Pope Francis will share a Holy Hour with the whole Church this Sunday at 5 pm, Rome time. Has your parish set aside a time for this, and do you plan to join in?
Pope Francis will share a Holy Hour with the whole Church this Sunday at 5 pm, Rome time. Has your parish set aside a time for this, and do you plan to join in?
Jessica Hoff, who blogs at nebraskaenergyobserver, gives us the British-eye-view of what she described as “the atrocity” in her post Reflections on Terror.
The “atrocity” Jessica refers to is the cold-blooded murder of a British soldier by Islamic radicals. Jessica raises a number of questions in her blog post that I think deserve thoughtful discussion. I hope that Public Catholic readers can contribute to it in an equally thoughtful way.
Here, reprinted with permission, is what she has to say:
Reflections on Terror
MAY 28, 2013 BY JESSICAHOF
The media in the UK has been dominated these past few days by the atrocity in Woolwich. Thanks to the ubiquity of what we call mobile phones and you call cell phones, we know precisely why the murderers did what they did. They wanted to take revenge for the deaths of Muslims in Syria,Iraq and Afghanistan. As the main cause of death among Muslims in these places is the action of other Muslims, one might stop and wonder who educated these kids; and then, when one knows, it makes sense. They were educated by hate-preachers who batten like parasites on some mosques, and who preach a message which has nothing to do with love and everything to do with hate. They have a version of what has happened since 9/11 (and earlier) and they feed these impressionable kids with it. The questions which occur to me is why that version is so easily swallowed?
Part of the answer to that is our own MSM. It took against the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq and has preferred to peddle a narrative of blaming Bush and Blair rather than one of asking what those regimes were like and why their overthrow has been a good thing; let’s play politics, people, it isn’t as though there is anything bigger at stake.
Here, let it be said, Bush and Blair have not been helpful to their own cause. Whatever the truth of the WMD claim, it turned out to be wrong, and it may well have been an excuse to do something they thought needed doing; if so, they have both paid a heavy price for any misleading statements which may, or may not, have been made. Interesting that neither of them was prepared to make the real case – that these regimes were barbarous and needed taking down. Perhaps if they had left it with Afghanistan, where the Taliban were utterly repulsive and when Bib Laden was being sheltered, it would have been better. But what happened, happened, and the narrative in our MSM is manna from heaven to the fundamentalist Imams everywhere. They have no trouble pointing out that our own media does not believe our own Governments, which feeds into their own narrative – that there is a Crusade going on.
This is not just mendacious, it is the opposite of the truth. From Kuwait and Bosnia in the 1990s, and through to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the West has actually tried to save Muslims from being slaughtered by other Muslims. If there is a criticism of the West, it is that there is no crusade; there is an attempt to bring peace.
But here there may be a failure in geopolitical vision, albeit one which is understandable. Muslims are fighting each other because they unhappy with the way things are in their own countries. Their leaders, at least in the Middle East, have tended to be brutal tyrants who rule with a rod of iron – in that sense Assad in Syria is typical. We assume that these people want what we want – peace and stability and democracy. But where, in the history of that region is there warrant for such a belief? Take the Palestinian problem. The Arab world is plenty rich enough to have provided each displaced Palestinian with another home and money – it has chosen not to because it wishes to keep a grievance against Israel. It is plenty rich enough to spend its money on development and not guns, but it chooses the latter.
I wonder if it has occurred to anyone in power in our countries that these people do not want what we want, and that far from thanking us for our help, they don’t want it. Not sure where that reflection leads, but thought it ought to be articulated. (For more great posts by Jessica Hof, go here.)
I grew up looking at the remnants of a tornado.
It was an area of acreages and farmland that today is inner city. On the land next to our acreage, the remains of a roof rotted slowly back to the ground. The tornado had stripped it off a house and dumped it there. A half mile or so past that, a tilted grain silo sat where the same tornado had deposited it. It was about a mile from its original moorings.
That particular tornado happened before I was born, before my parents were married. They were both involved in it. My Daddy told me how he watched it take the house where my aunt and uncle lived. He described how the tornado seemed to lift the house off the ground, and then it exploded. That storm jerked trees out of the ground and their roots pulled up with them in long tendrils that left trenches in the earth. It took up grass off the ground.
Daddy said that the canned goods lining the shelves in the neighbor’s cellar where he took shelter vibrated as the storm passed over.
Thirty-five people died in that tornado. They were people my family knew. My mother went to school with a girl who lost her entire family and was terribly injured herself. This lone survivor of her whole clan wore a headscarf after that because she had been scalped by the winds.
Every time I read another comment about how Oklahoma doesn’t have basements for people to shelter in from these storms, I remember the line of graves in the cemetery not far from where my grandparents and my father are buried. This family went to the basement of their house. They were killed — every single one of them — when the tornado dropped the house down into the basement on top them.
In storms like this, you have to be underground, and the top of your underground shelter cannot be the floor of the house above.
Daddy and my Uncle Jimmy dug us a storm cellar when I was a little girl. After what they’d seen, they were adamant about what it took to come through a bad tornado. It had a concrete, steel-reinforced top that you could park a train engine on without any problem.
When my parents went through the killer tornado that killed so many of their friends, there were no tornado warnings. My father watched this particular tornado form. There were two funnels at first, then they got together. The rest was rock and roll. The fact that he saw it happen gave him and his time to take shelter. He even had time to do a stupid young man’s thing and try to drive his car to the shelter. Why he thought it would save that car to move it, no one, including him, ever knew. But it seemed like the thing to do at the time.
He and his brother left the storm cellar, with my grandmother yelling at them to come back and not be such idiots, ran back to their house, got into that car and raced, teen-aged style, for the shelter. All this while a killer tornado was roaring right at them.
I can only imagine what my grandmother must have felt, watching these two young bucks of hers as they risked their lives for no reason at all. The tornado didn’t hit them. But they got enough of a by-blow that it lifted the front end of the car off the ground and shoved it into a ditch. They got out and made the rest of the trek on foot.
The only reason I managed to get born is because that day just wasn’t my Daddy’s day to die.
It was the day to die for thirty-five other people. As I said, there was no warning. The girl who lost her family and ended up wearing wigs and head scarves for life said that the first they knew of it was when they heard gravel from the road, hitting the side of their house. That was the tornado, throwing the gravel as it approached.
Later, when I was a little girl, we had sort of storm warnings. By that I mean the television would make a loud beeping sound and the weatherman would come on to tell us there was a “line of thunder storms” coming at us. He used what looked like a white magic marker on a black board to make little squiggly marks signifying the line of thunderstorms and then he’d draw arrows to show which way they were moving. Nobody, including him, knew if this particular line of thunderstorms would make hail, high winds, deadly tornadoes, or just pass on by without even dropping rain.
We would troop down into the cellar Daddy had built, us and all the neighbors. Before he built it, I remember going to other people’s cellars in the neighborhood. Going to the cellar back then was something of a community event. We took lanterns and the kids took toys. The women and children sat around underground, passing the time and waiting for the storms to get there while the men stood aboveground, gazing thoughtfully at the skies.
You may not know this, but real men always stand guard, even if it’s against a tornado.
After a while the storm would hit and we’d all sit there together, listening to hail as it pounded the cellar door. Many times, it go too loud to talk.
People always take other people in during storms. I remember once we were traveling across the Texas panhandle when the clouds got gnarly looking. We stopped at a farmhouse. There was no one in the house, so we went around back to the cellar and knocked on the cellar door. They opened it, saw us, and invited us in. We rode out the storm with these good people. After it was over, the men shook hands, the women said their glad-to-meet-yous and we we got back on the road for home.
I’ve heard rumors that a branch of a national bank turned people away in the storm last week. I haven’t been able to verify it. But if it’s true, I’m taking my money out of that bank. I think they need to close up and go somewhere else. They don’t belong here.
Warning time is everything when it comes to tornadoes. Without warning, hundreds of people would have died last week. Without warning, many hundreds of people would have died in the May 3, 1999 tornado.
Those early tornado warning pioneers with their magic markers and vague information saved lives. Today’s weather forecasters with their helicopters and doppler radar save many more lives.
That is not to say that we can’t do more. We must do more.
I have been haunted all week by the fact that I am a state legislator and children died in a public school for lack of adequate shelter. I can not explain why we haven’t built shelters in the schools. There is no reason.
The May 3 tornado hit a school and leveled it. We all shook our heads and said that it was lucky that the tornado hit after school hours. But I don’t guess any of us thought what we should do to prevent a tragedy if one of these things came in a few hours earlier in the day.
I know I didn’t.
I wasn’t in the legislature at the time, and when you’re not in the legislature you think differently. But I am now. I have been for years. Why didn’t I at least try?
The reason, stupid as it sounds, is because I didn’t think of it. I think about tornados in much the same way I think about my own impending death, which is to say, not much. They just are. Tornados kill. Everybody knows it. Even with today’s technology, they are unpredictable in the extreme. Someone I know lost their house last week when the tornado they were watching move away from them suddenly turned and headed toward them. They had time to get out ahead of it, but it was close.
Tornadoes are unpredictable. Even the smallest ones will kill you with a direct hit. I saw a tornado once that looked like a water spout. It knocked over one great big sign in a grocery store parking lot about a block from my house. Not much damage. It didn’t even tear up the sign. But if that sign had been a person, things might not have been so simple.
That was a teeny tornado. It was so small and short-lived that only those of us who were looking straight at it ever knew it existed.
There is no tornado that can’t kill you. Some tornados take out a single house. A neighbor of my Daddy’s best friend lost their house to a tornado. The house sat on a hill. Their daughter had been out riding her horse. She saw it coming and got off the horse, raced indoors and climbed up the chimney. When the tornado passed, the chimney was all that was left of her house. Until like most other tornados, this one didn’t leave a pile of rubble. It cleared the house off that hill and left a chimney, standing tall and alone against the sky.
But the big bad ones that come down and stay down and cover territory are killers that can take out a whole community. They have the potential to kill everyone and everything that is above ground for miles, sometimes for hundreds of miles.
We didn’t do what we should have done about building shelters in the schools. That’s the plain truth of it.
I talked to the House Speaker about this late one night last week. He sort of sees the same thing. He’s still got his Oklahoma blinders on, though. We don’t ever think it’s going to happen again. Until it does. Then we don’t think it will happen again … again.
But this is Oklahoma. We get hit by tornados. These storms go in cycles. You can have years, decades, without a really bad one. Then, the killers start dropping out of those clouds like popcorn popping, one after the other, bang, bang, bang. We’re some place in a cycle of bad tornados right now. We may be half way through it. We may even be at the end of it.
But one thing we can know for sure: It will happen again.
I have to live with the fact that those children who died in that school last week are dead at least partly because we — meaning me — didn’t do what we should have done. There is no choice. I failed in my job so far as this is concerned, and the burden of that is something I have to live with.
But I will not live with failing to do what I should do from here on out. I know the people I work with. There are a lot of them who will have trouble with the state forcing local school districts to do anything, even something as ubiquitous and important as building tornado shelters. There are some of them who will decide this is a nanny state thing. So be it. I’m not responsible for them. They will have to stand before God and explain themselves one day just like I will.
I don’t intend to explain that I didn’t try to stop at least this part of the tragedy we are enduring from happening again. I don’t care who gets the credit, or anything like that. All I care about is that I do my best to save lives.
All any of us ever has to do is our part, and that is my part.
Huffington Post has some interesting before and after photos of the May 20 tornado damage here.
Men: Take notes!
Note: I originally said I’d be back Monday, May 20th. I meant to say Tuesday, May 28th. This kind of cotton-brainedness is why I need to take off for a few days.
Never fear — I’ll be back, and I’ll do it on the 28th, which, if my calendar knows its stuff, is the day after Memorial Day.
We’re coming up on the end of session in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
That means we’re debating all the emotional issues we’ve put off until now. It also means that I’m mentally tired. Also physically tired.
I have cotton brain. I am afflicted with the mental fuzzy wuzzies, and that’s not so good for someone with my job.
I need to focus my thoughts and energies on legislating for the next few days.
So, I’m taking next week off from blogging. Feel free to continue discussing here. I’ll check your comments and put them up for you.
I’ll be back on Monday, May 28th.
To join the discussion about StrangeGods, Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life, or to order a copy, go here.
I’m going to suggest that my book club read StrangeGods, Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life for its July discussion.
The reason is simple. Author Elizabeth Scalia has written a book that is so thought-provoking it makes me want to sit down with her and talk about it. I think my book club members will feel the same way.
StrangeGods unmasks both the meaning of our personal idolatries and the way we spiral deep and deeper into worshipping them until all perspective and thought are lost to them.
Idols and idolatry violate the First and greatest Commandment. When we put anything in our lives as the center of our thinking and make that the touchstone of our values and the object of our desires, we have created an idol. The extent that we allow this idol to become the center of who and what we are reflects directly the depth of our idolatry.
Jesus told us, “You can not serve two masters.” You cannot serve two gods. You can not follow the real God and also an idol of your own devising at the same time.
That, at root is what is wrong with idols and idolatry. They are placebo gods for the real God, and like all placebos, they only appear to have power in the imaginations of our minds.
Elizabeth understands that we can have big idols and little idols. We can and do make an idol of almost anything. I would say that in an odd fashion, I make a idol of food because I reach for it to find comfort. I sooth myself with food like a monkey, rocking in place with its tail wrapped around it, is soothed by the motion of rocking back and forth.
In that sense, food, for me, is an idol of sorts. It’s not the intellectual idol that politics or commitment to a cause can become. But it is something I use to deal with my troubles instead of turning to God with them.
That’s the core of idolatry. It is a substitute for God, the real God.
StrangeGods makes the point that many of our idols are, like my use of food, strange indeed. Our obsessions quickly become our idols, as do our compulsions. All these little idols, each of which begins with our self-referencing self-absorption and moves outward to an unhealthy focus on things, actions and ideas, are an expression of isolation. Me first is ultimately and always me only.
Whether you waste time, money and health on unneeded food, or you isolate in front of a computer or make some idea or plan or ambition the center of who you are, you are always at root isolating yourself on an island of me first. The seminal idol is always ourselves. All the rest flows from that.
StrangeGods leads us from a discussion of the many ways and many things we substitute for God in our lives to the really egregious mental addictions of what Elizabeth call “Super Idols.” Super Idols are the overarching idols that become ideologies, philosophies and ultimately, world views.
We see them and their damage all about us. As our society has moved more and more from a God-centered world view to a me-centered world view it has shattered and divided along the fault lines of our selfish desires. We dress these things up and call them “rights” or “causes.” We label ourselves along the divisions we create to separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters, but in reality these things are all lies. They are just idolatry spread large and become organized into the false religions of political and social movements.
I know something about this. I’ve practiced this form of idolatry and I deal with its practitioners on a daily basis. There is no person so indifferent to the consequences of their actions to their country, other people, or even themselves as someone who is in the grip of a super idolatrous false social religion.
These people have checked both their brains and their hearts at the altar of their super idol and they are fueled by the twin evils of unthinking rage and self-righteousness that super idols pump into them. They’re dangerous. They’re destructive. And they are mean and cold-hearted to a level that their saner selves would find abhorrent.
As you can see, StrangeGods is a thought-provoking book that leads you to find yourself on most of its pages. It is a convicting and inspiring read in that it convicts you of the idolatries in your own life and it also inspires you to repent of these sins of false idol worship and turn back to the real God.
In the end, we turn to false idols because they are comforting reflections of us. They don’t appear to ask the difficult things of us that relationships with an other always does. Idols seem easy and comprehensible because at root they are ourselves.
But you cannot serve two masters. You cannot follow false gods and the real God simultaneously. You have to chose, and given our proclivity for self-referencing you have to make this choice many times in a single day. Banish the little gods and you will spare yourself the true evil of the super idols that take your mind and your goodness away from you.
I heartily recommend StrangeGods, Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life. It is that rare thing: A book that can make you want to be and do better.
“Financiers, economists and politicians consider God as manageable, even dangerous because God calls man to his full realization and independence from any kind of slavery.” Pope Francis
When money is your god, you are well on your way to creating a hell on earth.
We have gone so far down the road of making money our god in this society that we basically exempt any public policies that have to do with business or finance from moral scrutiny. Some of the most ardent Christians are the ones who enforce this heretical nonsense.
The same people who go into a froth over abortion do not raise an eyebrow when it comes to limiting prenatal care or refusing to require businesses to provide safe work environments for their employees. There is no piece of legislation that limits access to care for the poor that these folks won’t support. They are the enemies of the welfare state … except when it comes to corporations. No deal is too special, no government hand-out too abusive to deserve a second look when it comes to business.
It’s as if Jesus never said a single word about “the least of these” except as it applies to abortion. You would think that it was a moral imperative to drain the public coffers dry and hand the money over to a few corporations and wealthy campaign donors who sit at the top of the social pile. These Christians never consider whose money it is in the first place when they take it from the many and give it to the few.
According to them, people are poor because they are lazy, stupid and deserve what they get. On the other hand the wealthy are rich because they are industrious, productive and deserve all they can get.
Government has become a wholly owned subsidiarity of the rich and shameless. In the hands of these moral Christian politicians, government is a method for funneling the wealth of generations into a few hands and impoverishing the rest of our society.
This particular form of sinfulness is committed by those who are usually the most vociferous in claiming their loyalty to Christ. They are “pro life” and they usually support “traditional marriage,” so in their little minds that means that everything else they do is, by definition, righteous and holy. You would think that we are saved, not by the cross, but by checking off the right boxes on candidate surveys by a couple of political support groups.
When money becomes your god, you are well on your way to creating a hell on earth. I would guess that you are also well on you way to going to the actual hell one day, as well.
Money is a human invention. Wealth and poverty are symptoms of our fallen nature. There is nothing divine or holy about either one of them. That is not to say that they are necessarily evil. They are, simply, tools and reality. Money is a tool. Disparity of wealth is a reality.
But greed, graft and government corruption are sins. When we carry them to the point that they impoverish millions while enriching a few beyond the dreams of avarice, they are deadly sins, both in this world and the next.
It’s a simple equation, really. Do not walk past Lazarus; not if you want to go to heaven one day.
Pope Francis spoke about this concept of money as a means rather than an end today when he addressed the new ambassadors to the Holy See from Kyrgyzstan, Antigua and Barbuda, Luxembourg and Botswana.
“Money has to serve, not rule” he told them … wanting power and possession has become limitless … the sprawling of corruption and tax evasion has gone global.
“The Pope urges a return to the unselfish solidarity and ethics in favor of man in financial and economic reality,” he said. “The Pope loves everyone rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. This would take a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders … I urge them to face this challenge with determination and farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations.
The excerpts of his discussion below are from CNA:
“The joy of living is decreasing, indecency and violence are the the rise and poverty is becoming more evident,” said Pope Frncis.
“You must fight to live and often to live in a non-decent way … We have created new idols, the ancient worship of the golden calf has found a new and ruthless image in fetishism of the dictatorship of the economy without purpose nor a truly human face,” he said.
“It reduces man to one of its demands, consumption and even worse, the human being is today considered himself as a commodity that you can use and then throw away … Financiers, economists and politicians consider God as manageable, even dangerous because God calls man to his full realization and independence from any kind of slavery …” (Read the rest here.)
It’s a matter of timing, not killing.
No one questioned that Dr Kermit Gosnell had killed a lot of babies. After all, that was his business. He killed babies for a living. And he made a killing at killing. According to some reports, Dr Gosnell made millions from killing babies.
That was never the issue. Because killing babies is not a crime. The crime is where and when you kill them. The issue, the fine point that both the defense and the prosecution wrangled over day after day for weeks, was whether or not Dr Gosnell killed the babies after they were outside their mother’s bodies, or before.
Doctors routinely chop babies up when they are inside their mother’s wombs. I could put a YouTube video right here of a doctor dismembering a baby and pulling its body parts out and tossing them in a tray. Happens all the time. Happens every day.
Every. Single. Day.
The difference is when the mother delays killing her baby until the child is big enough that it’s no longer possible to chop it up inside the womb and then extract the dismembered body a piece at a time. There comes a point where it’s difficult to get that big baby out without also delivering a living child.
Abortionists go through all sorts of medical contortions to make sure that the baby is dead when they get it out. One of their favs is to jab a needle through the mother’s abdomen and shoot poison into the little one’s beating heart. If the dosage is adequate and their aim is good, the baby dies. They can then put the mother through labor and delivery of a dead child. Ta da. Dead baby and no courtroom drama to follow.
Another practice is to induce labor with such violent contractions that the contractions kill the child as it’s being born. Not so neat. And certainly a big ouch for the mother. But another ta da. Dead baby and no need to hire a defense attorney.
There are other ways, of course. One is to shoot saline solution into the mother’s womb (again, that nasty needle through the abdomen) and scald the baby to death. Then, of course, induce labor and deliver a dead child. Ta. Da. Dead baby and no visits from the police.
Of course, things get dicey when one of these tragic potions fails and a live child comes out of the abortion process. That’s when the question of timing becomes pertinent.
As Gosnell’s defense demonstrated, it doesn’t matter that Dr Gosnell killed children. All that matters is when he did it. Their whole defense rested on the contention that the good doctor had managed to kill each of these babies while it was still inside mama’s womb. His grisly practice of using scissors to sever their spinal cords afterwards was just a bit of — excuse the word — overkill.
They were successful enough with this defense to get several charges dismissed and to have the jury find the doc not guilty on another charge. In other words, it worked. Fortunately for justice lovers the world over, it didn’t work completely. The jury evidently decided that Dr Gosnell had not killed all the babies before getting them out. Three of them managed to survive the abortion. Killing them then made it murder.
Five minutes before, it would have been good medicine.
Dr Gosnell is not the first abortionist to get hung up on this quibbling technicality of when they kill the baby. Dr Kenneth Edelin and his colleague tried to abort a baby that was around 20-24 weeks back in 1973. First, his colleague used the then-standard process of injecting saline into the mother’s womb. When the baby survived that, Dr Edelin tried what is called a hysterotomy, which involves cutting the mother open and then running his finger between the baby and the placenta, severing its lifeline. In theory, the baby smothers and dies and we have another ta da. Dead baby and no legal troubles for doctor.
In this instance, prosecutors maintained that Dr Edelin failed to kill the child again. He ended up smothering it after it was born.
Instead of a ta da, Dr Edelin had to go to court, where he was convicted. His conviction was subsequently overturned, based largely on claims that the baby was “not viable” anyway.
That overturned conviction, based as it was on the question of viability, set the stage for 40 years of slaughter of late-term babies.
The prosecution achieved a first in the Gosnell case. They got a jury to acknowledge that what Dr Gosnell had been killing were human beings. A first degree murder conviction is only possible if people are killed. You can not be charged, much less convicted, of first degree murder for killing chickens or pigs or goats. First degree murder requires that a human being deliberately and with premeditation kills another human being.
That’s what Dr Gosnell was charged with and it’s what the jury convicted him of doing.
That’s a big win.
But it still begs the question: If these babies were human beings when Gosnell killed them, why were the other babies for whom charges were dismissed, not human beings?
Let’s examine this contention. The babies who were “already dead when they were born” had been killed by Dr Gosnell. Not one person disputes this. But because they were killed a few minutes earlier in their lives than the other babies, their deaths don’t matter. They are non-human thingies that anyone can kill for any reason or no reason at any time.
But, 15 minutes later, they are full-fledged human beings and killing them is premeditated, first-degree murder that is liable to earn their murderer the death penalty.
In both the case of Dr Edelin in 1973 and Dr Gosnell in 2013, the legality of using timing to determine humanity is insane. There is no logic or explanation that can make it seem sane to any thinking person.
Yet that is the law we live by. It is the law these babies died by.
We have made murder a “right,” and we are, every single day, reaping the whirlwind that comes from that.
So, the question arises. If it’s only a matter of timing, what’s so bad about Gosnell?
“God our Father, send us holy priests, all for the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus all for the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with St Joseph. Amen.”
Prayers don’t get much more Catholic than that one. With its talk of eucharistic and immaculate hearts, it’s enough to confuse the average protestant for days.
My rosary group prays this particular prayer every time we get together. We also pray by name for all the priests in our archdiocese. We know, as all Catholics do, that our Church is built around the sacrament of Holy Orders. The graces of God rain down on us Catholics in a free and easy way, like a gentle spring shower, when we partake of the sacraments such as the eucharist and confession.
Jesus instituted the priesthood as a mechanism of transmission of these graces. It is meant to be reliable and available. Freely given, freely received. Priests are conduits of God’s grace.
As such, they are an essential component to living the life in Christ in this difficult and challenging age with its destructive secularism and intolerance of genuine Christianity.
We need priests. We need holy priests who are called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to give their lives in the service of Christ’s Church.
This is the story of Father Jason Smith’s vocation. Fr Smith blogs at Biltrix. He has given me permission to reproduce his story in full.
My Vocation Story
Fr Jason Smith
If not for a hockey game, I wouldn’t be a Legionary priest today.As a good Minnesotan, I naturally considered hockey as divinely inspired, a sign of God’s love for us. But it’s what happened after the game that took me by surprise and lead me to know my priestly vocation.
During my first year at college, I often went to the rink at the University of Minnesota with my friends. After one such event —ending in a double overtime victory for the Golden Gophers, and a long celebration— I returned home in the wee hours of the morning, too tired to get out of bed until Sunday afternoon.
Stumbling upstairs for something to eat, I found my Dad sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper. Opening the fridge, I heard from over my shoulder: “Jason, did you go to Mass this morning?” I swallowed hard. I hadn’t. Quickly I tried to think up the perfect excuse. None came. Trying to hide behind the refrigerator door, I quipped “No, I didn’t go”. Without looking up Dad replied solemnly, “Go tomorrow then.”
It was my first Monday morning Mass ever. I was struck by how quiet the Church was, and how empty. I sat about halfway up and waited. Little by little people began to filter in. Then an attractive girl sat down a few pews behind me. How is it I find a girl like this now and not last Saturday evening? It must be God’s providence! I decided the sign of peace was the perfect time to introduce myself. When the moment came I turned around and, to my surprise, she passed me a note. I put it in my pocket pretending it happened all the time.
When I got home I opened the note. It read something like this: “It’s good to see someone young attending daily Mass. You must really love your faith! I want to let you know about a group of young people who pray and study scripture Wednesday evenings. If you would like to come, here is my number.” I decided I could find time in my packed schedule to go.
That’s when it occurred to me I hadn’t seriously looked into my Catholic faith since Confirmation. What would I say? What would I pray? Where was my Rosary? I found it stuffed in the bottom dresser drawer along with a pamphlet of prayers. As to what I would say, I went to my Dad’s study and checked out his library. It had books on music, history, politics —but the largest section was religion. I found one book called, “True Devotion to Mary”. It seemed like a good place to start since it was short.
I never read beyond the introduction, but the book changed my life. It explained how St Louis de Montfort, a priest who tirelessly preached the Gospel and underwent extraordinary trials, spread devotion to Mary throughout France. It was my first encounter with the life of a saint. I marveled how someone could dedicate himself entirely to Christ, even to the point of heroism. It was precisely then that I renewed the resolution I had made a two years earlier to pray and sincerely live my faith.
A few months later I went on a retreat with the youth group. It was the first time the priesthood entered my mind. During the consecration, as I gazed at the elevated host, I thought to myself —in words that were my own, but which carried a resonance I will never forget— if there is one thing I should do it’s that. It was the defining moment of my calling. I was taken entirely by surprise. I knew I had to look into the priesthood, but I didn’t know how or where.
To make a long story short, the same girl who gave me the note in church then gave me a brochure on the Legionaries of Christ. It had testimonies of the young men who entered the year before. I read it and was convinced. I called and asked for an application. A Legionary came to visit. I went to candidacy. I joined. My younger brother followed the next year.
Since then the years have passed by like a whirlwind. There is much more I could write, but the essential is simple: Christ crossed my path, called, and by his grace —definitely not my own strength— I found the courage to drop everything and follow him. I have never looked back. Our Lord’s presence and the needs of the Church have captivated my attention ever since.
Now only a few days away from priestly ordination, in my conversations with Christ, I continually thank him for the many gifts he has given me: my faith, my wonderful parents and brother, my Legionary vocation, and above all, his presence and friendship throughout my life.
I can hardly believe I have arrived at the foot of the altar. It seems almost a dream; that I’ll wake up, finding myself back in Minnesota, late for a hockey game. But it’s true. God’s plans are far beyond, and far better, then my own.
This video is from this legislative session in Florida. It reflects the current attitude of Planned Parenthood concerning babies who are born alive during late-term abortions.
That’s the same Planned Parenthood we seeing throwing Dr Kermit Gosnell under the bus and condemning the very practices they paid a lobbyist to protect just a few weeks ago. I’ve written that Dr Gosnell is the monster pro choice built. Actions like the one in this video are how they built him.
Dr Gosnell only did what this lobbyist was working to protect. He was the physician. His patient had already voted that the baby should die by coming to him for his services. The Planned Parenthood lobbyist’s contention that the “decision” of what to do with a baby born alive during abortion “should be left up to the woman, her family and the physician,” was pretty well covered; the lobbyist’s oddball insertion of “her family” into the decision-making process notwithstanding.
So, what’s so bad about Gosnell?
Fortnight for Freedom 2013 is around the corner!
The Fortnight, which begins June 21 and ends July 4 is a call for both prayer and activity on behalf of our first American Freedom — Freedom of Religion.
From the USCCB website:
The Fortnight for Freedom, which we celebrated for the first time last year, takes place from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day. Last year, we saw a great diversity of events promoting religious freedom across the country. In 2013, we face many challenges to religious liberty, including the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate; potential Supreme Court rulings that could redefine marriage in June, causing serious religious liberty issues for Catholic adoption agencies and many others; and religious liberty concerns in other areas, such as immigration and humanitarian services.
During the Fortnight, our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome, St. John Fisher, and St. Thomas More.Through prayer, study, and peaceful public action during the Fortnight for Freedom, we hope to remind ourselves and others all throughout the United States about the importance of preserving the fundamental right of religious freedom.
Please join our Facebook Page so you can stay up to date on the latest Fortnight for Freedom 2013 news!
Dr Kermit Gosnell accepted a deal in which he received life in prison without parole in exchange for giving up his right to an appeal.
He will be sentenced Wednesday for the third conviction, which is for involuntary manslaughter.
I think this is a good deal for everyone involved. I doubt that the 72-year-old Dr Gosnell will be busting out of prison to kill more people the way Ted Bundy did. By forfeiting the right to appeal, he will almost certainly have to do the time.
From CBS News:
Kermit Gosnell Update: Convicted Pa. abortion doctor gets life in prison
Live for yourself! Lookin’ out for number one! Do unto others before they do it to you first! Greed is good. Survival of the fittest. He who has the gold, rules.
These sentiments are how we make a little hell of our time here on earth. They enable us to lie, steal, cheat and destroy everything that gives real satisfaction, meaning and purpose to our lives.
The underlying worldview for so many of the abuses trendy fringies are pushing on our society have at their base a Me Only, I’m All That Matters value system. This leads us to believe that children are not people but commodities that we can design, kill, exploit, abuse and indoctrinate at our pleasure. It’s the force that empowers the infidelities, battering and incests that change home from a sanctuary into a place of dread.
We want what we want when we want it, and we are so verbally gifted that we can make up stories that allow us to convince ourselves that our wants and desires are somehow a manifestation of the common good. We are destroying ourselves from the inside out as a people, a nation and a culture with the excesses of I want it and I will have it and I don’t accept any argument to the contrary.
Narcissism reigns in a devil-dominated world.
“Eat of the fruit, and you will not die,” Satan told the woman in his famous first lying truth. “You will not die,” he said. He didn’t add that one word; he didn’t say, “today.” “Take, eat, and you will not die today.”
“God is a liar,” he implied, and the woman along with the man after her, bought the lying truth.
We have not progressed in our centuries of “progress” from that initial sin. We still listen to the lying truths of Satan, and we are still destroyed by them.
Glittery promises of something that passes for life abundant are what he offers. Do as you please. Lie to yourself and anyone stupid enough to listen to you about the harm your selfishness does. Lie to everyone around you, including, ultimately, yourself, and do as you please. Do it, not because it’s right or fair or because you are being honest with anyone, including yourself, about the consequences. Do it because it pleases you to do it and you are the only arbiter of right and wrong that you accept.
“Satan is a liar and the father of lies,” Jesus told us.
The other end of the devil’s empty promises is a nothingness, an absolute zero, that only those who’ve looked off into that eternal futility can imagine.
Pope Francis touched on this today during one of his wonderful morning homilies. “We must say that with Satan, the payback is rotten,” he said, “He always rips us off, Always!”
The Holy Father contrasted the selfish way of living that the devil promotes with the generous and loving way of life that Jesus exemplified. He taught that those who live just for themselves, are, in the end, like Judas, in that they lose everything, including their eternal life. He pointed out that Judas “was an idolator, attached to money … this attitude of selfishness developed into the betrayal of Jesus … he who isolates his conscience in selfishness, loses it in the end.”
Every single one of us is tempted to put ourselves first, always and in everything. We are natural born self-lovers. But those who try to explain us with an over-arching theory of survival of the fittest as our only motivation find themselves stumped almost immediately by the enormous sacrifices human beings make for other people.
I am not talking only about the things mothers will do to protect their children, or fathers who give their lives to protect their families. I am also referring to people who give their lives for total strangers, or those who, like St Thomas More, give their lives for the love of Christ.
There is much more to us than you can find by dissecting us in an anatomy lab. We, alone of all the creatures on this planet, are moral beings. We understand what evil is, which is why we are capable of committing it. We, again alone of all the creatures on this planet, are responsible — to ourselves, to one another, to our society, our world and ultimately to God.
God numbers the hairs of our heads. He remembers things we do that we forget ourselves as soon as we do them. We are not just grass that lives for a while and then withers and dies. We are part of eternity. As such, what we do balances on an eternal scale.
“Satan is a liar and the father of lies,” Jesus said. The first such lie was and is that God Himself lies to us. From the Garden to today, the lie is the same. “Do as you please. Because God lies when he tells you that if you eat of the fruit of your desires with no thought to the consequences to others, that you will surely die. That is not true. God just wants you to be unhappy. You will not die.”
That is the same lie he told the woman and it is missing the same word now as it was then. It is missing the word today.
You will not die … today.
Credit: Stephen Driscoll, CNA
Vatican City, May 14, 2013 / 08:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christians who buy into Satan’s temptation to live selfishly get swindled, while those who live life as a “gift” to others are immersed in love and the Church community, Pope Francis said.
“And, we must say, with Satan the payback is rotten. He always rips us off, always!” the Pope emphasized as he contrasted the kind of selfish living that the devil promotes with the generous way of living Jesus exemplified.
“When a Christian begins to isolate himself, he also insulates his consciousness from the sense of community, from a sense of the Church, and from the love that Jesus gives us,” he explained.
“Instead, the Christian who gives his life, what Jesus calls ‘lost,’ finds it and finds it in its fullness,” the Pope preached May 14 in his homily on John 15.
A group of employees from the Vatican Museums and some students of the Pontifical Portuguese College attended the 7:00 a.m. Mass in the chapel of St. Martha’s residence.
The Pope concelebrated the Mass with the Colombian Archbishop of Medellín, Ricardo Antonio Restrepo Tobón.
The Holy Father explained that wanting to live just for oneself is like Judas, who “in the end loses” his life. (Read more here.)
“They” are spinning the Gosnell verdict as best they can.
“They’ve” filed lawsuits against pro life legislation. “They’ve” lobbied — often successfully — to kill bills that would require abortionists to have hospital privileges, to give women informed consent before performing an abortion, to require parental notification before doing an elective abortion on a minor. They’ve fought bills that would allow the state to file murder charges on the life of the baby as well as the mother when a pregnant woman is murdered.
I could go on. And on. With the exception of requiring abortionists to have hospital privileges, the things I’ve just described happened with bills that I authored and that became law in Oklahoma. Abortion advocates fought these bills and then attacked me viciously for having authored them. I could easily multiply these things out to cover every legislature in this country.
Based on this, I believe that “they” do not want any limits on what an abortionist can do to babies, or for that matter, to women. So, it wasn’t any big surprise to me when “they” chimed in with non-sequitur verbal claptrap after the Gosnell verdict today. Their comments today were just an extension of the blab they’ve been blabbing throughout this trial.
Basically, “they” are saying that pro life people are the reason Dr Gosnell was able to commit these crimes. This kind of “who’s on first” sophistry is shameless. “They” don’t care how ridiculous it sounds. “They” know that their faithful followers in the media will buy it and sell it like the kool-aid it is.
Who are “they?”
The big-name abortion advocates Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro Choice America. Here are their comments about the Gosnell verdict today. I am publishing the full statements:
Full statement from Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, on the conviction of Kermit Gosnell:
“Justice was served to Kermit Gosnell today and he will pay the price for the atrocities he committed. We hope that the lessons of the trial do not fade with the verdict. Anti-choice politicians, and their unrelenting efforts to deny women access to safe and legal abortion care, will only drive more women to back-alley butchers like Kermit Gosnell.
“From the lack of funding available for low-income women to access abortion services, to the sharp decline of reputable providers in Pennsylvania, to the gross negligence of authorities to enforce the law after complaints were filed against Gosnell, each aspect of this case must be a teachable moment for lawmakers: until we reject the politicization of women’s medical care and leave these decisions where they belong — between a woman and her family and her doctor — women will never be safe. The horrifying story of Kermit Gosnell is a peek into the world before Roe v. Wade made legal a woman’s right to make her own choices.
“NARAL Pro-Choice America’s annual Who Decides? publication has given Pennsylvania an ‘F’ grade precisely because it has passed medically unnecessary laws that restrict access to safe and legal abortion care. It is my sincere hope that the women in Gosnell’s clinic did not suffer in vain and that Pennsylvania, and every state, will step up and join us in making the protection of women’s ability to get, safe, high quality, and legal abortion care a top priority.”
Dr Kermit Gosnell stands convicted of 3 counts of first degree murder.
The charges stem from the deaths of babies that were born alive at Gosnell’s late-term abortion clinic and then subsequently killed by Dr Gosnell and members of his staff. According to testimony in his trial, Dr Gosnell most often murdered these babies by cutting their spinal cords through an incision in the backs of their necks.
The sentencing phase of the trial is still ahead. Prosecutors have said that they will seek the death penalty.
I’ve held off about making direct comments about Dr Gosnell because of the on-going trial. I’m going to continue that policy until after he is sentenced. However, I will make one small exception:
This verdict acknowledges something very important. By convicting Dr Gosnell of first degree murder, the jury has said that these babies were human beings. The misapprehension that any child before birth or even shortly after birth is not, in fact, a human, is what led to the things Dr Gosnell did.
This lie is what allowed Dr Gosnell to walk the gray area in the law for so long. I know from personal experience the lengths “pro choice” people will go to stop any regulation or limitation on the “right” to abortion. They are perfectly willing to endanger women’s lives with substandard and dangerous medical practices to protect abortionists.
In the case of Dr Gosnell, the militant opposition to anything that limits the rights of abortionists to kill at will has finally crossed a bridge too far. The simple acknowledgement that a baby that survives an abortion is a human being has entered a courtroom and a jury has agreed that the baby is a human being who may not be killed with impunity.
You cannot have a verdict of murder in the first degree unless 12 people agree that a human being has been deliberately killed with premeditation. “Things that will one day become human beings” do not have the dignity of having their deaths called murder.
I am going to save the rest of my thinking about Dr Gosnell and what he did for another time. I do not want to contribute in any way to an atmosphere that might be called prejudicial.
Let the system work.
Then, we’ll talk about it in detail.
From the New York Times:
PHILADELPHIA — Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a West Philadelphia doctor known for performing late-term abortions, was found guilty on Monday on three of four counts of first-degree murder.
The verdict came after a five-week trial in which the prosecution and the defense battled over whether the fetuses Dr. Gosnell was charged with killing were alive when they were removed from their mothers.
Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty when the trial moves into the sentencing phase on May 21.Dr. Gosnell, 72, wearing a dark suit, showed no emotion as the jury foreman read the verdicts on the 10th day of deliberations.
Before the foreman spoke, Dr. Gosnell smiled at his lawyer, Jack J. McMahon, and shook his hand. Read the rest here.)
Containing health care costs is a little bit like trying to stuff an elephant into an old-fashioned telephone booth.
You push one part in, and another part comes busting back out.
The Affordable Health Care Act was supposed to control health care costs and make health coverage available to all Americans. It was also supposed to provide conscience exemptions and to not fund abortions.
So far, things are working out too well.
The HHS Mandate, which is a government regulation designed to implement the Affordable Health Care Act puts the promises of protecting conscience to the lie. Massive block grants for “sex education,” i.e., indoctrination in sexual disorders, to Planned Parenthood put the promises about not funding abortion to the lie.
We’re down to the “affordable” part of the Affordable Health Care Act, and it’s not looking so good, either.
The main problem, (surprise!) is profiteering by drug companies and how elected officials in the various states respond to this.
Let me give you a hint: If the drug companies can buy the FDA and the United States Congress, do you seriously think they can’t also buy the various state legislatures?
If other legislatures are like the one here in Oklahoma, all they really need to flat-out buy is three people: The Speaker of the House, the Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Governor. They can then spread a little money around (in the form of legal campaign donations and dinners) to all the munchkin/puppet legislators sitting behind desks on the floor and the deal is done and done.
They win. The people — or at least those who get cancer — are bankrupt.
Oklahoma is a state where the House leadership adjourned the legislative session for several days a couple of years ago, so the leadership and a few hand-picked legislators could go on a junket. Rumor has it that the Senate has done the same thing not so very long ago.
So …. you fill in the dots about where the people stand in all this.
The Affordable Health Care Act may not turn out to be all that affordable for little guys who are trying to chug a serious illness. It has already proven to be a dreadnought that is blasting away at freedom of conscience with the full force of the federal government. As for not funding abortions, if Planned Parenthood was speaking candidly, all they would say is, ka-ching, ka-ching.
From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Cancer patients could face high costs for medications under President Barack Obama’s health care law, industry analysts and advocates warn.
Where you live could make a huge difference in what you’ll pay.
To try to keep premiums low, some states are allowing insurers to charge patients a hefty share of the cost for expensive medications used to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other life-altering chronic diseases.
Such “specialty drugs” can cost thousands of dollars a month, and in California, patients would pay up to 30 percent of the cost. For one widely used cancer drug, Gleevec, the patient could pay more than $2,000 for a month’s supply, says the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
New York is taking a different approach, setting flat dollar copayments for medications. The highest is $70, and it would apply to specialty drugs as well.
Critics fear most states will follow California’s lead, and that could defeat the purpose of Obama’s overhaul, because some of the sickest patients may be unable to afford their prescriptions.
“It’s important that the benefit design not discriminate against people with chronic illness, and high copays do that,” said Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a data analysis firm catering to the health care industry and government.
Avalere’s research shows that 1 in 4 cancer patients walks away from the pharmacy counter empty-handed when facing a copay of $500 or more for a newly prescribed drug.
“You have to worry about a world where if you happen to contract cancer or multiple sclerosis, you are stuck with a really big bill,” Mendelson said. “It’s going to be very important for states to take a long, hard look at their benefit design.”
Although the money for covering uninsured Americans is coming from Washington, the heath care law gives states broad leeway to tailor benefits, and the local approach can also allow disparities to emerge.
A spokesman for Covered California said state officials are trying to balance between two conflicting priorities: comprehensive coverage and affordable premiums.
“We are trying to keep the insurance affordable across the board,” said Dana Howard, the group’s spokesman. “This is just part of trying to manage the overall risk of the pool.” Covered California is one of the new state marketplaces where people who don’t get coverage on the job will be able to shop for private insurance starting this fall. Coverage takes effect Jan. 1.
Insurers are forecasting double-digit premium increases for individual policies, as people with health problems flock to buy coverage previously denied them. The Obama administration says the industry warnings are overblown, and that for many consumers, premium increases will be offset by tax credits to help buy insurance. And officials say it’s important to realize that the law sets overall limits on patients’ liability, even if those seem high to some people. Still, a full picture of costs and benefits isn’t likely to come into focus until the fall.
Howard said California officials are aware of the concerns about drug costs and are trying to make medications more affordable.
Meanwhile, he said consumers will be protected because the law limits total out-of-pocket costs — the deductibles and copayments that policy holders are responsible for, apart from monthly premiums. In California, the annual out-of-pocket limit for an individual is $6,400, although it can be as low as $2,250 for low-income people. Once that limit is reached, insurance pays 100 percent.
That’s still a lot of money, and such reassurances haven’t dispelled the concerns. (Read the rest here.)
Moms are different from Dads. As I learned while we were raising our kids, it takes both moms and dads, with their different approaches, to do the best job for children.
My kids used to think I could read their minds. My husband joked about how they could spout off a string of baby jibberish and I would understand every word of it. On the other hand, they learned about respecting women not, as you might think, from me, but from their father.
They got self-respect, discipline and a sense of what the world is from both of us. Together, mothers and fathers provide a balanced and, if one of the other of them isn’t indulging their inner narcissism by mistreating their family, harmonious understanding of life, people and themselves.
Nothing else — I repeat — nothing else can do this. I’ve seen the faux science of the faux studies saying that you can raise kids every which way and they turn out “fine.” I’ve also seen the real-life results. I’ve seen the drug addiction, the sexual dysfunctions, the inability to care for or even care about their own children that results from raising kids according to your inner self indulgence.
I’ve listened to parents as they wailed “I didn’t raise them this way,” and I’ve never once said to them, “Yes. You did.”
By the time we get to this point, the damage is done. The kids are ruined people who cannot even properly bond to another person of the opposite sex and raise families of their own.
I’ll admit it does disturb me when the same parents who messed up their own kids — grandparents now — end up raising their children’s children. It is, admittedly, better than trusting these children to their own parents. After all, the grandparents might have made a total mess of raising the first generation, but at least, they didn’t get them killed. In many instances, if you left the children with the children of these people’s raising, that is what would happen.
Moms are absolutely necessary if we are going to survive as a culture, a nation or even a species. Dads are also necessary, but this is the day after Mother’s Day, so I’m focusing on the first love any of us know: Our mothers. If that first love fails, then nothing else we do for a child will undo this early and absolute damage to them as people.
Here’s a brief description of the scientific twist on what happens in the brains of good mothers when they have children.