Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Action - Call Congress Today!

Action – Call Congress Today!

Dear Friend of Religious Liberty:

As you know, there are major threats looming against people and groups that are opposed in conscience to providing insurance coverage for sterilizations, contraception, or abortifacient drugs, or to participating in or facilitating an abortion.

Now is the time to act!  Congress will soon be considering a "must-pass" bill that will fund the federal government.  Congress can include conscience protection as part of that bill and solve this problem now.

Can you spare 5 minutes to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to support conscience protection for EVERYONE?  Call using the link above or click here to email your two Senators and Representative.

Please join with us in calling on Congress to protect the right of all people and groups to participate in life-affirming health care -- without violating their consciences!
Not sure what to say?  Here are some suggestions:
  • The administration has issued a mandate requiring virtually all insurance plans to include sterilization and contraception, even including the morning-after and week-after pills.  People who run secular charities, or religious or secular businesses, are being forced to buy insurance coverage for "services" to which they have a deeply held moral or religious objection -- with no exceptions.  I oppose forcing people to participate in, fund, or provide things they believe are wrong or immoral.

  • Though churches themselves are exempted from the mandate, religious ministries of service -- such as charities, schools, and hospitals -- are given second-class status under the law, in the form of a still-murky "accommodation."  But these ministries are integral to our religious community and deserve the same exemption as our houses of worship.  I oppose government action that defines our religious community narrowly and inaccurately, reducing freedom of religion to freedom of worship only.

  • Freedom of religion is a bedrock principle on which our nation was founded.  It is referred to as our "First Freedom" -- first on the list in the Bill of Rights, and first in priority among human freedoms.  I support religious freedom as a fundamental human right of every person.

  • A distinct blessing of being an American is that we are free to choose our faith, and live by the dictates of that faith throughout our lives -- at home, at church, and in the public square.  Other countries may force faith underground, but in America we can follow our conscience while also participating fully in society.  I support policies that allow Americans to live their faith in their jobs and in their everyday life.

  • In the words of Cardinal Dolan, "In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage, we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath.  We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences."  I support the right of all men and women who work in health care -- whether providing services or providing insurance -- to live and work in harmony with their faith and convictions.
Please contact your Congressional representatives today and urge them to take whatever action is necessary to protect religious freedom and the moral convictions of all!

For more information or to join the postcard campaign, go to NCHLA's action alert.

Thank you for all that you do in support of life and liberty!

-Your Religious Freedom and Conscience Protection Team

P.S. Please forward this to friends and family who share your concern to protect the rights of all to participate in health care!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In Defense of Orthodoxy

In Defense of Orthodoxy

          I’ve had a number of interesting conversations this week about religion.  First, I had a very respectful and I think fruitful discussion with some Mormon neighbors.  I also had a very respectful, but I suspect not fruitful discussion with the atheist neighbor with whom I engage from time to time.  The most surprising, however, was with a fellow Catholic over orthodoxy.
          Orthodoxy, of course, means “right belief.”  An orthodox Catholic is someone who accepts all the teachings of Christ as revealed through His Church, and doesn’t pick and choose whichever ones are attractive, leaving the rest.
          Often, Catholics who disdain orthodoxy do so because they take offense at the condemnation of some sin to which they are particularly attached.  In this case, however, my friend suggested that orthodoxy was an obstacle, fencing me in so that I could not break out and fully experience the Spirit.
          I respect this friend very much, so I listened to what he had to say, but I must admit, I could not relate.  It’s sort of like saying that my experience of mathematics will be stunted by my slavery to the laws of mathematics.  Orthodoxy is rather like a pair of wings without which a Catholic will never be able to soar to spiritual heights.
          Or, to use the fence image in a proper context, Archbishop Fulton Sheen tells a parable of some explorers who came upon a seemingly uninhabited island.  All around, the beach led to a steep cliff.  So the explorers scaled the cliff to find at the top, a flat plain with a fence around the edge.  Inside the fence was a colony of children who were running and jumping and playing.
          The men called to the children and said, “Who put up this fence?  Don’t you see that it is robbing you of your freedom?  Do away with it!  Be free!”  And they tore down the fence.
          A few months later some other men happened upon the island.  When they climbed to the top of the cliff, they did not see children running or jumping or playing.  They were all huddled together in the center, afraid of falling over the edge.
          When the fence was there to keep the children safe from peril, they were free to run and to explore and to grow.  The same is true for us.  The Church has defined for us certain Truths that she did not create – they came from Christ.  If we allow them to protect us, we are safe from falling into deadly error, and we are free to run and to explore and to grow.
          No one ever saw more clearly by walking away from the light.  And no one’s experience of God ever became deeper because they unshackled themselves from Truth.
          Rather than turning our backs on teachings that are difficult or uncomfortable, let us seek to understand them.  And rather than expanding our vision of God in a way that we no longer recognize Him, let us seek to know Him better.  We can acknowledge, like St. Paul in Athens, the goodness of our non-Christian brothers and sisters, and even the relevance of their religious experience, while still claiming that “there is no other name [but Jesus] by which we are saved.”
          “For this reason have I come, to testify to the Truth,” said Jesus before Pontius Pilate.  We need not be ashamed to admit that while we may not have a monopoly on the truth, we do have the fullness of the truth.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Tools of the Enemy

The Tools of the Enemy

          It seems the devil was looking over some junior demons who had just graduated from the academy and were about to go into the world for the ruin of souls.  He asked each of them how they would accomplish their diabolical aims.
          The first responded, “I am going to convince people that there is no God.”
          The devil approved of this remark and knew that men were getting easier to sell this lie to, and it would inevitably cost many of them their souls.
          The second gave his answer.  “I am not going to try to convince people there is no God.  Most of their intellects still have not darkened enough to buy that.  But I will convince them there is no devil.”
          This approach was received with even more malicious approval, as it would certainly be a powerful weapon.
          Then the third demon stepped forward.  “I will not try to convince people there is no God and I will not try to convince people there is no devil.  I will just convince them that they have plenty of time to worry about it later.”
          He graduated at the top of his class.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Memories of Pope Benedict

Memories of Pope Benedict

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          I still remember the day Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI.  My wife and I were in Cancun on our honeymoon, having married only three days before (on Cardinal Ratzinger’s birthday).  We were staying at my aunt and uncle’s time share, which they generously gave us for a week as a wedding present.
          Each night we would turn on the television for news out of the Vatican.  Finally, on April 19, I was in the guest lobby checking my email (and setting my Fantasy baseball lineup for the next day – don’t tell my wife), when I saw a headline that it was Ratzinger.
          I had long been a fan of Cardinal Ratzinger and owned a number of his books.  Of course, the conventional wisdom said that, at 78, he was far too old to be chosen.  But the Holy Spirit doesn’t check in with conventional wisdom.
          I shut off the computer (leaving Cliff Lee on the bench, much to my later dismay) and ran back to the room to share the news with my wife, who had been taking a nap.
          “It’s Cardinal Ratzinger!” I shouted, and we both celebrated.
          My wife and I are both members of the John Paul II generation.  We have a deep affection for our Polish pope, and one of the greatest thrills of my life was when I got to see and attend Mass with him. 
          But these past eight years, we have also fallen in love with our German shepherd.  How blessed we have been!  This man of humble charity and intellectual greatness now delivers a powerful lesson about love of the Church and the world.
          I will dearly miss Pope Benedict, and I know his prayers will continue to build up the Church.  May God grant us another pope in the image of the men who have guided her so beautifully this past 35 years.