With God, All Things Are Possible

Nick Vujicic‘s life is a testimony to a lot of things, including the love of God and what must be incredible parents. Of course, none of that would matter without the spirit of the man himself.

Watch and be blessed.

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It’s About Self-Respect

Trollop fashions are the antithesis of self-respect for young girls. It’s particularly significant that we push this stuff on even very young girls, including pre-schoolers. Every time I see an ad for a tv show about beauty pageants for girls under ten, I cringe.

This video approaches the issue from a different angle. I’m interested to see what your reactions to it will be.

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Pope Consecrates the World to Our Lord’s Mother

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Pope Francis consecrated the world to the care of our Lord’s mother today.

I remember that Pope John Paul II consecrated Russia to Our Lady, and the impossible happened. Russia quit the Communist fight without firing a shot.

No one in the secular world has ever acknowledged the miraculous nature of what happened. Instead, they try to explain it in terms of economics and such. In truth, it was unprecedented, and economics do not explain it. Nothing, except the miraculous intervention of Our Lady could have ended the Cold War so suddenly and peacefully.

So, my reaction to Pope Francis’ action today is that I hope Our Lady leads this world out of its self-made hells in the same way. This world needs a miracle.

You can read the Holy Father’s homily here.

This is the full text of Pope Francis’ prayer by which he consecrated the world to Our Lady today. I pray my personal prayer of consecration to Our Lady almost every morning. If you have made a similar consecration, today would be a good day to renew it.

From Zenit:

Holy Mary Virgin of Fatima,

with renewed gratitude for your maternal presence

we join our voice to that of all the generations

who call you blessed.

We celebrate in you the works of God,

who never tires of looking down with mercy

upon humanity, afflicted with the wound of sin,

to heal it and save it.

Accept with the benevolence of a Mother

the act of consecration that we perform today with confidence,

before this image of you that is so dear to us.

We are certain that each of us is precious in your eyes

and that nothing of all that lives in our hearts is unknown to you.

We let ourselves be touched by your most sweet regard

and we welcome the consoling caress of your smile.

Hold our life in your arms:

bless and strengthen every desire for good;

revive and nourish faith;

sustain and enlighten hope;

awaken and animate charity;

guide all of us along the path of holiness.

Teach us your own preferential love

for the little and the poor,

for the excluded and the suffering,

for sinners and the downhearted:

bring everyone under your protection

and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus.

Amen.

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]

Pope Francis: Let’s Not Do Business with the Devil

Pope Francis gave another one of his wonderful homilies this week. This one is on the devil, evil and Jesus’ triumph over both of them.

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Divorce, Catholic Divorce and Following Christ as Counter-Cultural Living

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Divorce is one of the plagues of modern America. It is the root cause of much of the misery of our modern life. The damage it does to our children and their children and their children’s children is incalculable. It is almost as if we have visited a social plague of Biblical proportions on ourselves with our disregard for marriage, home and family.

And we do disregard these things.

Social policy, especially as it pertains to how business activities are regulated, do not ever seem to consider the good the family. If you want to see what people really care about, look at what they serve. Judged by that standard, American government — and the American people as well — consistently put the Almighty dollar ahead of families, including, or perhaps most especially, children.

Divorce is a cause and a symptom of these values, as well as a result of them. In this way, we have created a divorce cycle that feeds on itself and appears to be endangering the survival of the institution of Holy Matrimony in the larger society. If we are heading toward a society where only certain groups of people maintain stable homes and families, there is no better place for one of those groups to form than among faithful Catholics.

It appears that the foundation for this sort of thing may already be in place.

According to a recent study by the Applied Research Apostolate at Georgetown University, Catholics divorce. In fact, Catholics divorce a lot. But compared to those other guys and gals out there, Catholics don’t divorce so much.

I suppose it’s a relief to learn that we’re not as prone as non-Catholics to steer our marriages — and our lives and our children’s lives — onto the rocks. In fact, I know it’s good news. The study shows that 28% of Catholics have been divorced at some time in their lives. I am assuming that this includes people who converted to Catholicism after they were divorced. If that’s true, the numbers for cradle Catholics might be even lower. Catholics who are married to other Catholics divorce at the slightly lower rate of 27%, so there may be something to that notion.

Protestants divorce at a rate of 39%, other faiths at 35% and people of no faith at 40%.

What this means is that, while we’re far from the point where we need to pop open the champagne and begin congratulating ourselves, we have a basis of solid Catholic families on which to build. Our ultimate goal should be the conversion of the larger society. But for now, I think it’s more than enough for us to look to ways to strengthen and build strong Catholic families which can raise children who will grow into productive and faithful adults.

I’ll talk about this more later, but we’re going to have to face the reality that our society is inimical to us and our values. If we want to live the true good life of stable homes that produce children who grow into equally stable adults, we face the necessity — not the choice, but the necessity — of pulling our families and our kids out of the cesspools of modern life.

We can no longer rely on the larger culture to be a safe place for our kids. And we certainly cannot rely on the larger culture to teach either us or them about what matters in life. Following Christ has always been counter-cultural. It was a scandal to the larger society from its beginning. In a very real way, we simply need to go back to our New Testament Gospel roots and live out our faith as the countercultural force it is and always has been.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- Recent studies on marriage show that while their rates of divorce are significant, U.S. Catholics are less likely to divorce than people of other religious affiliations.

“Although the Catholic ‘divorce rate’ is lower than the U.S. average it is still a daunting figure,” said the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

In a Sept. 26 blog post, the research group explained that divorce among Catholics “represents more than 11 million individuals,” many of whom “are likely in need of more outreach and ongoing ministry from the Church.”

In its article, the organization explained that different ways of tallying divorce and marriage rates create a range of different divorce figures, including the oft-quoted statistic that “half of all marriages fail.”

Looking at national surveys, “Catholics stand out with only 28 percent of the ever-married having divorced at some point,” the blog post stated, compared to more than 40 percent of those with no religious affiliation, 39 percent of Protestants and 35 percent of those of another religious faith.

Furthermore, Catholics who marry other Catholics are also less likely to divorce than Catholics married to people of other faiths.

A 2007 survey from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate estimates that only 27 percent of Catholics married to other Catholics have ever experienced divorce, compared to nearly half of Catholics married to Protestants or to spouses with no religious belief.

Hundreds Gather to Pray the Rosary for Religious Freedom

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This is one of those heartening stories that can make your day.

More than 750 people gathered October 5 in front to of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, Long Island to pray the Rosary for religious freedom. This is especially heartening after yesterday’s story about Marymount Loyola.

The event was organized by Catholics for Freedom of Religion. I am not familiar with this group, but it sounds like it might be a good example of leading from the pews.

From The National Catholic Register:

WEST ISLIP, N.Y. — Come HHS mandate or high water, hundreds of Catholics turned out in Long Island at a local hospital to pray the Rosary and protest the erosion of freedom of religion in the U.S. public square.

Despite the threat of a downpour, more than 750 registered participants gathered on Oct. 5 to pray three decades of the Rosary in front of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, on Long Island.

Organized by the non-partisan Catholics for Freedom of Religion (CFFR), the 90-minute event began with an opening prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, and then a few speakers addressed the crowd about the U.S. tradition of freedom of religion and the threat to Catholic rights and health care posed by the HHS mandate.

The U.S. Department  of Health and Human Services’ mandate requires all employers to cover the cost of contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacient drugs in their health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The U.S. Catholic bishops have objected that the federal government is forcing Catholic employers and institutions to either violate their beliefs or cease providing health care.

“Christ must not be cast out of his places of healing,” said Richard Sullivan, chairman of the board of Catholic Health Services of Long Island, in a speech to the crowd. “No faithful person, Catholic or non-Catholic believer in the dignity of humankind from conception to natural death, should be forced against his conscience to participate in, fund or facilitate activities that they may consider illicit, immoral or evil.”

Catholic Health Services of Long Island, which includes Good Samaritan Hospital where the rally was located, is also a party to legal action challenging the constitutionality of the HHS mandate.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/long-islanders-gather-for-massive-rosary-rally-for-freedom?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-11%2012:33:01#ixzz2hQcLrGBk

Oh Good Grief

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I stand corrected.

I wrote yesterday that the trustees of Marymount Loyola University — a Jesuit-run, Catholic university — voted that the school would not provide abortion coverage as part of their employee insurance plans.

I read today that while they had indeed voted to not provide abortion coverage in their employee insurance plans, they also voted to provide aide in helping employees find coverage that will pay for their abortions. I don’t know if this is in response to the threats of at least one faculty member to “consider legal action” or not.

But I do know it’s a faux following of Church teachings.

What is so almighty tough about taking a stand? Hobby Lobby did it. Organizations and institutions, both Catholic and non-Catholic, all over this country are doing it.

What makes this Catholic university so precious that it can’t stand for the sanctity of human life?

The trustees’ logic in handing down this decision says a lot:

“We acknowledge that the issue of abortion is extremely complicated and encompasses varied and competing values that often leave no one happy,” Burcham and Aikenhead stated. “Nonetheless, we believe that the right to life and dignity for every human being is a fundamental part of Catholic beliefs (all other rights flow from this primary right to life and dignity) and that this vision needs to be evidenced in LMU’s policies and procedures.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/lmu-board-splits-the-baby-on-abortion-coverage?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-9%2006:36:01#ixzz2hFDWmTGB

I know — and I mean I know full-well and from hard personal experience — just how tough it can be to take a stand for life. When people claim for themselves the right to kill other people, it does something to them. They become ruthless, focused on their ends with no regard to the means. They will do anything they can get away with to anyone who opposes them. I’ve been on the receiving end of this hate, and I can tell you, it scalds.

That is no doubt what this Catholic university faced.

It is what pro life people face all over this country.

But this Mr Wishy Meet Ms Washy decision still stinks.

It’s one of those I-don’t-believe-in-abortion-personally-but-I-won’t-impose-that-on-anyone-else politically correct word salad decisions. When a politician does it, they are pilloried. But when a Jesuit (priests) school does it, then, it’s …. what???

If this is our leadership, how can anyone expect those of us who are just pew-sitting Catholics to follow the Church? If Church institutions tuck tail and run, then who is going to stand?

Are we supposed to lead from the pews?

There are days when I feel that the Church is asking the laity to step forward and lead the charge for Christ while we also have to step around the Catholic leaders in Catholic institutions as they run past us, heading for the rear.

Telling people that you won’t directly pay for an abortion, but that you’ll be happy to call around and find someone else who will pay for it, is not taking a pro life stand.

Catholics have a right to expect greater integrity and authenticity than this from Catholic institutions and Catholics in official and quasi official Church leadership positions.

From the National Catholic Register:

The board of trustees at Loyola Marymount University has handed down a Solomonic decision in the controversy over the university’s abortion coverage that may end up leaving few happy. Although the board confirmed LMU will no longer provide health plans that cover elective abortion, the Jesuit university will help employees find alternative plans that do.

The board held an Oct. 7 meeting to discuss the decision to drop elective abortion coverage from all LMU health plans starting Jan. 1, 2014.  Board chairman Kathleen Aikenhead and LMU’s president, David Burcham, revealed that the board had ratified that decision, but stated that it would not affect coverage for “therapeutic abortions, contraception and other forms of reproductive care mandated by the state of California.”

The board also added that LMU would select a “Third Party Administrator (TPA)-managed plan” for employees seeking abortion coverage.

“The employee will be responsible for the entirety of the cost associated with this additional coverage and, thus, no LMU dollars will be used in paying for this additional coverage,” the letter from Aikenhead and Burcham stated.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/lmu-board-splits-the-baby-on-abortion-coverage?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-9%2006:36:01#ixzz2hFAYxqtk

Loyola Marymount, Pope Francis and Following the Church

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It’s interesting how people with an agenda can take anything and use it for that agenda’s purposes.

A few commenters on this blog, as well as more than a few commenters in the news media, have drawn unsupportable conclusions that Pope Francis’ comments that the Church shouldn’t focus on abortion to the exclusion of other Gospel teachings means that Catholics should be silent on the subject.

The Pope’s comments were a much-needed call to a healthy return to the full Gospel teachings of Christ. They did not abrogate 2,000 years of Christian teaching, or call Catholics to abandon the cause of the sanctity of human life. To do or say that would be tantamount to saying that the Sermon on the Mount and most of the parables, as well as the message of the cross were all a sham.

The Pope did not do that, and he is not going to do that.

Some people, have, through ignorance of Gospel teachings and reading the hypered-up press coverage, honestly drawn the wrong conclusions. Other people have made the wrong conclusions simply because it serves their purposes to do so.

I do know know which group the author of this article from the New York Times falls into.

LOS ANGELES — Not three weeks have passed since Pope Francis said the church had grown “obsessed” with abortion, declaring, “We have to find a new balance.” But on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, overlooking this city’s west side, a fight over abortion now threatens to rip the school asunder.

Trustees of the Jesuit university will decide on Monday whether to remove coverage for elective abortions from the faculty and staff health care plans. The coming vote has exposed a deep rift over just how Catholic a Catholic university should be in the 21st century … 

All I know is that the author is mistaken if he believes that the Pope’s comments in any way meant that Christians in general or Catholics in particular should abandon the fight for the protection of the sanctity of human life.

All this leads me to a smaller point, which is the main one the article is about. The trustees of Loyola Marymount, a Jesuit university in California, voted yesterday to cut abortion coverage from faculty and staff insurance.

The article I linked to above was written before the vote. By putting an inaccurate interpretation of the Holy Father’s statements in the lead of the story, the author implies that this board of trustees is somehow defying the Church by refusing to pay for abortions. The implication is that those people the article calls “religiously conservative professors and alumni,” meaning, I would guess, faculty and alumni who want this Catholic university to follow Catholic teaching, are somehow out of step with the Church.

This is absolute nonsense.

The author goes on to declare that a vote to refuse to pay for abortions will “tear the school asunder.”

If that means that some of the faculty and staff who oppose Church teaching on core issues such as the value of human life quit their cushy jobs and go elsewhere, I don’t think it would do the school anything but good. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath, waiting for them to do this.

On the other hand, if it means that some of these faculty and staff try to destroy the school with lawsuits, threats and by inciting the student rebellion, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what happens. The same kind of scorched-earth, spoiled-brattedness we see in our Congress is rife among those who hold most of the really great jobs this country offers. Their sense of entitlement is endless.

For instance, LMU Sociology professor Anna Muraco gave at least one interview before the vote even took place saying that she would “consider legal action” if the board didn’t vote the way she wanted.

According to the Cardinal Newman Society, she said,

“The fact that the university seems to be able to dabble in our healthcare sets a very dangerous precedent,” she said. “I would not be against filing some sort of legal action.”

Burcham, in an open letter, recently warned against “intellectual bullying or intimidation, whether the source be internal or external.”

According to The Argonaut, she said that the decision by the administration to drop the coverage is not in line with the Jesuit tradition of social justice telling the publication, “There cannot be social justice without reproductive (coverage).”

Muraco, who recently penned a piece on this issue for the pro-abortion rights website RH Reality Check, seemed surprised that this was an issue at all.

“If women cannot control their reproductive lives, then there is not workplace equity,” she reportedly said. “Why are we still having these conversations?”

- See more at: http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/CatholicEducationDaily/DetailsPage/tabid/102/ArticleID/2592/LMU-Professor-Opposed-to-Dropping-Abortion-Coverage-Weighs-Legal-Action.aspx#sthash.n3SkLH2H.dpuf

Presumably Professor Muraco knows that she is employed by a Catholic university and that the Catholic Church has a constant teaching going back 2,000 years opposing abortion. Yet she issues veiled threats about “intellectual bullying or intimidation” which mean who knows what, and then announces she may sue her employer for following the mandate on which the institution is based.

Why did the school hire this professor in the first place? Is there a shortage of applicants for these jobs that I haven’t heard about? One of the primary purposes of Catholic education is to provide a high quality education in a Christian atmosphere that is consistent with Catholic teaching. How would this lady, with her viewpoints, be able to contribute to that?

It sounds like Loyola Marymount is making an attempt at much-needed reform. But it also sounds like they are a lot of work to do to make that happen.

All Work for God Begins with Prayer

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I had a small discussion with one of Public Catholic’s most faithful — and interesting — readers the other day.

I had published this post calling for prayer for persecuted Christians. This particular reader said that we need to do something about this and not just pray. It made me smile when I read that because he’s right: We need to do something.

And we will.

If we pray.

Why would anyone recommend prayer in the face of this onslaught of slaughter? One reason is that the persecuted Christians themselves ask for prayer. Every time I talk to someone who lives in an area where Christians are subjected to violent persecution, I ask them how I can help them. Invariably, they ask for prayer.

Why?

You’d think they’d ask for a rocket launcher, or at least a few grenades.

Why prayer?

I think the answer is that these people are people of faith, just like us, only they no longer carry around the burden of the accoutrements of faith that weigh us down. Every person I have ever talked to who has been through violent persecution for Christ has both a strength and a gentleness that sets them apart.

The things we think are so important have been stripped away from them as they come face to face with the question that we all wonder how we would answer: Will you die for Him?

I think that once a person looks into the reality of that question, not as a hypothetical, but as an actual life or death decision that they are making, they are changed. The fires of persecution seem to burn away the chaff of people’s lives and the ones who persist and do not yield learn what sustains in time of grave peril.

I think that is why they ask for prayer.

That is one reason to pray, because the people we want to help have asked us to pray.

Another reason is because entering into this arena of Christian persecution paints our faces on the devil’s dart board. We will be assailed and attacked, slandered and maligned for speaking out for persecuted Christians. This is the natural course of things when anyone defends God’s children. We need prayer for the strength it gives us as we do this work.

The next reason to pray is because we need direction. Not only that, but we need God to raise up Christians everywhere to fight this plague of violence. We need to pray and pray and let God work.

Prayer is the key to doing God’s will. Not that He is likely to put a burning bush that is not consumed in our paths. But that prayer keeps us in contact with grace. If we want to do something about persecuted Christians — and I hope sincerely that every one who reads this does — begin with prayer. I don’t mean one Rosary or some small bit of jingoistic something you learned as a child. I mean walking with the Lord in prayer day after day after day.

Just pray and wait. If God wants active work from you, you’ll know soon enough. If, on the other hand, He wants you to be a permanent prayer warrior, do that.

I was thrilled with what the reader said that day. Excited. Because I think he’s the kind of person who actually will do something. I do not want to stifle anyone in that. I only ask that in all the doing, we pray and wait on the Lord lead us first.

All work for God begins with prayer. That’s a truth of life in Christ as I know it.

Pope Francis and the Miracle of Peace

The Roman Catholic Bishops of the Middle East and East Africa said that the pope’s efforts for peace are changing the dialogue in their countries. They call it a “miracle.”

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