Since all I know of hell is what I’ve learned during the last week of session in the Oklahoma Legislature, I’ve decided to talk about that other place.
Since all I know of hell is what I’ve learned during the last week of session in the Oklahoma Legislature, I’ve decided to talk about that other place.
There are times when I get up and walk off the House floor.
I go to my office and tell my secretary not to let anyone in. Or, I will go wandering around the rotunda.
But I get away from the mike on my desk and its ever-beckoning invitation to let fly and say whatever I want.
Because what I would want to say in that heated moment is not what I would want to say later, after the dust has settled and I’ve found my inner sane.
I am in a similar situation now, which is why I am not going to weigh in on the only bit of news today that has anything directly to do with me. Because I know that what I would say now is not what I would want to have said later.
Sometimes, it’s better to just keep your mouth shut.
The Supreme Court of the United States has decided not to hear a case based on an Oklahoma law concerning the prescribing of drugs used in chemical abortions. I co-authored an amicus curiae brief in favor of this law, along with my friend House Majority Leader Pam Peterson. That’s why I’ve been mum on this case up until now.
I will talk about it more. Later.
For now, here are a few facts (which I will have some thoughts about in the future) from the Washington Post:
The Supreme Court left in place Monday a decision by Oklahoma’s highest court that a major provision of that state’s new abortion law is unconstitutional because it effectively bans all medication abortions.
The high court last summer had tentively agreed to consider the issue but asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court for clarification on exactly what the law proscribes. The Oklahoma court issued an opinion last week that the law would effectively end the early-term practice of medication-induced abortions, and was thus unconstitutional.
Upon receiving the Oklahoma opinion, the Supreme Court then announced Monday that it will not schedule the case for briefing and consideration. As is customary, the justices gave no reason for deciding not to hear the case.
It is clear, however, that there are other ways for the issue to reach the Supreme Court. A number of states have passed similar restrictions on medication abortions, and the issue is working its way through the courts.
According to an October 21 Barnabas Aid report, Islamist rebels waged war on the civilians of the Christian towns of Haffar and Saddad in Syria.
From Barnabas Aid:
Churches were vandalised, looted and graffitied with insults against Christianity
To join the discussion about A Confident Heart, or to order a copy, go here.
There’s an old story about Abraham Lincoln and his horse. It seems that the president was trying to get on his horse, but the horse started hopping around and got his back hoof hung in the stirrup. Lincoln stopped, looked at the horse, and said, “If you want to get on, I’ll get off.”
I think that God sometimes says something similar to us. Women, in particular, are afflicted with the Miss Perfection syndrome. I think it comes from our strivings to be good girls. We share an all-too-human craving for approval and validation from the people around us. For women, this is intensified by our intuitive understanding of others.
Make no mistake about it, women are better at people skills than men. When it comes to human interaction, we have a whole other level of intelligence that is just not there in most men. This intelligence can cripple rather than empower if we turn it on ourselves in the guise of people-pleasing.
The truth is, if we are trying to please others 24/7, then we aren’t in sync with the God Who made us. We aren’t doing what He made us to do. Read the Scriptures through from “In the beginning” to “Come Lord Jesus.” You will not find admonitions to make people pleasing a life’s goal in there anywhere.
On the contrary. We are a exhorted to please God, even if it displeases other people.
That’s a tough order for most of us with double x chromosomes, wired as we are with antennae that respond to the slightest change in the emotional weather of those around us.
Renee Swope wrote a book from her heart to other women when she wrote A Confident Heart. The subtitle, How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God’s Promises, says it all.
Mrs Swope talks directly to women with this book. She frames her message by sharing the life lessons she has learned, first from growing up in a broken home with a distant father, and then walking the high-wire act of care-giver, mom, writer, ministry leader.
The truth is, the average American woman’s life is an insanity-making brew of conflicting demands based on conflicting roles. Most women work almost non-stop at their various jobs, and most women feel that they are failing at least a little bit at each of those jobs. We live, as Henry David Thoreau said, “lives of quiet desperation.”
We drive ourselves to get it all right, at least on the outside, and often end up neglecting the inside of our lives and the lives of those around us. Miss Perfection doesn’t have time to follow God because she is too busy trying to prove something that can’t be proven to people who really don’t care all that much, anyway.
We are not the sum of our successes with our failures subtracted to give us a net worth. We are children of the Living God, and He loves us, just exactly as we are.
People pleasing is a poison that drives us to drink deep of the unhealthy brew of perfectionism and pretense. God pleasing is simply being who we are.
People pleasing perfectionism is all about lying on the outside, hiding the flaws that make us human and hoping that no one ever finds out. It is about self-isolating fear and fraudulent living under the whip of our own demands. God pleasing is a matter of letting go and simply knowing … accepting … that He is God. God pleasing is as simple as saying yes in a long sigh of relief.
We don’t have to do anything for God to love us. No matter what we accomplish, He will not love us any more. No matter how often we fail, He will not love us any less.
Unconditional love is the answer to people pleasing, and the only place we will ever find it is at the foot of the cross.
Mrs Swopes takes her women readers through a discussion of the gifts of the spirit and how they apply to their own lives. That is the one place where I part company with her in this book. Catholics and Protestants both encourage people to spend time looking for what God wants of us. Catholics call it discernment, Protestants call it seeking God’s will.
I think — and I realize that I am almost alone in this — that all we have to do is just follow. Follow Christ. Obey the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes and trust Him. You don’t need to chase yourself around, looking for God’s plan for your life. It has been my experience that if God wants you to do something, you won’t be able to get out of it.
It is a mark of how much this book got to me that I say that. I got engaged with it, and found myself in quite a few of the things that Mrs Swopes wrote. I did this to the point that I found myself dialoging with the author — and now the people reading this blog — in my head.
A Confident Heart is designed to be used either in personal reading or in small group settings. It comes with a dvd to help the study group setting.
If you are a woman who is struggling to find spiritual balance in your life (which of us isn’t?) then A Confident Heart is a good place to find some answers.
I’m going to offer a free giveaway of this book to three of Public Catholic’s women readers. It will be very simple. The first three women commenters who ask for it, will receive a free copy.
We’ve already talked about Fatima in a previous post.
This is more information about Akita and what happened at Kibeho, Rwanda, before the genocide. Our Lady prophesied the Rwandan genocide and warned against it a decade before it happened.
Kibeho with Immaculee
Kibeho prophecy Immaculee
Our Lady specifically asked at Fatima that we insert this prayer into each decade when we pray the Rosary.
These are the other prayers we were taught at Fatima:
My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love you. I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love you.
When we offer something to God
Oh my Jesus, it is for love of you, in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for the conversion of poor sinners.
When we pray before the Blessed Sacrament
Most Holy Trinity, I adore you! My God, my God, I adore you in the most blessed Sacrament.
The Angel’s Prayer
With the Blessed Sacrament suspended in mid-air, the Angel of Fatima prostrated himself and prayed,
Most Holy Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — I adore you profoundly. I offer you the most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ — present in all the tabernacles of the world — in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.
Can you imagine Jesus using a word like catechesis?
How many blank stares would He have gotten if He had announced, “The Father and I are consubstantial?”
That might have ended His mission right there. No one would have been able to charge Him with heresy since they wouldn’t have had the first clue what He was talking about. Think about it: No Calvary, no redemption and no salvation for humankind, all because of the obscurity of the word “consubstantial.”
Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening to a lot of individual people in the world today. People are by-passing the Church that has the words that lead to eternal life, or they are shunning its teachings, because they don’t “get” what religious leaders are trying to tell them.
The Vatican plans to survey Catholics around the globe in an attempt to figure out why their message isn’t getting through to the faithful. Since I am a sort of Catholic (there are days when I feel pretty marginal in my worthiness to say that) I am going to give my own completely unsolicited idea as to what might be done to improve the ability of Church teaching to actually teach.
In my humble opinion, our religious leaders need to teach more like Jesus and less like their theology professor.
I’ll wager it was a small group in their theology classroom, and it will be a small group in heaven if the leaders of the Church don’t clear their palates a bit.
Jesus taught people all the truths that all the theology these guys have stuffed into their heads is based on, and He taught it in accessible and simple terms. There really is a difference between being simple and speaking simply. Direct language, used in straight-forward declarative sentences, communicates. Obscure language in sentences that are long strings of dependent clauses hung together with commas, confuses.
It really is as easy as that. Eloquence is not necessary for communication. But clear thinking and direct language are.
The reason I’m focusing on this is twofold:
1. The number one gripe I hear from other pew-sitting Catholics has nothing to do with gay marriage or contraceptives. It is about being forced to say ugly words like consubstantial. I don’t personally hang out with Catholics who actually read the Pope’s encyclicals. I also don’t personally know a Catholic who lies awake nights worrying about the color of the Pope’s shoes.
These people exist, and they make a lot of noise. But they are very small in number compared with the huge Catholic ocean of believers who just want know what they need to do to get to heaven.
2. The fact that Church directives of every sort fail to communicate with the just-tell-me-what-I-need-to-do-to-get-to-heaven crowd leaves these people wide open to be led by those who do bother to read the various communications. In short, it leaves them at the mercy of people like me.
The Catholic blogosphere has become a sort of second magisterium. Sadly, this bogus magisterium of the blogosphere often trumps the true magisterium in terms of the fidelity of its followers. The temptation to become a tin-plated god for a lot of hapless people runs strong in some folk. I lost count a long time ago of the number of things I’ve read in which members of the laity excoriate the pope — the pope! — because he doesn’t live up to their itty bitty interpretation of things.
That is a natural outgrowth of vague, inaccessible teaching from the Church itself. If those who are charged with leadership don’t lead, that creates a vacuum that someone else will step up and fill. We don’t need more demagogues in the blogosphere, but we will get them so long as the Church continues to communicate in such an inaccessible way.
I think that the Church needs to teach its teachings in language that is clear-cut and that communicates.
It can begin by finding a better word than catechesis.
I’m having a Mama kind of time.
My 88-year-old mother goes through phases. It took me a while to figure out that these were phases, rather than permanent situations. I don’t know what causes them, and I don’t know why they end. But I do know that while they are making their passage I have a hard time balancing with them.
This latest phase is, “I don’t know what to do.”
Here’s how it works.
Mama: I don’t know what to do.
Me: What do you mean?
Mama: I don’t know whether they’re picking me up for my job (adult day care) or what.
Me: They’ll be here at their regular time. You just need to go to bed and get some rest so you’re ready to have fun tomorrow.
Mama: Well … OK. But I don’t know what to do.
Mama: I don’t know what to do.
Me: What do you mean?
Mama: I can’t remember.
Me: It’s Ok. Just go back to bed and get some sleep and it will be ok tomorrow.
Midnight. 2 am, 3 am. 3:30 am, 4 am, and on until she leaves for Adult Day Care
Mama: I don’t know what to do.
Me: What do you mean?
Mama: I’m afraid they won’t pick me up for my job (adult day care) on time.
Me: Don’t worry. I’ll take you if they don’t pick you up. Now just go back to bed and get some sleep.
Driver for Adult Day Care: Your mother has been calling me since 4 am, wanting me to come pick her up.
Director at Adult Day Care: Your Mother called us every few minutes from 5 am on, wanting us to come get her.
Mama: I’m home now. I want you to come take me for a drive.
Me: I’m so tired.
Mama: Oh sweetie, you need to stop working so hard and get some sleep.
Me: Yeah. You’re right.
Mama: Now, I want you to take me for a drive.
If I sometimes seem grouchy, absent-minded or just plain goofy, remember this and cut me a little slack. It’s just a phase. It may go on for days, weeks or months, but at some point, Mama will start sleeping through the night again and she will be blissfully unaware that there ever was a time when she didn’t know what to do. I don’t know exactly how it happens, but it does.
This last slow walk with Mama is a surprisingly beautiful time with its own surprises and profound touches of grace. Even when I am groggy and nauseous from lack of sleep, I am still glad that I have her. Contrary to the nonsense our culture teaches us, it is a gift to be old and full of years, both to the people who live it and to the people who take care of them.
Everything I ever needed to know about love, I learned from my parents. I am fortunate indeed that my Mama, even as she wakes me up to the beat of her own internal metronome, is still teaching me.
Belated Halloween prank video. I’m not much of a practical joke fan, but since every person in this video had to sign off on being part of it, I decided that it is ok to publish.
And of course, there’s the likelihood that every person in this video, including the customers, is an actor, and the prank is really on us. All I know is that the people in the coffee shops around here aren’t nearly this well-groomed, fit and attractive.
See if you can figure out how they did it.
Pope Francis managed to make Forbes most powerful list, and he did it without a single Tomahawk missile.
I would guess that this is a bow to the pope’s worldwide popularity. What is ironic is that despite the fact that the pope has none of the trappings of raw power that the other members of the Most Powerful list possess, he really does have a kind of power.
The power to persuade through love and hope is and always has been the most potent kind of power that anyone can possess. What these other people have is the power to destroy — through weapons, taxes regulations., or expenditures of monies. They can, if they are careful, creative and deeply good people, shape this power to the purposes of good.
But Pope Francis has the healing power of Christ at his disposal. This acts on the many cruelties and sins of individual lives in the same way that water acts on stone. It slowly wears away the rough edges and transforms, but it does it so gradually and painlessly that the observer can not see it as it happens.
What is interesting is that every Christian has access to this same healing power, if they will just use it. Scripture tells us that love is stronger than death. I don’t think this refers only to physical death. I think it refers to our whole death-worshipping culture and, on a personal scale, to the many little deaths of cruelty and indifference that we encounter in our daily lives.
Love is stronger than death. God’s love is stronger than the entropy of decaying civilizations and the slow deconstruction of wasted lives. His love cancels out the annihilation that is the core craving of all deep evil.
God’s love is the not just the transforming power in human society. It is the glue that holds everything, everywhere, together. We see the corrosive effect that rejecting God has on individuals, on their belief systems and their overall behavior. We see it writ large on societies that fall away from Him. But the truth is, God is still holding those people and this world in existence, even as they reject Him. If God ceased to love existence into existence, there would be nothing, absolutely nothing, anywhere. Existence itself would cease to exist without the power of God holding it in place.
When the scriptures tell us that He holds us in the palm of his hand, they are telling a truth that is simultaneously metaphorical and literal. We exist because He wills existence itself into being. And yet, for all that incomprehensible power and grandeur, He cares for and knows each of us as the individual lights that we are.
The Holy Father, who speaks for His Son’s Church, does have power. It is the power of the words that lead to eternal life spoken to a world dedicated to following after its own death.
The new bishop at the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis was marked for death before he was born.
If his mother had listened to her doctor, she would have aborted her baby. “You’re carrying a freak,” the doctor told Judy Cozzens during her fifth month, “you shouldn’t continue this pregnancy.”
When Mrs Cozzens refused to have an abortion, the doctor told her she would have to get another physician. She did, and the baby was born reasonably healthy. He suffered from the skin disease eczema and developed asthma in his childhood.
Now, he is the new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis.
Freak becomes a bishop. That’s the quick and easy storyline describing the path Father Andrew Cozzens took to becoming the next auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
But, here’s the strange part — the person who called him this name was a doctor. And, he pinned this label on Father Cozzens, called Drew throughout his childhood, without even seeing him.
In fact, Father Cozzens was still in his mother’s womb.
This takes some explaining, and so it was that his parents, Jack, 75, and Judy, 69, took a good chunk of time on a recent afternoon recalling the circumstances surrounding the birth — and life — of their No. 2 child, a boy who remarked to another doctor when he was just 4 years old that he was going to “do the Lord’s work” someday.
The drama began during Judy’s fifth month of pregnancy. She was teaching part time at a Catholic school in Connecticut. Her stomach hurt, and she figured she was getting the stomach flu that had been going around the school.
“Then, all of a sudden, I realized I’m getting my pains every five minutes, and I realized I was in labor,” she said. “So, Jack met me at the hospital and we went in. I almost lost [the baby], but they stopped the labor.”
She felt relief, but only momentarily. The tension over her son’s condition skyrocketed the following morning when the doctor came in to talk to her about what was happening.
“He said, ‘You’re carrying a deformed fetus, and you need to not continue with the pregnancy’” she said. “And, I said, ‘What do you mean? This is my baby.’ And, he said, ‘No, you don’t understand. You’re carrying a freak, and you shouldn’t continue with this pregnancy.’” (Read the rest here.)
According to the Telegraph, the United States government spied on Pope Francis during the conclave preceding his election as pope.
I can think of only one reason to do something like this and that reason is schoolboy voyeurism. I’ve said it before, and I’m going to say it again right now: We have elected people who do not belong in office.
Things have gotten so bad that the United Nations put out a story saying that the United States has pledged not to spy on them and the NSA is now saying that President Obama didn’t know they were spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Uh-huh. And Bill Clinton didn’t have sex with that woman, and Richard Nixon had no idea what was on that 18 minutes of blank tape.
Even some members of Congress are upset about all this spying on our allies.
Interestingly, even as the government skitters around, trying to cover its garbage, the spin machine is already beginning to churn out explanations as to why we are going to keep on doing it to “keep Americans safe.”
Of course none of this explains why these dead-from-the-neck-ups need to spy on Pope Francis. Babies aren’t even afraid of Pope Francis. Little kids steal his chair and intellectually challenged people take over his popemobile.
There is no reason to be spying on Pope Francis, except, perhaps, his predilection for standing up for peace and the rights of poor people all over the world. That Jesus stuff can be, in fact always has been, revolutionary.
But, as the Communists learned when they bugged Cardinal Wojtyla in Poland, spying doesn’t intimidate the Holy Spirit.
I imagine these idiots have thoroughly embarrassed themselves by spying on the Pope. I also imagine that they will keep it up.
I don’t think they are going to stop until the people who pay the bills and write the laws stop them. That, in case you don’t know, would be Congress.
What’s missing in this whole thing is the representation that we the people deserve from those we have elected. Nobody is speaking out for the American people. Why aren’t the people we sent to Washington to represent us in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives speaking up for our rights to privacy?
Why is it ok for our government to build a huge … spy thing … in Utah to house the information it has gleaned from listening in on our cell phones and reading our emails?
How long are we the people going to stand for this?
From The Telegraph:
The American spy agency monitored telephone calls made to and from the residence in Rome where the then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave, the secret election at which cardinals chose him as pontiff on March 13.
The claims were made by Panorama, an Italian weekly news magazine, which said that the NSA monitored the telephone calls of many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave, which was held amid tight security in the Sistine Chapel.
The information gleaned was then reportedly divided into four categories — “leadership intentions”, “threats to financial system”, “foreign policy objectives” and “human rights”.
At that time, Benedict XVI was Pope, suggesting that the Vatican may also have been monitored during the last few weeks of his papacy.
Update: NSA denies spying on Pope Francis.
How many times have you heard a bishop try to explain away his actions concerning a child-molesting priest by saying “But we got him counseling. It was what the experts advised?”
And how many times, when you heard that, did you think, “Mr Bishop, nobody’s that dumb?”
There appears to be a growing move to legitimize child sexual abuse in our culture. It started a long time ago with the book Lolita and moved forward through lots of movies, books and plays such as American Beauty and others. I remember quite clearly the outrage in certain quarters when the government took a stab at holding Roman Polanski accountable for raping a 13-year-old girl.
In the words of one famous comedienne “It wasn’t rape-rape.”
It is increasingly becoming a fact rather than a conjecture that the sexual abuse of children is only really terrible in our society when it is committed by a Catholic priest, or occasionally, a famous football coach.
My colleague Dr Gregory Popcak has published a post raising the question of whether or not the DSM has moved pedophilia into the gray area of “orientation.” The phrase “orientation” is loaded up to the top with political correctness. It has become something of a synonym in the popular imagination for an inborn trait or illness, like, say, Down’s Syndrome.
Dr Popcak makes clear that the DSM has not changed its definition. The gray area was there all along. It comes from the dilemma of how to define people who are sexually attracted to children but don’t molest them. My understanding is that the DSM considers the sexual attraction to children as an orientation and the practice of molesting children a disorder.
That’s a fine cut for a layperson, and it explains much of the confusion in the public mind.
All this takes us back to the cry of so many anguished bishops that they were just doing what the “experts” told them when they gave child molesting priests a dose of counseling and then put them back into parishes where they could molest again. The confusion about whether or not the DSM has moved pedophilia into the gray area of “orientation” is freighted with questions that can lead to all sorts of wrong-headed actions on the part of people ranging from law enforcement, to legislators and on to Catholic bishops.
We need to temper our enthusiasm for advice from various professional associations with the awareness that many of them are too much the captives of political pressure and public opinion. This can hamper the genuine scientific value they offer. Some of the psycho-babble we read is more an attempt at political blackmail aimed at changing laws or “normalizing” destructive behavior than it is actual scientific understanding.
If trendy public opinion is going to be the guide of our professional associations, then those associations become worthless except as dues vacuums to pay for junkets, staff and glossy publications.
The bishops were wrong when they drop-kicked the Scriptures in order to follow the psychologists, especially since many of these psychologists were themselves hand-picked employees. They were morally wrong and they failed in their charge to be shepherds of the people God gave them to care for.
The fact that some of them can’t seem to get the message is not only infuriating, but it raises — at least for me — serious questions about the commitment to Christ on the part of these specific bishops. I am not talking about all bishops everywhere. But if, after all this time, a bishop still can’t figure out that priests should keep their hands off the children in their parishes, I am out of patience with them.
However, if Catholic priests are the only ones who are treated with public approbation because of their child molesting, then there’s something wrong with our mechanisms for public approbation. I read recently about a famous disk jockey who had made plans to meet a woman overseas so he could have sex with her seven year old daughter. British celebrities also come to mind. Where’s the approbation to equal the appall at priest child sexual abuse over these things?
One thing I’ve learned from my time as a member of the board of directors of an organization that rescues trafficked women is that men purposely buy children for sex, and pimps purposely sell them right here in America. They do it all the time. Where, gentle reader, is the outrage over that?
The question — which is the same question each of these satanic moves backward into the pit asks of us — is are the victims of this things, or are they people? In this instance, the question is, are children things, or are they people?
When someone does something so terrible to a child, their “illness” becomes an academic question in my mind. As a lawmaker, my response is that they should be put in prison and never let out again. I mean that. They should live out the rest of their days and die in prison.
If that sounds harsh, so be it. I am not going to change. Not on this.
I know of no other way to keep our children safe from these people than to lock the predators up.
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.