Pope Francis: Following Jesus Requires Sacrifice

As we move into the post Christian world, we are going back to a time when the Way was indeed “narrow” and “few were chosen.”

The cheap grace of following the world in Jesus’ name is not grace at all. It is a lie we tell ourselves to keep from having to “chose this day whom” we “will serve.”

Sadly, it is also a delusion. Trendy jesus, pragmatic jesus and all the other false messiahs these theological snake-oil salesmen are selling having nothing to do with the real Jesus Christ Who was crucified on Calvary and calls each succeeding generation of Christians to “pick up your cross and follow Me.”

Following the real Jesus exacts a price. As the Light is smothered by the ever-encroaching darkness of humanity’s fealty to its own passions rather than the living God, the price for those who do not accede to the darkness goes up exponentially.

We may be willing to be friends with those who serve other gods, but they will not be friends with us. We may find our careers truncated, our friendships forfeit, our lives troubled in many ways when we follow Christ. He told us this would happen. If the world hates you, remember that it first hated me, He said.

The anger directed at us is just a side-blow, a glancing near miss of the object of the real hatred, which is satan’s hatred for the Savior of Humankind. Those who attack people for following Christ, even if they only do it with rudeness and exclusion, are the unwitting pawns of this evil.

Our task is always to be the witting servants of the good. God has no use and no desire for “unwitting pawns.” We can blunder into following satan, but we always chose to follow Christ.

Life in Christ is an intentional, moment by moment, living out of the faith. It can only be done through grace, and that grace does not come from us. There is no intelligence, courage or intuition we possess in and of ourselves that can equip us for following Jesus in a post Christian world.

The capacity to follow Him is a free gift of divine grace. He equips us to run the race that is before us if we ask Him daily and trust Him constantly. When we fail, all we have to do is reach out to Him and ask for forgiveness. That’s all there is to life in Christ: Just say “yes” to Him, and keep saying “yes” as each new challenge arises.

This is the Living Lord Who stood before Pilate, endured the blows and humiliations, hung from the cross and died. He understands everything He is asking of us because He has already endured all of it and far worse for us. He can help us on the Way as someone who has walked it Himself.

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Want to See Pope Francis? Here’s How.

First, you’ve got to go to Rome.

Here’s what to do next if you want to be part of one of Pope Francis’ General Audiences while you’re there.

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Governor Christie said … What Did He Say?

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Whenever political ambitions cut across Christian beliefs, the result is predictable.

It’s like watching one of those flickering silent movies of yesteryear as the train roars up on Little Nell who lies tied to the tracks. You just know that Little Nell is going to get out of the ropes and off the tracks before the train arrives, but it’s soooo fun watching her kick and mouth silent pleas for help as she awaits her rescuing hero.

When politicians get bit by the big-time bug, sincere Christian beliefs are kind of like Little Nell’s ropes, tying them down. Big-time national politics and sincere beliefs don’t mix. If you doubt that, consider what we’ve been electing these past few decades.

Once a politician feels the frisson White House Ambition running down his or her spine, all basic Christian beliefs become unnecessary ballast that may — probably will — need a heave-ho.

Some politicians handle this with a deft, even stylish touch. Some of them are stone, cold liars. Others flub their lines at first. It takes a while for them to get the hang of it. That, and if they’ve been around politics for a while (and most White House Fever types have) they’ve got earlier versions of themselves to sweep under various political rugs.

We used to call it flip-flopping. Before that, we called it lying. The new term is “evolve.” Today’s politicians don’t turn their backs on everything they told voters to get elected to earlier offices. They “evolve.”

The pull of White House Ambition signals that it’s time to Start Evolving.

It’s up to we the people to see if we can figure out what they are going to evolve into.

Because they won’t tell us.

Because they don’t know.

Until they read the latest polls.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, is, as everyone knows, a desperation hope for the Republican ticket for president in 2016. He put in a boffo performance during Hurricane Sandy, one that convinced a lot of people — including me — that he had an actual sense of responsibility to the people of New Jersey.

That alone was so refreshing — dare I say unique? — among today’s elected officials that it made him an immediate possibility in the upcoming fight for his very own front door key to the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. It also, if his recent performance is any indicator, flooded his brain with political laughing gas.

Governor Christie is on record opposing gay marriage. He’s also on record supporting civil unions. So the water has always been murky in Christie land. But now he’s faced with running for nomination to the presidency in a Republican Party that is trying to “re-frame” itself on several critical issues. While the Rs have historically used the gay marriage issue as a vote getter in conservative states, they have begun to find it less than useful in certain big-state electoral vote mother lodes. Hence the “re-framing.”

As I’ve tried repeatedly to tell people on this blog, political parties are about getting and keeping power and everything else they say is a lie. That includes the lie of either party about supporting traditional marriage (or gay marriage, for that matter) if it becomes a loser in the vote-getting department. An internal report earlier this year recommended that the Republican party back off on its position against gay marriage.

The reaction of the party faithful was strong enough that the Republican National Committee approved a resolution reaffirming that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

But potential presidential candidates can and must be more coy than party committees. They’ve got to thread the vote-getting needle.

So, of course, there’s going to be some “evolving” taking place in their positions on hot-button issues.

In Governor Christie’s case, that meant signing a new law that would ban certain types of psychological therapy for children and announcing that being gay is “inborn and not a sin.” He even managed to conflate this statement with Catholic teaching.

The truth is, nobody really knows what causes homosexuality.  And of course being tempted to homosexual acts is not a sin. The next big leap into saying that actually going ahead and participating in homosexual acts is not sinful and that the Catholic Church teaches this is, well, just a Christie-ism.

News articles are now taking what the Governor said and putting it together with Pope Francis’ earlier statements to create a whole new teaching for the Catholic Church.

I wish the bishops would chime in with a correction. But until they do, I guess it’s up to us bloggers to do our best.

Here’s Catholic teaching as I understand it, which, since I am not running for president, is almost certainly going to be more accurate and less self-serving than anything Governor Christie will come out with.

As I said, it’s not a sin to be tempted to sin. If the sin is homosexual acts, the temptation is still not a sin. But committing the sinful act, even when that act is something as culturally sacred as having illicit sex, is a sin. Sex outside marriage is sinful. Period.

Second, Pope Francis did not say anything that contradicts this. He also did not overturn what Pope Benedict XVI taught.

Priests — both homosexual and straight — are supposed to be chaste, which, if you’re not married, means no sex. Both popes agree on that.

As for Governor Christie, my advice to him is to relax. It’s not anywhere near 2016. There’s plenty of time for him to “evolve” more gracefully than this.

More World Youth Day

Let’s go back to World Youth Day for a moment and be happy.

These are a few more videos from this joyous week of grace.

Watch them and remember: We are called to abundant life.

Pope Francis in Action

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Stations of the Cross at World Youth Day

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Pope Francis Visits Recovering Addicts

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Cardinal Dolan Talks about World Youth Day

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The Jazzed-Up-Zombie Drug and Its Side Affects

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Everybody I know is hissing and spitting, carping and griping at one another.

I got out of the dentist’s office today (broke a tooth) and found a snotty text from a family member on my iPhone. Instead of shrugging it off, or, as the Scriptures suggest, giving a soft answer, I called them up and was snotty back.

It’s as if every person I’ve talked to in the past couple of days has been like an angry wasp looking for someone to sting, and now I’m catching the angry wasp flu myself.

Is it something in the drinking water? Or is it coming from our televisions?

Are we suffering from a societal case of the over-stimulated heebie-jeebies?

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We have had to put up with a lot of vicarious trauma in the past year, ranging from wealthy, gun-toting post-adolescent males who murder everybody they encounter, to killer weather and a President and Supreme Court who have decided that overturning the family structure on which our entire civilization is built is the neatest idea since Tom Sawyer convinced Becky Thatcher to go spelunking. The fact that the rest of us can see that these folks have no better road map than Tom did doesn’t seem to matter.

And, of course, there’s the economy. The stinking, stewing, going nowhere economy. Our “leaders” lie about the economy, just like they do most else. They’ve cooked the books on the statistics until those statistics are disconnected from the reality of the American people, and — dare I say it? — the economy they are supposed to report. Everyone ignores and will not admit that the reason we don’t have any jobs is that we exported them, along with our industrial base. A country that can’t manufacture it’s own goods is a vulnerable nation.

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Then, there’s the little matter of the government putting all of us — and I mean all of us — under surveillance to keep us “safe.” And our missing-in-action press can’t be bothered to ask who’s going to keep us “safe” from the government. Meanwhile the folks in Washington are scratching around, trying to find another war to get us into. It’s as if they fear peace; which, I think, they perhaps do. After all, where are the profits for the corporate war machine going to come from if we run out of wars?

Then, there’s Zimmerman and other nonsensical and utterly trashy means of controlling the populace. Watching cable news doesn’t inform you. It shuts your brain off by focusing it on trash, kind of like giving you a drug of some sort that puts you to sleep and makes you crazy, both at once — a jazzed-up-zombie drug that’s mainlined into our brains via the endless blab and no news on the cable news.

To top if off, the Pope resigned.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all in for Pope Francis.

But Popes aren’t supposed to resign. Popes are supposed to hang in there until the Lord calls them home. But the Pope resigned.

Is this why everybody is in such a lovely, lovely mood?

Have we reached a sort of midsummer trough because we are momentarily between disasters, and we’re sliding into disaster withdrawal? Has the media succeeded in hypering its audience into such a frenzy that even a few days of ordinary time have become unbearable?

I dunno.

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All I know is that everybody I encounter is double grouchy and seems to have a chip on their shoulders. They are weird and ticked off and they don’t know why. But as soon as some little something comes along that focuses their weird tickedoffness, they ram the snotty little comment maker we all have in the reptilian basements of our brains into gear and they are off.

Unfortunately for me, I hang with people who tend to be extraordinarily gifted at the verbal arts. That means that when the snotty commenter takes them over, they can come out with some really poisonous stuff. You can bleed for days from one of their barbs.

But even for them, with all their skills and extraordinary ability to make things seem to add up even when they don’t, the story doesn’t track. The rage outpaces the annoyance, and the arguments tend to negate the reasons they give for why they’re angry.

There’s something going on here. I don’t know what it is.

But I’m tired of it.

From Me to Pope Francis: Remember the Ladies

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“Remember the ladies.”

Abigail Adams to her husband John

Abigail Adams spoke up for women at America’s founding. “Remember the ladies,” she wrote her husband, John Adams. “Be more generous to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of your husbands.”

Women suffrage voters

Unfortunately, John didn’t listen to his wife, such notions being “too radical” for a nation founded on the equality of all men. About a hundred years later, the men of that time didn’t listen to the women who had fought gallantly in the abolitionist cause, either. “It is the black man’s time,” they said, when the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments were drafted. In essence they advised the women who had sacrificed so much to end slavery to, as women are often told, “wait your turn.” Subsequent Supreme Court rulings specifically said that the amendment did not include women.

Adams’ plea to her husband notwithstanding, it took 170 years of marches, speeches, arrests, forced feedings, mob attacks and an entire, separate, Constitutional Amendment to give half the people in this country the simple right to vote.

My grandmother, who was born on the Kansas prairie in 1886, was 34 years old before she had the legal right to vote.

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Even today, women are bought and sold like chattel. They are sexualized, degraded and trivialized in our media and even by some “civil rights” commenters. Women are raped, beaten, tortured and murdered at high rates all over the world, including right here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

We accept this as natural and the way things are. Half the people in this country are told to be careful what they drink when they go to parties because it might be drugged and they could end up being gang raped for fun by the men at the party. Half the people of this country are told to go out in pairs at night for their own protection.

We make the sadistic rape and torture of women into our entertainment. How many millions of men support an on-line porn industry that pumps these hideous images of women being used, abused, beaten, raped and reduced to things into their homes so they can be titillated by it?

And yet,

And predictably,

The press buried the Holy Father’s statements about women. After all, gay is soooo much more important.

I’m not going to quote the Holy Father’s comments except to say that he didn’t open any new theological ground. You can hear what he said without any filters from me here.

Personally, I want to see the Church begin to preach and teach that violence against women is a sin with the same vigor that it preaches and teaches that abortion is a sin, and for the same reasons. Whenever any group of people is singled out for violence, abuse and murder, that is a deep social sin. We have laws against killing women, while we have laws allowing the murder of the unborn. But in actual practice we live in a world where violence against women is our entertainment.

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I once helped organize a meeting of the various heads of Oklahoma’s denominations in an attempt to get them to acknowledge the seriousness and the evil of violence against women. The response was heartwarming, but, the fire went out after the meeting was over. My personal reason for doing this was simply because I had been sitting in pews for decades and I had never once heard a single sermon or homily in which anyone said that rape is a sin.

All I know is that I’ve worked decades of my life on this one issue, both as a lawmaker and as a private citizen, and it seems that violence against women is worse now than ever.

We’ve had talks on this blog about papal encyclicals we’d like to see. I’ll add my hope to the list. It would mean more than anything to me if the Holy Father would write an encyclical condemning the endemic, worldwide and historic violence against women for the great evil that it is.

The Pope and “Judging” Gay Priests, Redux

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The National Catholic Register has an excellent article by Edward Pentin. The article analyzes the press reaction to Pope Francis’ comments concerning homosexuality.

The Holy Father made these comments during his flight back to Rome from World Youth Day. I wrote about them here, and gave you a video of them here.

The point the NCR article makes is that the Pope did not overturn 2,000 years of Catholic teaching on this issue. He simply gave an example by his actions as to how it is lived out in real people’s lives.

The media not only misinterpreted Pope Francis’ comments, but it has consistently, and with what seems to me to often be deliberate malice, misinterpreted Catholic teaching on this subject in its entirety. This is so widespread that I can’t just offhand think of a major media outlet that represents Church teaching accurately.

I know this is due to some extent to the limitations of space and time in which they work. There is also the problem of shoddy workmanship in which they settle for quoting one another rather than checking things out. Whatever the causes, the media has consistently portrayed Church teaching concerning homosexuality inaccurately and negatively.

I was impressed and proud of the way Public Catholic readers responded to this dust up over Pope Francis’ statements. The comments to these two posts concerning the Pope’s remarks were thoughtful, well-informed and intelligent.

You were not stampeded by the press. Bravo!

One thing that I think you already know, but that I want to make clear, is that the Catholic Church does not “hate gays” and it certainly is not homophobic. The only way it could be judged “homophobic” is by self-serving definitions of the word used by people who claim that any limit on homosexual behavior is, de facto, “homophobic.”

The Church offers the same gifts of the sacraments to homosexuals as she does to everyone else. There is no bright line in Church teaching that says that homosexual acts are worse than adultery or other, similar, sexual sins. The Church — and the Pope in his press conference — simply refuse to deny that these acts are, in fact, sinful.

If the Church bowed to the dictates of trendy morality and started going along with people’s demands that it tell them that their sins are not, in fact, sins, it would certainly not be doing them any favors. In fact, it would be endangering their immortal souls, and denying its own mission.

The Church cannot do this.

The Church is here to be a pathway to heaven. It shines a light on the narrow path that will take all of us who chose to follow it Home.

Do you want to go to heaven? Then do what the Catholic Church teaches.

It’s as simple and easy as that.

For those Protestants who don’t fully understand what I am saying, doing what the Church teaches will lead a person into a close, intimate and fruitful relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They will be born again into the new life of truth and spirit. Doing what the Church teaches means accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I know this is hard to see from the outside, but I’ve lived it, and I know it’s true.

The Church cannot tell people that their sins are not sins. That would be the worst possible lie. It would wreak damage on them of eternal dimensions.

Churches who are falling into the trendy mindset of re-writing the Gospels to suit the fancies and fashions of the day are misleading their followers. They are ignoring their responsibilities to the people who trust them, and to the God they claim to follow.

The Catholic Church, for all the failings of its people, will not do this. It is the Rock and it will not lie to you in ways that can get you sent to hell.

This is not homophobia. It is love.

From the National Catholic Register:

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Misinterpreting Francis (1944)

NEWS ANALYSIS: A Vatican official chided the mainstream media for its conflation of the Holy Father’s remarks on homosexuality.

– CNA/Alan Holdren

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ comments on homosexuality during a press conference on the papal plane back from World Youth Day in Rio were largely misreported by the mainstream press, according to a Vatican official and a Church expert.

During a surprise and wide-ranging in-flight press conference Sunday that lasted 80 minutes, Pope Francis reportedly said: “If someone is gay, and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge? We shouldn’t marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society.”

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well,” the Holy Father went on. “It says one must not marginalize these persons; they must be integrated into society,” he said, and he reportedly made the distinction between homosexual acts, which are sinful, and tendencies, which are not.

“The problem isn’t this [homosexual] orientation — we must be like brothers and sisters. The problem is something else, the problem is lobbying, either for this orientation or a political lobby or a Masonic lobby,” he said. The Pope recently said a “gay lobby” exists in the Vatican, which protects some priests and threatens to blackmail others.

The Catechism states that the number of men and women who have “deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible.” The inclination is “objectively disordered,” it continues, and “constitutes for most of them a trial” (2358).

It adds, “They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (2358).

The Catechism teaches that homosexual persons “are called to chastity” and that “by the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection” (2359).

 

Not Changing Doctrine

But large media outlets, such as the BBC, often accused of promoting same-sex rights, were quick to report the story in accordance with their own biases. The BBC splashed this headline across its news site: “Pope Francis: Who am I to judge gay people?” Others followed suit, misleadingly implying that the Holy Father “doesn’t judge gay people.”

“[The Pope] is not saying homosexual acts are not a sin, and he obviously isn’t changing Church doctrine, but he is making a change of emphasis,” one Vatican official close to the Pope told the Register on condition of anonymity.

 

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/misinterpreting-francis?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-07-30%2012:53:01#ixzz2aXmze850

In His Own Words: What the Pope Really Said

Pope Francis’ comments pertaining to the hot button issue of homosexuality have been over-interpreted by some members of the press.

I think that at least some of this is due to the fact that the over-interpreters don’t know very much about Catholic teaching. In truth, the Pope did not change existing teaching at all. He simply confirmed it.

The revolutionary act was in his willingness to address the question of homosexual priests openly and without embarrassment. That, far more than his words, signals welcome change.

However, this welcome change is not limited to questions of homosexuality. Pope Francis has demonstrated this same unflinching and unapologetic grasp of reality linked with traditional Catholic teaching in all of his actions and statements.

What interested me far more than his comments about homosexual priests was what he had to say about women.

Instead of making the mistake of over-interpreting things myself, I’m going to let you watch the video and decide what he meant. Based on the intelligent comments you’ve made to my earlier post on this topic, I think you are going to do a great job of it.

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The Holy Father Does Rio


These are videos of our beloved Holy Father’s time at World Youth Day 2013.

They include the Pope’s arrival at Copacabana Beach, his visit to Varghina Favela slum area, an enormous flash mob for the Pope, one home movie and Pope Francis’ farewell gesture of love from the helicopter as he was departing Rio.

 

Pope Francis Arrives at Copacabana Beach for Mass

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Pope Francis Visits Varghina Favela

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Swooning at the sight of the Pope

Massive Flash Mob for Pope Francis

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Pope Francis departs Rio.

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Go and Evangelize the Whole World

“The Church needs you,  your enthusiasm and joy,” Pope Francis told the 3 million assembled youth at the closing mass of World Youth Day.

“This experience must not remain locked up,” he said, urging them to go and evangelize the whole world.

The video below contains scenes from this last mass, including parts of the Holy Father’s homily.

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