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.

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Address to Joint Session: Our Pope Channeled Jesus in a Present-Day Sermon on the Mount

pope-francis.jpgThis is my reaction to Pope Francis’ address to the joint session of  Congress today.

From the National Catholic Register:

Pope Francis channeled Jesus this morning with a contemporary Sermon on the Mount, and it got just about the same results it did 2,000 years ago.

The Holy Father addressed the assembled members of both houses of Congress, the United States Supreme Court, members of the Cabinet and other dignitaries today. In what might very well have been a one-off for a speaker in that situation, he did not speak to them as a politician. He delivered a homily, in fact a re-run of the THE homily, as the shepherd of souls that he is.

If your god resides in the R or the D, there was something to hate and also something to love in this speech. You could, depending on your personality, walk away from it, angry as a snake biting itself. Or, you could, if you’re turned differently, be patting yourself on the back.

The truth of this speech is that it wasn’t a speech, it was a sermon delivered by a Pope who is first of all a priest, who takes the care of souls as his first duty before God. If you listened to what Pope Francis said today with the ear of someone who reads Scripture on a daily basis, the entire speech echoed Jesus, preaching to and teaching us to care for the least of these, Who told us that the measure by which we judge others would be the measure by which God would judge us.

It was clear to me, after my long years of sitting through joint sessions and reading politicians that the assembled body of listeners were as unmoved by the Holy Father’s words as the stone pillars of the building in which they sat. These people do not listen to anyone who stands in that podium — not even the pope — to be instructed. They listen to be affirmed.

When they felt affirmed, they applauded. When the pope said something that differed from their politics, their faces hardened subtly and their eyes filmed over with an “I-won’t-hear-you” glaze.

Pope Francis spoke of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. He affirmed his life-long opposition to the death penalty, he pled for business practices that provide jobs rather than just suck in wealth for a very few. He spoke against the arms trade that, as he said, sells arms to “those who plan to inflict untold suffering.” He said that this is done “for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” He called the silence about this arms trade “shameful and culpable.”

Those are strong words from the Vicar of Christ. He told a roomful of elected officials and people of great power that their silence about the arms trade made them “culpable” to the blood-drenched sins of those used those arms to murder innocent people.

The pope spoke of the environment, of immigrants, of the family and of justice and freedom. He couched every word he said in a plea that government be conducted to achieve the common good. He said that working toward the common good was the call of every politician.

As someone who held elective office for 18 years, I absolutely agree with him in this. I would also say that the common good doesn’t get a lot of play in private conversations between elected officials these days. No audience anywhere needed to hear this message more than the one Pope Francis was speaking to this morning.

But they didn’t hear him. Not, at least, as it applied to themselves. Politicians today, as well as many private citizens who have become enthralled with political partisanship, are like the Pharisee who went out to pray at the same time as the tax collector.

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If We Don’t Fight for Life, This Hunger for Annihilation Will Devour Us All


Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

My near death experience with Mama pushed me to considering a nursing home.

I wrote about it, and about the ghastly business of passing laws legalizing medical murder, for the National Catholic Register. 

Here’s part of what I said:

I decided then that we had to put her in a nursing home. I despaired of our ability to keep her safe at home. I called the local Catholic nursing home, which I know is a really good place. But they are full-up. The waiting list stretches months ahead.

So, I found myself driving around this not-so-good nursing home and crying. I looked at other, nicer places, but the cost is out of sight. Three and four thousand dollars a month. And it goes up from there.

I made a list of ways we could make the not-so-good place work. I would, of course, be there every day. So would my kids and my husband. Hospice would be there on a regular basis, giving her baths, praying with her, checking her health. My parish would send people to visit. We could have folks checking on her several times a day.

Finally, yesterday afternoon, I asked the hospice social worker to make arrangements for me. I couldn’t face doing it myself.

Then, I got sick. I mean, I got physically ill. I thought I was going to throw up. I couldn’t think. Couldn’t cry. Couldn’t even pray. I played scales on the piano for hours, then played Tetris on my phone.

About 9 last night, I thought, “I can’t do this.”

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What Do You Put on the Altar of Your Heart?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Democracy Chronicles

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Democracy Chronicles

Pro life people must not confine their pro life thinking to the tiny intellectual boxes created by the two major political parties.

The Democrats and the Republicans have created this silo mentally for their own self-serving purposes. It does not benefit the cause of the sanctity of human life. It can actually harm it.

I wrote about this for the National Catholic Register.

Here is part of what I said:

My Grandmother used to say, “That’s like a choice between hanging and a firing squad.”

I wrote a post decrying the lack of a single, unifying objective for the pro-life movement. I also asked readers to offer their thoughts about how to word such an objective for the pro-life movement. I was looking for a one-sentence objective, something on which we could hang discussions about strategies and tactics. The resulting discussion in the comboxes was most edifying.

As people settled into a discursive back and forth, it became obvious that they thought being pro-life in the political sense does not mean protecting human life from conception to natural death. Rather, it means choosing whether to kill the child with abortion or to deny the child the basics of life after birth. It’s as if Satan himself set up the choices for pro-life people, which, in a way, is what has happened.

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It was a Mama Kind of Weekend.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

My family and I had a rough weekend with Mama. Here’s a summary of part of it that I wrote for the National Catholic Register.

If you could spare a prayer for me and mine, it would be much appreciated.

From the National Catholic Register:

I woke with a jolt — one of those soldier-coming-awake-in-a-foxhole snaps from dream sleep to full awake without a step between.

The house was quiet and dark.

I hauled my tired self out of bed and walked down one hall and then the next hall and yet another hall until I came to Mama’s bedroom, flipped on the light and looked at her bed. Which was neatly made up and empty.

Panic is the word, but it’s inadequate. Think baby-missing-from-the-crib-in-a-silent-house, think every nightmare of bungled love and responsibility pounding straight down with one slam.

I ran through the house, yelling for her.


Then, I noticed that the pillows on the sofa were laid out flat in a row that went from one armrest straight across to the other. I walked to the sofa. Lifted a pillow.

She was lying there, fully dressed and sleeping. Her white hair was streaked red with blood, her pants and shirt had huge spots of blood. It was bright red; fresh, newly-bled.


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Dying to Keep a Job … Freedom of Conscience and Abortion, Euthanasia

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff

Do you support forcing doctors and nurses to violate their consciences by killing their patients with abortion and euthanasia?

How does this overall concept apply to the questions raised by the jailing of Kim Davis?

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The Pope Says Priests Can Forgive Abortion. What’s the Big Deal?

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. Their website states: "Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes." (English translation: All content on this website is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License unless specified otherwise and content replicated from other sources.)

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. Their website states: “Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes.”

So, Pope Francis announced that priests can grant absolution for abortion.

Most American Catholics find this confusing. Where else would they go for confession and absolution?

Here’s the deal.

Abortion is one of those few sins that are “reserved.” “Reserved” means that forgiveness of such sins is reserved to the local bishop. This is a reflection of how seriously the Church takes the sin of abortion; how grave it is to kill a helpless unborn child.

That does not mean that the only sin is that of the woman who has the abortion. The sin of abortion is also committed by the abortionist who performs the abortion, the girlfriend who goes to the abortion with the woman, the boyfriend who tells her “get rid of it,” and the boss who threatens to fire her because she’s pregnant. Everyone involved in an abortion is considered excommunicate.

In truth and in fact, it takes a lot of people to kill an unborn baby. The guilt is like a drop of wine, spreading on a tablecloth. If we want to get really serious about this, politicians who vote against job security for pregnant women, schools who expel them, neighbors who shun them, and publications who make money from baiting and attacking women who are “caught” with an embarrassing proof of their sexual activity in the form of a baby are all, at least to some extent, culpable for the sin of abortion. They may not be excommunicated, but when they stand before God, their actions will go into the account of their lives.

Churches who kick pregnant girls out of their fellowship — and I’ve seen this, up close and personal — are also doing their bit to add to the shame women feel that drives them to try to cover it with abortion.

Abortion is, in many ways, one of the most social of sins.

Perhaps that’s why most American bishops do not “reserve” the sin of abortion, but grant all priests under obedience to them the ability to grant absolution for abortion. If they kept this sin reserved to themselves, they would do little else besides hear confessions concerning abortion.

I’m drawing this explanation out to make a several points. First, there is no sin that Christ can not wash away with His mercy. Second, the Church is the reliable fount of that mercy. Third, none of us has the right to get all high and mighty about the sinfulness of other people.

We need to look into our own hearts and ask God to forgive our own sins. And then we need to tell other people that love and mercy are waiting for them. All they need to do is turn to Him.

I believe this is the message that Pope Francis is trying to convey with this grant of a universal ability to forgive the sin of abortion to every priest, everywhere. The message is that no matter what you have done, Jesus loves you. He can and will forgive you and make you new again. The most direct and sure means to seek His forgiveness is through the gateway of confession.

If you have an abortion on your heart, now is the time to let Jesus wash you clean of your guilt and shame. You do not need to carry this burden through your life. You do not need to hide behind your facade of anger any longer.

Turn to Jesus. Go to the cross.

And be forgiven.

From Vatican Radio:

In the letter Pope Francis specifically turns his attention to women who have resorted to abortion and “bear the scar of this agonizing and painful decision” saying the forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented. “For this reason – he writes – I have decided to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it”.

Pointing out that a Jubilee Year has often constituted an opportunity for a great amnesty, the Pope includes prisoners in his list of believers seeking pardon, whom he says, may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the jails.

And holding out the possibility of obtaining an Indulgence to the sick, the elderly, the homebound and even the deceased, the Pope never neglects to point out that the experience of mercy must be visible in works of faith, hope and charity.


Thanks to Public Catholic reader Manny, who brought this story to my attention.

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Two Reporters Were Murdered on TV Today. How Many Murders Have you Witnessed?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff

Americans saw another cold-blooded murder this morning, this time it was a disgruntled former employee, taking out his rage on his former co-workers.

Now, a young man and woman are dead and another young man is bound to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

What does it do to us, watching this horror show, day after day? How does following Jesus defend us against falling into the depravity we witness?

I took on those questions in this post that I wrote for the National Catholic Register.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

The first person I ever saw murdered was Lee Harvey Oswald.

I was a kid at the time. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated on Friday. My family sat in front of our small-screen black and white television all that weekend. We watched obsessively.

As I said, I was a kid, a newcomer to the horrors of life. In a way, all Americans were kids, newcomers, at least to this kind of horror. My parents had grown up in the Great Depression and lived through World War II and Korea, so they were hardly rubes when it came to the horrors that evil can wreak.

But unknown to all of us at that time, America had passed through a membrane a little bit after noon on Friday, November 22, 1963. The America we had known, where children could go trick-or-treating without parental supervision and no one feared for their safety, where politicians were free to mix with the people without worry about being gunned down, where most kids slept under the roof of their own home with their married parents asleep down the hall in their own bedroom, had been mortally wounded.

The long bleed from that wound would go on for decades, right up until today. But America, the America in which I was born, ended when a dum-dum bullet tore through the back of President Kennedy’s skull and shattered, ripping out the right side of his brain.

I remember the shock when I saw Jackie step off the plane, blood all over her. I remember the shock the next morning when I saw her emerge from the White House, the tragedy written in every line of her swollen-eyed, bruised face.

She made it real to me. That blood on her skirt was America’s blood.

We watched the unfolding of that weekend-long national wake on our grainy-screened little television, and by the end of it, the tragedy was indelibly etched in our minds. That’s how it came to be that I witnessed the first murder I ever saw.

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Thousands Protest Outside PP Clinics Nationwide

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Neon Tommy

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Neon Tommy

Thousands of pro life people protested at Planned Parenthood clinics around the country. It appears that Congress may have a spot of trouble keeping the lid on this long enough to use it for a campaign issue.

If pro life people — who are a big part of the majority party’s electoral base — continue pushing, Congress might actually have to do something more than hold hearings and speechify.

From the Washington Post:

Thousands of antiabortion activists descended upon Planned Parenthood clinics on Saturday to participate in a nationwide protest aimed at cutting off federal funding for the controversial health-care organization.

The demonstrations unfolded at about 320 clinics around the nation, according to organizers, with some gatherings drawing a few dozen protesters and others drawing hundreds and perhaps thousands more.


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Swiss Catholic LGBT Money Targets African Bishops Ahead of Synod

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Marcel Grieder

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Marcel Grieder


Politics of any sort runs on money, and the Church has its own politics. That’s a given.

The scandal — and it is scandalous — is that Catholic bishops are reported to be using monies raised from the faithful as part of Lenten almsgiving to put pressure on other bishops to accede to gay rights. I have said repeatedly — and I meant it — that I have no problem with homosexual priests. However, I have a major problem with insincere priests who do not hold an authentic faith in and followership of Christ.

It makes no difference to me if the priest is homosexual or straight. But they must be priests first.

I hope more details about this emerge quickly. If the Swiss bishops are mis-using alms in this manner, they need to be brought to heel. If they are truly engaging with outside groups to pressure other bishops to accede to external, secular, political agendas that run counter to Church teaching, that needs to stop, as well.

We need leadership in these times. This has the earmarks of self-serving misuse of power and mis-appropriation of funds that violates the trust of those who have given money to the Church. It also raises real questions as to whether the Swiss bishops are following Christ and teaching the Gospels, or attempting to lead the Church away from Him and His Word.

From The Catholic News Agency:

.- The Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund and a major U.S. foundation have helped fund an LGBT activist project intended to counter West African bishops at the Catholic Church’s Synod on the Family.

The Netherlands-based European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups originally planned to make a documentary film of self-identified LGBT Catholics in Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon.

“Reacting to the extremely negative influence from bishops from Western Africa on the final document of the Family Synod 14, we found it important to bring the voices of LGBT Catholics from this region to broader attention,” the European Forum said in its 2014-2015 activity report.

The forum’s activities report said the project was funded by the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund Fastenopfer and the Arcus Foundation. The wealthy U.S.-based foundation has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to LGBT activist groups to target the synod.

But Fastenopfer is a Catholic development organization. It traditionally raises its funds during Lenten almsgiving. Its Italian-language name is Sacrificio Quaresimale, which means “Lenten Sacrifice.”

Bishop Felix Gmur of Basel, Switzerland is president of the Lenten fund’s foundation council, which oversees the NGO’s directors group. Two of the nine members of the foundation council are named by the Conference of Swiss Bishops, with the rest being named by a separate body.

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