Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

Order 'Evolution for the Catholic Student' - Click on the image above

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One of "Those Parents"

One of “Those Parents”

          “If that was my child, he’d never act like that!”  “I would never allow my daughter to behave that way!”  How many times have we been out in public, watched a five-year-old ball of terror, and thought these things?  I’m sure I have, more than once.  Of course, that was all before I became a parent myself.
          Now I am a parent, and my kids are sometimes “those kids.”  I mean, they can really be “those kids.”  Trust me.  The good news is that it has made it much easier for me to resist rashly judging other parents desperately struggling to maintain control (or is it sanity?).  The bad news is that now there is a new temptation.
          Now the temptation is not to look like “that parent.”  I know what people must be thinking when my son is sitting outside a supermarket on a curb throwing a tantrum, or running down the aisle of the library while I’m trying to check out his books.
          Believe it or not, I’m quite a strict parent.  And the fact is, I have children with some special needs.  It’s been a learning process, but with a lot of prayer, and some occasional patience, we have turned many corners.  But there are times you wouldn’t know it to see us.
          This new temptation is called human respect.  It’s that weakness that makes us concerned about how we appear in the eyes of others, rather than how we truly are, in the Eyes of God.  It’s that temptation to lose patience in public, so I can prove to all those anonymous eyes that I don’t tolerate such behavior either.
          Sometimes it takes the opposite effect, and tempts me to go too easy, or look the other way, so I don’t look like an ogre.  I’ll admit, there have been times when I have responded to one of my children based more on how I would appear to others than what my children really needed.
          I wonder, though, when I die, and stand before God, will He take into consideration the opinions of those random strangers who were exposed to my family for five minutes at Target?  Or will He be more interested in whether I was willing to bear the stares and whisperings of the crowd for the sake of my children?  Is it my duty to look virtuous according to the world’s standards, or to train my children to be virtuous according to God’s standards?
          God gave our children, His children, to us.  This is no task to take lightly.  If we are to be worthy of it, we have to set aside our temptations to human respect.  Jesus wasn’t concerned with what other people thought when He hung dying on the Cross for our sake.  We must, with God’s Grace, take up our own crosses for the sake of our own children.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Link - The Jaffe Memo

Link – The Jaffe Memo

          Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood director turned pro-life activist, gives a shocking account of a secret 1969 memo from Planned Parenthood to the government, in response to a request for help finding solutions to the “problem” of “overpopulation.”  The contents are terrifying, but also terrifyingly familiar.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Fugitive Slave Act, 2011

The Fugitive Slave Act, 2011

          The Fugitive Slave Act was passed as part of the Compromise of 1850, which allowed California to become a free state, upsetting the balance of 15 slave and 15 free states in the U.S.  The law said that anyone who gave any aid to a runaway slave, including a blanket to one who was freezing, or food to one who was starving, was breaking the law, and was subject to fine and imprisonment.  If you did not turn in a runaway slave, you were also breaking the law. 
          President Zachary Taylor refused to accept the Fugitive Slave Act, but when he died of sun stroke after the dedication ceremony for the Washington Monument, Millard Fillmore became President.  He approved the law, and announced with the acceptance of the Compromise of 1850, that the United States had now finally settled the issue of slavery.  This may be a source of hope for us, seeing that inept and out-of-touch politicians aren’t a new phenomenon.
          I am a student of Presidential history and I count Fillmore among the worst largely because of the Fugitive Slave Act.  It was a particularly evil law because it made doing good a crime and tried to enforce the doing of evil on good people.  How ironic that our first African-American President has dictatorially decreed the 21st century version of the Fugitive Slave Act by requiring, in his health bill, all insurance policies to cover, at no charge, contraception, including those that induce early abortions.
          I make this connection to the Fugitive Slave Act because once again a law is trying to force good people to do evil against the dictates of their consciences.  Mr. Obama, of course, has scorned conscience protection legislation, and has taken clear and deliberate aim at the Catholic Church, among others.
          The bishops have responded by forming a committee to fight this action, and it is about time we all stood up to fight back against the constant attacks on our religious freedom.
          Obviously this is an unjust law, and as Pope John Paul II said, an unjust law does not have to be obeyed.  In fact, we do not have to regard it as a law at all.  Disobedience will come with a price, though, that we as Catholics have to be willing to pay, but can never accept as normal in the United States of America.
          Our country was founded on the sacrifices of men and women who were willing to die to protect the freedoms we now see taken away by executive decree.  We need their spirit of sacrifice.  Our legislators need to know where we stand.  We may need to give up some of our money and our time to ensure that in the upcoming elections we get leaders who believe in the freedoms they take an oath to defend.
          Most of all, we can not be silent.  The President of the United States works for us; he is not our master.  Mr. Obama needs to be reminded of that.  Call and write the White House and your local newspaper, show up at town hall meetings, and support the Church’s efforts to speak out whenever you can.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Advent

Have A Blessed Advent!

          I have included a Nativity slideshow set to music at the bottom of this page, which will be posted throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons.  God bless!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Holy Priest

The Holy Priest

          We’ve been reminded in recent years of the destructive power of priests who are unfaithful to their calling.  The scandal of abusive priests has done incalculable damage and caused immeasurable pain.  It makes sense – the perversion of something powerfully good is powerfully bad.  In light of that, it’s important for us not to forget the incredible force for good a holy priest truly is.
          The vast majority of our priests are good and holy men who bring Christ to a world that is desperate for Him.  One such man is a priest I’ll call Father O’Callahan.  He is a man of such profound humility that he would never approve of my praising him by name.  He is one of the thousands of priests hidden from the eyes of the world, working faithfully and tirelessly, bringing souls to Christ.  Of the hundreds of stories I could tell, I’d like to share the last day he served as pastor of our parish.
          Father O’Callahan was the founding pastor of my parish and he’d been there for 30 years.  Every morning as I arrived for Mass, I’d see him walking through the courtyard with his breviary, faithfully praying his Morning Prayer.  As time wore on, he neared his 75th birthday, mandatory retirement age for a diocesan priest.
          I remember the June morning of his last day as pastor.  It was an emotional time for all of us because, though we knew this day was coming, it would be very hard to say goodbye to this man who had been our shepherd for so long.  I drove up to the church for morning Mass.  As I got out of the car I saw the picture of faithfulness.  There was Father O’Callahan, strolling through the courtyard, with his breviary, praying his Morning Prayer, as if it were any other day.
          He started Mass as he always did, gave a homily on the readings of the day, and directed all his attention to the Sacrifice of the altar, calling none to himself.  It wasn’t until the final blessing, as he prepared to walk the aisle to the vestibule for the last time, that we finally heard his voice crack.  He finished the prayer and walked out, with dignity and courage.
          I learned a lot that day.  There are many days that I am tempted to consider “my day” - my birthday, Father’s Day.  Certainly last year when the San Francisco Giants were in the World Series I expected the world to stop for me for the better part of a week.  If anyone ever deserved “his day,” it was Father O’Callahan.  But he remembered that it was God’s day.  He didn’t want an excuse to escape his duties.  He was faithful.  It summed up for me all the lessons I had learned from him about what it means to be holy, to be a man of God.
          I still see Father O’Callahan at many different parishes.  He’s constantly helping out, celebrating Mass or the other Sacraments.  At one parish they even put his name on one of the confessionals since he is there so often hearing Confessions.  He is a priest.  His assignment as pastor may have come to an end, but he wants nothing to do with retiring from being a priest.  He knows who he is.
          I try to remember Father’s witness when I need a kick in the pants.  Perhaps we need “our days” every now and then.  But we must never forget that all days are gifts from God.  There’s no retirement from being who we are called to be.  Faithfulness.  That is Father’s legacy.  May it be ours as well.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Link - Catholicism's Top Ten (part 2)

Link – Catholicism’s Top Ten Part 2

          Here’s the link to the second part of H.W. Crocker’s Catholicism’s Top Ten.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Personhood Amendment Debate

The Personhood Amendment Debate

          On this blog I took a very strong stand in favor of Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment.  One week ago, in fact, when it did not pass, I titled my post Defeat!  I believe that was the correct position to take, though as I wrote a few weeks ago, the notion that we should need an initiative to tell us that life begins at conception is ridiculous.

          However, the bishops and National Right to Life did not take as strong a position in support of the amendment.  The bishops basically did not comment, while the NRL opposed the measure.  I, however, remained uncritical of them.

          The three different approaches taken by myself, the bishops and the NRL raise a very important question that we ought to examine.  Certainly all three of us agree that life begins at conception, but where we differed was over the issue of prudence.

          The NRL felt that the Personhood Amendment was not wrong, just wrongly timed.  Without question, had it passed, it would have been challenged in court, and certainly would have made its way to the Supreme Court.  At present, the court is not favorable to the position of life.  Five of the nine justices could have been expected to vote against the measure.  The NRL felt that a defeat in the Supreme Court would have set back our cause immeasurably.

          The bishops, however, seem to have taken an approach closer to my own.  I do not wish to speak for them, so I will only put forth my own conclusions, which are that they likely chose not to get involved because they recognized the legitimacy of the NRL’s concern, yet as guardians of Truth, I imagine they could not bring themselves to oppose a measure that upheld such a fundamental and obvious truth.

          Therein lies my own approach to the issue.  I may not have brought forth the measure at this time, in the hopes that more fertile judicial ground is coming.  However, once it was on the ballot, I felt that a statement had to be made for truth, and that the consequences of voting down the Personhood Amendment might also be far-reaching.  (Pro-abortion groups have been touting the outcome as vindication.)  Of course, I understand and respect the approaches taken by both the bishops and the NRL.

          This whole thing begs us to contemplate an important question.  Sadly, our defense of human life does require political strategy.  Prudence is not out of place.  At the same time, prudence can make for a convenient excuse to do nothing.  When we have the opportunity to take a step, should we take it and trust in the Lord for its success?  Perhaps.  Of course, Jesus Himself warned us to be as wise as serpents.  He doesn’t seem to be asking us to set aside political realities entirely in our pursuit of the good.

          I fear there is no simple answer to this dilemma.  Each time we approach it, we must do so with prayer.  And without question, from time to time we will make poor decisions.  When we do disagree on these points, however, let us remember that we are fighting the same fight.  Our motives are pure, even when we disagree.  And in the end, may we remain faithful to the cause.  Victory is the Lord’s.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Link - Catholicism's Top Ten

Link – Catholicism’s Top Ten

At the link below, H.W. Crocker shares the first half of ten contributions to society for which he wishes to commend the Catholic Church.  As he admits, the list could be much longer than ten, and he will raise some eyebrows by including the Inquisition and the Crusades.  Though both had their problems at times, he will hopefully at least inspire some people to learn about them from a more accurate historical perspective that will dispel the myths of modern propaganda.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Defending Traditional Marriage (part 3)

Defending Traditional Marriage Part 3

          In the first two segments of this series, in defending traditional marriage, I have not even touched on the issue of homosexuality, for a very important reason.  We need to defend marriage from any attempt at redefinition.  And my arguments have been given so that any secularist could agree with them.
However, since the issue of gay marriage is the one facing us now, our opponents will usually focus on the issue of homosexuality rather than on marriage.  We will often be labeled out of hand as bigots.  We will just have to accept that.  Those who would call us names without honest debate must be prayed for, and treated with kindness, but we have no obligation engage them, I think.  They are trapped in their own bigotry.
Of course, many on the other side are acting out of good will and compassion, albeit a little misdirected.  They are concerned with the dignity of homosexual persons and unjust discrimination.  As the document On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons demonstrates, these are important concerns for the Church as well.
So in order to respond to these people, we will have to examine the issue of homosexuality and inject our Faith into the debate.  It should animate everything we do anyway.
Our motives should be clear: love of God and love of neighbor.  If we keep focused on these, we will be fine.  The first point is that we as Catholics absolutely defend the worth and dignity of every human person.  No one’s status as an unborn child, a disabled adult, a homosexual, or even a condemned criminal, affects that person’s fundamental dignity.
The Church often comes under attack for calling same-sex attraction “disordered,” as if that means people who struggle with it are somehow defective.  This is NOT what is meant.  I have, in my past, struggled with an anxiety disorder.  I was not at that time defective.  I simply struggled to manage anxiety in a healthy manner like most people do.
Natural law makes it clear that sexual activity is ordered to the procreation of children.  In every species this is true.  Therefore anything that separates the two is disordered, which is one of the reasons for God’s condemnation of artificial contraception.
Our Faith shows us God’s beautiful plan for sex and marriage.  Every violation is disordered, be it homosexuality, adultery, “open marriages,” polygamy, or divorce (though separations and civil divorce may at times be necessary).
Every temptation to sin is disordered, though temptation is not a sin.  Same sex attraction is not a sin.  Something only becomes sinful when we choose to act on it.  Our temptations become sins only when we consent to them.
So saying someone is struggling with something that is disordered is simply to say that they are human.  However, as much as we may want to avoid hurting people, we can’t be afraid of offending them.  To spread the good news about God’s plan for sex and marriage is an act of charity, not cruelty.
We don’t have to endorse gay “marriage” or pretend that homosexuality is a product of God’s design rather than our fallen human nature.  That doesn’t do anyone any favors.  The Truth will set us free.  All of us.  If someone is cheating on his wife, he needs to understand God’s plan for marriage.  The same is true for someone wrapped up in the homosexual culture.
Of course, we must always act with charity and see a person, not create an identity out of a behavior.  And we must not pretend that someone’s homosexuality makes them less than ourselves.  The truth is we have our own struggles that perhaps they can help with.  We are children of the same Father making our way to the same Homeland and we must help each other get there.
We should know of resources like NARTH and the work of Dr. Nicolosi that have helped so many people overcome difficulties with same-sex attraction.  There are organizations like Courage and Encourage that help people with these struggles and their family members live God’s plan for them.
If we can stop being afraid and be devoted uncompromisingly to the truth, we can offer real help to those who want it.  But, of course, as in all things, our charity must know no bounds, because our loved ones need us to be in for the long haul.  When I was in the darkest days of my anxiety, the people who loved me and were helping me didn’t get tired and quit on me.  That is the only reason I overcame it.  As our Lord said at the end of the parable of the Good Samaritan: Now go and do likewise.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veterans Day!

          Today is Veterans Day.  Please remember to pray for our service men and women at home and around the world today, as well as all our veterans.  It is also the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, the former soldier who converted to Christianity and became bishop of Tours, in France.   St. Martin, pray for our veterans.  May they know our gratitude and love, and keep safe all those in the military.  Protect their lives and their families, and may they serve our country with honor and virtue.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Call For Prudence

A Call For Prudence

I have intentionally kept completely quiet on this blog about the controversy between Father Frank Pavone and Bishop Patrick Zurek.  Father Pavone, of course, is the heroic priest who founded Priests for Life, and Bishop Zurek is the holy successor to the Apostles in Amarillo, Texas, Father Pavone’s bishop.
The disagreement between these two men is a controversy at best and does not even begin to approach a scandal.  Father Pavone has long felt a call to dedicate his priesthood specifically to the defense of innocent human life, though he remains a priest for the Diocese of Amarillo. 
Certainly these are two men with large personalities, but there is nothing wrong with that.  St. Damien of Molokai, canonized just two years ago, was a priest with a large personality who became an activist for the lepers of Kalaupapa, and could be an annoyance at times to his bishop.  Archbishop Fulton Sheen was a bishop with a large personality who occasionally rubbed people the wrong way.  His cause for canonization is currently open.
So the fact that these two men have large personalities and currently don’t see eye to eye on everything is no big problem.  They have both acted in a manner worthy of their positions.  It is unfortunate that this private matter has been made public, and mistakes were probably made allowing that to happen.  There have been unfortunate choices of words at times, but most were soon clarified.  Bishop Zurek is asking questions that are appropriate, considering there is a large private financial organization headed by one of his priests.  And Father Pavone, though he may be frustrated, has been faithful to his promise of obedience to his bishop. 
Both men, I’m sure, are doing what they believe is right, and the issue is being looked at by canon lawyers and proper ecclesiastical authorities.  Father Pavone is going through proper channels to achieve a resolution, and Bishop Zurek has not overstepped his authority.  This is an internal organizational matter of the Church involving no even alleged wrongdoing that is being handled according to canon law.  I know Father Pavone has many supporters, but we should all let the process work as it was intended to work.
This leads to the point of my article.  The part of this whole thing that I find truly troubling is that there are so many lay Catholics who feel the need to take sides, pass judgment, and broadcast their opinions to the world.  I have seen a number of articles, many containing lots of facts, but almost all prejudiced to some degree, that are filled with blame for one side or the other.  The Web “comments” are even worse.  We do not have all the facts, and yet many people feel comfortable broadcasting their judgments (emotions?) to the world authoritatively.
Why do we, as the Catholic faithful, have to take sides at all?  This may be an emotional issue, given who is involved, but we have no business making judgments on internal matters of the Church that do not even involve the suspicion of scandal.  It is not our place to make such decisions and it lacks prudence to pass judgments on those whose place it is, especially while the process is still underway.  We may hold those as opinions personally, but to publish them, as though they have any weight, is simply irresponsible.
So let us simply thank God that men of passion and large personalities have dedicated themselves to the service of the Lord.  If they disagree at times in their quest to serve God, so be it.  We can pray for them, pray for the Church, and then butt out. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011



The Personhood Amendment was defeated last night in Mississippi. Somehow the voting public decided it could ignore proven scientific fact and declare that a human organism is somehow not a person. There’s no sugarcoating it, this was a huge defeat for the pro-life cause. However, it was only the first battle of its kind. A dozen states are attempting to put the issue on the ballot in 2012 and the ultimate goal is a Constitutional Amendment. All Christians have to prepare to step into the fray for a long battle that our children can’t afford for us to lose. As we ramp up our political activism, let’s remember that this is first and foremost a spiritual fight, so we follow the advice of St. Ignatius: “Pray as though everything depends on God, and fight as though everything depends on us.”
Perhaps a useful maxim for us is: “I would rather lose a battle in a cause that ultimately succeeds than win a battle in a cause that ultimately fails.”  When it comes to defending life, we are on the winning side.  As Father Pavone says, “Jesus has risen from the dead.  Victory is our starting point.”
Maybe an even more relevant maxim for us is: “I would rather lose a battle in a cause that is just than win a battle in a cause that is unjust.”  Most importantly, we just need to keep fighting.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vote Today in Mississippi

Vote Today in Mississippi

          Today (Nov. 8) is the vote in Mississippi on Amendment 26, the Personhood Amendment, which would define personhood from the moment of conception.  This can potentially be a major step forward for the pro-life cause, as we fight for the protection of every human life.  Please pray throughout the day for its passage.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Defending Traditional Marriage (part 2)

Defending Traditional Marriage part 2

          In the first part of this series of articles on traditional marriage I pointed out that, in reality, no government has the power to redefine the institution of marriage.  However, it is true that laws attempting to do so, though they would have no bearing on reality, would still have devastating power.
          The first result is that accepting homosexual “marriage” would lead very soon to marriage being redefined out of existence.  We have already seen this begin to happen.  A fundamentalist Mormon group has already begun the process of fighting for the legal recognition of polygamy based on the fact that if the traditional definition of marriage is being discarded, there is no legal basis to accept homosexual marriage and reject polygamy.  And they’re right.  If, in our laws, marriage is no longer what it has always been, how does the state choose which unions to endorse and which to reject?
          Polygamy, incestual relationships, and group marriages will all have to be endorsed.  For that matter, two college roommates who find it beneficial, or just funny, to declare their relationship a “marriage” for four years, would at least have a legal case.  There is no real basis for accepting homosexual “marriage” while rejecting numerous other versions of “marriage.”
          The result, of course, is that marriage will become inconsequential.  Already, a Pew study declared that forty percent of Americans found marriage irrelevant.  As a society, we should be concerned.
          This leads to the next point, why is the state involved in the marriage business in the first place?  Why does the state feel a need to grant marriage licenses, to recognize marriage in law?  There must be some social interest, some benefit to the common good.
          There is.  As Catholics we know that the ends of marriage are the perfection of the spouses, and the procreation and education of children.  Secular culture has little interest in the perfection of the spouses, but any sociologist will agree with the Church that marriage is the fundamental human relationship necessary for a stable society.  Redefining marriage and making it irrelevant hurts everyone.
          Also, every study with even the slightest credibility shows that an intact married home, with a mother and father, is the best place for children to thrive.  And yet, we have seen time and again that the legalization of gay “marriage” has led to many adoptive children being placed in situations that, statistically, are not in their best interests.  Married couples often languish on waiting lists while homosexual couples adopt.  The Catholic Church is being systematically run out of the ministry of adoption for its refusal to place children with same-sex couples.  Special interest groups celebrate, and few seem to care that children suffer.
          This leads to the next point, persecution.  There is no need to speculate; the trampling of individual rights is in full force.  I’ve already mentioned the Church losing adoption rights.  In Canada if a preacher even mentions Biblical condemnation of homosexuality, he is subject to imprisonment for a hate crime.  And it’s coming to the United States.  Just recently the governor of New York said anyone who opposes same-sex marriage is anti-American. 
          There have been lawsuits against everyone from private banquet halls to wedding photographers for refusing to participate in same-sex “marriage” ceremonies.  Conscience protection, of course, is not big with some in Washington now.  But it seems that a small businessman, who would usually have the say over what jobs he takes, when it comes to same-sex “marriage,” does not.
          Religious freedoms are not the only ones being trampled.  Parental rights are also under attack.  Sensitivity training is beginning in kindergarten, and from that age children are being taught new definitions of “marriage.”  Students who question it are routinely punished.  And certainly the teachers had better keep their opinions hidden, even in their private lives. 
          Parents often are given no notice and no ability to opt out of such instruction.  We have heard rhetoric that parents raising their children with the traditional view of marriage are engaging in child abuse.  One can only wonder what the government’s solution to that will be.
          I want to conclude this article by stressing that all of my points are in reference to the definition of marriage, and would be equally valid regardless of what new relationship was posing as a marriage.  They are not meant to attack homosexual people.  None of my arguments thus far have even touched on the issue of homosexuality itself, though my next piece will, but only ever with charity.  Every person is precious in the sight of God and we all share equal human dignity.  This is something we must remember when tackling this issue. 
If we stand up for truth we will be attacked.  Christianity comes with a cross.  If it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right.  And with this issue in particular, we will be hated.  But as the great Martin Luther King, Jr. said, darkness is never overcome by darkness, only by light.  We must have the Heart of Christ and see even in those who hate us, one who is beloved by God.
          We respond with uncompromising devotion to the truth, but overflowing charity.  If we can do that sincerely, in time, we will win a hearing, and our reward will be great in Heaven.   

Click here to read the third installment

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Catholic in the White House?

Catholic in the White House?

The United States Constitution states that there can be no religious test for political office.  Despite that, in all our country’s history, John F. Kennedy remains the only Catholic President.  This year two Catholics, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, are running for the Republican nomination.  Louie Verrecchio has a good feature about Mr. Santorum’s candidacy at the link below.  Below the link is a beautiful video of Mr. Santorum discussing his daughter Bella, who has special needs.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Souls Day

All Souls Day

          Today (Nov. 2) is All Souls Day.  It is the day that we particularly remember all the Holy Souls being purified in Purgatory.
          Archbishop Fulton Sheen, in his series Life is Worth Living, says about Purgatory, among other things, that it is “where the love of Man tempers the injustice of Man.”  That characterization is what I would like to explore in this article.
          It is not my purpose to give a theological defense of the doctrine of Purgatory here, but it is important to note that Purgatory does exist.  Among some Catholics there can be confusion as to whether the Church still teaches the doctrine.  She does, without ambiguity.  Purgatory is that state, after death, in which those who have died in the state of Grace, undergo purification of the remnants of sins they still carry before entering Heaven, where nothing unclean can enter, as the Book of Revelation says.
          We all know that sin has many nasty consequences.  Even after we are forgiven, the wounds and weaknesses may stay with us.  We may even still harbor some attachment to our forgiven sin.  We can purify ourselves in this life through prayer, penance and acts of charity, but usually we still die in a state that, if we were to enter Heaven, would make it less than perfect.
          Those in Purgatory have died in friendship with God and through His Mercy have been given the opportunity to be made perfect through purgation before entering the Heavenly Kingdom.  Like on Earth, however, where spiritual growth is often born of suffering, suffering does exist in Purgatory.  The Church in Purgatory is even called the Church Suffering, as suffering is one of the things that distinguish Purgatory from Heaven.
          One of the beautiful things about Purgatory is that God has allowed those of us still on Earth to aid, by our prayers, the purification of the holy souls.  Just as we can pray for our loved ones who are living, and in a mysterious way our prayers can be channels of Grace for them, the same is true for our departed loved ones in Purgatory.  Our prayers can help them more speedily reign in the Heavenly Kingdom.
          This brings me back to Archbishop Sheen’s quote, that Purgatory is where the love of Man tempers the injustice of Man.  How many of us have suffered at the death of a loved one over things we wish we would have said, or acts of love we wish we would have done?  If only we had another chance, we wouldn’t miss those opportunities.
          We do have another chance.  My father died nearly five years ago.  He was a hero of a father and, like many sons, I certainly did not show him all the gratitude he deserved.  No matter how close our relationships, death often brings some measure of regret.
          But we Catholics do not have to wallow in regret.  Our acts of love do not have to stop because of the death of a loved one.  Hollywood loves to sentimentalize death, and there are very poignant things that people do in honor of their deceased loved ones.  We can do very powerful things for them as well.  Every morning I pray for my Dad.  I don’t know if he’s in Purgatory, but if not, I know my prayers will not be wasted.  And if so, I can in some way repay him for all the times he has helped me.  For all the times he remembered me and my needs, now I can remember him and his.  All the injustice he endured from me when he was alive (like those nasty teenage years) can be redeemed now through acts of love.
          What’s even better is the possibility that my dad can know of these acts of love.  A holy priest I know says Mass every morning for the souls in Purgatory and in recommending the devotion he tells us, “If you aid a soul in getting to Heaven, don’t you think he’ll pray for you when he gets there?”  What a beautiful thought, to think I can have this loving and real dialogue with my father beyond the grave.
          The Feast of All Souls gives us even greater opportunity.  If we pray for the dead at a cemetery during this time (between November 1st and 8th) we can gain a plenary indulgence for them (when all conditions are met).  Below is a prayer for the souls in Purgatory given to us by St. Gertrude that is easy to say any time.
          Eternal Father, I offer you the most precious Blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family.  Amen.