Illegal Immigrants, Puppet Kings, Mass Murder and Peace Wrapped in Thorns

Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents.

It commemorates the terrible slaughter of little boys under two years of age by King Herod. Herod was trying to kill the newborn King of the Jews, the Messiah, because he mistakenly thought that this baby king would one day try to overtake his throne.

Herod was a puppet king, put in place by the Romans to hold things together in what was a little corner of their empire. But even though Israel was small, it held an important place along the trade routes linking Egypt and Rome. Egypt at that time was the breadbasket of the world.

So, uprisings and troubles in this area could not be ignored. They had to be put down.

Much of the history of the New Testament, including the eventual crucifixion of Our Lord, turns on this fact.

Herod was a placeholder. His purpose in the Roman scheme of things was to keep the order in that tiny kingdom of his. He was charged with keeping things calm, collecting taxes and making sure that the trade routes stayed open. If he needed to kill people to accomplish this, he was free to do so.

Herod sat on a wobbly throne. He was subject to the Romans above and threatened by the religious zealots and restless populace below. Since he had Jewish inclinations of his own, he understood the power of the prophesied Messiah on the popular imagination. People were waiting for a warrior king who would free Israel and restore it to glory. Tales of the Maccabean revolts still resonated. It all seemed possible to a puppet king.

When three men from the East dropped by, asking directions to the new born king, that gave what was probably Herod’s always-ready paranoia a new target. Somewhere out there in the little town of Bethlehem his future nemesis was growing up.

After the men who were searching for the baby failed to return to Herod and tell him where this child was, Herod moved to a simpler, more expedient method of eliminating the risk. He ordered the murder of every baby boy under the age of two.

Jesus was wholly human as well as wholly God. Like us, he was born to die. But not then. His time was years in the future. So, God sent an angel to Jesus’ step-father in a dream to tell him to take Mary and the baby Jesus away from there.

I’ve always found it significant that the angel did not come to Mary. Joseph was the protector of that little family. The angel came to him.

And, like good fathers everywhere, he accepted the responsibility of taking care of his family.

Joseph took his wife and baby into exile in Egypt where they stayed for what sounds like a few years. The little boy Jesus and His mother and father learned what it means to be strangers in a strange land. They were refugees, illegal immigrants, alone in a land that did not share their heritage or their faith.

This is a sad tale, a hard beginning to the life that would change the world forever. Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus were a family facing hardship, hard times, and a struggle for survival just like families have always faced these things: Together.

“My peace I give you,” Jesus would later say. “Peace of Christ,” we say to one another. “The peace that passes all understanding,” Paul described it to us.

Peace.

But like everything thing else about this story, this peace comes wrapped in a crown of thorns.

Hundreds of Utah Teachers Show Up for Weapons Training

Dec. 27, 2012: Clark Aposhian, President of Utah Shooting Sport Council, demonstrates with a plastic gun during concealed-weapons training for 200 Utah teachers. (AP)
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/28/teachers-in-utah-ohio-get-free-gun-training/#ixzz2GMPfmSzP

SALT LAKE CITY – Gun-rights advocates in Utah offered six hours of training Thursday in handling concealed weapons for hundreds of Utah teachers in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

The latest effort to arm teachers to confront school assailants was organized by the Utah Shooting Sports Council, which hosted the training session to help educators become eligible for concealed firearm permits, FOX 13 News reported.

More than 200 teachers flocked to the training class in the Salt Lake City suburb of West Valley City. Raye Ann Blauer, a kindergarten teacher, told FOX 13 she is considering using her permit to carry a firearm at school.

“[A]fter everything that happened in Connecticut, I want to be aware of how I can help in the classroom and protect my kids and whatnot. Be aware,” Blauer said. “I think it’s really smart. Especially with everything that’s happened lately.”

English teacher Kevin Leatherbarrow holds a license to carry a concealed weapon and doesn’t see anything wrong with arming teachers in the aftermath of the deadly Connecticut school shooting.

“We’re sitting ducks,” said Leatherbarrow, who works at a Utah charter school. “You don’t have a chance in hell. You’re dead — no ifs, ands or buts.”

In Ohio, a firearms group said it was launching a test program in tactical firearms training for 24 teachers. The Arizona attorney general is proposing a change to state law to allow an educator in each school to carry a gun. (Read more here.)

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/28/teachers-in-utah-ohio-get-free-gun-training/#ixzz2GMPPg8JU

HHS Mandate: Hobby Lobby Will Not Comply Despite Higher Court Ruling

Standing Against Christian Persecution

Attorneys representing Hobby Lobby in its lawsuit against the HHS Mandate announced that the company will not comply with government demands that it pay for insurance for the morning after pill.

This announcement comes despite a ruling by Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor that Hobby Lobby will not receive injunctive relief from the Mandate and must begin paying a $1.3 million dollar a day fine if it does not provide insurance coverage for the morning after pill to its employees. Hobby Lobby also announced that it will continue its long-standing practice of providing health insurance coverage for other contraceptives for its employees.

It is incredible to me that abortion advocates are so aggressive in their efforts to force people who do not agree with them to actually participate in abortions. This extends from attempts to force doctors and nurses to participate in performing abortions to the HHS Mandate which seeks to coerce religious organizations and businesses, such as Hobby Lobby, to pay for abortifacients.

The morning after pill can be dangerous to women’s health, especially if it is taken repeatedly. Despite this, it appears that there is a concerted effort to push this high-dose hormone as a contraceptive replacement to be used casually and often.

In addition to the obvious moral and religious objections to an abortifacient drug like this, I think there are other moral objections to it on the basis of women’s health.

Hobby Lobby’s statement says in full:

tatement Regarding Sotomayor Opinion

“Hobby Lobby will continue their appeal before the Tenth Circuit. The Supreme Court merely decided not to get involved in the case at this time. It left open the possibility of review after their appeal is completed in the Tenth Circuit. The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.” — Kyle Duncan, General Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Mor information concerning the case can be found on The Becket Fund For Religious Liberty website.

Reid Says We’re Going Over the Cliff

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid essentially told the Senate that he expects Congress and the President to push the country over the “fiscal cliff.”

I don’t think that Senator Reid was talking to the people of this country, or even the members of the Senate. I believe that the real audience he had in mind for this speech was House Speaker Boehner. This dramatic speech was the Democrats, throwing down with the Republicans. Senator Reid was essentially making a public statement to Boehner, saying, in effect, I see your refusal to negotiate and raise you one massive financial debacle.

These comments of Senator Reid’s are remarkably personal, calling Speaker Boehner a “dictator,” etc.

I doubt if this stand-off is about the “fiscal cliff” or taxes or any other question of policy; at least not now. It has devolved down to which guy is the manliest man.

What does this mean to you and me? It means that the buffalo are fighting in the swamps and we are the frogs who, if things really fall apart, are bound to lose. What is most likely to happen is that, even if these fools push this country over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” they will turn right around and retroactively undo their action with legislation rescinding what they just did.

That, of course, can take weeks, probably until at least half-way through January. What will happen to the markets during those weeks? What will happen to America’s credit rating? For a debtor nation like ours, credit rating is not a small thing.

The question is how far will this who’s-the-manliest-man-around-here claptrap stall and starve our already shaky economy? What will it take to get it going again after they’re all finished with this fight and ready to start on the next one?

The point for me is that these people we’ve elected don’t care nearly so much about this country as they do their partisan loyalties and chest-thumping grandiosity. We have placed our country and our future in their hands. Need I say more?

The NBC News article about Senator Reid’s speech reads in part:

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R) (D-NV) hugs Speaker of the House John Boehner

NBC News Updated 2:48 p.m. – The Senate’s top Democrat said Thursday that he was pessimistic that Washington could avoid the impending fiscal cliff, accusing House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, of running the lower chamber as a “dictatorship.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was unsure there was enough time between now and the end of the year to reach a deal to avoid the combination of spending cuts and tax hikes set to take effect on Jan. 1. Reid said “the only viable escape route” was for the GOP-controlled House to give its approval to a Senate bill that would preserve existing tax rates on income under $250,000.
“Everyone knows that if they had brought up the Senate-passed bill, it would pass overwhelmingly. But the speaker says, no we can’t do that,” Reid said on the Senate floor this morning. “It’s [the House] being operated by a dictatorship of the speaker.”
In response, a spokesman for Boehner said in a statement, “Senator Reid should talk less and legislate more. The House has already passed legislation to avoid the entire fiscal cliff. Senate Democrats have not.”

Reid’s remarks suggest there has been no thaw in the stalemate that has plagued Washington for weeks, as consensus continues to elude Republicans and Democrats on averting the fiscal cliff. Amid the standoff, President Barack Obama called Reid and Boehner (along with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell) late Wednesday from Hawaii. The president traveled back to the White House on Thursday following his brief family vacation. (Read more here.)

Hobby Lobby Faces $1.3 million per day fines over HHS Mandate starting Jan 1

Standing Against Christian Persecution

Hobby Lobby will have to begin paying fines of $1.3 million per day next Tuesday, thanks to the HHS Mandate.

After federal appeals court ruled against their lawsuit regarding the mandate, Hobby Lobby petitioned the Supreme Court for injunctive relief. What that means is that they asked the Supreme Court to push back the date on which the fines would become effective.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied this petition. That means that Hobby Lobby will be subject to $1.3 million in fines every single day, beginning January 1.

All this comes from an agency rule which was signed by one man: President Obama.

It is not a statute that was passed by a legislative body. We the people were not at the table when the HHS Mandate was created. It was written by an appointed (and hand-picked) committee which was balanced heavily in favor of supporters and activists for Planned Parenthood and abortion.

This Mandate is in direct violation of the promise that President Obama gave to the American people and to pro-life Democrats who helped him pass the Affordable Health Care Act. To put it bluntly, the President lied to pro life Democratic members of Congress such as Congressman Bart Stupak in order to pass Obamacare. Former Congressman Stupak has signed a letter in opposition to the Mandate essentially saying this.

For myself, I plan to go shopping at Hobby Lobby.

These are two quotes from different articles which describe the logic of filing the petition to the Supreme Court and the decision by Justice Sotomayor.

Justice Sotomayor Rejects Hobby Lobby’s Request for Mandate Relief (1192)
The Christian-owned business now faces fines of up to $1.3 million per day after Jan. 1 if it refuses to provide abortion-inducing drugs in its company health insurance plan.

by REGISTER STAFF 12/27/2012 Comment

– Wikicommons
WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has rejected a request that the federal government temporarily halt enforcement of the federal abortifacient mandate against the Christian-owned business Hobby Lobby, the Associated Press reported Dec. 27.
The Green family, owners of the Oklahoma-based retail chain Hobby Lobby, does not object to providing contraceptives through the company’s health insurance plan. But the company has filed a lawsuit against the Affordable Healthcare Act’s mandate that abortifacient drugs also be funded, on the grounds that involvement in abortions is a violation of the Greens’ religious beliefs.
In her Dec. 26 decision denying the request from Hobby Lobby and a related company, Mardel Inc., Justice Sotomayor ruled the Greens’ companies do not meet the legal standard for preventing enforcement of the mandate while their lawsuit is before the courts, the Associated Press reported.
Hobby Lobby sought relief from enforcement of the mandate because as of Jan. 1, the company will face potential fines of $1.3 million per day if it declines to provide coverage of the so-called “morning after” and “week after” abortifacient drugs in its health insurance plan.
Hobby Lobby appealed to the Supreme Court after a federal court denied its request for relief from enforcement of the abortifacient mandate Dec. 20. The 10th Circuit Court rejected the motion on the grounds that the religious burden to the Green family was “indirect and attenuated.”
Some religious nonprofits are not required to comply with the mandate until Aug. 1, 2013, while the Obama administration works out the details of changes it has promised to make to the mandate to address their religious objections. However, other religious employers were required to begin providing co-pay-free contraceptives and related services by August 2012, or whenever they subsequently updated their health plans.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby as well as a number of other organizations and groups that have filed lawsuits against the contraceptive mandate, said in a Dec. 20 press release that “the Green family’s religious convictions prohibit them from providing or paying for the abortion-inducing drugs, the ‘morning-after’ and ‘week-after’ pills, which would violate their most deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/justice-sotomayor-rejects-hobby-lobbys-request-for-mandate-relief#ixzz2GHDEodQD

A Hobby Lobby store. Photo courtesy of the Becket Fund.

Washington D.C., Dec 20, 2012 / 05:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Arts and crafts giant Hobby Lobby will appeal to the nation’s highest court after an appeals court ruled the federal contraception mandate does not impose a “substantial burden” on the owners’ religious freedom.

“The Green family is disappointed with this ruling,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is handling the case.

He explained that the Christian family that owns and operates Hobby Lobby must now “seek relief from the United States Supreme Court.”

“The Greens will continue to make their case on appeal that this unconstitutional mandate infringes their right to earn a living while remaining true to their faith,” Duncan said.

On Dec. 20, an appeals court denied the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary injunction to block the federal contraception mandate from being enforced against them while their case moves forward in the court.

The mandate requires employers to offer health insurance covering sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause early abortions. As Christians, the Greens are morally opposed to funding any type of abortion, including those caused by “morning after” and “week after” pills. (Read more here.)

Sharing Jesus With Your Friends

This is Mark Hall, the lead singer with Casting Crowns, one of my favorite Christian music groups. He’s talking about sharing Jesus with your friends, which is something every Christian needs to do.

One of the things he emphasizes is the need to wait for the Holy Spirit to make the opening. I believe, based on my own experiences, that when the Holy Spirit wants to use you, He will give you the words.

Catholics tend to be slow to do this and other traditions sometimes overdo it to the point of becoming a nuisance. We need to trust God to lead us. The most important witness for Christ is when we follow Him with our lives. Without that, nothing we say will matter.

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Message to Starbucks from a reader

Public Catholic reader Peg Demetris, who blogs at Peg Pondering Again, responded to one of the posts I put up this morning with a much better idea of her own.

Starbucks is asking their employees for write “Come together” on cups they give their customers in the Washington, DC area. This is in reference to the deadlock over the fiscal cliff between President Obama and Congress. Peg thought of the idea of pro life people writing “Stop Funding Abortion” on paper cups and taking them to Starbucks to leave on the counter.

I was not aware of this, but Peg says that Starbucks donates money to Planned Parenthood.

Here, in it’s entirety, is Peg’s post about this from her blog, Peg Pondering Again. Reprinted with permission.

Holy Innocents Pledge


An article came out today Starbucks to Politicians: Come Together in which Starbucks will be writing “Come Together” on all cups of coffee sold on Thursday and Friday. According to Starbucks, the words are intended as a message to lawmakers about the damage being caused by the divisive negotiations over the “fiscal cliff.”

Taking into account Starbucks is a financial contributor to Planned Parenthood, I propose we all stop drinking their coffee and send a message ourselves. Tomorrow is the Massacre of the Innocents. Rather then buy a cup, place a cup of water, representing the tears of all who regret their abortions on their counter, with the words “STOP FUNDING ABORTION”. Just an idea that came quickly from our Lord today, after reading the articles on Facebook. Glory to God.

O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed and proclaimed on this day, not by speaking but by dying, grant, we pray, that the faith in your which we confess with our lips may also speak through our manner of life. Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever, and ever. Amen

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.

How Beautiful

is the Body of Christ

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Playing Chicken With Our Economic Future …

U.S. President Barack Obama departs Honolulu, Hawaii December 26, 2012, for a return trip to Washington. REUTERS/Larry Downing

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama was flying back to Washington on Thursday and the top Republican in Congress planned to speak with House of Representatives lawmakers as the clock ticked toward a year-end deadline for action to avert the looming “fiscal cliff” tax hikes and spending cuts.

Markets around the world awaited action in Washington to prevent tax hikes on nearly all Americans and the deep automatic government spending cuts due to kick in at the beginning of next month that could push the U.S. economy back into recession.

Such action, however, remained far from certain, with Republicans and Democrats each insisting the other side move first amid continuing partisan gridlock.

Air Force One carrying Obama from Hawaii took off at about 3 a.m. EST for a journey that can take nearly half a day.

The U.S. Senate was scheduled to meet later on Thursday but on matters unrelated to the “fiscal cliff.” The Democrats control the Senate and theRepublicans control the House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday said through a spokesman that the Senate was ready to consider any bills coming from the House but would take no action on its own. (Read more here.)

Starbucks to Politicians: Come Together

NEW YORK, N.Y. -Associated Press

Starbucks is using its coffee cups to jump into the political fray in Washington.

The world’s biggest coffee chain is asking employees at cafes in the Washington, D.C. area to scribble the words “Come Together” on cups for drink orders on Thursday and Friday. CEO Howard Schultzsays the words are intended as a message to lawmakers about the damage being caused by the divisive negotiations over the “fiscal cliff.”

It’s the first time employees at Starbucks cafes are being asked to write anything other than customers’ names on cups.

While companies generally steer clear of politics to avoid alienating customers, the plea to “Come Together” is a sentiment unlikely to cause controversy. If anything, Starbucks could score points with customers and burnish its image as a socially conscious company.

This isn’t the first time the coffee chain is using its platform to send a political message. In the summer of 2011, Schultz also asked other CEOs and the public to stop making campaign contributions until politicians found a way to deal with a crisis over the debt ceiling that led to a downgrade in the country’s credit rating.

For the latest push, Starbucks is taking out an ad in the Washington Post on Thursday showing a cup with the words “Come Together” on it. (Read more here.)


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