Death. And What Comes After.


And what comes after.

Near death experiences happen to a lot of people. I know people who have been through near death experiences. I know that what these people say is the truth as they understand it.

What do these things mean? Well, first of all, the person did not die. They were near death, not dead. So, I think it’s safe to say that what they experienced was not death itself. At the same time, these are not just dreams or hallucinations as dreams and hallucinations usually are. There is a profound quality to what happened, and it fits with what also happens to the person afterward.

The near death experiences I know about that I feel secure in believing involve a good afterlife. However, this video contains the story of a Catholic priest who had to deal with the reality of judgement and hell. We will all stand before God one day and give an account of our lives. None of us will escape this. As the priest in the video says, the self-serving explanations we give ourselves for our actions here won’t avail us much on that day.

The video raises some of the most important questions any of us will ever have to answer. Give it a watch and see what you think.

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Lumen Fidei: Pope Francis & Pope Emeritus Benedict Co-Author Encyclical

Pope Francis is a pope of firsts. His first encyclical, which was issued today, is no exception.

Lumen Fidei, the Light of Faith, is the first encyclical in history authored by two living popes. This is because Pope Benedict XVI began the encyclical before his resignation, and Pope Francis took it up and finished it.

A pope’s first encyclical is usually taken as a harbinger of the directions he will take with his papacy, in particular the areas of the Gospel he feels called to emphasize in light of the times in which he is living. However, this encyclical, coming as it does from the minds of two popes, is more of a bridge between the two papacies.

I haven’t had time to read it yet, so I won’t try to tell you what’s in it. You can read it yourself by going here. You can also download it to any device that will allow you to download pdfs.

I’m going to print out a hard copy. When I get the time later today, I’ll sit down and read it through. I may not comment until I’ve let that digest for a while.

For now I’ll just say that the Light of Faith is the only light we can walk by in this post Christian world of ours. As for me, I have decided that means I will trust the 2,000-year-old consistent teachings of the Catholic Church to be my lamp.

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Join the Discussions of the Year of Faith

Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.

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The All-Time King-Daddy Firestarter of the Culture Wars and Texas

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They’re having a romping, stomping, Texas-sized fight down in Austin, all over efforts to pass a bill that would, among other things, ensure that abortion clinics abide by the same regulations as other out-patient surgical facilities.

How fey.

And how typical.

This is how Dr Kermit Gosnell came to be the monster that pro choice built. Fanatic nuts on the pro abortion side of the abortion debate will not abide any, and I mean any regulations of abortion clinics.

Nothing brings out the crazies like abortion. It is the all-time king-daddy firestarter of the culture wars. If you want to be called every dehumanizing ugly name in the book, just have an opinion, either way, on the issue of abortion.

Part of me is sooooo glad that it’s Texas, and not Oklahoma legislators who have their footsies in this fire. The other part of me would kind of like to get into the fight. I always hate these things, and I also always really get into them. I know. Makes me crazy. But if I wasn’t a little bit crazy, would I have voluntarily served what is now 18 years in public office? Gotta be something a little bit unusual about a person who would do that.

I wish my pro life brothers and sisters in Texas good luck and God speed. I hope they don’t get weak and run away from the fight. They need to stand strong and get the job done.

In the meantime, I ran across this two-part video of a speech Gianna Jessen made in Australia. Ms Jessen is that rarest of all people; an abortion survivor who was not subsequently killed by the abortion doc.

I think we need to hear what she has to say to refocus ourselves on what is at stake when we talk about abortion.

Gianna Jessen, Part 1

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Gianna Jessen, Part 2

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For more information on the doings in Austin, check out The Deacon’s Bench by Deacon Greg Kandra.

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Courage and the Faithful Homosexual Catholic

Jesus is a love story. It begins with His love for us, and then, as we accept Him as our Savior and begin to become conformed to His teaching, it is also about our love for Him.

Conversion begins by falling in love with Christ. Like all love stories, it’s unalloyed joy at the beginning. Jesus is gentle with those who are babes in Him. He gives a lot and doesn’t ask much. But as time goes on, the Holy Spirit leads us to a deepened awareness of our own sinfulness. We realize that we have to change.

Early in our Christian life, conversion may mean giving up some cherished little sins. It does mean backing off from the sins that were eating at us and that drove us to our knees in the first place. But there are other sins that we have either hidden from ourselves or just won’t see. Legal abortion was one of those sins for me.

I came to Christ deeply repentant over something I had done. But I had neither shame nor guilt about my years advocating for legal abortion. I thought that was a positive good, a way of saving women’s lives. No one could have been more convinced of their pro choice convictions than I was.

The interesting thing is that God didn’t confront me with this at first. It took about a year and a half before that inner voice that is the Holy Spirit began to say, “This is wrong, and you’ve got to change.”

It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was so difficult that I made a mess of it. I tried, against all reason, to hang on to the relationships and the people I had been close to in my pro choice life. I dipped and dodged, stuttered and hid, trying to be two people at once.

I spent tortured hours wondering about all the questions that people raise on this blog: What about rape victims? What about women with severe diabetes or who are undergoing cancer treatment?

It was tough, miserable and painful. I would not have made the transition so fully if God had not pushed me.

I write this to tell you why I have such sympathy for gay people who experience the same longing for the Divine that everyone else does. “You have made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” St Augustine said.

God calls homosexuals to Himself, just as He does all people. He uses them as priests and laypeople throughout His Church.

In this day and age, when so many of their friends attack the Church because it refuses to bend on matters of human sexuality, Catholic gay people often find themselves in situations similar to the one I encountered when God asked me to step out and proclaim that abortion killed a living a child.

They will lose the people they love if they go forward in a Church so many of their friends think of as the enemy. They will be challenged if they try to follow the Church’s teaching that they are called to celibate lives.

This is a hard teaching, a difficult way of living. Those who follow it with integrity of purpose are doing something heroic for Christ. Make no mistake about it: Faithful gay people who eschew the wide road of gay culture to pick up their cross and follow the narrow road of faithful Christian living are earning stars in their eternal crowns. Their reward will be great.

The Catholic Church is almost unique in that it does not condemn or revile gay people. At the same time, it does not re-write 2,000 years of Christian teaching to suit the demands of the gay rights movement. So many Churches fall into one error or the other regarding homosexuality. But the Catholic Church hews to the straight line of loving and empowering gay people, while refusing to tell them that sinful behavior is ok.

“The Church finds herself in the unhappy situation of having to say ‘no’ to things she knows are contrary to the human good,” Father Paul Check says.

The Church is charged with the care of their immortal souls. As such, it can do no less. It would be clerical malpractice of the worst sort to do anything other than tell people the truth about their sinful state.

All people, including homosexual people, need the support and comfort of human contact. We all need community, and those of us who are wounded in various ways need the community of people who are like us. Gay people need the friendships of other gay people. Christians need the friendship of other Christians.

Do you see where I’m going with this? It follows, doesn’t it, that gay Christians need the friendship and fellowship of other gay Christians. Courage, the well-named organization for Catholics who experience same-sex attraction, provides ministries, as well as opportunities to build social relationships for gay Catholics.

Courage will hold the 2013 Courage/Encourage Conference Thursday, July 25 – 28, at the University of Mary of the Lake, Munelein, IL. Cardinal Francis George will be the main celebrant for mass on Friday, July 26, at 11:30 am. Bishop John M. LeVoir will also celebrate mass.

According to Father Check, who is the national Director of Courage, the conference will feature workshops, personal testimonies, and opportunities for confession and Eucharistic adoration.

If there is not a Courage affiliate in your diocese, it might be a good idea to work toward starting one. For more information about the conference, go here.


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This is the Gospel: God. Our. Sins. Paying. Everyone. Life.


This is an extraordinary interpretation of Scripture in poetry by Dare to Share Ministries. Watch it and be blessed.

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We are Catholic


I think we can all use this one. We are Catholic, and that means we are His.

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Marriage is a Mess and Homosexuals Didn’t Do It Redux

I think we need to look to ourselves first when we consider the post Christian society we are entering.

The move to create a system of discrimination against Christians in this country is well under way in the Western world, including America. Christian business owners are being penalized and forced out of the public square by laws that do not allow any exemptions for their faith. Universities and colleges increasingly demand that Christian groups leave campus. Public figures are scolded and harassed if they mention the name Jesus.

We are going to have to chose who we will serve, and we’re going to have to do more than talk about it or make it into a political issue. If we want to follow Christ, we are going to have to follow Christ in the way we live and what we do in our own lives and families.

Before we begin to deal with the mess we are facing in the larger culture, we need to consider our own contributions to how we got here. One of those contributions is the way we have treated our own marriages and our own families. I am going to write a post soon talking about the way we have abandoned our children to the public schools and the larger culture and allowed that culture to shape their values, thinking and beliefs.

But for this day of fasting and prayer for marriage and religious freedom, I will just use a old post of mine to revisit the question of why marriage is such a mess and who is responsible. Hint: It isn’t homosexuals.

I support traditional marriage. I have a public track record and the scars to prove it.

I voted to put an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution on the ballot that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. I also authored and passed a resolution memorializing Congress to begin hearings on an amendment to the United StatesConstitution doing the same thing. That is as much as I can do to support traditional marriage from my elected position.

It’s not a complicated issue to me, and it has almost nothing to do with what marriage is not. It’s about what marriage is. What marriage is begins with the law. Marriage under the law is and should continue to be a union freely entered into by one man and one woman. But legal definitions are just the scaffolding we use to support the social structures of how we order our lives. The actual edifice, the reality of marriage as it is lived, is something much more complex and important than that legal definition can impart.

We focus our national attention on the definition of marriage under the law. We wear out our keyboards writing about it and revile one another over our positions on it. But despite the accusations and counter-accusations that season our debate, we ignore the home truths of marriage in this country today. The truth is, marriage has been a mess for quite some time. And homosexuals weren’t the ones who messed it up.

Homosexuals didn’t set off the epidemic of divorce in this country. Homosexuals didn’t create the millions of feral children who spend most of their time alone, raising themselves on video games, drugs and interactions with their peers. Homosexuals don’t cheat on our spouses. Homosexuals don’t break into our homes and yell and curse at our families. They aren’t the cause of the rising number of unwed births and the global pandemic of abortion. We did these things. Marriage is a mess and it was heterosexuals who messed it up.

We insist that the legal definition of marriage should be a union between one man and one woman. But we behave as if it says that marriage is a union between one man and one woman at a time.

I know that is tender for many people. I know that divorce cuts people in half and leaves them with broken hearts and shattered lives. I know that some marriages are so bitter, destructive and even violent that they have to end. I know that even if you want to hold the marriage together, sometimes your spouse won’t. I know all this, and it gives me pause writing about these things. I don’t want to pick at half-healed wounds and start them bleeding again.

But the truth is that serial monogamy is NOT monogamy. Serial marriage is not marriage between one man and one woman. And heterosexuals, especially Christian heterosexuals, have a responsibility before God to care for and raise their children, cherish their spouses and build enduring stable homes which can nurture a true family. Heterosexuals who have failed to do this are the root cause of most of the social problems we face today. They, not homosexuals, are the ones who have brought marriage to the sorry state it is in now.

I have a public track record of supporting traditional marriage. I’ve got the scars to prove it. But I think that supporting traditional marriage, especially traditional marriage in the Christian sense, means more than being against same-sex marriage. I think that as Christians we are required to look past what we’re against and find what we are for. It isn’t enough for Christians to be against same-sex marriage. It certainly isn’t enough to do as some have done and whip people up into a rage and then cash in on that rage to advance your political career. That is just cheap demagoguery.

Leadership, especially true Christian leadership, mandates that we don’t just get people worked up against something. We have to lead them forward to something. In the case of marriage, we should be for true Christian marriage and we should live that kind of marriage in our own lives. Christians must be FOR marriage as a loving, giving, living institution that cocoons young children in a world of stability, positive discipline and love so that they can grow up and create loving homes of their own.

The bond between husband and wife, as the Bible says, makes them “one flesh.” This doesn’t refer just, or even primarily, to the physical union of marriage. Sex, apart from this bond of love, is a physical act. But true marriage is a spiritual bond. The deep, life bond of trust and mutual dependence that is marriage nurtures everyone within its reach. Marriage creates not just family, but home. I  do not mean a building where you sleep. Christian marriage creates home that is a refuge from the coldness of modern life.

This isn’t a hypothetical for me. My home and my husband are the living sanctuaries of my life. I could not endure the pressures of being a Public Catholic and all the controversy and criticism that engenders if I wasn’t able to go to my house, shut the door, and be Home.

Marriage is the progenitor of life, family, emotional safety and abiding peace in this life. It is a sacrament, given by Our Lord, to enable us to walk through life together and not alone.

If we are going to “save marriage” in this country, we certainly do need to resist efforts to alter its legal definition. But we also need to begin living the sacramental love and fidelity of marriage with our spouses and within our homes. We need to do this because it is what God intended for us. Marriage is His blessing on our lives and through it we can become blessings to our whole society.

Frank Weathers has another take on this question here.

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The DOMA Ruling: Guessing What it Means

I could try to sugar coat today’s ruling. I could also try to minimize what I think its impact will be. However, that would not be honest. I can only write what I think. Anything else would be a lie.

We are, as Catholics, going to have to unravel today’s Supreme Court ruling a bit and absorb it. Only after we do that can we “Keep Calm and Catholic On” as some people advise.

First, we need to know what we are keeping calm about and what we are Catholicing on in the face of. Here, for what it’s worth, is my first take. I reserve the right to alter this as time goes on and I learn more. For now:

I think today’s Supreme Court ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional on the basis of equal protection is a watershed.

It tips the table over and opens the way to reorganize our society along destructive lines. While today’s ruling does not legalize gay marriage by fiat, it creates a pry-bar that will open the doorway to creating a de facto legalization in practice.

Many of the impacts of today’s ruling are going to come pretty fast. Federal institutions will change how they deal with marriage almost over night. The pressure for states to comply will also begin almost immediately.

There are far-reaching implications to federal law that tunnel their way into the corners of almost every state activity. Given that the proponents of these changes are well-funded, supported absolutely by the media and now by federal law, I believe that things are going to get increasingly dicey for anyone who wants to take a stand for traditional marriage.

We already have a number of examples, many of which I have written about extensively on this blog, of how the “right” to gay marriage quickly becomes a “right” to infringe on other’s freedoms. This ruling, with its broad-ranging basis in equal protection, will open the way to legal arguments favoring even more forceful infringements of our religious liberties.

Politically, I believe that this ruling and the movement behind it are going to create another fracture in the body politic. I will be surprised if we do not see the two political parties line up along these fault lines. Those of us who go to the polls and vote will be pushed, as we have been with abortion, to vote according to these social issues rather than other things such as the continuous cycle of wars, and the growing threat of economic bankruptcy of our nation.

If I’m wrong, and nothing changes, I’ll be only too happy — ecstatic, in fact — to say so.

I am not saying these things from a place of despair. I do not feel anything like despair. What I feel is a determination to stand for my Church and for Jesus, come what may. There is nothing that is final in this life except death itself, and even that is only final in this life. We can heal our culture, but we have to begin by healing ourselves.

This is our time, and these are our challenges.

There are a few things I’m going to ask you to do:

1. Face facts. This is our situation. So be it.

2. Pray for those who oppose us. If you do this, it will not only help them, but it will take the anger out of you and let you think clearly. It will also give you the strength and determination Christians are going to need.

3. Give yourself time to be upset. Take a few days and feel it through. Then, get over it and get back into the battle. Do not fight yesterday’s war.

4. Focus on your own family first. In particular, how are you going to protect your children from the propaganda in our culture?

Here is a brief analysis from the Maddowblog on MSNBC. I chose them because, while all of the media have become gay marriage advocates, MSNBC seems to be speaking almost directly for the leadership in this movement. As such, they give us a good look at what these activists are thinking and planning.

It will take some time to digest the significance of the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, but as MSNBC’s Adam Serwer noted

 , the “likely consequences for same-sex couples who until now have been denied legal recognition by the federal government are difficult to overstate.”

Families headed by married same-sex couples will now be recognized by the federal government as families. Servicemembers fighting for their country in far off lands will not have to worry about their spouses being denied benefits. The same-sex spouses of Americans who are not U.S. citizens will not be denied green cards on the basis that their marriages don’t count.

But there was something that NBC News’ Pete Williams said this morning that’s also worth keeping in mind. For those who can’t watch clips online:

“The interesting thing here is that the court has said that DOMA is unconstitutional as a matter of equal protection — meaning that it’s discriminatory. Now, the importance of that is, if the Supreme Court had struck it down on a narrower basis — by saying for example that the federal government doesn’t have the power to determine what a marriage is, that’s a matter for the states — that would have been a very narrow ruling.

“This is a very broad ruling. If the Supreme Court is saying here that the federal government can’t make distinctions between same-sex and opposite-sex couples in terms of what marriages the federal government will recognize, then this is an opinion that can be used by proponents of same-sex marriage to attack laws in other states.”

It can and will be used exactly that way, and for marriage-equality supporters, it suggests the DOMA ruling in U.S. v. Windsor is not only a breakthrough victory today, but it will continue to offer opportunities for further victories fairly soon.


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What Will the Supremes Do with Gay Marriage?

Tomorrow is the day that the Supreme Court is scheduled to hand down rulings that will affect how America deals with the definition of marriage for decades to come.

The legislation in question is the Federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.

The Court can do anything. It can remand the whole question back to the states. Or, it can issue a ruling of sweeping proportions similar to Roe v Wade. It can even announce that it isn’t going to rule at all.

People on both sides of the question studied the Justices’ every twitch and cough when the cases were presented earlier this year. We all wanted a crystal ball so that we wouldn’t have to endure the suspense of months of waiting before we found out which way and how far the Court was going to jump on this issue.

Tomorrow, the waiting and guessing will be over. The Court will make its ruling.

After that will come the dissecting and rejecting of whatever they rule. I am reasonably certain that no matter what the Court does on this issue, a large segment of the American population is going to be unhappy and angry about it. I am equally certain that no matter what the Court does, the debate about how we will define marriage under the law will continue.

Which leads me to the question of how we should behave tomorrow and on into the months and years ahead. Much of the debate concerning this issue has devolved into slander of people who hold opposing views. I think part of the reason why this happens is that both sides of the argument believe that their position is a moral imperative. Another part of why we behave so terribly when we discuss how to define marriage is that the temper of our times has taught us that bullying, slander, smear tactics and mud-slinging are legitimate tactics.

Instead of dealing with the issues at hand and talking about the arguments being made, we tend to try to discredit the people making the arguments.

My feeling about this is that if you are a Christian, you have a moral responsibility to forgo this kind of behavior. It does not matter what they call you, you may not slander them back. Let the other side have the low road.

We are defending home, family, life. We are defending the core institution on which Western civilization is built. We do not need to attack anyone to do that.

Also, we need to remember that homosexuals are just people. More importantly, they are children of the same God whose teachings we are trying to defend. No matter what they say or do, they are our brothers and sisters in creation. We should try to convert them, not destroy them.

The other side of public debates involving Christian values of any sort always seems to try to base their arguments on Christian bashing and degrading our faith. It can be hard to take; especially when they defame the name of Jesus. But do not reply by degrading or defaming them. Do not do it.

That does not mean that we should back away from saying the truth of things. It just means that we should forgo attacking people. We can talk about issues and even bad behavior all we want. Just don’t attack a person while we do it.

I believe that no matter how the Court rules tomorrow, the fight will go on. I also believe that no matter how the Court rules or what detours or setbacks we suffer, the victory will ultimately be ours. All we have to do is our part, and do it in a way that lets everyone who observes us know that we serve a Risen Lord.

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Media Bias, Lost Souls and Inconvenient Truths

Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I am Catholic, wrote a post that echoes one I published a few days ago discussing a Pew Research study that indicated media bias in the reporting of gay marriage.

It seems that Pew Research is not alone in its assessment that there is a media bias in favor of gay marriage. As I’ve said in the past, the media is not so much “biased” in favor of gay marriage, it is hard-selling it.

The post about the Pew study engendered a plethora of irate comments on this blog. It appears that at least some people who favor gay marriage do not want to hear anything that even tangentially disagrees with it. That seems to include statistical studies by reputable research firms that simply state what is obvious to almost everyone: The media is biased in favor of gay marriage.

The comments on that particular post rolled downhill until we had people from atheist blogs jumping over here to inform us that God is genocidal and Christians are … some of the usual Christian-bashing things they call us. I deleted quite a few comments, particularly those that said ugly things about either homosexuals or Christians. I also deleted the nasty slams at me, my family, faith and heritage because I had deleted the insulter’s previous comments, as well as the suggestions that I perform anatomically impossible sex acts.

All these angry comments came because I put up a post talking about a Pew Research study saying the press coverage of the Supreme Court hearings on gay marriage was biased.

Now Frank Weathers has jumped into the fray with one of his excellent posts. Frank, unlike me, does not suffer fools. He only allows comments that advance the Kingdom. I’ve been wondering if perhaps he’s not on to something. After all, the purpose of Public Catholic is to do exactly that: Advance the Kingdom.

So why do I continue tolerating these invidious comments? I do it in the hope that there will be an educational component in letting the Christians who read this blog — and from what I can tell, my readership tilts decidedly toward the Christian — see a bit of what’s out there.

I encounter Christians all the time who are living in a fool’s paradise about what the world is like vis a vis their faith. They live inside a circle of Oklahoma protection where they seldom encounter a flat-out Christ hater. I, on the other hand, get pummeled and attacked on my job for my faith on a regular basis. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that I almost never hear a nasty comment, lie, or name applied to me that I haven’t already heard countless times before.

I want to open the door on this reality for other Christians just a bit because I think it’s important for them to learn about it and understand it.  We are in danger of losing our freedoms and being pushed into a Christian ghetto where our thoughts, ideas and values are not allowed in open discussion. A big part of the reason why is that we are so passive about our faith.

That’s what these attacks are about. They are designed to force people of faith into silence, and then to push us all into the corners of life. Jesus specifically told us to refuse to allow that:

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit,” He told the Apostles and through them, all of us.

“He who denies me before men, I will deny before the holy angels.”

“If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, I will be ashamed of them when I come in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.”

Christians do not have the luxury of going along to get along. We must, on peril of our souls, stand for Christ. Hiding in our safe little bubbles of faith-filled people only encourages and strengthens those who attack our Lord. One thing I hope these comments show you when you read them is the sad lostness of these angry people and the totally unoriginal quality of their thinking. There is nothing to fear from their thinking, which is probably why they work so hard to overawe us with their nastiness.

I allow a good bit of the repetitive nonsense Christians bashers say onto this blog. I do it for teaching purposes, in the hope that being exposed to it here will both motivate and educate my Christian readers.

We need to know what these lost people are saying. We need to understand how their thinking works. We also need to pray for them, for they are truly and terribly lost. That perhaps is the worst of reading these comments for me. It is reading the comments of lost souls; like witnessing a terrible car wreck and seeing people trapped inside who will not let you help them get out.

Here is Frank Weathers’ take on the media bias concerning gay marriage. As usual, he says it all with wit and charm.

The Miraculous Incident of Balanced Media Coverage On Same-Sex Marriage…

This is the week when the Supreme Court will spill the beans on what will become of same-sex marriage in California, and perhaps in the entire country. Lots of folks are on pins and needles waiting for the decision that will be handed down.

Over at Get Religion, Terry Mattingly notes the stunning fact that at least one mainstream media outlet stood up recently to give voice to gay folks who are not in the camp as being for same-sex marriage.

And you thought unicorns were rare!

Would it shock you that this particular news outlet isn’t based stateside? I’ll let Terry explain, (Read the rest here.)

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