackmail. “If you love me, you’ll desert your faith and back gay marriage.”

Chose me, or chose Christ. That is the thing in the balance.

All I can say is that you must never stop loving people because they are jerks and bullies. But no one — no one – can be put between you and Jesus. Jesus has to be your first loyalty.

That doesn’t mean you lecture them or even try to get them to change. Even if you do this with the intention of saving their souls, it is still the wrong thing in this circumstance. They are too set on their downward path to listen. Their ears are stopped and their hearts are hardened.

All you can do is love them and continue to love them and reach out to them in love. That, and keep the faith with your faith in your own life.

Aside from the fact that Jesus Christ must be your Lord or He is nothing to you, what they are demanding is far beyond the right of any person to demand of another. It is a crude and vicious violation of your integrity as a human being, of your natural human rights as a person.

At bottom, it, as my friend said, “disrespects” you. I heard a discussion this weekend in which someone more knowledgeable in these matters than me said that these kinds of attacks on the integrity of another person’s soul are always an indicator of disrespect. They do not respect you and your right to believe as you believe.

Disrespect at this level is disrespect of you as a person. You have a responsibility to yourself, to God and to the person attacking you not to accede to this. Mutual respect is the beginning of genuine trust. It is the foundation on which all good human relationships are built.

If I cannot trust you to respect me as a person enough to allow me the dignity of making my own choices in matters as profoundly personal as faith and morality, then I can not trust you at all. There can be no friendship, no true relationship, without this basic level of respect and the trust that comes from it.

I don’t know if my friend should go back to her poker game or not. It’s possible that the people there heard her and that they will respect her in the future. But if they do not, she really does have to leave.

I know my friend well enough to know that she would take a lot of disrespect directed at her, personally. But she will not abide disrespect to Jesus Christ.

That has to be the bottom line for all of us. Even the most co-dependent among us must stand for Christ in these times.

Do it in love. If you love someone, give yourself the freedom to keep on loving them. Never send someone who is really close to you away. If they leave, that is their choice. But when and if they decide to come back, welcome them home with the same love you felt before they left, and then let the past go.

Love hurts in times like this. The people we love are the ones who can and will nail us to the cross. But if our first love is Jesus, He will help us through this. Stay the course, my friends. On the other side of this Gethsemane, you will find that your faith in Him is stronger, your walk with Him closer, your love of Him, deeper.

You may lose trust in the people around you, but your trust in Him is a rock on which you can build your life.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!