Doing Lent in the Fast Lane

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How to do Lent in the fast lane?

More to the point, how to do Lent when I’m catching myself running in circles?

This time of year is uber busy, fragmented and exhausting for Oklahoma House Members. How do I find time to pray more than Now I lay me and Bless us oh Lord?

What of the disciplines of fasting, alms and deep examination of conscience? Does all that go by the board when I’m stuck eating whatever is put in front of me and almost never get a moment alone?

I’m certain that I’m not the only person who finds themselves caught in a whirlpool of busyness during these days of Lent. That is, after all, our modern curse.

We are overwhelmed by a tsunami of too much: Too much stuff, too many activities and far too many people competing for our attention.

“Doing” Lent under those circumstances can easily reduce itself down to its lowest common denominator. Tuna sandwich for lunch on Fridays? Check. Grilled cheese for lunch on Ash Wednesday? Check. Confession, whether you need it or not? Check and check. And, oh yes, keep your sticky little fingers out of the candy dish at work.

Here we are, dealing with the fulcrum of history; the moment at which everything changed. We are considering the point at which the hopelessness of vanity, vanity all is vanity before Calvary was transformed into the birth of life everlasting after Calvary. Everything turns on that hilltop with the three crosses 2,000 years ago.

Lent is designed to take us there. It is meant to bring us to our knees before the foot of the cross where we can be born again.

But when you’re being drug by the runaway horse of overwhelming busyness that is our modern life, how do you do more than the minimum? How do you find the space, the quiet, the time to hear that still small voice?

I’ve dealt with this for years and to be honest, I’ve never found a fully satisfactory answer for it. Doing the minimum isn’t so minimum when it’s all you can manage. There is an element of faithfulness involved in those tuna sandwiches and skipped candy.

The trouble with doing the minimum is that it leaves you basically the same as you were before you did it. You don’t necessarily slide back spiritually the way you would if you didn’t try at all, but you won’t grow in Christ by doing the minimum. The minimum leaves you spiritually fed, but at a bare sustenance level.

Doing the minimum is just a step above not doing at all. It’s easy to slide from the minimum to less than the minimum and a deteriorating faith walk that leaves you half Christian.

How does anyone grow spiritually while living the lives we do, where emotional fracturing and distancing from faith seem built into the structure of it?

My advice, which is the advice of a woman whose Lenten practices are mostly a matter of minimums sandwiched into busyness, is to do at least the minimum, no matter what. Even if it means eating really substandard food like a spoonful of banquet carrots with a spoonful of banquet mashed potatoes with some kind of something that’s supposed to be gravy for lunch, do the minimum. Do it even if you can’t for the life of you remember your sins and have to search your memory while you’re standing in line outside the confessional.

I have a completely personal theology for doing the minimum that I call “God supplies the lacks.” What I mean by that is that I trust that if I don’t remember to confess every sin, or even my most important sins, God, Who knows everything about me, will supply the lacks and forgive me my forgetfulness, He supplies the lacks in my confession. God supplies the lacks. I don’t have anything but my own faith to base that on, but I believe it to a profound level.

I am not talking about deliberate refusal to do what you should when you have the opportunity to do it. I mean when you’re grinding metal in your life, God will supply the lacks to see you through it spiritually intact. All you have to do is your part, by which I mean those minimums offered up with the knowledge that the minimum is not really enough to keep you spiritually healthy for the long haul and a firm intention to do more and do better when you can.

This leads me to the “when you can” part of that. If your life is like Marine Corp boot camp 52 weeks out of every year, you really need to re-think your way of living. Otherwise, you’re going to be talking to God face to face a lot sooner than you expect. No one can use themselves up without breaking stride for their whole span of days.

You have to take time outs. It is essential to your sanity, health and purpose as a human being. For a workaholic, time out requires discipline. It is just as difficult for someone who is inured to a life of constant stimulation and overwork to take a pause as it is for a couch potato to get up and get moving. They are two sides of the same self-destructive coin.

Obeying the commandment to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” is your best friend in this. I didn’t know this a year ago. I didn’t even know it six months ago. I had one of those spoing! moments of insight that occasionally come along. I realized that I had been breaking one of the commandments without realizing the significance of what I was doing.

It’s not easy for someone like me to quit working for one full day each week. But I have found it to be my new best friend. I recommend it for anyone and everyone as a bare minimum of Christian living. It not only rests your mind; it opens your heart to God. I was surprised by the effect this simple act of obedience had on my closeness with Christ. If your job requires you to work on Sunday and you can’t get out of it, my advice is take your sabbath rest on another day. Do not cheat yourself of this great gift of the Sabbath.

Sunday rest is another bare minimum of Christian followership. But if you add it to the bare minimums of fasting, confession, weekly eucharist, you will find that they combine to lift you out of the basement Christian walk of maintenance spirituality and into a gentle curve of Christian growth.

Doing Lent in the fast lane is often about doing the minimum. The minimum will starve you spiritually over the long haul. But if you do it with love of Christ, you will be able to make up for it at other times.

That’s how I get through it. I do the minimum, and whatever else I can in addition to that minimum. And I trust God to supply the lacks.

New Jersey 18-Year-Old Sues Parents for Private School Tuition. Loses in Court.

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She can vote.

She can join the Army.

She can be participate in pornography and prostitution and no one will be tried for abusing a child.

She can be tried and convicted of crimes as an adult in our courts of law.

So, why is this “child” suing her parents for support? Not, mind you, just support. She is suing for tuition to private schools. The articles I read also said she is suing for a share of an educational savings account.

I don’t know who owns the educational savings account. If her name is on it as well as her parents, then she may have a legitimate case about that.

As for the rest of it, I am a bit confused by this young lady’s thinking.

Rachel Canning, of Lincoln Park, NJ, is suing her parents for tuition money and support. She says that her parents kicked her out of the house when she turned 18. Somehow, she thinks that her parents are required by law to keep her in the style to which they have evidently led her to become accustomed into the foreseeable future.

I’m not exactly sure of the legal peg she’s hanging this on. There must be some strange wrinkle in New Jersey law that makes this a credible case. So far as I can see, Ms Canning is an adult. No one is required to support her under penalty of law, and that includes her parents. However the court arguments I’ve read seem to revolve around whether or not Ms Canning is emancipated. Under Oklahoma law, that question would arise if she was a minor. Since she’s 18, it would not. The assumption is that adults, unless they are legally not responsible due to some sort of disability, are emancipated.

Even if she was still a minor child, I don’t know of any stipulation under the law (at least here in Oklahoma) that requires parents to provide private school educations for their children. Children are entitled to an education, and if the parents don’t provide an alternative such as private school or homeschool, they always have access to a free education in the public schools. Parents have a legal requirement to provide education, either in the public schools or by another venue for their children.

But no one is required by law to send their children to exclusive private schools.

Ditto for food, shelter and clothing. Children must have a decent place to live, food and clothing. If parents can’t provide these things, there are programs to help them. If they won’t provide them, children can and sometimes are removed from the home. However, there is a strong bias under the law to reunite families as well as many helps for parents in putting together a home for their children. At no time is anyone required by law to provide designer clothes, lavish houses, or gourmet food for their children.

You can watch a brief video from the hearing on this case by going here. The discussion between the judge and Ms Canning’s attorney is all about the way Ms Canning and her parents speak to one another in emails and texts. That may be appalling to hear, but I don’t think it’s pertinent. The issue to me is clear-cut. This is an adult, suing other adults for support. Is there any legitimate basis for that suit?

Based on my understanding, I don’t think so. Maybe New Jersey law is different. Otherwise, I don’t see a case here.

However, the question of what kind of home life, social climate and child-rearing techniques produce a situation like this is wide open. The private high school Ms Canning attends is a Catholic school. She claims in court records that the family income is in excess of $300,000 per year. It would be interesting to learn what sort of social/family environment created this young lady.

From CNN:

(CNN) – A high school senior’s lawsuit against her mother and father for financial support and college tuition hit a hurdle Tuesday when a New Jersey judge denied the teenager’s request for immediate financial assistance from the parents.

Rachel Canning, 18, alleges in her lawsuit that her parents forced her out of their Lincoln Park, New Jersey home, and that she is unable to support herself financially. The lawsuit asks that her parents pay the remaining tuition for her last semester at her private high school, pay her current living and transportation expenses, commit to paying her college tuition and pay her legal fees for the suit she filed against her parents.

Her parents say she left home because she didn’t want to obey their rules.

…  Canning, an honor student and cheerleader at Morris Catholic High School in Denville, says in court documents she had to leave her parents’ home because of emotional and psychological mistreatment, alleging, among other things, that her mother called her “fat” and “porky” and that her father threatened to beat her.

“I have been subjected to severe verbal and physical abuse by my mother and father,” Canning wrote in a court certification. “I am not willingly and voluntarily leaving a reasonable situation at home to make my own decisions. I had to leave to end the abuse.”

Canning left her parents’ home at the end of last October. After spending two nights at her boyfriend’s home, she moved into the home of her friend in a nearby town, where she has been staying ever since, according to court documents written by the parents’ attorney.

… Canning was suspended from school for truancy last October, according to court documents filed by her parents’ attorney, Laurie Rush-Masuret. Her parents told the teen that she could no longer see her boyfriend, who was also suspended from school. Car and phone privileges were also taken away. Once she learned of the punishment, Canning cut school again and then decided to run away, her father said in court documents.

Once she left home, her parents notified Morris Catholic High School that they would no longer pay for their daughter’s tuition, the documents state.

“They stopped paying my high school tuition to punish the school and me, and have redirected my college fund indicating their refusal to afford me an education,” Rachel Canning stated in court documents.

Busted Halo: You Don’t Know Jack About Lent!

“Ummmm,” they begin, then lean toward you to whisper, “you’ve got a smudge on your forehead.”

That happens a lot if you’re a Catholic Okie.

How would you explain the “smudge” on your forehead, if someone asked you?

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Department of Homeland Security Tells Romeike Family “You Can Stay”

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It appears that the Romeike family will be staying in the United States, after all.

Their story revolves around issues of religious freedom and the rights of parents to educate their children in their faith. The Romeikes elected to homeschool their children due to a desire to educate them in their Christian beliefs. Germany’s law evidently requires all children to attend public or state-approved schools. There are no exceptions for family home schools or facilities that group together to hire a tutor and provide a group homeschool.

The Romeikes elected to homesechool their children in a Christian-based family homeschool, anyway. When the government threatened to seize their children, they came to the United States, seeking asylum. They moved to Tennessee and applied for citizenship and immigration status.

According to CNN,

An immigration judge initially granted their request in 2010 to the Romeikes and their children, saying they were “members of a particular social group” and would be punished for their religious beliefs if returned.

But the Justice Department revoked it last year.

The Board of Immigration Appeals concluded homeschoolers are too ‘amorphous” to constitute a social group eligible for protection under the asylum law.Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal, effectively ending court based action on their situation.

The Homeschool Legal Defense Association announced today that the Department of Homeland Security has granted the family “indefinite deferred action status.” I am not familiar with this term, but based on what the HSDLA’s website says, it sounds as if the family can continue to stay in this country.

This video tells the family’s story.  It’s a reminder of just how good we have it, and what freedoms we possess here in the United States. It is also an encouragement to us to stand up for our rights and work to keep them.

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Russia, Ukraine, Crimea and World War III, According to Hitler.

I watched a bit of news last night in an attempt to figure out what’s happening in Ukraine.

I flipped it off because the three cable news channels I looked at (CNN, MSNBC and Fox) were each interpreting everything according to whose side they are on in America’s partisan political brawls. It was heavy on political manipulation and light on information. Worse, it was difficult to sort out which was which.

This video comes as close to explaining what is happening and what the potential problems are as anything I found on the news channels.

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Gay Hairdresser Refuses to Do Governor’s Hair Because She Opposes Gay Marriage

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NM Governor Susana Martinez, with two flags and her hair.  

I slipped away from the grind to have an itty bitty medical procedure today. It was nothing serious; just one of those things you sometimes have to do.

When I woke from the anesthesia, got a bit ungrogged and checked my email, I thought at first that the Onion had hacked The Anchoress’ blog. I found my fearless leader intoning on what may be the winner of the Most Absurd News Story Rolling Around the Internet Contest. These events actually occurred about a year ago, but are getting noticed now.

It seems that Antonio Darden, a gay hairdresser in oh-so-chi-chi Santa Fe, declined to cut Governor Susana Martinez’s hair because she opposes gay marriage and he had decided in his little church of one that he would violate his moral beliefs to continue as her hairdresser.

The governor, in a moment of startling sanity, just rang up someone else and got them to do her hair.

Because, you see, it turns out the Mr Darden is not the only hairdresser in New Mexico.

And this is not about segregation, slavery, lynchings or basic human rights.

Everybody’s free here to do what they want. And that’s as it should be.

Aside from the governor’s commonsense response, there is a serious point in all this silliness that I would like to make. I’m turning off the laugh track for a moment because I want Public Catholic readers to understand the issues here.

When people refuse to provide wedding cakes, flowers and photos for gay weddings because they feel that it would violate their faith and place them in the position of being cooperators with sin, they are acting in response to two-thousand-year-old teachings. They are following the dictates of legitimate churches which have existed far longer than this Republic. They are, in short, exercising their First Amendment rights to be exempted from an activity on the basis of personal conscience and religious faith.

An important point is that none of these things are essential services, such as say, police, fire protection or emergency health care.

Even though cakes and flowers do not rise to the level of warfare (cough) the underlying principles of the issue make it analogous with conscientious objectors in time of war. This country’s historic respect for religious belief applies even in times of war, when those whose faith requires it are either exempted from military service altogether or placed in non-combatant positions.

I have a personal friend who took personal conscience exemption during the Vietnam War based on his belief that it was morally wrong to kill another person. I also knew a number of Mennonite boys who did the same thing.

The hairdresser’s pique is simply a personal political statement. He’s free to make it, and I’m glad the governor “gets” that.

I’ve known hairdressers who refused to cut hair for people for lots of reasons.

If one of the pazillion hairdressers in New Mexico doesn’t want to cut your hair, then you probably don’t want him or her to be whacking at your hair, anyway.

This won’t go on too long, or be carried too far, for the simple reason that hairdressers, gay or otherwise, have gotta eat. If they refuse service to everyone who doesn’t agree with their politics concerning an issue like gay marriage (on either side of the question), then they’ll end up reducing their business, and their income, by half. They will also increase their competitor’s business by that same half.

If that’s what they want to do, I say go for it. It is, as they say, a free country.

From MSNBC:

By msnbc.com staffA Santa Fe hairdresser is waging his own boycott of sorts: He is denying service to the governor of New Mexico because she opposes gay marriage.
Antonio Darden, who has been with his partner for 15 years, said he made his views clear the last time Gov. Susana Martinez’s office called to make an appointment.”The governor’s aides called not too long ago wanting another appointment to come in,”
Darden told KOB.com. “Because of her stances and her views on this, I told her aides, ‘no.’ They called the next day asking if I’d changed my mind about taking the governor in, and I said ‘no’ again.”Martinez has said marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Darden, who said he has cut the governor’s hair three times, said he won’t serve her unless she changes her mind about gay marriage.”If I’m not good enough to be married, I’m not going to cut her hair,” Darden toldThe New Mexican on Wednesday.”I think it’s just equality, dignity for everyone,” he told KOB.com. “I think everybody should be allowed the right to be together.”

Scott Darnell, a spokesman for Martinez, said: “The governor has been very clear that she does not support gay marriage but does believe that all people should be judged on their merits and not discriminated against.” 
He noted that Darden was not her usual hairdresser and that following reports of his decision, the governor’s office got calls from more than 10 salons on Wednesday saying they’d be “happy to cut the governor’s hair,” Darnell told The New Mexican.

Ukraine, Crimea, Russia: Is This a New Cold War?

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Patriarch Saitsolav Shevchuk and Pope Francis say mass together. Source Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation.

Patriarch Svaitsolav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church warned us a few weeks ago.

“Humanity may be on the verge of a new Cold War,” he said in early February on the Voice of America. “It is about the future of democracy in Europe.” Referring to Russia, he warned of the danger of “aggression, violence and interference from our northern neighbor.”

I didn’t write about it then because I didn’t — and don’t — understand the situation. I gather that the original protests were sparked by disagreements over the current Ukrainian economic situation and whether to ally economically with the European Union or with Russia.

As I understand it, the Ukrainian prime minister backed out of a promise he had made to sign an economic agreement with the European Union. He was under pressure from Russia, which included threats of trade sanctions, not to sign. Also, the agreement would have required the prime minister to release one of his political rivals from prison.

Was it more complicated than that?

I think so. I am surmising that the underlying considerations — and the cause of the demonstrations — were not just pure economics, but the question of who would control the country. Was Ukraine going to become a European democracy, or would it be pulled back into economic and political servitude to the Russian bear?

Were there other factors we don’t know about?

Almost certainly.

But what has happened since seems, at least in terms of the broad strokes, painfully obvious.

Ukraine exploded with prolonged and increasingly violent protests that have resulted in the deaths of Ukrainian citizens at the hands of their own government.

Now, Russia has invaded both Ukraine and Crimea. This armed invasion can not be viewed as anything less than an act of war.

The question rises almost immediately: Is Russia also going to invade other former Soviet satellite states? Will they eventually exit Ukraine and Crimea peacefully, or is this a military takeover and permanent re-colonization?

I wish I could give you a more intelligent read on this situation, but I feel hamstrung by the simple fact that I don’t know who to believe. I am not referring here to Ukrainian and Russian news sources, but rather to our own. There are so many agendas operating in American news, and our president has lied to us so many times, that I’m more than a little chary of taking what any of them say at face value.

One thing is clear: Patriarch Shevchuk understood the situation and spoke with prescient clarity.

Dissing Matthew McConaughey’s Really Beautiful Oscar Acceptance Speech

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There was a smattering of applause and the room went stunned silent when Matthew McConaughey thanked God in his Oscar acceptance speech.

Did he just use that name in a way that was not mocking, leering, or jibing?

Today, the blogosphere is kicking that speech around like a kid with a shiny new ball. Because, you see, we have reached the pass where the mention of the holy name of God in a respectful way in public, but especially at, of all things, the Oscars, is, well, My dear, it is just not done. 

One of the funniest and most inane of the inevitable disses about Mr McConaughey’s speech (at least that I’ve seen) comes from Time Entertainment. You know. The child of the same Time Warner that owns all those media venues that have been hard-selling gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia and now polygamy.

The article claims to find the speech “confounding,” and “semi-bizarre.”

Here’s a taste of the commentary:

What exactly did he mean by all that? After winning for his role as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyer’s Club, Matthew McConaughey launched into a semi-bizarre tale about his inner life.

And the confused writer goes on to try to disassemble the speech. My response to Time Entertainment is, what exactly do you mean by all that? Does the name of God really disturb you that much?

Go to the bottom of the article and click on McConaughey’s speech and decide for yourself. Then the next time you watch a show or read a column that comes from the Time Warner megalith, consider the source.

Go to the bottom of this link and watch a video of Mr MConaughey’s speech here.

If You Want to See the “Wedding” Service Performed at the Grammys, Here It Is.

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I put a link to this on an earlier post, but it somehow got switched for another link while I was off Sunday. 

I think it’s important to see this. Note, that it is not just an attack on traditional marriage, but contains slurs against Christianity, as well. Go here to see it. 

Also, here is the link to the Katy Perry performance. Katy Perry, is a former Christian recording artist who says she no longer believes in Christ

I’ve read posts about this event saying all the usual things. You know, bigoted Christians “overreact.” Natalie Grant just did it for the promotional value. That kind of stuff.

The bigoted Christians “overreact” is a standard ploy being used against us. I heard it when I said the DOMA decision was going to destroy marriage. I had it leveled against me again when I said that the storefront euthanasia practiced in Switzerland and the Belgian decision to allow euthanasia for children and those with dementia, combined with the destruction of marriage, made Western Civilization a dead man walking. 

The first comments last summer made me parse my public statements just a bit, even though I knew what I knew and I was also aware that the people saying this to me knew nothing. But still, there was that niggling “What if I’m wrong?” thought. 

The even more aggressive comments I got (which were deleted before they got to this blog, btw) when I said Western civilization is a dead man walking didn’t bother me at all. 

These comments are like the man with the pan of water, telling the frog to calm down and stop overreacting.

There is no basis in fact for the absolutely stupid, “calm down, nobody’s forcing churches to perform gay marriages” statements. The truth is, churches in Britain have been sued to attempt to force them to perform gay marriages. The USCCB in this country has been sued for teaching Catholic teaching. And Loyola Chicago opened its campus venues to gay wedding receptions under direct penalty of law. 

I think Loyola Chicago should have tried using their spines to stand upright and filed suit against this egregious law. They should never have complied with it. Whatever happened to the historic loyalty and courage of the Jesuits?

Everything I’ve described has happened in the past few weeks. We are witnessing a cultural implosion, and it is aimed first of all at the Church. 

There are times when people do overreact. But this isn’t one of them. 

To Heaven and Back: Dr Mary Neal’s Near Death Experience

I reviewed the book Dr Mary Neal wrote about her near death experience a few months ago.

She describes her experience in this video.

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Bishop Moves Openly Gay Priest. Parishioners Protest.

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Roman Catholic Bishops assign priests within their diocese.

When priests are ordained, they place their hands between those of the bishop in a sign of their obedience to him.

Bishop Michael Barber, of the Diocese of Oakland, has evidently reassigned Father Bill Edens, an openly gay priest who has been pastor at Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley Ca.

Father Edens responded to this with an emotional homily that included reading an excerpt from a poem: “A friend once gave me a gift, a box of darkness, and it took me a long time to discover that even this was a gift.”

Parishioners at Newman Hall Holy Parish have held meetings in an attempt to try to fashion a protest about Father Edens’ reassignment. Father Edens has not participated in these meetings.

Bishop Barber has evidently said in private that he wants to change the pastoral direction of this parish.

Is moving this priest part of that “change in direction?”

Is the priest being punished in some way?

I don’t know. All I know for certain is that re-assigning priests is part of any bishop’s authority and that these reassignments are often painful, both for the priest in question and for the parish.

People grow close to their pastor. They confide in him and learn to trust him. He becomes a source of comfort and Christ-like love for them. When he’s reassigned, it can feel like being orphaned.

Priests return this love. They become the one who knows all these things about the people around them that no one else knows. They are the repository of their parishioner’s darkest secrets and deepest trust. Being torn away from this is like being tossed out of a warm bed and into the cold rain.

Yet, as Father Edens said with his poem, even this “box of darkness” is a gift. Because new beginnings and fresh starts keep both the priest and the parishioners focused on Christ instead of one another. It is easy for a parish to become ingrown and fixed on itself and its own small issues. A parish can lose sight of the fact that it is part of the Universal Church and that the head of that Church is Jesus Christ, not father so-and-so.

I don’t doubt that this parish and priest are suffering because of this move. But I also know that if they accept it in faith in Christ, that it will lead them eventually to a closer and more trusting walk with Our Lord.

From East Bay Express:

During Sunday Mass several weeks ago at Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley, Father Bernard Campbell spoke of anger, bitterness, and sadness. At the end of the service, the pastor read a short excerpt from a poem: “A friend once gave me a gift, a box of darkness, and it took me a long time to discover that even this was a gift.”

The quote was his way of helping parishioners process the surprising news he had just delivered: Michael Barber, the new bishop of the Oakland Diocese, had decided to remove him and another pastor, Father Bill Edens, from Newman Hall. The “darkness” appeared to be a reference to the fact that, as Campbell told the crowd, the bishop had not met with the pastors or given them any information on the reason for his decision. It was, however, the bishop’s direct order, he said. And yet more troubling was the fact that, according to the pastor, Barber had made it clear that the removal of these two priests supported his broader goal “to see a major redirection of ministry at Newman.” The bishop had apparently expressed this intention last fall to the leadership of the Paulist Fathers, the Roman Catholic order that has run Newman Hall for more than a century.

The details of this “new vision,” as Campbell also described it in his remarks, are not yet clear. In the weeks since the February 16 speech — a copy of which was posted on the church’s website — parishioners at Newman Hall have continued to send letters to the bishop demanding an explanation. A day after the news broke, hundreds of churchgoers met at Newman Hall to discuss the situation and ways they might protest. Campbell and Edens did not attend. The bishop and the Diocese of Oakland have not publicly addressed this backlash or responded to individual parishioners who have written letters.

Taking a Break

I am taking off until Monday.

We are heading into a deadline at the legislature in which we have to vote on all the House legislation and move it on to the Senate. This means that for the next two weeks I’ll be on the House floor for long days that run into night, with all the tension and tiredness that entails.

On top of that, I am spiritually exhausted from the bad news about euthanasia and gay marriage. I need time to reflect, pray and think it through.

Hopefully, when I come back Monday, my house will be a little cleaner, my soul will be at peace and I will be ready to go at it again.

Don’t forget: Son of God opens tonight.

Blessings,

Rebecca

 

Today’s Christian News

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I’m too tired to write, but here are a few quick links to think about until Monday.

Brewer’s Foolish Veto The news reports about the Arizona bill were dead flat lies from a dishonest press.

No Same-Sex Marriages in Loyola Chapel, Campus Open to Receptions Jesuit-run Loyola of Chicago will not allow gay weddings on campus, but the university will not fight a local law requiring them to host gay wedding receptions. Every venue on campus will be open for wedding receptions “regardless of religious or gender identification.”

Cardinals Say Synod on Family will Balance Truth, God’s Mercy Synod desires to balance Christ’s teaching about the permanence of marriage and the call for the Church to show God’s mercy to those who have divorced and remarried.

African Bishops Warn: If You Try Something with Divorce and Remarriage, It’s Going to Hurt Us on Polygamy

Abortions Outnumber Births for NYC African Americans

Christian Singer Natalie Grant Walks Out of Grammy Awards See also Mass Wedding at Awards Show a Stunt to Push Gay Marriage Agenda Natalie Grant and Kirk Cameron criticized this year’s Grammy Awards for “an all out assault on the traditional family.” Grant walked out. They will undoubtedly pay a price for this in their careers. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Jesuits at Loyola Chicago had this kind of courageous faith? 

To see a video of the “wedding,” which, in my opinion, was an attack on Christianity as well as marriage, go here. Queen Latifah, who officiated at the “ceremony” was deputized by the City of Los Angeles for the day, so these marriages were legal. At the same show, Katy Perry, a former Christian recording artist who has said that she no longer believes in Christ or is a Christian, performed this number. 

Three-Parent IVF Babies Gets Green Light

Religious Freedom is a Constitutional Right Not a “Tax-Exempt Status” CatholicVote blogger discusses the coming fight to force churches to perform gay marriage ceremonies.

Boko Haram Murders Between 40 and 60 Boys at Nigerian Christian School

Man Wakes up in Body Bag at Funeral Home 

And finally, a video by Natalie Grant, called, fittingly, I will Not Be Moved.

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Conscientious Objection About Wedding Cakes and Flowers is not About Slavery, Lynchings, Segregation or a Refusal of Service

Conscientious objection about wedding cakes and flowers is not the same thing as slavery, lynching, segregation or a refusal to provide service.

It does not rise to the level of a violation of the civil rights of the cake buyers. It is not discrimination.

We are not talking about a refusal to provide service for a class of people. We are talking about businesses who routinely provide services to everyone, including homosexuals. These mom and pop businesses are owned by individuals whose religious beliefs are not only opposed to gay marriage, but that teach that participation in a gay marriage makes them part of the sin of it.

I believe that this last sentence is the real motivation behind the enormous amount of rage and political energy being expended to force what is a small subset of all the bakers, florists and photographers in this country to participate in this specific event. These people do not want to participate in gay weddings because they believe gay marriage is sinful. That fact, and not the entirely bogus claim of discrimination, is what lies behind the furor.

This is not about discrimination, which is clearly not happening. It is about a need for approval and acceptance, which is not a legal construct.

The question of linking discrimination to service by businesses only occurs when a class of people are routinely refused service because they are of that class of people. The mis-used analogy of the African American civil rights struggle actually demonstrates why these shop owners are not discriminating and why there is no legal discrimination happening in this instance.

African Americans were refused all service at what were labeled “white only” establishments. They could not drink at “white” drinking fountains or even sit at the counter in a “white” drug store. They had to live in “colored” neighborhoods, and attend “colored” schools. This was enforced both by legal penalty and tolerated mob violence, including lynchings which were attended by large crowds of people and ignored by the police.

On the other hand, the bakers, florists and photographers who do not want to participate in gay weddings routinely provide services to homosexual people in every other instance. There is no attempt or desire on their part to refuse service to any group of people. In fact, at least one of the people engaging in these lawsuits was a regular customer of the establishment prior to filling suit.

These businesses are not refusing service based on anyone’s sexual preference. They just don’t want to participate in one specific type of event, and the reason they don’t want to is their religious beliefs which have been honored and respected since the beginning of this nation.

This is not discrimination. This is an exercise of what should be an individual’s freedom of religion.

The true discrimination here is the attack on individual’s right of conscience and religious freedom in an attempt to coerce them to violate their conscience in order to provide flowers, photography services and food for a private event. There is no question that this refusal does not deny the homosexuals in question access to these services. They are available at any number of other similar businesses. There is not and never has been any attempt to deny service to homosexuals. This is not about a class of people. It is about a specific type of event.

What these activists are literally making a federal case about is wedding cakes and flowers. The business people they are attacking provide services to everyone, including homosexuals, in every other instance except gay weddings. To label this discrimination in the Constitutional sense and call it “hate” is ridiculous.

I believe that the real issue is forcing other people, specifically religious people, to provide homosexuals with a sense of social acceptance. I actually understand that longing and sympathize with it. However, the fact is that these florists, photographers and bakers are not practicing discrimination in any sane legal sense.

They are, rather, being harassed, threatened, verbally abused, legally bullied and, yes, discriminated against themselves. The aggression and “hate” appears to be on the side of the people who are attacking them.

Conflating the question of whether or not a few business owners — who routinely and without question provide homosexuals with services otherwise — ask for the freedom to not participate in a single event which violates their religious beliefs, with the horrible suffering of African Americans under Jim Crow laws is equally ridiculous. It cheapens the African American experience in this country.

It is a fact that homosexuals have suffered violence in the form of gay baiting in the relatively recent past. I have had friends who were beaten up, simply because they were gay. I understand that this scars and damages people, including people who are not themselves subjected to this violence, but who must live in fear of it.

As a woman who has lived all her life with omnipresent and socially tolerated random violence against women, I understand this quite well. American women today are told not to go out at night, to always travel in groups to avoid attack. Movies, television and the internet make a lot of money selling violence against women as prurient entertainment.

Powerful movie directors who rape young girls are defended and lionized by that same industry. Young women are told to avoid drinking from open containers at parties to avoid being drugged and gang raped. We operate shelters for women who are subjected to beatings and violence so they can flee their homes in order to avoid being killed.

The desire of a few mom and pop business owners to ply their trade without being forced by law to provide services for one specific type of event that violates their religious beliefs is not gay bating. It is also not discrimination.

In this case, the discriminatory shoe is on the other foot.

The New Zeitgeist: A Majority of Americans Now Favor Gay Marriage

BroadandNarrowWay

According to a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, support for gay marriage by the American public has jumped from 21% in 2003 to 53% today.

The poll results show that 53% of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, with 44% of Americans opposed. Among those who feel strongly about the issue, 22% strongly favor legalizing same-sex marriage, while 20% strongly oppose it.

Sixty-four percent of Democrats favor legalizing gay marriage, while only 34% of Republicans favor it. Sixty-two percent of Republicans actively oppose gay marriage. Fifty-seven percent of Independents favor it.

Based on comments I’m seeing on Facebook and elsewhere, I would say that this poll is behind the curve and that the public sensibility is moving so rapidly toward acceptance of gay marriage that the figure is higher than this. From my vantage point, it appears that the numbers are growing exponentially every day.

At the same time, even faithful Catholics are tossing the concept of religious liberty and individual conscience aside. They are adopting and repeating arguments that not only obviate the issues, but are baseless sloganeering. We have indeed reached a cultural tipping point.

The good thing in this is that it reflects an end to social and civil discrimination against gay people. Unfortunately, it also means that the conflation of the civil rights of gay people with the redefinition of marriage leaves our society with a long-term fight.

Those of us who want homosexuals to be treated as full human beings and at the same time preserve traditional marriage and religious liberty have a long road ahead of us. To be honest, I no longer see the issue of homosexuals being accepted as full people to be a concern in our society. I think that’s a done deal.

What is a question is whether or not Christians have enough identity in Christ to maintain their fealty to basic Christian teachings in what will amount to government-enforced violation of their values and religious freedoms. The DOMA decision did indeed, as I said at the time, tip over the table.

In this sudden flood of changed opinions, even Christians in public leadership positions are tripping over themselves to stand against their brothers and sisters in Christ who do not want to be forced to participate in gay weddings. A good number of these people will recant in the years ahead. Most of those who do will have amnesia and claim they never said the things they’re saying. Others of them will drift further away from supporting their fellow Christians until they end up putting both feet over the fence and standing entirely on the other side.

I remember the sudden movement that accompanied Roe. I’ve seen the lies and sloganeering, the dominance by the press as it put out what was propaganda. I’ve seen Christians recover from this sudden loss of clear thinking, and I’ve seen others become hardened in it and lose themselves to it entirely. The one thing I’m sure of is that there is no way to know who will fall into which camp.

However, the Roe debacle is a faint copy of what is happening with gay marriage.

Nothing in my memory equals the intensity with which the public has been “sold” gay marriage and the hatred of the Church and religious freedom which has gone along with it. This is a new post-Christian zeitgeist in which the dominant powers of the culture are locked on and targeting traditional Christian values and traditional Christians. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have bought into this and are now promoting it themselves.

It is going to be increasingly difficult for anyone to stay true to Christian values in the times ahead, and I am not talking just about gay marriage. We are not dealing with a fixed situation. This is a moving and constantly degrading target.

What began as “If you don’t support gay marriage, then don’t get gay married” has now become “It is discrimination and hate not to provide services for a gay marriage.” I wrote a post a few days ago about the gathering clouds concerning polygamy, and was astonished by the bold and aggressive support for polygamy that commenters voiced. Polygamy is indeed the new gay marriage.

Euthanasia was once supposed to be limited to terminally ill people who were facing imminent death and in irremediable pain. That argument has been broadened to the idea that euthanasia is about choice and should be offered as a storefront service to anyone, at any time, without question.

We are living in an imploding post-Christian culture.

Americans have been sold lies on a number of issues, all of which have their aegis in a diminution of the distinctness and value of the human person.

I know this is a bleak picture. But it is far from hopeless. The worst aspect of what I’ve described is the seduction of many good Christians by this culture. We have the task of re-converting our lost society, and we will have to do it in the face of self-identified Christians who will fight for and support the anti-Christian zeitgeist. This task is complicated by the fact that Christians who follow Christ’s teachings are rapidly becoming the new cultural hate objects.

It seems a contradiction for me to say that the situation is far from hopeless in the same paragraph in which I describe fallen away Christians using their nominal Christian identity to attack Christian values. But it is inevitable that a good many of our fellow Christians will fall prey to this and become voices of destruction within our churches and religious communities.

The important thing to remember is that it will sort itself out in time. Those who stay true will become stronger in their faith and closer to Christ.

I’ve lived this.

Those who follow the culture will lose themselves to their little g gods. Those who follow Christ will become stronger in Him with a deeper and ever-empowering faith. We’ll become bolder, more fearless witnesses for Him personally, and our numbers will grow as we do it.

We’re not going to lose in the long run. The outcome of this battle is already decided.

I’m going to talk more about this in the future. We’ve got a fight ahead of us.

All I’ll say for now is that it is apt that we have come to this pass at the beginning of Lent.

From Public Religion Research Institute:

Executive Summary

Support for same-sex marriage jumped 21 percentage points from 2003, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, to 2013. Currently, a majority (53%) of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, compared to 41% who oppose. In 2003, less than one-third (32%) of Americans supported allowing gay and lesbian people to legally marry, compared to nearly 6-in-10 (59%) who opposed.

Governor Brewer Vetoes Religious Freedom Bill

Governor Jan Brewer

Governor Brewer did what everyone expected and vetoed the religious freedom bill.

You can find a video with her explanation here, if you want to see it. I didn’t bother to look at it because I don’t believe that she’s going to tell the truth and I am not in the mood to hear lies. However, I could be wrong. Decide for yourselves.

A group of legal experts wrote the governor a letter concerning this legislation that answers most of the things which have been said about the bill. You can read it here. I will also put a copy of it below.

SB1062LegalProfsLetter

 

SB1062LegalProfsLetter2

SB1062LegalProfsLetter3

SB1062LegalProfsLetter4

 

 

Does the Laity Have the Right to Expect Authenticity from Our Priests?

TableauGoodShepherd

I’m evidently somewhat different from the average pew-sitting Catholic.

I don’t want my pastor to confirm me in my sins.

I want my pastor to tell me the truth about my spiritual condition and to lead me in the Way that leads to eternal life. I don’t go to church to validate myself, my sins or my choices in life. I go to church to grow closer to the Lord and to learn how to follow Jesus.

When I ask a Catholic priest for instruction on moral issues, I am not asking him for his personal prejudices or his individual neurosis. I want him to give me the straight truth about what the Church teaches so that I will be better able to evaluate what I should do and how I should live.

In short, I rely on the priests I go to for help to be authentic in their Catholicity and to tell me the truth.

I trust them to not use their position and power to lead me in ways that are sinful, belligerent to the Church, or that will allow me to commit grave sins against myself, other people, or my God.

So far in my Catholic life, this trust has been well-rewarded. I have had priests who always told me the truth of Church teaching, even when it made them personally uncomfortable and when I argued back and gave them a hard time about it.

Every person who lives brings themselves to the altar. They bring their own story, their own sins, their own desires for validation of their sins and an easy out from the narrow way of truly following Christ. There are no exceptions to this. Jesus told us that the Way of following Him was hard, and it is.

I, for one, would have loved to have been told that abortion in the case of rape is alright. I’ve seen what rape does to women and girls. I know how desperate and terrified a woman who’s been raped feels when she learns she is pregnant from that rape. I understand the price of choosing life in the face of this crime against her humanity.

If I had been given my druthers, I would also have loved to hear my pastor say that it’s ok to be all in for gay marriage. It would have been wonderful for me to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder on this with the friend I loved. I will grieve the loss of him in my life all my days.

It cost me dearly to accept that I was wrong about these things. It costs me almost every single day of my life.

But if my priest had lied to me, and given me his pastoral permission to do these things, he would have done me a great disservice. Also, I believe that part of my sin would also have been on his soul.

I do not begin to know how God deals with priests who throw away their priesthood to mislead the people who trust them; people they are supposed to shepherd.

But I can say from personal experience that the remorse you feel later for misleading people is a terrible sorrow. I would also add that you can’t often undo it once it’s done. I have gone to people I misled and told them I was wrong, that I regretted everything I had done. I could not change them. I could not unconvince them of the sinful things I had convinced them to believe earlier.

Priests who throw away their priesthood to preach and teach that which is contrary to the Gospels are the most piteous of creatures.

I believe that the laity has a right to expect authenticity from the men who pastor us. I believe we have a right to know that they will not mislead us and tell us our sins are not sins and that we should go and sin even more. I believe that we have a right to be able to trust that they will tell us the truth and teach us the Gospel without their personal prevarications and politically correct longings getting into it.

A case in point is the fallen Catholic school in Seattle that I wrote about earlier. Students at this school walked out because the school dismissed a member of the staff who had gotten “married” to his same-sex partner. There was a lot of carrying on, and ultimately, the school backed down about another staff member.

A priest from the Seattle area recently wrote an opinion piece for America magazine which accidentally illustrates the abysmal Catholic leadership that went into this tragedy of a failed Catholic school. I am sure that he’s very popular with the gay rights people. I would imagine that he’s viewed as a hero by his many friends in those circles.

He is also evidently a priest who many unsuspecting Catholics have chosen to follow. Again, I’m sure that these people feel they have the best pastor in the world, affirming them as he does in placing the teachings of the world ahead of the teachings of the Church. I would imagine that he’s a legendary folk hero in certain circles.

But from my viewpoint, he is inauthentic as a priest. He is not teaching what the Church teaches. In fact, he is using his collar to give gravitas to his personal teachings that the Church is wrong. He is leading people away from the light and into the darkness of popular piety without actual fealty. He is teaching them to turn their back on the real God and become their own little g gods.

I hate and detest singling out one person for the misbehavior of many. I am quite sure that there are a plethora of people in the Church who are responsible for the mess that is this school and for other fallen Catholic individuals and institutions around this country.

But I feel that someone, somewhere, has to point out that the Catholic laity has a right to expect authenticity from their priests. I don’t know anything about Canon law, but if this is not Canonical, it should be. We, as the people of God, have the right not to be deliberately misled by our shepherds.

The Limits of Tolerance

Unknown

 

What happens when people think evil is good and the devil is beautiful?

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