He’s right beside us.
Song Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns
He’s right beside us.
Song Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns
Religious freedom and gay marriage have taken a couple of turns while we were looking at other things. Here are 3 Quick Takes.
1. Vampire Atheist Case Against 9/11 Cross Tossed by Judge
The bizarro case filed by American Atheists claiming that the sight of the 9/11 Cross caused them to experience “depression, headaches, anxiety and mental pain and anguish” was tossed out of court by a federal judge. The case had sought to have the cross removed from the 9/11 Museum in New York City.
2. Florida Atlantic University Drops Charges Against Student Who Refused to Stomp on Jesus’ Name
Ryan Rotela, a devout Mormon student, refused to stomp on the name of Jesus as he was requested as part of a class exercise. After complaining to administrators, Rotela says he was suspended from the class. The university has now dropped all charges against Rotela and apologized.
New Zealand’s Parliament voted 77-44 to legalize gay marriage on April 17. Uruguay Chamber of Deputies voted to legalize gay marriage on April 10.
We have to learn to live with this.
Aurora, Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon.
The names are like a slow beat sounding out grief and sorrow.
They don’t cover the “smaller” tragedies and the near tragedies. They also don’t speak of the Amish girls, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma City.
We talk about gun control, but gun control is no defense against pressure cookers loaded with ball bearings or rental trucks filled with fertilizer mixed with jet fuel.
In truth, we can not seal ourselves in a room small enough, we can not pass laws limiting enough to be safe. We are dealing with murderous humans. Humans are too smart for us to ever stop them with our prohibitions, metal detectors and regulations. We are like dogs, chasing our own tails with that approach.
Our society, our world, needs conversion.
But before we can even begin that basic task we have to face a single reality: We are going to have to learn to live with this.
The “this” we must learn to live with is the steady beat of the murderous metronome of casual killing that has become part of the fabric of our lives. Whether the killer of the day is a mass murdering young man with a high-powered weapon, a terrorist with a recipe for mayhem or a serial killer hiding in the shadows, the thing that drives them is always the same. It is, as a reader of this blog said in an unconnected quote, an ability to “not consider the person” who will die.
Murder is made possible by a disconnect from the suffering of others. It is, in the final analysis, the most extreme failure of empathy. Not, notice, as we like to say, a “failure of love.” It is not necessary to love someone to refrain from killing them. But it is necessary to separate from their humanity, to objectify them and to not “consider” them and what you are about to do to them.
This nation has been raising up psychopaths the way we once raised up artists and inventors. At the same time, we live in a world of directed psychopathy that creates terrorism, which is nothing more than the murder of innocent civilians.
If we are ever going to change any of this, we will have to face the fact that we need to do more than reach for another quick fix through regulation, safety protocols and prohibitions. We can not give up enough of our freedoms to make ourselves safe from one another.
The only way to become safe from other people is to structure our society in such a way that we end the continuous abuse and disregard of our children. We must stop raising up psychopaths. To do that, we’ve first got to admit that we are doing something wrong. I see a complete refusal to acknowledge that running throughout our public discourse.
Even if we woke up tomorrow, resolved to re-shape our homes, families, schools and institutions along healthy, nurturing lines, it would take time to turn this vast ship of disintegration away from its current path toward the rocks of social dissolution. Since there is very little hope that we will do this, we are out of alternatives.
We are going to have to learn to live with this.
If we are going to stay sane as individual people, we must accept the reality of our lives for what they are. That means accepting that Boston, Sandy Hook, Aurora, the Amish school girls, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Oklahoma City and even 9/11 are not isolated events. They are part of our national life. They are what happens. We have to face the horror of their having happened and add the certainty that they will happen again on top of it, then learn to live with this bitter knowledge.
I am not preaching and teaching a course in despair with this post. I am trying to bring us down to the hard cold reality of our situation.
We are going to have to learn to live with this.
That does not mean that we have to learn to accept it. It means that we have to stop viewing each horror as a separate event and realize that they are all connected in the psyches of those who commit them. This indifference of killers to the people they kill is not new. The blood of innocents has cried out from the ground since people left the garden.
God gave us the only answer to this. Those of us who are Christians have it, if we will just use it.
We are going to have to get used to this, this blood-soaked world in which we live. But we do not need to dive into despair and hopelessness because of it. We must, for the sake of our sanity, stop letting these horrible events take us over and cast us down. We have to get used to it and live with it and move on past it.
We need to focus on the message that we as Christians are the only ones equipped to bring: There is no death. Life has meaning. Everything we do in this life matters in eternity.
Get up off your bed of grief and despair and Catholic on. Turn off the tv and go to work. Take care of your family, clean your house, do your job and live. Pray for the injured, the dead and those who love them. If you are able to help them directly, do it. If not, you can help them best by maintaining the order and stability of the society in which they live.
We are going to have to learn to live with this. The time to begin is now.
Pope Francis gave a homily at morning mass a few days ago that hits this lady right between the eyes.
It was about one of my favorite hobbies: Complaining.
My husband and I sometimes joke about a former member of the Oklahoma House that we both know. If you gave this guy a check for a million dollars all he would do is gripe about the taxes. One of my husband’s jokes is that you can walk outside with this guy and remark that it’s a beautiful day and he would reply, “Yeah, but that makes for darn dark nights.”
I’m not in this man’s league when it comes to complaining and looking on the dark side, but I do have more than a small dose of the same disease. It can seem that focusing on the bad that might happen is a way to ward off disappointment when it really does happen. But in truth, all it does is ruin the good times you’re having now. If something bad happens, worrying about it ahead of time won’t make it hurt one bit less.
As for complaining, you can beat people down with too many complaints. You can blight their happiness and take away their joy. Constant complaining dampens initiative and makes people feel helpless when they’re not. You can push them down to their emotional knees and them hold them there with your carping and complaining and hand-wringing and whining.
I once knew a woman who was never able to just say “Thank you.” If her husband worked all day painting the house for her, when he was finished she would look at it and say, “We really need to re-seed the lawn” She didn’t mean to be a Debbie downer. In fact, I don’t think she knew what she was doing. It was habitual; something she probably learned as a child. But how sad for her that she wasted so many good moments by focusing on the negative, and how destructive to her relationships that she complained when she should have been complimenting.
This is where Pope Francis’ homily comes in. He preached on the Gospel story from St Luke about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. These men were bereft and broken-hearted because of Jesus’ death on the cross. I have not been able to find the full homily on the Vatican web site. But here are a few quotes that resonated with me:
“And they stewed, so to speak, their lives in the juice of their complaints and kept going on and on and on with the complaining,” the pope said. “I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints.”
When all people can think of is how wrong things are going, Pope Francis said, the Lord is close, “but we don’t recognize him. He walks with us, but we don’t recognize him.”
Like the disciples joined by the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, people can hear beautiful things, but deep down, they continue to be afraid, the pope said.
“Complaining seems safer. It’s something certain. This is my truth: failure,” he said.
But the Gospel story shows how very patient Jesus is with the disciples, first listening to them and then explaining things step by step, until they see him.
“Jesus does this with us, too,” the pope said. “Even in the darkest moments, he is always with us, walking with us.”
Complaining and griping — about others and about things in one’s own life — is harmful “because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints,” he said.
“Do not get into this game of a life of complaints.”
I need to print that out and put it on my bathroom mirror. The Holy Father is exactly right when he says that “when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints.” At least, he certainly is about me. My most public cross has been the many attacks I’ve endured for being a pro life Catholic Democratic elected official.
When I speak of deliberate slander and character assassination for gain, I am describing what was done to me.
instead of remembering that Jesus told us to “rejoice and be glad when men say all manner of evil against you falsely on my account,” I complained and whined and focused on my hurt and anger. “Great is your reward in heaven,” Jesus told us, but I concentrated on how much it hurt me at the time.
Pope Francis’ words cut right across my own behavior like a giant x mark. God gave me the opportunity to suffer just a little bit for Jesus, and for the babies. It was never a punishment. It was always a gift. I saw that some of the time. But far too often, I looked right past the honor of taking a hit for Jesus to my own anguish about how much it hurt.
Part of stepping out in faith means laying aside our complaints about the way the world reacts to us when we do it. In truth, when they attack us and revile us for standing for Jesus, they are handing us the Kingdom of Heaven.
If we can just remember that, we’ll realize that there is nothing for us to complain about.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Jesus Christ
This interview with the Metropolitan Tarasios Primate of the Greek Orthodox of South America. The interview sheds light on Pope Francis, as well as the gracious personality of the Primate himself.
Pope Francis is an outgoing informal man, while Pope Emeritus Benedict is shy and introverted. But don’t let those differences in style confuse you. Both are holy men of fidelity to the truth of our Catholic faith. To learn more, watch the video below.
Easter isn’t all new clothes, gorgeous masses in stunning church buildings and arguments about red shoes and foot washing.
In some places, Calvary is present in the lives of the people. The Church itself and all its Christian people hang on the cross of persecution.
In other places, such as the United States and Great Britain, society is moving along the continuum toward violent persecution. Christians in those two countries have come to expect and accept that they will be subjected to hate speech against Christians, Christian-bashing on web sites. They are increasingly being forced to accept that they face growing legal discrimination against Christians and moves to force Christian speech and expression out of the public sphere. We are at the “you can go to church all you want, but leave it there,” phase of discrimination, and this discrimination is rapidly becoming government-enforced.
At the same time, Christians in Egypt fear being kidnapped with no police support to stop it. Christians in Bangladesh have their children stolen and trafficked and again, the police do not punish the traffickers. Christians in North Korea are imprisoned and worked to death. Christians in Nigeria are murdered, tortured and their churches are burned.
I could go on. But there is too much of it for one post.
Here is this week’s roundup of Christian persecution in Six Quick Takes.
1. Nigeria: Easter Attacks Kill 80, Thousands of Christians Flee to the Hills
By BosNewsLife Africa Service – “Nigerian Christians appealed for prayers Tuesday, April 2, after Easter season violence in troubled central Nigeria left as many as 80 people dead and displaced some 4,500 others.
At least 19 people were killed since Easter Sunday when gunmen believed to be nomadic Muslim cattle herders attacked the mostly Christian Atakar group in Kaura district, a remote area of Kaduna state, officials said.
Witnesses said the attacks on three communities, including the Mafang and Zilang villages, killed many women and children. Kaduna police spokesman Aminu Lawan told reporters his forces were still investigating.
Ataka Christians live near Plateau state where authorities claimed fighting between cattle herders, who are mainly Fulani Muslims, and Christian villages killed nearly 60 people in recent days.
The area is on the uneasy dividing line between Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north and largely Christian south…
Christians said that following Sunday’s violence, thousands of villagers fled to the nearby hills. (Read more here.)
2. Bangladesh: Christian Children Re-Captured By Trafficker
Eleven of the 16 Christian children who were rescued from Muslim traffickers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Jan. 2 have again gone missing. Sources in the Christian community, as well as reports in local newspapers, report that they believe the children were re-trafficked and taken to madrassas, Islamic training centers, where they will likely be forced to convert to Islam and study the Quran.
Eleven Christian children, originally from the Rangamati district of Chittagong Hill Tracts, disappeared for the second time earlier this year after being given back to the custody of their parents. “We were not aware that our child would be taken to a madrassa,” one parent told International Christian Concern (ICC).
The children, along with five others, had been rescued by police from a madrassa in the Abuzor Giffari Mosque Complex in Dhaka. The children had been missing for months. They were returned to their parents soon after their rescue, but traffickers continually threatened the parents until the recent re-disappearance of the children. Local authorities say the children were likely trafficked again to madrassas and are concerned that they will be forcibly converted to Islam.
“The [leader] of the traffickers gives a large sum of money to the traffickers to take the kids to the madrassa,” said an ICC source. “Because of this, they threatened the parents and took their children, again, to a madrassa. It is all because of large sums of money, and because there are no punishments for the trafficker.” (Read more here.)
3. North Korea: Number 1 for Christian Persecution
North Korea is the most hostile place for Christians around the globe, according to the annual “World Watch” list from the Open Doors Organization.
The list ranks the 50 countries where Christian persecution is most severe. North Korea tops the 2013 list, thus holding its ranking for the eleventh year running.
“Christians are classified as hostile and face arrest, detention, torture, even public execution,” the Open Doors report said. (Read more here.)
4. Great Britain: Majority of Church-Going Christians Feel Persecuted and Marginalized
Over two-thirds of Christians in the United Kingdom feel part of a victimized minority, and David Cameron is making that worse by redefining marriage, the Coalition for Marriage says.
In a new poll commissioned by the group, almost eight in 10 said the prime minister’s same-sex marriage plan will lead to those who back traditional marriage facing the sack.
More than two-thirds (67 percent) said they felt part of a “persecuted minority.”
The survey also showed that over half of the U.K.’s Christians who voted Conservative in 2010 would “definitely not” do so again in 2015.
Colin Hart, campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage, said the poll showed “widespread and continued opposition towards David Cameron’s plans to redefine marriage.”
He added: “More worryingly it shows how Christians and those of faith are being treated like illegal aliens in their own country. They are being marginalized and persecuted for their beliefs. (Read more here.)
5. Egypt: Christians Targeted for Kidnappings
MATAI, Egypt (AP) — Ezzat Kromer’s resistance to his kidnappers did not last long. One of the masked gunmen fired a round between his feet as he sat behind the wheel of his car and said with chilling calm, “The next one will go into your heart.”
The Christian gynecologist says he was bundled into his abductors’ vehicle, forced to lie under their feet in the back seat for a 45-minute ride, then dumped in a small cold room while his kidnappers contacted his family over a ransom.
For the next 27 hours, he endured beatings, insults and threats to his life, while blindfolded, a bandage sealing his mouth and cotton balls in his ears.
Kromer’s case is part of a dramatic rise of kidnappings targeting , including children, in ‘s southern province of Minya, home to the country’s largest concentration of Christians but also a heartland for Islamist hard-liners.
The kidnappings are mostly blamed on criminal gangs, which operate more freely amid Egypt’s collapse in security since the 2011 fall of autocrat.
Crime has risen in general across Egypt, hitting Muslims as well. But the wave of kidnappings in Minya has specifically targeted Christians, and victims, church leaders and rights activists ultimately blame the atmosphere created by the rising power of hard-line Islamists.
They contend criminals are influenced by the rhetoric of radical clerics depicting Egypt’s Christian minority as second-class citizens and see Christians as fair game, with authorities less likely to investigate crimes against the community.
Over the past two years, there have been more than 150 reported kidnappings in the province — all of them targeting Christians, according to a top official at the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police. (Read the rest here.)
6. United States: Pro Life Student Group Banned at Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Md., Apr 3, 2013 / 05:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A pro-life student group at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., is appealing a denial of official recognition, saying that it is being discriminated against for its views against abortion.
Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, told CNA that this decision is surprising, given that Johns Hopkins administration and students “pride themselves on being a ‘free speech campus’ – allowing dissenting opinions on campus and allowing a free exchange of ideas on campus.”
She added that there is a need for “upholding freedom of speech that isn’t popular.”
Voice for Life, a pro-life organization that is trying to re-start on the Johns Hopkins campus after several years of dormancy, has been rejected multiple times by the university’s student government, despite receiving clearance from the necessary committees as having met all campus requirements. (Read more here.)
I stand with the bishops and the Catholic Church on the HHS Mandate.
If you stand with the bishops as well, look at the alert below and take action!
I focused on Holy Week issues last week.
I would love to continue doing the same thing this first week of Easter. In fact, it might be nice to never do anything else. But the world and our duty to engage the world for Christ goes on.
Challenges to the HHS Mandate continue to wend their way through the judicial process.
Hobby Lobby was granted a hearing of its appeal against the HHS Mandate before a full federal panel of nine judges. Most appeals are heard by three judges. The fact that the whole panel will hear this one reflects the seriousness of the issue involved. I can think of few issues more serious than whether or not the First Amendment applies to applies to everyone.
We need to continue to support both EWTN and Hobby Lobby, as well as all others who have stepped up to fight for our freedoms. I got paid today. I’ll be too busy to do any shopping for a few days, but the first chance I get, I’m heading to Hobby Lobby. I may top it off with lunch at Chick Fil-A. I hope you do the same.
Washington D.C., Apr 1, 2013 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Christian-owned craft giant Hobby Lobby will be able to make its appeal against the federal contraception mandate before a full federal panel of nine judges, rather than the usual three.
“Full court review is reserved only for the most serious legal questions,” explained Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in a press release on March 29. The Becket Fund is representing the owners of Hobby Lobby in court.
Duncan said that the decision to grant a full nine-judge hearing speaks to the gravity of the issue.
“This case asks whether the First Amendment protects everyone’s right to religious freedom, or whether it leaves out religious business owners like the Greens,” he explained.
As its religious freedom case comes before a federal court, Hobby Lobby had petitioned for an “en banc” hearing, or an appeals hearing before the full bench of nine judges.
“We are grateful that the court granted Hobby Lobby’s petition,” said Duncan. (Read more here.)
Meanwhile, EWTN’s lawsuit against the HHS Mandate was dismissed by an Alabama court because the court said the case “wasn’t ripe.” I would make a comment about the choice of the word “ripe,” but it’s too easy. EWTN has vowed to fight on.
If you’re getting the idea that going to court is a roll of the dice, you’re right. It all depends on which judge you draw and if their lunch agreed with them.
Birmingham, Ala., Mar 26, 2013 / 12:23 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The EWTN Global Catholic Network is “extremely disappointed” by a Monday court ruling that dismissed as “unripe” its lawsuit against a federal mandate that could require the organization to violate Catholic teaching.
“Contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs are not healthcare. EWTN cannot and will not compromise our strongly held beliefs on these moral issues,” EWTN President and CEO Michael P. Warsaw said March 25.
On Monday Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of the U.S. District Court in Birmingham dismissed the Irondale, Ala.-based organization’s lawsuit until new regulations are “created and finalized.” The March 25 court decision agreed that EWTN has standing to sue, but it sided with Obama administration lawyers who contended that the case is not ripe for review. (Read more here.)
They should be ashamed.
I watch The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson at some point during Holy Week each year. The movie, whatever the much-publicized weaknesses of its producer, is deeply meaningful to me.
This year I ended up watching it late, late Good Friday and early, early Holy Saturday, after my family had gone to bed. Earlier in the day I had shared a meal with one of my dearest friends. This lady is a cradle Catholic who doesn’t analyze the Church, she just believes it. She also uses her computer for work and turns it off. She’s not an internet junkie. Since we are blessed to live in a diocese where the bishops have always allowed women’s feet to be washed along with men on Holy Thursday, she had never encountered the discussions about this that float around the internet.
During our conversation, I told her about the happenings on Public Catholic, including the debate about washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday. When I mentioned that some people don’t think that women’s feet should be washed, she stopped and stared for a moment, then said, “Reaalllllyyyyy?”
It was the first time in all the years I’ve known her that I’ve ever seen this woman, who once thought about becoming a nun, angry over her faith. Why? Because she understood instantly that this attitude put her, as a woman, outside the circle of grace that the servant priesthood and the eucharist are meant to create for all humanity.
I explained it as best I could and moved on to other topics.
Later that night, as I was watching Jesus, standing before the Sanhedrin, something changed in me. Specifically, it was that moment in the film where He is condemned to death and the mob begins spitting on Him, hitting him and pummeling Him. He is surrounded, almost lost in the mob, fists coming at him from every direction. It was, as He said earlier that same evening, “Satan’s hour.”
I wasn’t thinking about my conversation with my friend. I wasn’t thinking about the outrageous attacks on the Holy Father because he had the temerity, by his actions, to include women in the whole of the humanity the Church serves. It was as if all the pieces clicked together by themselves with an almost audible snap.
This blog is a Catholic blog. I am a Catholic woman.
If you want to put the “teachings” of self-annointed internet magisteriums ahead of the legitimate authority of the bishops and the pope to determine the order of the mass and the liturgy, I can not stop you. But I will not publish you. This behavior is harming my Church, and I will not open my house to anything that furthers it.
You do not have to love the Holy Father to comment on Public Catholic. But you do have to refrain from disrespecting him, including posting links to those who are trying to make themselves his teachers in the rubrics of the mass.
I am not expert on this, but I’ve read that the girm that these people claim cancels out the teaching authority of the pope and bishops (not to mention the Gospels) was written around 50 short years ago in the 1960s. If I understand it correctly, the bishops have clear authority to modify certain things (including this one) in the girm, as part of their pastoral calling. I’ve read that Cardinal O’Malley of Boston specifically queried the Vatican about this issue after he was appointed to the Archdiocese of Boston and that this was the answer. He subsequently allowed women’s feet to be washed on Holy Thursday.
Presumably, other bishops, who had years more experience in this office than the Cardinal did at this time, already knew this. I know that (then) Bishop Bevilacqua asked the USCCB to clarify this issue as long ago as 1987, and got the same answer as Cardinal O’Malley received from the Vatican later.
I would guess that if I’m aware of this, the self-annointed internet magisteriums of which I speak are also aware of it. Since they’re making what is probably a very good living based on their supposedly superior knowledge of what they imply is the absolute and infallible dogma of the girm, they certainly should.
This fixation on one word and the obvious misogyny that fuels it are both serious problems for the people who are encouraging it. I mean they are serious spiritual problems for them. They are leading people away from obedience to their bishops and the pope in the name of the girm. They are appealing to the dark temptations of self-righteousness and clannish cliquishness that destroy community, limit faith and — worst of all — deny the core message of the Gospels.
I’ve been warned that by criticizing these people I am making myself the target of on-line attacks and defamation. If that doesn’t tell you that they are not of the Lord, then what does?
They should be ashamed of themselves.
Here is an excerpt from a Washington Post article describing the picayune grievances against the Holy Father by these people. Read it and weep.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has won over many hearts and minds with his simple style and focus on serving the world’s poorest, but he has devastated traditionalist Catholics who adored his predecessor, Benedict XVI, for restoring much of the traditional pomp to the papacy.
Francis’ decision to disregard church law and wash the feet of two girls — a Serbian Muslim and an Italian Catholic — during a Holy Thursday ritual has become something of the final straw, evidence that Francis has little or no interest in one of the key priorities of Benedict’s papacy: reviving the pre-Vatican II traditions of the Catholic Church. (More here.)