Four Days

Four days.

That’s how long it took for the FBI to sift through the evidence and identify two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. 

I read a story earlier, which I assume is true, that one of the bombing victims, Jeff Baumann, said “That’s the guy. He looked right at me,” when he was shown a photo of the one of the suspects. He described how the man placed a bag of explosives at his feet. Two and a half minutes later, the bag exploded.

Four days. 

I am impressed and grateful for law enforcement that follows the evidence and investigates thoroughly. I don’t want them to find just someone, I want them to find the right ones. 

Law enforcement searches for one of these suspects while I am writing this. The other suspect is dead. The suspected terrorists have added two more casualties to their list: One young police officer is dead and another is in critical condition. I have no doubt that they will find the suspect who is at large. 

Four days. 

The message here, for those who want to hear it, is Don’t mess with the USA. 

 If you see this man, call 1-800-CALL-FBI. 

Sub1 500

 

FBI Releases Suspects’ Photos in Marathon Bombing

The FBI has released photos of two suspects in the Boston bombing.

I pulled these photos from the FBI website. If you see one of these men, or you think you might know something to help in the investigation, call the FBI at:

1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) and prompt #3.

Suspects1and2

 

Pair 3

 

Suspect2 a

 

Suspect2 c

 

White hat4

 

 

President Obama: The Gun Lobby and Its Allies Willfully Lied

“This bill represented moderation and compromise,” President Obama said after his gun registry bill went down to defeat yesterday. The President appeared angry at the press conference discussing the bill. He vowed, “This effort is not over … so long as the American people don’t give up” on the effort.

What this means in terms of real politics remains to be seen. The President used political blackmail against Democratic senators to force them to support the Affordable Health Care Act. He also lied to Democratic Congressmen, saying that he would support religious and conscience exemptions to the bill. He then signed and has stood by the HHS Mandate.

I think this led to mistrust of the president in some quarters. I would guess that this played a part in why gun owners were “upset” about this bill and why they did not trust the president’s statements in support of it.

There is a large segment of the population that believes the president absolutely. Unfortunately for him, those were not the citizens whose support he needed to push this bill over. In order to pass gun control, the president needed the votes of Senators and Representatives who are from areas in the country who do not trust the president and who are also strongly in favor of the right to keep and bear arms.

Blaming the “gun control lobby” for “willful lying” seems disingenuous, considering the attitudes of the people in those states. I doubt very much that they needed to lie, willfully or otherwise to get people in those areas to let their elected officials know how they felt about these pieces of legislation.

This is a clip from President Obama’s statement on the gun control vote yesterday.

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Gun Control, The Gun Lobby, the Prez and Voters Who Mean It

Gary england We had weather in Oklahoma last night. 

It wasn’t too bad; just some small hail, winds, driving rain and a couple of little tornadoes. But anytime we have weather, we watch Gary England. Weatherman in Oklahoma is a serious job. People trust their lives to those folks on tv and most of us feel safest when the person we’re trusting is Gary England.

Watching the weather gave my family and I a healthy dose of other news, along with watching the radar screen and storm chasers. We worked in some channel flipping to see what was happening with the fertilizer plant explosion in Waco. Somehow or other that led to a momentary pause at MSNBC in which they were deploring what they said was the “gun lobby’s” total “control” of Congress.

This particular public deploring was a reaction to the defeat of President Obama’s plan for strict background checks on would-be gun purchasers. I didn’t watch it long enough to sort it out, but I’m betting that the defeat was more difficult for the bill’s supporters to take because it was handed to them by the Democratically controlled Senate instead of the Republican-controlled House.

I mean, what’s a prez to do when his own party leaves him standing at the curb like that?

NRA Enter the “gun lobby” boogie man. 

I don’t mind when critics of legislation get upset over the hammerlock special interests have over so much of our public policy in this country. In fact, I share their pain. But I am little tired of hearing about the draconian “gun lobby.” 

My experience as a voting member of a legislative body for these past 17 years is that the “gun lobby” couldn’t persuade anybody to do anything if the people themselves didn’t back them up. The real “lobby” that killed this legislation is almost certainly the American people. 

That’s a painful pill for gun control backers to swallow. It appears to be so tough that they will not admit the truth of it, no matter how obvious it is.

The people of this country do not, by and large, want gun control. You can slice it and dice it and poll it until your spreadsheet software crashes and it doesn’t change anything. If you pass a gun control law, people who haven’t voted since heck was a pup will register just for the purpose of voting against you.

Back in 1994, I had relatives who had never voted in their lives and who were no more political than your average goldfish get themselves registered to go vote against a Congressman who was running for the United States Senate. Why did they do this? The Congressman had voted for the Brady Bill that President Clinton passed.

That, of course, is part of the  reason why polls don’t mean much with these fire-brand issues. Pollsters poll “likely voters,” which is another way of saying that they poll people who are in the habit of voting. But issues like gun control get the Saturday Night Wrestling crowd off the couch and out to the polls.

This kind of voter can not be massaged. They can not be persuaded by other issues. There is nothing you can say or do that will change their minds once they’ve set them on voting you out of office. If you represent certain parts of these United States and you do something as dumb as vote against these folks on one of their I-mean-it issues, you’d better be ready to pack up your office and go home, because your time in elected office is through.

That, and not the draconian machinations of the “gun lobby,” is why that bill bit the dust yesterday. It is also why if it hadn’t bitten the dust, the United States Senate would most likely be in Republican control come December 2014.

These aren’t tea leaves you need a sooth sayer to read for you. They’re the plain facts of what matters to a big swath of the electorate in a good many states.

Obama

Based on the news stories I’ve read, President Obama is steamed about losing his bill. He’s pledged to fight on and has accused the “gun lobbies and their allies” of “willfully lying” about the legislation. Frankly, I find the notion of a president who publicly promised conscience and religious exemptions in order to pass the Affordable Health Care Act and then turned around and signed the HHS Mandate accusing anyone of “willfully lying” to be pretty rich.

Whatever.

My only thought is that if the Senators in question represent people who don’t want gun control as much as Oklahomans don’t want it, they’d be wise to stick with what they did yesterday. The only reason to go against your constituents when they feel as strongly as people around here do about this is if you personally believe in it enough to sacrifice your career for it.

The following excerpt from a Newsmax article will give you a taste of the President’s angst over this vote.

An angry President Barack Obama denounced Senate Republicans on Wednesday for failing to pass stricter background checks on gun purchases, calling it a “pretty shameful day” for Washington.

Speaking in the Rose Garden as the families of some of the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shootings looked on, Obama vowed to press on in the fight for tougher gun laws.

“Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders,” he said, standing alongside former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who left Congress after suffering a life-threatening gunshot wound to the head. “A few minutes ago a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even when these families looked on from the gallery.”

Earlier, Senate Republicans, backed by rural-state Democrats, blocked legislation to tighten restrictions on the sale of firearms.

In recent weeks, the families of some of the victims of the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School pressed lawmakers with stories of personal loss, as Second Amendment advocates countered that none of the proposed changes would have stopped the grisly tragedy.

Attempts to ban assault-style rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines also faced certain defeat in a series of showdown votes.

The background check measure commanded a majority of senators, 54-46, but that was well short of the 60 votes needed to advance. A total of 41 Republicans and five Democrats pulled together to scuttle the plan.

“The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” Obama said, referring to fears by some that the law would allow for creation of a federal gun registry.

The president alluded to polls that peaked at 90 percent of Americans supporting expanded background checks for convicted criminals and the severely mentally ill. He said “90 percent” of Democrats supported the bill, but “90 percent” of Republicans opposed it.

“There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this,” Obama said. “It came down to politics.”
Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/newswidget/Obama-Senate-background-checks/2013/04/17/id/500024?promo_code=F323-1&utm_source=Life_Site_News&utm_medium=nmwidget&utm_campaign=widgetphase1#ixzz2QqimRzua Urgent: Should Obamacare Be Repealed? Vote Here Now!

State Senator with Mind of Two-Year Old Wins Dumb-Off with Constituent

Brian nieves This guy clearly has senator-itis. 

Senator-itis is a deadly brain disease that leads to delusions of self-importance, rudeness and bizarre behavior. Coupled with the instantaneous communication of the internet and the “send” button on email software, it can cause homeric public stupidity.

Something happens to people’s poor little brains when they walk into capitol buildings and take their seats in legislative chambers. They start believing the flattery. They start thinking that they are as important as the office that they hold on a temporary basis.

In truth, elective office belongs to the people. The house seat I represent is not “mine.” It belongs to the people of District 89. They chose me to speak for them in state government and they allow me to exercise their bit of power in government in their name. But both the power and the position belong to them, not me.

I’m just the messenger.

Missouri State Senator Brian Nieves appears to have forgotten all this. He got an email from someone who didn’t like the newsletter he sends. The emailer told him to take them off the mailing list.

In my office, the reply would have been I apologize and of course we will remove your name from our list. Thank you for letting us know your preferences. Done and done.

But Senator Bozo replied with a hectoring insult, initiating an email exchange that sounds for all the world like a couple of bratty kids yelling barbs at each other across a playground.

Aside from wondering how this guy managed to get himself elected, I do find his veiled threat about being “threatened” more than a little over the top. It is against the law to threaten an elected official, but so far as I know, there is no law whatsoever against insulting them.

Here’s how it works: If you tell me that you’re going to harm me or my family if I don’t vote the way you want, then that’s a crime. And it should be. We can’t run a government if the people we elect are in fear for their lives because of controversial votes.

However, if you tell me I’m 20 kinds of fool who could easily be replaced with a snail in a business suit, that’s not a crime. It’s an insult. If you tell me that you’re going to take my newsletters and flush them down the drain and that if I ever show up at your house to ask for your vote, you’ll sic the dogs on me, that’s still not a threat. In fact, I’d probably think that was funny … before I x-ed you off my list.

But Bozo the Senator evidently thinks that when someone insults him or tells him to go soak his head, they’re threatening him. And he feels obliged to issue a veiled threat back. I find that disturbing.

All in all, I think this senator needs to consider a return to private life. He’s doesn’t appear to have the mental equipment to handle public office. As for the John Q Citizen who thinks his senator is a douchetard … what can I say? He lost the dumb-off, but not by much.

From Yahoo News:

When an unsolicited email arrives, most people hit delete and move on with their lives. Not Bart Cohn.

The Wildwood, Mo., resident received a newsletter from Brian Nieves, a Republican member of the Missouri Senate with whom Cohn does not see eye to eye on the issues. According to River Front Times, which originally reported the story, Cohn wrote a seven-word reply to Nieves’ newsletter. “Take me off your mailing list. Freak.”

And thus began a wackadoo exchange of insults between Cohn and Nieves, all of which were forwarded by Cohn to River Front Times.

After Cohn’s tersely worded response, Nieves issued a retort:

Who are you? Is there something wrong with you? Are you incapable of communicating in a way that common, decent people do?

Tell me this, how did you ever even get on MY Distribution list?

Cohn fired back:

Remove me from your list. I despise you.

Nieves then wrote this:

Tell me who you are and how you ever got on my list. I don’t take we’ll to some troll sneaking on to my distribution list.

Things get weird(er). From Cohn:

I don’t care what you take well to. Take me off your list. I don’t know how I got on your list. And I don’t sneak. I’ll tell you to your face I think you’re a freak. Now act like a big boy, senator, and remove me from your list as I’ve requested. And stop harassing me or I’ll make an issue of it.

Nieves apparently took issue with the word “issue.” He wrote:

Explain “issue”

Are you threatening an elected official? I’m sure your very Big & Bad & Tuff.

The ONE and ONLY way for you to have gotten on my list is by YOU having communicated with me via email. I guess your the type who wants to be able to throw something my way but not hear back?

You’ll be removed but be Very Careful to NEVER Threaten me! Also, don’t ever send anything to this email address again because every time you do, you automatically get put back on the distribution list. :-)

Think that’s the end? Nope. Cohn responded with more insults:

I didn’t threaten anyone, you tool. You are such a douchetard it’s not even funny. Now go do some work on your insane conspiracy theories that everyone laughs about behind your back. You’re a joke!

Read the rest here.

Boston Strong: The Land of the Brave

Bostonians, singing the national anthem at the first Bruins game since the Marathon Bombing.

I am so proud of these people.

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Cardinal Wuerl Speaks Out for Priest Who is Under Fire for Teaching Homosexuals are Called to Celibacy

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Cardinal Donald Wuerl

Cardinal Wuerl used his homily at George Washington University to make it clear that he stands behind the priest who is under fire on that campus, Father Greg Shaffer. 

Two gay activists attacked Father Shaffer recently because the priest teaches that chastity for homosexual people means that they are called to celibacy. The stated purpose of the attacks on the priest was to have him removed from campus ministry and to either force the Newman Center where he is assigned to stop teaching Catholic morality.

Cardinal Wuerl’s homily seems to indicate that Father Shaffer has the confidence of his Cardinal. This takes the possibility of him losing his assignment off the table. 

Now it’s up to the university to decide if they are going to jump into this and try to close the Newman Center or if they will allow freedom of thought and speech on their campus as they have up to now. 

Cardinal Wuerl’s homily, excerpted from CNA

“I want to offer a word of support and encouragement to your chaplain, Father Greg Shaffer…and to stand in solidarity with a good priest,” the archbishop of Washington said April 14.

His remarks come as two gay students said the Newman Center chaplain had told individuals who came to him for counseling that if they experience same-sex attraction, they should remain celibate.

Asserting that this was anti-gay behavior, the two students have launched a campaign to force Fr. Shaffer off the campus of the private university.

Cardinal Wuerl reflected on the duty of bishops and priests to “feed Jesus’ flock,” and considered to whom “Jesus’ flock” refers.


Christ’s flock are those who freely choose to follow Christ and be a part of his Church, the cardinal said, and that those who choose not to follow Christ are not forced to do so.

“We propose the ways of the kingdom of God in terms that the world can understand and examine, in terms they may freely accept or reject.”

When Christ himself was faced with those who would not follow his teachings, he “did not respond by changing the teaching,” Cardinal Wuerl noted.

“Even when they said to him you need to be current, you need to be contemporary, you need to be politically correct, you need to be with the times, Jesus did not say, ‘Oh, then, I will change my teaching.’”

Christ continues to offer unchanging truths today, which cannot be changed to “conform with any particular cultural demand,” he said.

“Yet, there are those who claim that voices for the Gospel should be silenced, that we should be silenced. There are those who say there is no room for any other view but their own.”

Cardinal Wuerl said that this experience is not new to the Church, and she has always bore the brunt of “narrow-minded discrimination and blind bigotry.”

He urged a need to preserve and protect religious liberty in the face of attempts to silence priests lest they “be allowed to engage in dialogue with our culture.”

Just because there are forces in society wishing to change marriage and to deny the dignity of human life and natural law, that “does not mean that the rest of us no longer have a place in this society,” the archbishop stated.

Boston, Sandy Hook, Aurora: Maintaining an Even Strain in the Face of Repeated Atrocity

Oklahoma City is a smaller town than Boston. 

I know people who were grievously injured in the Oklahoma City bombing. They have lost their homes and jobs because of the injuries. Some of the survivors will require care from their families for the rest of their lives.

America reached out to us during the days after that horrible event. Huge amounts of money were donated. Despite this, families of the injured have been forced into bankruptcy and ultimately been left to deal with the after affects themselves.

We are going to have to get used to these tragedies.

They appear to be coming at us Wham! Wham! Wham! We need to learn how to maintain an even strain in the face of them and still take care of the victims and their families.

We also need to go after the perpetrators, which, I believe, we will. I’ll save the conversation concerning our society’s overwhelming need for conversion for a later post.

Today, I want to talk about what “maintaining an even strain” in the face of repetitive atrocity means in real life. I’m going to link to a video showing how the people on the ground in Boston responded to the bombing. They swung into action immediately. They went to the aid of the injured and they did it calmly, cooperatively and, in my opinion, the way that Americans have always done it.

We do this every time, don’t we? Americans don’t run away from each other when we’re in trouble. We reach out and help each other. Boston was no exception.

I’m also going to put a link to at least one place where you can donate money. The owner of the Boston Patriots has set up a matching program for donations for the survivors. Go to this link and donate a few dollars. If you don’t have much, just give $5 or $10. If enough of us do that, it will add up, fast.

If you learn of other legitimate links, feel free to post them in the combox. But please do your best to make sure they are reputable.

Another suggestion I’m going to make is that we consider forming support groups for specific survivors of these atrocities in our Altar Societies, parish Knights of Columbus, etc. The reason I described the hardship survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing have been through is because genuine caring doesn’t end when the ratings go down and the news media skips on to the next big thing. 

There are people who survived the shooting in Aurora who will probably need help for a long time. That is almost certainly the same in Boston. The rescue workers are also going to suffer from this for a long time.

All these people need both financial and emotional support that is on-going and long-lasting. 

Here are things you can do that will make a difference:

1. Pray for them — by name, if you know their names. Pray for them every day. Include them — again by name, if you know their names — in your group prayers, your family bed time prayers, etc. Take the trouble to learn about at least one of these people and adopt them for prayer intercession on an on-going basis.

2. Send them a card. Not a card “to the victims,” but a card addressed to them using their own name. Tell them that you are praying for them and that you care about them. Then, in a couple of months, send another card. Next Christmas, send them a Christmas card. Lift them up as long as they are down.

3. Consider doing an altar society bake sale or a Knights candy sale and using the proceeds to help pay the medical expenses of this one person you have adopted.

4. Write corporations such as Nike who have an interest in the Marathon and ask them to also start a matching donation fund for the victims’ on-going medical expenses.

5. Put activities in place that we will follow after each one of these tragedies. We may need to set up atrocity prayer chains that we activate every time another one of these things happens.

The important thing is to stop wringing our hands and asking “How could this happen?” We need to get on with the business of taking care of each other in the aftermath.

Here is the video I spoke of earlier. Notice that the person holding the camera is in shock, but he keeps on filming. I would guess that the people who were moving barricades were in shock, too. But they didn’t flinch and they didn’t run away. That’s what Americans do when the going gets tough.

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You can donate to the survivors here. Be sure to indicate that you want your donation to go to the Boston Marathon bombing survivors.

Conversion Story: The Story of How a New York Jew Wrestled with Christ and Became Catholic

Benedict

I needed this.

I’ve been affected by the events of this week like everyone else. In addition to that, there’s been death and sadness closer in at my parish. Everything bugs me this week.

Right in the midst of my anomie comes this conversion story. Conversion to Christ is birth, re-birth, being born again. It is a person stepping in one move from death to life.

This particular conversion story describes something a little bit like the conversion I experienced in that it was instantaneous. God does that with some people. It’s as if He points His finger and says “You.”

When that happens, there is no denying the reality of it. I guess you could ignore it and say no, but you’d have to lie to yourself in a big way to do it.

This particular conversion story, is titled “The Story of how a New York Jew wrestled with Christ and became Catholic”. It describes the instantaneous and unbidden conversion of Roger Dubin. God said “You” to Mr Dubin in an airport while he was watching the announcement of Pope Benedict’s election as pope in 2005.

I won’t tell you more because it would spoil the story. I’ll put an excerpt below with a link to the rest. I hope it cheers your day as it did mine.

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From The Catholic World Report:

On April 2, 2005, there came the news of the death of Pope John Paul II. I’d always admired the pope for his courage in confronting the horrors of communism, and for aligning with President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher in a united front that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union. Yet as a spiritual leader he meant nothing to me.

Nevertheless, Barbara and I found ourselves becoming involved in the events and the funeral as they unfolded on television. Even the typically skewed commercial coverage couldn’t disguise the tributes from all corners of the globe, and the love for the pope and grief at losing him from Catholics and people of every faith. At some point in the two weeks following, Barbara—a long-lapsed Protestant who’d never lost her regard for Christianity—turned to me and said, “You’ve got to get religion, Roger. You’ve been drifting way too long.”

Early on the morning of April 19, I left on a business trip, first taking the commuter flight from Prescott, our home since 2001, to the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. There was a wait before my next flight to the west coast, so I stopped for coffee, and soon after I arrived at the gate, the white smoke appeared over the roof of the Sistine Chapel on the television monitor. Sipping my cappuccino, I watched with a large group of travelers, interested—as a news hound mostly—in who’d been chosen. From my casual observation, however, quite a few in the crowd were Catholics, and far more invested in the outcome than I.

When the announcement was made that Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected, people around me seemed to register either shock or joy. I had a pretty good sense of the reason for the split. In the days following Pope John Paul’s passing, I’d noted the avuncular and, to all appearances, mild-mannered cardinal playing a high-profile role in the funeral and related proceedings. I’d also heard quite a bit of commentary about his staunchly conservative stance as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, set in contrast to the “modernization” and “progress” many were hoping for and demanding. That hoary theme, complete with groan-inducing code words and liberal shibboleths straight out of American politics, brought on a depressing sense of déjÀ vu. “God’s Rottweiler,” some even called him, a denigration that struck me as both outrageous and naïve, though I knew almost nothing about him.

I’d been a senior corporate executive for many years, I’ve had my own consulting business since 1996, and I understood that the cardinal, like the centurion in Matthew 8:9, was “ a man under authority.” Which meant that whatever he’d done to garner his reputation had been undertaken with the guidance and approval of his boss. Yet the criticism fell on him, which also told me he was a loyal lieutenant, willing to do his superior’s will and take the hit himself without complaint. People who viewed it otherwise, I grumbled, likely had an axe to grind, or were reluctant to criticize Pope John Paul, or were simply fools.

That’s not very charitable, I admit. But remember, I was nowhere near being “Christian” in my judgments at the time. (Actually, I’m still nowhere near where I should be, yet I’m trying.) How often I’ve marveled since then at Pope Benedict’s kindness to everyone,even as he took on the agonizing work of expunging the “filth” from the Church and laying the foundation for renewal. How often I’ve wished I could feel his Christian charity towards the enemies within. But the rockiest rise on the road to becoming Christian, at least for someone like me, is learning to love as Pope Benedict loves—especially those whom you’d much rather smack upside the head and who richly deserve far worse. I suspect I’ll be wrestling with that one for a long time.

So there I was at the gate—standing now, with just a few minutes left before I’d need to board my flight. If I had to miss the introduction of the new pope, it was no big deal, though I was vaguely hoping I wouldn’t. And then Pope Benedict XVI walked onto the balcony. The camera zoomed in, his eyes seemed to look right at me and through me, and that’s the exact instant my conversion happened. (Read the rest here.)

Book Review: Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious. Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood

To join the discussion about Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious, Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood or to order a copy, go here

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Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious, Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, by Pat Gohn is a hymn to woman’s essential femaleness.

Femaleness, or true femininity that is based on the reality of who we are as women, has been dissed and put down since time immemorial. Ms Gohn’s book incorporates the teachings of the Popes, especially John Paul II, and the saints, in particular St Edith Stein, to illustrate the beauty of the unique gifts of womanhood.

Reading Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious was like opening a series of chocolates, all wrapped in shiny paper, and finding that the treat inside was prettier than the wrapping. Ms Gohn is unafraid to acknowledge the maternal instinct that is part of every woman. We may deny it or ugly it up by twisting it into shapes it was never meant to take, but the desire to hold your own child in your arms is real and powerful.

Pat takes the reader by the hand and leads her (the book is clearly written for the “hers” of the world) through the many reasons why God made us blessed, beautiful and bodacious. She encourages women to joy in their feminine maternal natures instead of thwarting and denying them.

At the same time, the book is informed on every page by her deep faith in Christ. As a breast cancer survivor who had young children at the time she was diagnosed, Pat is able to communicate what it means to trust God in the extremities of life. Her description of the prayer discussion she had with God about what would happen to her children if she died from the cancer is itself blessed, beautiful and bodacious, as well as profoundly moving.

Every mother has walked a good bit of this road in one way or the other. We’ve all been through the ailments of pregnancy and the all nighters caring for a sick child. I agree with Pat completely that these times bring women close to God in a profound and absolute way.

My own faith grew deep in those years I was a mother of small children. Bringing new life into the world and then raising those babies to be healthy and productive adults is the greatest challenge and gift any human being can know.

Women are, as Pat says, blessed, beautiful and bodacious. God made us that way.

We are Going to Have to Learn to Live with This

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We have to learn to live with this.

Aurora, Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon.

The names are like a slow beat sounding out grief and sorrow.

They don’t cover the “smaller” tragedies and the near tragedies. They also don’t speak of the Amish girls, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma City.

We talk about gun control, but gun control is no defense against pressure cookers loaded with ball bearings or rental trucks filled with fertilizer mixed with jet fuel.

In truth, we can not seal ourselves in a room small enough, we can not pass laws limiting enough to be safe. We are dealing with murderous humans. Humans are too smart for us to ever stop them with our prohibitions, metal detectors and regulations. We are like dogs, chasing our own tails with that approach.

Our society, our world, needs conversion.

SandyHook

But before we can even begin that basic task we have to face a single reality: We are going to have to learn to live with this. 

The “this” we must learn to live with is the steady beat of the murderous metronome of casual killing that has become part of the fabric of our lives. Whether the killer of the day is a mass murdering young man with a high-powered weapon, a terrorist with a recipe for mayhem or a serial killer hiding in the shadows, the thing that drives them is always the same. It is, as a reader of this blog said in an unconnected quote, an ability to “not consider the person” who will die.

Murder is made possible by a disconnect from the suffering of others. It is, in the final analysis, the most extreme failure of empathy. Not, notice, as we like to say, a “failure of love.” It is not necessary to love someone to refrain from killing them. But it is necessary to separate from their humanity, to objectify them and to not “consider” them and what you are about to do to them.

This nation has been raising up psychopaths the way we once raised up artists and inventors. At the same time, we live in a world of directed psychopathy that creates terrorism, which is nothing more than the murder of innocent civilians.

If we are ever going to change any of this, we will have to face the fact that we need to do more than reach for another quick fix through regulation, safety protocols and prohibitions. We can not give up enough of our freedoms to make ourselves safe from one another.

The only way to become safe from other people is to structure our society in such a way that we end the continuous abuse and disregard of our children. We must stop raising up psychopaths. To do that, we’ve first got to admit that we are doing something wrong. I see a complete refusal to acknowledge that running throughout our public discourse.

Even if we woke up tomorrow, resolved to re-shape our homes, families, schools and institutions along healthy, nurturing lines, it would take time to turn this vast ship of  disintegration away from its current path toward the rocks of social dissolution. Since there is very little hope that we will do this, we are out of alternatives.

Aurora

We are going to have to learn to live with this.

If we are going to stay sane as individual people, we must accept the reality of our lives for what they are. That means accepting that Boston, Sandy Hook, Aurora, the Amish school girls, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Oklahoma City and even 9/11 are not isolated events. They are part of our national life. They are what happens. We have to face the horror of their having happened and add the certainty that they will happen again on top of it, then learn to live with this bitter knowledge.

I am not preaching and teaching a course in despair with this post. I am trying to bring us down to the hard cold reality of our situation.

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We are going to have to learn to live with this. 

That does not mean that we have to learn to accept it. It means that we have to stop viewing each horror as a separate event and realize that they are all connected in the psyches of those who commit them. This indifference of killers to the people they kill is not new. The blood of innocents has cried out from the ground since people left the garden.

God gave us the only answer to this. Those of us who are Christians have it, if we will just use it.

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We are going to have to get used to this, this blood-soaked world in which we live. But we do not need to dive into despair and hopelessness because of it. We must, for the sake of our sanity, stop letting these horrible events take us over and cast us down. We have to get used to it and live with it and move on past it.

We need to focus on the message that we as Christians are the only ones equipped to bring: There is no death. Life has meaning. Everything we do in this life matters in eternity. 

Get up off your bed of grief and despair and Catholic on. Turn off the tv and go to work. Take care of your family, clean your house, do your job and live. Pray for the injured, the dead and those who love them. If you are able to help them directly, do it. If not, you can help them best by maintaining the order and stability of the society in which they live.

We are going to have to learn to live with this. The time to begin is now. 

Trendy Jesus, Gonzaga, and MIssion Drift in Catholic Universities

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Catholic education cannot be Catholic unless it is also faithful to the Church and its teachings. 

Trendy Jesus is not the Lord of all Creation who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

The Catholic Church, with its 2,000 year witness of absolute fealty to Christian teaching, is irreplaceable. It has handed the Gospels, the creeds and the sacraments forward through the millennia to us and it will send them forward again to our children and grandchildren.

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Catholic education is part of that handing forward of an unblemished faith. When Catholic universities start spinning off into their own trendy little orbits around the moral fashions of the day, they cease to be legitimately Catholic and they fail in their mission.

Catholic schools are pressured to forego their first mission of upholding and teaching the faith, even here in the Oklahoma backwaters. In my town, it’s the schools in the wealthier areas who get the most pressure and who most often accede to it.

This pressure does not usually come from Catholic parents. It comes from non-Catholics, including a surprising number of atheists, who send their children to these schools for the excellent education outside the troubled public school system. I’ve listened to these parents decry the “backwardness” of the Catholic schools they send their children to. They can sneer and belittle with the best of them.

The schools often bend to this nonsense and shear themselves clean of large parts of their reason for existing in the first place.

It appears that this process of mission betrayal is far advanced in a number of the elite Catholic Universities in this nation. I’ve written before about “elite” Catholic Universities that have become expensive funnels for tracking their students from wealthy zip codes back into those same zip codes. Rather than being the leaven of society that Americans have long thought education to be, they are becoming markers of a new and isolated ruling class. I’ll go back to that aspect of this scandal in other posts.

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Today I want to talk about the loss of Catholic identity in some of our most well-known Catholic Universities. This ranges from Georgetown University and its willingness to cover the cross so that it wouldn’t be photographed with President Obama, to Gonzaga University and its refusal to give official status to the Knights of Columbus.

If Catholic Universities do not offer anything different than secular universities, then why do they matter? If all they give the Church is bragging rights about their famous graduates — many of whom appear to go out and fight against Church teaching in their careers — then why are we, the faithful — supporting them?

Gonzaga University is not alone in its mission drift. But its refusal to give the Knights of Columbus official status has certainly spotlighted what is happening there.

Dr Eric Cunningham, faculty adviser of the Knights of Columus council at Gonzaga, gave an interview to the National Catholic Register that speaks for itself in this regard. I’m going to pull quotes from the article, then link to it so you can read it all.

From The National Catholic Register:

A professor at Gonzaga University has countered claims by the school that it supports the campus’ Knights of Columbus Council after the group’s application to be a student organization was denied.

“Honestly I don’t see that they’re supported in any way,” Dr. Eric Cunningham, assistant director of Catholic Studies and faculty adviser to the university’s Knights council, told CNA April 15.

“If they’ve been denied club status, the only way they exist here is that the members of the Knights of Columbus council are enrolled here,” Cunningham stated.

This year the council has met at a seminary attached to the university, but has not been affiliated with the university, according to university paper The Gonzaga Bulletin.

Cunningham has noticed that the council is “listed in our advertising materials,” specifically in a brochure “that goes out to parents” showing the group listed as a student organization.  “So in other words, we’re kind of using them as recruiting tool, telling parents that we have a Knights of Columbus council that their sons can certainly join if they come here.”

Cunningham understands that roughly $1,000 of the council’s funds had been frozen by the Gonzaga student body association, and he said that “what I hear from the membership, is that hasn’t been returned yet.”

“Not only are they not being supported, they haven’t had their money returned to them. There’s no official support.” Cunningham has been associated with the council since 2006, and noted that he has made available to them the Catholic studies house, after “they were asked by the director of university ministry to stop meeting there.”

“They don’t have a chapter house, they were actually asked to stop meeting in the house they had been using. So I’d really love to know what Gonzaga is defining as support for the campus council.”

Cunningham lamented that this is typical of numerous Catholic universities, saying that “there’s nothing new about this” and that it “goes on I’m sure at every Catholic college campus in America, that hasn’t made its decision to reform itself as a more ‘Magisterial’ school.”

“Catholic universities are leading the way in turning Catholicism into a purely secular discourse and are restricting a serious intellectual engagement with what it means to be Catholic.” (Read more here.)

 

Pope Francis to People of Boston: “Resolve Not to be Overcome by Evil.”

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I have no words. 

It’s really as simple as that. These tragedies that keep pounding our nation’s heart, one after the dreadful next, leave me speechless. It happens that way every time. I learn of it, and, confronted by such senseless evil, I have no words.

Fortunately, the Holy Father was able to find words for all of us. Pope Francis sent a telegram to Cardinal O’Malley of Boston in which he gave the only advice Christians need at these times — “resolve not to be overcome by evil.” 

How do we “not be overcome by evil.” What good does a “resolve” of this kind do us?

The truth is we can’t fail to be overcome by evil if all we do is try to handle it under our on strength. Evil is stronger than we are. It can and will shatter us like crystal if we try to resist its destructive force by our own power, through our own understanding and our own will. Evil will break you every time if you fight it alone. It will leave you bitter, angry, hate-filled and self-righteous. Evil, of itself, has no redeeming qualities.

It is only when evil is filtered through the prism of the cross that it becomes light instead of darkness. Evil, suffering, senseless cruelty and death take on a new dimension when we view them through the light of eternity. In truth, there is no death. There is nothing so senseless that the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ does not give it meaning.

“Resolve not to be overcome by evil,” the Holy Father tells us and I would guess by “resolve” he means to give our fear, anger, hate, rage, and in many cases, our blinded numbness to the One Who has defeated evil once and for all. We are not chained to our grief. All we have to do is realize that and walk forward from it.

Pray for the people of Boston, and for this country. Pray and trust God. Know that the dead did not die and that Jesus is Lord always, and everywhere.

From Vatican Radio:

The full text of the telegram is below

His Eminence Cardinal Sean O’Malley 
Archbishop of Boston

Deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of violence perpetrated last evening in Boston, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes me to assure you of his sympathy and closeness in prayer. In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, His Holiness invokes God’s peace upon the dead, his consolation upon the suffering and his strength upon all those engaged in the continuing work of relief and response. At this time of mourning the Holy Father prays that all Bostonians will be united in a resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), working together to build an ever more just, free and secure society for generations yet to come.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State

There is No Reason for Late-Term Abortion

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Late-term abortionist, Dr Kermit Gosnell

There is no reason for late-term abortions.

Abortion supporters are fond of saying that people like Dr Kermit Gosnell, the late Dr George Tiller and Dr LeRoy Carhart perform a “necessary service” for “desperate women” when they “provide” late term abortions.

Not true.

Not even close to being true.

There is no reason for a late-term abortion. None. Zip. Zilch. 

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 The legislators I work with, and (I would guess) much of the general public, lives in a fantasy land about abortion. They seem to think that an elective abortion involves a preternatural procedure where the doctor waves a medical magic wand over the pregnant woman and — poof! — she is no longer pregnant.

In their self-consoling dream world, abortion is just a re-wind that doesn’t put women through a surgery or, in the case of late-term abortions, a labor and delivery. All they will allow themselves to think that happens with “safe, legal abortion” is that the woman pays her money and is, through a miraculous medical intervention, made unpregnant.

In this fantasy world, there are no dismembered little baby bodies and their scrambled parts to reassemble and check to make sure the abortion is complete. In fantasy abortions, women do not experience pain during the fantasy procedure and danger is non-existent. 

This “thing” that will one day “become a baby” is not a human being. In the cowardly imaginations of those who won’t face facts, no one suffers, no one dies, and in fact, nothing much happens in an abortion. It’s all painless, deathless problem solving for problems they don’t want to actually solve.

That’s where most of the resistance to pro life legislation lives. It is a product of convenient lies that allow people to do monstrous things and keep their own mental skirts clean, at least so long as they box themselves off from reality and never know the truth. 

This nonsense about “necessary services” for “desperate women” concerning the work of Gosnell/Tiller/Carhart is  fantasy carried to the point of deliberate delusion. 

Let’s stop for a moment and try thinking about the reality rather than the fantasy.

Pregnant

Late-term abortion refers to the deliberate killing of babies whose mothers are far along in their pregnancies. That’s where the phrase “late-term” comes from. What does that mean? It means that the baby looks like a baby, acts like a baby, sounds like a baby and, if it’s born at this point, would have a fighting chance of living like a baby. 

Late-term abortions are performed on women who advanced months into their pregnancies before their “desperation” set in. This “service” requires that the women be put through horrific medical procedures that involve giving them large doses of contraction-stimulating hormones to induce unusually violent and painful labor and delivery. A nurse who assisted in these things told me that the doctors they worked for deliberately stimulated contractions so violent that the contractions would usually kill the baby while it was being born.

Aside from what this does to the baby, what do you think it does to the woman? The grisly and illegal procedure we call “partial birth abortion” requires that the baby be delivered feet first, then the delivery stopped so that the doctor can suction out the baby’s brain before it is legally born. Proponents of this procedure talked about how it was necessary for “women’s health.” But I ask you, aside from what it does to the baby, what do you think that does to the woman? How is that consistent with “women’s health?”

I’m not talking about her emotions here. I am talking about labor and delivery practices that are painful, dangerous and quite horrible for the woman. How is this something that protects “women’s health?”

The answer is, it doesn’t.

In addition to what this does to the woman, consider for a moment that many of these babies must be deliberately killed before the procedure takes place to keep them from being born alive. The way I’ve heard that this is usually done is to give the baby a shot of poison directly into its heart. This means jabbing a needle through the mother’s abdomen and into the baby. It means the mother has to feel her baby thrash around the avoid the needle, then feel it die. All this is done to keep the legal fiction that this late-term abortion is not, in fact, a cold-blooded murder.

In spite of this, many of these babies are born alive. The doctor might miss the mark and not shoot the poison into the baby’s heart. Or, the dose might be too small. Or, the doctor doesn’t administer the death-dealing drug and the baby is strong enough to survive the excessively violent contractions the doctor puts the mother through.

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Gianna Jessen, survived late-term abortion as a baby.

 However it happens, babies do manage to survive these deliberate attempts to medically murder them and are born alive. When that happens, what does a doctor do? For decades, they killed these babies. Changes in the law now require them to administer medical care to the babies, but as we’ve learned, that doesn’t always happen.

How does all this support my contention that late-term abortion is never necessary? What about abortion to save the mother’s life?

The answer is so obvious it’s hard to believe people don’t see it. 

Premature baby

If the woman is going to have to go through a labor and delivery anyway, there is no reason whatsoever to kill the baby. If the mother’s life is at stake, all that needs to be done is deliver the baby. Then, do your medical best to save both the child and its mother. 

There is no reason to kill these babies. There is no medical reason. No moral reason. No situation that requires it.

In some instances, late-term abortions are performed on very young girls. Proponents don’t argue their case, because they don’t have one. They simply point to the young girl and yammer about how can anyone “force” her to have a child. Their whole argument is based on the magic rewind fantasy abortion.

It ignores the fact that a late-term abortion will put the young girl through a much harsher labor and delivery than she would experience if she received life-saving medical care designed to save both her and her baby. It ignores the reality that the baby is already here. There is a child.

All late-term abortion does is kill the child. It does not save the mother anything. It is not “necessary” and it is not done to “save” “desperate” women. 

There is no reason for late-term abortion. 

Pope Backs Reforms of US Sisters’ Leadership Conference

So far as I’m concerned this settles it. Cq5dam web 1280 1280

According to Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect for the Vatican’s doctrine congregation, the Holy Father has reaffirmed the Vatican’s assessment of the American Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The assessment found “serious doctrinal problems” and the findings also said that the Conference needed to be reformed.

This action resulted in public controversy and bitter comments that the bishops were a just a bunch of men attacking women for supporting the poor. I think quite a bit of the backlash could have been avoided if the bishops had done a better job of explaining what their concerns with the Leadership Conference for Women Religious were.

The situation was complicated by partisan electoral politics and the fact that the bishops were forced to take a stand against the HHS Mandate at the same time the assessment came down.

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It was poor timing, that played into the hand of secular politicians, to say the least. 

What followed is what has happened far too often. Supporters and attackers of the assessment inside the Church went right past the issues in question and headed straight on into name-calling and slander of both the bishops and the sisters. If you listened too long to either side in this debate, you would come away convinced that the other side was evil incarnate.

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We really need to stop this kind of behavior if we are going to continue calling ourselves Christians. I am not talking here about private conversations with your closely-held friends, family and clerical advisers. I am talking about the sorry practice of Catholics trashing Catholics in public discussion.

So far as the issue of reform in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is concerned, the Pope has spoken and that settles it. At least it does for me. I support my Church in its struggle to conform itself in all its members to the Gospels of Christ.

At the same time, there is no way that I am going to engage in an attack on the sisters. I was the Oklahoma contact for their legislative alerts for a couple of years and I can say they never once asked me to support or oppose any piece of legislation where I thought their position was contrary to Church teaching. I think they do a lot of good.

However, if the Holy Father has reviewed the report and says that he supports its findings, including the need for reform of the Conference, then I believe it, trust it and am not going to give it one more thought.

I will however, pray that this whole situation will be resolved in a manner that leads to the greater glory of the Kingdom and the increased holiness of all involved. 

From Catholic News Agency:

.- Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Vatican’s assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which found it had “serious doctrinal problems” and needed to be reformed.

Archbishop Gerhard L. Müller, the prefect for the Vatican’s doctrine congregation, met in Rome with conference president Sister Florence Deacon on April 15, along with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who was named to carry out the reform of the group.

Archbishop Müller told Sr. Deacon that he “recently discussed the Doctrinal Assessment with Pope Francis, who reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors,” an April 15 statement from the congregation said.

“It is the sincere desire of the Holy See that this meeting may help to promote the integral witness of women Religious,” the communiqué stated, and this requires “a firm foundation of faith and Christian love, so as to preserve and strengthen it for the enrichment of the Church and society for generations to come.”

Since it was his first time meeting with the leadership of the group, Archbishop Müller thanked the sisters for their “great contribution” to the Church in the United States, “as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor” that have been founded and staffed by religious.

He also “emphasized that a Conference of Major Superiors, such as the LCWR, exists in order to promote common efforts among its member institutes as well as cooperation with the local Conference of Bishops and with individual Bishops.

“For this reason, such Conferences are constituted by and remain under the direction of the Holy See,” he stated, citing canons 708-709. (Read more here.) 

Five Abortion Workers Quit on First “Leave the Abortion Industry Day”

No Abortion Workers = No Abortions

It’s a simple equation. One that Abby Johnson seeks to employ with her ministry Then There Were None. The ministry held its first Leave the Abortion Industry Day on Monday, April 8. Five abortion workers have contacted her ministry for help in quitting the industry so far.

In addition to the babies this ministry will save, these five people have been saved as well.

Thank you Abby, for what you are doing.

From LifeSiteNews:

April 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Abby Johnson, the organizer behind the first-ever “Leave the Abortion Industry Day,” also known as Exodus 2013, says she is thrilled with the outcome of Monday’s event.

So far, she says, five abortion industry workers have contacted her ministry for help to leave their jobs. In addition, numerous media outlets, including the Mike Huckabee show and America’s News HQ show, and 30 radio stations, publicized the event.

“On Monday, we were able to talk to 5 employees who were looking to quit their jobs!!” she wrote in an e-mail to supporters today. “Five more people OUT OF THE ABORTION INDUSTRY!!  Five more people on the road to healing!” (Emphasis in original.)

Former Planned Parenthood clinic manager Abby Johnson.

Johnson, who is a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic, started her ministry to abortion workers, And Then There Were None (ATTWN), in June of last year. Even before Monday’s event, the ministry had already helped 47 abortion workers leave the industry.

ATTWN provides emotional, financial, and spiritual support for workers who have left their jobs and are looking for a new line of work.

ATTWN’s motto is: “No more abortion clinic workers, no more abortion clinics, no more abortions. It starts with the workers.” (Read more here.)

First Month as Pope: What We’ve Learned About Francis

In his first month in office, Pope Francis has shown us that he is a man of:

1. Simplicity

2. Approachability

3. Continuity and Fidelity to the Magisterium

4. Tenderness

5. Service

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Pope Francis: One Cannot Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Without the Tangible Witness of One’s Life

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Pope Francis preached another wonderful homily when he celebrated Mass today. 

This pastoral Pope seems to understand us. He is able to preach to us in a way that reaches into our lives and tells us directly how to follow Jesus as we wend our way through life.

His homilies are shot through with theology, but it’s theology that doesn’t announce itself. The Holy Father is able to teach and preach theology in a real-world way that his listeners can comprehend and take home with them to live out. 

Today’s homily was another of this type. Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? he asks.

We should all ask ourselves: Do I have the courage … to think, to choose, and to live as a Christian, obedient to God? One cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life.

In other words, Preach Christ. If necessary, use words. 

Or 

You’ve got to walk the walk before you can talk the talk. 

The Pope also talked a good bit about the need for worship instead of just asking God for things and then thanking Him. 

I’ve pulled out a few quotes, which I will put below. I also will give you a chance to read the full homily for yourself. 

Read it and be blessed. 

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Peter and the other Apostles. In response to the order to be silent, no longer to teach in the name of Jesus, no longer to proclaim his message, they respond clearly: “We must obey God, rather than men”. 

And they remain undeterred even when flogged, ill-treated and imprisoned. Peter and the Apostles proclaim courageously, fearlessly, what they have received: the Gospel of Jesus. And we? 

Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? Do we know how to speak of Christ, of what he represents for us, in our families, among the people who form part of our daily lives?

… we all have to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel.

We should all ask ourselves:

How do I bear witness to Christ through my faith? Do I have the courage of Peter and the other Apostles, to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, obedient to God?

Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life.

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Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? 

 worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history. 

This has a consequence in our lives: we have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others.

I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? 

Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the highway of our lives.

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Pope Francis: St Paul’s homily (full text)


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday evening in the Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls. Proclamation, witness, and worship were the three key ideas on which Pope Francis focused in his homily, with especial emphasis on those who suffer for their witness to the Faith. Below, please find the full text of his homily, in English.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
It is a joy for me to celebrate Mass with you in this Basilica. I greet the Archpriest, Cardinal James Harvey, and I thank him for the words that he has addressed to me. Along with him, I greet and thank the various institutions that form part of this Basilica, and all of you. We are at the tomb of Saint Paul, a great yet humble Apostle of the Lord, who proclaimed him by word, bore witness to him by martyrdom and worshipped him with all his heart. These are the three key ideas on which I would like to reflect in the light of the word of God that we have heard: proclamation, witness, worship.

      In the First Reading, what strikes us is the strength of Peter and the other Apostles. In response to the order to be silent, no longer to teach in the name of Jesus, no longer to proclaim his message, they respond clearly: “We must obey God, rather than men”. And they remain undeterred even when flogged, ill-treated and imprisoned. Peter and the Apostles proclaim courageously, fearlessly, what they have received: the Gospel of Jesus. And we? Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? Do we know how to speak of Christ, of what he represents for us, in our families, among the people who form part of our daily lives? Faith is born from listening, and is strengthened by proclamation.

 

        But let us take a further step: the proclamation made by Peter and the Apostles does not merely consist of words: fidelity to Christ affects their whole lives, which are changed, given a new direction, and it is through their lives that they bear witness to the faith and to the proclamation of Christ.
        In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter three times to feed his flock, to feed it with his love, and he prophesies to him: “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go” (Jn 21:18). These words are addressed first and foremost to those of us who are pastors: we cannot feed God’s flock unless we let ourselves be carried by God’s will even where we would rather not go, unless we are prepared to bear witness to Christ with the gift of ourselves, unreservedly, not in a calculating way, sometimes even at the cost of our lives.
        But this also applies to everyone: we all have to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel. We should all ask ourselves: How do I bear witness to Christ through my faith? Do I have the courage of Peter and the other Apostles, to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, obedient to God?
        To be sure, the testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco, there is a variety of colours and shades; yet they are all important, even those which do not stand out. In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, friendships. There are the saints of every day, the “hidden” saints, a sort of “middle class of holiness” to which we can all belong.
        But in different parts of the world, there are also those who suffer, like Peter and the Apostles, on account of the Gospel; there are those who give their lives in order to remain faithful to Christ by means of a witness marked by the shedding of their blood. Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life.
      Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility.
        But all this is possible only if we recognize Jesus Christ, because it is he who has called us, he who has invited us to travel his path, he who has chosen us.
        Proclamation and witness are only possible if we are close to him, just as Peter, John and the other disciples in today’s Gospel passage were gathered around the Risen Jesus; there is a daily closeness to him: they know very well who he is, they know him.
        The Evangelist stresses the fact that “no one dared ask him: ‘Who are you?’ – they knew it was the Lord” (Jn 21:12). This is important for us: living an intense relationship with Jesus, an intimacy of dialogue and of life, in such a way as to recognize him as “the Lord”, and to worship him.
        The passage that we heard from the Book of Revelation speaks to us of worship: the myriads of angels, all creatures, the living beings, the elders, prostrate themselves before the Throne of God and of the Lamb that was slain, namely Christ, to whom be praise, honour and glory (cf. Rev 5:11-14).
        I would like all of us to ask ourselves this question: You, I, do we worship the Lord? Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? What does it mean, then, to worship God? It means learning to be with him, it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him, and it means sensing that his presence is the most true, the most good, the most important thing of all.
        All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshipping the Lord means giving him the place that he must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that he alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.


This has a consequence in our lives: we have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others.
This evening I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the highway of our lives.
Dear brothers and sisters, each day the Lord calls us to follow him with courage and fidelity; he has made us the great gift of choosing us as his disciples; he sends us to proclaim him with joy as the Risen one, but he asks us to do so by word and by the witness of our lives, in daily life. The Lord is the only God of our lives, and he invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone. May the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Paul help us on this journey and intercede for us.

 

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