Pope Francis Hands Out Boxes with ’59 Little Pills’ in Them

Pope Francis offered medicine boxes that contained “59 little pills,”  in St Peter’s Square this weekend.

This medicine is “good for your health, your heart and your whole life,” the Pope told his audience. “Don’t forget to take it.”

What is the ‘medicine’ the Pope is prescribing?

Watch the video below and see.

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Book Review: Living Life Catholic

To join the conversation about The Thorny Grace of It or to order a copy, go here

“You’ve gotta have a horse to ride.” That’s a saying from politics, meaning you have to have a candidate who can run the race and win. It comes from horse racing, where the meaning is obvious: Horse races are won astride strong, fast horses.

You’ve gotta have a horse to ride.

That is equally true with books, blogs, essays, poetry and such. In this case, the “horse” you must ride is the writer’s ability to string words together in a compelling fashion.

By that criteria, The Thorny Grace of It has a fine horse to ride. Brian Doyle, the author of this book, can write. His book, which is an anthology of essays he’s published previously in various magazines, hangs together on the power of his writing.

There is no single issue or idea in this book. It is not a book of argumentation. There is nothing didactic or issue-oriented about it.

It is, rather, a series of reflections on living life Catholic that are given to us in lyrical prose that can, at times, almost cross over into poetry. As such, the book moves your emotions first, long before it touches your mind. The essays, which range from a beautiful thought poem about a handmade rosary, to a hilarious description of an older brother tutoring his much younger brother (the author) in how to approach his first confession, are glimpses through a window into another person’s life of faith, family and love.

The author comes from a large Catholic family and has lived his life as a Catholic. His essays reflect that cradle Catholic, generational Catholic reality. The book talks about life as a Catholic schoolboy and life as a mature man who faces the loss of a brother to cancer. Much of the book is centered on the mass in a highly personal first-person stream-of-conciousness narrative of experiencing the mass from the pew at the back of the room.

Mr Doyle’s power of description paints word pictures that translate into visual pictures in your mind as you read through these essays. You “see” the light coming through sanctuary windows that land as bars of butter on the church floor. You feel the lesson of the waspy priest who hides his blindness, and you experience the poignance of taking a drive with a dying brother.

I wish I could write like Mr Doyle.

But I can’t.

What I can do is tell you that if you love beautiful writing about living life Catholic, then this small book of essays is for you.

 

 

Steve Jobs, Consubstantial and the Mass

Apple’s board fired Steve Jobs in the 1970s.

He went on to a company that ultimately gave us Toy Story and many other computer animated blockbuster films and another company that created what became Mac OSX.

In the meantime, Apple made a lot of money selling the Macintosh, which Steve Jobs had master-minded. When other companies, particularly Microsoft, caught up with Apple’s early competitive advantage and passed it by, Apple began to founder.

I was forced to use an Apple computer for desktop publishing in the mid 1990s, and it was dreadful. I could not wait to get back to my pc. The old Mac OS couldn’t do the job anymore. It was buggy and out of date.

Apple brought Steve Jobs back by buying his operating system from him. At the same time, they put him back in the company loop.

This video is the announcement of this move to bring Steve Jobs back. It begins with a totally ham-handed presentation by the man who was running Apple into the ground at that time, followed by a presentation by Steve Jobs explaining the new operating system. Jobs’ presentation is followed by more ham-handedness that ends in dragging an obviously disgusted Jobs and his co-founder Steve Wozniak back on the stage for a final, underwhelming presentation.

It’s long, but it’s also a case study in the difference between pedestrian leadership and genius leadership. Jobs is clearly angry when he walks out on the stage. I would imagine he was embarrassed to be following such a bad act and angry about what Apple had devolved to.

How does this apply to the word “consubstantial” and the mass? It applies because Jesus deserves better than the pedestrian ugliness of the first presentation in this video. He deserves a liturgy that communicates clearly and is beautiful.

Making the mass ugly because of theological pretensions is a mistake. It is always a mistake. It is an everlasting mistake.

If you watch this video, you will see a dramatic demonstration of the power of simplicity in communication.

I keep hammering on the word consubstantial because it is so unforgivably ugly, awkward, unmelodius and downright insulting. It insults the laity with its high-handed obscurity, and it insults the mass, where heaven touches earth, with its ugliness.

I am not unhappy about or opposed to the changes in the liturgy. It doesn’t bother me one bit. Guarding the liturgy is one of the Church’s primary jobs. What bothers me is when the changes are a step down. The liturgy should be beautiful. It should soar and sing with our love for the God Who made us.

Consubstantial is like a brick on the prayer path of the mass that trips people and causes them to fall out of the rhythm of the worship and awe that leads them to the eucharist. People should not have to overcome the language of the mass. They should be uplifted by it.

My message to Church leadership as it is considering the new evangelization is to start speaking more directly and clearly. Talk to people instead of talking at them. You are communicating the greatest story ever told which tells the truth of the only Hope the world has ever had. Stop mumbling and talking to one another and speak out. Preach Christ.

Here’s the video.

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Cardinal Zen Calls for More Support for the Church In China

The Vatican needs to do more to support the true Church in China. That is the message from Cardinal Zen.

His comments are worth considering, not only because of the religious persecution in China, but because of the growing tendency for government to try to control the Church and the faithful in the Western world.

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The Embrace that went Viral

 

I have a friend with this genetic disease. His daughter died of it. That makes this video even more poignant to me.

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Church Collections to Aid the Philippines

When people suffer, the Church is there to help.

I wrote my check for this aid at mass last night. Please do the same. Go here to donate.

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When Jesus Washed My Sins Away

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Billy Graham: God Can Change the Past

I respect Billy Graham. He’s the real deal.

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Why is Pope Francis Listed Among the World’s Most Influential Jews?

Pope Francis was recently listed as one of the world’s most influential Jews.

Here’s why.

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Trading on the Female Body

What do you call doctors who run ads in college newspapers, on Facebook, etc, enticing young women to risk their health for money?

What do you call doctors who do this to sell these women’s eggs on the internet to the highest bidder to use in embryonic stem cell research or to create designer babies which they then sell for thousands of dollars?

This is not infertility treatment because the women in question are not infertile. It is a misuse of fertility drugs to hyper-stimulate a young woman’s ovaries far beyond what any fertility doctor would do. It is medicine without conscience, for profit and built on lies. The first lie is that young women can trust these doctors.

We’ve lived in a world where doctors use their powers to make people well rather than sick for so long that we just instinctively trust the white coat. But egg harvesting and surrogacy are breaches in that trust big enough to drive unnecessary deaths for the physician’s profit through.

What do you call doctors who deliberately make well people sick in order to rake in profits for themselves?

I think we should call them Mr, Ms or Mrs, as in someone who is no longer licensed to practice medicine.

Aside from the obvious misogyny of this practice, it does raise the question of whether or not anyone can trust their doctor if doctors start making well people sick to make profit.

The medical profession protects these parasitical doctors. The gay rights movement defends them by calling those who oppose them names (you should see my delete box.) Wealthy buyers of women’s bodies create television shows normalizing what is nothing more than a new form of prostitution and dehumanization of women. The feminist movement sold out women for abortion a long time ago. Elected officials bow down to the $$$ from the medical associations, the gay rights movement and the wealthy exploiters.

All the talk is about “families.”

But what about your family? What about your daughter?

In this, as so much else, you are going to have to protect your daughter alone, without the support of the powers that be, because the powers that be are busy elsewhere, raking in the cash that comes from farming your daughter’s body, compromising her health and fertility and endangering her life.

If you love your daughter, keep her away from this.

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Boxing the Cat

Do big cats like boxes as much as little cats?

Watch and see.

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Convos with My 3-Year-Old: Ferngully and Gas Prices

Convos with My 3-Year-Old. My fav YouTube.

Enjoy.

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Obamacare and Losing Your Insurance: President Says ‘This is on Me’

President Obama gave an explanation of how he turned out to be so wrong when he told Americans that under Obamacare, they could keep their health care plans if they liked them.

He says there was a “grandfather clause” in the bill that he thought would take care of this, but it didn’t work and that he is planning to “fix it.”

The video below is a clip from his explanation of this.

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China Changes One-Child Policy. It’s Two Children Now.

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It’s a step in the right direction. 

China has announced that it will “ease” its draconian one-child policy. Now, the good government will allow families to have two children. 

I am glad they are doing this, but governments do not have any business telling families how many children they can have. Period. 

If China — or India, for that matter — wanted to “ease” the pressures that lead to aborting, abandoning and murdering baby girls, they might consider measures to change the age-old practices that created this violent discrimination. I am not talking about coercion. Rather, by addressing issues of parity in inheritance, income and opportunity, much of the “reason” for murdering baby girls would go away. 

The article below seems to say that ending the brutal murders of baby girls has nothing to do with this policy change, so don’t hold your breath for these kinds of changes. What the article implies is that China is “easing” their policy (but not relaxing their control over people’s private lives) for economic reasons. It seems the economy flourishes with a growing population to buy goods and services. 

In the meantime, I am wondering if this new policy means that now the Chinese government will knock down people’s houses and grab pregnant women off the streets to force abort them after the second baby instead of the first. 

From Reuters:

(Reuters) - China will ease family planning restrictions nationwide, the government said on Friday, allowing millions of families to have two children in the country’s most significant liberalization of its strict one-child policy in about three decades.

Couples in which one parent is an only child will now be able to have a second child, one of the highlights of a sweeping raft of reforms announced three days after the ruling Communist Party ended a meeting that mapped out policy for the next decade.

The plan to ease the policy was envisioned by the government about five years ago as officials worried that the strict controls were undermining economic growth and contributing to a rapidly ageing population the country had no hope of supporting financially.

A growing number of scholars had long urged the government to reform the policy, introduced in the late 1970s to prevent population growth spiraling out of control, but now regarded by many experts as outdated and harmful to the economy.

 

Book Review: Doubt is Just Another Way to Say You’re Thinking it Through

To join in the conversation about Living by Faith, Dwelling in Doubt, or to order a copy, go here.

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Christians often behave as if they’re afraid of their own questions. 

Perhaps this comes from preachers to don’t want to face the same questions in themselves and who attempt to answer the anguished “Why?” of a suffering parishioner with platitudes or, occasionally, accusations of a lack of faith. 

But the truth is, there is a reasonable basis for these questions.

“Life,” as President John Kennedy famously said, “isn’t fair.”  

Sometimes the rich get rich, the good die young and bad things happen to good people. 

That alone is enough to drive any sensitive person to take a good long look at claims that God is all-powerful, all-merciful, all-loving, all-knowing and all-just. 

If that is true, why aren’t the baby rapers of this world piles of ash? Why didn’t Hitler die along with so many others in World War I? How is that the heads of big banks can bring down whole economies and get paid off with our treasure to refrain from finishing the destruction they created?

I could go on.

And on. 

But the point is made.

This God of ours, with His long list of “alls” can seem a poor fit for the reality of what is often cruel and difficult human existence. 

Sensitive, thoughtful, nerdy people, as Kyle Cupp, the author of Living by Faith, Dwelling in Doubt describes himself, are bound see the conundrum and ask themselves their own little whys. These questions are not the Why of a mother whose son was murdered in front of her house, or a girl who was raped and beaten and left for dead. They are the confused questions of a bystander who sees this and cannot balance the two columns, one a column listing God’s attributes, the other a column listing the many instances of “where was God?” that they see around them.

People who are caught in the snares of life’s anguish don’t ask these questions, or if they do, they don’t ask them in the same way. The irony of dwelling in doubt is that the doubts tend to vanish when you are confronted by the hardest realities. There is no choice then but to live by faith or to die psychologically. More to the point, these deepest pits of human suffering are when the Holy Spirit meets us most reliably and in ways that undeniable. 

Backward as it seems, intense suffering, which sparks doubts in those who witness it, often increases faith in those who endure it. 

Mr Cupp has had his own life’s hardships. He’s dealt with them by living in faith, all the while shadowed by nagging doubt. But difficult as the things he’s borne, they do not reach the level of all-eclipsing cataclysm such as sometimes happen to people.

There are things that are not survivable without God. It is possible for some people to survive them physically, but without God they will never be intact again. 

Perhaps the one such encounter that everyone must face is their own death. Without God, death means annihilation. People can pretty that up or, more often, just dismiss it from their thoughts when death appears far off on a horizon they don’t expect to ever reach. Most people who talk blithely about dying without God do not, in their hearts, really believe in their own mortality.

But actually facing death your own death for real is quite another matter. The blithe burbling dries up and your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth.

It is the time when people make the final choice as to whom they belong, the point at which that choice becomes eternal. 

Everything — every grief and small annihilation we face in our lives up to that point — is a practice session in making the eternal choice. Doubt is not a sin. It is not a lack of faith. It is simply thinking it through. 

What matters is not so much the question, for in essence all these questions are only one, what matters is our answer. Dwelling in Doubt is simply the question in whatever form your life experiences direct it to.

And that question, directed to Our God Who made us, is, “can I trust You to be Who they tell me You are?”

The answer is either living by faith or going the opposite direction and turning your back on the only hope you have. 

Kyle Cupp writes an honest book with Living by Faith, Dwelling in Doubt. He lays bare many of his own sorrows and weaknesses. By his own confession, he is a nerdy, introverted man. But his prose reveals a strikingly honest person who is not afraid to admit that there are days in which the faith he lives by dwells in doubt. 

Christian Persecution and Conversion in Nigeria

Nigerian Christians have suffered a decade of murderous attacks from militant islamists, in particular the killer cult of Boko Haram. 

At the same time, Christianity has been growing. The Pentecostal movement is flourishing in Nigeria with all night prayer services drawing thousands of worshipers. 

The old saying is, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” 

Present-day martyrs for Christ are no exception to that. 

From PRI The World:

Credit: Rowan Moore Gerety

Under an open-air pavilion built to seat a million people, children sleep on mats spread out on the cobblestones while their parents enter their 6th consecutive hour of worship.

All-night prayer vigils are at the core of the country’s booming Pentecostal movement. Some churches draw worshippers in the hundreds of thousands.

At one church, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Friday night vigils take place in what locals call an “auditorium.” It’s a covered pavilion the size of 87 football fields, and it’s not quite big enough. The church has already cleared ground for a bigger one. 

In fact, it’s something of a pattern: the church’s old pavilion was demolished a few years back, and now vendors have set up shop on the old foundation.

Once the service starts, all these people selling, they’ll close their shops and go inside the auditorium to listen to the word of God,” says Wale Akande, a volunteer who stands by the auditorium, welcoming visitors to the Holy Ghost Service in a fluorescent green vest.

The pavilion here was built in 2000 to seat a million people. It’s basically a corrugated rooftop. The ground below is paved with cobblestones and lined with thousands of crude wooden benches and plastic chairs. Akande says attendance is down tonight because of rain; the pavilion is only a third full.


Is It Possible to Have Individual Freedom of Conscience and Gay Marriage?

The debate is boiling down to a wall-punching, head-butting disaster. 

On the one side, there are gay marriage advocates who decry religious freedom and personal conscience exemptions to participation in gay marriage except for the most isolated cases, and even that quickly comes into question as discussions proceed.

On the other side, are gay marriage opponents who decry the loss of personal freedom of expression and religious liberty. They quickly move to a position of banning gay marriage to preserve their freedoms. 

Those who advocate each position have worked themselves into such a froth that they are incapable of civil discussion, much less actual compromise. I have been a victim of this myself. I lost a friend who I thought of as my brother, a friendship spanning decades of our lives and which had given both of us a great deal of love, loyalty, fun and support. He ended this friendship with the finality of an amputation because I could not support gay marriage. 

That is the level of acrimony and nastiness this issue raises. 

But in truth, the argument itself is based on considerations which have ample precedence in American life and jurisprudence to allow any and all of us to live together in harmony. America has a historic tradition of honoring freedom of conscience as it pertains to religious faith. The most poignant example of this is the exemptions we allow for those whose religious faith demands that they not participate in combat. 

We even extend this to people who are not members of a faith which demands it.

I know because a friend of mine obtained conscientious objector status after he was in the military during the Viet Nam war. He made this request based on his personal conviction that killing anyone was murder. It was not based on his faith, since he was a member of a church that did not teach this. 

The United States Army granted him conscientious objector status. I have also known Mennonite men who were granted conscientious objector status because of their faith. 

So why can’t we work out something for gay marriage? I am not talking about exemptions for established churches, even though that is absolutely necessary if America is going to be America. I am talking about preserving the conscience rights and right to religious freedom of all American citizens. 

Gay marriage zealots can be single-minded, intolerant and destructive in how they approach their cause. They resort far too often to labeling everyone who disagrees with them as bigots or some such and then excoriating and slandering these people and institutions in a concerted way that can only be described as character assassination. 

My own friend, who I would have trusted with my life, has gone on the internet and written things about me to hurt me. None of these things he’s said advance the cause of gay marriage. They are simple expressions of hatred because we disagree over this issue. 

I’m not sure what causes this level of ugliness. People who fought the great Civil Rights battles of the mid twentieth century did not engage in it, and the level of oppression and suffering they were battling makes any complaints that homosexuals have pale by comparison. 

Perhaps the difference is that Martin Luther King Jr led from a Gospel standpoint. He based his cause in the inalienable human rights found in the Gospels of Jesus Christ. People sang hymns, prayed and talked about how they were saving the soul of America before they left to face the firehoses that were turned on them in Civil Rights marchers. 

Their bravery and their powerful witness to their own humanity not only won the day, it did indeed, ennoble the soul of this nation. 

No cause can do that if it stoops to the level that some of the gay rights advocates have chosen in their work for gay marriage. There is no nobility in slander, name-calling and bald-faced bullying. There is certainly nothing of a higher calling in attempts to advance your desires by attacking and limiting the basic human rights of other people. 

That, at root, is what freedom religion and freedom of personal conscience are: Basic human rights. The freedom to believe in God and to follow your own faith is second only to the basic right to life and freedom from violence in the hierarchy of human rights. It is what separates us from the animals. 

Alone of all the creatures on this planet, we know that we are going to die. Also alone of all the creatures on this planet, we know that there is right and wrong and dignity to every human soul.

Can there be human rights for gay people and freedom of religion for everyone?

Certainly.

Is gay marriage a human right for gay people? I don’t think so.

To be honest, I think that gay marriage, if it is regarded as the same as marriage between a man and a woman, is a delusion. Two men or two women are not the same as a man and a woman. There are basic legal rights that gay couples should have, simply because the laws of America have to be for everyone. But marriage between two men or two women is simply not possible. We can all pretend and call it marriage. But that won’t make it so. 

The next question is, should gay people have the same civil rights as other Americans?

Of course.

Should every American, gay or straight, have the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion?

Absolutely. That’s not only imperative, it’s easily done if people of good will try to do it. 

We can work it out. We can even work it out if we change the definition of marriage. 

But will we?

I don’t know the answer to that. 

We have the means and the power. The last question is simply, do we have the will?

Blumenthal Announces Bill to Overturn State Abortion Laws

A small group of members of the United States Congress announced plans today to introduce a bill that sounds as if it would completely federalize abortion.

The proposed legislation, by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) is designed to override state regulations on abortion clinics. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA, Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) are backing the bill.

I know this is going to sound odd, but the thing that disgusts me about this the most is the title they’ve given the bill. They’re calling it the Women’s Health Protection Act. That really raises my feminist ire.

I am so sick of hearing abortion equated with “women’s health.” What, I ask you, about ovarian cancer? Or, rape? Or egg harvesting? How about sex-selected abortion?

Or … dare I say it? … unsafe, unclean abortion processing stations that call themselves clinics and that are run by doctors without hospital privileges who allow non-doctors to perform abortions and prescribe dangerous drugs without proper medical evaluation? How about outpatient surgical clinics — whose only surgery is abortion — that do not have the basic health and safety equipment that is required of every other outpatient surgical clinic?

It is so wonderful that members of the United States Congress want to spare women the egregious requirements of having doctors who are licensed and have hospital privileges and do the procedures themselves rather than farming them out to underlings. I think we need to start doing that for prostate surgery and gall-bladder surgery and appendectomies. Those are “routine” too. Let the nurse do the surgery and use doctors who can’t practice in a nearby hospital. Do it without proper medical equipment.

But wait. This is only women we want to spare the rigors of good medical care while they exercise their “right” to “women’s health” by having abortions.

If you ever wondered how someone like Kermit Gosnell was able to operate for so long, let me explain it you. This is how.

The Gosnells are protected by “abortion advocates” who oppose any and all regulations of abortion clinics.

Do they ever ask about the women who end up in clinics like Gosnells?

Or what about the women who have abortions performed by non-doctors, or who are prescribed RU-486 by a staffer with no ultrasound beforehand?

Bleeding to death from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy evidently doesn’t constitute a “women’s health” problem if the rupture was caused by an abortion drug. That’s what can happen when non-doctors prescribe these drugs without proper medical evaluation.

Why is it onerous to provide women with the same outpatient surgical care that the law requires for every other kind of surgery? Why is abortion so much more important that, ummmm, women’s health?

The emphasis on abortion at the cost of every other right, every other need and all safety precautions is not only demeaning to women, it endangers them. This proposed law is particularly egregious because it is a law against passing a law. When you read the language in the thing, it is not a statute that stands on its own. It is rather a proposal to codify limitations on what laws the states may consider.

That’s far-reaching and rather sinister. The idea has almost limitless applications that go far beyond abortion or any issue. It strikes to the heart of the notion of separation of powers in a federalist government. I expect more legislation by other members of Congress acting on behalf of special interest groups that attempts to shut down the states from enacting laws on all types of subjects, many of which will involve corporations and special interest money.

This particular piece of legislation will not become law for the simple reason that it will not get a hearing in the Republican dominated House of Representatives. However, it will be a campaign fundraiser for the Ds and a campaign issue for the Rs.

The abortion issue is necessary for both political parties. If you don’t know that, you don’t know American politics.

From Senator Blumenthal’s website:

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) – joined by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA-27), Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11), and Lois Frankel (D-FL-22) – announced the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013.

The Women’s Health Protection Act would protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion by stopping restrictive regulations and laws – such as those in place in states including Texas and Wisconsin – intended to curtail reproductive health services for women.

 

 


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