The Debates, BOTH Candidates

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I never though I would put Eminem on this blog. He and I part company in so many places. But this cleaned-up version of Lose Yourself is too apt. Sometimes the most spot-on “analysis” comes from the most awkward places.

Warning Letter to 60,000 Pastors: We’re Watching What You Preach

Americans United for Separation of Church and State evidently sent copies of this letter to 60,000 pastors recently. It’s important to remember that Americans United is not an official agency of any governmental entity. This letter has no force of law and is just their opinion. Our local AU affiliate here in Oklahoma has sent similar letters to pastors in my House district in the past. The pastors I talked to about it tell me they threw it in the trash.

 

Less of Me: The Diet, Week One

 

Well, I did it. 

I drug the scale from under the counter, stood on the thing and looked down. It was bad. I weigh more than I ever have. No wonder I feel so lousy.

After reading all the helpful (And I do mean helpful. Thank you!) comments on my first post about this, Picking My Prison: Which Diet Program for Me?  I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a health habits problem as much as it is an over-eating problem.

Not, mind you, that I don’t over eat. Nobody sees what I saw on the scale this morning without over-eating a lot and overeating often. However, there’s a lot more to this than over-eating. I am also exhausted. And totally out of shape. Not to mention stressed.

There are a lot of reasons for this, some of which I can change and others which I can not. I’ll talk about them in more detail in later posts. For now, I want to focus on what I’ve decided to try to do about this in the next seven days. The changes I want to try to make this week are:

1. Start getting eight hours sleep every night. This is my number one priority. I decided on this because I think it is the one thing that will give me the most immediate help in lowering my blood pressure and just generally feeling better. I go to bed at 3 or 4 (or later) in the morning then get back up at 7 or 8. I do that every day. Changing my sleep habits isn’t as simple as just crawling between the sheets at a more reasonable hour. I’ve become so habituated to my hamster-in-a-cage lifestyle that I can’t sleep, even if I do go to bed. I’m just too jazzed. So, my second goal for this week is

2. Exercise every day. I’m not talking marathon here. Fifteen minutes on the recumbent bike is a good start. I’m hoping it will help me sleep. I’m not sure what time of the day I should do it to get the most relaxation/sleep inducing benefits. I’m just hoping it works.

3. Don’t do so much. I can’t get everything done if I sleep 8 hours. I just can’t. So, I’m going to have to clean out my life the way I would an over-stuffed closet. This one may take a while, and it will almost certainly involve saying “no” to some things. But it’s gotta be done.

4. Drink more water. I’m going to fill a 26 oz thermos I have with ice and water and drink it every day. This one’s easy.

5. Weigh. Every Saturday.

6. Blog about it here every Saturday. I’m hoping you can be my support group with this. You’ve been so much help so far it’s unbelievable.

7. Pray about it. For some reason, I have a reluctance to pray about my own health. It’s as if I think it’s something I should handle without God. So, I’ll add this my my daily prayers.

That’s my plan for this week. How does it sound to you?

Honest Prayer and Saying Yes to God

Bob Seidensticker, one of our friendly atheists here at Patheos, writes at Cross Examined.

Bob has been posting about his participation in a 40 Day Prayer Experiment.

I often tell people who doubt God’s existence to do something very similar.

What I tell them is to pray honestly for five minutes each day for 30 days. I don’t think it will take 30 days. I choose that number because it sounds good — serious — to them.

The key is honesty. It’s fine, in fact it’s good, to pray “I’m doing this because Rebecca and I have a bet and I don’t believe in you at all.” If that’s the truth, pray it.

Then, at the end of the 30 days, you come back and tell me that God is not real.

The reason I do this is because I know from personal experience that if you open yourself up to God with honesty, He will reach out to you. If Bob Seidensticker prays honestly for 40 days, he’ll know.

The question for each of us is not whether or not God is there, or if He’ll answer an honest prayer. The question is, do we have the courage to admit it and to follow through with it when God answers us? When we meet God, it’s not just a cocktail party introduction that means nothing. An encounter with the living God means everything, and I mean everything. 

Once you know, not only that God is real, but that He loves you with an ecstatic and all encompassing love, nothing that you thought or believed or have done is off limits to the transforming power of His presence in your heart. That’s the scary part. It’s also where most Christians set limits on their faith, or even where they turn back altogether.

If you really reach out and let Jesus take hold of your hand, you have to let go of all the worldly ideas and relationships you were holding in that hand. You will be, in Jesus’ words, “born again” into a new and fuller self than you ever were before. But like all births, this one can be painful. The life you’ve lived will not longer fit you. The people you’ve known will often no longer like you. It’s a big step from what you’ve made of yourself to what God wants you to be. It would be impossible if you had to do it alone.

However, once you open your heart to the living God, you will never face any challenge alone and unaided again. As the old hymn says, “He will go with you until the end.”

Prayer, entered into honestly, is an open doorway into the divine. My advice to anyone taking up the 40 Day Prayer Experiment or something of its type is not to over-think it. Don’t sit there analyzing every twitch and itch. Don’t worry about how to pray or what to say. God knows everything about you already. Just be honest. Talk to God honestly. My prayer for you is that when He answers — and He will — that you will have the courage to answer Him with a life-changing, soul-saving yes.

Oh, Puleeez: Pastor from My Neighborhood Opposes Hobby Lobby’s HHS Lawsuit

I was perusing the other blogs here at Patheos when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a post on Get Religion that contained a blurb about a news story concerning the pastor of a Nazarene church that’s about … ummmmm … eight blocks or so from my house.

It seems that Pastor Lance Schmitz, of the Capitol Hill Church of the Nazarene, delivered a nationally-based petition to the Hobby Lobby headquarters here in Oklahoma City. The petition protested Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit against the HHS Mandate. According to an Associated Press story I read, the petition was circulated by an on-line group called Faithful America, along with another group called Ultra Violet.

Faithful America’s website looks to be one of those hit sites that tries to co-opt the message of the gospel to support one side of the culture wars. In their case, it appears to be the side that favors same-sex marriage, abortion, etc.  According to themselves, they “speak for mainstream America.”

The AP article says that UltraViolet “promotes women’s rights.” According to their web site they are affiliated with MoveOn.org. Their director is formerly with People for the American Way.

So far as I know, the Pastor at the Capitol Hill Church of the Nazarene represents himself, and maybe the people of his flock. This is a very small church with only a few members.

So, what does a teeny-tiny, itty-bitty Nazarene Church in a neighborhood where people are more concerned with drive-by shootings, bad schools and making it to the end of the month than on-line petitions have to do with these two national groups? 

I dunno.

All I know is that I can say without much hesitation that this minister does not speak for most of the people in the neighborhood he is trying to pastor. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say that a good many of them would disagree with him and feel alienated by his actions. I can also say that I doubt if David Green, the President of Hobby Lobby, is going to cry himself to sleep tonight over this petition.

I’m not questioning this pastor’s sincerity or good intentions. I’m assuming he had a good time, delivering the petition. But if he wants to grow a church in that neighborhood with a membership beyond the size of what would fill a child’s clubhouse, he might re-think aligning himself with outsiders that most of the people there are bound to regard as their enemies.

Christian Persecution: The Solidarity Cross

I’m going to call it The Solidarity Cross.

The idea began last week with a post about a British woman who was fired for wearing a cross to work.

All these stories of Christian persecution, which range from verbal harassment to genocidal mass murder, lead us to the same questions. What would we do if it was us? What are we going to do to help them? And finally, how do Christians from all over the world, stand together?

Christianity bears the face of humanity. We are every race, almost all languages, cultures and climes. How do we stand together in the face of the growing persecution of Christians that exists at some phase of its continuum just about everywhere, including here in America and the rest of the so-called Christian West?

I think we should start small. With a symbol that can speak as clearly as words. That’s where the Solidarity Cross comes in.

The idea is simple and straight-forward: Christians should wear a cross outside their clothing in protest of the growing social hazing and economic discrimination directed toward Christians throughout most of the Western world. We should also wear it in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ who face violent persecution in much of the rest of the world.

When I first made the suggestion, I suggested just any cross. But the more I thought about it this week, the more I felt that we should try to wear a similar cross. The reason is that this makes a statement to anyone who sees it. It makes the point for us.

If we each just get a cross that suits our individual taste and put it on, those who see us will view it as nothing more than an individual gesture. They might think it is a fashion statement, or a personal statement of belief. But the message the you are standing in solidarity with your brothers and sisters in Christ in the face of Christian persecution would not show.

For this to have an impact, people have to know what statement we are making when they see our crosses. This is called “branding” in advertising and politics. It is often created with expensive advertising campaigns created by equally expensive ad agencies. God has not given us those resources.

But we can duplicate some of the things that make branding work. We can be consistent. We can be persistent. We can create a single symbolic cross that will be a symbol of our stand against Christian persecution.

The question: What should this cross look like?

I think it should be:

1. Inexpensive.

2. Easy to attach, such as a pin.

3. Distinctive.

What ideas do you have for this? I am looking for suggestions for what it should look like and how we implement this.

Ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions?

Christian Persecution: The High Price of Conversion

India: Converting from Hinduism

An Indian state’s draconian “anti-conversion” law has been partially struck down in a legal challenge brought by Christians and celebrated as “a triumph for religious freedom” in the country.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) took its case against the Himachal Pradesh Religion Act 2006 to the state’s high court, which ruled on 30 August that some provisions of the law were unconstitutional.

The case will now go to the Indian Supreme Court
Indian Supreme Court

 

The court removed a section that required a person intending to convert from one religion to another to give 30 days’ notice to the district magistrate. Failure to do this was punishable with a fine.

Two rules regarding the implementation of the act were also struck down. One required the district magistrate to give notice of the conversion request to any affected party before granting approval, and the other required a police case to be registered if the conversion was thought to have taken place using force or inducement or without notice.

The EFI challenged the law because of the ways in which it was being used, especially by Hindu extremists, to stop people from converting to Christianity.

Those wanting to convert were listed in a public registry, which was checked by Hindu extremists, who then tracked down, persecuted, and even murdered new Christians. People wanting to become Hindus did not, however, need to give public notice. (Read more here.)

 

Middle East: Converting from Islam

An Iranian man recently granted asylum in the U.S. after converting from Islam to Christianity told FoxNews.com he still fears the long arm of the rogue regime in Tehran.

The man, whose name is being withheld, said he fears hardline Muslims could come after him, even in the U.S. … Because apostasy – renouncing Islam – is punishable by death, the man told FoxNews.com he lives in fear.

… After moving to the U.S. in 2009 as a doctoral student, the man befriended several Christians and began attending Bible study. Two years later, he converted to Christianity, then sought the help of the American Center for Law and Justice in a bid to obtain asylum. In July, a federal court granted his request, allowing him to remain in the country.

Had he returned to his homeland, the man would have almost certainly faced imprisonment and possibly death, said Tiffany Barrans, international legal director for the ACLJ.

“Asylum cases based on religious persecution are very common in the United States, and those converts from Islam who seek asylum here are greatly increasing as persecution of converts in the Muslim world is on the rise,” Barrans said.

Iranian persecution of Christians came to the fore recently with the high-profile case of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was released from an Iranian prison earlier this month after an intense international campaign and diplomatic pressure. Nadarkhani, who served three years in prison, had faced a death penalty sentence on charges of apostasy.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/09/18/iranian-christian-convert-fearful-retaliation-despite-being-granted-asylum-in/print#ixzz27kV4mhV9

 

Christian Persecution: Nigerian Church Bombings Continue

More Nigerian Church Bombings

by John Campbell
September 25, 2012

 

A woman cries during a mass funeral for the victims of Christmas day bombing at St Theresa Catholic church, outside Nigeria's capital Abuja 01/02/2012. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters).A woman cries during a mass funeral for the victims of Christmas day bombing at St Theresa Catholic church, outside Nigeria’s capital Abuja 01/02/2012. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters).

 

On Sunday, September 24, immediately after an early mass, a suicide bomber attacked St. John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Bauchi. Five were reported killed with another forty-six injured.  Doctors warn that many of the wounded are in bad condition, and may die. No part of Boko Haram, a radical Islamic movement that targets the Nigerian political economy, has claimed responsibility. It is likely, however, that most Nigerians will impute to it the responsibility. The BBC, among other media, has stated that church bombings have waned while Boko Haram shifted its focus to communications towers. The Nigerian press, on the other hand, has reported attacks nearly every Sunday since at least the beginning of August.

The northern chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella group that includes almost all of the Christian churches, appears to be working to dampen down Christian revenge against Muslims.  Its spokesmen characterize the bombings as “a test of faith.” One CAN spokesman said, “Christians should look up to God, because vengeance is of God.  We are not comfortable with the killing of Christians, but we leave everything to God.  He has not failed us, and will not fail us.” (Read more here.)

 

Supreme Court Directs Response to Challenge on Abortion Funding in Obamacare

www.LC.org

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Supreme Court opened its new term and directed the federal government to respond to Liberty Counsel’s Petition for Rehearing within 30 days. Liberty Counsel filed the petition on behalf of Liberty University and two private individuals.

An appeals court in Richmond, VA, ruled that the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) barred the court from addressing the merits in Liberty Univ., Inc. v. Geithner, which challenged the individual mandate (Section 1501) and the employer insurance mandate (Section 1513) of ObamaCare. In addition to the constitutional arguments that Congress lacked authority to pass the law, the suit also raised the Free Exercise of Religion claim because of the forced abortion funding.

The first day of oral argument was dedicated to the AIA, the issue that Liberty University’s case placed before the High Court. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the AIA does not apply to ObamaCare.  Therefore, Liberty Counsel asked the Court to grant the Petition (because Liberty University prevailed on the AIA claim), vacate the ruling of the Court of Appeals, and remand (send back) the case to the Court of Appeals to consider the Free Exercise claim and the employer mandate, neither of which were decided by the High Court. (Read more here.)

Two of My Former Colleagues Duke it Out Over Tranny

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Judge Bill Graves, former member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, has issued a ruling that is being appealed by the Oklahoma ACLU whose director is Ryan Kiesal, another former member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

I know both these men well. They are both take-no-prisoners advocates for their decidedly oppositional positions in the culture wars. Judge Graves served in the Oklahoma House from 1978 to 2004 with a two-year hiatus to run for another office. Ryan Kiesel served from 2004 to 2008 when he left to move on with his career.

My husband likes to tease Judge Graves by calling him “Mainstream.” Judge Graves may be somewhat to the right of Attila the Hun, but he has a good sense of humor and doesn’t take offense, even when, as is not the case with my husband, offense is intended.

Ryan Kiesel, back when he was in office, was the vice chair of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Democratic Caucus. While he was in that position, he used to yell (and I mean YELL) at me several times a month, telling me to GET OUT of the Democratic Party, mainly for being pro life. He’s a decent guy, loves his wife and baby and is deeply sincere about his beliefs. He just has trouble understanding where he leaves off and other people with their varying ideas begin.

If I had a flat tire on the side of the road, either one of these two men would stop and help me. Or at least Ryan would stop and help me if he didn’t recognize that it was me.

It seems that Mainstream … er … Judge Graves had a case before him having something or other to do with a transvestite/transexual who wanted to change his/her name to something else because of a “transition from male to female.” According to a Daily Oklahoman news story, Judge Graves told this person “you can’t change what God gave you.” Whereupon, Ryan Kiesel and the Oklahoma ACLU rode in on their white horse and filed an appeal against Judge Graves.

Since I know all the players in this little drama (with the exception of the name-changing transvestite/transexual, who has my sympathy) it has the quality of a farcical playlet for me. I can’t stop laughing as I type this.

I don’t know if you’ll enjoy it as much as I do, but if you are interested, here’s a bit of the resulting news story for your fun and amazement.

The Oklahoman’s Watchdog Team: Looking out for you.

ACLU files appeal of Oklahoma judge’s order denying name change

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma on Thursday appealed a judge’s decision that denied a name change.

By Nolan Clay | Published: September 28, 2012 1
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma on Thursday appealed a judge’s

refusal to let an Oklahoma City man planning on a sex change to have a feminine name.

The ACLU filed the appeal at the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Oklahoma County District Judge Bill Graves on Aug. 30 refused to let James Dean Ingram, 29, of Oklahoma City, have the name Angela Renee Ingram.

Ingram told the judge in a petition the reason for the name change request was “transition from male to female.” Ingram said the judge stated, “You can’t change what God gave you.”

Ingram wants to have sex-change surgery. Ingram already dresses in women’s clothes, has a purse, is seeing a therapist and is taking hormones.

“A person’s name is a fundamental part of their identity, and it is indefensible for a judge to rob someone of their legal right choose their own name,” said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. “Judge Graves’ persistent imposition of his own value system in place of the law and his denial of our client’s right to have the name of her choice is an injustice we are determined to right.”

Three advocacy groups, Oklahomans for Equality, Cimarron Alliance and The Equality Network, issued a news release Thursday strongly supporting the appeal. (Read more here.)

Picking My Prison: Which Diet Program for Me?

I’ve got to lose weight. 

I will not tell you how much I weigh. I will admit that my blood pressure is edging up and my energy level is dropping down. It’s time to stop buying bigger clothes. Time to stop hiding from mirrors. Time to quit avoiding the scale and “forgetting” to go get those blood tests the doctor ordered.

It’s time for me to drop a pound or 50. 

The trouble is, I don’t want to. Eat less, I mean.

If you could wave that proverbial wand and painlessly shave off this bulk, I’d be all for that. But watching every single bite I eat and not eating anything I like and never feeling full sounds like a punishment we should give to the worst criminals.

I’ve considered ways to do this. I hear Weight Watchers is having a join-for-free special right now. SparkPeople costs nothing and seems to work for a lot of folks.

All these programs work. If you do them. They even work for me. If I do them. Truth told, I have no trouble losing weight. I can lose on any “program.” What I can’t do is keep it up.

These “programs” feel like whole-life straight jackets to me.  I can lose weight. All I have to do is watch every bite I eat with an obsessive exactness that often involves weighing my food and measuring it out at every meal as if I was building a bomb instead of sitting down to eat. No spontaneous bite may cross my lips.

I become both my own jailer and my own prisoner, locked in my own gastronomic maximum security prison; caught in a war I can not win because it’s between me … and me. Keeping weight off is sentencing myself to this prison for life without parole. If I relax for a day, I stop losing. If I relax for several days, I gain.

So. I have to keep tabs of every bite I eat. Every. Single. Bite. Every nibble. Every sniff and whiff of food cooking in the kitchen as I walk by. I have to write it down, tally it up and “track it.”

I also have to monitor myself keeping tabs on myself to make sure that I don’t forget to keep tabs on myself and start gaining weight again.

If that isn’t a self-made hell, what is?

I’d forget about it. Again. And buy bigger clothes. Again.

But there’s that blood pressure, creeping up, and that constant tiredness that’s become my new normal. I’m willing to be ugly for food. But am I willing to die for it?  I don’t want to stand before God and have Him thump me on the head and say, “You threw away 20 great years I gave you because of chicken fried steak?”

I need to give up avoiding mirrors and bathroom scales and pick a program. I’ve been going to “do that tomorrow” for a couple of weeks now. I’m “going to do that tomorrow” again. I’ll let you know this weekend if I do any better this week than I have in the ones before. Maybe talking to you about it will help me go ahead and take the plunge. I’m hoping it will.

Now let’s see … Weight Watchers or SparkPeople … or maybe something else … Which prison will I pick?

The Year of Faith Oct 11, 2012 – Nov 24, 2013

I thought you might like to read the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter proclaiming the Year of Faith.  It will begin October 11.

Have a blessed Sunday. 

 

APOSTOLIC LETTER

“MOTU PROPRIO DATA”

PORTA FIDEI

OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF

BENEDICT XVI

FOR THE INDICTION OF THE YEAR OF FAITH

1. The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17:22). To profess faith in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is to believe in one God who is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8): the Father, who in the fullness of time sent his Son for our salvation; Jesus Christ, who in the mystery of his death and resurrection redeemed the world; the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church across the centuries as we await the Lord’s glorious return.

2. Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ. During the homily at the Mass marking the inauguration of my pontificate I said: “The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.”[1] It often happens that Christians are more concerned for the social, cultural and political consequences of their commitment, continuing to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society. In reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, but it is often openly denied.[2] Whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people.

3. We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden (cf. Mt 5:13-16). The people of today can still experience the need to go to the well, like the Samaritan woman, in order to hear Jesus, who invites us to believe in him and to draw upon the source of living water welling up within him (cf. Jn 4:14). We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God, faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples (cf. Jn 6:51). Indeed, the teaching of Jesus still resounds in our day with the same power: “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life” (Jn 6:27). The question posed by his listeners is the same that we ask today: “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” (Jn 6:28). We know Jesus’ reply: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (Jn 6:29). Belief in Jesus Christ, then, is the way to arrive definitively at salvation.

4. In the light of all this, I have decided to announce a Year of Faith. It will begin on 11 October 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and it will end on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on 24 November 2013. The starting date of 11 October 2012 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text promulgated by my Predecessor, Blessed John Paul II,[3] with a view to illustrating for all the faithful the power and beauty of the faith. This document, an authentic fruit of the Second Vatican Council, was requested by the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 as an instrument at the service of catechesis[4] and it was produced in collaboration with all the bishops of the Catholic Church. Moreover, the theme of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that I have convoked for October 2012 is “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”. This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith. It is not the first time that the Church has been called to celebrate a Year of Faith. My venerable Predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI announced one in 1967, to commemorate the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul on the 19th centenary of their supreme act of witness. He thought of it as a solemn moment for the whole Church to make “an authentic and sincere profession of the same faith”; moreover, he wanted this to be confirmed in a way that was “individual and collective, free and conscious, inward and outward, humble and frank”.[5] He thought that in this way the whole Church could reappropriate “exact knowledge of the faith, so as to reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it, and confess it”.[6] The great upheavals of that year made even more evident the need for a celebration of this kind. It concluded with the Credo of the People of God,[7] intended to show how much the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past.

5. In some respects, my venerable predecessor saw this Year as a “consequence and a necessity of the postconciliar period”,[8] fully conscious of the grave difficulties of the time, especially with regard to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation. It seemed to me that timing the launch of the Year of Faith to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council would provide a good opportunity to help people understand that the texts bequeathed by the Council Fathers, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, “have lost nothing of their value or brilliance. They need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the Church’s Tradition … I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning.”[9] I would also like to emphasize strongly what I had occasion to say concerning the Council a few months after my election as Successor of Peter: “if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.”[10]

6. The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world, Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us. The Council itself, in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, said this: While “Christ, ‘holy, innocent and undefiled’ (Heb 7:26) knew nothing of sin (cf. 2 Cor 5:21), but came only to expiate the sins of the people (cf. Heb 2:17)… the Church … clasping sinners to its bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. The Church, ‘like a stranger in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God’, announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes (cf. 1 Cor 11:26). But by the power of the risen Lord it is given strength to overcome, in patience and in love, its sorrow and its difficulties, both those that are from within and those that are from without, so that it may reveal in the world, faithfully, although with shadows, the mystery of its Lord until, in the end, it shall be manifested in full light.”[11]

The Year of Faith, from this perspective, is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world. In the mystery of his death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 5:31). For Saint Paul, this Love ushers us into a new life: “We were buried … with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4). Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. “Faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life (cf. Rom 12:2; Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:20-29; 2 Cor 5:17).

7. “Caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Cor 5:14): it is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. In rediscovering his love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigour that can never fade away. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed, it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord’s invitation to adhere to his word and become his disciples. Believers, so Saint Augustine tells us, “strengthen themselves by believing”.[12] The saintly Bishop of Hippo had good reason to express himself in this way. As we know, his life was a continual search for the beauty of the faith until such time as his heart would find rest in God.[13] His extensive writings, in which he explains the importance of believing and the truth of the faith, continue even now to form a heritage of incomparable riches, and they still help many people in search of God to find the right path towards the “door of faith”.

Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one’s life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God.

8. On this happy occasion, I wish to invite my brother bishops from all over the world to join the Successor of Peter, during this time of spiritual grace that the Lord offers us, in recalling the precious gift of faith. We want to celebrate this Year in a worthy and fruitful manner. Reflection on the faith will have to be intensified, so as to help all believers in Christ to acquire a more conscious and vigorous adherence to the Gospel, especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is currently experiencing. We will have the opportunity to profess our faith in the Risen Lord in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world; in our homes and among our families, so that everyone may feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times. Religious communities as well as parish communities, and all ecclesial bodies old and new, are to find a way, during this Year, to make a public profession of the Credo.

9. We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. It will also be a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is “the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; … and also the source from which all its power flows.”[14] At the same time, we make it our prayer that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed,[15] and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year.

Not without reason, Christians in the early centuries were required to learn the creed from memory. It served them as a daily prayer not to forget the commitment they had undertaken in baptism. With words rich in meaning, Saint Augustine speaks of this in a homily on the redditio symboli, the handing over of the creed: “the symbol of the holy mystery that you have all received together and that today you have recited one by one, are the words on which the faith of Mother Church is firmly built above the stable foundation that is Christ the Lord. You have received it and recited it, but in your minds and hearts you must keep it ever present, you must repeat it in your beds, recall it in the public squares and not forget it during meals: even when your body is asleep, you must watch over it with your hearts.”[16]

10. At this point I would like to sketch a path intended to help us understand more profoundly not only the content of the faith, but also the act by which we choose to entrust ourselves fully to God, in complete freedom. In fact, there exists a profound unity between the act by which we believe and the content to which we give our assent. Saint Paul helps us to enter into this reality when he writes: “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” (Rom 10:10). The heart indicates that the first act by which one comes to faith is God’s gift and the action of grace which acts and transforms the person deep within.

The example of Lydia is particularly eloquent in this regard. Saint Luke recounts that, while he was at Philippi, Paul went on the Sabbath to proclaim the Gospel to some women; among them was Lydia and “the Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). There is an important meaning contained within this expression. Saint Luke teaches that knowing the content to be believed is not sufficient unless the heart, the authentic sacred space within the person, is opened by grace that allows the eyes to see below the surface and to understand that what has been proclaimed is the word of God.

Confessing with the lips indicates in turn that faith implies public testimony and commitment. A Christian may never think of belief as a private act. Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him. This “standing with him” points towards an understanding of the reasons for believing. Faith, precisely because it is a free act, also demands social responsibility for what one believes. The Church on the day of Pentecost demonstrates with utter clarity this public dimension of believing and proclaiming one’s faith fearlessly to every person. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes us fit for mission and strengthens our witness, making it frank and courageous.

Profession of faith is an act both personal and communitarian. It is the Church that is the primary subject of faith. In the faith of the Christian community, each individual receives baptism, an effective sign of entry into the people of believers in order to obtain salvation. As we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “ ‘I believe’ is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during baptism. ‘We believe’ is the faith of the Church confessed by the bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers. ‘I believe’ is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both ‘I believe’ and ‘we believe’.”[17]

Evidently, knowledge of the content of faith is essential for giving one’s own assent, that is to say for adhering fully with intellect and will to what the Church proposes. Knowledge of faith opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God. The giving of assent implies that, when we believe, we freely accept the whole mystery of faith, because the guarantor of its truth is God who reveals himself and allows us to know his mystery of love.[18]

On the other hand, we must not forget that in our cultural context, very many people, while not claiming to have the gift of faith, are nevertheless sincerely searching for the ultimate meaning and definitive truth of their lives and of the world. This search is an authentic “preamble” to the faith, because it guides people onto the path that leads to the mystery of God. Human reason, in fact, bears within itself a demand for “what is perennially valid and lasting”.[19] This demand constitutes a permanent summons, indelibly written into the human heart, to set out to find the One whom we would not be seeking had he not already set out to meet us.[20] To this encounter, faith invites us and it opens us in fullness.

11. In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council. In the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, signed, not by accident, on the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed John Paul II wrote: “this catechism will make a very important contribution to that work of renewing the whole life of the Church … I declare it to be a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith.”[21]

It is in this sense that that the Year of Faith will have to see a concerted effort to rediscover and study the fundamental content of the faith that receives its systematic and organic synthesis in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Here, in fact, we see the wealth of teaching that the Church has received, safeguarded and proposed in her two thousand years of history. From Sacred Scripture to the Fathers of the Church, from theological masters to the saints across the centuries, the Catechism provides a permanent record of the many ways in which the Church has meditated on the faith and made progress in doctrine so as to offer certitude to believers in their lives of faith.

In its very structure, the Catechism of the Catholic Church follows the development of the faith right up to the great themes of daily life. On page after page, we find that what is presented here is no theory, but an encounter with a Person who lives within the Church. The profession of faith is followed by an account of sacramental life, in which Christ is present, operative and continues to build his Church. Without the liturgy and the sacraments, the profession of faith would lack efficacy, because it would lack the grace which supports Christian witness. By the same criterion, the teaching of the Catechism on the moral life acquires its full meaning if placed in relationship with faith, liturgy and prayer.

12. In this Year, then, the Catechism of the Catholic Church will serve as a tool providing real support for the faith, especially for those concerned with the formation of Christians, so crucial in our cultural context. To this end, I have invited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by agreement with the competent Dicasteries of the Holy See, to draw up a Note, providing the Church and individual believers with some guidelines on how to live this Year of Faith in the most effective and appropriate ways, at the service of belief and evangelization.

To a greater extent than in the past, faith is now being subjected to a series of questions arising from a changed mentality which, especially today, limits the field of rational certainties to that of scientific and technological discoveries. Nevertheless, the Church has never been afraid of demonstrating that there cannot be any conflict between faith and genuine science, because both, albeit via different routes, tend towards the truth.[22]

13. One thing that will be of decisive importance in this Year is retracing the history of our faith, marked as it is by the unfathomable mystery of the interweaving of holiness and sin. While the former highlights the great contribution that men and women have made to the growth and development of the community through the witness of their lives, the latter must provoke in each person a sincere and continuing work of conversion in order to experience the mercy of the Father which is held out to everyone.

During this time we will need to keep our gaze fixed upon Jesus Christ, the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2): in him, all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfilment. The joy of love, the answer to the drama of suffering and pain, the power of forgiveness in the face of an offence received and the victory of life over the emptiness of death: all this finds fulfilment in the mystery of his Incarnation, in his becoming man, in his sharing our human weakness so as to transform it by the power of his resurrection. In him who died and rose again for our salvation, the examples of faith that have marked these two thousand years of our salvation history are brought into the fullness of light.

By faith, Mary accepted the Angel’s word and believed the message that she was to become the Mother of God in the obedience of her devotion (cf. Lk 1:38). Visiting Elizabeth, she raised her hymn of praise to the Most High for the marvels he worked in those who trust him (cf. Lk 1:46-55). With joy and trepidation she gave birth to her only son, keeping her virginity intact (cf. Lk 2:6-7). Trusting in Joseph, her husband, she took Jesus to Egypt to save him from Herod’s persecution (cf. Mt 2:13-15). With the same faith, she followed the Lord in his preaching and remained with him all the way to Golgotha (cf. Jn 19:25-27). By faith, Mary tasted the fruits of Jesus’ resurrection, and treasuring every memory in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19, 51), she passed them on to the Twelve assembled with her in the Upper Room to receive the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14; 2:1-4).

By faith, the Apostles left everything to follow their Master (cf. Mk 10:28). They believed the words with which he proclaimed the Kingdom of God present and fulfilled in his person (cf. Lk 11:20). They lived in communion of life with Jesus who instructed them with his teaching, leaving them a new rule of life, by which they would be recognized as his disciples after his death (cf. Jn 13:34-35). By faith, they went out to the whole world, following the command to bring the Gospel to all creation (cf. Mk 16:15) and they fearlessly proclaimed to all the joy of the resurrection, of which they were faithful witnesses.

By faith, the disciples formed the first community, gathered around the teaching of the Apostles, in prayer, in celebration of the Eucharist, holding their possessions in common so as to meet the needs of the brethren (cf. Acts 2:42-47).

By faith, the martyrs gave their lives, bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel that had transformed them and made them capable of attaining to the greatest gift of love: the forgiveness of their persecutors.

By faith, men and women have consecrated their lives to Christ, leaving all things behind so as to live obedience, poverty and chastity with Gospel simplicity, concrete signs of waiting for the Lord who comes without delay. By faith, countless Christians have promoted action for justice so as to put into practice the word of the Lord, who came to proclaim deliverance from oppression and a year of favour for all (cf. Lk 4:18-19).

By faith, across the centuries, men and women of all ages, whose names are written in the Book of Life (cf. Rev 7:9, 13:8), have confessed the beauty of following the Lord Jesus wherever they were called to bear witness to the fact that they were Christian: in the family, in the workplace, in public life, in the exercise of the charisms and ministries to which they were called.

By faith, we too live: by the living recognition of the Lord Jesus, present in our lives and in our history.

14. The Year of Faith will also be a good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity. As Saint Paul reminds us: “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). With even stronger words – which have always placed Christians under obligation – Saint James said: “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’, without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some one will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith” (Jas 2:14-18).

Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path. Indeed, many Christians dedicate their lives with love to those who are lonely, marginalized or excluded, as to those who are the first with a claim on our attention and the most important for us to support, because it is in them that the reflection of Christ’s own face is seen. Through faith, we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These words are a warning that must not be forgotten and a perennial invitation to return the love by which he takes care of us. It is faith that enables us to recognize Christ and it is his love that impels us to assist him whenever he becomes our neighbour along the journey of life. Supported by faith, let us look with hope at our commitment in the world, as we await “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13; cf. Rev 21:1).

15. Having reached the end of his life, Saint Paul asks his disciple Timothy to “aim at faith” (2 Tim 2:22) with the same constancy as when he was a boy (cf. 2 Tim 3:15). We hear this invitation directed to each of us, that none of us grow lazy in the faith. It is the lifelong companion that makes it possible to perceive, ever anew, the marvels that God works for us. Intent on gathering the signs of the times in the present of history, faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.

“That the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph” (2 Th 3:1): may this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love. The words of Saint Peter shed one final ray of light on faith: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:6-9). The life of Christians knows the experience of joy as well as the experience of suffering. How many of the saints have lived in solitude! How many believers, even in our own day, are tested by God’s silence when they would rather hear his consoling voice! The trials of life, while helping us to understand the mystery of the Cross and to participate in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Col 1:24), are a prelude to the joy and hope to which faith leads: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). We believe with firm certitude that the Lord Jesus has conquered evil and death. With this sure confidence we entrust ourselves to him: he, present in our midst, overcomes the power of the evil one (cf. Lk 11:20); and the Church, the visible community of his mercy, abides in him as a sign of definitive reconciliation with the Father.

Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed “blessed because she believed” (Lk 1:45).

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 11 October in the year 2011, the seventh of my Pontificate.

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

[1] Homily for the beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome (24 April 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 710.

[2] Cf. Benedict XVI, Homily at Holy Mass in Lisbon’s “Terreiro do Paço” (11 May 2010): Insegnamenti VI:1 (2010), 673.

[3] Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (11 October 1992): AAS 86 (1994), 113-118.

[4] Cf. Final Report of the Second Extraordinary Synod of Bishops (7 December 1985), II, B, a, 4 in Enchiridion Vaticanum, ix, n. 1797.

[5] Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Petrum et Paulum Apostolos on the XIX centenary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul (22 February 1967): AAS 59 (1967), 196.

[6] Ibid., 198.

[7] Paul VI, Credo of the People of God, cf. Homily at Mass on the XIX centenary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul at the conclusion of the “Year of Faith” (30 June 1968): AAS 60 (1968), 433-445.

[8] Paul VI, General Audience (14 June 1967): Insegnamenti V (1967), 801.

[9] John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (6 January 2001), 57: AAS 93 (2001), 308.

[10] Address to the Roman Curia (22 December 2005): AAS 98 (2006), 52.

[11] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 8.

[12] De Utilitate Credendi, I:2.

[13] Cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, I:1.

[14] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10.

[15] Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (11 October 1992): AAS 86 (1994), 116.

[16] Sermo 215:1.

[17] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 167.

[18] Cf. First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, chap. III: DS 3008-3009: Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 5.

[19] Benedict XVI, Address at the Collège des Bernardins, Paris (12 September 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 722.

[20] Cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, XIII:1.

[21] John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (11 October 1992): AAS 86 (1994), 115 and 117.

[22] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio (14 September 1998), 34, 106: AAS 91 (1999), 31-32, 86-87.

© Copyright 2011 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

 

 

 

Marriage is a Mess and Homosexuals Didn’t Do It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Church, Same Sex Marriage and Biased Reporting

Archbishop Myers in a photo from Archdiocese web page.

Archbishop John J Meyers, of the Archdiocese of Newark, went out on a limb and made a statement Tuesday supporting the Church’s 2,000 year-old teaching on marriage. The resulting news article by NorthJersey.com is one of the finest examples of biased reporting and deliberate manipulation of public opinion I’ve seen today.

Not, notice, that I’ve seen in my lifetime, or even this week. Examples of biased reporting and deliberate manipulation of public opinion aimed at discrediting the Church’s stand in favor of traditional Christian morality are so commonplace that I can only say that this article is the most egregious I’ve seen today. So far. I reserve the right to come back later today with something worse.

The article leads with a few paragraphs describing the Archbishop’s statement, including the fact the he dropped the c bomb (“Catholics who disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage should ‘refrain from receiving Holy Communion.’”) Then it moves on to all sorts of saber rattling quotes from various secularists expressing their concern about the evils of Catholics Who Preach Politics From the Pulpit.

As usual for journalism of this type, the article tries to imply that a Bishop of the Catholic Church who issues a pastoral letter that explains Church teaching is violating the law. It creates this implication by quoting carefully selected people who can be counted on to say the right things.

When the reporter asks the head of an organization that is well known for opposing Church teaching if the bishop “crossed the line” with his letter, they can be sure they’ll get a quote that verges on condemnation to use in the story. That’s what happened here. Everyone the article quotes allows as how Bishop Myers did not, in fact, “cross the line” but they qualify this with ponderous statements implying that he’s awwwwfulllllyyyyy close to doing it.

The dubious reporting is topped off with an unflattering photo of Bishop Myers; one of those mouth-open, eyes-half-closed snaps that happens to everyone. After my years in public office, I’ve got some ghastly photos of me floating around out there. Not that I’m any beauty. But I can tell you from experience that a skilled news photographer can make you look any way they want.

This tactic of eliciting attack quotes by interviewing people you know will give them to you and then illustrating the story with a photo that makes your prey look daffy or drunk is pretty standard stuff. That’s why I’m going to reproduce part of this article here and link to it. This post is a lesson in spotting anti-Catholic propaganda. The comments section of the article demonstrates the effect this kind of propaganda has on people.

If you agree with Bishop Myers, you might drop him a line at the Archdiocese of Newark, 171 Clifton Ave, Newark, NJ 07104. I’m sure he’s getting plenty of the other kind of letter.

Here, for your edification, is the article. It says in part:

Newark archbishop urges voters to defend marriage, life

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2012 LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 25, 2012, 6:41 AM
BY ABBOTT KOLOFF
STAFF WRITER
THE RECORD
PRINT | E-MAIL
In a sweeping pastoral statement to be made public today, the leader of more than 1 million North Jersey Catholics urges them to vote “in defense of marriage and life,” and warns that the passage of same-sex marriage laws might lead to a government crackdown on their religious freedoms.

CHRIS PEDOTA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Archbishop John Myers of the Diocese of Newark
Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said the statement on gay marriage was not timed to coincide with the November election, now little more than a month away, and that he was not calling on Catholics to vote for a particular candidate. But he said they should examine the “full spectrum” of each candidate, including how they stand on abortion and “a proper backing of marriage.”

He also said in the statement, a copy of which was provided to The Record before its release, that Catholics who disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage should “refrain from receiving Holy Communion.” He said he issued the statement because of what he described as a lack of clarity on the subject by other bishops.

“It’s not 100 percent for either party,” Myers said in an interview Monday at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. “The basic point is that we must defend what we believe to be the truth. That includes voting, speaking out, contacting officials.”

The statement is being issued amid a politically charged atmosphere at a time when some other Catholic leaders have been criticized for talking politics from the pulpit. President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in May. His Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, opposes it. (Read more here.)

40 Days for Life Starts TODAY !!

40 Days for Life opens September 26 in 316 locations

It’s official! This 40 Days for Life campaign will be a record-setter! The campaign, from September 26 – November 4, will be the largest and longest internationally coordinated pro-life mobilization in history … and you can help save lives by getting involved TODAY!

Here’s a quick rundown:

316 locations — the most ever!
49 US states — plus Washington, DC
7 Canadian provinces
Australia, England, Spain and — for the first time — Uganda
Many NEW cities … 46 first-time campaigns
The full list of locations for the 40 Days for Life campaign has just been posted. Click on the site that is closest to where you live. You will be redirected to the web page for that local 40 Days for Life campaign. On that local web page, sign up with your name and e-mail address to get involved and help save lives!

Take the leap of faith and get involved with 40 Days for Life

Have you been to pray at a 40 Days for Life vigil yet? You may ask, “What do I do?” or “What sign should I bring?” The answer is simple; the only sign you really need to bring is yourself, for you represent God’s love.

Here’s a video featuring 40 Days for Life national director David Bereit and campaign director Shawn Carney, who shared some thoughts at a recent pro-life gathering in Maryland.

TO LEARN MORE OR SEE THE VIDEO GO HERE.

I Guess I Can Get My Rosary Out of the Trash

I guess I can get my Rosary out of the trash and pull my statue of Our Lady down off the closet  shelf. 

It turns out that Jesus didn’t have a wife, after all. In fact, the “great find” which was supposed to “prove” that He had a wife isn’t a for-real artifact from the fourth century at all.

It was a year or two ago that somebody put a “special” on television revealing the location of Jesus’ grave. Not, mind you, the grave from which He rose from the dead, but the more ordinary kind of grave where when they put you there, you stay.

Then there are the annual was-Judas-a-misunderstood-revolutionary-who-was-just-trying-to-test-Jesus Easter specials. Let’s not forget the so-called historical Jesus Christmas shows which “prove” basically that Jesus never existed. We’ve got the Moses never lived Passover pageants and the Apostles hid Jesus’ body and then lied all the way to their own martyrdom Lenten fare.

I won’t even go into the was-Jesus’-real-father-a-Roman-soldier-on-leave extravaganzas that can pop up anytime of the year. Those are just too cute to talk about.

Every one of these goofball “scholarly” presentations has something in common with all the others: Each of them is conjecture presented as fact. Add to that their obvious agenda and I come to a question of my own:

Why in the name of ponzi schemes and intellectual shell games does anyone with half a brain pay attention to this tripe?

What would it matter if the piece of manuscript on which Jesus was supposed to have talked about his wife hadn’t been a fraud? Even the person who put it forward said that it was written four hundred years after the Resurrection. That’s the equivalent of me writing something about King James I on a piece of paper and then some idiot in the year 2800 coming across it and telling everyone that what I had written “proved” that say, King James I was ten feet tall and rode a unicorn to church.

If they believed that, they’d be stupid. The same way that people who get all excited about these supposed “proofs” concerning Christ the Lord are stupid.

We can’t stop people from making fools of themselves with this stuff. Their naked agenda to shake people’s faith appears to be irresistibly compelling to them. They just keep pumping it out, one shot across the bow of faith after another, and every time they do it, some silly sap somewhere takes them seriously.

But as for me, I think the next time this happens, I’m just going to switch the channel. That’s a lot easier than fishing my Rosary out of the trash and pulling my statue of Our Lady down off the closet shelf every few weeks.

Speaking of Hypocrisy and Why It Matters

Mark Shea, over at Catholic and Enjoying It, just put up a post that I have to share here. He links an article that we all need to read and then ponder.

Please, do NOT read this and despair! We do not, any of us, belong to the R or the D. We follow a Risen Savior.

The truth, even when it hurts, is the first step to changing things. Those of us who want to actually build a culture of life rather than just talk about it, need to know the truth. It will, as Jesus told us, set us free. In this instance, set us free to hold these people accountable.

Mark Shea’s post says in part:

And in Today’s Prolife Political Wife Beating News
September 25, 2012 By Mark Shea 5 Comments
House Republicans Pass Funding for Planned Parenthood, Obamacare and Regulation Forcing Catholics to Act Against Faith
They love you, baby. It’s just that, well, they work so *hard* for you and you keep making them angry with your stupid endless talk about the children and you wanting some respect. Can anybody blame them if they haul off and smack you now and then?
Here’s what you do, prolifer, according to the Current Wisdom: shut up about the whole prolife thing, let your Man in Congress *talk* about being prolife but stop hectoring him to go to the extreme of doing somethig about it. Smile for the cameras when they wave you over for the photo ops and, for heaven’s sake, try to lose some weight and not be such an *embarrassment* to your man! Do you *want* him to lose? He’s the only one that’s going to love a slug like you. So learn how to take a punch now and then and get back in line. A man can only put up with so much. (Read more here.)

The War on Girls: Planned Parenthood Settles Child Abuse Case Out of Court

 

According to a September 21 LifeNews article, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region has settled a lawsuit filed against it for failure to report incestuous statutory rape of a minor and sexual abuse of a minor to authorities.

The plaintiff in the case, Denise Fairbanks, informed Planned Parenthood when her father brought her to the clinic for an abortion that she was being forced to have sex. However, Planned Parenthood failed to report this to authorities.

Why would anyone send a 16-year-old girl who has asked for help back to her rapist? Planned Parenthood claims that it is concerned about “women’s health.” It attacks anyone who opposes it in any way as being “against women’s health” and “against women” generally. Yet they return a 16-year-old girl to her rapist without even contacting the authorities.

 This is not the first such case that Planned Parenthood has been forced to settle. Another lawsuit about Planned Parenthood failing to report sexual abuse of a minor was settled in the same court last year.

The LifeNews article does not address the question of whether or not law enforcement has filed criminal charges against the Planned Parenthood employees who failed to report this rape and sexual abuse of a minor child.

The article reads in part:

A Planned Parenthood abortion business in Ohio has been forced to settle a lawsuit from a teenager on whom it did an abortion and failed to report suspected child rape to authorities.

The child abuse victim has settled with Planned Parenthood, after a lawsuit included multiple charges such as failure to report incestuous statutory rape and sexual abuse of a minor by her father.

The case, Denise Fairbanks v. Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region et al., was filed by Denise Fairbanks in the Hamilton County Ohio Court of Common Pleas on May 7, 2007 and it named Planned Parenthood, Southwest Ohio Region, in failing to report the abuse committed by her father.

The Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life legal group, supported Denise, who had been sexually abused by her father from the time she was 13. When she became pregnant at age 16, her father took her to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. Although she informed the abortion clinic staff that she was being forced to have sex, they chose not to comply with mandatory reporting procedures

The Planned Parenthood staff did not inform local law enforcement, nor did they make any further inquiries into Fairbanks’ paternal abuse. After the abortion, Fairbanks was returned to the same abusive situation, where she remained for another year-and-a-half. More than a year later, her father was apprehended through a report filed by Denise’s basketball coach, and sent to jail.

“This is just one of multiple cases that have demonstrated Planned Parenthood’s willingness to cover for sex offenders,” said Dana Cody, Executive Director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. (Read more here.)


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