Family: I am Sister Lily’s Granddaughter. Where I’m From, that Counts for a Lot.

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Where I’m From: Daddy worked here.

I don’t remember if I told you this, but my grandmother was a Pentecostal Holiness Preacher.

She had a radio show (this was back in the 1940s and early 50s) that covered several states. She was what they called a “church planter.” She went from place to place, starting churches, getting them up and going, then moving along to the next place. She planted several of the churches in the house district that I represented for 18 years.

I remember back when I was running for office the first time — this was in my anti-God period, when I was pro choice — many of the preachers in that district dedicated their Sunday morning sermons to excoriating me from the pulpit. If they’d stuck with the truth — I was pro choice and pro ERA — they might have beaten me.

But they didn’t.

The attacks got crazy and crazier, as they called me everything but a nice person. I was a communist, a lesbian, a slut, a this and a that, a deez and a doz.

Finally, one Sunday, individual congregants in more than one church just spontaneously, without any coaxing from me, stood up in the middle of these sermons and started yelling at the various preachers. They said that they had known me since I was a baby, and the preacher was a liar.

You see, I was from there. These preachers were not.

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Oklahoma National Stockyards. My mother was a weigh master here. 

I was Sister Lily’s granddaughter. I was Charlie and Bessie’s granddaughter. My Daddy worked at the Stockyards and they all knew him … and his brother. My uncle was in the Masons. They’d gone to school with my mother, me, my sister, my cousins.

That is the power of family.

I don’t mean family connections. I mean the power of identity that comes with being connected by blood to a particular group of people.

Family is identity.

It is also home.

I remember (this post is going to be a series of reminiscences, so get ready) when I told my cousin, my Daddy’s brother’s kid, that I had converted to the Catholic Church. He told me, “It doesn’t matter. Nothing you do matters. I love you.”

When I was anti-God, it didn’t matter.

When I was Oklahoma Director of NARAL, it didn’t matter.

When I met Christ in a profound conversion experience and became a Christian, not one thing changed with my family.

When I started my life as a pro life advocate, it was still the same.

When I was in office, a stay at home mom, now, there was no difference.

My friends dumped me, accused me of “betraying” them for my followership of Christ. In fact, many of my bestest buds turned 180 hard about and began attacking me and lying about me the same way those preachers had done years before. The people who had attacked me and the people who had supported me switched places.

All except for family. Nothing changed with them. Nothing has ever changed. Nothing will ever change.

I remember when another cousin of mine decided to come out to us as gay. He got us together; was hyper tense when he called and told us to be at my aunt’s house at a certain time and date. We were scared. We all thought he was going to tell us he had cancer or something.

When he did his big reveal — I’m gay (sniff) — we were dumbfounded. I mean, was he telling us that he thought we didn’t already know???

Duhhhh.

That’s family.

Families are where people who are for gay marriage and people who are opposed to gay marriage, where drug addicts and tee-totalers, Republican and Democrats, all love one another because, at bottom, they don’t care about that stuff. Not when you’re family.

My same cousin who told me he didn’t care if I was Catholic had been a total male chauvinist pig back in the days when I was an all-out feminist activist. Didn’t matter to either of us. He supported the Viet Nam war, I demonstrated against it. No problem.

Robert Frost said, “Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”

Home, in that sense, is family. And family is the people who don’t care about your disgraces and aren’t impressed with your successes. You don’t have to clean up the house before they come. It’s ok if you’re overweight and you’re still welcome to be there even if you’ve just been caught — again as we say in these parts — in bed with either a live boy or a dead girl.

I am well aware that there are families who spend all their time picking each other apart, who compete with one another and criticize one another and who actually are anything but comforting. That’s not my family. My family is the “it doesn’t matter” crowd who just sticks with you, even when they all flat-out know you are wrong.

But even those other sad families, the nit-picking, pretend-perfect families, still usually stick with one another against the outside world.

I could go on and on about family as a social construct or whatever.

But family is both more and less than that. Family is personal. it’s about us as people. It’s who we are, whether we want to be that or not. Divorce is a disaster because it shears family from itself. It atomizes these broad extended tribes of safety into us and them and takes away the only real emotional security to be had from other people in this life.

I can tell you for a fact that friends will throw you away like leftover fish because of your politics, religion or anything else they consider to be the elemental you. There are a few — I had three, now I’m down to two — friends who will stick, even when I go from anti-God to Catholic, from pro choice to pro life — but the rest of them will not.

Friends can become enemies in the time it takes to say Get Out!!

Friends, however much fun they may be, are not family.

And family, if it is torn asunder with betrayals, is not family, either.

The tragedy of our times is that we have atomized and particularized family to the point that many families provide no more loyalty and emotional safety than friendship. Families turn on one another now, too.

When that happens the world is a cold place where the winds of isolation and aloneness howl through people’s lives and warp them into less than who they are meant to be. We become vicious and cowed, like a society of stray dogs. Like those stray dogs, we run in packs and we become dangerous to the order and safety that surrounds us.

Family provides security and safety. It keeps us safe and gives us confidence to go on adventures and take healthy risks, secure in the knowledge that succeed or flop, family is there for us when we want to venture back.

People without family truly are like stray dogs. The packs they form are destructive to the larger world and straight-jacket limiting to those who run in them. No one goes on adventures or takes risks that run against the rules of the pack, because that would result in expulsion. The pack would turn on them and attack them.

That is the source of the crazy viciousness I sometimes see — and delete — in the com box commentary on this blog. It is the cause of the hive mind thinking that is driving our society to the brink of self-destruction. It is the cultural anomie of a society that has torn family from itself and is now running loose and lost in mindless packs.

Family, real family, is the antidote to all that. Family is the most freeing thing possible, because it gives you the safety to try and fail and then try again with the certainty that no matter what happens, you will have a place in this world and you will be loved.

Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in. I’ve never read a better definition of family.

Guns. Blaming Father Terra for Trying to Defend Himself. And Raising Up Psychopaths.

I’m proud of you.

Public Catholic readers have not gone off the deep end, blaming Father Joseph Terra for the actions of the man who beat him and shot and killed his brother priest, Father Kenneth Walker.

Father Terra, a Catholic priest, was critically wounded when an assailant broke into the rectory in Phoenix that he shared with Father Walker. Father Walker was shot and killed. It seems that the assailant managed to get his hands on a gun owned by Father Terra, and that is the gun he used to shoot Father Walker.

Public Catholic readers have not attacked Father Terra for being a victim, and I’m proud of you. There has been a focus on the gun in our discussions here, which, I think is still a mis-direction. After all, Mr Gary Michael Moran, the individual who has confessed to this break-in/beating/murder was paroled just two months ago and he wasn’t in prison for singing too loud in church choir on Sunday morning.

Mr Moran has a long history of violent assaults. He was paroled for crimes that were quite similar to the one he committed against these two priests.

If we are so intent on blaming someone besides Mr Moran for this assault, we might look past Father Terra and take a gander at the parole board who put him on the street. Or, to dig a bit deeper, how about considering the lawmakers who wrote the laws that allowed the parole board to put him on the street? Or maybe we should blame Mr Moran’s mother/teacher/neighbor/dog for the crime.

Or, then again, maybe we could take a quick look at Mr Moran himself. Does anybody besides me think that he’s the guy who did this and he’s the one we should hold responsible?

Just sayin’.

Public Catholic readers have discussed this intelligently. But what about those other folks, the ones who are all but accusing Father Terra of being the miscreant in this situation?

It appears that the lightning rod in this is the gun. We’ve got a group of people in this country who are a little nutty when it comes to firearms. They consistently make inaccurate connections between criminal acts and the gun the criminal uses rather than looking at the criminal him or herself. You’d think, the way they talk, that guns had minds and souls and the ability to act on their own.

Every time we have another of these random mass murders — and they come along with regularity these days — when someone who is loaded down with weaponry goes to a public place and starts killing everybody he can, we see people denouncing the gun laws. Nobody seems to be brave enough to ask what we are doing to manufacture these killers in the first place.

What we have is a relatively new phenomena which has been escalating over the years until it is becoming a commonplace. The gun laws were actually much more liberal before this phenomena took hold than they are now.

I’ve read grisly stories about mass killings in other countries — one in China comes to mind — with very strong gun control laws that occurred when someone armed with a knife or axe invaded a school or other public place and, true to type, started killing everyone they could. I know people who’ve been in buildings that were bombed by terrorists. I also know someone who was crippled for life in a drive-by shooting where the assailant used a gun made with a piece of pipe.

I know this is going to make people angry, but guns are the means, they are not the reason. Banning guns, even banning them altogether, won’t fix this. Guns are not the problem.

We are.

The problem here is not the implement of destruction. The problem is our unwinding society and the feral young people we are raising up inside it. I’ve said this before to a chorus of “not trues” but we are manufacturing psychopaths in our society. Somewhere back in the not-too-distant past, we changed our methods of raising people and the result has been a growing number of mass murders, and a much larger number of random killings, drive-by shootings and other violence on a more individualized scale.

There have always been murderers. It does back to Cain. But this is different. And it’s international. And it’s getting worse.

How does this apply to the blame-Father-Terra viciousness that’s out there glopping around in the internet hive mind?

The blame-Father-Terra crowd is part of the problem. Their self-righteous refusal to think straight and their vicious verbiage misdirects our energies away from dealing with the situation at hand. I think a lot of it is deliberate so that we won’t have to accept responsibility and change our ways.

The situation at hand is that Father Terra is a wounded individual who has suffered an unjust, unwarranted and totally preventable attack from an individual who should never have been out on the streets in the first place. He is being blamed for attempting to defend himself and his brother priest.

What I think happened — and this is just a guess — is that Father Terra didn’t have what it took to pull that trigger. He probably wanted to use the gun to intimidate the attacker, not kill him. He is not a killer and he was doing battle with a man who is a killer. I think it was as simple as that.

Good, normal people are always at a disadvantage in these situations where they are savagely attacked without warning. The attacker knows what they are doing, they’ve got the advantage of surprise. Plus, they are bad. Bone deep bad. They don’t mind killing. They’ve come into this situation ready to hurt and to kill.

Mr Moran has a history of hurting people in violent assaults. He’s used to it. He doesn’t mind it. He went into that rectory with that intention. He is practiced at hurting people. He was also awake.

Father Terra was wakened from sleep, and almost certainly intending to handle things without killing anybody. Father Walker just woke up and came to his friend’s aid.

Yet they are the ones we are blaming. Them, and of course, the gun.

Meanwhile, the man who did all this, we’re just kind of ignoring. Because that’s our way. We ignore the offender and blame the victim — or those who try to aid the victim.

You know why? Because facing the real truth of this would mean that we would have to acknowledge that we can’t toss our kids around like things; that children need stable homes and safe families in which to grow up and we haven’t been providing them.

There is also the desire to avoid the other fact. We can’t disarm these monsters once we build them. We blame the victim because we’ve figured out on some level we don’t want to admit that most of the Mr Morans in this world aren’t fix-able. By the time a person gets to the level of repeat violent offender we can’t rewind them back to harmlessness. We can lock them up. Or, we can let them out and then blame the victim when they do it again.

But we can’t fix them.

It seems more productive to blame the victim and the gun, and maybe the lack of an alarm system or the slow response at 911, than to face the very difficult fact that we are manufacturing these guys with the way we raise our kids and that once we’ve manufactured them, they don’t have an off switch.

We can take away every freedom we have and lock ourselves into lockboxes and we still won’t be safe. if we want to stop these things, we’ve first got to face facts. And the fact is that we are building the Gary Michael Morans ourselves. If we want to stop having so many of them, we’ve got to stop building them.

Nothing else will work.

Vatican: Place the Family at the Center of all Concerns

May 15 is the United Nation’s International Day of the Family.

Monsignor Vicenzo Paglia, the president of the Pontifical Council on the Family, will go to New York to address the United Nations for this event. He also had a few words to say in advance. He commented that people will say “forever” to a soccer team (or here in Oklahoma, to the Sooners) but to their own husband or wife, not so much.

The family has been sliced and diced almost out of existence by our modern culture. Now, it is being legally defined into meaninglessness. Without the family as a base, other forms of community fail alongside it.

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Vatican Says No to Communion for Divorced and Remarrieds

Rumors aside, it appears that Pope Francis is not going to overturn the 2,000-year-old Church teaching on the sanctity of Holy Matrimony.

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller published an article in the Vatican newspaper, putting that story to rest.

Archbishop Muller writes that marriage is indissoluble as is testified in both Scripture and Tradition.

From National Catholic Register:

That Pope Francis is not going to change the discipline that denies Communion to divorced-remarried people is established by the long article Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, drafted for the Vatican daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

In the article, published on Oct. 22, Archbishop Müller reiterates that a Christian marriage is indissoluble and that this is not simply a pastoral question, but a doctrinal issue that involves the Church’s theological understanding of the sacrament of marriage.

There are also other key passages. Archbishop Müller stated that the Orthodox practice of allowing second or third marriages under certain circumstances “cannot be reconciled with God’s will.” He rejected that the individual conscience can be the final arbiter on whether a divorced and civily remarried Catholic can receive Communion. And responding to the argument that Christian mercy mandates allowing such Catholics reception of Communion, he asserted that “an objectively false appeal to mercy also runs the risk of trivializing the image of God by implying that God cannot do other than forgive.”

The article seems a clear corrective to those who recently praised the Church for, they said, finally being open to bringing Communion to divorced-remarried under Pope Francis’ pontificate. And it also serves as a correction to numerous newspaper headlines that have misrepresented the theme of the next Extraordinary Synod of Bishops — “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization” — as meaning the 2014 synod will open the door to a new Church discipline on the matter.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/communion-to-divorced-remarried-catholics-the-cdf-says-no?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-25%2020:59:01#ixzz2isPprnKm

Divorce, Catholic Divorce and Following Christ as Counter-Cultural Living

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Divorce is one of the plagues of modern America. It is the root cause of much of the misery of our modern life. The damage it does to our children and their children and their children’s children is incalculable. It is almost as if we have visited a social plague of Biblical proportions on ourselves with our disregard for marriage, home and family.

And we do disregard these things.

Social policy, especially as it pertains to how business activities are regulated, do not ever seem to consider the good the family. If you want to see what people really care about, look at what they serve. Judged by that standard, American government — and the American people as well — consistently put the Almighty dollar ahead of families, including, or perhaps most especially, children.

Divorce is a cause and a symptom of these values, as well as a result of them. In this way, we have created a divorce cycle that feeds on itself and appears to be endangering the survival of the institution of Holy Matrimony in the larger society. If we are heading toward a society where only certain groups of people maintain stable homes and families, there is no better place for one of those groups to form than among faithful Catholics.

It appears that the foundation for this sort of thing may already be in place.

According to a recent study by the Applied Research Apostolate at Georgetown University, Catholics divorce. In fact, Catholics divorce a lot. But compared to those other guys and gals out there, Catholics don’t divorce so much.

I suppose it’s a relief to learn that we’re not as prone as non-Catholics to steer our marriages — and our lives and our children’s lives — onto the rocks. In fact, I know it’s good news. The study shows that 28% of Catholics have been divorced at some time in their lives. I am assuming that this includes people who converted to Catholicism after they were divorced. If that’s true, the numbers for cradle Catholics might be even lower. Catholics who are married to other Catholics divorce at the slightly lower rate of 27%, so there may be something to that notion.

Protestants divorce at a rate of 39%, other faiths at 35% and people of no faith at 40%.

What this means is that, while we’re far from the point where we need to pop open the champagne and begin congratulating ourselves, we have a basis of solid Catholic families on which to build. Our ultimate goal should be the conversion of the larger society. But for now, I think it’s more than enough for us to look to ways to strengthen and build strong Catholic families which can raise children who will grow into productive and faithful adults.

I’ll talk about this more later, but we’re going to have to face the reality that our society is inimical to us and our values. If we want to live the true good life of stable homes that produce children who grow into equally stable adults, we face the necessity — not the choice, but the necessity — of pulling our families and our kids out of the cesspools of modern life.

We can no longer rely on the larger culture to be a safe place for our kids. And we certainly cannot rely on the larger culture to teach either us or them about what matters in life. Following Christ has always been counter-cultural. It was a scandal to the larger society from its beginning. In a very real way, we simply need to go back to our New Testament Gospel roots and live out our faith as the countercultural force it is and always has been.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- Recent studies on marriage show that while their rates of divorce are significant, U.S. Catholics are less likely to divorce than people of other religious affiliations.

“Although the Catholic ‘divorce rate’ is lower than the U.S. average it is still a daunting figure,” said the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

In a Sept. 26 blog post, the research group explained that divorce among Catholics “represents more than 11 million individuals,” many of whom “are likely in need of more outreach and ongoing ministry from the Church.”

In its article, the organization explained that different ways of tallying divorce and marriage rates create a range of different divorce figures, including the oft-quoted statistic that “half of all marriages fail.”

Looking at national surveys, “Catholics stand out with only 28 percent of the ever-married having divorced at some point,” the blog post stated, compared to more than 40 percent of those with no religious affiliation, 39 percent of Protestants and 35 percent of those of another religious faith.

Furthermore, Catholics who marry other Catholics are also less likely to divorce than Catholics married to people of other faiths.

A 2007 survey from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate estimates that only 27 percent of Catholics married to other Catholics have ever experienced divorce, compared to nearly half of Catholics married to Protestants or to spouses with no religious belief.

Shacking Up, Gay Marriage and Now Wed Leases: Is Marriage as the Larger Culture Lives It Dead?

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Shacking up, gay marriage and now wed leases.

Given all this, I’m inclined to say as so many people do these days Why bother?

A reader sent me a copy of the Washington Post opinion piece excerpted below. The author, who is a divorce attorney, suggests that, given today’s revolving door marriages, we just set up marriage as a lease arrangement and forego all that “til death do us part” nonsense at the get-go. He sees it as a simplification of the court-laden bitterness of today’s divorce culture.

My first thought was that the guy deserves a couple of stars for innovative thinking and his willingness to legislate himself out of a job. But then I thought that he’s probably as sick of doing divorces as every other attorney I ever met. Setting up wed leases for his clients (His suggestions would require quite a bit of personalized legal tailoring for each couple.) would probably end up being, if not as lucrative as a high-dollar divorce, still a good living for an attorney, and without the need to Xanax.

So, I guess he’s not being entirely selfless.

However, he has put his finger on the truth of what is happening in our society.

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We’ve trashed marriage to the point that it no longer means much of anything. Gay marriage is the end of marriage as a legitimate institution. Now the flood gates on redefining marriage are open and you can bet that a lot of garbage is going to trot through them. Of course, none of this would have happened if heterosexuals hadn’t trashed their marriages (and their kids, homes and finances along with their marriages) for so many years.

Christians who want to follow Jesus instead of the world are going to have to make a decision about their marriages. Are they entering into Holy Matrimony, which is a life-long union on which God rains down sacramental graces? Or, are they entering into an elastic “so long as we both dig it” legal contract endowed by the state with nothing much but a lot of misery and legal gas?

The truth is, marriage, as it is practiced today has nothing — and I mean nothing — to do with the sacrament of Holy Matrimony as Jesus created it and as the Church has provided it for 2,000 years.

Which is it Christians?

Have you and your spouse entered into a Covenant before God Almighty that bonds you together in sickness and health, for richer and poorer until death does you part? Or are you just play-acting with some legally created contract that you can breach or nullify anytime there is sickness or poverty or you just don’t feel like it today?

For centuries, the legal definition of marriage corresponded closely enough to the Christian understanding of Holy Matrimony that the two could function almost as the same thing.

No more.

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In today’s brave new world, “marriage” is a legal construct. At best, it is a contract. At worst, it is a sham. Many times it is both — a sham contract.

Holy Matrimony, at least as the Catholic Church and some other denominations do it, remains unchanged. Outside of those churches that still treat marriage as the life-long Covenantal relationship between a man and a woman that God intended, there is no Holy Matrimony in our society today.

Christians who want to follow Jesus are going to have to learn to make this distinction, first in their own lives, and second as they regard the “marriages” in the wider world. There are things that redefining the law cannot change, and this is one of them.

True marriage, which, to distinguish it from the legal contracts of the wider society, I have decided to call Holy Matrimony, is a sacrament instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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It is up to you, my Christian brothers and sisters, if you want to be married in the eyes of God in Holy Matrimony, or you want a legal contract for sex and shared finances. If you want Holy Matrimony, then you must begin with the Church as the cornerstone of your marriage. By that I mean you must be married in the Church and you must make Christ the head of your home.

I do not think it will be possible for Christians to be the light the world so badly needs if we continue down this path of half Christian/half worldly.

More and more the world itself is demanding that we, as Joshua demanded thousands of years ago, choose this day whom we will serve.

Choosing to follow Christ begins in the individual heart, and it is first acted out in the home. The creator of home is Holy Matrimony.

Everything else is dead legalism.

From the Washington Post:

We all know that far too many marriages end in divorce, yet this institution does not adapt. Indeed, most Americans today want to expand conventional marriage to include same-sex couples.

So why is there no effort to improve the legal structure of marriage, when it shows itself to be deficient?

Marriage is a legal partnership that lasts a lifetime — one lifetime to be exact, that of the first of the spouses to die. Generally speaking, that is a long time for any partnership. People, circumstances and all sorts of other things change. The compatibility of any two people over decades may decline with these changes to the point of extinction.

In real estate, one may own a life estate in a piece of property. This is comparable to the term of a marriage — a lifetime. And in real estate, one may hold possession of property for shorter terms through a lease.

Why don’t we borrow from real estate and create a marital lease? Instead of wedlock, a “wedlease.”

Here’s how a marital lease could work: Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years — one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes. It could end up lasting a lifetime if the relationship is good and worth continuing. But if the relationship is bad, the couple could go their separate ways at the end of the term. The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.

Pope Francis: Satan Always Rips You Off

 

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.

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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.

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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.

Adam and eve

“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.

Despair 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.

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St Thomas More

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.

From CNA:

Pope Francis sends a kiss to someone in the crowd at the May 8 2013 general audience in St Peters Square Credit Stephen Driscoll CNA

.- 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.) 

Lent: Repentance, Divorce and Your Children

Lent begins this Wednesday.

It’s difficult in our over-scheduled world to reflect. On anything. It is doubly difficult to reflect on something as unpleasant as our own sins.

However, unless the statistics and the evening news are entirely bogus, we have a lot to repent of this Lent, a lot to change.

Most of us, me included, tend to focus on the entirely personal nature of our sins that pertains only to us. We don’t often consider how our personal sins affect others. We almost never think about  how our personal behavior either contributes to the common good or diminishes it.

We’ve had quite a few discussions on Public Catholic about marriage and family. A lot of this discussing has focused on the question of whether or not our society should change the legal definition of marriage. The question is, should we redefine marriage  to something that does not focus on marriage’s institutional purpose of creating, nurturing and equipping future generations of people to become stable and productive adults?

I think the primary reason we have come to the point where we can seriously consider such a thing is that we have become a divorce culture. Divorce and our easy acceptance of it as a solution for almost any spousal grivance has destroyed marriage as a nest for many millions of our young people. So, destroying it absolutely through a redefinition of the law just seems like the next step for many people. We’ve abused marriage so much that we’ve forgotten what marriage is.

One of the questions I’d like all of us to ponder during this Lent is how we treat our own families. In this post, I’m going to focus on divorced parents.

Divorce does not end your obligation as a parent. It complicates it and makes it more difficult to live out, but it certainly does not end it. Your children are still your children.

I see a lot of finger-pointing between divorced spouses. He claims that she won’t let him see the kids. She tells stories of fathers who make dates to see the children who wait eagerly by the door for hours for their Daddy who never shows up. Some divorced spouses move hundreds of miles away from their children and then only see them once or twice a year.

This is going to make a lot of people angry, but I’m going to say it. If you are only seeing your kids once or twice a year, you are not functioning as a parent in their lives. You are functioning, at best, as a kindly uncle or aunt.

Parents are there. Parents put their children first, ahead of their anger and resentment toward their former spouses, and yes, their careers and their new spouses.

I know all the stories about jobs and second marriages and all the other “necessary” reasons people move far away from their children. But, to be honest, I don’t buy it. Your children should come first. I once knew a divorced dad from England who had followed his divorced wife to Oklahoma so he could be near his kids. That’s a father.

The mother who moved her children so far away from their father on the other hand … not so much. I don’t think divorced dads should move away from their kids. I also don’t think divorced moms should move the kids away from their father.

I can hear the anger now over that statement. After all, isn’t divorce about starting over?

In truth, I don’t know what divorce is. I do know what being a parent is. Among other things, being a parent means you put your kids’ needs ahead of your own. So, no, divorce is not about “starting over” and having a “new life.” You are a parent first, foremost and for life. There are no excuses for forgetting that.

If you have kids, you need to put them ahead of yourself. You need to do what it takes to be their mother or father. Your career, your desire to remarry, your “needs” are all second to that.

Too often, divorced parents use the children to punish their former spouses. Also too often, they remarry and put their new spouses and their new children ahead of their “old” kids. After all, babies are always cuter, cuddlier and simpler than your older children with their knobby knees, braces on their teeth and the emotional damage you’ve done to them with your custody fights, attacks on their mother or father and indifference to their needs.

It must seem to children of divorce like their parents stop loving them. Unfortunately, in far too many instances, this is not entirely an illusion.

Divorce is a wrecking ball we take to our lives. It is a ripping apart of that “one flesh” that marriage is. It violates the trust of family, destroys the peace and safety of home.

Divorce hurts people to the core. It inflicts wounds on them that will not heal.

Whatever harm divorce does to the adults who commit it can be raised by powers of ten for their children. Divorce wounds adults. It maims children.

I know there are many experts who will tell you that this is not true. But look at the generations of young people we are producing. They appear to be increasingly unable to form families and nurture their own young. That is a profound, civilization-destroying failure of child-rearng and family that rests on the heads of their parents.

It speaks directly to our excesses and abuses of our marriages and children. Unfortunately, we are not getting the message. Instead of repenting of our societal excesses that have led to this destruction of our homes and families, we are attempting to complete the process by redefining marriage as a social contract in which fidelity, children and stability play no part.

We want to base our understanding of marriage on things like job benefits and inheritance laws (all of which can be changed without touching marriage) rather than its essential function as a cradle for creating and raising our children. It is as if we have fallen in love with our own cultural/societal suicide.

Lent begins Wednesday. Lent is a time when we are supposed to examine our lives, repent of our sins and do penance for those sins. I’m going to suggest that you take a look at how you treat your family. For this post, I am going to focus specifically on divorced parents.

Are you doing your best to be a good parent to your children? How high are your children on your list of priorities? Do they rank somewhere below your job, your dating life, your grief/bitterness/rage over the divorce and your desire to “put it behind me” and get on with a new life?

Do you even care about what your behavior does to them? Are you concerned about the fact that you are shaping people? Have you forgotten that they are your own flesh and blood?

For today, I want to ask divorced parents to consider examining their own lives and how they can do a better job of overcoming the many deficits divorce inflicts on their ability to properly nurture, guide and shelter their children. Think of ways you can be an effective father or mother to the children you have brought into this world. Consider them, and not you.

They are, after all, your children. Nothing else you do in life matters if you don’t take care of them.

Marriage is Dying Because We are Killing It

Remember this? 

This was the million-strong march in support of traditional marriage that took place in Paris a few weeks ago. President Hollande said at the time that he would push gay marriage through, anyway.

And he did it.

This Associated Press story describes the vote in his Cabinet on the bill legalizing gay marriage that took place shortly after this protest. The bill is not law at this point, but this vote puts it on the way to becoming law. The story reads in part:

PARIS (AP) — President Francois Hollande’s Cabinet pushed ahead with a controversial French bill Wednesday that could see gay marriage legalized early next year, defying vocal opposition in the majority Catholic country from religious leaders, the rural heartland and the conservative opposition.

The French leader’s top ministers approved the bill legalizing marriage and adoption for same-sex couples, sending it to the legislature for debate, only one day after two American states, Maine and Maryland, became the first in the U.S. to approve same-sex marriage in a popular vote.

Gay marriage has become a contentious issue in France, where Hollande made it a liberal cornerstone of his campaign, hoping it would create a clean break from his conservative predecessor. At the time, it appeared to have the backing of a majority of the population, but it has since turned into a politically sensitive issue.

Though France would become the 12th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage if the bill passes, the country of 60 million people would become the biggest so far in terms of economic and diplomatic influence. (Read more here.)

Yesterday, the British House of Commons passed a bill that would redefine marriage so that it is no longer between one man and one woman.

These changes in the law will, if they pass, effectively destroy marriage as a cradle for raising children in both France and the United Kingdom. I am going to argue that this destruction of marriage — and the concomitant destruction of its ability to create and raise children who become stable, productive adults — did not begin with gay marriage.

But that is the subject of another post.

What I want to say here is simpler, and it is not a statement. It is a question.

What price will we  pay for destroying marriage? 

Where will the absolute destruction of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman — people who, by the nature of their being, are capable of producing new life together — lead us?

We have been steadily trashing our marriages and our homes for decades.

The result has been waves of feral young people who are increasingly emotionally incapable and unwilling to marry and provide stable homes for their own children. The young people we are producing as a result of our destruction of marriage also appear to have a frighteningly high number of violent psychopaths in their midst; young men are willing to commit mass murder in our theaters and in our schools.

The solution which is being offered for these mass murders — gun control — is an attempt to lock everyone in a box because we find we cannot control these psychopaths in our midst. No one – no one – is willing to make the obvious link between these mass murders and the crumbling moral and social structure of our society.

Gay marriage did not start the destruction of marriage. Heterosexuals have done a fine job of that up to now all on their own. Sadly, gay marriage is not even the end of the attacks on marriage.

There are other depths we will plumb if we legalize gay marriage in a universal fashion. That is because gay marriage utterly unhinges marriage from its moorings as an institution designed to facilitate the creation and nurture of children and makes it a matter of fashion. Once we’ve legally established that marriage has nothing to do with protecting our young, there is no limit to the “rights” for marital experimentation that will be claimed.

Marriage is dying because we are killing it.

We’re killing it, and we’re the only ones who can bring it back to life. We need to stand for traditional marriage under the law. But perhaps even more importantly, we need to start living it in our lives.

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.


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