Friday, September 30, 2011

Quick Takes and my mom makes a cameo!







1.

So this week I kept getting email after email directing me to the following video, and then I saw it popping up on facebook and pretty much everywhere. When you watch it, you'll know why it's gone viral. Don't let the length deter you; it's worth the time it takes to get to the end and see the changes wrought in those being interviewed. The mohawk atheist white supremacist had me riveted. Heck, they all did. 

My only caveat to this Protestant-produced video (because I am a Catholic apologist after all) is to remind you that Catholics believe in infused righteousness (true cleansing of the soul in baptism), not the imputed righteousness (a mere legal declaration) that the video espouses. 

But putting that aside, you will see so much of what we talk about here played out on the screen: The natural law which is written on every man's heart is laid bare as the human conscience rises from its culturally- and sin-induced slumber. Fascinating!! Don't miss it.



2.

Speaking of awakening the conscience, I participated in the most amazing kick off of our local 40 Days for Life campaign this week. We learned recently that an "upscale" abortion clinic has operated under the radar within the boundaries of my own parish. My friend Karen Williams, whose abortion story I posted here, discusses the puff piece that Phoenix Magazine ran recently about the private-practice abortionist who hangs her shingle touting "family medicine" while 90% of the procedures done in her beautifully-appointed office are abortions -- up to 50 babies killed per week.

Tuesday night, three hundred and fifty of us, young, old, black, white, hispanic, priests, nuns and laypeople (Catholic and non-Catholic) walked in solemn silence for a mile and a half from our church to the abortuary. We had a police escort, just like you'd see in a funeral procession, and traffic was periodically stopped as we walked in a line so long that I couldn't see the beginning or the end of it. I couldn't even find the fellow blogger, Kara, that I had hoped to meet! Some of the homeowners along the route watched and wondered, most of whom had no idea that an abortion mill was operating in their neighborhood. 

People begin to gather, before the walk begins.


There was inspiring music, and heartbreaking, tearful testimony from a young woman whose aborted child would have been five years old today.

We care for and love both mother and child.

We concluded at the abortion mill, praying for an end to the violence of abortion and the conversion of the abortionist.
(Photos courtesy of my friend LeeAnne, and Arizona Right to Life.) 

If you are able to participate in your city's 40 Days for Life campaign, please do. It is both life-changing and life-saving.


3.

Made a big mistake when I hit "publish" on the last post: Miss Gwen's concluding thoughts were missing! I have since restored them, so if you were confused by the abrupt ending, please go back and read the post in its entirety:



4.

Speaking of atheists (well, former atheists), I was compelled by science fiction writer John C. Wright's account of his dramatic conversion. The only proper response is "Wow!" and "Praise God!" Read on:



5.

Another sad reminder that the Church's wisdom does not exist to make people feel bad, but instead to keep them from harm while preserving their human dignity. How sad is this scene?


Excerpt:
To her credit, Ben's fiance manages to contain her reaction, but the shock, and possibly horror, in her face is evident.
Ben's fiance tells him she sees his actions as selfish, and the gravity of his decision seems to hit him in a way it hadn't before. "I guess I was dumb. Maybe I'm being dumb now, I don't know," he says.
 Any guesses as to whether or not that relationship will last?

6.

Mothers have a way of keeping us all humble, thank the Lord. 

When I won the coveted Cannonball Award recently in the category of "Best Armchair Theologian", I emailed the icon to my mom to let her know...


Her response, reprinted here with permission, made me smile as it reinforced the stated message of a Cannonball win, which affords me "the sweet sweet satisfaction" that I am "only slightly better than no one else really all that special":


Well I am "blog challenged" but it is always nice to win things - not sure what you won but you can tell us all about it later....congratulations!! Love, Mom


It does not get better than that!

7.

This item comes last, as it's an action item and I don't want you to forget to do this. Today is the final day for public comments regarding the shameful, conscience-violating mandate imposed by the Obama administration that forces all insurance policies to cover contraceptives and certain abortifacient drugs (without so much as a copay). Please, let's not go down without a fight. 

Call or email the (Catholic!!) woman behind the mandate, Kathleen Sebelius, head of the Health and Human Services Department (ironic name for that department, eh?).

Phone:   (202) 690–7000
Email:    Kathleen.Sebelius@hhs.gov

More info here.

Oh, and by the way, the "unbiased" medical committee that recommended the mandate is "populated by board members of NARAL and Planned Parenthood, as well as major donors to politicians favoring legal abortion." Aside from the mandate being evil, it smacks of corruption as well.

Time for us little guys to speak truth to power! Call or email now, before you forget.




Thanks to Jen for hosting!



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An atheist's view: Miss Gwen goes to Mass! *UPDATED

*For some reason, Gwen's last paragraph, summing up her thoughts, was missing when I first posted! So sorry!




A few posts back, one of our longtime Bubble family members, Miss Gwen, announced that she was going to be attending a Catholic mass. After receiving a steady (dare I say giddy?) stream of encouragement, direction and advice from the Catholics here, she set off. You have all been waiting patiently, and I am thrilled now to post Gwen's account of her recent attendance at a daily mass in Albuquerque. I will leave her words unedited, and we all can discuss and offer any clarity in the comment box. 
Take it away, Miss Gwen!


Why I went:
On the heels of much intense debate and banter between orthodox Catholics and atheists, I decided to step back, reflect and visit the holy space where these faithful women share their deepest desires and insecurities with God on a regular basis.

My background:
Believe it or not (ha!), going to church was a big deal for me. I was raised by atheists and can count on my hand the number of times I’ve been to Church services on a holiday or Sunday (3x). That’s excluding the daily mass I attended for two years at Episcopal middle school (aged 12-14). Thus, it is a bit daunting at first to step into a sacred space without knowing the exact details of appropriate behavior. For instance, the parishioners with whom I attended Mass all entered the Church and before taking a seat, kneeled before the altar and crossed themselves.

The Church (San Felipe de Neri church in Old Town, Albuquerque, NM):
This church has quite a history! It was originally built in 1704 at the insistence of a Franciscan priest who arrived with 30 other Spanish settler families in this southwestern city in 1704-5. The church was named after the Viceroy of New Spain but later, at the request of the Spanish Duke who founded and lent his name to this particular city the Church was named after San Felipe de Neri in honor of King Phillip of Spain. Parts of the church have been destroyed or re-built. In the 1870s Jesuit priests founded a school for boys and in the 1880s the Sisters of Charity added a convent to the church grounds and operated a parish school up until the 1970s. A school still operates within this historic parish.

The Scene:
The Church is located in what is now a tourist hot spot of town. It faces a small plaza where there are annual events such as Santero markets*, Christmas shop and strolls with luminaria displays **, music and dancing, and the occasional wedding. Surrounding the plaza and Church are restaurants and stores that cater specifically to visitors in the southwest: chile spices, mugs, t-shirts, turquoise jewelry, cowboy boots, and so forth. A small store attached to the Church sells religious iconography that helps raise funds for the parish.

* Santero-artisans who carve figurines of saints usually working with wood
** Luminarias-paper bags filled with sand and candles, usually lined up along walkways and rooftops during Christmas (this tradition also has roots in the Catholic and Latino Protestant practice of Las Posadas which pays tribute to the journey of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus in utero)

The Service:
I attended Wednesday Mass at 7am. There were about 20-30 people in attendance many of them (my guess) Hispanic, mostly female and between the ages of 40-70. I noticed one elementary aged schoolgirl in attendance with a male relative (dad?). Attending to the needs of the priest was a middle-aged man (of Asian heritage) wearing a polo shirt and khaki pants (no altar boys?). Mass began with a prayer followed by a short reading from one of the parishioners. Then the priest gave a brief interpretation of the reading; the gist of his interpretation focused on translation and the multiple possible meanings for the word “apostle” and exactly what Paul really meant when he spoke those words since there are 12 apostles and he isn’t one of them (?). The scene from the reading involved Paul talking to a slave who wasn’t really a slave just as Paul is not really an apostle. The Priest reminded us that none of us know the historical Jesus, just like Paul didn’t know the historical Jesus yet here he is calling himself an apostle -- why? According to the priest, this is because Paul is using a code word for follower -- he is a follower of Jesus and God, just like we all must be.

Then the man in khaki pants rang a bell, and helped the priest get the communion wafer and cup of wine ready. He raised the hosts over his head, uttered some Latin phrases and everyone in the congregation responded with some more Latin. People began singing a song in Spanish about “benedicion” and lined up to receive the hosts. When that was done, the bell was rung one more time and the priest finished up the leftover wine before wiping down the cup (glad to know there’s no wasting wine ; ) Another prayer was said then the apostle’s creed (which I actually remembered!) and we were done.

So, what do I think? I think sacred space provides an opportunity to reflect, to think deeply about one’s place in the world. I’m not particularly comfortable in a church setting since it’s not something I’m familiar with but I appreciate the sense of community that can be created and the opportunity to feel inspired and refreshed with a new outlook on the daily grind. Unfortunately, I disagree with much of the policy touted by the Catholic Church. My understanding at least from this blog, is that one must be conservative and politically aligned with the right (or right of center) in order to be Catholic and Christian. I’m not willing to give up my alliances with left of center political ideologies or my philosophy. So, while I can appreciate the ritual aspects of Mass and the time for self-reflection, I’ll continue to find solace in my own sacred spaces and rituals (i.e., sitting on the patio by the apricot tree drinking coffee spiced with cardamom!).

Thank you Leila, for allowing me the opportunity to share these thoughts with you.

-Gwen








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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Is it sin or "personal preference"? Why it's so hard to evangelize today.

When I posted "We are not dogs" a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to showcase more gems from our holy, faithful priests. So today, even though I have not yet created my "Priests Speak" icon for this new little feature, ha ha, I want to present you with the priestly wisdom of Fr. John S. Grimm*. Thanks to Nicole C. at Mom and Then Some for bringing the words of her priest to my attention. 

+++++++

Fr. John S. Grimm
Holy Spirit Parish
New Castle, Delaware
September 2011

READINGS FOR SEPT. 4 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME 
(Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:8-10;
Matthew 18:15-20)



In his homily to begin the conclave of cardinals that would elect him pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that the world was laboring under a “dictatorship of relativism.” By that he meant moral relativism specifically, the notion that moral truth is subjective, that is, totally dependent on one’s intention and external circumstances.

Moral relativism denies that any action is always wrong; moral choices are mere expressions of one’s feelings about certain behavior. Thus, actions that in previous generations were condemned as sinful are in our time considered a matter of personal preference, above all in the area of sexual morality.

Modernity’s embrace of moral relativism is not only a rejection of Catholic morality, but of the morality of all previous eras. For instance, the hearers of the Apostles knew and accepted an objective moral law called the natural law. And they knew that they failed to keep it, at least perfectly. As a result, the ancients knew they needed a savior and the Apostles’ message was experienced as “Good News.” But under the influence of moral relativism, modern people are told that there is no objective standard with which to make moral choices. In this setting, our Lord’s message that we must repent sounds strange to some people. They ask: repent from what? Recent popes have said that the modern world has lost its sense of what sin is. Without a sense that we are sinners, why do we need a redeemer?

Therefore, the church finds itself needing to preach the “bad news” that we are sinners in need of forgiveness before she can preach the Good News that Christ offers us forgiveness.

Today’s readings presuppose an objective moral order and man’s need for reconciliation with God and neighbor for failing to act in accordance with that order.

In the first reading, Ezekiel is appointed watchman for God’s holy people and instructed to warn the people when they stray from the path of holiness. Should he fail to warn them of their misdeeds, the guilt of their sins will fall upon him. St. Augustine taught that this duty to warn the faithful is now placed upon all the bishops and priests of the church. The preacher who fulfills this duty is likely to meet a cool reception in some quarters because of the relativism in our culture. Nonetheless, as the Holy Father taught in his 2009 encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (“Charity in Truth”), the proclamation of the truth is an essential way of charity.

Our Lord’s words in today’s Gospel are similarly in conflict with the spirit of our times. One must believe in objective right and wrong in order to have the grounds to confront another with the injustice of his behavior; otherwise, it degenerates into a contest of wills. Moral relativism puts an end to moral dialogue since moral judgments are only expressions of one’s feelings.

Our Lord instructs us to do more than dialogue with others, we are to confront a brother or sister with his misbehavior if he falls into sin. This can only be done in a way pleasing to God if it is motivated by charity. Notice that if our brother offends us, we are to tell him about it, not everyone but him. Even if someone truly wrongs us, we must be mindful of not sinning through detraction, which is the revealing of our neighbor’s defects to others without a just cause.

As St. Paul in the second reading says: love does no evil to the neighbor. Paul means even when the neighbor has first done evil to us. All that we do is to be done for the sake of charity; when the church is forced by the sinner’s recalcitrance to “treat him as you would a gentile or tax collector,” this is done for a charitable purpose. The hope is that once made aware of his injustice he will repent and be healed.



*Fr. Grimm's article is found on page 20 










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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Archbishop Dolan's warning letter to Obama

Hey, Catholics!

Remember when I warned you that your misguided compassion was going to come back to bite you in the rear? That we're in a battle we can't ignore anymore?

I'm relieved that the big guns have just blazed onto the scene.

Two days ago, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote a strongly-worded letter to President Barack Obama that expressed a "growing sense of urgency about recent actions taken by your Administration that both escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage."

That's us, guys. He's talking about Catholics losing religious freedom in America. If things continue on the current trajectory, the good archbishop anticipates "a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions."

A national conflict of enormous proportions.

He's right. Things are bad. The culture war -- the very existence of which some deny -- is here and escalating quickly under Obama's watch. The archbishop's letter and research make that painfully clear.

Bubble readers, please read Archbishop Dolan's entire letter and the attachment.* Read every word carefully. You may feel like you don't have time, but it's only three pages. It won't take you long, and you must be informed. The days are long gone when we can just sit back and let things play out, trusting that all will be well. The Church is under attack now, from the highest levels of our government, and we must be an active Church with an educated laity.

Learn what's happening. Teach your children, your friends, your neighbors. We are all responsible for each other now, as the moral landscape changes and we gear up for the battle (which in my opinion includes defeating Obama in November 2012).

In the words of Blessed John Paul the Great: Do not be afraid!

Just think what 60 million baptized, faithful and informed American Catholics could do. Yeah, I know we've got a long way to go to get everyone faithful and informed, so let's get started!

Go on, read it.


Related (disturbing) link showing the Obama Administration's determination to label Catholic teaching as bigoted and discriminatory:

Obama Administration: The Catholic Church spreads "homophobia" in Poland


*Archbishop Dolan's letter is specific to the topic of gay "marriage" and does not address the other alarming actions taken by the Obama Administration limiting our religious freedoms as Catholics.



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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What I Never Learned, Part VI: Jesus, the Mass, and the Eucharist




Years ago, I sent out some "catechesis emails" to interested friends and family. They, like me, never really learned much in Catholic religious education and CCD classes (I was catechized in the 1970s and '80s). What I wrote was pretty basic stuff, and I thought some of the Bubble readers might like the overview. 




Last time, we talked about Jesus as the sacrificial lamb (“Behold, the Lamb of God!” said John the Baptist about Jesus, pointing ahead to Jesus' sacrificial death).

We discussed how the Old Testament stories always point to the future, to fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Remember that when something in the Old Testament foreshadows, or points to, something in the New Testament, we call that a "prefigurement" or a "type". Typology (studying the prefigurements in the Bible) is the most exciting way to look at Scripture.
  
So let's go back to a famous Old Testament event, the Passover in Egypt, and discover how it prefigured both Christ’s sacrifice and the Eucharist.

Approximately 1,500 years before Christ, Moses was set to liberate the Hebrew people and lead them out of Egypt, where they had been oppressed and enslaved by Pharaoh. (If you are unfamiliar with the story, then you haven't watched Academy Award winner The Ten Commandments lately! Rent it!) Moses instructed each Hebrew family to select a young male goat or lamb without blemish. They were to sacrifice the animal and then smear its blood on the doorposts and lintel of the house in which they were eating. They had to eat the flesh of the sacrificed lamb or goat that night, along with unleavened bread (there would be no time for leavening). The Hebrews were given other instructions as well, but for our purposes, we will focus on the lamb’s blood, the eating of the lamb’s flesh and the unleavened bread (are you thinking Eucharist yet??).

God sent an angel of death over all the households of Egypt that night to punish the oppressors (the Egyptians), while those whose houses were marked with the blood of the sacrificed lamb would be saved. God said: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you.” (Exodus 12:13)

Now you know why it’s called Passover!

In a nutshell:

The Hebrew people were saved by the blood of the lamb, just as Christians are saved by the Blood of the Lamb.

The Hebrew people were required to eat the flesh of the sacrificed lamb, just as Christians must eat the Flesh of the Sacrificed Lamb.

Read the Gospel of John chapter 6 to hear Jesus’ own words on the subject, which are unambiguous and oft-repeated. (For those tempted to regard Jesus' words as mere symbol, recall that every New Testament fulfillment is always bigger, better and more miraculous by far than the Old Testament prefigurement that pointed to it.)

After that original Passover in Egypt, the Hebrew people were commanded to celebrate it annually, as a memorial. To this day, Jews celebrate a Passover (or seder) meal every year.

You may note that the Catholic Mass looks a lot like a Passover meal, and that's because it is the fulfillment of the Passover meal. It is no coincidence that Jesus instituted the Eucharist during a Passover meal on the night before He died. As the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper tell us, Jesus made some substitutions and revisions at that Holy Thursday Passover: From that night on, He Himself would be the sacrificed Lamb to be eaten under the appearance of unleavened bread, and it would be His Precious Blood that would liberate God’s people (not from the bondage of slavery, but from the much more terrible bondage of sin). The flesh to be consumed and the blood to save us would from now on be Jesus' own, offered for the life of the world.

"Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us."

Christ did not come to abolish the Old Testament, He came to fulfill it. You can see why it’s so important that we Catholics understand the Jewish roots of our Faith. From there, everything starts to come alive for us, and we begin to see the beauty of the whole tapestry of Truth, and how it all fits together.

There are many more Old Testament prefigurements of Christ, His Passion and His Crucifixion, and there are many more Old Testament prefigurements of the Mass and the Eucharist. I hope this whets your appetite for more.

See you next time for Part VII: Authority!



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Monday, September 19, 2011

Bubble pride is on the line! And other belated Quick Takes

Whew! Thank goodness there are no Quick Takes police around here, making sure that these things run only on Fridays.

(I mean… there aren't any, right Jen?)



1. I guess I'm just a little paranoid because today we deal in Chicago-style politics. The gloves are off and the shameless influencing of votes begins. That's right: The Bubble has been nominated for its first ever blogger award!!!!  (Well, it's technically an anti-award, but still…) Thanks to Rebecca, aka The Mom at Shoved To Them, who nominated me for a Cannonball Award in the "Best Armchair Theologian" category on the Crescat's blog. I am so honored by that sole nomination that I am not only begging every last one of you (even those who hate my guts) to go and vote for me, right here, but also thuggishly demanding that you vote early and often (once a day is permitted, I believe).

Now, clearly The Mom and I are engaged in a conspiracy of corruption; you know… you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. So, I urge you to vote for Shoved to Them in her categories, too! Cronyism is alive and well!

Oh, and since it's clear that Stacy of Accepting Abundance deserves to win in my category instead of me (and since I am trying to undermine her chances), please do vote for Stacy in "Best New Kid on the Block" so that she can go home with a Cannonball, also. With the war she's been through, she needs the ammunition. ;)

While we're at it, please also pull the lever for Calah at Barefoot and Pregnant, Steve Gershom, and Hallie at Betty Beguiles in their respective categories. And anyone else whom I've neglected to mention but whose votes I wish to coerce.

C'mon now people, surely some of you used to work for ACORN, so go and buy some votes! Bubble pride is on the line!!


2. I believe my posts have been fewer and farther between lately. And yet, is it normal to have 171 drafts? I mean, seriously.


3. Speaking of, here are the working titles of some of my posts-in-progress:

The Cult of the Expert
Moral simplicity leads to tyranny?
To believe in sola scriptura means…
Love is not based on negation
The miracle of mercy
Are you wiser than a 17th Century Catholic peasant?
A small story of suffering
Feminists and fear
The worst moment on my blog
Reasons I should never have had eight kids*
Why all sexual sin is serious sin
I wonder what happened to Gina? An abortion story
The fear of becoming Catholic
Natural law vs. positive law
Bring back Pinocchio
Is there such thing as "the one"?
Why sex is different from eating ice cream

And so many more. That you may or may not ever see.


4. This post by Devin Rose has haunted me for days, while simultaneously causing me to burst out laughing involuntarily when I think of it. Devin's questions about the video are even funnier than the video itself. If laughing at something like this is wrong, I don't wanna be right:


Thank God I am Catholic. (That's not elitist, by the way, because we Catholics want everyone to be Catholic!)

5. One reason I haven't been as active on my own blog is that I have been dialoguing with the homosexuals/atheists on Stacy's blog. Coincidentally, the following post came at the perfect time for some comic relief:


Seriously hilarious, and so true! Any Catholic blogger who has written a controversial post and gotten atheist blowback will enjoy it. And any novice anti-Catholic commenters can go there to find their marching orders. ;)

6. I've always loved singer Collin Raye, even before I became a big fan of country music. But I love him even more today, as he recently became the new spokesman for the Life and Hope Network founded by Terri Schiavo's family. As you can read here, Terri's story is very personal to Mr. Raye. God bless him and the Schindler Family. We will never forget Terri.

7. Um, yeah, just a reminder to go now and vote for me, here. And again tomorrow. And the next day. Because if I lose, you're all going down with me.








*but thank God I did anyway! Yay!





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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Human Dignity, a reminder


Back on February 23, I published the following post. I wrote it in response to the discussions we were having at the time, about the "hook-up" culture. But in light of the homosexual/atheist discussions we've had lately, I thought I'd offer it again as a reminder.




The great conversation continues about the "hook-up" culture, a culture that I contend is the natural result of the the sexual revolution and modern feminist philosophy. I want to thank Complicated Life for making an excellent point during a discussion of sexual purity:
Sexual purity is rightly to be valued and honored, but it is not the source of a woman (or man's) self-worth. We have worth because of our human dignity. Sexual purity is proper to our DIGNITY as human persons; a dignity that is inherent in being a person.
This cannot be stressed enough: No one has to earn or apply for human dignity. Not the unborn, not the elderly, not the disabled, not the mentally ill, not the hardened criminal. Not anyone. No one has to prove his innate value. Human beings have value simply because we exist. Our dignity is inherent.


Are you a nasty gossip? You still have human dignity.
Are you a lazy slob? You still have human dignity.
Are you a lecherous creep? You still have human dignity.
Are you a greedy corporate raider? You still have human dignity.
Are you an unrepentant serial killer? You still have human dignity. 


Do you feel like the most worthless, unloved, unknown person on the planet? It's not true. You are worthy, loved and known. And you have human dignity.


But why? 


Because human beings were made in the image and likeness of God. It's that simple. 


It's true that we can speak against our human dignity, we can act against our human dignity, we can deny or denounce our human dignity, but we cannot erase it or change the reality of it.


Pope Benedict XVI said it beautifully:
We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.
You are not a random product of chance. You are not a fluke. You are not here by accident, just waiting to go "poof" into non-existence someday. You are known. You were planned. You exist because Someone wanted you to exist. 

As I've said before and will continue to say, you were made to love and be loved.

And if you understand what true love is, and Who true love is, you will never doubt your own human dignity again, and you will begin to live as a child of God.







Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Normalizing pedophilia: The next stop on the Free-Love Train

_____



It seems to me that the culture is ripe for the eventual normalization of pedophilia. As I see it, there are three conditions necessary for that normalization to occur; the first is practically a lock already, the second is becoming more mainstream by the day, and the third is on the horizon and making gains.


1. The belief that sex is simply for pleasure

The Planned Parenthood Secular Left tells us time and time again that sex is certainly not primarily about making babies. It is primarily about pleasure, very much like indulging in a delectable ice cream sundae. And if one is not pleasuring oneself alone (with or without the aid of pornography), then the pleasure might be accompanied by a sense of communication and bonding and fun -- with one, two, or even a dozen others of any or all genders. Sex is casual and it is free. It is not bound by the natural or moral law, and its purpose and meaning and application is utterly subjective. The right to sexual pleasure and orgasm is so paramount that it even supersedes the right to life of an "unwanted" child who may be conceived in its pursuit. Simple.


2. The belief that children are sexual beings with sexual rights

The Planned Parenthood Secular Left teaches our children that they are "sexual beings" from birth, and that they have a right to sexual pleasure (see #1). Just this year, International Planned Parenthood Federation released a long and detailed pamphlet detailing the "sexual rights" of "young people" (i.e., children) around the globe, which includes the following principles (all emphases mine):

Young people are sexual beings. They have sexual needs, desires, fantasies and dreams. It is important for all young people around the world to be able to explore, experience and express their sexualities in healthy, positive, pleasurable and safe ways. This can only happen when young people’s sexual rights are guaranteed.


Sexuality and sexual pleasure are important parts of being human for everyone -- no matter what age, no matter if you’re married or not and no matter if you want to have children or not.


Sexuality and sexual pleasure are important for all young people, irrespective of reproductive desires.

No ambiguity there.


3. The belief that ages of consent are problematic

There are intelligent people advocating for a lowering of the age of consent as we speak. This move to give children more sexual freedom is at work everywhere that the Planned Parenthood mentality exists. Let's check International Planned Parenthood's manifesto again:

[S]triking the right balance between protection and autonomy is a complex process that requires looking at the individual capacity of each young person, rather than focusing on someone’s age.


Since each young person develops at their [sic] own pace, there is no universal age at which certain sexual rights and protections gain or lose importance.


In all situations, the evolving capacities of young people to autonomously exercise their rights must be recognized.


Who are we to say when any particular child has the "evolved capacity" to engage in the fun and pleasure of sex? If you object and say that children clearly cannot "consent", then perhaps you are not forward thinking. As Planned Parenthood insists:

We must approach young people’s sexual rights in a progressive way.

What can that mean but to give children more room to explore and express sex openly, with fewer restrictions?

So let's recap: If sex is for pleasure and fun, if children are sexual beings with sexual rights and autonomy, and if ages of consent are problematic and not in keeping with "evolving capacities", then why shouldn't children be able to express their sexuality with the adults whom they love or admire? And why would an adult be prohibited from helping that child explore his or her sexuality in a "progressive" way?

Now, of course most of us recognize that adults having sex with children is an abomination and beyond the bounds that any decent society would accept. Such activity harms children in myriad ways. But there are entire groups out there who argue that it is only societal taboos and stigmas that cause harm to youngsters involved in adult-child relationships. If we rid ourselves of such damaging societal constructs, they say, all the negatives would disappear; it's the stigma that is the problem.

After all, lots of things that we accept and embrace now used to be seen as abominations, rejected by decent society. Once upon a time, contraception was seen as a horrible degradation of marriage. Then suddenly it wasn't. For a while after that, abortion was still an unthinkable crime. But then that became acceptable, too. Premarital sex and promiscuity was taboo, immoral. Now, it's a healthy expression of sexuality. And until just a few years ago, homosexual unions were unspeakable and shameful. Now, there is a push for gay "marriage" and we see millions cheering it on or at least asking, "What's the big deal?"

And yet in light of this, for some odd reason, everyone* who now promotes and exults in the once-disgraceful acts of contraception, abortion, fornication, homosexuality, etc., mocks and dismisses the idea that pedophilia might be the next taboo to fall.

My question to them is simply and sincerely: Why?




*Well, not quite everyone, as the normalizing of pedophilia has already begun. Read more here and here and here and here and here and here.



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Friday, September 9, 2011

Protestants: It's time to come back

To my Protestant brothers and sisters:

It's time to come back to Mother Church. We want you, we need you, we love you.

I've spent a lot of time in dialogue with activist atheists recently, and the direction we are going is not pretty. We are witnessing a rapid cultural decline into amorality.

Satan seeks the ruin of souls through the destruction of marriage and family, and the quickest route to his goal is the profanation of sex. The truth and meaning of human sexuality is our era's cultural fault line, and unfortunately, Protestant denominations have been tumbling into its widening crevace at an alarming pace.

The first cracks denying the sacred nature of human sexuality began mere decades ago with the first tentative acceptance of contraception by a Christian church (the Anglicans). After 1,900+ years of unbroken Christian teaching on the immorality of contraception (including 400+ years of unbroken Protestant teaching), a moral evil was suddenly declared good. The entirety of Protestantism, although horrified at first, soon followed suit.

"Woe to those who call evil good" -- Isaiah 5:20

Then came other issues -- sterilization, masturbation, abortion, fornication and cohabiting, homosexual activity and homosexual "marriage". One by one, Protestant communities have broken from Christian teaching and sided with the secular culture. Many Protestant communities do not accept all the aforementioned evils as good, of course, and some are making a valiant attempt to fight one or more of them. However, there is no guarantee that those denominations won't eventually accept other sexual sins in the same way they accepted contraception, sterilization and masturbation. A majority vote by church leaders could launch an unsuspecting Protestant from the Spirit of the Gospel right into the spirit of the age -- the Planned Parenthood age.

Look where you are standing. Unless you stand with the Catholic Church, you may already have one foot off the cliff.

How to guarantee that you'll stand firmly on the ground of moral Truth? Come back home to the Catholic Church.

For over two thousand years:

The Catholic Church has never taught that contraception is a moral good, and she never will.
The Catholic Church has never taught that sterilization is a moral good, and she never will.
The Catholic Church has never taught that masturbation is a moral good, and she never will.
The Catholic Church has never taught that abortion is a moral good, and she never will.
The Catholic Church has never taught that fornication is a moral good, and she never will.
The Catholic Church has never taught that homosexual activity is a moral good, and she never will.

The moral teachings of the Church have never changed, and they never will.

Human sexuality is transcendent, life-giving and sacred, and the Catholic Church will teach that Truth till the last day.

Dear Protestant, a church with a changing morality is a church built on shifting sand. If you want to build your life and eternity on something solid, build it on the Rock of Peter. Don't be carried about by every wind of social change; come back to the Catholic Church and stand strong with us -- one united Body as Jesus intended.

America may not survive many more generations at the rate we are going, but the Church and her teachings will stand regardless, speaking the same Truths, undisturbed, till the end of time. Believe me, it's a really nice place to be in a storm. Extremely peaceful.

So, come on. You'll like it here, living in peace and joy and certainty. It's your rightful home anyway.

Come back to Holy Mother Church. It really is time.






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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

As I've said in my intro...

…this is a teaching and learning blog. And because so many of you (Catholic or not) are interested in learning more about the Catholic Faith, I am excited to tell you about what my own parish is doing in that regard and how it relates to you.

My amazing pastor Fr. John Ehrich* established the Institute of Catholic Theology a couple of years back so that any adult with a desire to learn more about the Faith is able to access outstanding instruction on a wide range of topics.

What's it to you, dear readers? Well, the classes are taught in person, but also via streaming video!** Yay!! Many out-of-towners take the classes right along with the folks sitting in the classroom. Not only can those out-of-towners access the streaming video in real time***, they can also later watch the recorded videos, which are available for a total of eight weeks (the six weeks of class and then for two weeks after).

Each course, taught at an undergraduate level and geared toward the average layman, is only $50 (plus the cost of an inexpensive book, if needed). Such a deal!

Check out the three classes which are starting up next week:


St. Augustine’s “City of God”
MONDAY EVENINGS 6:30PM-8:30PM
September 12 – October 17
Professor : Rev. Oliver Vietor, M.Div

“The City of God is the autobiography of the Church written by the most Catholic of her great saints…The City of God, for those who can understand it, contains the secret of death and life, war and peace, hell and heaven” (Thomas Merton, introduction to the Modern Library Edition). The class will read and discuss selections from Saint Augustine’s great work and will gain a deeper understanding of scripture, theology, history, and spirituality. “For what other end do we propose to ourselves than to attain to the kingdom of which there is no end?” (Book XXII.30)


An Introduction to Plato
WEDNESDAY EVENINGS 6:30PM-8:30PM
September 14 – October 19
Professor : Thomas E. Lordan, JD, MA, ABD

This course is for students who are new to Plato, as well as for those who may have studied him before. Why study Plato? As C.S. Lewis’ devil, Screwtape, put it, when we moderns are confronted by the work of an ancient author, the one thing we have been taught never to ask is whether it is true. We must try to overcome that modern prejudice. Western culture is principally based on two things: Greek philosophy (Plato and Aristotle) and Judaeo-Christian revelation (the Bible). In a time, like ours, of massive deculturation, it is vital to return to the sources. As John Paul II put it, faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth. Plato and Aristotle may be said to have been the first “Fathers of the Church,” even before there was a Church. Plato, the first philosopher, wrote dialogues, that is, little dramas, in most of which the hero was Socrates. Plato stands to Socrates as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John stand to Jesus. Socrates discovered and articulated the dimensions of the human soul. Like Jesus, he was unjustly put to death by the authorities in the society whose order he disturbed. We will consider especially the following dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo (chronicling the “Last Days of Socrates”); Gorgias and Republic (two of Plato’s most important ethical-political works); and Phaedrus and Symposium (Plato’s dialogues on love). These are available on-line, or may be purchased in inexpensive editions.


Your Mother Wears Army Boots...and You Should, Too: Basic Training in Apologetics
THURSDAY EVENINGS 6:30PM-8:30PM
September 15 – October 20
Professor: Rob Drapeau, MA.Ed

"Your mother wears army boots!" This familiar schoolyard taunt has prompted more than one playground pugilist to put up his dukes in defense of his mother's reputation, but worse things are said about the Catholic Church every day. Are you going to let them talk about your mom like that? At Confirmation we became soldiers for Christ, fully initiated members of the Church Militant. As such, we are obliged to readily and charitably defend our Mother whenever she is attacked. Can you do this? This class will equip you to:
  • win any argument without cheating
  • defend your faith without being defensive (or offensive!)
  • use your sword and shield (the Bible and faith) together effectively
  • stump your anti-Catholic brother-in-law this Thanksgiving with "Jesus Judo"
  • be unapologetic when you apologize (give reasons for your beliefs)
Join us to develop or hone your skills. All are welcome!

______

Sound good so far? Yes! But if you're wondering what what caliber of professor you can expect for $50, check 'em out!



Rev. Oliver Vietor, M.Div.

Rev. Oliver Vietor has a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy and a M.Div. from Yale University Divinity School. He was ordained in the Catholic Church under the terms of the Pastoral Provision for former Episcopal clergymen. He and his wife, Ashley, and their six children have lived in Phoenix since 2005 and began attending St. Thomas the Apostle in 2007. He taught in the Institute last year and has taught previously in his ministry and in high school.


Thomas Lordan, MA, JD

Thomas Lordan graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1971 with a B.A. major in Philosophy, and graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1974. He was a member of the Notre Dame London Center for Legal Studies in London, England during the 1972-1973 academic year. In 1996, he received an M.A. in Politics, with a concentration in political theory, from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and completed all but his dissertation for the Ph.D. degree. Thomas has been a practicing lawyer since 1974, and is licensed in Arizona, Ohio, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. His practice has been primarily in commercial law, both litigation and transactions.


Rob Drapeau, MA.Ed.

Rob Drapeau is a teacher and writer with over ten years experience teaching Theology to students ranging from fifth graders in their wonder years to retirees in their golden years. He spent eight years as a Theology Instructor at Brophy College Preparatory and has taught Monday School, a theology-for-beginners class at St. Thomas the Apostle, for the past two years. Rob has an BA in Religious Studies from the University of Arizona and an MAEd in Educational Technology from the University of Phoenix.
Currently, Rob owns and operates wordSwell, a small, business writing company, and teaches Theology, Latin, and Language Arts part-time to junior high kids at St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe School in Phoenix.
Rob is the proud father of Sophia, Joseph, Olivia, Annamaria Francesca, Max and Gemma, and the happy husband of Amy.
_____

Alas, it is true that Fr. Vietor and Rob Drapeau are personal friends of mine, but please don't let that deter you! They are much kinder and smarter than I!

To learn more about the Institute, go here, or to bypass everything because you can't wait to register this very second, go here.

When Fall Semester, 2nd Quarter rolls around, I will highlight those classes, too. Now get going because if you learn all the stuff they teach, you will know way more than I do, and then you can engage the atheists and Church-bashers in the Bubble and I will retire. Or, better yet, the atheists and Church-bashers can take the classes and then convert and become holy saints before the rest of us! :)



*Fr. Ehrich is my wonderful (young whipper-snapper!) pastor whose theological street cred (and real cred) speaks for itself!


Rev. John Ehrich, MA, M.Div., STL

Rev. John Ehrich, STL, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Phoenix in 2000. He earned his M.A. from St. Meinrad Seminary in 1998 and his MDiv in 2000. After five years of parish ministry, he studied moral theology at the Accademia Alfonsiana in Rome where he earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 2007. Fr. Ehrich is the Medical Ethics Director for the Diocese of Phoenix, chaplain of the Catholic Medical Association and chaplain of the Catholic Physician's Guild of Phoenix. Fr. Ehrich is currently the pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Phoenix, AZ. He is the founder and director of the St. Thomas the Apostle Institute of Catholic Theology.


**Perfect for all my fellow introverts!!


***Arizona is Mountain Standard Time

Monday, September 5, 2011

Random Thoughts (since I missed Quick Takes!)

Forgive me, Jen! I can't seem to time my Quick Takes to run every Friday. So, here I go with some thoughts after an interesting week:


1. You've probably already read it, but I have to recommend the following blog post at Bad Catholic for being the best post of all time:


And it's true! My goodness, if a person's gonna relish in and glorify mortal sin, at least do it well! Seriously one of the most refreshing, funny, and original posts ever.


2. In the aftermath of the attacks on Stacy by atheists on her blog, I got a taste of the left's "tolerance" for Catholics who dare speak the unchanging moral truths taught by the Catholic Church and the orthodox of every major world religion. Here's a short and representative excerpt from a lengthy dialogue I had with a gay atheist who emailed me:

[You] cause harm to LGBT families & your children & you don't care.


That makes you an evil person.


And at the end of the day, LGBT will receive full rights, despite your bigotry or your attempts to prevent us from receiving it.


And guess what else, throughout this whole conversation, you've caused me stress & you've hurt my feelings because this is hatred.


You hurt my feelings & you hurt the LGBT community.


You are a bad person. So catholic, indeed.

See, I believe that marriage is intrinsically heterosexual, and by saying so I hurt this man's feelings. I caused him stress. Therefore I am a "hater" and a "bigot", a "bad" and "evil" person. Oh yeah, and he called me a "whore" too, because that makes sense.

Ah, the "tolerance" of the tolerant left! Ya gotta love it!


3. Which leads me to my most oft-quoted quote of the week, from Archbishop Charles Chaput:
We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty -- these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it's never an end itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil.
Let me flesh it out a bit: Virtues are always good. We want always to be charitable, just, merciful, prudent, honest, etc. But tolerance does not fit that mold, because we know that tolerance is not always good. If some Germans tolerated the evil of the Holocaust, was that good? Was that virtuous? Of course not. If a nation tolerates slavery or abortion, is that a good thing? No way. So, tolerance is not an absolute good in that way that a virtue is. In fact, tolerance can become an evil in itself. The virtues never could.


4. So, modern feminists say they love strong women. But how do they feel about this strong, intelligent, beautiful young woman? Anne Marie Dust fought "the man" at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and won. She is a role model for courage and fortitude, and for the sheer joy she exudes. Feminists, do you cheer her on, or do you condemn her as a traitor to your gender? I'm seriously asking.





5. Speaking of the Culture of Death (which we were… didn't you watch the video?), check this out:


Talk about the Culture of Death proving itself! From the article:
A new study of the state of the 2.3 million Episcopal Church in America has found that a third of the 6,825 parishes in the U.S. have an average Sunday attendance of 40 or less and one of the main reasons cited for the decline is the consecration of an openly homosexual bishop in 2003.
It's really no surprise that living by the tenets of the anti-life culture (contraception, abortion, active homosexuality, euthanasia) leads to, well, death. The death of a very liberal denomination in this case. Many bewildered Episcopalians who still believe in the Christian Gospel are coming home to the Catholic Church, and those "progressives" who are left will become indistinguishable from the secular culture, just like the Episcopal Church itself.



6. Speaking of Anglicans (well, we were speaking of their American brethren, the Episcopalians!), I love this quote from Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman:

"Good is never accomplished except at the cost of those who do it, truth never breaks through except through the sacrifice of those who spread it." 

And Newman knew a thing or two about cost and sacrifice. What a humble, holy man and a towering intellect.



7. Speaking of Catholic heroes and saints in Britain (we were, you know!), go right this very minute to your netflix account and put A Man For All Seasons at the top of your queue. In 1966, this astoundingly good movie won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.

In the midst of his charming diatribe, the gay atheist (of #2 above) told me that "the Catholic Church telling King Henry VIII that he couldn't divorce*, causing him to break away from the Catholic Church" was "one of humanity's best moments." And a commenter from Britain called "gayatheist" (who advocates removing children from Catholic homes) opined that radical Islamists "might come after the catholics with any luck... Finish what Henry VIII started. Lol." 

So for those who want to see "one of humanity's best moments" (but not in the way that our atheist friends think) be sure to watch A Man for All Seasons and compare the actions and character of St. Thomas More to those of his former best friend, Henry VIII.

Enjoy!




*Henry VIII was actually seeking an annulment, not a divorce. But why let a little thing like a fact interrupt a perfectly good anti-Catholic screed?  ;)






Saturday, September 3, 2011

We are not dogs

In the past week, I've had the unpleasant experience of engaging in a series of exchanges with a herd of "freethinkers", secularists, atheists, and gay rights advocates. Lemme tell ya, it's dark and cold out there, folks. I've never thanked God so much for His mercy. In the meantime, a young Bubble reader, Margo, sent me a homily preached by her hometown priest from last Sunday. It fit in so perfectly with what I have witnessed this week that I have decided to reprint it here, with his permission. 

Fr. Josh Miller
Saints Peter and Paul Parish
Naperville, Illinois 
August 27, 2011

Two weeks ago, I preached a little bit about my family beagle and what dogs show us about sitting at the feet of the Master, and today I thought I’d continue that theme of exploring something else dogs can teach us about how we’re different from animals.

One thing about dogs, if you’ve ever noticed this, is that they’re relatively easy to make happy. Food, water, attention, and they’re good to go: the tail’s wagging, they’re happy and content if their needs are met. This is because dogs live from one stimulus to the next: they’re hungry, they’re sleepy, they want to play. They move from one thing to the next and seem absolutely contented when they get what they want.

But this isn’t so true for human beings. We’re more complicated: We all know that we can have everything we need and be miserable; we can have everything we need and still feel like something is missing. This is because human beings seek fulfillment, not just happiness. We need a grander sense of accomplishment, of having achieved something; that desire we have for absolute and total fulfillment in life is a strange thing, something my dog cannot experience.

So let’s look at St. Paul today. Paul tells us about the need to “offer [our] bodies as a spiritual sacrifice,” and warns us not to “conform [ourselves] to this age.” He warns us of this because in every age, but most certainly in ours, perhaps in our age more than Paul, the world around us always seems to be focused on happiness, rather than fulfillment. And this is where the world stands to get us in trouble, because it treats us as if we were animals rather than human beings. Modern society confuses happiness for fulfillment and urges us to move from one stimulus to the next, like my beagle.

Just to give you an example of this, how we continually confuse happiness for fulfillment in this culture, John Paul the Great deals with the concept of “freedom” in his Veritatis Splendor. Now, don’t feel embarrassed here if this is your view, but when I say the word “freedom” most Americans in our society today would say that “freedom” means an individual should have the right to do whatever he or she desires so long as it doesn’t impede upon the freedom or rights of others. But what John Paul the Great notes is that this is actually a perversion of the word “freedom,” since the word has always meant our unimpeded ability to choose what is good. Not whatever we say is good, not whatever we designate as good, but what is truly and objectively good. What modern society has done in the past couple of centuries is say that freedom is all about your happiness, what you desire, rather than what will bring you absolute fulfillment, and this is absolutely problematic in our current society.

Modern society has reduced us to dogs. Everything in our culture has become emotionally driven nowadays. We make our decisions, we focus on everything through emotional desire, what we want in the moment. This is what St. Paul warns us about.

One of my favorite living Catholic writers is a man by the name of John C. Wright. He’s a brilliant man, and he spends most of his time writing science fiction novels. Strangely, the best and the brightest Catholic writers nowadays are writing in the science fiction and fantasy genres. I came across a quote this week that highlights precisely what I’m trying to get at with this misplaced emotion in our society, and I thought I’d share it with you. John C. Wright says:
We live in the midst of a Dark Age, that is, an age when intellectual and literate things are despised by the intellectuals and the literati. A Dark Age approves of emotional rather than intellectual response, the emotions judged and ranked according to purity and glitter, like precious stones.
It seems to John C. Wright, as it seems to me and countless others in the Church today who attempt to live according to the Gospel, that we have become entirely emotionally and impulsively driven. Humanity has been prone to this throughout time; when Peter is rebuked by our Lord in today’s gospel, he’s rebuked because he’s let his emotion overcome him. In his bravado, in his emotional understanding of things, he stands up and says, “No, Lord, we can’t let anything like your suffering and death happen! This won’t work!” And yet Jesus, who actually thinks things through, is focused on fulfillment. And this is precisely why he rebukes Peter, tells him to get away, to stop tempting him with his nonsense.

Nonsense. That’s really what the world offers us. If left to my emotional impulses I end up like my dog, moving from one thing to the next, endlessly choosing what makes me “happy” without ever finding fulfillment. And God forbid someone should try and break that chain for me, tell me that something I’ve chosen is actually toxic to me in the grand scheme of things: How dare they try and do that, when my emotional senses tell me something is good?

People sometimes ask me why priests never preach on controversial topic x, y, or z. The answer there is that the greatest social crime someone can commit in our fickle culture is making someone else feel bad. And because people today tend to form their opinions through emotional desire, preaching what is objectively true through Reason, which does not account for your feelings one iota, can end up with a lot of hurt feelings. The truth hurts, especially in a culture that rarely stops “feeling” their emotions long enough to think. Abortion, euthanasia, and a host of other topics are debated on the other side of the Church not through reason-able, rational argumentation, but through emotion, through that false sense of what freedom means, through our desire to make no one feel bad or put out. But what the Cross shows us time and time again is that fulfillment, humanity’s highest end, is often going to feel bad. Fulfillment isn’t always going to feel good.

But that’s what it’s all about. Fulfillment, finding our Highest and most Perfect Good. The world tells us that it’s to be found in emotional happiness. Don’t buy it.

Rather, pray for what St. Paul calls “a renewal of the mind,” so that we might sharpen all the tools God has given us to choose what will bring us to fulfillment. Let our emotions serve our minds, and not the other way around. In doing so, we will know a sense of true freedom as we continue to grow ever closer to the Highest Good in God, who is that Good which no greater can be thought.



Amen!






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