Monday, January 27, 2003

The temporal order of which the Council speaks is vast. It encompasses the social, cultural, intellectual, and political life in which all of you rightly participate. As lay men and women actively engaged in this temporal order, you are being called by Christ to sanctify the world and to transform it. This is true of all work, however exalted or humble, but it is especially urgent for those whom circumstances and special talent have placed in positions of leadership or influence -- men and women in public service, education, business, science, social communications, and the arts. As Catholic lay people, you have an important moral and cultural contribution of service to make to the life of your country. "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much" (Luke 12:48). These words of Christ apply not only to the sharing of material wealth or personal talents, but also to the sharing of one's faith
-- Pope John Paul II

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them [... infanticide]. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law...

(Epistle to Diognetus, Nn. 506; Funk, 397-401).

Friday, January 24, 2003

Beautiful Editorial... an open letter to our 'pro-choice' neighbors and loved ones

Pssst... Pass it on....
A Minority In the Minority Party
[Former ambassador to the Vatican and Democratic mayor of Boston Raymond] Flynn says pro-life Democrats face two choices: Leave the party, or stay and fight. Flynn, who hosts a daily radio program about politics, is one of the few prominent party leaders willing to do this.
For more information on DFL with information on how to start one in your own state.

And just to reassure people, that I'm not changing parties.

On another note...

Disturbing Trends in Dehumanization

And lastly...

A Cause worthy of our prayers

Thursday, January 23, 2003

A Problem of Perception is now listed in the sidebar as Catholic Complacency.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

"Just another Sunday night punk rock concert. But these kids are wearing bright red sweat shirts inscribed with the words "I Survived" on the front and "Over 1/3 Of Our Generation Has Been Wiped Out" on the back."
In Both Sides on Abortion Try a Youthful Drumbeat, the numbers reported show 8,000 young people from the District, Maryland and Delaware in the pro-life camp, and 400 college students from across the country in the death camp. Perhaps "... the times... they are achanging"

Culled from
U.S. abortion law is extreme

There is a profound misunderstanding from which the public in general suffers about the extent to which abortion is legal and the reasons for abortion today. Most people don't realize that Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton made abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason. U.S. abortion law is extreme, but most people don't know it.

People also misunderstand the reality of abortion practice today. The fact that almost half of all abortions today are repeat abortions is inconceivable to most people; abortions for health reasons or rape -- themes that appear so often in the public debate -- account for only a small fraction of abortions today.

Moreover, the false assumption that abortion is good for women has not been sufficiently challenged. The reality of abortion in our culture today is that women choose abortion as a last resort, not a free choice.

Women turn to abortion because they feel alone and helpless, or abandoned, or pressured by boyfriends or family members. Abortion is not the act of empowerment it was promised to be.
And on the reverse side of the coin...

Family Is Guard Against Dehumanization
"We insist on marriage as patrimony of humanity, but in addition to what the natural law states, for us, Christians, marriage is raised to the dignity of a sacrament," the cardinal said. "It is not about the defense of the family as a traditional and natural institution, but the raising of marriage to a divine plan."

In this connection, the experience of the Christian family becomes an evangelical witness. The Christian family is transformed into good news that must be proclaimed because of its beauty. This is a fundamental message of John Paul II's pontificate, who points to the family as Gospel."

Q: Why is Christian love good news?

Cardinal López Trujillo: Christian love expressed by the family is a love thatpreserves the freshness of the economy of redemption and full liberation.

Through the manner of understanding the family, filial love, and respect for life, flames can be lit that will illuminate and warm places that secularization has darkened and made to grow cold. Because of this, the first point of the new evangelization is to witness a faith that is capable of rekindling an environment, a culture, which otherwise is like cold lava. The Pope wishes the family to be the object of preaching, proclamation, evangelization.

Q: Will families be the missionaries of the third millennium?

Cardinal López Trujillo: Without a doubt! They have a purposive, respectful, but necessary mission. The world runs the risk of a new slavery: a world that does not see clearly that it is spiritually sick, which is unable to contemplate profoundly the beauty of life and, because of this, tends to dehumanization.

Dehumanization is one of the most negative aspects of secularization. Man, far from God, ceases to be genuinely man because the explicit love of God does not shine in his face. A favored way to humanize the world is the rediscovery of the family as source of real evangelization.

In this connection, I would like to underline how marriage has communicated in history respect toward the dignity of woman. There is nothing more anti-evangelical than to treat women as instruments, as things, as [a] sex market. These are dehumanizing ways that can be overcome by the constitution of families, where a woman grows in the meaning of her own dignity, daughter of God, wife and mother. Because of this, the family represents a solid obstacle to dehumanization.
The family must be the key concern of social politics
There must be collaboration between the Church and civil institutions, particularly in creating "a renewed awareness of the importance and sacredness of family ties, as well as the joy that accompanies the birth and education of children."

"The family founded on matrimony must be a privileged object of social politics," he [the pope] insisted.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Whenever I read something like this on the Complacency of the Church, I am reminded again of the following passages from John 10:1-14.

1 "I tell you truly, that the man who does not enter the sheepfold through the door, but climbs up some other way, is a thief and a robber.
2 The shepherd of the sheep enters by the door.
3 The doorkeeper opens the door for him and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 When he has brought them all out, he walks on before them and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
5 They will not follow a stranger at all. Rather, they will run away from him, for they do not know the voice of the stranger."
6 This parable Jesus spoke to them, yet they did not understand what He meant.
7 Jesus then spoke to them again, "Indeed, I tell you, I am the Door of the sheep.
8 They were all thieves and robbers who came before Me, and the sheep would not hear them.
9 I am the Door. Everyone who comes in through Me will be safe, and he will come in and go out and find pasture.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I come so that they may have life, and have an abundance of it.
11 "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
12 A hireling - that is, one who is not a shepherd and who does not own the sheep - leaves the sheep and flees when he sees the wolf coming, and the wolf pounces down on the sheep and scatters them.
13 The reason why the hireling flees is that he is a hireling, and does not care for the sheep.
14 "I am the Good Shepherd. I know My sheep, and My sheep know Me,
15 even as the Father knows Me and I know My Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.
16 I have other sheep, too, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice, so there will be one flock and one Shepherd.

Monday, January 20, 2003

For years now, I've found the movie "Sophie's Choice" to be a valuable argument in discussions on abortion. In the story, Sophie is forced to choose between her children. If she exercises a choice, one child will live and one will die. If she doesn't choose, both will die. Sophie chooses. She then must live with the consequences of her impossible choice. Eventually guilt destroys her.

This movie plays out in such a way that the nature of Sophie's choice is initially hidden. One sees the consequences before one knows the cause. The tension builds as the viewer wonders what possible horror could underlie the 'survivor guilt' that has created such havoc in Sophie's life and relationships. By the time the secret is revealed, the full cruelty of her dilemma has presented itself.

This story is built on a recognition that there are choices which no human being should be required to make. It is the acknowledgement that choice itself can become an inescapable attrocity. The consideration of abortion is one such choice. It should be taken off the table. To do otherwise is to engage in the torturous mindgames of the Third Reich.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Mark Shea writes:
But what is the job of the laity? It is to sanctify worldly realities, ordering all things to God. Just as the work of the bishop is accomplished in the chancery and with his priests; and the work of the priest is done in the parish and through the sacraments; so the work of a layperson is to be found in his family, the workplace, his community, and his culture. By how he acts there a Catholic layperson stands or falls; by this he will be judged.

Also, a good posting by Lane Core on the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity

Thursday, January 16, 2003

How secular is Turkey?

Zenit reports that Turkish authorities are investigating a Capuchin friar for baptizing a 26-year-old Muslim.

"Why does Turkey call itself a secular state and put a friar under investigation who baptized a converted Muslim?...

A lay state is not concerned with these matters"

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Apropos of nothing
While surfing, I came across these two strikingly different eulogies of Cardinal O'Connor. I figure that a comparison between the two has something to add to the conversation. It highlights how differently things can be interpreted, and how bias in our views provides bias in our reporting. For me, it also indicates how the slanting of news can modify or distort the opinion of the reader. Simply because you are aware of the slant in the news doesn't necessarily make you immune to the distortion.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Interesting Reading over at The Mighty Barrister's

...modern children's literature is doing our children a great disservice by "taming" the evils of the world rather than setting them apart....

[Some of today's stories]... teach children that you can tame evil and use it for good purposes - an outright lie.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Be Not Afraid is now listed in the sidebar

The Death of Honor asks the question: Can a civilization survive if its members, especially its men, have no concept of honor?

Here's what's really irritating. All these people who do not understand honor can live their selfish lives in safety, because they are protected by soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, police and firefighters – who understand honor quite well...

For the sake of freedom, the signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." If we aren't careful, we will raise a generation of citizens who care so little about freedom that they won't risk the first two, and don't know the meaning of the third.

"A faith that does not become culture is a faith that is not fully accepted, not fully thought out, not lived faithfully." -- JP2

Friday, January 10, 2003

I know that I posted this month's ago, but having come across it again, I thought it was worthy of re-posting
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis

Some interesting thoughts from Percy Walker and the Christian Scandal ...No, not that scandal

"Don't you know where tenderness leads? . . . It leads to the gas chamber." He'd like to give Miss O'Connor the credit, Percy responds, but it wasn't a conscious use. He had in mind his own experience of the German people as "extremely sentimental," possessed of a "tremendous tenderness." And he emphasizes here, as he does in other interviews, the comparison implied in his last novel between the Western liberal and the Weimar Republic liberal in relation to the effects of Weimar tenderness as executed in Nazi Germany and our own obsession with the right to abortion. "Nothing offends the American liberal more than being compared to the German liberals of the Weimar Republic."

The "Christian scandal," Percy says in this interview, is its "emphasis on individual human life." Without that scandalous emphasis, anything goes, including the gas chambers. The importance of encounter of person with immediate existence, the accommodation to this place and this time, which is so heavy a theme in recent literature of the American South, is exactly the issue...

The liberal response of tenderness, then, which makes the Louisiana child and the Iowa child hardly distinguishable in their manifestations in time and place, begins with a denial of personhood in its fundamental actuality... the Des Moines child and the Louisiana child are identities, not persons, a manipulation possible through the sentimentality attaching to an abstraction, "child."...

And some quotes from Flannery O'Connor
"When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness [i.e., Christ] its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced-labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber."

“He [the average Catholic reader] forgets that sentimentality is an excess, a distortion of sentiment usually in the direction of overemphasis on innocence, and that innocence, whenever it is overemphasized in the ordinary human condition, tends by some natural law to become its opposite.”

I think that the Church is the only thing that is going to make the terrible world we are coming to endurable; the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and that on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that you suffer as much from the Church as for it but if you believe in the divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it."

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

I believe that the answer to Ezekiel's dry bones is the Eucharist.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Perhaps one of the most important Catholic blogs on the Web today!


*** If ***
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master,
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!
— Rudyard Kipling (1965-1936)

The Eastern world, it is explodin',
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'.
You're old enough to kill, but not for votin',
You don't believe in war -- but what's that gun you're totin'?
An' even the Jordan river has bodies floatin'.
But you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.
--Barry McGuire

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Mexican Immigration

Sometimes I wonder whether America's nativist attitudes reflect an unacknowledged anti-Catholic bias. Mics, Spics, Wops, Wetbacks, Pollacks... These are the names we gave to our Catholic immigrants. Can anyone give me a similar listing for immigrants from Protestant countries?

Don't ask me to forget the past

"Give me your poor, your tired, and your hungry ...
... The exiles of your teeming shores ..."
Words carved deep in stone
And in the hearts back at home ...
... But not meant for the living anymore

The voices that haunt me are harsh now
Confuse me and urge me to leave
But I claim the promise of this country
I have the right to my own dream

I didn't see the Statue of Liberty
Never heard her welcoming words
I came through the back door silently
Unwanted ... unseen ... and unheard
excerpts from THE BACK DOOR -- Words and music by Cathie Ryan
performed by Cherish the Ladies

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Are Catholics in America Listening?
The following two stories from Rome
John Paul II Calls for Peaceful Means to Overcome International Tensions
"No Alternative to Peace" Says L'Osservatore Romano