Faith & Politics, Appetite & Desire

Today at Mass I was praying for all on my list, and also praying for the nation, the president, Speaker Pelosi and so forth. I thought to myself: “she strikes me as someone in whom everything has been burned away except political appetite.”

But then I considered that the same statement can be true about so many of us who are “political junkies.” The old nag began within me again: when do our ideologies take over to the extent that they become our idols?

It’s a valid concern.

And then -because God works in Mysterious Ways, indeed- I opened my Magnificat (if you do not subscribe, you should consider it) and found this meditation for the day:

The idea is for us not to control our appetites at all, but to allow them full rein in the wake of an uncontrolled appetite for God.

It is important to take seriously the implication of our beatitude that there really is an appetite for God, and for his righteousness. We too easily speak and think as if righteousness resulted chiefly from the curbing of our appetites, as if our appetites were only for sin. But strictly speaking we have no appetite for sin. What we experience as an appetite for sin is a sick appetite which has mistaken its object. In moments of despondency we may perhaps look around and think that we should be much happier if we gave up trying to be good, if we could enjoy all the vices of the world around us. But that is only a fantasy. The desire for goodness is really a much more robust desire than any alleged desire for evil. . . We must be content to grow slowly toward goodness, taking, if need be, a long to time convalesce. Most of us, maybe, will still be barely at the beginning of our recovery even when we die. But that is better than killing ourselves pretending to be healthy. . .

St. Thomas says desire is the faculty which receives, so that the bigger our desire is, the more we can receive . . . Our part in this life is to learn to want largely and earnestly enough to make us capable of the infinite rightness of God’s Kingdom. . . The more we try to tame and reduce ourselves and our desires and hopes, the more we deceive and distort ourselves. We are made for God, and nothing else will really satisfy us.

So we must allow our innate appetite for infinity to dislodge us whenever we are inclined to settle down and call it a day.
— Father Simon Tugwell, O.P.

Amid all that is going on around us,
lets chew on that, today.

I’m heading out to a niece’s birthday party, and won’t be online much so if you’re commenting and it gets held up in the moderation queue please be patient.

And let us pray! :-)

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Joe

    A long, long time ago…
    I can still remember
    How that that Cowboy used to make us smile.
    But the GOP ignored ol’ Ron’s stance
    And McCain never had a chance
    And a “good man” took over for a while.

    But the march voting made me shiver
    With every new post Hamsher delivered.
    Bad news on the doorstep;
    I couldn’t take one more step.

    I can’t remember if I cried
    When I read about Stupak’s slide,
    But something touched me deep inside
    The day the country died…

  • Fr. William J Kuchinsky

    Amen! Let us pray: but also be alert.
    As is being pushed to gain pro-Life vote, and “Executive Order” will NOT be enough!


    Richard Doerflinger, who represents the US Bishops in Congressional dealings, wrote this today to members of the house wondering if an executive order from President Obama to fix the abortion problems could absolve their conscience.

    The unanimous view of USCCB advisors is that it cannot work: Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation. According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding, unless Congress clearly forbids such funding. That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year. The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation. This is the unamimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence. Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation.”

  • Mickey

    Today’s Antiphon for Holy Mass was appropo:

    Give me justice, O God, and defend my cause agains the wicked; rescue me from deceitful and unjust men. You, O God, are my refuge.

  • Bender

    Well, this much is clear –

    I am NOT going to spend all my time in front of the TV watching this on C-SPAN, etc.

    They are going to do what they are going to do. Either they will listen to the voice of their conscience, not to mention the voice of the American people, and reject this monstrosity against charity in truth, or they will play the worm and enact something that no one really wants, left or right, merely to be able to say that they did it.

  • danielwaweru

    I have to say my politics are very different from yours. Still, thank you very much for that wonderful bit by Simon Tugwell (whose books on prayer are also wonderfully wise).

  • Mark Percich

    I just prayed for Bart Stupak and his group today. I prayed for their success and happiness in their careers after Congress. November is coming.

  • SKay

    Apparently Stupak fell for it.

  • Mimsy

    Thanks for your wise commentary all week, especially on the Feast of St. Joseph. At least that was an uplifting focus! Your remarks about Pelosi were totally on point, including her wretched befouling of Catholic thought. I am especially grateful for the exhortation to pray for the salvation of those who seem bent on destroying our country. Salvation is the perfect comeupance–it worked for St. Paul. (I’m hoping it will work for me, too, which may be like hoping to lose weight by eating a little less once in a while.) Lord, help us!

  • Bender

    Apparently Stupak fell for it.

    Did he?

    Or was he ALWAYS certain to cave?

    I never trusted him to anything but vote for ObamaCare no matter what, together with the rest of those Dem “pro-life” frauds.

  • Rand Careaga

    Bender: Either they will listen to the voice of their conscience, not to mention the voice of the American people, and reject this monstrosity against charity…

    I wonder if we couldn’t all agree to pension off that tired chimera “the American people” (hereafter “AP”), a mythical unitary entity that speaks invariably in support of the same positions advanced by those who invoke it. I’m an American person, Bender–have probably been an AP for longer than you have–and I’m for passage of the bill. There are scores of millions of citizens of similar mind. Are we not AP? You may assert that a majority of the AP share your stance (at best a contestable proposition), but in that case you’d be obliged to agree, if your tribe (heh-heh) valued intellectual consistency, that the AP rejected the candidacy of G.W. Bush ten years ago.

    Politics don’t generally come into play on issues where the AP are effectively of one mind, Bender. A House resolution in support of Mom, the Flag and Apple Pie would likely pass with a comfortable majority. These days the battles are seldom fiercer than when the forces are more-or-less evenly matched, as here, which is precisely why summoning up the AP behind one is fatuous folly. I could respect your arguments more if you claimed merely that they were right rather than asserting for them a unanimity of support that does not remotely exist.

  • Bender

    I got news for you Rand — they don’t care what you think either.

    Don’t you get it? They know better than you. They know better than anyone. And they are going to do whatever they damn well please no matter what.

    They think that your only appropriate response — as with every other American — is to shut the hell up, do what you are told, and pay up.

  • Bender

    And by the way — most of the left is against the bill.

    It ain’t only the right that hates it.

  • Bender

    Even the majority of Dems — the leadership included — is AGAINST the bill as written, notwithstanding their intellectually dishonest votes in favor of it. That is the reason for the reconciliation “fixes.”

    So, what the hell are you talking about Rand?
    If you support this, then you are about the only person in America that does.

  • Rand Careaga

    Sorry, Bender, but for some reason I can’t take you quite seriously as one who has his finger on the pulse of “the left.” Dunno why that is.

    Quite a number of people who support passage of the sausage under consideration wish that it had been assembled by single-payer seraphim entirely out of organic soybeans without involving the death of a single swine (cf Jane Hamsher), but are prepared to settle for this purchase on the beach prior to our storming the citadels of freedom and imposing socialist servitude on you all.

    The blue light indicates that a jest was intended in that last sentence, but I have scant hope that your eyes are sensitive to that wavelength.

  • Rand Careaga

    If you support this, then you are about the only person in America that does.

    That is so manifestly false that I can’t even do you the courtesy of pretending that you’re mistaken.

    The tactful fallback is that you’re delusional.

    Otherwise, you’re merely lying.

  • Tempus_Fugit

    If Stupak sells out as it appears, he’ll be a modern day Judas and Herod rolled into one.

    Between this and the US throwing Israel to the wolves, I do think this country will have some divine wrath coming its way soon.

  • Michael Morley

    Stupak didn’t even get 30 pieces of silver.

    Next time a “pro-life Democrat” calls me for a campaign contribution (last time, it was Steve Dreihaus from Cincinnati) I will simply remind him that there is no such thing.

  • Roz Smith

    I pray that our Bishops develop a spine and deny communion to every Catholic who voted for this bill, starting next week on Palm Sunday. I live in an overwhelmingly evangelical community and I am embarrassed that my pro-life evangelical Democrat Congressman announced he is voting “no” while Stupak caved to a meaningless promise from the most pro abortion President in history.

  • Rand Careaga

    Bender: If you support this, then you are about the only person in America that does.

    Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Would that I had known prior to this that Congress would do my bidding!

    I have a dinner party to go to this evening, so my death panels, eugenics programs, gun bans and sundry other iniquities must needs await the morning, alas, before they can be deployed. I’ll leave instructions on the Speaker’s voicemail this evening.

  • http://none Michael Conway

    Ok, it’s time for some straight talk and truth. There is no such thing as a pro-choice Catholic. There is no such thing as a Catholic Democrat. When you go to Mass and see a car in the parking lot with an Obama bumper sticker, know there is a Democrat in the church pretending to be Catholic. They cannot be Catholic just by saying “Oh yea, I’m a Catholic” It doesn’t work that way.

  • MJ

    This is a sad day for America!

  • Bertha

    Rand: Maybe I am having a difficult time following your cutesy attempts at little twists and turns of words, but your logic seems really, really wierd. In a democracy if we cannot summon up the voice of the American People, then we are in really big trouble.

    And what is the “your tribe (heh-heh)” remark? I really dislike your sarcasm.

  • Rand Careaga

    Bertha: our host here regularly invokes a hypothetical “tribe” (I assume that we wear loincloths, carry spears and scar our cheeks) behind my occasional dissents in this forum, and I referred to this. For the rest, it’s a fact that the AP do not speak with one voice, alas. As to “summon[ing] up the voice of the…People,” North Korea imposes a unanimity of the kind you appear to admire, provided you can get over the food shortages thing.

    If you dislike my “sarcasm” you might want to skip my infrequent comments to preserve your peace of mind. Some political blogs offer a “blocking” function. If First Things does not, perhaps you should ask them to implement this technology, which is already deployed at “Free Republic” and “Redstate.”


  • Jeff

    Michelle Malkin has an excellent video clip of Stupak which shows that he was always going to cave. He should not be lionized as some kind of hero, having watched it.

    I’d like someone to comment on what we’re supposed to do if and when our tax dollars start funding, directly or indirectly, abortion services. That little executive order certainly will not stop that from happening. It is really concerning me, the government forcing us to subsidize evil. What do you do?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Rand, if you dislike the Anchoress’ blog so much, and take such umbrage at being referred to as a “tribe” (I think I missed the part where the Anchoress accused you of wearing a loincloth), then it might be best if you avoid it altogether, and stick to dinner parties where your weird jests about soybean-seraphim and the like will be appreciated.

    Best wishes—Save the whales!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And, no Rand, they really don’t care what you think. And, if you can dismiss the American people as a “Tired Chimera” then, yes, I think you do belong to a tribe—a most unpleasant one (whether they don loincloths or not.)

    Regards, and remember to save the planet!

    Jeff, I’m really not sure what to do here. To be honest, government has, to some extent, been forcing us subsidize evil for decades, in the form of foreign aid to various tyrannical governments. I suspect the best thing we can do now is keep up the protests, and go John Galt as much as possible; trying to pay as little in taxes as we can.

    And fast. And pray. I think that’s the best weapon we’ve got at the moment.

  • http://!!!! kelleybee

    I am unable to stomach the televised destruction of our Nation. I pray for her. I weep for her. And I ask my self: are we reaping the rewards of the moral decay that the baby boomers, my generation, wrought?
    Maybe this is God’s way to give our country (what my Doctor daughter calls) a “Come to Jesus moment”. Daughter has to talk tough to some of her patients. Maybe God is doing the same to us.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    kelleybee, I think it’s extremely likely that is what God’s doing.

    We need prayer, and fasting.

  • http://!!!! kelleybee

    Rhinestone, I plan to continue prayer and fasting….
    hubby suggested that since most states can not afford to implement this monster without bankrupting, a constitutional amendment may be the solution.

  • Jeff

    Boehner for president. His ongoing speech on the floor is the only true eloquence “hell no you haven’t!” I’ve heard in Washington in years. Wow.

  • zmama

    “Maybe this is God’s way to give our country (what my Doctor daughter calls) a “Come to Jesus moment”.

    Kelleybee-I also like what you wrote here. I also encourage everyone to go back and reread The Anchoress’ post from last Wed about St. Patrick where she offered a meditation on the idea that from our limited perspective we cannot see God’s long range plan for salvation.

    My parents for years-going back to the 1970′s were very active in the pro-life movement. Mom is now in assisted living and Dad in skilled care for dementia. On Thursday I took Mom out to lunch and we were discussing this very point that you speak of Kelleybee-if this goes through and we are all now paying for other people’s abortions we can no longer sit back and say we are pro-life and we would not have an abortion ourselves and so we are not culpable. We will ALL be involved in abortions now. I keep praying that maybe even some of those who consider themselves personally opposed to abortion yet pro-choice for others will eventually turn against this legislation when they realize
    they will in fact be funding abortions via their taxdollars.

    Jeff-you asked “What can we do about it?” Such a great question.
    Do we “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and ask the Lord’s forgiveness? How many of us could afford prosecution and/or jail time for not paying our taxes?

    Prayer and fasting are the starting point. But I hope whatever funds and /or talents you have you can donate a portion to your local crisis pregnancy centers. I myself am thinking about trying to get back to selling my artwork John Galt style to donate funds to our local shelter for mothers in crisis-that or donate the artwork directly to the home so they can raise funds by auctioning it off. That way I get a tax deduction for the donation and I don’t have to give any taxes to the govt. as I would from a direct sale.
    I’m sure we have lots of creative people here who could do something similar. If you don’t know of a local crisis pregnancy center who needs help you could always donate to Chris Bell’s network of homes for pregnant woman known as Good Counsel Homes.

  • Rand Careaga

    Rhinestone Suderman: I am heartened to learn that fasting and prayer are the best weapons left to you. Commence firing.

  • Warren Bonesteel


    In the bible, almost every prayer was followed by an action – an act of faith.

    Read Matthew 23 and then re-read James…and think about it.

  • Michael Morley

    I must correct my earlier comment. Mr. Stupak got $726,409 in airport grant money for his vote–which, after adjusting for inflation, would seem to be the current value of 30 pieces of silver.

  • Jeff

    I second that. What a quisling.

  • Flyover Pilgrim

    Friends, we are commanded to pray for our enemies. Indeed. Sometimes in Liturgy my heart breaks when we intercede for the President and “those in civil authority over us.” In those brief moments of communal prayer, I swallow hard, try to forgive and pray for their conversion to Christ and their salvation. It’s very difficult, lately…but commanded by our Lord God.

    And as someone in an earlier comment mentioned, just because we pray, doesn’t mean we don’t continue the good fight for our USA. Lord have mercy on us all!

  • Mary Ann

    We (our country) are in God’s hands. There is nothing left for us to do but to continue to pray and make sacrifices. Socialism/Communism is here, an when it is applied in its extreme form it is an enemy to our faith.History is our best teacher and has proven that point. May our Lady who is the patron of our Country intercede for us and may the precious blood of Jesus protect us and fall upon us in this time of present danger. Have mercy Lord, have mercy!

  • Manny L.

    Stupak caved like a cheap camera. There is no such thing as a moderate or pro life Democrat.

  • Jeff

    he is making me ill now. he just voted for a bill that will expand abortion, and is now trying to paint himself as a pro-life hero. “Why Richard is profits a man nothing to gain the whole world and lose his soul, but for Wales..”

    [Yes. how strange to hear a man say, essentially, "vote against my language." -admin]

  • http://TheAnchoress Lynn

    I have that strange feeling that I’ve gotten before when someone I love has died . . . like the world is a different place. Then I have also asked myself if I am more an American than I am a Christian. Perhaps now I am more fully Christian knowing that my allegience is only in the Eternal Unchanable One . . . not in a country I no longer recognize.

  • Lori

    I loved the passage from Father Simon, especially the final part:

    “St. Thomas says desire is the faculty which receives, so that the bigger our desire is, the more we can receive . . . Our part in this life is to learn to want largely and earnestly enough to make us capable of the infinite rightness of God’s Kingdom. . . The more we try to tame and reduce ourselves and our desires and hopes, the more we deceive and distort ourselves. We are made for God, and nothing else will really satisfy us. So we must allow our innate appetite for infinity to dislodge us whenever we are inclined to settle down and call it a day.”

    To me this recalls G.K. Chesterton’s thoughts on the “eternal appetite of infancy” in both children and God – which then leads me to Jesus’ teaching on the need to become as a little child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Chesterton says (Orthodoxy, 1908):

    “Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

    Father Simon notes that we tend to think of appetite as something problematic and unruly. It is so good to be reminded that there are right appetites that, as they approach infinity, lead us to Eternity.

  • Bender

    The blue light indicates . . .

    Funny, that light looks ultra maroon to me.

  • Bender

    Make no mistake –

    This will not stand, this aggression against America.

    [With all due respect, Bender...I think it might. And I'm not alone. Krauthammer says it too. -admin]

  • Bender

    There are several years before “benefits” kick in. Meanwhile, the taxes begin right away.

    People will get very tired of paying in and getting nothing in return.

    They repealed catastrophic healthcare. They will repeal RomneyCare. They will repeal this.

    If they do not, America will be bankrupt.

  • Warren Bonesteel

    Hmpf. In your bible, people prayed…and then they did something. OT, NT, the apocrypha… a prayer was always followed by an act – an action – of faith.

    Pray …and cast your net. Pray …and break the bread. Pray …and go to Jerusalem. Pray…then grab your weapons and head for the battlefield. Pray …and go to Antioch. Pray…and go to the fields. Wherever you look in your bible, prayer was always followed by an action – an act of faith.

    Prayer – faith – without an accompanying deed – an act of faith – is pointless. In fact, it defines the behavior of the Pharisee.

  • Bender

    This will not stand, this aggression against America.

    By the way, if that sounds familiar, I stole it from President Bush (the first).

    This will not stand.

    This will not stand. Roe will not stand. Other outrages and attacks on the good will not stand.

    It may be a long, hard slog, but it will not stand.

  • Roz Smith

    Going Galt has its merits. In 2002 my income was well into six figures. In 2009 it didn’t even break 5 figures. Not only am I vastly more content, I have deprived the government of significant revenue. I have also known the exquisite delight of eating asparagus that was still growing less than an hour before it hit the steamer, ditto strawberries for breakfast and romaine and mesculin salads. Add in the savor of an abundance of ramps, the pleasure of purple and French fingerling potatoes dug by my own hand, the thrill of foraging for morel mushrooms and the joy of Principe Borghese tomatoes I grew and dried myself. I also eat apples, cherries, black walnuts and chestnuts from my own trees. Then there has been the annual exchange of the breast of wild turkey and the haunch of venison in return for allowing my neighbor to hunt in my wood lot.

    My 2010 project is to grow my own rabbits for meat. Both a rabbit cooked in the French style with mustard, wine and cream sauce and the Spanish recipe for one braised with chestnuts define decadence.

  • Momma K

    Rand says “Rhinestone Suderman: I am heartened to learn that fasting and prayer are the best weapons left to you. Commence firing.”

    That reminds me of Joe Stalin’s sarcastic “How many divisons does the Pope have?”

    Pius XII, “You can tell my son Joseph that he will meet my divisions in heaven”.


  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Going Galt, and supporting moms in crisis (my church already does), sounds like the best way to go, at this point.

    As for Rand. . . the national bankruptcy is going to hit him, as hard as it will the rest of us. (Rand reminds me of the “True Believer” Eric Hoffer talks about in the thread the Anchoress posted today.)

  • Doc

    Re Post 19: So Rand is George Soros. Who knew?