Timothy Putnam and the Weightiness of Becoming Catholic

Photo Source: Timothy Putnam, all rights reserved by Timothy Putnam.

Timothy Putnam and his wife, becoming Catholic. Photo Source: Timothy Putnam, all rights reserved by Timothy Putnam.

There is something weighty in the decision to become Catholic. Timothy Putnam

There is something weighty in the decision to become Catholic. Indeed there is. Sing it, say it, live it, my brother in Christ.

Timothy Putnam has “it.” That “it” is a genuine searching willingness to follow Jesus, even when — not if, but when — He leads us down pathways we would never have chosen on our own. It takes a bit more honesty and a lot more faith than most people are willing to commit to Jesus to stand up in front of the little g gods of this world, turn your back on them and walk away.

Faith, real faith, in the Living Christ is the key to following Him. If you don’t believe — really, truly, absolutely believe — that He is God, then you will not follow Him in this costly, unquestioning way of the Way.

Timothy Putnam follows.

He’s the best kind of follower, the only kind, that, when the bills are toted up, up yonder, matters. He’s the kind of follower who does not trim his faith to fit the world. He bases his activities in the world on his faith.

That is, indeed, a “weighty” thing. When it is coupled with the 2,000 year old teachings of the Church that Jesus founded and Peter first governed, the “weight” is the weight of a peaceful certainty that you don’t have to figure it out yourself. All you have to do is follow the path that is laid out for you in the Catechism, and that is explicated for you by the Pope.

Timothy Putnam has, like so many converts, a fresh and unalloyed love of the Church that comes from having been without it. Doing without the Catholic Church while you try to wend your way through the world can be hard going. It is the heavy slog of someone who has to make each and every decision for themselves.

Is it a sin to do this, or that, or whatnot?

We Catholics have that part easy. We can just put our foot down and slide to heaven by simply staying on the highway to heaven that is the Catholic Church.

But everything has a price. The free gift of eternal life was purchased for us by the ignominious crime of Calvary. We did our worst and God did His best and the result was our everlasting good.

The gift of following Christ has the continuous and ongoing price of being out of step with the world. There is no safe harbor for someone who does their best to follow Jesus and Him alone, no group of buddies, no political safe house where you can just do what your gang does and still follow Him.

If you try to follow Jesus, you are always going to end up an outlier. That’s just a fact.

For some folks like Timothy Putnam, it becomes even more fraught. Jesus calls a few people to step out on the ice of life and follow Him on a path the leads away from safe incomes and guaranteed benefits.

If you are single and He calls you to step out in faith into the shifting uncertainties of a ministry, then you risk a little. At most, you risk your own comfort. You alone suffer the loss of income. You alone must step through the chop of starting up, the long hours, the set-backs and the simple fact that faithful ministry does not and never will be a source of wealth.

But if you are the parents of what Timothy calls a “brood” of seven children, then stepping out is “weighty” for real.

I’ve met Tim’s family, and they are beautiful. His wife is as faithful and committed to Christ as he is. His children are intelligent, bright, inquisitive, fearless and good. Of all the things I know about Timothy Putnam, this is the best. He does not fail in his first vocation, which is to be a faithful father and husband.

He is a manly man in the for-real Christian way of being a manly man, which is to say that he loves, cherishes and cares for his family. This genuine manliness is a far cry from the tinfoil manliness of abusiveness and swaggering braggadocio that is being sold right now. One is the basis for civilization. The other is one of the roots of evil and destruction.

When Timothy Putnam and his wife made the decision to give up a job as the Director of Family and Pro Life for the Diocese of Tulsa and take up full-time ministry, it was a weighty decision. It meant giving up the benefits and security of steady employment and just following.

The result was the thoughtful, teachful blog here on Patheos, A Belief Observed. If you haven’t read it, you should give it a look. The “belief” it observes is that of a faithful Catholic father, husband and growing voice in Catholic media.

In addition to this blog and other activities, Tim hosts a great radio program called Outside the Walls.

Outside the Walls airs Saturdays at 4 pm central time, and on Sundays at 11 am central time. It’s on Breadbox Media, which has been endorsed by its local bishop for its fidelity to the Church. You can download it on iTunes, follow it on Facebook, and Twitter,  or just tune in on your computer or radio. You can also book Timothy as a speaker.

Outside the Walls  is a compendium of Church teaching, Bible study and thoughtful discussion about living Catholic in the world today. All this is put together and presented by an actual, faithful, Catholic husband and father who walks the walk.

I believe with all my heart that faithful Catholics need to support and uphold one another. Tune in and give it a listen. Then, tell you friends about it. You’ll be glad you did.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

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

Do You Forget to Pray Until You’re in Trouble? Pray Anyway.

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.” (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.)

Do you forget to pray until you’re in trouble? You’re not alone. A lot of people are like that.

Pope Francis tells us that God understands and will welcome our tough-times prayers. All we need to do is go to Him in faith.

YouTube Preview Image
Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

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

Repent, Believe in the Gospel and Walk with Christ in 2017

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4theGloryofGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4theGloryofGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

2016 was an annus horribilis.

It was also a turning point, for me personally, for Christianity in America, and for America herself.

Here’s hoping that 2017 is a better year, a year in which we take advantage of the second chance it offers us to renew our faith and our faithfulness, to go back to Jesus and away from following the little g gods of this world.

If we turn back to Him, then no matter what happens in 2017, it will be a bonum annus.

I wrote about this for the National Catholic Register. Here is part of what I said.

If there ever was a year I was glad to see kicked to the curb, 2016 was it.

I think of it as the year of cancer. It was, largely, a lost year. Thanks to the drugs and the tune-out thing of sickness, I don’t even remember big parts of it.

I remarked to a lifelong friend that my precious granddaughter was born in 2016, and one of my sons got married, giving us a wonderful new daughter. She answered that I really would have had a good year, if it hadn’t been for the cancer.

That’s a little bit like saying that if it hadn’t been for the iceberg, the Titanic would have had a great crossing. Nope. So far as I’m concerned, 2016 was the year of cancer and an execrable presidential election in which, no matter who won, We the People lost.

New Year’s Eve felt like relief to me.

Life goes on, one day falling unnoticed into the next without remark or notice. We grow up, grow old and move toward death in a seamless glide that makes the changes seem inconsequential. For our sanity, we must find ways to draw lines, to mark spots on our long passage through the years where we pause, take notice of what’s happening, and begin again.

New Years’ Day is one such place. The old year passing and the new year beginning are in reality just theoretical constructs we humans have given ourselves to aid our understanding of what our lives are about. We need places to begin again. We need second chances, new beginnings and the hope of fresh starts.

I felt relief when 2016 slid into history. It was like a load lifted. It signaled the end of the year of cancer and the beginning of a hopeful new epoch in which I can get stronger and move into whatever is left of my life without the baggage of the time just past.

It meant something to me, and it gave something to me. It gave me the promise of a new beginning, a page turned, a painful passage done and done.

That is the magic of second chances. It is the power of hopeful beginnings.

It is exactly what every Christian possesses each day they live and on into eternity. T. S. Elliot wrote that being a Christian means that we never have to say goodbye, not even when someone dies. That is true. As King David said of his dead son, “I will go to him.”

All Christians know this hope, this power of eternal life that lifts us out of the mire of our finiteness. But we sometimes lose sight of the fact that this transcendence is ours now, as we plod through our days in this world.

Christianity is the message of limitless new beginnings, of second chances for the asking. It is the hope — the Hope — of never having to say “there is nothing I can do.”

For Christians, there is no fate in which things are “written” before they’ve happened. There is no karma that comes back and bites us from our past. There are actions and consequences, and there is forgiveness and second chances. Christians never have to wallow in the ugly, sin-spotted misery of their failures from the past. They can — always — begin again in Christ. (Read the rest here.)

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

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

The Pope has Spoken and I Accept It.

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/  Aleteia

 

I’ve been standing on the sidelines, watching the hate-Pope-Francis movement tear into the fabric of the Church with destructive glee for a long time now.

I have absorbed the meaning of the venomous comments, malicious misinterpretations of what he says and deliberate destructiveness without remarking on it. I’ve been silent, hoping it would run its course and wear itself out, that the obsessed people who are focusing their internal rage on Pope Francis would find another target.

But that is not happening. In fact, the disrespect and hatred directed toward the Holy Father appear to be growing. It is even overtaking Catholics who normally are more rational.

This began as the usual projections of angry people who are trying to deal with their mental health issues by turning a hapless public figure into the object of what they hate about themselves. It has morphed into a growing push to convince people to ignore and vilify the pope in favor of whatever bishop, priest or lay blogger lights the internal fires of self-deification that burn inside them.

Given that, I’ve decided that I need to take a public position of my own. I want, as I usually do, to make it clear where I stand. I don’t want anyone to be confused about me and my loyalties.

I am standing with the pope.

Schismatic individualism has overtaken and is destroying simple faithfulness in many quarters of our Church. Catholics of every sort are taking it on themselves to proclaim that they will not accept the authority of the pope to govern this Church.

They are justifying this outrageous behavior by vilifying Pope Francis, using what appear to be deliberate misquotes of what he has said. They juxtapose this with other misquoted teachings from earlier popes to “prove” their point. They weave tangled skeins of canon law, misquoted papal statements, footnotes and endnotes, like a spider, spinning a web to catch its prey.

The leaders of the rageful faithful movement range from cardinals who should know better, to priests who also should know better, to bloggers looking for something inflammatory to say that will spin their view meters. The wayward cardinals and priests enjoy a kind of tribal adoration from the pope-haters.

In this upside down world, criticizing one of them results in a wave of insults and claims that the person who did the criticizing is a every kind of lowlife imaginable. This is usually followed with attempts to silence the person by attempting to get their publisher to fire them or stop publishing their work. All this is done in the name of “protecting” the Church.

The core problem here, is, as the core problem with human failings always is, a matter of sin. In our society today, slander, lying and amorality are as acceptable to most professional Christians as they are to nihilists, atheists and satanists. It just depends on who is doing it.

Atheists, nihilists, satanists and professional Christians alike loudly proclaim that what they are doing is righteousness. They are equally committed to the idea that anyone who disagrees with them is subhuman trash that they can treat any way they want.

The sole difference seems to be that when professional Christians paste a bandaid of pious self-righteousness over the oozing slime of sin and proclaim that it is, in fact righteousness, they choose a bandaid that quotes canon law or Scripture. That way, they “prove” that what they are doing is of Christ.

I have been convinced for a very long time that satan is active in our society in a way that he never dared to be in years past. Time was, satan triumphed by convincing people that he didn’t exist. Now, he’s taking off his mask and coming right out front in satanic masses and satan worshipping.

At the same time, he has, it seems to me, taken over our public discourse. There is no sin which is unacceptable to professional Christians if it is committed by someone they want to support. The election just past proved that rather decisively.

We kicked God to the curb in the name of God.

It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the newest object of hatred and vilification is Pope Francis. After all, who else has the authority, the moral and prophetic voice, to speak against an utterly amoral, the-biggest-and-the-meanest-make-all-the-rules zeitgeist? Who else besides the pope can correct this plunge into the pit by a whole society?

There is no one except the pope who can do this.

The pope is, as he has always been, satan’s great nemesis. He is the Vicar of Christ. He is Peter.

A good deal of the anger I’ve seen directed at Pope Francis is the anger of people who have been called on their sins which they have no intention of giving up. When Pope Francis speaks of the poor, the disenfranchised the littlest of these, he gets hit and hit hard by those whose real god is their politics.

These people have conflated Jesus Christ with their politics for so long, they have fallen so deeply into the sin of this idolatry, that when they hear the Gospels spoken by the Pope, they don’t change. They condemn the pope.

The latest hook to hang pope hatred on appears to be Amoris Laetitia. I was too sick to read when this was published, and, to be honest, I haven’t bothered to read it since. I think the reason I haven’t read it is because of all the crazy carrying on about it.

I opposed the notion of opening the Eucharist to people who had not been allowed to take it up until now. I wrote about it quite a bit during the synods on the family.

But I was wrong.

Here’s how I know I was wrong.

The Holy Spirit told the first Peter in a dream that the free gift of eternal life was open to all of humanity and not just the Jews. This was a revolutionary thought at the time. A lot of people, including Peter himself, had, based on their own reasoning, held the opposite opinion. But the Holy Spirit instructed Peter, and Peter instructed the faithful and that was that.

Pope Francis is Peter. He is not saying that Christ should be shut away and shared only with a special few who come to him trailing incense and wearing lace. Pope Francis is saying, like the first Peter, that Jesus in the Eucharist will be available to more of the people that He made, the people that He came to save.

That, my friends, is just as consistent with the Gospels as the prior way of doing things was. I believe that it is a new revelation for our times, an extension of the Covenant of grace.

I don’t believe this because I have had a vision or dream like Peter did. I believe it because Peter has said it.

Pope Francis is Peter. He is the fisherman.

I am a pew-sitting sinner who does not decide who may or may not partake of the Eucharist. I am simply blessed and grateful that I can go forward and encounter the Risen Lord in the Eucharist myself.

I do not have to make these decisions. I don’t even have to worry about them.

All I have to do is follow Christ and Him crucified. It is not my job to determine who gets to take the Eucharist. It is my job to make sure that I don’t walk past Lazarus.

The pope has spoken, and I accept it.

If you want to find me, it will be easy. I’ll be standing with the pope.

 

 

 

Above Photo, courtesy of Aleteia

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

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

You Can Go to Hell

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

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

I wrote this post for the National Catholic Register. As soon as it went up, there was a comment saying that there were actually two Judgements, not one, and another attacking someone besides themselves — in this case, the Jesuits — for not following Church teaching.

One of the commenters remarked that there was “nothing new” in this particular post.

All I can say about that is I should hope not. What I am saying here is old. It’s is 2,000 years old. But it is just as revolutionary today as it was when it was first spoken.

Here’s the point, and it has nothing to do with other people’s sins or nit-picking over theological points. Get ready now, you aren’t going to like this one bit.

You can go to hell.

Let me say that again, so that you understand. I am not saying that someone who commits sins you don’t commit is going to hell. I’m not saying that Democrats, Republicans, abortionists, feminists, Pope Francis, the Jesuits, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are going to hell.

This is about YOU.

You, perfect as you are, can go to hell.

You can go to mass every week, toss big checks into the collection plate, participate in the walk for life and quote Canon Law like a religious F Lee Bailey. But if you do not care for the least of these, if you do not extend your hand to help suffering people, then you can go to hell.

Now, participating in pro life walks and donating to the Church with the intent of supporting Church missions that help the weak and poor (and there are many) is an indirect way to helping the least of these. That is true.

But the Pharisees that Jesus basically said were going to hell if they did not change were obsessively conscientious about doing the “right” things while they walked past suffering people on their way to the Temple. Probably worse than that, they condemned and shunned everyone who did not measure up to their remorseless rules; they even condemned Jesus for associating with “sinners.”

Don’t be like them. Don’t do the “right” thing in an angry condemnatory way. That can send you straight to hell.

How will we be judged when our life is over? Jesus said that we will be judged by how we treat other people.

He didn’t mention one word about sniping and carping over Canon Law. He didn’t say anything at all about voting right or loudly condemning people who commit sins that don’t tempt us. He said that we would be judged based on how we treat people who can’t fight back, how we minister to those in need, how we reach out to people who are on the fringes, who are judged by society to be dirty, lost, condemned.

Far from giving us leave to condemn those who differ from us, He said that we would be judged on whether or not we reach out to those who have been condemned, many of them justly so. That’s what it means when He said “I was in prison and you visited me.”

We can not leave one person alone, lost and despised.

That is a tall order. There is no one of us, including me, who can fulfill it. That is why we need a savior. Jesus didn’t just give us a new, impossible, set of commandments. He didn’t just show up and set the bar so high that no one could possible manage to get to heaven.

He came to give us a way out.

And that way out is the Cross. We enter into the New Covenant of love and salvation by way of the Cross. Jesus is the Way, and the Cross is the door.

We have a way out of our sins, and that is repentance and turning to follow Him with all our hearts. The Church offers confession to cleanse us, the Eucharist to feed us, and clear, simple teachings to guide us.

But the bottom line is that we are, each of us, rapidly speeding toward that moment when our personal end of time arrives and we stand before the Lord. And we will be judged according to the teachings I quote in this post.

I’m going to be writing quite a bit about basic things. This election and the lack of teaching from our religious leaders has destroyed the concept of pubic morality. It has placed all of politics and thus our national thinking, in a morality free zone.

We need to understand that this is an illusion. There is no morality free zone. There is only following Christ or following the devil.

From the National Catholic Register:

Our Holy Father spoke about the end times during his Angelus on the first Sunday of Advent. We all — believer and unbeliever — know that there will be an end. The end of all things rims our lives like a horizon all our days.

The truth is, we don’t need to worry overmuch about the ultimate “end times.” We are all rushing headlong to our own, personal “end time” every single day we live.

When we die, we will be at our own end of days, our end time. The things we have done will be writ and cannot be erased. This simple fact gives perspective to our here and now.

Pope Francis reminded us that the material things, what Wordsworth called “getting and spending” don’t matter all that much when we are forced to consider the ultimate toting up of our lives. When we stand before God, what will matter is the hour we spent visiting a lonely person in a nursing home, stood by a rape victim, helped an unwed mother find ways to keep her job or continue school during her pregnancy, or reached out in forgiveness to someone who had hurt us.

It won’t matter what kind of car we drove or if we got that big job. It certainly won’t help us on that day if we spent much of our time in this life doing things — even little things — that hurt and humiliated other people, or worst of all, drove them away from Jesus.

What will matter is whether or not we loved Jesus and other people. God is love, and our love, faith and hope are all that go with us into eternity. Those who love much are rich with the only lucre that saves, both now and in our ever after.

There are no foreigners, no rich and famous, no impoverished and unknown, no powerful and mighty, when we stand before the cross. We are all one nation, one family, of fallen souls, equal in our abject dependence on the broken Son of Man hanging there.

Here is what Jesus Himself told us about the Judgement we will face.

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

That is Jesus Christ the Lord, God made human, telling us directly and explicitly how we will be judged when we stand before God.

I have three simple questions to ask you.

One: Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God?

Two: Do you believe that He said this?

Three: Do you believe He meant it?

If your answer to those three questions is yes, yes and yes, then there aren’t any more questions. You  know how you should live and what you should do.

 

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

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

Bishop Anthony Taylor Says It All

Photo Source: Arkansas Diocese

Photo Source: Arkansas Diocese

Bishop Anthony Taylor, the Bishop of Arkansas, wrote a letter to his flock that I think we all should read.

I knew Bishop Taylor back when he was Father Taylor here in Oklahoma City. He stood in press conferences beside me when I demanded that the House leadership allow a vote on pro life legislation. He was a powerful support for the Day of Prayer to End Violence Against Women. He was a signatory of a letter signed by the priests of our priest council saying they would go to jail rather than deny services to hispanic people.

This last was in response to one of Oklahoma’s own Jim Crow Against Hispanics laws — which I opposed with every ounce of energy I had — that were passed in a move to demagogue against Hispanics/illegal immigrants. Among other things, this particular law made it a crime to aid such people in any way, including helping them in desperate situations such as accidents.

I was proud to be Catholic when the priest council of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City unanimously signed a letter saying that they would be priests for everyone, and were willing to go to jail, if that was necessary, rather than fail as shepherds. Father Anthony Taylor signed that letter.

One of his first acts as Bishop of Arkansas was to write a powerful pastoral letter on immigration. Now, he’s written a letter to his flock that I think everyone should read.

Bishop Taylor’s letter directly addresses some of the things that hispanic friends have said to me; that this election was a repudiation of them as human beings, and that they can not see how people they know and have trusted could do this. As one man said, “I don’t know the people I’ve known for so many years.” Only a bishop who understands the heart of beleaguered people could write with this sensitivity.

I am particularly grateful to Bishop Taylor for including a statement about the misogynist attacks on women that were a hallmark of the President Elect Trump’s campaign rhetoric. I know that there are a lot of women who feel very much as many hispanic people do; that the acceptance of the hate-language aimed at them by our President Elect is a repudiation of them as people and human beings. It is particularly scalding for Christian women such as myself when their religious leaders turn a deaf ear to such vicious and degrading attacks on the female.

I was disappointed that the recent conference of bishops did not choose to address the sins of misogyny and sexual assault as a group. I hope that other bishops will at least attempt to remedy this on a one-to-one basis in their own dioceses.

Here is the letter.

Bishop addresses presidential election

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor released the following statement to the people of the Diocese of Little Rock regarding the 2016 presidential election on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.

En Español

Many of us have experienced the recent presidential election as a mixed blessing. We are relieved that President-elect Trump opposes abortion and plans to nominate anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court. Indeed, many people voted for him for that very reason. But we are also dismayed by his divisive rhetoric.

The purpose of this letter is to remind all of us that this election has not changed the mission of the Church in Arkansas. We believe in the right to life and the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death and at every stage in between.

Particularly painful was the treatment of women and Hispanics during this campaign. Pro-life is more than just anti-abortion. Pro-life includes respect for women, a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, and in the present context respect for the rights of immigrants and the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

First, I would like to reassure our Hispanic parishioners that while much of the campaign rhetoric was disrespectful and indeed openly hostile, you should realize that most Americans harbor no ill will against you and might have voted differently except for the issue of abortion or perceptions about the economy.

True, some people voted with hostile intent and the Church calls such people to set aside their fears and open their hearts to welcome you.

Others focused on your undocumented status and based their vote on what, from a Catholic perspective, is an excessively narrow concept of the rule of law, but with no real hatred against you. My message to you today is to trust in the Lord, who will continue to protect us and guide us going forward, if we will just listen to him.

Second, I would like to invite all of us to redouble our efforts to make our parishes a place of welcome, where all of God’s children feel safe and valued. I feel proud when people tell me that their parish is a place where they truly feel at home. I would like to encourage you to continue to do all in your power to get to know your fellow parishioners and try to help them with their needs.

And since immigration has resurfaced as such a divisive matter in today’s politics, I invite you to re-read my 2008 pastoral letter on the human rights of immigrants. Eight years have gone by, but nothing has really changed … and I might add, Church teaching hasn’t changed either. It is very important that you be truly informed as our nation deals with this issue going forward.

I am grateful that we will soon have a president who has promised to name Supreme Court justices who are opposed to abortion. Let us support President-elect Trump in this matter and other areas where his efforts promise to benefit the common good. And let us be the voice of the voiceless in areas where our advocacy can make a difference, especially in the lives of the poor and vulnerable among us.

Sincerely in Christ,
+Anthony B. Taylor
Bishop of Little Rock

– See more at: http://www.dolr.org/article/bishop-addresses-presidential-election-results#sthash.VcKvMRQY.dpuf

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

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

Guess Who’s Coming to Our Election!!

Photo Source: Fllckr Creative Commons by Jedimentat44 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jedimentat/

Photo Source: Fllckr Creative Commons by Jedimentat44 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jedimentat/

The American electorate has, in its concentration on the bread and circuses behavior of the two presidential the candidates and the press, pretty much ignored the single most important happening of this election campaign.

That happening is unprecedented in American history. It is also a clear and present danger to our democracy. It raises the specter of treason on the level of Benedict Arnold and a serious threat to the sovereignty of our nation and our freedoms.

The happening I am referring to is the on-going Russian interference in our election process.

I know that the behavior of the candidates, the press and most of our religious leaders would lead anyone to believe that what we are engaged in is an episode of Jerry Springer, but that is a reflection on them, not the business of a free people, choosing their government. Elections are sacred. They are the hallmark of what we are as a people and as a nation.

Elections, when viewed through the prism of direct Russian interference in the process, are as important as the soil on which we stand. This interference is an invasion of sorts, an attempt to seize control of our government and thus of our country. It is as hostile as a military invasion and has the potential to be just as destructive.

Yet We the People ignore it in favor of whatever endless dribble comes from the talking heads on whichever 24-hour news station happens to most closely reflect what we think. We are more focused on a sexting pervert’s latest outrage than we are on a direct and obvious threat to our nation that is as real as a military invasion.

There appears to be little doubt that Russia is behind the hacking of one of the political parties’ headquarters. There also appears to be little doubt that they have “probed” state election boards around the country.

Do you understand that?

A foreign power has interfered in our election in order to attempt to determine who wins. The same foreign power has been “probing” election boards in the various states in a run-up to the election. What are they going do with this ability to hack inside state election boards?

I understand that We the People have been battered into a kind of emotional and mental breakdown by the constant driving and flogging we have been subjected to by the various power brokers in this country. I also understand that supporters of these candidates have been attacked and belittled for doing what is their clear right: Choosing a candidate they believe best reflects their views and supporting that candidate.

I am absolutely appalled by the press characterizations of the people who support Mr Trump as crazy and stupid. They are neither. They are people who have just grievances which have been ignored for far too long.

They are people who have repeatedly overturned Congress from one party to the other, and who have seen that, no matter how they vote, nothing changes. They are the Americans who have paid the price for trendy social and economic tinkering. Many of them are supporting Mr Trump because they see him as the only hope they have of defending their deeply held beliefs in the sanctity of human life and our First Amendment Freedoms.

On the other hand, I am equally appalled by other characterizations of people who support Secretary Clinton as immoral monsters. They are not.

They are people, many of whom have been rejected and battered by our religious establishments to the point that they feel that God hates them. Almost all of them could be converted if we tried to do that instead of confining our interactions with them to fervently damning them to hell. Many of them are supporting Secretary Clinton, despite profound disagreements with her, for the sole reason that they see Mr Trump as a dangerous, possibly unhinged, demagogue whose election would represent a profound threat to the future of this nation.

I am equally appalled by the vacuous excuse for religious leadership we have been given in this campaign. These two candidates provide teachable moments on every single one of the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. Instead of exercising their responsibility to teach and lead us in moral matters, most of our religious leaders have ham-handedly tried to use their severely tattered moral voice to drive the vote toward whatever candidate they favor. Instead of leading us through the deep waters, they have put their hands on the back of our heads and held us under.

All of this has contributed to the inability of We the People to sort the wheat from the chaff among the unending dirty, dirtier, dirtier-still revelations of this campaign. This campaign has not been a race to the bottom. It has been the bottom, and, due to the outrageous lack of religious leadership, Christians are wallowing there along with everyone else.

This situation is why we have been battered and bamboozled to the point that we overlook and ignore a threat as serious to our nation as the blatant and on-going actions of Russia to take control of our country by affecting the election. But ignoring it only makes it more likely to happen.

People don’t get bit by the snake they see. It is the snake that lies in the weeds unnoticed that injects its poison and kills.

We are ignoring a real and present danger to our nation. It is time we stopped flipping and flapping on the stuff and nonsense fed to us by talking heads and took the reigns of our own consciousness into our own hands. We need to stop this free-fall into blithering idiocy ourselves.

No one is going to help us. No one is going to lead us through to calm and centered thinking.

We must, each one of us on our own, do it ourselves.

I have said before and I will continue to say that following Christ is choosing sanity. The minute you take your eyes off the idols of this world and focus on Him, the fog begins to clear. We are not pawns of an outrageous fate that we cannot control. We are not little nothings that make up percentage points in polling. We are not bound to serve the whim of power brokers who own just about every word we hear and read.

We are eternal souls, made in the Likeness and Image of the living God. We are Americans who have the power to actually chose our own government. We are, of all the people on this planet, the most privileged and the most free.

Choosing Christ over the cacophony of cackling and crowing charlatans who want to influence and control us for their purposes and their gain is the single most freeing thing that anyone can do. It is sanity-making in an absolute way.

Perhaps the most difficult lesson of this campaign is that we must chose Christ on our own, without the leadership of our religious leaders. They have gone off after other gods, in search of political gain. Even though they couch their words in time-worn religiosity, their leadership is political, not moral.

They have ignored the great moral chasms of this campaign. They have not addressed the massive degradation of public morality and private understanding of moral behavior that these candidates have pushed on the people of this nation.

Our religious leaders have stood by while the amorality of this campaign has drug many Christians right down into the slimy pit along with it. In fact, many of these religious leaders have joined in and become part of the offal-slinging crowd themselves.

Meanwhile, our nation itself is facing a cyber invasion that threatens the integrity of the core activity that defines us as a democracy and that ensures our freedoms: The electoral process.

If a foreign power can use computer hacking to jack-hammer itself and its interests into our elections, then we cannot remain free. This country cannot be a sovereign nation if it is taken over by foreign interference in our elections. Any candidate or person who cooperates with this is committing treason. They are throwing our Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the blood of our fallen soldiers in the dirt.

I know that I am, once again, treading on ground that will immediately get me labeled as an advocate for one or the other of these candidates. My advice to you is to get over that. The fact that the mention of treasonous alliances with foreign powers brings this election and its candidates to mind is a symptom of just how sick this campaign has become and how horrible these two candidates are.

We are bereft of leadership, sheep without shepherds, standing on the abyss of who knows what. But we can choose to back up from the abyss and use our powerful reasoning capacities to think clearly. We can chose to follow Christ and ignore the crowd. We can chose to take a fearless look at the threat we face with this Russian invasion into our electoral process. We can demand an end to the crazy talking-headism that is not news by the simple expediency of switching them off.

We can think for ourselves. We can be sane.

It begins with one simple act.

Chose Christ.

Ignore the rest.

Chose Christ.

Your mind will clear when you do that.

If enough of us do it, we just might save both ourselves and our country.

To read the joint statement of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security about Russian hacking to interfere in our election, go here.

To read about Russian “probing” of state election boards, go here and here. Notice that this is old news. I don’t know how many more state election boards have been hacked since these stories were published.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

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

Cancer has Taught Me the Cure: We Have to Follow Christ.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

I wrote this last week for the National Catholic Register.

 

I’ve been trying to find my way back into writing for quite a while. It isn’t easy.

Every time I think I’m moving forward, I fall down. I get sick again; not cancer sick, but too sick to do anything. I get colds, kidney infections, gastrointestinal thingies, then I get another cold, and so on and so forth.

Each little illness — and these things come at me like they were being fired from a repeating rifle — takes the little bit of pizazz that I’ve mustered and smashes it flat. I have to rebuild my stamina, and yes, my interest in the world outside the confines of my personal life, all over again. Then, just as I’m peeking over the rim, I get hit with another illness.

These things take me down in a way that colds and such have not in times past. I don’t remember ever missing a day’s work over a cold or a kidney infection. No matter what happened, my verve for doing kept right on keeping on. It has fueled me all my life. But cancer extinguished that verve in a deep, deep way. My focus switched to an all-out fight for my life.

In addition to wearing me down, cancer shifted the things I care about. What mattered to me, in fact all that mattered, was Jesus, my family and a few friends. Whatever verve I had left went to cuddling my granddaughter and taking my Mama out for drives.

There was a time — quite a long time — when I could do neither. In fact, there was a period of at least a couple of weeks where my memory was so drug-laden that it’s just a spotty series of scenes that I sort of remember.

I had one tough instance of runaway high blood pressure. I had daily visits from nurses for a few weeks. They were wonderful and probably saved my life when the blood pressure went wacko. The nurse caught it and went to bats with the docs that they had to do something about it. I don’t remember a lot of things, but I do remember her telling a doc “You have to act. I will not leave this patient in this condition. I don’t want a mastectomy to stroke out on me.”

The odd part of that memory is that a friend of mine was Rebecca-sitting during this whole event. She came to my house each morning as my husband was leaving for work and stayed with me all day. I remember we watched movies and that she helped me strip drains and such.

Later, when I was trying to remember the big mess with the blood pressure, I asked her, “Were you there when that happened?” She smiled and said, “Yes, I was.”

Another time, I was telling her about how heavy my Kirby vacuum cleaner is and bragging that I had been able, for the first time in a long time, to vacuum my living room floor. She smiled and said, “I used that vacuum to clean your house when I was taking care of you.” I have no memory of that.

There’s a lot I don’t remember, and a lot I do (Read the rest here.)

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

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

As the World Gets Crazier and Meaner, Follow Jesus Christ

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel R. https://www.flickr.com/photos/zonadearte/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel R. https://www.flickr.com/photos/zonadearte/

I wrote this post for the National Catholic Register a few weeks back. Since then, the United States Supreme Court has stayed action on forcing girls in public schools to go to the bathroom with boys who identify themselves as transgendered. What this means in the long run, I can’t predict. I will say that unless we convert the culture, we are ultimately doomed to fail in the courts and legislatures.

 

Peoples is crazy. And they are getting crazier.

They are also getting meaner. And more deadly.

California’s euthanasia law locked on recently, allowing medical murder. The support for this law comes from claims that killing people is actually a kindness to them, and those who opposed this killing lack compassion.

New York City’s Commission on Human Rights recently released a “guidance” for employers and landlords, requiring them to learn a new language or be fined $125,000 for accidentally saying the “wrong” thing, and up to $250,000 for saying the “wrong” thing on purpose.

What does it take to fall afoul of this newness in employment behavior? Well, if you accidentally refer to a man who thinks he’s woman with the pronoun “he,” ka-ching! you’re out $125,000. If you do it on purpose, the cost will be $250,000.

However, it’s even a bit more complicated than that. You can’t settle the case by just calling “him” a “her.” There is what amounts to a new, legislated, language to be learned here.

It seems that men who say they are women, or women who say they are men must be addressed by such arcane pronouns as “ze,” and “hir.” Ze is supposed to be the third person singular, while “hir” is the third person possessive.

Also, if you have a dress code that differs between men and women, requiring, say, men to wear a tie, then you’re in for another $250,000.

Employers are required to provide health benefits for “gender affirming care,” and to make “reasonable accommodations” for “individuals undergoing gender transition.”

Then, of course, there’s the bathroom dealio. It appears that women employees in NYC need to adjust to going to the bathroom with any man who decides today that he is, in fact, a woman.

Meanwhile, the United States Departments of Justice and Education have issued a joint letter to public school administrators threatening them with loss of Title IX monies if they do not require little girls to share their bathroom and shower facilities with any boy who says he’s a girl. They are also required to destroy girl’s sports by allowing any boy who says he’s a girl and who wants to play on the girl’s teams to do so.

This little list doesn’t come anywhere near compiling the craziness afoot in our fair land. We all know that the two political parties have coughed up turnips in their presidential nominating process and that Congress has abrogated its duties in what appears to be a permanent commitment to partisan rabble-rousing.

We are aware that our elected officials don’t seem to care about this country except when they are campaigning for re-election, and even then not much. Our political campaigns have devolved down to myopic discussions of nonsense that are almost as crazy as the New York employment rules.

So what are we to do? How do we combat this fall into enforced nihilism, narcissism and flat-out reality-bending from our government?

Here’s how.

We stay the course.

What does staying the course mean?

It means, first of all, that we pray. I think it would be a good thing if we all started praying the Rosary every day. I try to do that, and it helps me a lot.

Then, we read Scripture, go to Mass and go to confession.

However, do not mistake any of those things for action. They are simply putting on the armor of faith so that we can take action.

Action, in a society as fallen as this one, means two things.

Read the rest here.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

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

Pregnant and Diagnosed with Cancer

Breast Cancer Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by crazy_dame https://www.flickr.com/photos/craftydame/

Breast Cancer Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by crazy_dame https://www.flickr.com/photos/craftydame/

These videos tell the story of one young family’s fight with cancer. Mom of the family had cancer, and she was pregnant when she was diagnosed, but the entire family fought the disease, which is how it has to be. Nobody fights cancer alone. God bless husbands and wives who go through this journey with their spouses. They are doing eternity work.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image
Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

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