Kim Davis: Is This the Beginning of a Judicial Dictatorship?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Cross Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/ldcross/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Cross Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/ldcross/

This is another take on the question of judicial overstep by the judge who imprisoned Kim Davis. I wrote it for Catholic Vote.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

150904_POL_KimDavis.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2

Kim Davis, Democrat, went to jail rather than violate her Christian values. For this, she is getting hammered by those who think they own the Democratic Party and can decide who gets to be a “real” Democrat.

Donald Trump, Republican, supports sending her to jail. Meanwhile, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal has issued an order in his state protecting court clerks’ right to religious objection.

It’s all kind of a mess, isn’t it?

This jibes nicely with a comment by Robert George, who is Chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Professor George said, There really ARE two kinds of people in the world: those who will go to jail rather than do what’s wrong and those who will send them there.  

In addition to being willing to send people to jail, Mr. Trump appears to also be willing to demolish the separation of powers that keeps us free.

That’s a huge problem with this whole scenario that most people are overlooking. Mrs. Davis is not an administrative appointee. She is not an at-will employee. She is a duly elected official who holds her office by the direct will of the people. Let me clarify what that means: Her authority comes from the people. Courts do not have the power to imprison elected officials based on how they perform their elected duties.

 

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We Can Convert this Culture. The Only Thing Lacking is Leadership.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle https://www.flickr.com/photos/84593672@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle https://www.flickr.com/photos/84593672@N05/

We can convert this culture. The only thing lacking is leadership.

That’s my take in a post I wrote for the National Catholic Register on two of the most recent polls about the Catholic Church in America today.

Here’s part of what I said:

… The trouble with “opinion” polls is that interpretation of the results rests in the hands of the interpreters. That’s why a recent poll that indicated that fully 90% of Catholics approve of the Pope, and a whopping 89% of Catholics also approve of their Church, received a headline from the Washington Post announcing that “The vast majority of US Catholics who left the Church can’t imagine returning.”

Their bias is showing.

I spent my entire legislative life looking at polls like this and then doing what I thought was best, despite the poll. I knew that poll results were indicators, not hard thinking. In the final analysis, polls didn’t matter. What mattered was whether or not I could communicate my vision to the people I represented. To put it another way, what mattered was whether or not I could exercise leadership.

I look at the same polls that Catholic bashers mine for nuggets to throw at the Church, and I see attitudes, situations and off-the-cuff reactions to disparate realities. I also see enormous opportunity for conversion of this culture.

The poll I cited earlier was a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. Pew Research Center released another, slightly different, poll showing much the same results. The emphasis of the poll by the Public Religion Institute was the impact that the so-called “Francis Effect” was having on American Catholics. The Pew Research poll was mostly focused on Catholic attitudes about family.

It’s impossible to create parallels between the two polls because their respective definitions of “Catholic” are so different from one another. The Pew Research poll opens the spigot wide, noting that up to 45% of the American population is in some way “connected” to the Catholic Church.

The poll also reveals that 90% of American Catholics believe that the best family situation for raising children is “a household headed by a married mother and father.” I’m not sure what slice of their sampling they used to get this number. Was it everyone they consider Catholic? Or was it just regular Mass-going Catholics?

Pew Research basically defines anyone as a Catholic who says they are Catholic. This includes people who haven’t been inside a Catholic Church in decades right alongside those who attend daily Mass.

But whatever sampling they used, that is a powerful percentage.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/discerning-the-thirst-for-god-in-the-latest-pew-survey/#ixzz3lFv6tPQw

 

 

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Pope Changes Annulment Process. What Does it Mean?

Sometimes, it's obvious that there was no sacramental marriage. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keith https://www.flickr.com/photos/outofideas/

Sometimes, it’s obvious that there was no sacramental marriage. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keith https://www.flickr.com/photos/outofideas/

My ignorance of canon law is showing.

Pope Francis issued two Apostolic letters, which are edicts affecting the entire Church this morning. These letters reform the process by which members of the laity — and those wishing to enter the Church who have  marital baggage from the pasts — can obtain an annulment.

I have questions out to canonists so that I can give you a more exact and accurate understanding of exactly what the Holy Father did, but there are a few things I can say, just from reading the documents. One critical reform that he has instituted is that the process of obtaining an annulment should be offered to the faithful without charge.

The diocese in which I live does not charge for annulments. That is the way it should be, everywhere. The reason I feel so strongly about this is that a complex marital arrangement can block people from entering the Church, and it can also keep them from taking Communion. That makes the annulment process a roadblock to Jesus. There should never have been a charge for someone seeking to partake of the Body and Blood of Our Savior.

If I understand what I read correctly, the Pope has put the annulment process in the hands of the local bishop, who has been given the option of appointing one person to act on his behalf in this matter. Pope Francis calls this person “a single judge under the responsibly of the Bishop.” One of the things I need to learn more about is how this would affect the existing tribunals.

The important point is a bit further down when the document states clearly “the bishop is judge.” I interpret that to mean that the local bishop is the first voice of appeal if there is disagreement about his designee’s decisions. It also means that the bishop is always directly responsible for the annulment process in his diocese.

The letters says that “a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed — in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use.” This simplified process “is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of martial nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments.” I interpret this to mean that this shorter process is for cases cases in which the facts say on their face that the marriage was not a sacramental marriage. That would probably include things such as common law marriage, forced marriage, child marriage, or marriages performed by atheists/pagans/justices of the peace/ship’s captains, etc.

As I said, I’ve asked people who are Canonists to help me understand what these changes will mean to the people in the pews. My guess is that these new rules will be abused by some, but will also help many people who are shut away from the sacraments by a past they cannot change. I think they will also remove what has been unmovable barriers to people who have messy marital pasts and who have converted and changed and are now following the call of Christ to enter the Catholic Church. I personally know people whose conversion to the Catholic church was blocked by their inability to fill out the paperwork required by the current process.

Marriage is a vastly important commitment. When you marry, you chose this one person as your life’s partner. You will create other people with them, people that are part of each of you, but are uniquely themselves. Your spouse is the one who stands beside you in life’s trials, the one who shares your future.

We have degraded and damaged marriage to the point that family itself has lost its meaning to many people. In many ways, these changes in the annulment process are a recognition of the fact that Western society has fallen into such deep and widespread marital sin that the necessity of reconversion means that we must accommodate these things in order to bring the converted to Christ.

Western society has fallen into depravity that has become the norm. But the message of the Gospels is unchanged. That message is simple and straight foward: Jesus Christ the Way to eternal life.  Not only that, but there is no sin we can commit that is greater than His forgiveness.

That’s what I think these changes are about. They are a way to telling people that no matter what kind of mess they’ve made of things, nothing they’ve done is greater than Christ’s mercy.

Here, from Vatican Radio, is the summary of the Apostolic Letters Pope Francis issued today:

  1. That there be only one sentence in favor of executive nullity – It appeared opportune, in the first place, that there no longer be required a twofold decision in favor of marital nullity, in order that the parties be admitted to new canonically valid marriages: the moral certainty reached by the first judge according to law should be sufficient.

  2. A single judge under the responsibility of the Bishop – The constitution of a single judge in the first instance, who shall always be a cleric, is placed under the responsibility of the Bishop, who, in the pastoral exercise of his own proper judicial power shall guarantee that no laxity be indulged in this matter.

  3. The Bishop is judge – In order that the teaching of the II Vatican Council be finally translated into practice in an area of great importance, the decision was made to make evident the fact that the Bishop is, in his Church – of which he is constituted pastor and head – is by that same constitution judge among the faithful entrusted to him. It is desired that, in Dioceses both great and small, the Bishop himself should offer a sign of the conversion of ecclesiastical structures, and not leave the judicial function completely delegated to the offices of the diocesan curia, as far as matters pertaining to marriage are concerned.

  4. Increased brevity in the legal process – In fact, beyond making the marriage annulment process more agile, a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed – in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use – which is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of marital nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments. In any case, the extent to which an abbreviated process of judgment might put the principle of the indissolubility of marriage at risk, did not escape me [writes Pope Francis – ed.]: thus, I have desired that, in such cases the Bishop himself shall be constituted judge, who, by force of his pastoral office is with Peter the greatest guarantor of Catholic unity in faith and in discipline.

  5. Appeal to the Metropolitcan See – It is fitting that the appeal to the Metropolitan See be re-introduced, since that office of headship of an Ecclesiastical province, stably in place through the centuries, is a distinctive sign of the synodality of the Church.

  6. The proper role of the Bishops’ Conferences – The Bishops’ Conferences, which must be driven above all by the anxious apostolic desire to reach the far-off faithful, should formally recognize the duty to share the aforesaid conversion, and respect absolutely the right of the Bishops to organize judicial power each within his own particular Church.

 

 

Deacon Greg offers an excellent news summary of the letters here.

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Four Presidential Candidates Sign Pledge Promising to Defend Marriage

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

Four presidential candidates have signed the Presidential Pledge for Marriage that is being promoted by the National Organization for Marriage. The four signatories are Senator Ted Cruz, former Senator Rick Santorum, Dr Ben Carson and Governor Bobby Jindal.

Governor Mike Huckabee, Govern Scott Walker and Senator Lindsey Graham have announced that they will not be signing any pledges.

Most candidates have not responded to requests to sign the pledge. Those not responding are: Governors Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Former Governor Jim Gilmore, Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, private citizens Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump.

The National Organization for Marriage makes no mention of the Democratic candidates for president. Even though all of the big name contenders that I know about have not only made public statements in support to gay marriage, but appear to be vying with one as to who can support it the most vehemently, I think this is a mistake. I’ve always operated by giving everyone an equal chance to refuse.

This is the text of the pledge:

The Presidential Marriage Pledge

I, _____________ _____________, pledge to the American people that if elected President, I will:

One, support a federal constitutional amendment that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Two, oppose and work to overturn any Supreme Court decision that illegitimately finds a constitutional “right” to the redefinition of marriage. This includes nominating to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, and appointing an attorney general similarly committed.

Three, conduct a review of regulatory, administrative and executive actions taken by the current Administration that have the effect of undermining marriage and work to restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Consistent with this, prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.

Four, support the First Amendment Defense Act and other legislation that recognizes the right of organizations and individuals to act in the public square consistent with their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman without fear of retaliation from the government.

Five, direct the Department of Justice to investigate, document and publicize cases of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.

There is also a People’s Marriage Pledge. You can go here to sign it. This is the text of the People’s Marriage Pledge.

The People’s Marriage Pledge

I pledge that I will only support a candidate for President of the United States who has pledged to take specific actions to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. This includes:

•Supporting a federal marriage amendment protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

•Opposing and working to overturn any Supreme Court ruling that illegitimately finds a constitutional “right” to redefine marriage.

•Nominating to the US Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, and appointing an attorney general similarly committed.

•Conducting a review of regulatory, administrative and executive actions taken by the Obama Administration that have the effect of undermining marriage and work to restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Consistent with this, prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.

•Supporting federal legislation that recognizes the right of organizations and individuals to act in the public square consistent with their beliefs about marriage without fear of retaliation from the federal government.

•Directing the Department of Justice to investigate, document and publicize cases of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.

I also pledge to support only those candidates for federal office who have taken positions consistent with the above policies.

I’m going to withhold my thinking on the whole question of pledges and opinion polls for a while. I’ll probably talk more about it later.

For now, it’s important to see that of the entire field of candidates in both parties, only four were willing to sign the pledge. While the Ds have taken a strong stand in favor of gay marriage, several of the Rs have waffled on the topic. These four do not appear to be waffling at all.

Read the pledge, think this whole process through, and tell me what you think. We’re going to be dealing with this issue for a long time. We need to consider our overall goals and strategies going forward.

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Don’t Go to Battle for Christ Before You Go to Spiritual Boot Camp

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/

Make no mistake about it: The culture wars are going to get hot and hotter.

The recent revelations about Planned Parenthood dialed up the heat. The president’s response (which I’m going to write about next week) tossed dynamite onto the burner. This is going to get ugly.

Another shooting adds a new line to the column of proof that our society is deconstructing. Wishy washy responses about the gay marriage decision from some of our religious leaders leaves those of us in the pews wondering just how authentic they are, and agitation from the atheist-backed satanists lets us know that old scratch is getting less and less afraid of showing his face.

We are the soldiers in a war, my friends. We are the Lord’s army.

How does a Christian get ready for battle?

I took a few moments from my conventioneering this week to write a prescription for would-be pro life warriors for the National Catholic Register.  Here’s a taste of what I said. Go here to read the rest.

May the meditations of my heart
and the words of my mouth
be pleasing in Your sight,
oh Lord, my God and my Redeemer.
—King David 

I was all set to write a post that would get right down to the nitty and the gritty of hardball, pro-life politics. I’m still going to do that. But not today.

I try to pray the prayer above, which is an old, old prayer from the Psalms, before every speech I make, and before I put my fingers on the keyboard to begin writing. Sometimes, I get caught up in the moment and just start writing without praying. Those are the times when I have to go back and say, I’m sorry, I was wrong, I apologize.

Because, you see, without God putting a brake on my inner jerk, I give vent to that inner jerk. Me without the Holy Spirit, is a real mess.

Which leads me to today’s post. I prayed before I sat down to write this, and when I prayed, I was reminded that the real nitty and gritty of pro-life politics begins before the tactics and the ways to fight the fight in a technical sense.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/ask-the-holy-spirit-to-put-your-through-spiritual-bootcamp/#ixzz3goSiu2Y2

 

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The Future of the Catholic Church is the Same as Its Past

Father Stanley Rother Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved

Ok, so I’m the daughter of a mechanic, the granddaughter of a laborer who at one time dug ditches and was glad for the work on one side of my family, and a real-life horse-breaking, cattle-branding cowboy on the other.

My great-grandfathers were farmers and blacksmiths. Cherokee blood flows in my veins from a time when being Cherokee wasn’t cool.

I am working class from the soles of my dusty bare feet to the top of my frizzy hair. My generation was the first in our family to darken the doorway of an institution of higher learning, and I think we all felt considerably out of place there. Our background, the pond that spawned us, did not fit us for the many pretenses and — to us — absurdities of indirection of the intellectual world. At the same time, our education unfitted us for the world from which we came.

We were, all of us, doomed to wander through life as strangers in a strange land of social dislocation.

Patheos’ symposium on the future of the Catholic Church has some mighty fine thinkers contributing to it. All of them approach the question from an intellectual viewpoint. We have people telling us about how their ministries have informed them of the lacks in the Church’s outreach, others discuss how the future of the Church should be for gay people, or from the viewpoint of clergy.

But I don’t see anything there that even acknowledges the existence of people like me. The working class is right out in discussions of much of anything these days. The people that fight the wars, build the buildings, unstop the plumbing, lay down the roads, grow the food and keep the wiring from frying us, are invisible in almost all discussion of anything in this country, whether that be the ubiquitous “rights talk” that Mary Anne Glendon references, or, sadly, the future of the Catholic Church.

I am going to posit that the major failure of both American government and American Christianity in these past decades is the abject failure to protect, nurture and dignify the working class. It seems that every single thing we’ve done, whether it is the revision of our tax codes, our constant war-making, the destruction of the family or the la-la-la attitude of so much of our clergy, has fallen on the heads of the working class.

Make no mistake about it, our tax code is now constructed so that government is supported by the workers of this country, even while that same government exports jobs, and degrades our public education into a method of transmitting social values that are anathema to the survival of working class social structure and values. At the same time, our religious leaders, both of the right and the left, have gone off chasing after the whiff of close contact with the powerful and abandoned the full Gospel calls for justice and mercy.

How does this apply to the future of the Catholic Church?

It applies because of all the babbling voices of moral exhortation in our splintered and polarized society, the Catholic Church is the only one that speaks for the whole Gospel of Christ. Almost in spite of her clergy, the Catholic Church has refused to hew either to the right or the left, but has laid claim to the calls to human dignity that are inherent in the teachings of Christ for all people. This means that the same Catholic Church which speaks for the sanctity of human life also speaks for the dignity of the worker, the right of working people to earn a living wage and labor in an environment that treats them like people, not chattel.

Instead of following demonic influences that seek to deny the Beatitudes on the one hand or the Ten Commandments on the other, the Catholic Church recognizes that they are both the same and must be equally honored.

Right now, the Catholic Church in America is foundering like a horse that has gobbled down too much soft grass in the springtime. It has imbibed of the cultural riches and now many of its institutions, including its institutions of higher learning, flat-out refuse to honor Church teaching and be Catholic in a real-world way. When they are called to choose Christ or to choose Caesar, they choose Caesar.

Catholics as a whole have taken to heart the unspoken message of do-what-you-want that they frequently get from those in leadership positions in the Church who do what they want themselves. This feels like a kind of freedom to those who are doing well. But for those on the bottom side of the wheel, this moral dissolution leads to life destruction.

Working class people suffer from being disrespected by everyone from presidential candidates to the Church itself. While presidential candidates Obama and Romney both took a turn at dissing working people in private fund-raisers with rich folk, the Church disses them by ignoring them.

It is not enough to lobby for reversals in the legal shearing of working class lambs that has been taking place in government, although that is certainly salutary. It is also not enough to provide ministries of food, medical care, etc, to people who cannot afford them, although that is both necessary and wonderful.

The Church cannot simply “minister” to working class people in their physical needs and stop there. It must lead and convert the exploited and abused working class. I believe that is what Pope Francis has been saying when he tells bishops that they must get out among the people; that the church is not just another non-profit charity.

The future of the Catholic Church lies in the same place as its past. It lies in doing what Jesus directed Peter to do: Feed my lambs.

Too much of Catholic school education has become a rich kids’ privilege. It does not matter if the kids are Catholic or not. It does not matter if the teachers and officials in these schools follow Church teaching or not.

The Church needs to go back and provide Catholic education that is actually Catholic, and it needs to make sure that it is available to the people who need it most. People who are stuck holding down two or three McJobs simultaneously to support their families cannot nurture their children properly and often end up with failed marriages. Add the abominable inner city schools to this, and what you have is a recipe for one lost generation, going on to attempt to raise another generation which will be even more lost.

Meanwhile, the Church closes its parishes in the inner cities and builds both churches and schools in the rich suburbs “where the people are.” The fact is that the moving vans that trundle the vestments and hymnals from the slums to the wealthy neighborhoods are driving past tens of thousands of people who are in desperate need of the Church. They are being abandoned with the idiotic claim that they are not there.

Father Stanley Rother showed us the way, if we would but see it. We need priests who will go into the inner city and into working class neighborhoods with the same missionary fervor and loving heart that he took to Guatemala. We need a Church that ministers to working class people as if they were actual human beings. The bizarre otherness that has been imposed on them by those who are exploiting and using them has no place in a Church that follows Jesus the carpenter.

Father Rother, servant of God, is a true priest for our times. He embodies both the Church’s past and its future.

The Catholic Church is either a missionary Church, bent on conversion and mission, or it is a sacrament dispenser that has no part in the lives of its people.

I could go on and on about the plight of working people in America. I could, and I probably should, write a book about it one day.

The future of the Catholic Church in America could not possibly be brighter. This nation is imploding morally in both the social and the economic realms.  There is one answer to the anguish and misery this will create, and that answer is the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The Catholic Church is the full repository of the faith. It does not trim the Gospels to suit secular power politics. As such, it is the one institution that has the prophetic and moral voice to speak for everyone.

As Jesus said, the fields are ripe for the harvest. What the Church needs is laborers who will bring in this harvest.

I don’t think it will find them in its various ivory towers and islands of privilege.

 

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel Comes Out Against Gay Marriage

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Duncan Hull https://www.flickr.com/photos/dullhunk/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Duncan Hull https://www.flickr.com/photos/dullhunk/

Just when I thought that there were no independent thinking heads of states left in the Western world, here comes German Chancellor Angela Merkel, swimming alone and against the tide.

Her common-sense approach is to end unjust discrimination against homosexuals, but to maintain marriage as between one man and one woman. She favors allowing homosexuals to register as domestic partners.

This takes guts folks. Real guts. It’s the mark of a statesman to think for yourself and not play follow the leader.

From The Independent:

Angela Merkel has come out against gay marriage, saying that she agrees with civil partnerships but believes matrimony is just for men and women.

The German Chancellor backed equal benefits for same-sex couples, such as tax breaks, and said discrimination should be ‘eliminated’.

But the committed Christian, who has been married twice, gave her personal definition of marriage as ‘a man and a woman living together’, in a YouTube interview with Florian Mundt, a YouTube known under the alias LeFloid who has a significant online following.

“I’m someone who is very supportive of us eliminating all discrimination … ”

… Ms Merkel went on to say stress that marriage should be strictly defined as between a man and a woman, adding: “I am for registered civil partnerships. I am for our not having any discrimination in tax legislation. And wherever we still find discrimination, we will continue to dismantle it,” according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Explaining further, the German leader said: “I don’t want discrimination and [I want] equality, but I make a difference at some point.”

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10 Things You can Do to Save Your Family and Change the World

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Lars Ploughman https://www.flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Lars Ploughman https://www.flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/

I’m going to launch into the political ramifications of the Supreme Court Decision destroying marriage as a legal construct in a day or so.

But before I do, I want to make a simple point: Conversion of the culture does not begin at the ballot box or changes in the law. It ends there.

Conversion of the culture does not even begin with bringing your family and friends to Christ. That’s a mid-point.

Conversion of the culture begins with yielding your own self and your life to Christ in an absolute way. That is the beginning. Everything else — everything else — flows from that.

St Paul did not jump off his mule and start preaching. He was knocked off and into the dirt and left blind. He had to come face to face with Christ and his own sinfulness before he became the Apostle to the Gentiles.

We will not convert this culture by excoriating and condemning sinners, for the obvious reason that we are all sinners. Many of the people who are condemning gay marriage have trashed their own marriages and dumped their own children.

If they are divorced, they don’t spend time with their children, or they spitefully try to keep their children away from their former spouse. They don’t pay child support and they spend their days going over and over how they were wronged.

If they are married, they sleep around, or talk to their families like they were dirt under their feet. They harangue their children and spouses, or worse yet, they are physically violent with them. How many of the people who loudly proclaim the sanctity of marriage commit adultery? How many of them sit in front of the tv and ignore their families? How many of them ignore or even abuse their elderly parents? How many of them do not show up for school plays or be a trusted best friend when their spouse is in distress?

If we want to convert the culture, we have to begin with ourselves. It’s that simple.

Here are 10 things you can do to save your family in this family-despising, family-attacking culture of ours:

1. Go into marriage with the idea that this is your only spouse. If remarriage is off the table, divorce is not going to be such an easy option.

I know that there are times when divorce has to happen. If somebody’s beating up on somebody, if there is adultery or chemical abuse with a refusal to get help, then divorce may very well be the only door open. But divorce is a civil solution to a moral problem. What God has joined together, man can not put asunder.

Go into marriage with the knowledge that this person is your life’s partner, the only one who will walk with you through your days. That viewpoint will immediately raise your spouse’s value in your eyes. Keep that viewpoint in front of you, and remember: This person’s happiness and your happiness are bound with a life-long cord.

Hurting your spouse is hurting yourself. Never forget that.

2. Put Jesus Christ on the throne of your life and your marriage. Do not do this lightly. Prayerfully consider the option of a formal enthronement of Christ as the Head of your home. I have not done this, but my husband and I are talking about it. I have friends who have done it, and I’ve seen the fruits of it in their lives. For more information, go here.

3. Get on your knees and pray together every night before bed. My wonderful Aunt Tid and Uncle Ozzie did this every day of their married lives. They had a list of people and problems that they lifted up to the Lord together before they went to bed each night. This is true communion of spirits between a man and a wife. It is a powerful uniting of life and soul. Everyone I know who does this has a marriage that is filled with mutual devotion, love and happiness.

4. Do not harangue your family members who have fallen short of your Christian ideal, even those who have fallen far short of it. Love them, continue to be family to them, and pray, pray, pray.

Remember also the things you’ve done. I worry about my kids — a lot. But I know that they are much more together than I was at the same age.

My parents never stopped loving me and they never pushed me away. Love them. Love them. And pray. And remember St Monica. And pray some more. Then, trust Jesus.

If the Holy Spirit wants you to speak up, He will open the door. I’ve had this happen, and when I speak in His time and with the words He gives me, it never fails to be the right thing. Just … trust Him.

5. Go to mass. If you can, go to daily mass. But at least go to mass every Sunday. Every time you take communion, Christ heals you. I feel it, and so will you. I need it, and so do you.

6. Be loyal to the pope. Don’t follow internet popes who attack the Holy Father. Do not be so foolish as to make a little pope out of yourself.

I hate to say this, but the bishops are all over the map on a lot of things. The same politician will be told during election years (It always seems to be during election years.) that he or she may not take communion, in, say, Sioux City, but can take communion in, say, Dodge City. It’s the same politician; the same sin. But a different bishop.

What are those of us in the pews to make of this? Does it confuse you? It certainly confuses me.

We need the pope. The pope is the only world leader of his type. He alone speaks for over a billion people who live under every government, in every clime. His voice reaches from pole to pole; dateline to dateline.

That is why the press goes ga-ga over his every utterance. It is why politicians of every persuasion alternately revile and pander to him.

But it is not why we should be loyal to him. His temporal reach has nothing to do with our call to loyalty to the pope. We must be loyal to the pope because he stands in the shoes of the fisherman. He is Peter. And Jesus Christ said that on Peter He would build His Church.

Be loyal to the pope.

7. Pray the Rosary. Pray the Rosary in a meditative way, thinking about the Scriptures the decades represent and what they mean to you. Take your fears and problems, rejoicings and griefs to Our Lady and pray with her to Jesus. If praying with your spouse binds you to one another, think how praying with Jesus’ own mother will bind you to Him.

8. Ask God to show you your sins. We are all blind to our own faults. Everyone of us is capable of the intellectual sophistry which allows us to proclaim our sins a virtue and condemn those of the person next to us. That is the nature of our nature. It is a manifestation of our fallen state. It is us, listening to the devil without the slightest awareness that this is what we are doing.

The Holy Spirit is a loving guide to our own hearts. He will reveal your self to you to the extent that you are capable of comprehending and reacting with grace to this painful truth. Trust Him. He will not dump all your sins on you like an acid bath that destroys you. He will show you what you can take at the time. And then He will be with you as you face it and convert away from it.

The Holy Spirit is a great teacher of willing souls. But you must be willing. Ask God to show you your sins, then accept and repent of the sins He shows you. Realize that this is a life-long process. Be grateful for it. He is fitting you for heaven.

9. Forgive others. This is often the toughest one of all. It’s easy enough to forgive those you love and who love you. It’s not too tough to forgive anyone who sincerely admits they hurt you and asks for forgiveness.

It gets more difficult when you are dealing with a person who has hurt you and who continues to hurt you and who claims that you deserve the hurt. It is impossible under your own power to forgive certain violations of your humanity such as violent rape or torture.

In these areas, forgiveness is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and it does not come cheaply. The cost is letting go of the great defense of anger that has freed you from victimhood.

Too often, people practice a phony forgiveness, a premature rush to proclaim forgiveness, which does not allow them the dignity of proclaiming their own worth and value in the face of what has been done to them. This is particularly true when they have suffered soul-destroying attacks on their humanity that can actually cause a kind of psychological death such as violent rape, torture, slavery or child sexual abuse.

Before we forgive, we must first know and believe to our depths that we were wronged, that we are not the receptacles for other people’s trash they these people have reduced us to. This is difficult if the world around us will not affirm this with us.

Anyone who faces this should read the book of Job. I don’t think the book of Job is, as is usually claimed, about suffering. I don’t think it is about suffering at all. I think it is about victim-blaming.

That’s what Job’s “friends” did to him. It’s what happens to any victim who is among those the culture proclaims may have “asked for” the evil that was done to them.

Forgiveness in the face of this is only possible when it comes from God. God alone can give us the certainty of our own humanity and worth that is so rock solid and absolute that we are free to lay down the defense of our humiliated rage and forgive from the heart.

This circles back to earlier points. Scripture tells us that if we “seek the Lord, He will draw near to you.” Everything I’ve listed above, including #1 is a way of seeking the Lord.

10. Accept God’s forgiveness. I’ve had a real tussle with this one and more than once. The most dramatic and public of these situations was after God showed me the full horror of what I had done by being pro choice.

I was plunged into grief, shame, remorse that went beyond the graces of confession. Long story short, after a long period of intense grief, I finally realized (this was probably from the Holy Spirit) that I had to have the humility to accept God’s forgiveness.

It is a kind of narcissism to think that your sins are bigger than God’s mercy. Nothing we can do is beyond the mercy of God.

There are times when it takes humility and trust to accept God’s forgiveness. But those moments plunge us into what He told St Faustina was the “ocean of my mercy.”

No matter what you have done, confess your sins and accept His forgiveness.

These are 10 things that you can do to save your family. Notice that not one of them is political. Not one of them involves any of the solutions that are usually recommended for marriages and families in trouble.

Every single thing I’ve mentioned is about you and your spouse, getting right with God and trusting Him.

That is how Christians change the world. We do it by giving ourselves without reservation to the One Who made us and loves us and who will be with us the end of time.

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Gay Marriage Sets Friend Against Friend, Brother Against Brother.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by suez92 https://www.flickr.com/photos/88691054@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by suez92 https://www.flickr.com/photos/88691054@N00/

Do you love me more than these?  Jesus Christ

The good ‘ole Supreme Court may have outdone itself in destruction to this country.

Their decision on gay marriage has set friend against friend and brother against brother.

I wrote a post about this earlier.But I’ve continued to hear from people who are concerned about their own families and friendships falling apart since then. So, I’m going to write about it again, in a more personal way this time.

Catholics in high places at Catholic institutions have announced their own gay “weddings.” This is clear rebellion against the Church by those who are tasked with teaching theology to future generations of Catholics. I can’t say it any more bluntly than that. In the meantime, far too many of our priests are either staying silent or actually giving tacit support to gay marriage.

The business of Catholic institutions allowing this behavior from their employees is a scandal of gigantic, Church-destroying proportions. Church institutions that actually teach against something as core as the nature of the family, and who allow their prominent teachers to publicly practice and celebrate defying these teachings, are bankrupt to the core.

There is one small gleam of light in this. We can now see why the children we have sent to our Catholic institutions of higher learning have been absorbed by the cultural nihilism rather than protected against it. It was because of these people and their defiance of the Church, hollowing out our institutions from the inside.

So how are we, out here in the pews, supposed to live out our faith with this anti-Christ leadership coming from the top? More to the point, how do we manage to deal with the onslaught of pressure and blackmail to abandon our beliefs that is coming at us from our dearest friends?

As I said, I’ve been asked for advice, and the truth is, I don’t have a way out to offer. All I have is a story of my own painful history in this culture war arena.

I’m going to share my own experiences in trying to deal with the question of saving relationships in the face of gay marriage and abortion. I don’t have a magic bullet to offer. What I bring instead is a hard reality.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my own life about the question of keeping your gay friends and following Christ: You can’t do it. They won’t let you. And that’s it.

The deepest personal wounds I’ve suffered since I became a Christian have to do with gay friends that I loved and trusted with all my heart. Two of my gay friends turned on me in a sudden, absolute and public way.

One of them, in particular, I loved with all my heart. He was — and is — as dear to me as my own blood. We shared so many good things through the years. I trusted him and cherished him.

I never once tried to change him or argued with him about these differences in our beliefs. In fact, I tried to avoid talking to him about it altogether. When he realized that I did not support gay marriage, he flew into a rage and … well … it was a horrible experience.

Among other things, he accused me of lying to him because I hadn’t been more up front on the issue.

Then, he went on the internet and publicly attacked me.

The other friend turned on me over abortion. I know, gay men and the abortion industry seem to be bizarre allies, but the gay men I’ve known are pro abortion fanatics. In fact, a good many gay men work for Planned Parenthood.

I do not have one encouraging word to share with those of you who want to keep your relationships with gay people and still follow the Church. My experience is that, no matter how you try, you cannot keep your relationships with your gay friends and follow your faith. They will not let you.

Even sadder, my experience is that they do not just end the friendship. They then go out and do everything they can to hurt you.

I can honestly say that I have not retaliated. I have never broken the confidences they shared with me. I have never attacked them. I have never tried to hurt them. And I never will.

In truth, I still love my friend who meant so much to me with all my heart. I pray for him daily. But we will never be friends again. He is part of my past.

And that, I think, is the way it should be.

The hard truth is that these relationships are encumbrances in the eternity work of following Christ. They make you careful. They force you to dip and dodge, shuck and jive, as you try to avoid offending them or doing something that will cost you their “friendship.”

If you’re up front with them. They’re going to attack you and dump you.

If you try to hide things and avoid confrontations, they’ll accuse you of lying to them, and then they’ll dump you and attack you.

I know one homosexual person who has been willing to accept me as an individual and at least be professional friends with me. When I told her I opposed gay marriage, she said, “I would never try to force you to violate your personal morality.”

I was so grateful to her I almost cried.

But she is unique in my experience. And, as I said, we have a professional friendship, not a deep personal friendship.

So. What advice do I, an abysmal failure at keeping my gay friends, have to share with you?

My first advice is to go ahead and be up front. I wish I had never dipped and dodged at all.

My second advice is to realize that you are going to have to choose. Choose Christ, or choose them. They will not let you have both.

My third advice is don’t get too close to your friends on the other side of the culture wars. I know this is harsh, scalding and terrible advice. But if you confide in someone in today’s world, the culture wars may very well turn and turn and then that someone will be your hate-filled, spiteful enemy on a vengeance trek to destroy you. Every tender thing you ever told them could end up coming back at you as a bullet, aimed at trying to publicly humiliate, degrade and destroy you.

It is sad, it is terrible, to say that. But it is true.

We are going to have to choose. Their demands are the winnowing fork John the Baptist prophesied.

Christ, or them? You choose.

I choose Christ. I may dither and try to keep from offending people in order to hang onto them as friends. But if they force me to it, I will choose Christ.

And every single time I choose Christ, I cut another cord that has kept me in touch with that other life, that life before my conversion. Every single time I choose Christ, I suffer the loss of the person I am not choosing. A few of them, like my friend, are wounds that feel like amputations. Even after the emotional blood has stopped running, I feel the loss.

There is no salve for this. It is a real and painful sacrifice for following Christ. It is our own Gethsemane.

The rewards are eternal and temporal, both at once. Christ has promised us rewards in heaven, but that is not what motivates me. My motivation is simply that I love Jesus. He saved me from eternal death and He forgave my unforgivable sins. He loved me from death to life and He continues to love and guide me each step of my way to Him.

I love Jesus.

And that is the most important reward, not some nebulous reward in the future, but the concrete reality of loving Him and being loved by Him now, in this life.

Do you love me more than these? He asked Peter — and us.

The answer has to be yes.

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Coming Out … Not Alone

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

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