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.
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.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
That is the 16th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Our government managed to rattle along without an income tax until this amendment was ratified in 1913. It’s ironic that this particular amendment was placed in the Bill of Rights, since it has become a method of limiting many of the other rights that Americans enjoy.
For instance, our system of jurisprudence is based on the notion that the individual citizen is regarded as innocent until proven guilty. What that means in practice is that the government actually has to prove that someone has broken the law before it can deprive that person of life, liberty or property.
However, the income tax laws turn this completely on its head. The government does not have to prove anything as regards income tax violations. It merely makes the charge and the individual citizen is tasked with proving their innocence. That is what income tax audits are all about. The government is operating on the idea that you are guilty of income tax evasion until and unless you can prove yourself innocent. The topper is that the government can be as invasive and onerous as it wants in these audits.
I know from personal experience that even a one-page tax form concerning employment with regular documented salaries can turn into an audit that costs the tax payer thousands of dollars and ties them up for many months. In other words, the government can audit an individual or a small business into bankruptcy, even if the business or the individual actually can prove that their taxes are clean and the government’s charges are bogus.
The powers granted to the government through its enforcement of the 16th Amendment are draconian enough without the application of political vendettas and personal malice. That’s why there are laws which are supposed to protect us from that sort of thing.
However, as our government veers away from the people, there is less to keep it in check. I’m not sure why a people that blandly accepts the idea that their government is reading their emails and listening in on their phone calls would be surprised to learn that this same government is also abusing the power inherent in the tax codes.
Maybe they’re not surprised.
Maybe it’s just that we the people have been battered so much by these repeating crises that we’ve become somewhat response damaged. Or perhaps we’re getting weary of voting the crooks out of office and then getting another set of crooks just as bad.
How many times have the voters of this country risen up and tossed the bums out?
And how much good has it done us?
That’s because the bums are replaceable by other bums, all of whom are owned and controlled by the same special interests. We can replace the puppets, but we don’t touch the puppet masters.
Maybe this is why there has been so little reaction to the news that the Obama administration exchanged information about people’s tax files with the IRS.
Or maybe people don’t understand that this is probably an illegal activity.
Or maybe people are just too tired to respond.
Which is it, I wonder? Are we losing hope in our ability to make our government respond to us?
Again, I am not sure. What I do know is that each succeeding administration tops the previous one in running over the American people.
From The Daily Caller:
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:
Washington D.C., Oct 1, 2013 / 05:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- 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.
Comments on this post about divorce have, as these things usually do, veered off into the subject of abusive relationships in marriage. Here, just for the record is my two cents on that topic.
Never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.
John Milton, Paradise Lost
I chose the quote above because of it’s origin. It comes from Paradise Lost, which is the tale of Satan, cast out of heaven and down to hell because of his hatred.
People who beat and batter their own families seem like that to me. Ditto for the monsters who sexually abuse their own loved ones.
I am talking about people so cowardly that they spend their frustrations on the people who trust them and who deserve their protection because they, unlike the rest of the world, are unwilling or unable to fight back against their real problems.
What kind of monster would hit or batter their own spouse? Don’t they know that their husband or wife is their own self?
You can not harm you’re life’s companion, the person you create other people with, the only one who will be there beside you throughout your days in this life, without also harming yourself.
I repeat: What kind of monster attacks his or her own wife or husband, his or her own children?
Home is refuge, one that, in these increasingly traumatic times, we all need. Home is, as Robert Frost said, “where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” Home is that last place on earth where you can go, where you will be safe, even when the rest of the world is perilous.
Home is also the last place on earth anyone should defile with their violence and abuse of other people.
If batterers are so brave, let them take their rages to the world and try yelling at their boss or talking back to the cop who writes them a ticket. See who lets them in the house later when they’ve been fired, or who empties the piggy bank to pay their bail.
It will be those people no one should ever attack: Their family.
Manly men do not beat up women. Manly men do not rape children.
Womanly women do not batter their kids. Womanly women do not berate and belittle their husbands.
To paraphrase Emily Dickinson, home is meant to be the closest thing to heaven we will know in this life. But, with our propensity to evil, many of us turn our homes into all we need to know of hell.
What should a Christian do when they’ve married what they thought was a good person and find later that they have yoked themselves to a monster?
If there is violence or sexual abuse, you must divorce them. If you have to go to a shelter or take out restraining orders, do it. If they are violating your children, send them to prison. You owe that to the rest of society, so that they won’t do it again to other children.
I do not fully understand the nuances of the Church’s teaching in this regard and I am speaking here entirely for myself. But you and your children have a right to life, the same as everyone else. Physical violence or sexual abuse are threats to that right to life. They are an abrogation of your dignity as human beings made in the image and likeness of God.
There can be no marriage with a monster and people who do things like this to their own families are monsters. I do not know how the Church treats these things, but as far as I am concerned, a person who is so morally deficient that he or she will physically attack their own family is incapable of entering into a sacramental marriage in the first place. They are too morally blighted for the words of their vows to have meaning.
In short, get yourself safe and sort out the finer points later.
As for those readers who actually batter their wives or husbands, you need to go to a priest and, after confession, ask for referrals where you can get help. You also need to move out of the family home until you are safe for them. If you never are safe for them, then realize that you are not worthy of having a family of your own.
If, on the other hand, you have sexually abused your children, you need to turn yourself in to the police. I mean that. You can get counseling and whatever in prison. But you do not belong free.
I don’t know that people who commit these kinds of crimes against their own families ever turn themselves into the police. I have never personally heard of it. However, I do know people who have gone to prison for sexually abusing their children.
That is just the beginning for the children who have been through this. If they do not get immediate help, they will suffer the consequences of what was done to them all the days of their lives.
If your spouse has done this to your kids, you need to consider the best ways to get your children the therapy they need. As always, the Church is a great resource. Here in my archdiocese, the Church offers all sorts of help for families and children in distress, and most of it is free.
If you are the victim of battering or abuse yourself, you need to take care of yourself by getting therapy and assistance for you.
In the midst of all this, do not forget your spiritual healing. A kind priest can do wonders about helping you through times like this. If you should run into one of the occasional bad priests who are unsympathetic or who try to get you to stay in a situation that is violent and dangerous, just find another priest. You can talk to your bishop about this bad guy later, when you are stronger.
Many times, families who have an abusive member are isolated from other people. You may not have been attending church. Or, if you have, you may not have been able to participate in the guilds and groups that help you meet people and form friendships. Don’t let this stop you from seeking their help now. I would not hesitate to call the parish altar society or Knights of Columbus, and ask them for support and help.
If you’re lonely, say so. If you need a job, ask them for leads. You will probably be astonished by the help they give you and how much it enables you to move forward with your life.
If, for some reason, they don’t respond, try another parish.
Above all, pray, pray, pray. The Rosary is a wonderful prayer for bad times for the simple reason that you don’t have to come up with the words. When you are distraught and can’t think what to say, the Rosary will pray for you.
Ruth Graham once said that if two people are married and never disagree, then one of them is unnecessary. All marriages, even the best of them, have their times when the spouses are at loggerheads over something or other.
In a good marriage, this usually lasts only a few hours at most, then the love the two of them have for one another works its magic. But even the best marriages have times when one spouse is in their private misery over work or feelings of failure or grief and the other spouse cannot reach them. These are tough times. But they are not a reason for divorce.
But when a marriage descends into the hell of violence and abuse, that is a sure sign that there is no love there to persevere. Some things are not negotiable. One of them is that anyone who harms their family in this way does not deserve to have a family.
It’s as simple as that: They don’t deserve you.
Pope Francis made a few comments today on one of my favorite topics: The role of women in the Church.
I think this is an area that needs a little work. My primary concern is the worldwide plague of violence against and exploitation of women. This evil is so endemic that we take it as a given. I have been praying for years that the pope — whoever the pope might be — would address this with the force and uncompromising moral clarity that it deserves.
The Holy Father did not address violence against women today, but he had a lot of other great comments, just the same.
From Catholic News Agency:
Vatican City, Oct 12, 2013 / 08:36 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with experts on women’s issues today in Rome, affirming that the Church must continue to work for a more profound understanding of women and their roles.
“Also in the Church it is important to ask ourselves: what presence does woman have? Can it be valued more?” the Pope asked.
He met with experts who had participated in a seminar marking the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic letter, “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.” The two-day seminar was sponsored by the Pontifical Council of the Laity.
Pope Francis said the presence of women in the Church is “a reality that is very much on my heart.” He said he wanted to meet the seminar participants “and bless you and your task.”
He noted that John Paul II’s apostolic letter teaches that “God entrusts man, the human being, to woman in a special way.”
“What does this ‘special entrustment’ mean?” asked Pope Francis.
“I think it is evident that my predecessor refers to motherhood,” he explained. “And this is not simply a biological fact, but it involves a wealth of implications both for woman herself, for her way of being, and for her relationships, for a way of extending respect for human life and for life in general.”
The Pope then warned of two ever-present dangers, “two extreme opposites that degrade woman and her vocation.”
“The first is to reduce motherhood to a social role, to a task, however noble, but in fact sets apart woman with her potential, not fully valuing her in the construction of the community,” he noted.
The second peril is that of “promoting a type of emancipation that, in order to occupy the space stolen by the masculine, abandons the feminine with its priceless elements.”
He said women can help provide better insight into the nature of God.
I met Dr Alveda King a few years ago when she spoke at our annual Pro Life Rose Day celebration at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
She was shuffled from one event to another like someone on a conveyor belt, which means that I know she does not remember either me or most of the many people she met that day. Perhaps her most important meeting was a closed-door discussion she had with leaders of Oklahoma’s African American community. That discussion resonates in the hearts of people I know who were there. It affected them, and they are still turning what she said over in their minds.
That, I think is the point. Conversion is not usually a spoing! moment, but a process. Even when it seems to happen all at once, it’s been coming for quite a while. My own conversion experience is an example of that. I know from personal conversations that some of the people who heard Dr King speak are slowly being converted by what she said as they think about it in time.
I respect Dr King and I take her opinions seriously. That is why I am linking to an article she wrote about the government shut down and the HHS Mandate. I don’t fully agree with what she says.
It’s her opinion that the shutdown is entirely about the HHS Mandate. I don’t think so. If that was what the shut down was about, then that would be the issue. Frankly, if that was what the shutdown was about, the shutdown would probably be over and the HHS Mandate would be history. It is because the demands leading to the shutdown were broadened that the thing has been such a stand-off.
However, I do know that the HHS Mandate is on the table, along with other considerations. I view the HHS Mandate as the government, waging war on the First Amendment. I advocate doing whatever legitimate actions are necessary to get the president to rescind this mandate. Failing that, I advocate fighting the mandate in the courts. Failing that, I advocate and will participate in a protracted and unyielding fight to repeal the mandate by social and political means.
If the mandate was the only issue, I would support this shutdown without reservation, even though I honestly fear the path we are taking with these disruptions of government. This brinksmanship will push things to a breaking point one of these days, and that has the potential to bring down horrific consequences for this country.
For all these reasons, I am more confused than anything else about our government today. I don’t think there’s a genuine leader or a whole-hearted patriot in the whole thing. I certainly do not trust the leadership of either political party.
I just gave you my opinion about this, which differs somewhat from Dr King’s.
However, I think her opinion is worth reading and considering as we think about both this shutdown and the continuous threat of shutdowns that seems to be how our government is doing business lately.
From CP Opinion:
BY ALVEDA KINGOctober 9, 2013|9:54 am
“For death has crept in through our windows and has entered our mansions. It has killed off the flower of our youth. Children no longer play in the streets, and young men no longer gather in the squares.”
Jeremiah 9:21 NLT
America, not only do our children not play in the streets, they shoot each other in the classrooms. Don’t think that anyone is safe just because some of us can afford gated mansions, armored cars, private schools and the like. None of us are exempt from the times, including the looming shut down.
Tragically, some of our government leaders are using scare tactics to numb our consciences, to instill fear in us and turn our hearts away from genuine justice.
Please make no mistake about it, the government shutdown is about the HHS Mandate which if allowed will force harmful contraceptives and easy access to abortion on our boys and girls.
A “self-professed Bible scholar,” has announced that he cooked up a new theory that will “rock Christianity to the core.”
This one should at least get a D- for extravagant tall tale telling. It seems that this guy has come up with the notion that the Roman government invented the jesus story in order to control their populace.
I won’t even go into all the ways this thing won’t fly. I’ll leave that to those with the patience and the spreadsheet for it. You can read all about at TheBlaze. Or, you could just round file it alongside jesus’ grave, the passover plot and the whole cacophony of attacks on Christianity out there in the hustings.
These things are a clever way to make a few bucks. If you can’t write well enough to create something that people would want to read on its own merits, cook up a witches’ brew of attacks on Christianity. Attacking Christ and Christians has become so popular that the attackers have exhausted their arguments. They have to settle for battering Christians with personal insults and repeating cliched attacks against the faith that have been rattling around so long that they’ve been worn slick.
From that perspective, any new line of attack is going to be welcomed in certain quarters. It may not make much sense, but it will be treated as if it does simply because it’s a new bucket of mud to sling.
On Oct. 19, self-professed Biblical scholar Joseph Atwill is planning to make public some very flammable allegations. At a day-long symposium called “Covert Messiah” in London, England, he’s set to unveil purported evidence that Roman aristocrats manufactured Jesus Christ – a claim that, if substantiated, would devalue the core of the Christian faith.
The only problem? Most Biblical experts disagree with the scholar’s pronouncements.
A press release announcing the purported new evidence claims that Atwill has discovered “ancient confessions” that purportedly prove that Romans invented Jesus Christ in the first century. He has long argued that the faith system was used as a political tool to control the masses — something he says is still going on today.
“I present my work with some ambivalence, as I do not want to directly cause Christians any harm, but this is important for our culture,” he said of the alleged debunk – one that he believes will eventually be universally accepted.
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:
Live Action is at it again. This fascinating set of on the street interviews reveal just how naive and confused people still are about abortion.
It’s interesting that after all this time people are so confused. But, in a way, it’s also hopeful. Their hearts are good. That shows in each of these people. The reasons they give for supporting abortion are based on a naive understanding of the issue and a desire to find justice for women. These people are not evil.
Their impulse to help women is exactly right on. Their understanding of the humanity of an unborn baby and the drastic brutality of abortion itself is what is faulty.
There is much evil in the abortion fight, but that evil is higher (or lower, depending on how you look at it) up the food chain. It rests with the hardened advocates and practitioners who have become pro abortion instead of pro woman. Even with them, conversion and a radical change of heart is possible. In fact, it happens quite a lot.
Pope Francis is right. We need to love these people, even as we continue the work to stop abortion. We need also to work to end the injustices and cruelty that make abortion seem like an inevitable choice to so many people in the first place.
Watch these and learn.
and finally …
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 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: