Maybe a reader can help here

Maybe a reader can help here November 15, 2012

A reader writes:

I’ve been following a lot of what people have been saying post-election. Based on what I’m witnessing, it has come home to me that until the faithful can change the culture, our politics is just going to continue down the garden path to Hell. I know I’m tired of being taken for granted, & being told to vote for the lesser of two evils. The lesser of two evils is still evil, & I’m ashamed it took me so long to recognize that fact.

My husband is a convert, so I always feel I have to temper my zeal a little bit. We have to meet people where they are, right? But I think he has come around to the fact that we can no longer leave our children in public school. If we have to make some sacrifices, we must do these in order to make sure our children are educated properly, in the faith & in academics.
Basically, this is just a long-winded way of asking for an opinion, from you & all your readers. I’m trying to figure out what I can do to shield us as much as possible from Caesar, while we gird ourselves for the coming battles. As regards the HHS mandate, & it’s ridiculously stringent definition of what constitutes an exemption for religious orders, is there any benefit to looking into becoming a lay member of a religious order? I confess I am almost completely ignorant of such things. It’s been on my “someday I’ll have to look into that more” list (see convert husband), but maybe that day has arrived. I don’t have any legal expertise, but maybe one of your readers might be able to give an educated opinion on the matter.
I’m sorry this is so long, I know you have a lot on your plate. But thanks for letting me talk. I don’t object to your posting any of this, but I would prefer you to leave out my name, if you do. My husband is in the federal government, &, well, I don’t think I need to say any more, do I?

I’m useless here, but maybe some of my readers can help?

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  • It’s not evil to have health coverage that includes contraception and abortion coverage, as long as you don’t avail yourselves of that coverage, and as long as there is no realistic alternate coverage. I did hear that someone was trying to start up some sort of Catholic health plan that doesn’t fall under the mandate, but I don’t remember the details.

    As far as shielding as much as possible from Caesar, check out this post:

  • jamie

    Homeschooling is without a doubt the best way to keep your family out of reach of Caesar. Not only in the obvious ways, but in countless others which have become apparent to me over the years. The more ways we can ‘opt-out’ of the modern secular liberal state, the better – reliance on state medical aid, welfare, WIC, unemployment, etc. (Given that many will not have this option.) As for the legal status of the HHS mandate, I have no idea. I’m still hoping the battle can be won in the courts. Otherwise, I have some confidence that the bishops will give us some cues – they seem up to the fight, anyway, at least most of them.

    • Jenny

      It’s downright irresponsible to recommend that someone opt out of Medicaid. And I doubt seriously that you have any need for Medicaid so it’s easy for you to suggest that others forgo medical benefits.

  • Renee

    Civics is important.

    While we openly disagree with politicians, I never say anything personally rude/name calling.

    I’ve been so good, my 6 year old couldn’t understand why I wasn’t voting for Obama. i told him I disagreed with the President and it is our civic right to have an election every four years for President. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the President.

    You can teach your children how to disagree in a civic manner. My oldest knew about abortion, but didn’t realize it was actually legal. She asked me if it was OK to disagree with a law. When my children think of laws, they think they are aligned with that are both a sin and illegal. My children could even understand a woman being scared/abandoned/coerced even opting for an abortion, and that as Catholics we never abandoned anyone. I reassured them, we do not abandon anyone. But to think our country would think it is is a ‘right’ to be celebrated, they were really disturbed about that. They think very highly of America, and we’re confused.

  • Peggy R

    I have similarly been pondering how to go “off the grid” or live outside “the system” as much as we can. I have mostly so far thought in terms of Obamacare. I find myself thinking we must minimize our need of medical services and prescription medications and such. I had such a bad experience with a wrist I thought was broken but only sprained. Even w/o O-care regulations, my insurer harrassed me. They wanted to find if I injured myself on some one else’s property so they could be sued for the ER visit cost. We ignored it and had an insurance change for other reasons, so it’s been okay so far.

    • Peggy, I hear you. It seems like every other doctor’s visit that someone in my family makes now, I get a little survey about how the injury happened, so they can sue someone . I agree with your assessment on prescription meds. I would go so far as to say that the vast majority of prescription meds harm you more than they help.

      Two and a half years ago, I was on some fairly heavy duty meds for arthritis (methotrexate, prednisone, etc.) They wanted me to step up to even heavier duty stuff, and I just decided to go in a different direction. After learning a lot about natural healing, healthy eating, herbs, etc., I’m now off all of the meds and feel better than ever. My wife has had a similar experience with her thyroid meds.

      Part of my problem with Obamacare is that we don’t really even need health care, except in the case of injury, some surgeries, etc. Modern health care is mostly an abysmal failure for treating chronic conditions, and the paradigm that what we put into our bodies doesn’t matter and the modern health professionals are the only ones who can fix what ails us needs to change..

      • Peggy R

        Yes, I agree Dave. Get of “maintenance” medications. Go to natural supplements OTC. Don’t see the dr unless serious injury or sickness, though I guess one might as well get periodic check ups that are covered so some illnesses can be detected. I dunno, though.

      • Emily

        Wait–some of us DO need health care. I think we are tending to throw the baby out with the bath water, here. I *need* doctors: I’ve had an organ transplant, and before that, it was genetic disease and other things. There’s no way I’d survive without a lot of meds, and a lot of doctors. And I am not alone. Going for natural things is great, but this isn’t going to cure big things.

        • True, there are always exceptions. Natural cures do work for some “big things” though.

        • Peggy R

          Of course, as Dave says, there are exceptions.

      • Jenny

        Wow. I’m not even sure how to respond to claims that modern healthcare is an “abysmal failure.” I work for a healthcare provider that provides a life-sustaining treatment that was not available until the 1960’s. The hundreds of thousands of Americans receiving this service (largely paid for by Medicare and Medicaid, BTW) would be dead if it didn’t exist.

        Are you aware of the significant increases in survival rates for all cancers in the last 20 or years? When I was a kid two of schoolmates died of childhood Leukemia. In the 1970’s the survival rate was pretty low and now the majority of kids survive.

        And these are just two examples. The really interesting part of this (and it will blow the mind of anyone who reflexively criticizes “socialized” medicine, etc.) is that these improvements came about after the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. The creation of Medicare provided coverage for the sickest Americans thereby incentivizing healthcare providers to develop treatments for those people.

  • There is benefit in becoming a lay member of a religious order, but not relative to the HHS mandate.

    Which is probably just as well. I don’t think it would be good for the federal government to assume a financial interest in the personal promises and vows Catholics make.

    • Irenist

      Yeah. The idea reminds me too much of medievals getting a clerical tonsure so they could get “privilege of clergy” from the criminal justice system: it was a bad influence on the integrity of the Body of Christ.

  • Mike

    The best way to gird yourself for the coming battle is be committed to making daily sacrifice, in union with them Mass, for love of Jesus and in reparation for sin. The early Roman martyrs understood their martyrdom liturgically. If you start living that way today, you will be able to live that way tomorrow, regardless of how bad it gets. Further, once you start living that way “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

    • ppeter

      There’s a practical Catholic.

  • Obpoet

    Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

    Though I am curious. How bad does something have to get before you stand up and say, thats enough? That has to stop. Apparently, things are not that bad yet. At least not in the opinion of the majority.

  • beccolina

    I second what Mike above me said.
    Homeschooling is a very definite way to limit how the world can creep in and affect the world-view and mindset of your children. It also allows you to make your own decisions about your children’s diet and health. Children is school seem to eventually gravitate toward the highly processed and unhealthy school lunches and breakfasts. Schooling at home gives you the opportunity to decide what they can and cannot have in their minds, in their ears, in their hearts and souls, and in their tummies, until they are old enough to think critically about these things themselves.
    I often find myself wishing we were in a situation that would allow us to keep out own chickens, goats, and a cow or pig, or both. We aren’t, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. That would be more “off the grid” and not relying on giant corporations for our food supply.
    In regards to the health insurance, there are groups among homeschoolers that have a sort of health insurance co-op (That’s the only way I can describe it. I’m sure it has a better name.) Everyone puts in and when someone needs money, it is given out. I think it is mostly for major illnesses/accidents/ catastrophes. I will try to find the info in one of the homeschooling magazines I have where I saw it advertised.
    Homeschooling requires a daily commitment to do school with your children instead of doing what you might want to do. It requires organization, flexibility, and yeah, a lot of sacrifice, especially on the part of the mother. I’m terrible at organization and time management, so it is by the grace of God that I homeschool.

  • Will

    There are good public schools. My grown children turned out pretty darned good.

    Most of the debate about government is political, not religious. Also, there are many issues to consider when voting, such as the environment, that only marginally make the news or blogs. It is doubtful that you will ever find a candidate or office holder that you agree with on all issues.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      There are good public schools. My grown children turned out pretty darned good.

      In what year did your grown children make good their escape? Things may be quite different now. Because with each passing year, what the public schools do to our children seem to go from bad to amazingly bad.

      • Will

        My children are 25 and 30. My older daughter teaches second grade in public school. It is easy to make general statements about how bad public schools are. Because there are about 45 to 50 million k to 12 public school students in the United States, it is also easy to pick out incidents that happen in public schools.

        • The public schools are getting worse and worse all the time. My advice: if you have another reasonable option, take it! For middle school and high school, our local public schools are awful, and I live in a very conservative (63% voted for Romney in my town) suburb in a state which is supposedly in the top 10 states for education.

          • Will

            As I said above, not very specific.

            • kmk

              I live in the state of Maryland. A majority of voters in this sorry state have agreed that two men or two women can get “married.” What do you think will be (forcibly) taught in the public schools, even in more conservatives areas? We homeschool but in some instances have sent our younger ones (2nd grade and younger) to public school. No longer! GLADD has spent many years developing a comprehensive sex ed curriculum from K-12, and we will not subject our children to it! Is that specific enough? : )

    • Dan C

      My wife teaches in a charter school. My brother runs a school. It is a “fact” that public schools are bad. And your daughter, my wife and my brother are all part of the evil machine of education corrupting and ineffectively teaching children.

      • In my assessment, the public schools are not bad primarily because of the teachers. The teachers are a mixed bag. Unions don’t help because they protect the bad teachers, but there are a lot of good teachers, and some are truly wonderful.

        The public schools are bad because of the peer influence…and the peer influence is bad because of some combination of atrocious parenting and a cesspool of a culture. Now, some kids will have their heads screwed on correctly – they’re mature enough to gravitate to the better group of kids and avoid/ignore the others as much as possible. But most of the kids aren’t mature enough for that. At any rate, the disruptive kids (who have generally been damaged in some way, whether from day care, adverse reaction to vaccines, divorce, sexual abuse, or God knows what else) drag down the learning environment to less than it could/should be. The educational establishment seems to react by dumbing down the curriculum.

        If your kids are mature and discerning, they can survive and even thrive in a public school. In my view, though, that is generally in spite of the school environment more than because of it. This is my experience from sending four kids through public school (and charter school) and seeing them and many of their friends grow up and go through the system.

        • beccolina

          I taught public school for nine years. In my first school, many of the teachers I taught with are the best humans I’ve ever met. I worked with some fantastic people. My objections to public schools are the state testing, which I consider to be ineffective, expensive, and highly stressful for teachers and students; the way the NEA is involved so that teachers HAVE to be a member if they want any sort of protection from a petty boss or parent, even if they don’t agree with the NEA at all; and the student culture that has become so pervasive and invasive, partially due to technology (cell phones and facebook have not made kids nicer or safer; I could argue that in many cases, a cell phone actually increases a child’s danger). I also want a classical education for my children, which they are not going to get in our public schools here. I student taught in the school district where I now live and I don’t have worries about any teachers intentionally corrupting my children, but they don’t offer the curriculum I want my children to have, and my children don’t need to grow up dealing with the nastiness and bullying I had to deal with here.
          On a practical note, my husband works weird, rotating shifts. With homeschooling, we can take off when he has a 6-day break without worrying about school schedules. We can plan family vacations anytime, instead of always summertime, and when he is on night shift, he actually gets to see the kids. If the kids were in public school, he wouldn’t see them at all, all week, while he was on night shift.
          I think any parent who is experiencing a great deal of dissatisfaction or alarm over their child’s schooling should prayerfully consider homeschooling, but it isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t for everyone for ever. My biggest reason for homeschooling is simply that I truly believe it is God’s plan for my family right now.

      • Will

        Not specific at all. As I said before, there are good public schools. I have no problem with home schooling if done properly.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    The best thing you and I can do — in fact, the only thing we are called to do:

    Be a saint.

    In the end, nothing else matters.

  • Pat

    Avoiding HHS issues or taxes would not be a reason to join a religious order. It has more to do with a call from God.
    Have I misunderstood the question here?

  • The only thing I can add is that Jesus told us to live in the world but not be in the world. My daughter is home-schooled but my boys are in public school. Each child is different and each family is different. Trust in God’s will and as Mark says, do the best you can do and be a Saint. Conforming ourselves to God’s will is the hardest part of that call. 🙂

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    The business I used to own only ever had one employee – myself. But if I were a small business owner and had enough employees that my business were required to comply with the HHS mandate, then one option on the table would be to comply, all right, by including in our company health plans the drugs that target the innocent unborn for annihilation in contradiction to the law of God, but I would also have mandatory meetings with my employees wherein I would explain to them the statistical link between abortion and breast cancer, the link between oral contraceptives and stroke and heart disease. I would tell them, “I am required by law to include these things in our health plan, by for God’s sake, and for the sake of your own health, come and talk to me about ways of dealing with these matters in ways that won’t risk destroying your health (i.e., NFP and adoption, for example.) And if you don’t want to talk to your boss, that’s OK, here are some business cards of a pro-life OB-GYN.”

    And I would give this little talk, or variations thereon, once a month or so.

    I think it might start to make a dent with some of them.

  • Misty

    By nothing less than a miracle all three of our children are attending a Catholic school after I had to transition them out of homeschooling. We volunteer and cut a lot of fluff expenses to do this. However, we don’t do a dump and run, the most important education they get at home. I can understand the fears that come with realizing just how clouded in sin the world is, maybe God is kind and pulls back the layers slowly for us so not to send us running to the hermitage as the world has generally always been crazy. How aware of it we are is a total different story. If you do look into a Catholic insurance coverage do remember that the gov’t has the final say on whether or not the provisions cover the required services set by the mandate. If not, you will also have to pay the dreaded penalty. I have a sneaking suspicion not offering contraception/abortion will put the coverage in the non-compliant category therefore putting you in the position where you have to pay the penalty to get that specific insurance. At the end of it I will have to join in agreement to be in the world and not of it. Teach your children to think with love, logic, reason and faith!

  • Jack

    Jesus as a carpenter would have rendered to Caesar funds which were used to pay for crosses, and wages for his executioners. The rabbinical heirarchy was corrupt and worked hand-in-hand with the Roman government. Things today are similar. Societal issues are larger scale “holographs” of individual issues. Seek holiness. Teach truth to your household. Pray. God is almighty. Do not fear. He is with us.

  • ctd

    Homeschooling is no panacea, and I say that as a parent who homeschooled. Every child is different. Every family is different. It is a mistake, however, to choose homeschooling in order to “shield” your child from outside influences.

    Indeed, any attempt to “shield” ourselves from Caesar is short-sighted. Detachment is one thing. Shielding is another.

    Realize that also that Caesar is no more of a problem than the media, consumerism, manna, etc.

  • tz

    I think the HHS Mandate is a red herring. If anyone at EWTN or AveMariaRadio or the other places that are suing are USING contraception, they are probably doing it with full knowledge and will. This would be different for businesses whose employees might not be Catholic (yet are forced to recognize the remarried divorcees – why isn’t this a problem), but the Bishops aren’t extending things to ordinary businessmen or even individuals. I think it is oppressing the poor (which cries out to heaven) to force them to take dollars from their food and fuel budget to give to some insurance cartel crony. The Bishops strongly supported the socialist Obamacare (Apparently Leo XIII’s 100 years aren’t over, nor do bishops actually read rerum novarum).

    I worry more about what amounts to pornography and/or masturbation or rape as a condition to get on an airplane in the USA. Would your husband let that happen to you, would you to your children? The HHS mandate is indirect and requires some explaining what material cooperation is. Being turned into a porn-star and/or being masturbated by the (LGB?)TSA agent is much clearer. That is the Milken experiment where an authority figure can get you to do evil. Yet I cannot name one prominent Catholic (someone famous enough to fly) who even says they aren’t comfortable with it.

    There are only two things you need to worry about:

    Form your own conscience well, in prayer, particularly before the blessed sacrament, or through reading scripture. A Man’s heart knows right and wrong through the natural law, and in a state of grace the holy spirit is there. And your guardian angel. Don’t necessarily take the other posts or my advice. You and your husband are responsible for your family. You are asking the right questions. But you are asking them of fellow fallen men. At best you can see who is most consistent and logical and Christ-like. You must always do what you consider the right thing, but you also must do your best to know what that is – not certainty, but what seems the most consistent with the Catechism and the Sermon on the Mount. It is actually easier to live radically than to live a life of mediocrity. And if you think you’ve blown it, go to confession, though don’t assume the confessor is wise, some will pooh-pooh serious things, others will give you hellfire for an imperfection. Judge their counsels as you would any other, and accept absolution. But pray for a wise spiritual director.

    Second, as Sister Faustina said and had printed in big, bold words, “Jesus, I trust in you!”. If you believe Jesus is merciful, you must believe that he would never lead you astray, or if you end up there, he will get you and bring you back. The Our Father says “lead us not into temptation”, or more literally, “do not put us to the test”, but trials will come. You won’t have victory, at least not all the time, but God turns defeat into victory, suffering into power, evil into a greater good. He will never leave you nor forsake you. It is easy to say. But at your core, you either believe it or your don’t. That all things work for good or they don’t. That – never being presumptuous – if you are obeying the commandments, praying for wisdom and guidance, and serving him, that he will take care of teaching you what you need to do and will provide for it.

    These two work together. If you do what is right from a desire to conform your will to his, God will make a way. It is too easy to get distracted trying to earn points in a grace game-show. Or to be faithful until it is inconvenient. Or simply to be impatient and not wait on the Lord, so it is your weakness instead of his renewed strength.

    1. Always do the right thing in this moment with what you know at this moment. 2. Trust God with the results.

    I could give you a shopping or laundry list of things to do, but remember you aren’t trying to follow a fad, or a person, you are to turn into an image of Christ, and turn those around you into a similar image. Will homeschooling help? Maybe. Maybe there is a Catholic school, or a good public school, or something else. Your path is as unique as you are. Don’t imitate others, imitate our Lord. So do look at the alternatives, but don’t worry about the World. He has overcome the world. So if you are in him, the world is not a threat. It is a broken toy that will eventually be thrown away in the furnace when everything is re-created.