The genetics of Momhood.
The Holy Father canonized the 800 Martyrs of Otranto today.
These 800 people chose death rather than renounce Christ. Their courage and the resistance of their fellow citizens saved Rome from the fate of Constantinople, which had fallen to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
These videos tell about their sacrifice then and canonization in Rome today. The second video also describes the canonization of two other saints.
Let me tell you about my mother.
She is 87 and she gets confused.
She gets confused a lot.
For a couple of years there, every day was a challenge just to keep her alive. We rushed her to the hospital several times so they could drag her back from the edge. Now, her physical health has stabilized, but her mental health is going downhill, a little bit at a time.
She reminds me quite often that I took her car away from her. She’s lost that sense of time that lets the rest of us grieve a loss and then move on, leaving it in our past. When she remembers that she doesn’t have a car, the indignation is as fresh for her as the day it happened. The day I took that car was a sad day for me, too. When she tells me, as she does at least once every day, that I “took” it from her, it re-opens the pain in me, as well.
Other than the car memories, my mother is as sweet as a small child. She accepts whatever I suggest as the best thing and she trusts me the same way my children did when they were little. Like them, she talks almost non-stop, prating along about things that happened, or didn’t happen but that she thinks happened, 60, 70 or even 80 years ago.
For my part, I’ve fallen into the same u-huh, u-huh, answers that I gave my babies when they chattered to me as they “helped” me wash dishes or plant flowers or whatever. I do a lot of the same things with her that I did with them. We sat in the backyard yesterday and counted the blue-jays and the robins to determine which are the most numerous.
The differences are that when I told them something, they remembered it later that day. Mama doesn’t. That, and the fact that my babies were moving forward toward independent life, while Mama is moving inexorably away from independent life and then on to the next life on the other side of this one.
Forgetfulness is a blessing of sorts. At the beginning of this journey, she knew when she forgot and it upset her. Now, she no longer remembers that she doesn’t remember. She’s much happier this way.
I never remind her that she’s asked me that same question several times. I just answer her again. I don’t chide her about calling me 10 times in 15 minutes when I’m at work. I just talk to her each time as if it was the first call; because for her, it is.
I love my mother. I always have. But in some ways, she’s more precious to me now than she ever was before. She is so sweet, and so good. The pretensions we hide our real selves behind are gone from her. Her personality is stripped down to the unself-conscious realness of its bare self. What that is in my mother is a person who is all love, all generosity, trusting and deeply, profoundly innocent.
Caring for her during these years of her slow good-bye has given me the chance to see my mother as she really is without any cover. What I’ve seen is that she is a wonderful person, all the way through.
This is precious time, these years with her. I would not trade them for anything. There are moments, every once in a while, when I miss who she used to be. I would love to just sit down and have a talk with Mama as she was. But that can’t be and I know it, so I run my mental fingers over the weave of the thought and then fold it up, put it away and go back to the reality of the sweet baby Mama I still have.
Old age is not a tragedy. It most certainly is not a waste or a burden to those who aren’t there yet. It is a gift and a treasure; a phase of life like any other. My mother is going through a slow and beautiful passage from this life to the next one. It make take her years yet. Her family is a very long-lived tribe. Or, it may end suddenly, at any time.
Whichever way that happens, I know that she and her ultimate future are in God’s loving hands. I only thank Him for giving me this present time to love and cherish her now. It is, like she is, golden.
Is government intelligence a contradiction in terms?
The reason I ask is because an 83-year-old nun and her two not-so-Rambo-esq buddies managed to break into the Y-12 National Security Complex last July and spend two hours putzing around hanging banners and putting up crime scene tape before anybody noticed.
They also sprayed baby bottles filled with human blood on the walls.
Now think about this. An 83-year-old nun breaks into our nation’s top nuclear weapons manufacturing facility and doo-dahs around the missiles for two hours before somebody asks her what she’s doing there.
If that isn’t enough to make you question the intelligence of our intelligence people, consider this. The laff-alot boys put her on trial. And the equally glum jury found her guilty.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll sleep a lot better knowing that Sister Megan Rice of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus is behind bars. Of course, the fact that she managed to do this at our nation’s top nuclear weapons manufacturing facility may still have me tossing and turning a bit.
After all, if an 83-year-old nun can do it, there’s a slight possibility that someone who wants to do more than hang banners and splash blood on the missiles might get in there. We’ve already seen what mass murderers with initiative can do with fertilizer and ball bearings. Do we really want a demonstration of what they can do with nukes?
Putting this elderly nun in jail does not make us safer. In fact, it probably makes us less safe. I regard the whole trial as the brain flab of a bunch of government bureaucrats who got their pants pulled down in public and are angry about it. People like this act like embarrassed cats when their stupidity gets paraded around. That, and not national security, or some slavish devotion to “the law” is the reason for the trial.
If they gave two flips about keeping this country safe, Sister Rice and her elderly cohorts would never have been able to pull this off. Let’s face it. We aren’t safe. And Sister Rice proved it to us.
Instead of sending her to jail, they should pin a medal on her for making the rest of us aware of the scandalous lack of security at this facility — a lack of security that endangers every man, woman and child in this nation. I do think it would be a good idea to delay the medal-pinning ceremony until after they sit the Sister down and ask her how she did it. That might be nice to know.
As for sending people to jail, maybe we should look at whoever is in charge of security at this plant. It sounds like they are guilty of gross negligence and dereliction of duty. Of course, that is the real reason Sister Rice will be snoozing in the big house. These cats are covering their litter with a stupid trial and conviction.
I just hope the security is better at the prison than it is at our nuclear weapons facilities. It’s terrifying to think what might happen if Sister Megan busts out.
The Y-12 Facility Where 83-year old Sister Megan Rice humiliated our national security people.
Knoxville, Tenn., May 10, 2013 / 12:02 am (CNA).- Sister Megan Rice of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus was convicted May 8 for breaking into and causing damage at a Tennessee nuclear weapons manufacturing facility.
The 83-year-old nun was accompanied in the July break-in by Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, all of whom are members of Transform Now Plowshares. The three were convicted after two-and-a-half hours of jury deliberation.
On May 4, Sr. Mary Ann Buckley, head of the American Province of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, said the order “would like to express our deep concern” over the trial.
“It should be noted that Sr. Megan was arrested as she and two others engaged in a peaceful protest, offering prayer for the thousands who have lost their lives as a result of nuclear weapons,” Sr. Buckley, representing the Society, said.
On July 28, the three protestors cut through security fences to enter the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, which enriches and stores uranium for nuclear weapons.
They hung banners and crime-scene tape, and hammered small chunks off a wall, spending about two hours in the complex before being approached by a guard. (Read more here.)
This video was produced by Reach America, an education organization based in Coeur d”Alene, Idaho.
Gary Brown, founder of the organization, said that one of the factors that inspired him to create this video, which is named The Thaw, happened last year when a public school teacher asked students to write an essay title, “I Believe,” without using the names God or Jesus in their papers.
There is one Jesus.
Every difference between Christians is a difference that human beings have created. Because there is one Jesus and He is the same Jesus for all of us.
We live in an era with rising violent persecution of Christians in much of the world. That is coupled with a militant secularism that appears to be setting up the framework for legal discrimination and marginalization of Christians in most of the rest of the world.
Christians must stand together against these threats.
It gladdened my heart when I saw the photos of Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros, laughing, talking and praying together.
According to a CNA article, Pope Tawadros had this to say:
“We must prepare our people for this very real and needed unity that we know and live, we must work quickly and seriously,” said Pope Tawadros II in May 10 remarks provided to CNA by his office.
His visit to the Vatican is significant because he leades Egypt’s largest Christian Church with ten million members, as well as historic, since the May 9-13 trip is the first to Rome in 40 years.
“The rising of Islamic parties in countries like Egypt and Syria means Christians are now feeling they are second or third class citizens,” said Father Rafic Greiche, director of the press office for the Catholic Church in Egypt.
“We Egyptian Christians want our brothers of all world churches to help us, to pray for us and to be real brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,” he told CNA on May 10 in Rome. (Read the rest here.)
I agree with this sentiment. Christians must help Christians.
Here, from Vatican Radio is Pope Francis’ statement:
Dear Brothers in Christ,
For me it is a great joy and a truly graced moment to be able to receive all of you here, at the tomb of Saint Peter, as we recall that historic meeting forty years ago between our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and the late Pope Shenouda III, in an embrace of peace and fraternity, after centuries of mutual distrust. So it is with deep affection that I welcome Your Holiness and the distinguished members of your delegation, and I thank you for your words. Through you, I extend my cordial greetings in the Lord to the bishops, the clergy, the monks and the whole Coptic Orthodox Church.
Today’s visit strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark, heir to an inestimable heritage of martyrs, theologians, holy monks and faithful disciples of Christ, who have borne witness to the Gospel from generation to generation, often in situations of great adversity.
Forty years ago the Common Declaration of our predecessors represented a milestone on the ecumenical journey, and from it emerged a Commission for Theological Dialogue between our Churches, which has yielded good results and has prepared the ground for a broader dialogue between the Catholic Church and the entire family of Oriental Orthodox Churches, a dialogue that continues to bear fruit to this day. In that solemn Declaration, our Churches acknowledged that, in line with the apostolic traditions, they profess “one faith in the One Triune God” and “the divinity of the Only-begotten Son of God … perfect God with respect to his divinity, perfect man with respect to his humanity”. They acknowledged that divine life is given to us and nourished through the seven sacraments and they recognized a mutual bond in their common devotion to the Mother of God.
We are glad to be able to confirm today what our illustrious predecessors solemnly declared, we are glad to recognize that we are united by one Baptism, of which our common prayer is a special expression, and we long for the day when, in fulfilment of the Lord’s desire, we will be able to communicate from the one chalice.
Of course we are well aware that the path ahead may still prove to be long, but we do not want to forget the considerable distance already travelled, which has taken tangible form in radiant moments of communion, among which I am pleased to recall the meeting in February 2000 in Cairo between Pope Shenouda III and Blessed John Paul II, who went as a pilgrim, during the Great Jubilee, to the places of origin of our faith. I am convinced that – under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – our persevering prayer, our dialogue and the will to build communion day by day in mutual love will allow us to take important further steps towards full unity.
Your Holiness, I am aware of the many marks of attention and fraternal charity that you have shown, since the early days of your ministry, to the Catholic Coptic Church, to its Pastor, Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak and to his predecessor, Cardinal Antonios Naguib. The institution of a “National Council of Christian Churches”, which you strongly desired, represents an important sign of the will of all believers in Christ to develop relations in daily life that are increasingly fraternal and to put themselves at the service of the whole of Egyptian society, of which they form an integral part. Let me assure you that your efforts to build communion among believers in Christ, and your lively interest in the future of your country and the role of the Christian communities within Egyptian society find a deep echo in the heart of the Successor of Peter and of the entire Catholic community.
“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12:26). This is a law of the Christian life, and in this sense we can say that there is also an ecumenism of suffering: just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity. And this also applies, in a certain sense, to the broader context of society and relations between Christians and non-Christians: from shared suffering can blossom forth forgiveness and reconciliation, with God’s help.
Your Holiness, in assuring you of my prayers that the whole flock entrusted to your pastoral care may be ever faithful to the Lord’s call, I invoke the protection of both Saint Peter and Saint Mark: may they who during their lifetime worked together in practical ways for the spread of the Gospel, intercede for us and accompany the journey of our Churches.
Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/10/pope_francis_welcomes_egypts_coptic_orthodox_pope_tawadros/en1-690886
of the Vatican Radio website
The idea of a universal human language goes back to the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis.
Now a group of researchers have developed a theory that people living in Europe and Asia 15,000 years ago may have spoken a common language. Of course, other researchers disagree. Which, I guess, will set off years of debate.
An article describing the common language theory was published May 6 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It claims that the researchers in question have traced “echoes of language back 15,000 years to a time that corresponds to about the end of the last ice age.”
The idea of a common source to language is an interesting one for linguists to explore. Right now, their estimates of when this common language emerged are too indefinite to be meaningful.
I find the discussion intriguing. However, I’ve been around animals enough to believe that language in a rudimentary form is almost ubiquitous among the more intelligent mammals. I realize that’s a somewhat radical statement. But I am using a definition of language that is a bit broader than words and more focused on the ability to communicate.
Also, I live in a bilingual neighborhood. I’ve seen first hand that a pet who has lived in a Spanish-speaking household will stare at you blankly when you speak English. Then, if you switch to Spanish, they respond, and they do it appropriately. That’s completely unscientific, but it has convinced me personally that these pets understand more of our languages than we admit.
This article from LiveScience.com describes the research in a common language among early humans:
The ancestors of people from across Europe and Asia may have spoken a common language about 15,000 years ago, new research suggests.
Now, researchers have reconstructed words, such as “mother,” “to pull” and “man,” which would have been spoken by ancient hunter-gatherers, possibly in an area such as the Caucuses or the modern-day country of Georgia. The word list, detailed today (May 6) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help researchers retrace the history of ancient migrations and contacts between prehistoric cultures.
“We can trace echoes of language back 15,000 years to a time that corresponds to about the end of the last ice age,” said study co-author Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.
Tower of Babel
The idea of a universal human language goes back at least to the Bible, in which humanity spoke a common tongue, but were punished with mutual unintelligibility after trying to build the Tower of Babel all the way to heaven. [Image Gallery: Ancient Middle-Eastern Texts]
But not all linguists believe in a single common origin of language, and trying to reconstruct that language seemed impossible. Most researchers thought they could only trace a language’s roots back 3,000 to 4,000 years. (Even so, researchers recently said they had traced the roots of a common mother tongue to many Eurasian languages back 8,000 to 9,500 years to Anatolia, a southwestern Asian peninsula that is now part of Turkey.) (Read the rest here.)
I’m going to get roasted and toasted for this post. It would be hard to say anything more politically incorrect that what my typing fingers are about to type here on this blog.
Let me begin with a vignette from my daily life. A few days ago, I was in a committee meeting in which we were discussing amendments to Oklahoma’s advanced directive laws. Several doctors testified about this legislation. During questions and answers, one of them remarked, “A patient can’t come to a medical practitioner and ask him or her to cut off their healthy legs and have them do it.”
No one on the committee reacted to this statement because it is so obviously true. If I went to a plastic surgeon and asked them to cut off my nose, they would call for a psych evaluation. If I went to a orthopedist and asked him to cut off my hands, he or she would do exactly the same thing.
Because a persistent compulsion to mutilate myself would be an indication of mental illness.
However, if I went to a doctor and asked him or her to cut off my genital organs and then re-shape the stubby leftovers into the appearance of the genital organs of a man, and if I further demanded that I be given massive doses of hormones to force my body to mimic secondary male characteristics such as a deeper voice and a beard, the doctor and everyone else in our society would be forced under threat of being called a bigot to pretend that this was not a mental health problem, but “normal” behavior on my part.
I could change my name to Regis, dress in a pinstripe suit, use the men’s bathroom and probably go on to demand the right to farm other women’s bodies for eggs in order to create a designer baby for me to raise, if I wanted.
Of course, what I wouldn’t be is an actual man. I would be a surgically and chemically mutilated woman with a serious mental health problem that was going untreated, but whose delusions were being played into socially and medically due to political correctness.
I have all the sympathy in the world for people who suffer from this problem, which is called “severe gender dyphoria.” It must be hell for them. I have witnessed it up close in the person of a member of the clergy at a church I once attended who “came out” as someone who had the body of one sex but felt a compulsion to live as the opposite sex and went through all these grisly procedures to achieve this.
I also am adamantly opposed to any violence or unjust discrimination against transexual people. I don’t want to harm them, but I don’t think that subjecting people to mutilating surgeries and hormone overdoses is treatment. I think it is yielding to social and political pressure to collude with them in the delusions which are a symptom of their real — mental — illness.
I don’t want to muddy the waters here with the small number of people who, through what I regard as birth defects, possess mixed chromosomes that are both male and female and who often also have mixed genitalia. That is something entirely different from what I’m talking about.
What I am referring to are those who are born with normal bodies of one sex, and for whatever reason, develop the belief that they are really the opposite sex and who also feel a compulsion to be surgically and hormonally mutilated to live their lives in accordance with this delusion.
I am also not going to weigh in on whether or not doctors should “treat” them by honoring their delusions and performing surgeries and administering the concomitant hormonal overdoses necessary for the person to look like the sex they are not. I will leave that to the physician and patient, as well as the hospital and insurance company.
What I want to address specifically on this blog is how far society and government should be compelled to go in this politically-correct assumption that this mental illness, is, in fact normal. The question for this particular post is, should medicare pay for sex change operations?
The ACLU has joined a lawsuit demanding that Medicare pay for sex change operations. I don’t know how much these surgeries cost, but I do know that there is talk of Medicare going broke. It seems evil to me that we have public officials, such as the former governor of Colorado, talking about how elderly people have a “duty to die” because they take up too many resources and put too much strain on our health care system and at the same time are being forced to consider funding what is an entirely elective and mutilating surgery to mistreat a mental illness.
The cost of these unnecessary surgeries and treatments would be enormous. Claims that these procedures are “safe and effective” are nonsense. No surgery is “safe.” Every surgery is a risk. This surgery is elective and it is massive. I do not doubt that there are many serious potential complications and that these would be magnified when the surgery is performed on elderly people. I also cannot imagine what years of hormone overdoses would do to a person’s health, but “safe” is not a word that comes to mind.
Claims based on what various associations of medical practitioners have voted to say about things like gender dysphoria have become meaningless, at least to me. I do not think these positions are based on science. I think they are based on politics and are a response to pressure from interest groups. I don’t think they mean much more than if the members of my book club had voted to take these positions.
I don’t know how the ACLU manages to shoe-horn this concern under the Bill of Rights. But from what I’ve seen, they can twist any trendy social experiment they are pushing to fit if they want to. At least, they can do it to their own satisfaction.
The ACLU press release regarding the lawsuit they’ve joined says in part:
LGBT Groups Challenge
Medicare’s Refusal to Provide
Healthcare to Transgender
As soon as I have the time to put it together, I’m going to write another post showing how late-term abortions work in ordinary hospitals and the ways that doctors coerce women into having them.
For now, I want to make it clear that this Live Action video just touches the surface of the problem. It takes aim — and does it very well — at abortion providers who perform late-term abortion as part of a medical practice which specializes in doing late-term abortions.
I believe that this just the smallest part of the actual number of completely unnecessary late-term abortions that are performed in this country, most of them after the doctor has badgered the mother into consenting to it. This really is the monster that pro choice has built.
More on that later.
For now, this Live Action video provides a look into late-term abortions as they are practiced in clinics which are dedicated to performing them.
Deacon Greg Kandra found this and I like it so much I’m putting it here.
It’s exemplifies my feelings about much of the legislation that the Oklahoma House of Representatives has passed this year.
What does it exemplify in your life?
In my Father’s house there are many mansions. I go now to prepare a place a place for you. I will come again to take you to myself, that where I am, you may be also.
Why do you stand staring up into heaven. This Jesus you saw being taken up from you will come back …
Here’s hoping you have a happy and blessed Feast of the Ascension!
Masha Gessen is the author of The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. She also writes for The New Republic, New Statesman, Slate, Vanity Fair and US News and World Report.
It made sense that she would be asked to participate in the Sydney Writer’s Festival in Sydney, Australia.
Masha Gessen is also a gay activist who has been a member of the board of directors for the Moscow LGBT organization Triangle. So it also made sense that they slotted her for a debate titled “Why Get Married When You Can Be Happy?
Evidently, Ms Gessen is not one to mince words. While other gay activists say things like what she said in that debate in private, they go the other way in public discussion.
Here’s what she had to say (emphasis mine):
It’s a no-brainer that we should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist [cheers from the audience].
That causes my brain some trouble. And part of why it causes me trouble is because fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist. And I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life. That’s sort of not what I had in mind when I came out thirty years ago. I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally….
[After my divorce,] I met my new partner, and she had just had a baby, and that baby’s biological father is my brother, and my daughter’s biological father is a man who lives in Russia, and my adopted son also considers him his father. So the five parents break down into two groups of three…. And really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality. And I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.
These statements have been all over the internet. The question is, what to they really mean?
If they had come from the mouth of a nutcase with no influence (who probably wouldn’t have been engaged in this debate in the first place) then they wouldn’t mean much of anything. Everybody’s got a mouth and most of us say really stupid things from time to time.
However, this statement didn’t come from a nutcase with no influence. It came from a writer who is entrenched in major media outlets and who writes a great deal about LGBT issues, including, presumably, gay marriage.
What that means is that Ms Gessen is not just a person with an opinion. She’s an opinion shaper. She has a lot to do with what people in the world read and thus, how they think about issues like this.
If this is the agenda she’s following, I think it’s reasonable to think that other people in these same media outlets agree with that agenda and are pushing it also. I’ve written before that I think the media is not just in support of gay marriage, it is hard-selling it to us.
I believe that writers like this one, with agendas like this, are part of that process.
Is the secret motivation behind gay marriage a plot to destroy marriage? I’m not sure that matters.
In the final analysis, it might as well be their agenda, since it will be the result of re-writing marriage laws to pretend that there are no differences between gay couples and a man and a woman. This entire movement is based on this absurd lie.
One question that people who think the way Ms Gessen says that she does don’t even try to answer is whether civilization can survive the destruction of home and family and the complete commodification of women’s bodies and of children.
This is an audio of Ms Gessen, making these statements.
Gun control has become a metaphor for the way our Congress doesn’t work these days.
Proponents of the defeated gun background checks bill are looking at ways to amend it in hopes of getting the votes of push it through. Meanwhile, at least one senator, as well as the House of Representatives are pushing measures to either relax existing gun control laws or broaden situations where guns are allowed.
My question is, why try to jump the Grand Canyon flat-footed if you’re a turtle?
What I mean by that is that politics is supposed to be the art of the possible. But it appears that it’s become the art of public demagoguery in order to rally your voter base. The desire to actually accomplish anything for this country appears to be dead.
I do not see how constantly erecting straw man legislation and then voting on it does anything for the people. I know that there are times when a lawmaker will introduce legislation they don’t have much hope of passing to make a statement about deeply-held principles. I’ve done this myself. But when this becomes the only thing that Congress is doing, it starts looking like cheap demagoguery designed to deepen the culture wars and lock your sliver of the vote in place for the next election.
We call these kinds of things “hero deals,” and done in moderation, they are not only harmless, but can serve a purpose. However, the purpose of a governing body is to govern, not do endless “hero deals” for the cameras.
Surely there is something besides pumping more money into unneeded defense contracts and going on lobbyist-provided junkets that the members of Congress can agree on. Frankly, I’d like to lock all of them up in a dormitory and make them eat beans and sleep on cots until they agree to start governing for the common good and what is best for the people of the United States of America.
Given the deference they are accustomed to, I think one night of this torture should break almost all of them.
From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators backing gun control are discussing ways to revise the defeated bill to help win the votes they need to resuscitate the measure.
Among the changes they might consider are limiting the fees buyers would pay at gun shows, adding provisions dealing with the mentally ill and altering language extending the requirement to all online sales, senators said Tuesday.
Supporters fell five votes short when the Senate defeated legislation last month that would have extended required federal to more buyers.
That vote, four months after the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators at a school in Newtown, Conn., was a defeat for President Barack Obama and gun control advocates. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised to revisit the issue, perhaps by early summer.
While Senate Democrats hunted more votes to expand background checks, the Republican-run House took a step in the opposite direction Wednesday, voting to make the system less restrictive for some veterans.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee voted by voice to require a judge or magistrate to declare a veteran is dangerous before the name is entered in the background check system’s database of people barred from getting firearms. Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs sends the system the names of veterans it has declared unable to manage their financial affairs — 127,000 names since 1998.
Supporters of the measure said veterans who can’t handle their money aren’t necessarily dangerous. The department opposes the measure, saying veterans in the database already have the ability to appeal.
Gun rights advocates were also taking the offensive in the Senate.
The chamber planned to vote Wednesday on a measure by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., allowing firearms on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers if it didn’t conflict with state law. (Read the rest here.)
Our Church needs vocations.
It needs men and women who will commit their lives to Jesus in the absolute and total way that taking vows implies. We need priests to bring us the sacraments. We also need sisters to go out in the world and bring the love of Christ to suffering people.
However, before anything else, these vowed ones of God must be true to Christ and to His Church. I want a priest who will show me the way to heaven. I know that there is only One Way and that Way is Jesus Christ. I want a priest who will teach me and lead me in the narrow way of salvation that Jesus shows us. That means I want a priest who is faithful to the Church.
I also see the crying need for sisters to bring Jesus to sin-sick people, the world over. These are just my personal thoughts — definitely not Church teaching — but I honestly think that the loving hand of one person, lifting up another in the name of Our Lord, is a very real and personal sacrament of grace. It is not the sacraments that flow through the apostolic succession and into us when we go to confession or partake of the Eucharist. It is, rather, a personal gift of love and care that is empowered by and grows from those sacraments; a grace that is transmitted by and through the sacraments and becomes itself a kind of sacramental gift.
When the devil comes at us, he most often walks in on two feet. When the Lord Jesus shelters and care for us, he most often reaches out to us through human hands.
Sisters offer gifts that are unique to them as women. Their fidelity down through the centuries is a testament to the way that Christ works in this world through women. Sisters have built hospitals, schools and other forces of civilization all over the world. They have taught and nurtured and cared for countless people who would have been closed off the witness to Christ of a man.
“What would the Church be without you?” Pope Francis asked 800 superiors of women’s orders from around the world today.
I can answer that question, at least partially. It would not be the universal Church that speaks for all humanity. Without women, the Church is a body, cut down the middle, half of itself cast aside. It cannot function, cannot live, like that.
Pope Francis told the religious superiors that they need to ensure that the women in their orders “are educated in the doctrine of the Church, in love for the Church and in an ecclesial spirit.
“It is an absurd dichotomy to think one can live with Jesus, but without the Church, to follow Jesus outside the Church, to love Jesus and not the Church,” he said.
Here, from CNA, are quotes from the Holy Father’s speech:
In his talk to the women, Pope Francis said their vow of chastity expands their ability to give themselves to God and to others “with the tenderness, mercy and closeness of Christ.”
However, “please, let it be a fruitful chastity, a chastity that generates sons and daughters in the church. The consecrated woman is a mother, must be a mother and not a spinster,” he said. While the sisters were laughing at his use of a very colloquial Italian word for “spinster” or “old maid,” he added: “Forgive me for speaking this way, but the motherhood of consecrated life, its fertility, is important.”
Pope Francis said that just as Mary could not be understood without recognizing her role as being Jesus’ mother, the church cannot be understood without recognizing its role as being the mother of all believers. “And you are an icon of Mary and the church,” he said.
“We must never forget that true power, at any level, is service, which reached its highest point on the Cross. Think of how much damage to the people of God has been caused by men and women of the church who are careerists, climbers, who use the people, the church, their brothers and sisters — those they should be serving — as trampolines for their personal interests and ambitions,” he said. “This does great harm to the church.”
Pope Francis will canonize 800 martyrs this Sunday. The 800 martyrs were killed at the hands of Ottoman soldiers in Otranto, in Southern Italy in 1480 for refusing to convert to Islam.
Pope Benedict XVI recognized them as martyrs “killed out of hatred for the faith” in 2007. According to an article in the Telegraph, the Archbishop of Otranto was cut to pieces with a scimitar before the 800 were murdered.
The Hagia Sophia; largest Christian church in the world before the fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453. It was converted to a mosque, and is now a museum. There is discussion about turning it back into a mosque.
The Turks were sent to capture Rome and thus complete what they had begun in with the sack of Constantinope. When his fleet landed in Oranto, the citizens held out, despite a siege and Rome did not fall.
What we owe these martyrs. Rome did not fall.
Various media reports seem to want to make a political statement out of what is a religious ceremony. I do think that it’s important for Christians to insist on a more balanced and accurate reporting of such events as the Crusades. But it is equally important that we remember those who died rather than turn their backs on Jesus.
Pope Francis is preparing to canonise an estimated 800 Italian laymen killed by Ottoman soldiers in the 15th century. The canonisation service will be on May 12 in St Peter’s Square and it will be the first carried out by the Pontiff since he was elected in early March.
The killing of the martyrs by Ottoman troops, who launched a weeks-long siege of Otranto, a small port town at the most eastern tip of southern Italy, took place in 1480.
When Otranto residents refused to surrender to the Ottoman army, the soldiers were ordered to massacre all males over the age of 15. Many were ordered to convert to Islam or die, but Blessed Antonio Primaldo, a tailor, spoke on the prisoners’ behalf. “We believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God, and for Jesus Christ we are ready to die,” he said, according to Blessed John Paul II, who visited Otranto in 1980 for the 500th anniversary of the martyrs’ deaths.
Primaldo inspired all the other townspeople to take courage, the late Pope said, and to say: “We will all die for Jesus Christ; we willingly die so as to not renounce his holy faith.” There were not “deluded” or “outdated,” Blessed John Paul continued, but “authentic, strong, decisive, consistent men” who loved their city, their families and their faith. (Read the rest here.)
I once was a United Methodist.
After my conversion experience, I had no idea what to do next. No one “led” me to Jesus except Jesus Himself. So, I waited around for a month, waiting for this Being who was keeping company with me to guide me.
When it came into my mind to go to St Luke’s Methodist Church, I got up the next Sunday and went. That was the beginning of nine fruitful years in which I began to walk the path that has led me to where I am now. I don’t remember ever, not once in all those nine years, when the question of gay marriage even came up. That was long ago and this is now. Back then, the debates were all about communist insurgency in Central America and abortion.
My main source of dissatisfaction with that church wasn’t political. It was that the Church left me hungry. I think this hunger is the key to the story I’m about to relate. A few weeks ago, the Green Street United Methodist Church, which is in North Carolina, released a statement through Equality NC saying that their Leadership Council had asked church ministers to “join others who refuse to sign any State marriage licenses until this right is granted to same sex couples.”
I am no longer a United Methodist, and whether or if they decide to provide the sacrament of marriage to their members is their call. But I have to say that I think this is just plain stupid. Baptizing, marrying, burying is what Christian churches of every denomination do.
However, as I said, it’s not my call. If the people in that church want to skip their weddings and co-habit in order to make a political point, so be it. I wouldn’t exactly call this following Christian teaching, but, hey, it’s not my church.
And that is the point. It’s not my church. I was an active member of a large United Methodist church for nine years. I taught Sunday school, delivered meals on wheels to the elderly and sat in my amen-saying corner every Sunday. I got a lot from the experience. It was a great church for taking someone like I was when I joined and turning her slowly and gently toward a closer walk with the Lord.
I walked into that church the first time still spiritually wet behind the ears from being born again. I had just experienced the Presence of God close up and personal and there was not a shred of doubt anywhere in me that the Who I had encountered was real. I was awash in the indescribable joy of that encounter, the love that Presence poured into me and the new guidance that was coming at me from this Being who I didn’t have a name for.
I learned later that the Being was the Holy Spirit. I also learned that a lot of things I was doing and thought were A-OK, were, in fact, sins. But at that time, all I knew for sure was what I’d learned from encountering the Living God first hand.
That was actually quite a lot; enough to build a life on. But the points of religious practice, Christian teaching and Scripture with which to frame this life were totally missing in me.
I began the process of learning the Gospels and what being a Christian means at St Luke’s. I can honestly say that they never led me down any dark path the way this happenin’ church in North Carolina is doing with its people.
However, the foundation for that bad leadership was there at St Luke’s, even if it wasn’t active. I got a great deal from my time at the church, but it always left me hungry. I wanted more Jesus than they gave me. There was a warmed-over quality to things there. It wasn’t bad teaching. It was tepid teaching; as if Easter really was about egg hunts and new dresses.
I know that this church equipped good people to face the exigencies of life. I saw them do it. I saw their faith sustain them through trying times.
But it left me hungry.
I think this stand-offish approach to Christianity is often open to the abuse of letting the hard teachings of the Gospels go slip-sliding away. I am not pointing out the United Methodists when I say this. I think every church and every denomination faces the question Jesus asked the disciples when His followers walked away from Him: Will you leave me too?
Jesus asks us for our whole selves. We can’t preach to Him about the latest social fads and expect Him to excuse us from our vocation to live the Gospels in full, without drawing safety margins around the parts that make us unpopular or force us to sacrifice.
When a church — any church — teaches its people that the wide way is the path to heaven, they are lying to them. When they use their prophetic and moral voice to claim that sin is not sin but is instead a positive good, they are pied pipers leading others to destruction.
I know something about this. I once thought and taught that legal abortion was a positive good. I know from personal experience that you can not undo the harm that you do later on.
I would feel sorry for the leadership of this church if they weren’t doing so much harm to their congregants. They are teaching and preaching a false Gospel. It’s as simple as that.
As I said, it’s not my call to decide whether or not some little church in North Carolina should refuse the sacrament of marriage to its congregants in order to make a political statement. It’s their call, and it appears they’ve made it.
However, there is nothing to stop me from saying that what they are doing is, at best, plain stupid.
I’m going to pull down certain comments. The ones I will do this with are those that I feel I need to supply some sort of answer. I cannot make this new system work so that I can do that properly. This is complicated by the fact that I am totally snowed under on my job right now.
I am not deleting your comments — although it will look like that for some of them. I’m just struggling to get control of this new system while doing other things at the same time.
Bear with me, please.
Pope Francis will consecrate his petrine ministry to Our Lady of Fatima as part of the program of the International Pilgrimage of May 12/13.
Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal 96 years ago this month. She prophesied the fall of Russia to communism and promised that the way to undo this was to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Pope John Paul II did this. The results are history.
The shrine at Fatima is a beautiful place. You can feel the holiness of it when you are there. My visit to Fatima was a life-changing experience for me.
I don’t fully understand the implications of what the Holy Father is doing, but I do know that the Holy Spirit moves through Fatima. I’ve felt it myself. I have no reason except my own experiences there and a personal intuition to say this, but I think that the message of Fatima is both on-going and profound. It believe it is especially pertinent as it applies to our problems today.
Our Lady of Fatima chose to appear at a place whose name has both Catholic and Muslim history wrapped around it. I have read that the town is named after a young woman who converted from Islam to Christianity.
I don’t understand Islam enough to comprehend the ramifications of Our Lady’s place within it. But I know she is mentioned in the Koran and that she is respected, perhaps even revered in the Muslim world.
The Mother of God is mother to us all. Through her intervention may we find a way out of this valley of death and war that we are walking now.