No Matter What the Synod Does, I Will Keep on Doing What I’ve Been Doing

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

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

Conscience is a weak reed on which to lay the foundation of your eternal destiny.

I know from personal experience that I can convince myself of anything. I also know that I am not the only person with this problem. In fact, I would guess that this ability to justify oneself to oneself is part of the universal human condition.

The truth is, people cannot do that which they cannot justify to themselves. I have no doubt that Hitler had justifications that worked for him for everything he did. Ditto for Pol Pot, John Wayne Gacy, abortionists and corporatists alike.

They all manage to justify what they do, at least to themselves. The rapist’s “she asked for it,” works perfectly fine to allow him to sadistically degrade, brutalize and harm another person, just as the corporatists’ blather lets their greed fuel wars, create poverty and destroy hope.

I learned a long time ago that nothing makes a person meaner than being challenged on their self-justifications. The worse the thing they are justifying, the meaner they get when the justification is challenged. Thus we have men who beat their wives yelling “You made me do it!” and following that with another blow to silence any challenge to their justification. We have nations going to war rather than treat their own citizens as full human beings.

Nothing makes a person meaner than telling them they cannot kill somebody they’ve decided it is their right to kill. If you try to confront them with the reality of what they are doing, they become dangerous to you, as well.

The one thing you cannot rely on to make them change their behavior is the whispering of their own conscience. Conscience is an unworkable guide precisely because conscience is so easily shaped by the forces of self interest and human weakness. Perhaps the number one human weakness that damages conscience is the desire to be accepted and liked by the people around us.

That weakness works against good judgement and right conscience in an insidious and steady sort of way. It is buttressed by sophisticated arguments that excuse virtually anything. Today’s advocates for dissolute living are skilled in making good sound bad and bad sound good.

They can and do convince people that everything from killing grandma with euthanasia to dismembering our children with abortion is a positive good. Our conscience is no defense against them unless we have a reliable touchstone by which to judge and evaluate what we are hearing.

For two thousand years, the Catholic Church has provided that reliable touchstone. For two thousand years, the Church has held fast in its teachings and dogma. Individual priests and bishops have been all over the map in their moral teaching. They are all over the map right now on the core challenges facing modern Christians. But the Church itself has never taught that which is not true. It has not deviated from following Christ and Him crucified.

That is why so many Christians found the discussions at last year’s Synod disturbing. That disturbance is why they are distrustful of this year’s Synod. They become restive when Synod fathers talk about allowing individual conscience to be used as a guide for when it’s ok to ignore grave sin because they know — we all know — that our own consciences can lead us straight down the road to perdition.

We need a Church that we can trust to present us with Jesus Christ, Who is the same yesterday, today and forever. We do not need and will not benefit from theological experimentation that runs perpendicular to the explicit teachings of Our Lord and of Scripture.

Jesus said, For this cause a man shall leave his mother and father and join with his wife and they two shall become one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one. What therefore God has joined together let no man put asunder … anyone who divorces … and marries another … commits adultery. 

He was speaking directly and explicitly about the question of divorce, which he said Moses had allowed due to the Israelite’s hardness of heart. Marriage is between one man and one woman and it is for life. Period.

St Paul said, … whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup unworthily shall be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord … and brings judgement upon himself. 

These teachings put a crimp in things for a lot of people these days. If they are true, then a great many men and women are living in adultery. If they are not true, then the Scriptures themselves are false.

People don’t like hearing things like that. They want Jesus. They know they need Him, and they want Him. They crave communion with the Lord, and Christ in the Eucharist is the best and easiest way to achieve that.

They are good people. Many of them repent of their mistakes and are trying to do better. Divorce is a scalding experience that wounds people to the core. That’s because marriage is exactly what Jesus said it was; the binding of two people together as one for life. Tearing that apart is painful beyond pain.

There are often serious reasons for divorce. Violence, infidelity, drug and alcohol abuse are not fixable unless the offender is committed to changing. The only thing the victim spouse can do is end the marriage and try to rebuild.

That is why the Church has developed the process of annulment; to determine if the marriage was invalid. It lets people move forward.

This is a thorny subject for the Church right now precisely because certain bishops are pushing to place Christ’s teaching on a shelf and ignore it in actual practice. They want to say that Jesus said what He said, and the Church is not changing doctrine, but it will ignore the doctrine in its pastoral life.

To my way of thinking, this is inherently dishonest. It also sets the Church on the path of unraveling the cords that bind it together. The Catholic Church is the Eucharist and the Eucharist is a sacrament.

The Eucharist is a sacrament, established by Our Lord. Marriage is a sacrament, established by Our Lord. No one — including bishops — has to power to undo or nullify a sacrament.

If the sacrament of Holy Matrimony can be dismembered into a meaningless nothing that has no actual power in how people live their lives, and the core meaning of the Church, which is the Eucharist, can be taken by force and popular demand, then the Church itself has come unwound.

Holy Orders are meaningless if the Eucharist and Holy Matrimony are meaningless. If the Church puts doctrine on the shelf and ignores it in its actual, pastoral practices as they pertain to the Eucharist and Holy Matrimony, then the sacraments become pro forma to the people in the pews.

I do not understand anyone who would take the Eucharist by force. I do not.

I don’t “get” people who know that they are living in violation of Church teaching and then demand that the Church change what it teaches to suit them. Their job is to change how they live in order to follow Christ. And Church teaching has, up until now, been a reliable guide on how to follow Christ.

Why would anyone take communion when they know they are in mortal sin? Do they think that Jesus can be fooled? Do they think they can lie to Him and He won’t notice? Why would a bishop deliberately lead people into doing this? Doesn’t the bishop fear God?

I understand full well that much of the arguing in the two Synods has been a manifestation of the culture wars raging in the Western world. I believe that a number of politico-socio movements, including the gay rights movement and the new atheism, have a vested interest in tearing down the Church’s teaching.

Trashing the sacrament of Holy Matrimony would weaken the Church’s witness in the world today far more than even the priest sex abuse scandal has done. If the Church walks away from the sacraments, then it walks away from itself.

The fact that so many secular interests perceive the Synod as something they can influence to act in ways that are contrary to 2,000 years of Church teaching says a lot about at least some of the bishops who are meeting there. The other fact, that so many faithful Catholics who have stood by the Church through all the wounds she has inflicted on herself in the past 15 years, are deeply mistrustful of the Synod, says a lot about the danger that lies within the Church if such a change is made.

If the Synod Fathers accede to pressures from the German bishops to radically change Church practice on marriage in these fraught times, they will make the Church the pawn of special interests.  At the same time, they will alienate many of their most faithful followers.

They don’t seem to understand the synergy at work here. To put it simply, a decision to change Church practice would comfort the Church’s enemies, including those who seek to destroy faith altogether. It would, at the same time, alienate and create confusion and mistrust among those who ardently try to follow the Church. It would weaken the loyalty of the people the Church must turn to for help when it is attacked.

I pray about the Synod, but one thing is absolute: No matter what happens with these bishops, I will not leave the Church. To paraphrase St Peter, where would I go?

What I will do is read whatever the Synod produces carefully and prayerfully. Then, I will think about it. I imagine I may go through this read-pray-think process more than once. If the Church wounds itself with unsound practices, I will pray for wiser minds to undo this mistake in the future.

Whatever the Synod does, I plan to keep on doing what I’ve been doing for quite a while now. I will do my best to follow Jesus within the confines of the Catholic Church.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Nearly 500 British Priests Urge Synod to Stand Firm on Communion for Remarried

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

Nearly 500 British priests sent a letter to the Synod Fathers, urging them to stand firm on the question of communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

The priests called for the Synod Fathers to issues a “clear and firm proclamation” upholding Church teaching on marriage.

From Catholic Herald:

They write: “We affirm the importance of upholding the Church’s traditional discipline regarding the reception of the sacraments, and that doctrine and practice remain firmly and inseparably in harmony.”

One signatory, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed there “has been a certain amount of pressure not to sign the letter and indeed a degree of intimidation from some senior Churchmen”.

Another, who also asked not to be named, said the issue of Communion for the remarried was “a matter of pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel”.

He said: “Mercy requires both love and truth. There’s a lot at stake. Not all priests would be comfortable expressing themselves in an open letter, but I’d be very worried if there were priests who disagreed with the sentiments it contains.

“The letter calls for fidelity to Catholic teaching, and that practice should remain ‘inseparably in harmony’ with doctrine. The priests state that they remain committed to helping ‘those who struggle to follow the Gospel in an increasingly secular society’, but imply that those couples and families who have remained faithful are not being adequately supported or encouraged.”

Notable signatories to the letter include theologians Fr Aidan Nichols and Fr John Saward, and Oxford physicist Fr Andrew Pinsent. Fr Robert Billing, spokesman for the Diocese of Lancaster, Fr Tim Finigan, blogger and Catholic Herald columnist, and Fr Julian Large, provost of the London Oratory, have also signed the letter.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

How to Tell the World that You Love Jesus

Photo courtesy of Nancy Ward

Photo courtesy of Nancy Ward

Evangelization is not only awkward to say, most of us find it awkward to do.

It’s all very well to talk about converting this culture. But how do we do that? Is there a roadmap somewhere to help us on our way to this worthy goal?

Most Catholics are considerate of others. We don’t go door to door on Saturday mornings, rousting people out of bed to ask them where they think they will go when they die. Neither do we dominate dinner parties and family gatherings with demands that our friends and family call the local parish and sign up for RCIA.

We do our best to live and let live. We carry this to the point that we often let internet bullies defame both us and our Church without arguing back.

So, given all that, how are ordinary pew-sitting Catholics going to convert this culture? That’s an important question because, if this culture gets converted, it will be by ordinary pew-sitting Catholics. Priests are preoccupied with running parishes, editing magazines, running universities and dealing with Church administration. Not only that, but they clearly don’t have any better idea how to convert people out there in the hustings than we do.

I see the priests’ role as empowering and equipping the laity to do the work of converting the culture. I see our role as the laity as living our faith in the world, taking the brickbats that go with that, staying faithful and, yes, converting the culture, one step, one person, at a time. No one of us is going to convert this culture. But if we each do our part and we do it every day, we can get there.

The question underneath this remains. How do we convert the world, one person at a time?

I’m talking about a kind of relational conversion that Catholics have pretty much left out of their spiritual kit bag. What has happened is that the laity thinks that conversion is the priest’s job, and the priest thinks that his job is running the parish 24/7.

Let’s cut to the chase here and acknowledge that we, the laity, have the job of converting the culture.

That’s number one.

Next, let’s go about the business of figuring out how to actually do that. By that I mean, let’s start the work of brainstorming for ideas about how we can go about this eternity work that has been given to us.

My fellow Catholic writer, Nancy Ward, has authored a CD which starts the ball rolling in that direction. It’s a three-parter titled Sharing Your Faith Story that begins with Nancy’s own faith story and ends with ideas for how to share your faith story. I think that’s a great place to start the work of converting the culture because each one of us has a faith story, and that faith story is our personal witness to the truth of Christ. For almost all of us, our faith story is a love story, and that makes it even more powerful.

We need to learn how to tell this powerful story of love between us and our Jesus. That’s the first step toward leading others to a love story of their own.

Nancy is running a contest in which you can win a free copy of her CD. Go here for details. To learn more about the CD, check out an interview Nancy gave here. Or, you can buy the CD on Amazon.

Evangelization may be an awkward word to say, but it doesn’t have to feel awkward to do. We just need to put our heads together and figure out how to do it well. The first step is to learn how to tell our faith stories. Our individual faith story is our personal witness of what we believe and why we believe it. Nancy’s CD can help us learn to tell our faith stories, and that is the beginning of converting this culture.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Studies Show Porn and Abortion are Allies

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chris Lim https://www.flickr.com/photos/cats-eye-view/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chris Lim https://www.flickr.com/photos/cats-eye-view/

I was there when most of the tracks that led us to where we are now were laid down. By “there” I mean I was often in the room when the discussion were had and the decisions were made. On those occasions when I wasn’t part of the initial discussion, I was usually one of the first to know what was coming down.

If hindsight really is 22, then I have a clear view of how we got here, or at least the beginnings of it.

I wrote a bit about that in a post for CatholicVote. The post discussed a new study which revealed the old truth that abortion and porn are, in fact, allies.

Here’s part of what I said.

Well, duh.

A new study by the Journal of Sex Research indicates that users of porn may also be “useful allies” of the abortion industry.

This is news?

I was an active part of the feminist movement back in the 1970s. I was also the Oklahoma Director for NARAL. I remember when we (meaning those who advocated for legal abortion) partnered with the Playboy Foundation. Prior to that, the feminist movement had been, rightfully, against pornography because of its penchant for reducing women and children to objects. Porn is degrading to those who are depicted in it. Oftentimes it is violently degrading.

Just type a series of xxxs in your search engine and sit back and watch the porn depicting violence against and degradation of women roll down your screen. Or, type “rape” or “rape victim” in your search engine and see how many hits you get for pornography depicting violent gang rapes and snuff films — all with women and children as the victims. This is not to say that pornography only victimizes women and children. Gay porn is just as degrading and often as violent as that aimed at women.

Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I realize that this compromise with the devil of pornography on behalf of the demon of abortion was, in many ways, the unraveling of the feminist movement.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Synod Leaders are “Log Rolling” Say Cardinals

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

A group of Synod Fathers, including Cardinal Dolan, have written a letter to Pope Francis expressing concern about the way the Synod is progressing.

I wrote about that for National Catholic Register today.

Here is part of what I said:

“You cannot serve God and Mammon.”
—Jesus Christ

The German Catholic Church has a long and ignoble history of playing fool for its government. During the murderous reign of the Third Reich, there were isolated bishops who stood against Hitler. But many of them joined their Lutheran brothers in allowing themselves to be coopted by the pagan cult we call the Nazis.

The Nazis created an economic system in which the government and the economic powers coalesce into one unit working for their mutual benefit. We call that fascism. They also created a mythology or a quasi-religion to go along with it. This quasi-religion was mostly a deliberate return to Germany’s pagan past with a mix of astrology and other whatnots.

At the same time that they were privately voicing contempt for Christianity and implementing plans to destroy it, the Nazi leaders pandered to the churches in their public statements. They sought — and were able — to silence the prophetic and moral voice of the churches by means of coopting them.

Christian churches in much of the world, and certainly in Germany, were already following the false god of nationalism long before Hitler and the Nazis were born. They had given moral gravitas to the abuses of colonialism and the insanity of World War I.

This made them easy prey for the claims of extreme nationalism that came from the Nazis. However, I believe that the thing that pushed German churches down the rat hole to acquiescence with (and even support of) the Nazis was not primarily nationalism. I think they were following another master. It was the “master” that Jesus specifically singled out as one that Christians could not follow if they would follow Him. It was money.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/synod-leaders-are-log-rolling-say-cardinals/#ixzz3oNaAnR30

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

History Repeats in USA, But Evil Will Never Triumph

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

What happens when evil appears to triumph?

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

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. King Solomon

“Today’s families face challenges that previous generations did not face.”

We recite that cliché in somber tones, as if we were saying something profound. But King Solomon was right. There is nothing new under the sun.

A society run amok with sexual depravity? Look no further than Sodom and Gomorrah, or most of the ancient pagan world, for that matter.

Killing our children to free us to achieve for the corporate empires that rule our world? Change “career” to “good harvest” and “abortion” to “putting your children through the fires,” and you are right back in the pagan world, standing before Moloch.

Poison our elderly, disabled, sick, weak and frail in an act of “mercy?” Go back 70 years to the “useless eaters” of the Third Reich, being driven around in trucks with hoses piping the exhaust in on them. If that seems too pertinent, look at pagan societies that left their helpless members out, where the animals could kill them.

Sex selected abortion? Think of exposing baby girls by throwing them in the dump and leaving them to die.

What about drugs and the reign of terror exacted on families today by the drug addicts in their midst? What about incest? Or polygamy or Christian persecution?

There’s nothing new, not under the star we call Sol. It’s all been done before.

– See more at: http://www.catholicvote.org/history-repeats-in-usa-but-evil-will-never-triumph/#sthash.NhluMqGh.dpuf

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Two Priests In Trouble for Having Boyfriends. Is There a Difference Between Them?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

This is a post about two prominent priests.

The first prominent priest held a powerful Vatican position and taught theology to priests. He told the world — in a press conference, no less — that he’s gay, sexually active and proud of it. He denounced the “homophobic” Catholic Church and departed with a book deal and his boyfriend.

The second prominent priest is from Chicago. He attended Pope Francis’ address to Congress last month. It turns out that he also has a boyfriend. His archbishop removed him from his parish assignment.

The Chicago priest, Father Marco Mercado, is asking for prayer, and says that his priority is the Gospel. He says he’s sorry if his actions have scandalized anyone.

Scandalized? Us?

After the past 15 years, this barely causes a blip on the Church scandal meter. Those of us in the pews are just relieved it was between adults and something is being done about it. After all, the pope himself told us that there was a “gay lobby” inside the Vatican, and just about every Catholic over the age of 12 knows that many of our priests are gay.

What we have here is a tale of two priests. One fell off the chastity wagon and says he’s sorry for what he did. The other denounced the Church for calling his sin a sin.

This situation illustrates a big issue for the Church. How are we going to go forward in this onslaught of satanic evil that is coming down on us if our priests bunt instead of swing away?

It’s not a question of whether or not we should have priests who are homosexual. We do have priests who are homosexual and everybody knows it. The question is, which column does the priest fall into? Is he a priest, who happens to be homosexual? Or is he a homosexual, who happens to be a priest?

I don’t care if a priest happens to be homosexual. I care if he is an authentic follower of Christ. The day is past when we could get by with priests who went to seminary so that they wouldn’t have to tell their mamas they were gay. We need holy priests who will lead us through these times.

It doesn’t bother me to learn that a priest has fallen flat on his face and done something stupid and sinful. Intimate involvement between two adults is definitely not the worst thing I’ve ever heard of a person doing. People long for other people.

As one of life’s all-time sinners whose only hope was and is the love of God, I do not have the qualifications to be anything but understanding about other people’s sins. I have been forgiven too much to draw a line on forgiveness to others.

But forgiveness presupposes that the person acknowledges their sin and asks to be forgiven. We all sin, repent, get cleaned up and try again. That’s life.

The priest in Chicago says he’s sorry. I don’t know the situation, and I leave its resolution in his bishop’s hands, but I’m assuming that his relationship with an adult man did not involve someone who was vulnerable, such as a parish employee or a counseling situation. All I know is that he says he did wrong and that he’s sorry for it.

The priest in Rome wants the Church to stop telling him his sin is a sin. He’s self-righteous and accusatory toward the Church that trusted him, educated him, promoted him and gave him enormous power.

The fact is, he was ripping off the priesthood and it sounds as if he was doing it deliberately. Given his attitude, he had no business wearing a collar, much less being that close to the seat of power within the Church.

Linda LaScola is an atheist blogger here at Patheos who writes in support of Christian clergy who become atheist. She has made comments that I think accurately describe the impact of fallen clergy. Here’s part of what she says.

… There are clergy who are purposely or inadvertently discouraging their parishioners from holding some of the foundational beliefs of their religion. 

… Liberal clergy will continue to lead the move away from biblical religion. They are humanists’ natural allies … We predict they will keep discarding bits of Christian doctrine until it’s gone. 

This is a post about two prominent priests. One fell off the chastity wagon and seeks forgiveness. The other condemns the Church for saying his sin is a sin.

One affirms Christian doctrine and wants to be forgiven for his human weakness. The other demands that Christianity discard 2,000 years of teaching concerning human sexuality and condemns the Church for adhering to it.

Which of these two priests would Ms LaScola consider “a natural ally?”

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Gov Jerry Brown Forgot the First Rule: Don’t Kill Innocent People!

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Phil Konstantin https://www.flickr.com/photos/36205567@N07/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Phil Konstantin https://www.flickr.com/photos/36205567@N07/

Governor Jerry Brown jumped off the cliff and into the volcano of mass murder today.

He signed a law that opens the door for euthanasia in California. The harm he has done will live long after him. That’s the way it is with bad laws, and this law is a warrant to kill.

I wrote about this for the National Catholic Register.

Here’s part of what I said:

The Los Angeles Times story is so over-the-top supportive that it was downright soppy.

It paints a word picture of a politician on the rack, a “former Jesuit seminary student” who was riven by a heart-wrenching moral conundrum. I could almost hear the violins playing and see the sunset … except for the raw truth of what this politician/martyr had done.

“I have considered the theological and religious perspectives that any deliberate shortening of one’s life is sinful,” he said.

Nice phrase that; “deliberate shortening of a life.” Not only did this politician ply all his political arts to evoke sympathy for himself as he did the unthinkable, he created a new euphemism for the doing of it while he was at it.

“Deliberate shortening of life” is Governor Jerry Brown’s lovely little phrase for murdering people to put them out of our misery, otherwise known as euthanasia, also known as death with dignity, also known as cold-blooded killing. Governor Jerry Brown, that “former Jesuit seminarian,” has joined the pantheon of politicians who, with a stroke of his pen, has killed untold numbers of people with a law that will allow the killing to go on for generations.

Long after Governor Brown has finally retired for the last time and ridden off into the political sunset, people will continue to die because of what he did today. If past is prelude, this law, as bad as it is, will become the opening volley in the war on life by use of euthanasia in California. As bad as it is, future politicians will line up to the death wagon and amend it to make it worse.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/california-gov.-jerry-brown-forgot-the-first-rule-dont-kill-innocent-people/#ixzz3njjgMpXz

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

All the Christians Stand Up

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jo Naylor https://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jo Naylor https://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/

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!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

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.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/the-sermon-on-the-mount-and-the-sermon-on-the-hill/#ixzz3mgnm706C

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X