Was St Maria Goretti’s Purity in Her Body? Let’s Ask St Augustine.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Purity is a virtue of the soul … not even when the body is violated is it lost. St Augustine

St Augustine had a lot to say about rape.

His teaching on this subject is the historic Christian attitude toward rape victims. It speaks comfort to the victims of ISIS and sex slavery today, as well as rape victims all over the world and throughout history.

St Augustine also discusses at length the practice — which is certainly still practiced in certain cultures today — of women who have been raped killing themselves from shame. He speaks forcefully against this.

St Augustine’s words on this subject separated Christianity from the world around it, and continues to do so today. It is a powerful affirmation of women’s rights as full human beings and, more importantly, as co-heirs of eternal life.

Augustine states clearly that rape does not defile the person who is raped. He says without equivocation that purity does not reside in the body, but in the soul of the person. He even goes so far as to say that the purity of soul of women who has been raped keeps their bodies pure, as well.

This is an enormous advance in the moral thinking of the world.

Christianity began in a world where baby girls were murdered for no other reason than that they were baby girls. It was a world in which women who committed suicide after being raped were thought admirable for having killed themselves; that they are “reclaimed” their honor by their suicide.

This carries over into our world today in many guises, including the gendercide of baby girls and demands from whole communities that women who have been raped commit suicide. In some countries women are actually sentenced to be raped for the crimes of their menfolk and then are expected to commit suicide afterwards to clear the family of the shame of having a woman who has been dirtied in this fashion in its midst.

Christianity, with its powerful affirmation of the eternal value of every human life, changed this. It stand as a sign of contradiction to it now, as if always has.

Christianity affirm the human rights of all people of every stage of their lives in a dramatic and powerful fashion. We do not offer our children to the Baals. We do not bend our knee to Moloch by murdering our children, our disabled, our elderly and our mentally disturbed.

We also do not condemn women who have been raped to the living death of life-long shame.

Or, at least, we shouldn’t.

The story of St Maria Goretti, as it has been told and is presented, is a reversion to the pre-Christian notion that women should commit suicide if they have been raped. Only with this story, the suicide comes before the rape.

I have a tremendous sense of oneness with Maria Goretti, this little girl who died at the hands of a murdering pedophile. But her death was a wanton murder by a grown man who wanted to rape a child. The miracle is that she forgave this man and converted him from the grave.

A few Public Catholic readers seem focused on whether or not there was “penetration” of Maria Goretti’s body by her murderer. I have trouble following their logic, and, to be honest, I find the whole line of reasoning disturbing.

St Augustine taught what has become the constant Christian teaching that purity resides in the soul. Nothing that is done to the body can defile a pure soul. In other words, if Maria Goretti’s murderer had raped her, her purity would still be intact. If it wasn’t for the misogynist character of the discussion, that would be a clear point.

If, say, we were talking about a man who had been drawn and quartered for his faith, no one would be debating whether or not the knife had “penetrated” his abdomen or if the rope had crushed his larynx. Everyone would understand that his body could not be defiled against his will, that the blood, gore, stink and filth of having his intestines yanked out and emptied around him could not touch the purity of his soul.

It is only women, only rape victims, who are subjected to the indignity of this kind of discussion.

The power of this shame is so strong that it multiplies when the victims of rape are men and boys. They feel the shame of having been raped and the additional shame of misogyny, once removed.

I’ve encountered a number of male rape victims, both in rape counseling situations and in my work as a legislator. I’ve actually passed new laws because of my encounters with adolescent boys who were violently assaulted.

The misogynist attitude toward women that informs much of our attitude about rape increases male victims’ shame. Part of their horror is that they have been used as if they were women. They feel debased and degraded in a unique way.

Rape is an attack on the humanity of another person. It is an attempt to deny and destroy that humanity. Because of its sexual nature, it is a powerful attack on the sexual identity and sexual pride of the victim. It is an attack on the life-force itself.

Because of the underpinning of misogyny that seeks to deflect victim’s rightful and righteous anger at what has been done to them, rape is also a kind of cultural warfare. This unspoken social construct of rape as a terrorizing thing men do to women which shames women and puts the in their place makes the shame and self-loathing of men who have been raped even greater.

The quotes below are the City of God, by St Augustine. They have been explicit Christian teaching for almost 2,000 years. St Augustine wrote at a time when an old world — the Roman Empire — was ending. He wrote in the midst of terrible persecution of Christians.

We live in just such a time today.

I copied this from the book itself, which I’ve read and have on my Kindle, so I don’t have a link. You can find a low cost (mine was free) Kindle copy of The City of God on Amazon.

The Violation of the Consecrated and Other Christian Virgins to Which They Were Subjected in Captivity and to Which Their Own Will Gave No Consent; and Whether This Contaminated Their Souls.

But they fancy they bring a conclusive charge against Christianity, when they aggravate the horror of captivity by adding that not only wives and unmarried maidens but even consecrated virgins were violated.

But truly, with respect to this, it is not Christian faith nor piety, nor the virtue of chastity which is hemmed into any difficulty; the only difficulty is so to treat the subject as to satisfy at once modesty and reason.

… It is, in the first place, laid down as an unassailable position, that the virtue which makes the life good has its throne in the soul, and thence rules the members of the body, which becomes holy in virtue of the holiness of the will; and that while the will remains firm and unshaken, nothing that another person does with the body or upon the body is any fault of the person who suffers it … But as not only pain may be inflicted, but lust gratified on the body of another … shame invades even a thoroughly pure spirit.

… is there a fear that even another’s lust may pollute the violated? It will not pollute, if it be another’s …

… purity is a virtue of the soul, and has for its companion virtue the fortitude which will endure all ills … and since no one, however magnanimous and pure, has always the disposal of his own body, but can only control the consent and refusal of his will, what sane man can suppose that, if his body be seized and forcibly made use of to satisfy the lusts of another, he thereby loses his purity?

For if purity can thus be destroyed, then assuredly purity is no virtue of the soul … If on the other hand, it belongs to the soul, then not even when the body is violated is it lost. Nay, the virtue of holy continence … sanctifies even the body and therefore when this continence remains unsubdued, even the sanctity of the body is preserved because the will to use it holily remains.

For the sanctity of the body does not consist in the integrity of its members, nor in their exemption from all touch … so long as the soul keeps this firmness of purpose which sanctifies even the body, the violence does by another’s lust makes no impression on this bodily sanctity, which is preserved intact by one’s own persistent continence.

… We maintain that when a woman is violated while her soul admits no consent to the iniquity, but remains inviolably chaste, the sin is not hers, but his who violates her.

 

For another take on our modern world and rape, check out Simcha Fisher. 

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What if We Took a New Look at the Story of St Maria Goretti?

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

This is for those who lie in the field, the lake, the dump and the shallow grave. It is for the ones whose bodies will never be found, whose names will go unrecorded; for the forgotten, unidentified, unfound women who died at the hands of their attackers. Rebecca Hamilton

I know a simple way to turn St Maria Goretti into a saint that rape victims and battered women all over the world would turn to in gratitude and adoration.

Why don’t we look at her story from the angle that rape is a mortal sin, that it is a sin against the humanity of the individual person who has it done to them, and that it is a sin which is so ubiquitous that it keeps half the human race in fear?

How about if we approach the story of St Maria Goretti as an admonition for men to stop raping?

Yes, she appeared to her would-be rapist from beyond the grave, and yes, this moved him to remorse. But the story is not that she died “for purity.” The story is that he was a grown man who repeatedly tried to molest a child, then murdered her for resisting him, and she forgave him and appeared to him from heaven to save his sorry soul.

We might also consider her story in light of the reality of child sexual abuse. Her murderer was 20 years old. She was 12. He had been repeatedly attempting to molest this little girl before he murdered her.

I have a lot of love and tenderness toward a little girl of 12 who was murdered while fighting off her rapist. I have tremendous sympathy for a little girl who is being subjected to repeated sexual advances from her adult neighbor.

What I do not see is that she is a saint because she died rather than be raped; that the salutary tale we are to take from her story is that she died “defending her purity.” This is a view of little girls and women that has led to enormous suffering for women for millennia. In some parts of the world today, rape victims are expected to commit suicide because they have lost their “virtue.”

Let’s be clear about this: The one without honor is the rapist. The one who has no purity is the rapist. If anybody deserves death because of this crime, it is the rapist.

The truth is that the “purity” of a human being does not reside in physical virginity. It resides in a soul that rests in Christ. A woman’s “honor” is the same as a man’s honor: It is her honesty, her loyalty and her courage.

A woman’s honor has everything to do with whether or not you can rely on her word, if she will be honest in her dealings with the world and if she keeps her commitments. It has nothing to do with whether or not a rapist has destroyed her hymen.

Purity is a matter of the heart and soul, not the physical things that are done to a person. A comfort woman that the Japanese raped over and over again may very well have more honor than any of the people commenting on this blog, including me. A victim of sex trafficking may have a soul so pure that it rings like crystal when she stands before the Lord, while those who claim that she is besmirched and worthless are without honor, kindness or love.

The story of Maria Goretti is a story of child sexual abuse and attempted rape that resulted in the death of a child at the hands of her attacker. The miraculous element in it comes from Maria Goretti’s forgiveness of the man who did this. It is a forgiveness that reaches from beyond the grave.

However, even this element can be completely turned on its head if we follow the way that St Goretti’s story is currently told. Can child-murdering pedophiles be forgiven?

Yes.

There is no sin we can commit that is greater than God’s mercy in Christ Jesus.

Did Maria Goretti feel concern for her attacker that led her to come to him and seek his conversion from heaven?

Yes.

But that is because hell is so terrible, and because this child-murdering pedophile was so dastardly that her compassion reached out to him in love in spite of what he did to her.

Maria Goretti did not die to save her murderer. She acted in love after her death to save him. Her death is not a wondrous tale of how women are supposed to value their “purity” above their lives. It is a story of how a person who is one with Christ can forgive the unforgivable, just as Christ forgave from the cross.

It is not a story to be used to exacerbate the guilt and shame of other little girls, and indeed, of older girls, who are sexually molested by adults when they are children, or who are forcibly raped when they are older.

There is no requirement on any woman to resist her rapist to the death. Getting yourself murdered because of a misogynist notion of “purity” that says that a woman’s “honor” resides in whether or not she has had sex should never be taught as an ideal to little girls.

The way that St Maria Goretti’s story has been used harms rape victims. It adds to their shame and increases their misery. It can make recovery from this horrible crime impossible.

I have had enough in my young life of my fellow Christians turning their backs on rape victims. I once witnessed a church that actually voted on whether or not to allow a rape victim to remain a member of the church.

I have known rape victims who committed suicide over this kind of attitude toward them. I knew a woman who had been raped by 5 men who, when she encountered this kind of “why didn’t you fight harder, why were you at that concert in the first place” condemnation climbed into her bathtub, put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger.

I do not care — let me say that again — I do not care if I am the only person on this planet who speaks out against the abusive use of this saint’s story to shame and blame rape victims. I will still do it.

I do not care — I do not care — if every single person reading this blog opposes what I am saying.

Blaming and shaming rape victims is anti-Christ. Claims that He somehow or other regards half the people he made this way defame His holy name.

These women are Christ crucified, standing right in front of you. If you don’t get that, then you really are missing the whole point of Christ’s passion.

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Website Asking $1 Mill to Stop Woman from Aborting Her Baby Is a Hoax

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Anna Levinzon https://www.flickr.com/photos/anyalogic/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Anna Levinzon https://www.flickr.com/photos/anyalogic/

Remember the website on which an anonymous woman claimed she was 7 weeks pregnant and offered not to have an abortion if people donated $1 million to stop her?

Well — Surprise! — “she” is a he who has other questionable internet sites.

If you click on the website now, you’ll find a claim that the earlier site was an “augmented excerpt” (whatever that is) fro a novel.

In short, the whole thing is a hoax.

From LifeNews.com:

A supposed demand by a woman on an anonymous web site who wanted pro-life people to give her $1 million to stop her from aborting her 7-week-old unborn baby turned out to be a hoax. As LifeNews originally reported last week, the web site in question is registered to a person living in Japan who cybersquats domains in an effort to build traffic and sell them at a higher price.

Supposedly, a 26-year-old woman who wants to remain anonymous has shared online that she is seven-weeks-pregnant and plans to have an abortion on July 10th. However, if pro-lifers can raise one million dollars in 72-hours she says she will not have the abortion and place the baby for adoption.

She selected 72-hours intentionally because she wanted to draw attention to the laws that recently passed requiring women to wait 72-hours prior to an abortion.

But is the abortion ransom just a ploy to draw attention to the pro-abortion side of the abortion debate? The tone of the woman’s missive suggests she’s an abortion activist rather than a pregnant woman who’s truly struggling with an unplanned pregnancy as it employs some of the verbal rhetoric typically coming from pro-abortion groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

Further investigation made it appear the web site itself is nothing more than a hoax.

The allegedly pregnant-woman’s web site is registered to a man named Michael Weber who supposedly resides in Japan and the domain’s email contact for the domain is registered to the same Japanese-based man under an address in Tokyo. Here is what a WHOIS search shows.

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Many Rape Victims Have a Bit of Trouble with St Maria Goretti. Here’s Why

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Elvert Barnes https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Elvert Barnes https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

I’ve spent a fair amount of my adult life, trying to help rape victims.

I was one of the six original founders of the YWCA Rape Crisis Center here in Oklahoma, the first such center in the state. I have passed a ton of legislation to help end the scourge of violence against women, including more than a few laws to help rape victims. I spent a number of years on the board of an organization that rescued women who were victims of sex trafficking.

I know that many women, including most rape victims, are affronted by the story of St Maria Goretti. This one story becomes for them a symbol of what they believe is the Church’s utter blindness to the reality of rape and what it means to women. The way St Maria Goretti has been presented to them is certainly why.

A few years back, I was making a speech on the subject of violence against women and I said, “This is for those who lie in the field, the lake, the dump and the shallow grave. It is for the ones whose bodies will never be found, whose names will go unrecorded; for the forgotten, unidentified, unfound women who died at the hands of their attackers.” I say that again now.

Rape is a crime of extreme violence and dehumanization. It is so ubiquitous that fear of it forces half the human race to live in constant vigilance, in a sort of war zone mentality.

St Maria Goretti disturbed rather than comforted every rape victim I have dealt with who knew about her. The reason lies in the dual impressions taken from her story that (1) The Church is teaching that is better to die than suffer rape and live, and, (2) The Church is teaching that if a woman really wants to, she can avoid being raped.

Both these ideas are cruel and misogynist to the core. Rape is a crime of extreme violence. It is committed by bigger and stronger people against physically weaker people because the weaker person cannot successfully defend themselves.

The purpose of rape is to reduce another human being to an object, to destroy their humanity and lower them to the level of meat. Gang rape also has the effect of bonding the guys together as part of their sadistic recreation.

I’ve read the blog posts of my two colleagues Michelle Arnold and Simcha Fisher. Both of their discussions of Maria Goretti’s short life and death are couched in language and a manner that reflects the fact that they understand and are sensitive to the feelings of women.

Many rape victims find St Maria Goretti, or at least the way she has been shown to them, to be a further affront to and attack on their dignity and value as human beings. This alienates them from the Church.

The crux of the problem with this saint is that misogynists have gotten control of her story. They have depicted her as girl of no real value in herself who became a saint because she chose to die rather than forfeit her hymen, and who then forgave her attacker who — get this — was so moved by her piety that he became a priest. (Actually, he became a gardener at a Franciscan friary or monetary, but that is not how the story is told to young girls.)

This manner of discussing Maria Goretti is right up there with the old story about the woman who stayed with her husband who beat her and suffered his battering prayerfully and piously right up to and including when he beat her to death. The murdering hubby was then so impressed by her piety that he — you know it’s coming — became a priest.

I’ve actually heard this latter story being told to young girls and women since I converted.

That’s sick stuff folks. It defames Christ to pin this misogyny on Him. Women’s lives matter more than any part of their anatomy. Their human dignity is real human dignity. It cannot be fluffed off with instructional tales of women who die to save their virginity and who sacrifice their lives by letting their husbands beat them to death.

This nonsense places the blame for the batterer and rapist’s behavior squarely on the shoulders of the battered and the raped. Somehow, women are, according to these stories, responsible for avoiding rape and converting their batterer by submitting to beatings.

If they fail in this, then, the implication is that they didn’t fight hard enough, resist long enough, pray hard enough, or submit piously enough. Not only that, but they are responsible for converting their rapists and batterers by how they die.

This notion of martyrdom is not martyrdom at all. It is a method and a means of enforcing and justifying social injustice against half the human race by the other half.

That is the rape victim’s perception of St Maria Goretti as she has been presented to them. That is the view of far too many women when it comes to the Church and what they can expect from it if they are themselves raped or battered.

I’ll leave the apologetics about St Goretti to Michelle and Simcha. They did a fine job.

I’m going to use my internet space to do a bit of apologetics for rape victims. Personally, my heroines are the ones who smash the guy’s nose and run for it. My heroines are the ones who crawl out of the dump where they were left for dead and rebuild themselves into productive and full human beings.

I’ve said a lot in opposition to divorce, but men who beat their families don’t deserve families. I think every battered woman should dump the dude. Every. Single. One.

My heroine is the woman who says you can’t treat me like that and gets the bleep out of Dodge. My heroines are the women who assert their own right to life and humanity in the face of those who would deny it.

I never want to see any young girl die for her virginity. Her virginity is not a physical thing. It’s a matter of spiritual purity, and the rapist, with his beer breath and disgustingly filthy heart, cannot touch that.

My advice to women who are confronted with the savage violence of the rapist is simple: Do what you have to do to survive. If submitting will get your out alive, submit. If you have to kill him to survive, do what you must. Fight, if you can. But if you can’t, don’t let the jerks of this world make you feel bad about it later.

Women’s lives are real lives. Their humanity is real humanity. Survival in the face of bestial behavior is not a sin. It is a virtue. It is also a God-given mandate.

 

 

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“A Shepherd Cannot Run Away,” Father Stanley Rother, Martyr

This is my first blog post for the National Catholic Register. It’s about Father Stanley Rother, martyr, a priest who refused to flee his post to save himself.

American Martyr Fr. Stanley Rother: “A

Shepherd Cannot Leave His Flock”

“The reality is that we are in danger.
This is one of the reasons I have for staying in the face of physical harm.
The shepherd cannot run away at the first sign of danger. Pray for us…”
Father Stanley Rother, 18 months before his martyrdom

In Okarche Oklahoma, the sky goes on forever and the wind never stops blowing.

Father Stanley Rother lies in an unpretentious grave in a tiny church cemetery on a road that you’ll miss if you aren’t looking carefully. His grave, which is one of many with the name “Rother” on it, is marked by a simple black headstone. The only thing that sets it apart is the necklace of stones ringing its edges.

Father Rother began his life here, on this prairie, in this town. He was confirmed and baptized in Holy Trinity Catholic Church, which is the only Catholic Church in Okarche. He offered his first Mass as a priest here.

His life ended in an isolated village in Guatemala when he fell in a hail of bullets. Last week, the Congregation of the Causes of Saints recognized Father Rother as a martyr, which puts him on the long road to official recognition as a saint of the Church.

Stanley Rother was as Oklahoman as the red dirt he tilled on his family’s farm


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/american-martyr-fr.-stanley-rother/#ixzz3f8wTMLa8

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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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56 Men Signed the Declaration of Independence. What Happened to Them?

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The courage of nations and groups is always individual courage, multiplied. This is the story of 56 individuals who changed the world with their bravery and sacrifice.

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Have You Ever Read the Declaration of Independence?

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56 Men Signed the Declaration of Independence. What Happened to Them?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

The courage of nations and groups is always individual courage, multiplied. This is the story of 56 individuals who changed the world with their bravery and sacrifice.

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Gay Marriage Sets Friend Against Friend, Brother Against Brother.

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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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