Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mortal Sin and Venial Sin

All right fellow sinners, let's get right to it!

The Bible speaks of degrees of sin:
1 John 5:16-17: "If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal."
Some translations read "deadly" instead of "mortal," but since deadly and mortal are synonymous, we're good.

Did you know that was in the Bible?* Neither did I, until just a few years ago. Since it is explicit, I don't have an explanation for why most Protestants have a problem with the concept of mortal sin. At the very least, the concept of degrees of sin is there, right? Clearly, some sins are more serious than others.

And that leads us to the actual point of this post. 

The Catholic Church teaches that some sins are mortal (serious) and some are venial (less serious). 

Mortal sin is what the name implies: Mortal sin = spiritual death. A mortal sin severs our friendship with God and kills the sanctifiying grace in our souls. Without sanctifying grace in our souls, we are not fit for Heaven. 

Venial sin is less serious sin, which does not destroy our friendship with God. Venial sins do not kill the sanctifying grace in our souls, although they do weaken the will and darken the intellect. A million venial sins won't "add up" to a mortal sin, but a habit of venial sin does make it easier to begin to commit mortal sin.

There are three conditions that must be present before a mortal sin is committed:

1. The sin in question must be of a grave matter
2. The sin must be committed with full knowledge of its gravity
3. The sin must be committed with full consent of the will

Please note: If any of those three conditions do not apply, the person is guilty only of a venial sin. One cannot "accidentally" commit a mortal sin and fall into hell, as mortal sin requires a deliberate choice on the part of the sinner. And, if you suffer from scrupulosity, I beg you to read this post next.

The next logical question people ask is: "Where is the list of mortal sins?" The Church does not provide a definitive list, but there are helpful guidelines to aid in discernment. Some are obvious (i.e., murder; adultery) and some less so (i.e, taking advantage of the poor; extreme anger). If you suffer from scrupulosity, I would suggest you not agonize over the list of mortal sins. That's kind of like consulting Dr. Google instead of a doctor -- it's ill-advised for an anxious soul and might do more harm than good! 

In summary: Mortal sin kills the life of grace, venial sin wounds the life of grace.

Remember, I call these "Little Teachings From the Bubble"! That's all I've got for today! 

*We Catholics don't subscribe to the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (i.e., the Bible is a Christian's only authority), so it wouldn't be a deal-breaker even if it were not explicit in the Bible. More on sola scriptura in a future post. 


Quick Post!

Okay, since there are some good secular folk in the Bubble who don't take biblical arguments as proof of anything, I thought I should mention the one book that every Christian/Catholic should have on his shelf in order to feel confident that Christian truths can be defended philosophically and logically. It tackles all the "hard questions" about God and Christianity, using aristotelian logic. Great little reference book!

Handbook of Christian Apologetics, by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli

Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions

I guess this qualifies as:

Monday, September 27, 2010

We must be kind, but not "nice"

I know many of us were shaken by the "blog war" that broke out last week. The extent of the vitriol was unexpected, and some of us are still decompressing.

I was still sorting it all out when providential encouragement came in Saturday's mail, in the form of a local crisis pregnancy center's newsletter. It contained excerpts from a speech that our beloved Bishop Thomas Olmsted had recently delivered at a pro-life luncheon. Anyone who knows Bishop Olmsted knows that he is a gentle, kind and holy soul. Not loud, bombastic or combative, but joyful, peaceful and caring. I daresay he is one of the "nicest" men you'll ever meet. In his own words:
Do not be "nice"; instead, tell the tough truths. At no place in the Sacred Scriptures does it say: Be nice! However, popular portrayals of Christianity would lead us to think that the first and greatest commandment is niceness.
The English word "nice" comes from the Latin word "nescius" --meaning "ignorant, knowing nothing." In English usage of the 13th century, "nice" meant "foolish, stupid, senseless." Today, it means hurting no one's feelings, without regard to what is true or good or right. Garrison Keillor said, You taught me to be nice, so nice that now I am so full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no outrage, no passion.
St. Paul writes to Timothy (2 Tim 4:2-4), Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths....
John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae (#58): The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception.
....So what to do? Should we not recall Jesus' charge: Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. He knows what He is doing.
....Love our enemies. Love is not "nice." Love is kind; it is patient; love does not rejoice in what is wrong, but rejoices in the truth.... Love is best illustrated by Jesus on the Cross, where He forgave those who put Him to death, where He died so that we sinners might have forgiveness and new life. Love is not cowardly but it is fair, while relentlessly opposing all threats to the dignity of human life. 
....So, do not be "nice"; be kind and tell the truth. Love your wives, your husbands, your children. Love your enemies. Do not be discouraged.
It was not till tonight that I realized (duh!) that the word "discourage" has "courage" as its root. We need courage to counteract our dis-courage-ment. And courage just might be the virtue most lacking today among Christians.

About a year ago, Danya approached Bishop Olmsted and asked him how we Catholics can best dialogue about the contentious, unpopular and controversial teachings of the Church, especially when we know we will be met with mockery, hostility and personal attacks. This meek and humble man responded that at those times, we must set aside our own fears, anxieties and dread, and we must simply speak the truth.



Just Curious.... Who's out there?

I am just curious about who is out there reading! Lurkers and newbies are as much a part of the Bubble as the "regulars," and even though it's not National De-Lurker Day, I would love for you to say hello! 

Also, for regulars and lurkers, how did you find the Bubble? Do you have a blog of your own? Are you Catholic?

I am allowing anonymous posts this time, so I can't wait to hear from you! 

Also, if you follow the Bubble regularly, click on the "Follow" button at the top of the screen. I don't post my followers publicly, so no one will ever know. And I won't "out" you!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why does anyone care what the Catholic Church says?

We are Americans. We love our independence and our freedom, and we love to question (and sometimes reject) authority.

So, it seems odd to most Americans -- and dare I say, most American Catholics -- that anyone would submit to the authority of a Pope in Rome or a collection of bishops. But if you follow the logic, you'll see that it's not so crazy, from the Catholic point of view. Think about it:

If Jesus literally rose from the dead, then He is God, and I will submit to Him in all things.
If Jesus established a Church, then I will be a member of His Church.
If Jesus appointed leaders for His Church and delegated His teaching authority to those leaders, then I will submit to those leaders when they speak on matters of salvation, faith and morals.

Those are some big ifs, and I won't set about to prove any of them today. Obviously, many folks dispute one or all of them.

If any one of those ifs is untrue, then the Catholic Church is irrelevant and can be ignored.

But if they all are true, then we have just answered the question, "Why does anyone care what the Catholic Church says?"

Friday, September 24, 2010

Answer to DQS, Moral Reasoning 101! The ends don't justify the means.

Wow! This may be the first Doctrinal Quiz Show where everyone got more or less the right answer

The dilemma was this:

Terrorists are holding you and hundreds of other innocent people hostage. You are told that if you press a button that will kill just one of the innocent hostages, you and all the others will be released unharmed. If you don't press the button, the terrorists will kill you and all of the hostages. Morally speaking, may you press the button? Why or why not?

I don't know if I can say it better than all of you did, so I am just going to pick out one of the answers and repost it. How 'bout... Sarah's:

Can't push the button. Human life is sacred. Every single life is as sacred and valuable as the next. You cannot make decisions on stats and numbers. It is utilitarian to do what would be best for "most people" if it means the destruction of even one. Now, it would be different if one person volunteered to die in place of the others. That is a heroic sacrifice. But the minute I push that button is the minute I kill a human being, I take their inherently valuable life, a life that was not mine to take. 
Some may say my refusal to push the button "killed" 100 people. No, if the terrorists go through with their threat, they are the killers.

Exactly! The end (saving lives) doesn't justify the means (murder of an innocent). 

In other words, we can never do an evil in order to bring about a good. 

Remember, outcome is not our concern. God will take care of that, in His way. We simply do the will of the Lord in all things, and we leave the outcome and the judgement to Him. If a mass murder happens, the terrorists are culpable for that horrible crime. As Wheelbarrow Rider said, there are worse things than death.... And as Lowly beautifully quoted from Aristotle: It is better to have injustice done upon you, than to do an act of injustice upon another!

(The question of "double effect" is for another post, another day, but thank you to Lowly again for rightly pointing out that Megan's example was an example of double effect and did not apply to this case. Double effect would also apply in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. Also, this is not a case of self-defense, as the person to be killed is not the aggressor.)

As Sarah mentioned, a person could volunteer to sacrifice his own life for another (or others). This is what Christ did for us on the Cross, and we know from Scripture that "greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Such an act is not suicide but heroic virtue, and thanks to Ann for pointing out that St. Maximilian Kolbe did that very thing for a fellow prisoner at Auschwitz. 

Your answers are a great consolation to me, as almost everyone in my daughter's class answered the question the other way. 

In fact, one Christian mom (a good woman) told her daughter later that it would be immoral not to push the button! I wanted to give her another scenario to see if she still felt the same way: What if the terrorists told all the men to torture and rape the women, and they would all get to live? Would it be moral for the men to do so? What if the terrorists told you to kill all the small children and the rest of the group would be set free? Would that be a moral act? Or any other nightmare scenario you can dream up. Hopefully you see that we are not permitted to do evil, monstrous things even to bring about a great good.

Okay, enough of killing, rape and torture! On to Bubble Awards!!!

I can't award a Grand Prize because it was a huge tie!

So, some lesser awards, but still worth a place on your mantle:

The How'd She Do That?! Award goes to Lowly, for pulling a perfectly relevant Aristotle quote out of her head, clarifying a double effect scenario for another contestant, and profoundly declaring that "utilitarianism is yucky" all while working with a broken right shift button!

On the other hand, Lowly also gets the Laziness Is No Excuse For Bad Grammar Award! Congratulations, Lowly, I believe yours is the first "Double Bubble"!

The I Thought It Was M*A*S*H And Not Ann Frank....Could Someone Clarify That? Award goes to Beth and Brenda! (Actually, that is not really an award as much as it is a question from me. Anyone know for sure?)

The Ex-Patriot In The Swiss Timezone Early Advantage Award goes to Monica! With extra points for going from deist to Catholic catechumen in 0 - 60 days! 

And, finally, the You People Are Really Stupid Award goes to Jenny, for reminding us all that there is more than one way out of a terrorist hostage situation anyway!

Thanks for playing along, and I'll see you all for the next installment of Doctrinal Quiz Show!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Doctrinal Quiz Show! Moral Reasoning 101 (Or, What All Christians Used to Know)

Welcome once again to DQS!!! This Quiz Show is a bit different from the others. First, there are only two possible answers (but explanations may vary). Second, there is no holey soap prize!! That's right... even though a couple of sleuthy bloggers found a retail source for the exfoliating cleanser, I have decided that its plenitude would only serve to diminish the magic of receiving what used to be a rare and precious gift. However, the impressive and coveted Bubble Awards will still apply.  :)

My daughter is a sophomore in high school. A question came up in her Humane Letters class recently which caused quite a stir. Admittedly, it is an outlandish example that would never happen in real life, but it's a good academic exercise nevertheless. Give it a try:

Terrorists are holding you and hundreds of other innocent people hostage. You are told that if you press a button that will kill just one of the innocent hostages, you and all the others will be released unharmed. If you don't press the button, the terrorists will kill you and all of the hostages. Morally speaking, may you press the button? Why or why not?

*PS and off-topic: I am worn out from everything that's happened on the blogs lately. I know many of you are, too. I pushed ahead with a new post because there's so much that I want to cover (and, my daughter has been asking me for a while to get this particular post published). But if it takes me a day or two to get back with the answer, please understand that I am decompressing. And processing. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Defining the purpose of my blog in light of recent events

The other day, there was this. Today, there was this. Then, within minutes of that, a new commenter left a new comment on an old blog post: 

I am a recovering Liberal, so I totally get you on this one. All those closed doors within our minds, guarded by rage and spleen, trying with impotent rage to defend the myriad logical flaws in our position, because we are RIGHT and if we let others tear down our divinely-ordained moral authority, those crazy Fascists who disagree with us will WIN and everyone will be doomed to abject misery, like all humans throughout history were, until 1960. 
By and large, this mindset is what you are up against. I call it the Principle of the Inevitable Extreme Fundamentalism of Received Wisdom. Left-leaning ideology is the "received wisdom" now, and the more true this becomes, the more violent and irrational its proponents will become. Like the received wisdom of the past (racial segregation, anyone?), those who subscribe to it feel assured of general approval from others, and so feel little need to think things through on a case-by-case basis. It is much easier to swallow an entire ideology allow ourselves to stop thinking...than to continually use our brains and assess the world around us. As this process takes place, argument will become more hysterical and consist more and more of a complete shutting down of argument, by way of the tried and true "How dare you disagree with me? What kind of person are you?" 
Please understand, this isn't what most of us mean to do. But when an otherwise reasonable person comes up against the shut doors in his or her mind, and is *morally certain* that the antagonist in debate "just can't see what I see", when this person is certain that those doors are shutting out *anarchy and tyranny* rather than *reason*...well, even the most generally reasonable and gentle person can get pretty shrill. 

So now, when somebody asks me my political leanings, I say "Catholic". At least that's a position I can defend, because I know for sure what it stands for! 

In light of all that, and in light of the responses to this and this, I have been mulling over the purpose of this blog. Here's what I have come up with:

I want this to be a teaching blog. 

But teach whom? Well, Catholics, mainly. Both the lurkers and those known to me. I want Catholics to see that our Faith is cohesive, consistent and reasonable, and I want them to be able to teach it in their own homes and communities, and defend it in the world. I want to help make up for the catechesis deficit we've had for the past two generations.

Do I expect to be attacked for speaking the Truth bluntly? Yes. We live in a "feel good" world, and if what I present doesn't make you "feel good," then I risk feeling your wrath. That's okay, and I can take it. 

Can I be counted on to dialogue respectfully and unemotionally with those who disagree? Yes, ask Miss Gwen. :) But I will speak the plain truth as I see it, even if it's unpopular or makes people uncomfortable. I don't sugarcoat, because a) we need to be able to dialogue like grown-ups, and b) it wastes time. Time is valuable, people! Many may chafe at my straight-talk approach; they are free to read other, more soothing blogs.

Do I hope to plant seeds for the non-believers or Catholic-bashers, maybe even winning them over to our side? Of course! But that is not my primary aim. Pope John Paul II once said that it's impossible to correct every error we encounter, but we must always speak the truth. I know that some folks will never be convinced, and others will react with a knee-jerk emotional outburst. I accept that. I won't censor them, and I will occasionally dissect their words to get to the truth of the matter.

By the way, in matters of politics and policy, the opinions on this blog are my own. In matters of theology, I don't give my opinion, I simply pass along what the Church teaches. Truth originates with God, and our only job is to seek it humbly, then live it.

But in addition to being a teaching blog, I want this blog to be a learning blog, with me as the student. First, I want to learn what makes leftist/liberal/atheist minds tick. Why do they think as they do? As I've said before, the liberal mindset makes no logical sense to me (except when a rare and honest liberal like Miss Gwen is able to follow a premise to its inevitable, logical conclusion).

I also want to learn from the amazing women I have befriended on these blogs. So many of you have struggled with heavy crosses, and have grown more virtuous and holy as you humbly die to self and cling to Christ. I want to keep learning at your feet, which is why I so enjoy reading your edifying comments here and on your own blogs.

A teaching blog and a learning blog. Yep, that's what I want this to be.

Some posts on the Bubble's horizon:

Mortal vs. venial sin
Do Catholics think everyone is going to hell?
Moral Reasoning 101 (what makes an action moral?)... quiz form!

Some of the most common illogical arguments
The agony of scrupulosity 
Where liberal logic is unassailable
Why does the idea objective truth make people so emotional?
A really cool post on sexual sin

I don't know if this post makes sense to anyone but me. It was a "thinking out loud" post. Thanks for listening in!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Answering Sophie: Mother Teresa vs. Margaret Sanger

I want to address Sophie Fletcher's comments from yesterday's post comparing Mother Teresa and Margaret Sanger.

Sophie's comments are in red italics.

Wow. I don't mean to butt in here, but I am sensing a bit of bias against Sanger. 

Actually, you should be sensing a huge bias against Sanger here.  :)

I do have a few questions as to some of your points, Leila. I'm sorry if I word my questions bluntly--I don't mean to offend, but I haven't got much time right now and I am simply curious.

Totally fine. I love straight talk!

You say "Mother Teresa was truly humble and radiated joy" etc while Sanger was "proud, troubled selfish and never at peace." I thought both Mother Teresa and Sanger did much for others, especially the poor--Mother Teresa through her physical care, and Sanger through her distribution of contraception. 

Oh, yes, they both did a lot for others. In a way that was diametrically opposed.

Mother Teresa loved and cared for the untouchables of society, taking them out of the streets, picking maggots out of their rotted, dying flesh and giving them a clean place to lay, food to eat and water to drink, loving them till their last breath. Many of those she cared for reported that this was the first time in their lives that they had been loved, listened to, touched and cherished.

Margaret Sanger did a lot for others, too. She called for poor people, black people, immigrants and disabled to to stop reproducing themselves since they were "unfit" and "human weeds." She worked her whole life to achieve her goal of culling the herd of undesirables, all while neglecting her children and carrying on multiple adulterous affairs.

Nowadays, because so many people believe in sex before marriage, it is wiser to be prepared for it than to expect it never to happen. 

Actually, it's wiser to educate our children about self-control and human dignity. Wouldn't that serve them well? I am actually planning to do a whole post on this...

But you are right that we expect most people to have sex before marriage now, because Sanger's push for widespread contraception was successful. Contraception makes engaging in promiscuous sex much easier. Now women can take pills to make themselves sterile, giving them the freedom to be used and discarded by dozens of men over their lifetime. 

Why would Sanger have been considered selfish if she did this?

Well, when one's motive is to eliminate poor people, black people, disabled people or anyone else deemed "unfit," we may rightly call that selfish. Seeing dirty, impoverished, imperfect brown people made Maggie feel icky. Sorta like people who walk halfway around the block to avoid the homeless man lying in the street. Sharing the earth (and a common humanity) with the riff-raff makes us uncomfortable. And, yes, that is selfish.

You also say that Sanger worked for herself alone. I think we can both see that isn't true. If you think it is, please explain to me how so. 

But it is true, by her own admission. The slogan on her newsletter was "no gods, no masters" -- she said it, I didn't. Everything Maggie did was for Maggie because Maggie wanted to. She was no Mother Teresa. ;)

And although I do agree with you on the "don't-kill-unborn-children" idea, by law, a child is merely a fetus until out of the womb, at which time it becomes a baby. 

And once upon a time, a black person was not considered fully human under the law. In Nazi Germany, Jews were not protected under the law, either. Don't confuse what is legal with what is moral. Sometimes they coincide, sometimes not. My humanity doesn't depend on whether or not some lawmaker says I am human, you see?

Not sure how a fetus (which means offspring or little one) "becomes" a baby at birth. Seems like simply a location change to me. I'm willing to hear how that happens, but in the meantime you may want to check out my response to Christa regarding the science of human life and the concept of "personhood."

However, studies show that in countries where abortion was illegal and considered bad, both the amount of crime and the infant mortality rate went up exponentially. 

First, I'd have to see the studies. That is pretty vague. Second, even if crime went through the roof because babies were allowed to live, it still wouldn't justify killing the unborn. 

Abortion can only happen before a certain point in pregnancy. 

Untrue, but a common misconception (no pun intended). 

Roe v. Wade legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. It allows individual states to put restrictions on late-term abortions if they so desire, but any American woman who wants an abortion at full-term can legally attain one. She might have to travel to another state to find an abortionist willing to do it, but it's legal. Your statement is incorrect.

I believe that abortion is the right choice in some situations, such as certain cases of teen pregnancy. 

I don't doubt that you believe that. However, I imagine that if you were that child about to be dismembered and sucked out of your mother's womb, you might have a different belief. Unfortunately, the unborn don't have a voice, and they don't vote. I'm sure glad my husband's mother didn't abort him (she was a teen mom).

Don't you agree it is better for both mother and embryo to lose the fetus and continue living as a teenager than it is to be possibly disowned, homeless, and susceptible to disease? 

No, I don't agree (see my previous answer, re: my dear husband). And it doesn't make sense... how could it be "better" for the embryo to be dead rather than alive? Unless death is better than life? I've never understood the mindset that says the potential for suffering is enough to warrant an abortion. If that's the case, then we all should have been aborted, because we all suffer. Every single one of us could "possibly be disowned, homeless and susceptible to disease." No one can predict what will become of a human life. The human spirit is an amazing thing.

Please help me to understand your point of view. 

It's incredibly simple: Every human life, from the moment of conception, is intrinsically valuable and inviolable. Either we are all human, or none of us is.

(Unborn children at about eight or  nine weeks)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Two very different women

The abortion/contraception/IVF discussion over at Sew's blog today got me thinking. In the comment section, Miss Gwen brought up Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who dedicated her life to promoting birth control.

Here's part of what Miss Gwen said to Sew:
I know you probably have much disdain for Margaret Sanger (I'm not saying she's perfect) but one of the reasons birth control came about was because of her observations and experiences in the slums of NY working amongst immigrant and poor families where complications from pregnancy and mother fatality as well as infant fatality were rampant problems. The ability to plan/anticipate for children as well as be a healthful woman was ground breaking.
Immediately, I thought of another woman who worked amongst the poor -- the poorest of the poor, in fact. The woman who chose to serve in one of the worst slums in the world, who went into the filthy streets to pick up the cast-offs dying alone in the gutter: Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Both Mother Teresa and Sanger observed the poor and saw much suffering. And yet, the two women couldn't be more different. Let me count the ways....

  • Mother Teresa believed that every human life has infinite, intrinsic value and is created by a loving Father to love and be loved.
  • Margaret Sanger believed that some people are "human weeds" and "unfit" and thus need to be culled. 

  • Mother Teresa embraced every race of people equally as children of God.
  • Margaret Sanger was a known racist whose legacy is built on the desire to limit the "reckless breeding" of black people and immigrants.

  • Mother Teresa tenderly cared for the physically handicapped and mentally challenged.
  • Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist who advocated the elimination of those who have physical or mental problems.

  • Mother Teresa was a consecrated virgin, pure of heart and totally faithful to her beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ.
  • Margaret Sanger was a serial adulterer who openly proclaimed that sex for sport and pleasure trumped the marriage vow any day.

  • Mother Teresa was truly humble, and she radiated joy and peace to all who came in contact with her.
  • Margaret Sanger was a proud, troubled, selfish elitist who was never at peace.

  • Mother Teresa's idea of a "healthful woman" is a woman whose body is working as it was designed to work. "Health" includes educating a woman on the signs of her own fertility and providing safe, sanitary conditions for childbirth. Mother Teresa knew that women are "fearfully and wonderfully made" by God, that there is nothing wrong with the way a woman's body functions, and that we don't need to be chemically neutered or surgically mutilated to be "healthy."
  • Margaret Sanger's idea of a "healthful woman" is a woman on synthetic hormones/steroids which are accompanied by harmful and even deadly side effects. "Health" means derailing a working bodily function so that it does something completely unnatural and against the body's own design. In the case of sterilization, "health" means mutilating healthy organs so that they no longer work as intended.

  • Every bit of Mother Teresa's care for the poor, sick and dying was done for Jesus Christ, her Beloved. Her heroic life was lived in service to God.
  • Margaret Sanger worked under the slogan of "no gods, no masters." Sanger served herself alone.

  • Mother Teresa's legacy is the thousands of joyful, smiling sisters in her Missionaries of Charity order who continue her work to this day, loving and caring for the poorest of the poor in 133 countries around the globe. Her legacy has blessed the lives of untold millions.
  • Margaret Sanger's legacy is Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in America with tentacles all around the world. Her legacy has ended the lives of untold millions.

Mother Teresa loved the poor, Margaret Sanger wanted to eliminate the poor. I don't know about you, but if I'm a poor person (or any person!), I'll cast my lot with Mother Teresa any day.

Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us!

(Read the follow-up post here.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Catholics, you must understand this!

Do you know the difference between a doctrine and a discipline?

If not, you need to!

I have found that until a Catholic understands the distinction, he will be at a great disadvantage when someone challenges him on Church teaching, or when his own doubts creep in.

Here we go....


A doctrine is an unchanging Truth, part of what we call The Deposit of Faith (a.k.a. Sacred Tradition). The Deposit of Faith is the body of truth (faith and morals) that Christ left to His Apostles. The Apostles' successors (Popes and bishops) have preserved and passed this body of truth down through the generations. When Jesus promised His Apostles that the Holy Spirit would come to "lead you to all Truth" (John 16:13), He was talking doctrine.

Doctrine can be better understood over time, and through the centuries the Church has fleshed out its richness (this is called development of doctrine), but its essence does not change. Indeed, the Deposit of Faith can never be contradicted, reversed, added to, or subtracted from. The Holy Spirit sees to that.

Some examples of doctrines: The Ten Commandments; the truth and meaning of human sexuality; the nature of Christ and the Trinity; the Marian doctrines; the basic elements and nature of the seven Sacraments; the male-only priesthood, the Cycle of Redemption.

Hint for thinking of "faith and morals": 
Faith = The Creed (what we believe)
Morals = The Ten Commandments (how we live)


A discipline is a rule or regulation which can and often does change. This is the "binding and loosing" authority that the Church received when Jesus said to Peter and the Apostles, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven" (Matt. 16:19, Matt. 18:18). These rules/disciplines can be changed, but when they are in effect, the faithful are bound to them. Why do they exist? To help the faithful in each era become holy. Depending on times and cultures and circumstances, Popes and bishops will bind or loose the faithful according to the needs of the people of God at that time.

Some examples of disciplines: Canon Law; days of fasting and abstinence; Holy Days of Obligation; regulation of religious orders; priestly celibacy; liturgical rubrics (i.e., language of the liturgy, words/prayers/readings for liturgical celebrations, postures and gestures, etc.).

So, when someone says to you, "The Church is not the True Church because it changed its rules on eating meat on Fridays!" you say, "That's a discipline, and it can change!"

And when someone says, "The Church is going to change its teachings on contraception and homosexuality!" you say, "Those are doctrines, and they will never change!"

Any questions? I love questions!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The tale of the soap, continued!

I am blown away by this blogger community!  The soap will live and lather on, thanks to Megan, at Heart of St. Monica! For everyone who thought the dream had died, it has been reborn!

And in the interest of full disclosure and giving credit where credit is due, I received an email last night from Keep Calm and Carry On. She had also found the soap after her own extensive research! O happy day!

Then, of course, there was Sew this very morning, with more glorious soap tales and pictures!

You girls rock! I don't deserve blogger buddies like you.

Who says it's not easy being green?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This was tough, but we have a winner!!

Before I announce my decision, may I say that you all have exceeded my expectations with your brilliant and heartfelt submissions. I am beyond disappointed that I cannot bestow a holey soap upon all of you. You are all worthy, and if I have learned one thing, it's that I need to swipe a lot more soap next time.

In the end I had it narrowed down to about five contestants, each one so deserving of soap.

But ultimately, one name kept popping into my head. I think I knew the moment I read her submission that she was the one.

What struck me to my core was her true contrition. Her deep regret at not having been sufficiently green in her life. And her purpose of amendment, or a willingness to change. I could sense a genuine conversion. And when one lost blogger converts, 99 bloggers will rejoice! She was lost, but is found. Dirty but soon clean. Uncaring, but now green. She merits the holey-ness to come.

I am sure by now you all realize that our winner is:


But wait! There was another contestant who won my heart and who cannot leave this contest empty-handed. In fact, her answers were so prayerful, and her spirit so pleasing, her appeal to saints and feast days so profound, that I could not leave her as less than (w)hole. This woman -- who has come in second place twice now -- has earned her holey reputation. She is, in fact, so holey that she is going to be receiving... THE HOLE:

That's right, Joy Beyond the Cross has won what is suspected to be the would-be unused center of the waste-reducing exfoliating cleansing bar!!! Whoo-hooooooooo!!! We all rejoice in your holey-ness! And since green is the color of Ordinary Time, the profound nature of this prize continues.

On behalf of those now devastated at having lost their last chance at this most coveted of all prizes, I appeal to Miss Gwen, our resident liberal, to seek out and find the progressive craftsmen craftspeople who fashioned these sudsy treasures. Appeal to their sense of fairness. Tell them that not everyone received a prize, and that some are feeling unequal, discriminated against, possibly oppressed. Please Miss Gwen, haven't we been good to you, and tolerant?? Aren't we entitled??

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The day you have dreaded has come...

There is only one waste-reducing exfoliating body cleanser left.

That's right.

Just one.

There is only one more lucky blogger who can possess this treasure. Only one more home which can be graced with this holey object.

Who will it be?

Will it be you?

Or will you be left behind?

I know that each and every one of you wants to get your hands on this amazing manifestation of radical leftist environmentalist engineering. You will be able to bathe and exfoliate while at the same time saving the earth from annihilation.

Every day, millions of Americans strut selfishly, thoughtlessly into their showers, heedless of the plight of the planet. But you have been enlightened, and now you know what you must do. You must do your part. You must be a responsible citizen.

You must have this soap!

How will you get this soap? How can you stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution? How can you be the example for all your neighbors and friends? How can you acquire the one personal hygiene product which will identify you as truly progressive?

Simple. Just tell me why you deserve the last bar of holey exfoliating cleanser. State your case, and if you convince me, the bar is yours.

This may very well be the greatest blog giveaway ever!


Mr. J Barabbas...

Wow, I have to tell you, I am impressed that some of you got the name! Yes, Barabbas' first name was Jesus! (TCIE, MTA and Brenda, you were so close!)

In Hebrew, Jesus is Yeshua, which means "God saves" -- a pretty common name at the time (but how appropriate for the Messiah, no?)

Okay, so it gets even more interesting: Barabbas translates to "son of the father" (awesome job, Bonnie!). So, when the crowd was asked to choose one man to free and one man to punish, they were choosing between

Jesus, Son of the Father and Jesus, son of the father! 

Here's where it gets more interesting. I read this years ago when I was a subscriber to The Wanderer:

There had been an annual miracle -- which all Jews understood, knew, and expected -- of long-running tradition: Two goats were brought into the Temple by the Jewish priests, and a red ribbon was put around the neck of each. One ribbon would spontaneously turn white, and this would signal which goat would be sacrificed and its blood sprinkled in the Holy of Holies by the High Priest to atone for the sins of the people. 
The other goat -- the scapegoat -- was driven away from the city and killed outside its walls.
This miracle ended abruptly [40 years before the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70], as the Talmud tells us....
....The exact time the miracle of the red ribbon ended was when the Jewish people were given the choice between crucifying Jesus or Barabbas.... Our Jesus and Barabbas are externally identical [Jesus, son of the father], just as the two goats were, but God chose one to be sacrificed outside the walls as a scapegoat. 
Forty years after Jesus was crucified (40 being the traditional time of conversion), the Temple was destroyed.

Anyway, I have just always thought that was super cool!!!

And Jenny, I will post this under:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Not for a prize, but still...

This little tidbit of information was soooo interesting to me when I read about it several years ago, and I want to see if anyone else knows. So, for no prize, but just for fun, do any of you know what Barabbas' first name was? Yep, Barabbas, the criminal that the crowd told Pilate to set free instead of Jesus.

Don't look it up!!! I really want to know if anyone already knew, and also if that person could explain the significance of the name.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just Curious....Phobias

I'm too tired to tackle another controversial topic at this moment (though I have a ton just waiting to get going!), so I thought I would throw out an easy post.

Do you have any phobias?

I have a fear of heights and a fear of flying. The two are not related.

I think my fear of heights comes from falling off a jungle gym and breaking my arm when I was four. I can't stand near a high balcony's edge without getting queasy, I can't climb a tall ladder, and I can't even imagine walking on that glass-bottom walkway over the Grand Canyon!

My fear of flying is due to my fear of crashing, not heights, ha ha! My flying phobia got intense after I had children. I guess I'm a control freak in some ways -- if I'm not the one flying the plane, I don't trust it. (I feel the same way about driving, on a smaller scale. I don't like to be in the passenger seat.) I guess I can "handle" big jet planes (though I've only been on one trip in the past eight years); however, you'd seriously have to anesthetize me before I'd get on a small, twin-engine plane.

Okay, start the phobia-fest! Spill it!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Held at gunpoint: The explanation!

Okay, so here's the story behind #10:

About nine years ago, I left the house with my two youngest kids at the time, a baby and a three-year-old. We were driving to pick up the other kids at school.

A few minutes later, my cell phone rang. It was my home security company calling to tell me that the alarm was going off at my house, and that the police had arrived. I turned the car around and made the short trip back home.

As I drove, I made a quick mental assessment of what must have happened: I am usually quite thorough in locking everything up before I leave home, but that day I had been in a rush to leave. I remembered that my three-year-old had been out in the backyard and had come back in through the sliding glass door, which, though heavy, he liked to open and close. I figured he had not fully closed the door. Not knowing the door was open a crack, I had gotten the boys strapped in their car seats, and then I put the alarm system on, which gives me a few seconds to get out the door. By the time the alarm actually went off, I was probably too far down the road to hear it. Yep, that must've been it.

I pulled up at my house and greeted the friendly young police officer standing in my driveway by his squad car. I told him what I thought had happened, and he agreed that was probably accurate. He told me that his partner was already inside doing a routine security sweep, just in case. He told me I could go on inside to check the house myself. The nice officer offered to keep an eye on the boys for a few minutes while I went in. So, as he was making my little guys laugh in their car seats, I went ahead on in....

(Can you guess where this is going?)

I walked directly to the back of the house to check the sliding glass door. I pulled the door open, stepped outside, and was immediately met with the order to "FREEZE!" as I found myself staring down the barrel of a police woman's gun, which was point-blank range from my heart.

Now that was a weird moment.

You'd think there would be fear, but in the moment I wasn't afraid. I put my hands up in the air, still holding my car keys, and said, chirpily, "I'm the homeowner!" She didn't budge and neither did the gun. I told her her partner had sent me in, and she said she would have to verify that. She continued to hold me firmly at gunpoint, my hands raised, while she radioed into dispatch (hands-free, as the radio was on her shoulder). Dispatch then had to radio her partner out in front of my house to confirm that he had sent the homeowner inside, and then when he confirmed it for them, they relayed the info to the young woman who was holding my life in her hands! I am sooooooo grateful that she did not have an itchy trigger finger!

Needless to say, I was internally a bit ticked off that the first officer sent me inside without telling his partner! Nice of him to watch my kids and all, but not worth it if their mommy is laying dead in a pool of her own blood!! I didn't get an apology from him or anything, but he seemed a bit sheepish after that. He was still super-friendly, as was I.

The female officer told me that as she was searching my backyard, she saw only jeans and tennis shoes* approaching the sliding glass door from inside. Her thought, naturally, was that it might be a perpetrator.

After the incident, we exchanged pleasantries, and they went along their way. I grabbed my kids and then started to shudder about what might have been! Can you imagine the headlines? Police accidentally shoot and kill unarmed mother of five in her own home. Those things have happened. I'm just so grateful that it didn't happen to me.

So, that's the story! I was trying to think of the 10 surprising things, and I couldn't think of a tenth item. I so rarely think about that incident, but I guess it is truly surprising! I know the lady cop and I were both very surprised that day! (I often wonder if she let her partner have it after they left??)

TCIE, how's that for a true-life crime story?? Riveting, no? Well, I guess it's not really that riveting. And, Complicated Life, you need to tell your husband's story, which I am sure is much better!

Oh, and as for the King Tut thing... My family traveled to Egypt when I was fourteen and that was one of the highlights! We also got to ride camels around the pyramids and even go inside them.

As for Elvis, I think we saw him the year before he died, in about '76, and I was nine years old. He was awesome, but overweight and sweaty.

*sneakers, for those of you on the east coast.

PS: I just showed this post to my now twelve-year-old son and told him that this was the story of when he almost had me killed by the Phoenix police. He grinned.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ten Surprising Things About Me....

Since I am a closet narcissist, and since Megan shamed me into it, I will talk.

Surprising things.... hmmmm.....

1.  I grew up surrounded by animals, was part of 4-H (raised sheep and rabbits; we also raised horses), and at one point in my childhood we had 33 animals (including fish and birds, cats, dogs, etc.). No, I did not live on a farm or a ranch, but we did have a couple of acres on a top of a hill, next to some gorgeous mountains.

2.  I don't really like animals.

3.  In 1992, I registered as a Democrat and I {deep breath} voted for Bill Clinton.

4.  My father is an Arab immigrant (Christian Arab) and my mother is a direct descendant of two Mayflower passengers.

5.  I love country music!

6.  I saw Elvis Presley in concert, shortly before his death (I was a child, and yes, I know that was before you were born).

7.  I have been inside of King Tut's tomb.

8.  I was very, very skinny as a child, but I ate like a grizzly bear (still do).

9.  Do not give me hard candy, just give me dark chocolate and we will all be happy.

10.  I was once held at gunpoint for several minutes by the Phoenix police, with the weapon pointed straight at my heart and her finger on the trigger.

Okay....I think everyone has been tagged, but if not, I'm tagging you now!!

Answer to Doctrinal Quiz Show.... Judgements (in the form of Bubble Awards) to follow!

My oh my!  Such Catholic smarty-pants we have in the Bubble!  Before I get to the part you all really care about (Bubble Awards, duh!), let's repeat the challenge and answer it:

Name the two Judgements every soul will receive, and describe them.

The two Judgements are:

The Particular Judgement -- This judgement occurs at the moment of our death. Each individual soul will learn at that time whether his eternal destiny is Heaven or hell. Those who are going to Heaven will usually undergo a purification (Purgatory) first, but those going to hell will just go straight to hell.

The General Judgement -- This judgement occurs at the end of time, at the Second Coming of Christ. You know that part in the Creed which says, "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead"? That's the General Judgement. Everyone who is still alive on earth will be judged, and everyone who has already died will be judged. But this time the judgement will be public, and all of our sins will be laid bare before all other souls. Nothing hidden will remain hidden. 
     Yes, it makes me shiver to think of it, but if we are among the saved, it won't be as horrible as it sounds. Here's why: We will clearly see how everything we've ever done, good or bad, has affected others, and how it has all ultimately been ordered to the glory of God. We will be awestruck at His perfect justice and His perfect mercy, and we will rejoice in it. All will finally make sense. 
     Christ will publicly separate the sheep from the goats, and both the saved and the damned will be reunited with their physical bodies before they take their places in Heaven or hell. Purgatory will cease to be. 

Well, on that light note, let's get to the Bubble Awards!

And it looks like we have some ties!

The Please Don't Give Up Hope! Award goes to the two dejected contestants who used the word "screwed" in their answers about Judgement: Sew and Beth!!

The Catholic Jay Leno Award For Comedy goes to Lauren and This Cross I Embrace!! Thanks for making the discussion of an eternity burning in hell just a little more fun!

The Best Dialogue (Or Prophecy?) Award goes to Jenny, with extra points for stroking my always-inflated ego by putting Bubble judgements on par with God's judgements!!

The Darn, You Almost Won the Grand Prize But Yes, You Did Mix Them Up and I Don't Think I Can in Good Conscience Overlook That Fact Award goes to Joy Beyond the Cross!!

And.... drum roll... the Grand Prize Winner of the HOLEY SOAP is....................


Yes, others had the right answer, but she said it the best! Picking a winner is sometimes a Solomonic decision, but the decision of the judge is final (hey, kinda like the decision of the Judge is final!). The Mom, you will be receiving a rare bar of green and holey soap. I trust you will use it well. You have no idea how many people would kill for a chance to lather up with this beauty:

By the way, a special shout-out to Brenda's fanciful and colorful images of celestial escalators and Pearly Gates bursting into flame. That was kinda cool.

And to Gwen, our favorite liberal, thanks for joining us and showing your very pretty face! You likely won't win an environmentally friendly exfoliating cleansing bar in any Doctrinal Quiz Show, but you've got connections in the liberal world that you can access if need be. ;) Congrats on your new blog!!

All right everybody, thanks for playing along, and join us next time for another exciting episode of DQS!!