Pray to St Michael

The prayer to St Michael seems especially relevant today.

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There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” 
― Corrie Ten Boom
“There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world.  And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!”
― Corrie Ten Boom
We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world and the spiritual agents are from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore, we must wear the “whole armor of God,” that we may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when we have fought to a standstill, we may still stand our ground.”
― Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom is a Protestant saint. Before World War II, she was an obscure Dutch watchmaker’s daughter. Unmarried, in her 50s, she lived the kind of quiet life that is totally lost to us now.

But during World War II and afterwards, God used this woman to do His work. Corrie Ten Boom and her family built a false wall into their house, a “hiding place” for Jews. When they were caught by the Germans, Corrie, her sister and their elderly father were arrested. Corrie and her sister were sent to concentration camps. Their father died in prison. Corrie’s sister died in the concentration camp. Corrie, and her sister, too, before she died, took great risks to witness about the Lord in this dark hole.

After the war, she lived the rest of her life as an itinerant speaker and writer, bringing the message that God’s love is with us, even in the deepest darkness.

Her book, The Hiding Place, was an important one for me after my conversion. I had listened to the world’s version of history all my life and I had no idea that there were Christian heroes and heroines who had risked and given all to save the Jews. Corrie’s book was my introduction to that ignored part of the history of those days.

I am convinced that if Corrie Ten Boom had been a Catholic, she would have been canonized by now. I am also convinced that she is a saint, that she is in heaven, and that God answers her prayers. God gave her small miracles in the concentration camps and I don’t doubt that He answers her now.

Because of what she suffered, I think her words have meaning to us in our times of deepest trouble. I think they are pertinent to us in this unraveling world of contemporary America. Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and all other places like them, are harbingers of hell. They are the howling dogs of hate that we let loose on one another.

The mass murders at Sandy Hook, Denver, Columbine, and Oklahoma City are also harbingers of hell. It is up to us to decide if we will become part of this darkness, if we will let it overcome us, or if we will chose the light.

I chose the light. Corrie Ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” I believe that.

If you have young children …

Sandy Hook

I don’t want to talk about what happened in Connecticut. Not yet. But I feel compelled to say a few words about one area of this tragedy.

What if you have young children?

My advice is to do your best to shelter them from this. They might find it terrifying in a way that no little child should be terrified. Keep your tv tuned to other things. Don’t talk about it in front of them.

If they go to daycare or school, you need to prepare them for what they will hear there. Tell them about what happened in as few words as they will understand. Do it calmly. Then tell them that they are safe. Inoculate them against fear.

If, on the other hand, they encounter something that does scare them — through other kids at day care, their school, or maybe seeing the news coverage — then it’s very important for you to be calm and not over dramatize it. No “how could anyone do this?” in front of your babies. I don’t mean downplay it. What I mean is don’t scare them further. You have to tell them that you will keep them safe. Mommy and Daddy will take care of you. That has to be the message.

I would make a point of going to my child’s school or day care and having a frank talk with the teachers and principal about how they are going to handle this. In fact, I might decide to be in the classroom when it is discussed. If your child is scared, take off work and go spend a few hours at the school or day care, just sitting in. It does wonders for your child to see you there. If, for some reason, the school objects, then keep them home. In fact, at that point, I would consider alternative educational choices.

I know that right now you feel like you’re whistling your way through the deepest dark. I know that you are asking yourself how can any parent keep their child safe in a world like this. But don’t share those fears with them. Talk, instead to your spouse, that other person who loves them as much as you do. If you are a single parent, share your fears with an adult you trust, not your children. Divorced parents should, if possible, still unite in talking to their children about this and making them feel safe. If that’s not possible, do the best you can, and do not use this as some back-handed way to attack your former spouse.

My children went to public schools for a brief while; two and a half years for one of them. Quite frankly, that is the one thing I regret most about how I raised them. I’ll go into more details about why I feel that way in another post. The point for what I’m saying now is that one of my sweet babies was in school the day of the bombing here in Oklahoma City. Someone deliberately killed little children, parked a bomb under a day care, that day, too. Children who were in that bombing and who were grievously injured are members of our parish.

I am not going to say any more. I don’t have any magical advice that will make this easy for parents of young children. You are faced with a serious situation here. Do all you can to keep this tragedy from stripping your children of their security and innocence.

I will pray for you and for all parents of young children in the days to come.

Blessings.

Unspeakable Evil

This post with President Obama’s statement today says all I want to say right now. I think it’s the best speech he has ever given.

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Christian Persecution: Turkey, the EU and Treatment of Turkish Christians

Turkey was once a Christian country.

However, from the Fall of Constantinople until now, Christians have been subjected to severe discrimination and violence. This violence reached its peak with the Armenian Genocide early in the 20th Century.

I have seen the tiny corners of society into which Christians are pushed in Turkey. I stood at the spot where the Patriarch was hung by a mob in the early 20th Century. Christians can not build churches there, and there are severe restrictions on ordination of new priests.

Turkey is a beautiful country with many wonderful people. Their hospitality is incredible. I believe that Turkey can become a great nation. But it must move past its history of discrimination and violence against Christians to do this.

An important German politician recently took the same position regarding Turkey’s admission into the European Union. Volker Kauder, chairman of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, says that Turkey must allow Christians to build churches in Turkey before it can be admitted to the EU.

Frankly, I think that is a bare minimum. Christians in Turkey should have the same rights as all other citizens. They should be free to worship, and to witness for their faith publicly.

Volker Kauder, chairman of the Christian Democratic Union in Germany
Vorderstrasse / CC BY 3.0

Volker Kauder, chairman of the Christian Democratic Union in Germany
Vorderstrasse / CC BY 3.0
A leading German politician has criticised Turkey’s record on religious freedom, saying that the country should allow Christians to build churches without restrictions if it wants to join the EU.
Volker Kauder, chairman of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, told a party congress last Wednesday (5 December) that he expected a “clear signal” on the issue from the Turkish government before membership talks, which began in 2005, could continue.
He said:
country that wants to be part of Europe must accept the basic principle of religious freedom. That means, that we expect Christians in Turkey to be able to build churches without any restrictions, just as Muslims build mosques here in Germany.
The EU has previously criticised Turkey’s treatment of its Christian community, which comprises less than 0.1% of the population. Despite Turkey’s having the veneer of a modern secular state, Christians face much discrimination, restrictions and occasional violence. The rights of churches to own property, conduct services and open other facilities such as theological schools are limited.
Despite Turkey’s human rights abuses, Britain has been a strong supporter of the country’s accession to the EU. Member states are divided on the issue.
Mr Kauder’s comments come as the deadline for a draft of the new Turkish constitution looms with no sign of a consensus; the protection of freedom of religion or belief is one of the disputed issues.(Read more here.)

Abby Johnson: I May Have Said Those Words Myself

Abby Johnson was part of Planned Parenthood for years, working her way up from volunteer to clinic director. She left Planned Parenthood after watching an ultrasound of a baby during an abortion.

This is a video of a discussion with Abby Johnson at what appears to be a Family Research Council Action roundtable. Ms Johnson discusses the recent Planned Parenthood directive requiring all of their affiliates to perform abortions. She also discusses a Live Action sting which demonstrated Planned Parenthood willingness to cooperate with pimps and traffickers.

The video begins with part of the Live Action sting and then moves to the interview. I think this video contains important information from a woman who has first-hand knowledge.

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Affiliates Leave Planned Parenthood Over New Abortion Directive

Planned Parenthood in Oklahoma does not do abortions. So far as I know, it has never done them.

It refers women for abortions and advocates for abortion, but it does not do them.

Based on that, I believed, back in my pro choice days, that Planned Parenthood did not do abortions, at all. I don’t remember if they told me that, or I just assumed it, based on my contacts with Planned Parenthood in Oklahoma. I do know I didn’t explore the question, mostly because I didn’t care one way or the other. At that point in my life, it would have been fine with me if they had performed abortions at their facilities.

Years later, when I came out of my stay-at-home-mom hibernation, I discovered that Planned Parenthood was the nation’s largest abortion provider. However, Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in Oklahoma still, at least based on what I was told, did not do abortions. Planned Parenthood was, through the voices of its lobbyists, the voice of abortion at the legislature, but they didn’t actually do abortions themselves.

However, based on what I’ve read about a new Planned Parenthood directive, I think that is about to change. Planned Parenthood issued a new directive a few months ago requiring all affiliates to perform abortions at their sites. I assume that means that the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Oklahoma will follow this directive and will be, or may even be now, performing abortions.

It turns out that not all Planned Parenthood affiliates are willing to do this. A smattering of affiliates around the country have cut their ties with the larger Planned Parenthood organization over this directive. To be honest, this surprises me. I’m don’t know why they made this decision. But it is encouraging to hear.

The NBC News story (which I believe is biased toward the pro-choice position) discussing this reads in part:

 

A Planned Parenthood affiliate in New York is leaving the organization rather than comply with a policy that all affiliates must offer on-site abortions, fueling hopes among anti-abortion activists of a split within the abortion-rights movement. But the move is an isolated one that has nothing to do with political battles, officials of the family planning organization say, and the policy appears likely to take effect in the new year with little disruption.

M. Alex JohnsonM. Alex Johnson is a reporter for NBC News. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

The decision last week by Planned Parenthood of South Central New York to go independent comes as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is fighting legislative attempts in several states to bar it from receiving state health funds because the organization provides abortions.

Planned Parenthood oversees 74 regional affiliates that operate about 800 offices and clinics across the country. The affiliates don’t provide a standard menu of services, however, leading Planned Parenthood in late 2010 to issue a directive requiring them to offer a roster of core services — including cancer screenings and HIV testing in addition to on-site abortions — in at least one of their locations by 2013.

Matt Yonke, a spokesman for the Pro-Life Action League, an anti-abortion group, said the decision by the New York affiliate highlighted that some Planned Parenthood workers were “deeply uncomfortable with what goes on inside their workplace” and were being backed into a corner.

“No matter what conglomeration of services your Planned Parenthood affiliate provides, it had better provide abortion, or you’re out because that’s what Planned Parenthood does,” he wrote last week on the group’s website. (Read more here.)

Onion: “Pope To Identify With Catholic Youth By Giving Up On Catholicism”

Will Sommers. He kept his head.

Henry VIII had Will Sommers, the court jester, who got away with saying things to Henry that would have made anyone else who said them “shorter by a head.”

In present-day America, we have jesters from every point on the political compass vying for our laughs. Unfortunately, a good number of these people are soooo political and their humor is soooo mean that it’s only funny in a nasty, gotcha sort of way. The power of good humor is its pretense-stripping honesty. But a lot of today’s politically-motivated humor is as dishonest as most campaign ads.

Humor can show us truths that are right in front of us but that we don’t see, probably because they are right in front of us. If it’s well done, it can do this in a way that illuminates and edifies. If it’s powered by malice, it can simply hurt.

Every so often a bit of humor comes along that illuminates a current reality and gives us a laugh along with it. That’s satire, and satire is what The Onion dishes up in its latest offering on the Holy Father, titled “Pope To Identify With Catholic Youth By Giving Up On Catholicism.”

The attitudes this bit of spoofery points out regularly show up in Public Catholic’s comboxes. That may be why I found it so funny. First Things put this Onion piece on their site, and I’m going to link to it here:

Onion: “Pope To Identify With Catholic Youth By Giving Up On Catholicism”

And, oh yes Bill S, this one’s for you.

Bishop to Mayan Prophecy Believers: Give it all to the Church before you go

Bishop Bernardo Bastres Florence of Punta Arenas Chile gave a whimsical interview to his local newspaper Wednesday.

He offered the thought that Mayan prophecy believers who think that the world will end on December 21 should consider doing some good before they go. His tongue-in-check suggestion was that they should give all the worldly possessions that they think they’ll be leaving behind to the Church.

I would like to be able to say that I don’t think anyone seriously believes that the world is going to end on December 21. I would really like to be able to say that. But I represent thousands of people who often feel free to share their thoughts with me, which means I know — know — that there are folks who are biting their nails down to the quick over the prospect of it all screeching to a halt in a few days.

It doesn’t do much good to reason with them. I know from experience that when they wake up December 22, they won’t think through to the simple and obvious conclusion that they were wrong. They’ll just get up and go on with their lives, cosseted in the peculiar amnesia of those who like to be fooled. Then, when someone dreams up another doomsday scenario, they’ll be biting their nails once again.

In the meantime, I plan to enjoy the whole thing. There’s nothing more fun than the thrill of pretend cataclysm. That’s why we love disaster films and sit glued to the television whenever some real life nightmare happens to someone else. It’s a safe way of dealing with our secret and usually unacknowledged fear of the very real death that awaits us all. It also, I think, is a way of facing without having to face the dread uncertainty of our seemingly predictable lives.

I’m not immune to this. I love watching shows and reading books about people surviving snake bites and facing ridiculous perils while doing totally daft things like hiring guides to get their amateur climbing selves to the top of Mt Everest. It’s no accident that I watch these particular shows and read these particular books. I’m afraid of both snakes and heights, so watching others face my anxieties is a type of medicine for me.

However, being a Christian takes a lot of the sting out of this death thing. Not all of it, certainly. There’s so much we don’t know, and there is also the fact that there’s no easy way to do it. Dying is hard, and usually painful. It is also, I think, lonely. So, no, I don’t view the fact that I’m going to have to do it with equanimity.

But I’m far more sanguine than the December-21-is-The-End-crowd. I don’t need to imagine an end of the world. I know that I’ve got one coming. My end of the world will come on the day and at the moment that I die. I know that. I also know that while this date and time are dreadfully uncertain and unpredictable to me, they are known to God and that He has me in the palm of His hand. I know, as St Paul said, Whom I have believed, and I trust that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day.

In other words, I don’t worry too much about it because I know that He’ll be with me through the hard parts, and that once the hardest hard part, the suffering and dying part, is over with, it’s going to be great.

For those who can’t quite wrap their minds around this idea that if you are a Christian, death has no sting, getting fired up about the Mayans and the vagaries of their calendar is an easy way to distract themselves. It will work. For a time. Then they will forget it until the next nutso end of time theory crops up and they can go off on that.

As for me, I intend to watch and smile.

The CNA/EWTN article about Bishop Forence’s comments reads in part:

Bishop Bernardo Bastres Florence of Punta Arenas, Chile. Credit: Bishops Conference of Chile.

Santiago, Chile, Dec 12, 2012 / 11:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Bernardo Bastres Florence of Punta Arenas, Chile has an interesting suggestion for those convinced that the world will end Dec. 21, as predicted by the Mayan calendar.According to local newspaper La Prensa Austral, the bishop said that those who believe the Mayan prophecy should donate their worldly goods to the Church.

“If there are many who believe the world will end on Dec. 21, as the Church, we have no problem with them naming us as the beneficiaries of their possessions in their wills,” he quipped in a Dec. 9 interview.

Doomsday predictions about the end of the world, as documented by the Mayans, have circulated in recent years and grown in popularity. The Mayan Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., which accounts for time in 394-year periods known as Baktuns. The Mayans allegedly believed that the last, or 13th Baktun, ends Dec. 21, 2012.

To those who are convinced that the world is ending next week, Bishop Bastres said “I assure them that after Dec. 21, we will eternally pray for them.”

“Because I am sure that we will all be alive after that date. If they wish to pass on, they could do enormous good by donating their properties to the Church.” (Read more here.)

The Pain that Passes Understanding

Christ gives us peace that passes understanding because life can give us pain that passes understanding.

Peter Wiebe and his family lost their precious son and brother, Jesse, to cancer. Peter shares his journey of grief and faith in a WordPress blog he calls Threshold of Heaven.

I met Peter and his blog when I started Public Catholic a few months ago. He’s been a blessing to me and at the same time a challenge. The challenge lies is accepting the pain he shares while knowing that there is nothing I can say or do to ease his burden.

Peter Wiebe wrote a wonderful letter to Jesus Tuesday. I’d like to share it with all of you, particularly with those who have lost a child. They are one with Peter in this pain that passes understanding. It’s a private club no one wants to join. Only Christ on the cross can sanctify this loss, this sorrow.

Thank you Peter for sharing your walk with the rest of us.

I am going to reprint the entire letter, with Peter Wiebe’s permission. You can read it in the original, as well as learn about Jesse Wiebe’s life here.

Dear Jesus,

It’s just over two years now since our lives turned upside down. It’s hard to believe we are facing our second Christmas without Jesse. I don’t believe that you caused Jesse’s cancer, but you certainly could have prevented it from happening or cured it after the fact.

I believe the Bible when it tells me that all authority has been given to you both in Heaven and on the Earth. I don’t think I could believe in you if you were either powerless to prevent/cure Jesse’s cancer or just indifferent to his suffering. You did, after all, weep at the tomb of your friend Lazarus even when you knew that you would raise him from the dead. I choose to believe that you care despite the fact that you did not act the way I had hoped.

I don’t understand why you didn’t answer our prayers for Jesse’s healing. Neither do I understand why on so many nights when we pleaded with you to ease Jesse’s suffering, his suffering actually got worse. It felt like you ignored our prayers. Anna and I really felt along with David when he said, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?”

While I suppose I could have hardened my heart toward you and filled up with bitterness and resentment, I could not find it within myself to do so. Early on during Jesse’s cancer I looked around the children’s ward and saw so many others with cancer; it never seemed right to me to ask the question “Why us?” rather I was left with the impression “Why not us?” It was a profound realization for me.

While my faith in you has been stretched exceedingly, it has not broken. I echo the words of one of your disciples when You asked him if he wanted to go, “You have the words of eternal life, where else could I go?”

With Jesse’s death, my whole vision of the Godly family I would build collapsed. The business, that was a part of that vision, failed the year after Jesse’s death. We also lost our home church, where we once were esteemed and had ministered for nearly a decade. And yet, despite our trials, I still have hope in you. You are my Saviour, and I am glad. I cling to the promise in your Word that says, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”

I have not only lost, but also gained since Jesse’s death. I have gained a deeper understanding of suffering in the lives of believers. I have also gained a better understanding of what it means to have an eternal perspective. When I remember the terrible heaving of Jesse’s chest as he struggled for every breath, I imagine what it was like for you as you struggled to breathe on the cross. Then I know you understand. I am grateful, too, that Jesse will never have to stand and weep at the grave of someone he loves. He has truly been spared much pain and suffering here on Earth.

Since Jesse is now in Heaven with You, I often wonder what he is up too. Down here, there are plenty of conflicting views about Heaven and our resurrection. I wish you would have clarified that better in your Word. But the glimpses that you do give us into Heaven and the afterlife give us great hope of a joy filled reunion with Jesse.

In closing, Lord Jesus, please continue to have mercy on us as we walk the path before us. Bless us to know you more and more as the day of our own death approaches. Help us to be a blessing and a comfort to those you would send across our path. Help us to train our remaining three boys in your grace for as long as they remain in our care.

Please bless Jesse for us and tell him how much we all love and miss him.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

Peter Wiebe 2012

Education or Indoctrination: Elementary School Teaches Gender Diversity

I’m sure that posting this will get me called a few names, but it’s far too important to let that stop me.

I am not in any way opposed to human rights for gay people and I absolutely oppose unjust discrimination against them. But I honestly think that the kind of indoctrination of little children shown in this news video ignores these children’s human rights.

The UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child is not legally binding on Americans, but it does have some salient points which apply to this situation. The Declaration says in part:

The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration …

… The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society.
The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with his parents.

There is no doubt in my mind that the school program shown in this news video abuses the human rights of the children shown here. Children have a right to receive a free, appropriate education without being emotionally and intellectually violated by the professionals who run the schools.

What is the purpose of our public schools? Do we build and support this massive system of public schools to offer a free, quality education for every child, or are we doing it to build factories for the deliberate dissemination of cultural attitudes and biases?

How are we going to be able to continue to blindly trust our children to schools like this? What are our alternatives?

Watch this news report from Fox News and try to answer these questions and the many others that are bound to occur to you. As for me, I am gobsmacked. It will take me a while to think this through.

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It’s 12/12/12. What are you going to do today?

12/12/12

If ever there was an uugitdee-boogitdee looking date, this is it.

12/12/12

You can almost hear the big clock chiming and the owls hooting.

We are the last ones this century who get to see the numbers line up like this. Oh, there will be a 2/2/22 and a 3/3/33 and so on. But once 12/12/12 passes by, this total line-up of the same numbers straight across is over and done for living memory.

Human beings are good at the business of creating barriers out of nothing. 12/12/12 feels like the end of something, but it’s really just another day in the long march of days that make up our lives.

Still … we’ll never see it again.

Stop for a moment and think about it. Each day is like that, you know. We’ll never see any of them again.

It’s 12/12/12.

What are you going to do today?

Holy Father’s First Tweet … And It’s On 12/12/12 !!

Holy Father’s first tweet.

Mennonite Company Files Suit Against HHS Mandate

If you’re thinking about remodeling, you might consider buying your cabinets from Conestoga Wood Specialities Corporation.

This family-owned company has joined the brave group of Christian businesses who’ve filed suit against the HHS Mandate.

It’s important for many companies to file suit, simply because the more challenges to the HHS Mandate we have out there, the more likely we are to have one stick. For instance, one lawsuit after another has been tossed by judges around the country, but a judge in New York has finally allowed the New York Archdiocese lawsuit to proceed. Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I Am Catholic, has written about this in more detail here.

Our judicial system is such that I think it’s necessary to file many times to have a good chance of success. That’s why the actions of campanies like Conestoga Wood Specialties are a critical factor in the fight against the HHS Mandate.

The owners of this company are Mennonites, but they recognize their kinship with all Christians in essential matters of faith. I would guess that they also recognize their kinship with all Americans in essential matters of freedom.

The First Amendment and religious freedom in America are at stake in the fight against the HHS Mandate. I am grateful to all Christians who are brave enough to join the struggle.

A CNA/EWTN article describing the Conestoga Wood Specialties lawsuit reads in part:

Washington D.C., Dec 11, 2012 / 05:41 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Three Mennonite Christians who own a wood manufacturing company in Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit challenging the federal contraception mandate for threatening their right to religious freedom.

“Being told that we must provide a health plan that includes a provision that violates the Christian beliefs of our family and the Christian values that our company was founded on is deeply troubling,” said Anthony Hahn, president and CEO of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation.

“Forcing Americans to surrender long-standing, deeply-held principles in order to own and run a business is not merely troubling but unnecessary and unconstitutional,” he added.

Hahn is challenging a federal regulation that requires employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. Conestoga would be required to comply with the mandate when its insurance plan renews on Jan. 1, 2013.

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the mandate by religious employers who argue that it forces them to violate their sincerely-held beliefs. The federal government has argued that businesses which are deemed “secular” do not have the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

On Dec. 4, attorneys with Independence Law Center filed a legal challenge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Conestoga’s founder Norman Hahn, and his sons Norman Lemar Hahn and Anthony Hahn, who manage the company.(Read more here.)

Book Review: A Season of Mystery

To buy A Season of Mystery or join the discussion about it go here.

A Season of Mystery is one woman’s approach to the pleasures and challenges of the last decades of life. The author, Paula Huston, is a Catholic convert who has been through a divorce, remarriage, raising a blended family and is now engaged in caring for her failing in-laws and mother.

She takes the reader through 10 times of life and discusses the spiritual dimensions of each of them in terms of the emotions and spiritual needs of the last half of our lives. She illustrates these 10 times of life and the life activitives she engaged in during them with her own spiritual practices.

Paula Huston is deeply attached to the contemplative side of Catholicism. Since she’s a writer, there does seem to be an obvious symmetry there. Her spiritual director, confessors, and most power spiritual friends are a group of monks who she evidently visits quite often.

Their quiet, reflective and indirect approach to thinking things through obviously has a great attraction for her. She relates stories about the monks, quotes the desert fathers and otherwise builds on them and their spirituality to make sense of the end years of life.

Her conclusion, that the goal of these last decades is to prepare us for the next life beyond death is a charming one with a lot of appeal and I think quite a bit of truth. However, I do tend to disagree with her a bit. I think all of life is a preparation for the next one, and at the same time, all of life, including the last years, has value in the here and now.

We are not here by accident and this life is not a way-station. It has meaning and purpose of its own. The last years of life are just as important as any other time we have.

But then, I’m not drawn to monasticism.

Ms Huston builds the book around 10 times in her own life from which she did things that she now sees as a sort of spiritual activity. For instance, when her children grew up and left home, she and her husband entered into what used to be called the “second honeymoon” and which she calls the “delighting.” It’s that easy time when you’re still young enough to enjoy life fully and suddenly free enough to do so. She calls it a “second adolescence.”

She goes through the times when maintaining what sounds like quite a lot of land and a house becomes too burdensome and she and her husband divest themselves of the things they acquired during their earlier years. She calls this “lightening.”

There are 10 such times in her life. Most people go through similar times in their lives, but I doubt if the situations fall into these exact patterns for everyone. Still, life has its seasons for all of us, and each season has its rewards and challenges.

The only way for anyone to meet these challenges is with God at their side. This book is written by a woman who infuses the times of her life with a monastic approach to God and who communicates that beautifully to the reader.

Even if monasticism and the desert fathers are not your way of walking with Christ, the book is still a thoughtful and enjoyable read.

Why Does Marriage Matter?

Getting married was one of the four best things I’ve ever done. The other three are my two children and turning my life over to Jesus.

Despite all the huge mistakes I’ve made (and some of my mistakes have been both public and grievous) these four things outweigh them all in my eyes. I look at my life so far, and I can honestly say that I feel it’s been good. It’s been very good.

The reasons I point to are my husband and children and that the Lord God of the universe has accepted me.

In this day and age of cheap cynicism from privileged people, it’s easy to disparage the best of life and thumb our noses to it. As the old Randy Newman lyrics say, money won’t buy me love, but it will buy a pound of cocaine, a 16-year-old girl and the back of limousine, which, the song implies is probably better.

That song, which was titled, fittingly enough, “It’s Money That I Love” was meant as satire. Unfortunately, a lot of people live their lives as if they take it literally.

Jesus asked us, “Which of you, if your children asked for bread, would give them a stone?”

The answer, in our serial-marrying, marriage-skipping, baby-daddy, baby-mama world is, sadly, us. We would give them a stone. We do give them things and stuff when what they need is love and home. 

Children need a home with their own parents. They need the stability of marriage, the love of marriage and the future that marriage gives.

Divorce hurts everyone. But it scars children to the core.

Living in the hell of an abusive marriage does the same.

No marriage. Bad marriage. Which is worse?

Why should any child have to settle for either? What is wrong with us that we can’t manage to bond, have children and make a home for them? What sort of suicidal society is that?

I’m going to throw this open for your discussion. Do you think marriage matters? If you do, why do you think it matters? To whom does it matter? Why is it important?

I will limit the discussion to marriage between a man and woman for now. We’ll talk about the whole question of same-sex marriage in another post. For this discussion, let’s confine ourselves to the mess that heterosexuals have made of marriage and why we think this matters.

Please comment. I would like to have a discussion that enlightens all of us.

The Supreme Court Should Leave Marriage Alone

Same-sex marriage is a compelling issue for many people on both sides of the question. Public support for traditional marriage eroded rapidly in the past two years, while nationwide support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high.

For the first time, several states have passed voter referendums allowing same sex marriage, politicians are moving to endorse same-sex marriage and there’s even talk about whether or not conservative Christians and the Republican Party should abandon opposition to it.

Meanwhile, lower courts have struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, both of which were designed to protect traditional marriage.

It is at this juncture that the United States Supreme Court has announced that it will hear challenges to these lower court rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8. Since lower courts had struck down the two laws, the Supreme Court could have allowed those rulings to stand by simply not hearing the challenges. For this reason, many people who favor traditional marriage, including those quoted in the CNA/EWTN article excerpted below, are hopeful about what the eventual Supreme Court ruling might mean. At the same time, supporters of same-sex marriage are voicing concerns that the Supreme Court might overturn lower court rulings and let the laws stand.

I believe it would be a mistake for the Supreme Court to step in at this juncture and federalize marriage. I also think it would be a mistake to define homosexual people as a protected class under the 14th Amendment. I would have this opinion even if I supported same-sex marriage.

It appears to me that the people of this country are in the process of working through a decision on this issue of their own and they are using the ballot box to do it. Even though I do not support same-sex marriage, I know that the voters in the states who legalized it this fall were acting within their rights to do so. I also believe that this is almost always the best way for social change to come about.

My answer to the question of defining homosexual people as a protected class of citizens under the 14th Amendment, is that I do not think this is necessary. Discrimination against homosexuals is rapidly going away without this drastic measure and all its unintended consequences.

One of the most damaging decisions the Supreme Court ever made was in a situation analogous to this one. Roe v Wade came at a time when the various states were liberalizing their abortion laws and public support for legal abortion was on the ascendant. By stepping in and federalizing something that had always been under the control of the states, the Court stopped this normal Democratic process in mid act. What happened instead is that the Court, rather than ending the discussion, radicalized it and set this country on a destructive course of increasingly polarized public debate and politics which continues to this day.

Of course, my opinion about what the Court should do doesn’t mean a thing, just as the opinions of both those who favor same-sex marriage and those who oppose it don’t mean a thing. The question about these two laws is now in the hands of seven people and they can do pretty much whatever they want with it. The Court has the freedom to rule in a narrow fashion that only affects these two statutes, or it can make a whole new Constitutional definition of marriage in whatever fashion four of these seven people want.

We the people have very little to say about what happens at the Supreme Court. And that is why I think that everyone on both sides of this debate should hope that they don’t go off on a law-making binge. I hope that they rule narrowly instead.

The CNA/EWTN article discussing reactions of traditional marriage supporters to the Court’s decision to hear these two cases reads in part:

Washington D.C., Dec 7, 2012 / 04:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Supporters of marriage and family welcomed the Supreme Court’s announcement that it will review both state and federal cases about the definition of marriage in the coming months.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear these cases is a significant moment for our nation,” said Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, who leads the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

“Marriage is the foundation of a just society, as it protects the most vulnerable among us, children,” he said in a Dec. 7 statement. “It is the only institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers together.”

The archbishop said that he is praying that the court will be “guided by truth and justice” in order to affirm the true meaning and purpose of marriage, written in human nature as the union of one man and one woman.

On Dec. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear two cases regarding the definition of marriage in the next year.

A federal case, Windsor v. United States, involves a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law passed with overwhelming bilateral support in Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. The case challenges a section of the law that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for federal policies.

A second case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, concerns Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment adopted by California voters in 2008 to protect the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman after the state Supreme Court ruled that gay unions must be recognized as marriages.

Critics of the laws argue that they amount to unjust discrimination against gay couples and an unconstitutional violation of the equal protection clause. Proponents contend that the government has a legitimate interest in recognizing the union of man and woman because it is the fundamental building block of society and plays a critical role in bringing up the next generation.

While lower courts have struck down both laws, marriage advocates say they see hope in a Supreme Court ruling. (Read more here.)

She’s My Mother So Be Careful What You Say About Her

Monday was my anniversary.

My mother had a turn for the worse yesterday.

My doc did some “work” on Gimpy the Foot a week ago today.

I have to submit all the titles I want for the legislation I want to introduce by Friday.

I moved to a different residence and things are a mess and I can’t do nuthin’ because of Gimpy.

I’m teaching a class at a local university.

 

There are benefits to being so busy and out of it.One of them is that I miss a lot of the trendy, anti-Christian trash that’s floating around. I for sure missed the news that some guy has written a book attacking Our Lady.

I’m glad I got to not know about this for a while. To mis-quote Sara Teasdale, “for every sweet, singing hour of peace count many an hour of strife well lost.” In my situation, I think that’s Sara, saying that ignorance can be bliss.

Fortunately, the inimitable Mark Shea, who blogs at Catholic and Enjoying It, was aware and taking action. He’s written a great discussion about this book, which begins “My autopsy of Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary, this Christmas’ assault on the gospel from our now utterly predictable Manufacturers of Culture.”

I’m glad Mark saw it first. He’s better at this sort of thing than I am, and it sounds as if this particular book deserves evisceration at the hands of the best.

Mark’s comments here on Patheos, which are titled Not My Mother, say:

My autopsy of Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary, this Christmas’ assault on the gospel from our now utterly predictable Manufacturers of Culture.  Just a little taste:

In terms of content, the book is a by-the-numbers hatchet job written in sensitive, spare, and poetic diction for the delectation of UK and New York Chattering Classes and dipped in a bath of relentless, willful sadness and bitterness. The basic premise is that it has been 20 years since the crucifixion, and Mary is one pissed-off hag, sounding for all the world like a nun in iron grey, short-cropped hair and sensible shoes who has seized the microphone in a We Are Church group process breakout session and is now on the third hour of an extended free association monologue, grousing bitterly about the patriarchy.

(Read more here.)

 

 


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