Sunday, December 30, 2012

Truth In Nature For All To See

I've just finished reading an essay entitled "The Sea Within" by Peter Kreeft, linked from the The BigPulpit  In this essay, Kreeft attempts to unravel the mystery of the sea and what it is that draws us to it both physically and spiritually. Though never really coming to a solid understanding of the draw the sea has on man, he does ask thought provoking questions that I believe most of us may have had while standing on the shore of the sea, mesmerized by its constant motion and vastness.

God has provided us with three things in His creation that to me gives us a glimpse into his never ending majesty and His providential presence among us. The universe, the mountains and the sea are three things that have been ever present to man in his short history and they have always captured his imagination. To modern man, the advent of science may have diminished the mystery of God's creation to a certain level, but it has never been able to completely eliminate it because this mysteriousness goes much deeper than the physical world that science deals with in attempting to explain its workings.

Today we know more than our ancient ancestors about the ways of the universe with its galaxies, planetary systems, and the Big Bang, or how the mountains of the earth are formed through plate tectonics and volcanic action, or how the tides of the sea came to be and the importance of the oceans on our climate. Science has questioned creation and has provided some answers. But when I look up at the night sky, or a mountain with its peak covered in clouds or the constant waves of the sea, the questions that science asks are not necessarily the same questions my soul and spirit asks. To be honest, I don't believe my spirit even asks questions that science has tried to answer but rather remains still and absorbs what it sees..

When I look at the night sky I know space objects are orbiting because science has explained some of that, but what I "see" is the never ending immensity of the universe that in turn acknowledges the One outside this space and time who created it all. It is mind boggling and no attempt to capture this sight within my understanding is successful, so I do what I am best capable of doing; to be awed by it all without understanding. No attempt by science can minimize what I see to pure physics, because I am more than a product of the physical. God saw to that. I look at the universe and I see myself surrounded by the majesty of God without even leaving this life. That in itself is awesome.

When I look up at a mountain, I see an immense object whose peak rises so high that at times it is covered by a cloud, however, my spirit doesn't stop at the cloud, but tries to pierce that cloud in search of what is above it knowing there is more to see than just a peak. Anyone who has stood on the summit of a mountain and has looked across the landscape below knows how insignificant all seems to be from our vantage point. Houses, roads and even people are simply pin points from where we stand. We stand above strife, war, anger that we know continues at the base but we are detached from it temporarily. It gives us a sense of peace, a peace and joy we desire always. At times I even feel I am in control of everything below me and I do not want to descend back to the depths that awaits my return. I suppose I can say I have understood a bit of what it is to be God as I stand on a mountain peak, but not a god that manipulates its greatest creation as a puppet on a string.

This god, the God for whom my spirit and soul was created, left His lofty mountain and descended to become part of this cacophony of a life we had made for ourselves. From this mountain I've been given a sense of the love God has for all of us when he came down to suffer with us, to reveal Himself to us and to raise us back up to the mountain peak in order to live with Him. At the summit of this mountain, I have been given a surer knowledge that  God is not a weak God but one who's strength is beyond our comprehension. A God who willingly gives his life for his creation despite their sinfulness as Christ did is not a weak God or man. It is some of this strength that I discovered in myself as I held my firstborn for the first time. I would die for this child in my arms. Not for what this child had done, but for who he was, mine. I would still do it with no question.

To me, the ocean is probably the greatest of the three things I have mentioned. From the shoreline I cannot see the end of it, only the horizon that seems to meet it. I can see the waves coming in as the tide rises, but I do not see where each wave originates. Unlike the universe and the mountains, the oceans are here on our level so it makes it more real to me. In my youth, I remember going to the ocean with my buddies to watch the girls on the beach. However, even in those days when my hormones raged, I would have been satisfied just walking along the shore enjoying the ocean had my friends suggested it. That is how enticing the ocean was to me and still is.

If you had asked me several years ago what it was about the sea that so attracts me, I could not have given you one particular answer. As humbled as I am by this body of water and the huge waves that constantly roll in, I feel a sense of security. I feel its consistency of motion and it comforts me. The ocean exposes my physical limitations in relation to her, as she herself demonstrates that she has no limits and can devour what she wills. In my love for the ocean I still have a fear of her in the sense of respecting her and her power. It is not a fear of trembling for my life unless I foolishly defy her and place myself in harms way. I have come to view the ocean and its waves as an exhibition of God's Truth in my years. It is in this view that I have finally arrived at a possible answer to the question of why I am drawn to her.

We were created in Love and Truth. We have an innate desire to know the Truth no matter where it leads us. We all want to know the Truth and expect it and demand it of others. Even liars expect the truth from others though they themselves seek to deceive through their own lies. No where in our history has a liar ever been honored or admired for being a liar, but even this world admires the honest man who always tells the truth and can be counted on. The ocean entices me simply because its constancy reminds me of God's Truth and my desire and search for it.

My visits to the ocean speaks to me of God's Truth as it washes over me each day. I expect to see its waves every time I visit her and I am not disappointed. In the same way I am taught that the Church is the foundation and pillar of Truth and I expect and find it within her walls. When I step into a shallow tidal pool left behind by the last high tide I feel its warmth, just as I do when I step into Truth that was left with the Church. As with the ocean exposing my physical limitations, the Truth gives me guidelines to life in God within the limits of my creation, yet at the same time it sets me free.

I never tire of visiting the ocean and I suspect no one really does for its draw is indeed powerful as it speaks of the Truth. We may lie, defy the Truth or try to avoid it as we dance around the waves so as not to be touched by them, but we are still drawn to it. That is our dilemma. We may dislike the Truth, but we want it. We need it. We are drawn to it despite ourselves. We can either let its waves gently wash our feet and set us back on the narrow path, or let it come crashing down on us, eroding and destroying all the lies we have set up and built our lives on. To me, the ocean is the visible representation of God's Truth working within each of us, over and over again, never stopping.







Friday, December 28, 2012

Waiting For The Heroes Of Our Age

I suspect that many people have been waiting as I  have, for someone to come along and fix things in our society. Lately, our society as left a lot to be desired. Civility has all but vanished in our little worlds as well as the world at large. Violence, in all its dimensions, is more common place whether in word or deed and has largely replaced a certain safety and peace we had come to expect from each other including the respect and dignity due to each one of us as human beings. Selflessness has been replaced by selfishness where the common good of our society is no longer considered first and foremost, but coming after our own desire of what is good for me and the heck with everyone else.

There is very little in our world today that unifies all of us, but much that divides us. Secularism and relativism is fast encroaching upon us with devastating results. We bemoan what we see and experience in our violent world, yet we continue to place obstacles before us instead of recognizing and accepting the good that could alleviate the problems we face. God? Of course God, but as in the past, God spoke through people He chose such as Abraham, the Prophets or the Church. Diseases were cured through the Curies and Salks of the world that God sent to us. Evil was confronted by pious and courageous men and women who thought not of themselves but of their fellow man and their own children as they marched off to war to defeat it. Religious faith was fought and defended with the likes of Augustine, Aquinas, Padre Pio and all the saints that God raised to defend us.

We seem to have a severe lack of these heroes in our society today. Cancer and HIV are rampant, wars and conflicts rule the landscape, religion is seen as a pariah on the world and godlessness seems to rule the day. Though many do fight against these evils and heroically at that, where are the particular heroes that will lead the way for the others? Where is the Salk that will find the cure for cancer? Or for Parkinson's and HIV? Where is the statesman that has been given the gift to soothe the violence subdue the evil that that permeates the world, pitting nation against nation, people of one ethnic group or culture against another? Where is the saint that will warn us against taking the wrong path or instill in the world a true desire for peace that it clamors for? Has God given up on us? Is that why we cannot find these true heroes in our midst anymore?

God is faithful and we've seen that time and again in the Old Testament even when Israel turned away from God. God would not have come to us and sacrificed Himself  in our place if at some juncture in human history He would have washed His hands of us. So no, I do not believe He has given up. As a matter of fact I believe he continually sends heroes into this world to help us but we in turn keep rejecting each one that is sent. How do we reject the heroes sent?

Consider this possibility for the answer: Since 1980, 1,200,000,000 (billion) children have been destroyed in the womb through abortion. Compare that number with China's population of 1,339, 724,852. How many heroes in this number did God send to this fallen world? If we keep destroying and killing the modern day prophets that are sent by God then who will speak for Him in our world? Maybe, just maybe God will begin to speak to us directly and we will not like what He has to say.







Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Continuing Christmas Silence

I'm sitting at my desk next to the window and large, white flakes are whipping around outside. I knew this snow storm was coming and yesterday I made preparations. I now have plenty of food, lantern fuel, candles and of course water. I don't have a furnace but I've got a wood-stove that has been my companion for over thirty years and plenty of wood to feed it. I can either cook on the wood-stove or use my kitchen stove which is fueled by propane. Without power, the only thing I would need to light the propane stove is a  match and yes, I've got a box of "strike anywhere" matches. I've battened down the hatches and I am as prepared as I can be for whatever comes my way. I've been through this umpteen times and this time will probably be no different.

As fortunate as I am in having my little fortress, I know others may not be so lucky, however as is always the case, preparations around our community will allow those without heat should we lose power to at least have a warm place to go with food provided. Inconvenient? Yes, but most are usually very grateful for this. I've even had neighbors in my own home when the need arose for a warm place. You learn a lot about your neighbors in these situations. Stiff upper lip and all that rot right?

But for now the peace and quiet is exquisite. Any noise outside is muffled except for the occasional metal scraping of the town plow going by. This gives me a chance to get a peek as to how much snow we've gotten so far. So, what does one do on a day or two of this? Cook. I have taken a new loaf of bread out of the oven and that has been replaced with a pot of homemade, french-Canadian style, baked beans for this evening's supper. I got that recipe from my Mama. Navy pea beans, salt-pork, onion and prepared mustard. Nope, no sugar.  I may have been born a mere hour from Boston, but Boston Baked Beans with all that sugar and molasses has never ever tickled my palate.

I've been on a quest for over a year for a fluffy, moist, home-made bread that will retain its freshness for 4 or 5 days. Two weeks ago I finally found one, or I should say I found a new method of making my own  bread recipe. I've not been disappointed.  This bread is so soft, moist and fluffy that you can make little dough balls out of the crumb and flick them around the house. My only problem now, as it has been for a few years, is in finding plastic bread bags to store it in. Other than having to order 1000's of bags at a time or just a few that cost more per bag than the ingredients in the bread, I approached my super market that has its own bakery and was able buy 20 bags from them for less than two dollars. Can't beat that huh ;). They are rather thick, so that makes them reusable. Even better! I don't know why I never thought of asking them before, but better late than never.

I keep a cast iron tea kettle on the wood-stove to get a bit of humidity in the house.  I made my own potpourri for the kettle last week consisting of nutmeg, cinnamon, a bit of allspice and a half cup of apple cider.  This is by far better than anything I've bought in the past to add to my kettle. Imagine the smells wafting through the house at the moment, the potpourri, bread, beans baking....yeah...see what I mean? Its enough to make me want to nap it is so relaxing. I probably will a bit later. The beans can take care of themselves. I also got skinless franks to go with the beans. The best. Old Neighborhood brand. Got that? Get them.

I've got three glass lanterns in case we do lose power. All are rather tall, 12" or more, with a glass chimney and glass fuel globe on the bottom. Ever put a lantern in front of a piece of polished metal? The reflective, diffused light is almost as bright as an incandescent bulb. Now light three of them and you have as much light as you had before the power went out. Perfect to read by without eye strain. I keep the candles for the bedroom and bathroom. It's plenty of light.

Books. I'm never without books. After home-made beans, books are next in priority. They don't sit on my shelves to look pretty but to consume and consumed they are. Like the beans. I've already picked out a book to read should the time allow, and it will, I promise you. It's by Archbishop Charles Chaput. Did you know his name is pronounced "chapoot" ? Yeah, I found that out about a year ago. I still pronounce it "chapit". Force of habit. Forgive me Archbishop. What do you want from a Yankee that pronounces Worcester as "woostah" or Gloucester as "glosta"?  I have a few more, but we shan't go there. If you want to go there, take the log out of your own eye first...we all have our foibles when it comes to pronunciations.

Update: The snow is coming down faster now. The only things faster are the chickadees that are flitting back and forth from the bush outside my window to the bird-feeder. The frequency in which I have to refill that feeder makes me wonder if those chickadees are actually flying pigs rather than birds...

The quiet is now profound. I can hear the cats purring but it is a gentle purr. The lady of the house is even quieter than the cats because she reads a lot and not a peep can be heard from her. No, she's not reading "chapoot", but murder mysteries. No thanks. To me, reading Agatha Christie is like having to eat Boston Baked Beans.



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Third Hour Of Christmas

Those with an eye for detail must have noticed that several of my posts are written in early morning. I've gotten up early for so long because of my work that even on days off I have trouble sleeping to a normal hour.

It is now three o'clock on Christmas morning and I'm awake. I know many of you would think that odd for someone to be awake at this hour especially if one is not preparing for work, but here I am. As would be expected, it is very quiet at 3:00 am, especially living in the country. As a matter of fact, the road I live on is isolated and has no street lights. My neighbors are so far away that any light emanating from their houses is unseen from my own home. You can be sure that when I look to the night sky every star created seems to be visible. It's an awesome sight.

But there is another quiet that rests here at this hour. It is a quiet that goes deep within me, to the core of my being. It is easy to feel the solitude that the shepherds must have felt two thousand years ago watching their sheep on that first Christmas morning. Unknown to them and the rest of the world, God was quietly at work saving us all. Though I may not feel it, I now God is quietly working in my own soul. It is a deep work, a quiet work with no fanfare. It is a work so important to Him that He came among us and died so we would not self-destruct in our foolish ignorance. Though I may not always feel Him at work in me, it is at times like this, at this hour, that I feel a profound peace within me despite the turmoil that surrounds me.

This third hour of Christmas is a blessing to me from my Lord. I am alone with Him and he whispers things unheard but to the ears of the soul. My soul. There is a big difference between worldly peace and the peace of heaven. When I pray for peace in the world, I know that this peace will only last until the next violent act. The peace that heaven offers is a lasting peace. It is a peace that anchors itself in our hearts and souls if we are open to it. It is not a peace that depends on weakened man but on the One who created me. So yes, it is a lasting peace.

It is a peace that gives me a glimpse of heaven while I'm trying to keep my head above the water of this world. This is a spiritual peace that only the soul can experience, yet the body cannot help but respond to it. I know I will lose my grasp on this peace while treading the worldly waters if I allow it, but like Peter, I will call out "Help me Lord!", if I begin to sink again.

As always, I awaited His coming these past few weeks of Advent as I do every year. I have not been disappointed. He has come. He is here now for us all.

With all the love that this weak little man can muster at this third hour of Christmas, I desire for all of you a very holy, blessed and joyful Christmas. Come Lord Jesus, Come!

Monday, December 24, 2012

St. John the Baptist's Personhood

The argument for abortion has taken twists and turns for pro-choice advocates. Once it was the question as to when life actually began in the womb and once medicine confirmed that life actually began with the fertilization of the human egg by the human sperm, then the other question asked and used by pro-choicers was whether or not this new life was actually human. With the advent of DNA testing we come to solid evidence that the DNA of the new life IS actually a human life. It is not a puppy or a kitten but a human life.

Now we are confronted by the question of whether or not this new life is actually a person. If we cannot prove it is a person then there is no reason not to abort. Since the "person-hood" of the unborn cannot be proven in solid terms or defined such as a materialist demands then it stands to reason that a rejection to abortions cannot be justified by the pro-life advocates. Then again to some who defend abortion, it has nothing to do with any of the above questions but simply as a choice a woman can make given it's her right to have an abortion.

If Christians have difficulty with the notion that an unborn human life is not a person or has not reached person-hood in their development then we have to ask the question of when does an unborn, human life acquire the characteristics that makes it uniquely a person. I've read several articles by people trying to define what makes an unborn human a person and the definitions run the gamut. I can ask twenty people the same question and get twenty differing definitions of what is or makes a human being a person.

I suppose we could ask whether or not emotions are part of being a person and we would have to answer yes. If we accept the argument that though human, the life in the mother is still only a mass of tissue, a blob that DNA says is human but without person-hood then this blob would not have emotions let alone exhibit them. But to a confused Catholic that truly does not know if the unborn are persons we should consider last week's reading of Mary visiting Elizabeth. If we as Catholics believe scripture as divinely inspired and inerrant then this reading should have given the confused Catholic pause. Here are the verses;

Luke 1:41-44
41 And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

The first thing we must notice is that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost when she spoke to Mary. In fact what Elizabeth said to Mary was actually inspired by the Holy Spirit. And what did the Holy Spirit say through Elizabeth?   

44. " For behold as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy."

If St. John had been merely a blob or a mass of tissue though human but without person-hood, then he would not have leapt for joy. Joy is an emotion that we all feel at times as PERSONS! He heard the sound of Mary's voice and reacted with emotion. Only a person could do that and react in this manner. If we truly believe God as the author of holy scripture and holy scripture is inerrant then what are we to make of the above passages? There are other verses also in the Old Testament that gives testimony to the unborn as being a person.

I realize that this may not convince anyone that is not a believer in the Bible as proving that the unborn, human life is a person, but I personally know some people that are Catholic but are not sure of this and are genuinely confused. Perhaps this verse can go a long way in convincing them that the Church is has been right all along: Being human DOES mean we are in fact persons and not just human blobs without personality.







Friday, December 21, 2012

Newtown: Where Are The Atheists And The ACLU??

President Obama gave a speech at the Newtown High School in CT. in honor of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. He did what he should have done and did it well in my opinion. Yes, we can parse every word he uttered and find something wrong somewhere, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say his intentions of trying to comfort those in the audience were true. But this post is not about what his intentions were, but what will be the reactions of the atheists and the ACLU concerning the President's speech.

Where did the President give his speech? In a public school. What among other things did he talk about? God. Surely there must have been atheists that were offended by his numerous mentions of God, prayer and scripture. Obama quoted scripture, emphasis mine.

 "...do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away...inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands."

This goes completely against atheist thinking, yet not one word from them.  And this, " And even when we're trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God's heavenly plans.-Obama. 


Divine Plans? Atheists do not see any divine plans let alone a divine being. Where's the outcry from the atheists? And this, " You remind us what matters. And that's what should drive us forward in everything we do, for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.
"Let the little children come to me," Jesus said, "and do not hinder them — for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."

The atheists must have been fit to be tied. There is no 'reason' for our being except a random occurrence  of nature, at least that is what we are told time and again by atheists.

And finally this,
God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.
May God bless and keep those we've lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort. And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America. (Applause.)

Atheists have made it their full time job in making sure there is separation of church and state in our country. They've ridiculed, prosecuted and persecuted religion at every turn. Now I'm waiting. I'm waiting for them to take the President to task and to demand an explanation for the words he spoke at the school. This was a public place and the speech was given by a public official, the President of the United States. Is he going to be given a pass? Why? Did the circumstances dictate that the speech was 'okay' with atheists considering why Obama was there in the first place? Who determines when the mention of God is okay in a public place for Americans? Atheists? Are they the authority of when and where God can be mentioned without consequences? Who gave them that authority?

The ACLU. Where are they? Where is their lawsuit against the President? Or is he immune from lawsuits? Why are they not representing the atheists who were offended by all this mention of God by the President? So far we've not heard a peep from either the atheists or the ACLU. They are not fools. They know that if they had put up a stink about the mention of God from the President after this massacre of innocent children that the backlash against them would have been enormous. They would have lost whatever integrity they believe themselves to possess.

No, you won't hear anything or much of anything at all, or even a lawsuit from both of these groups for they are nothing but cowards.







Monday, December 17, 2012

Avoiding Newtown

I was stunned when I heard the news on Friday afternoon as I'm sure we all were. I kept hearing bits and pieces of information as the day drew to a close, taking stock of what I heard, then something else would grab my attention and I would turn to the task at hand, putting Newtown on my back burner. On Friday night and into Saturday, I made several efforts to avoid hearing more news about the massacre, telling myself I would wait until the media sorted it all out and the truth and details that would emerge would be more accurate and not the result of reporters trying to get the 'scoop'. My avoidance of hearing more information concerned me. I began to feel as if I didn't really care about this and I wasn't sure why and then on Sunday morning I went to Mass and the real reason of why I wasn't glued to the TV all weekend hit me in the face.

The Mass was the most somber Mass I had ever gone to. Our pastor mentioned Newtown in the opening prayers and comments and my eyes welled as my throat constricted. I was on the verge of sobbing out of grief through the whole hour of Mass. As I looked at everyone's faces filing past my pew after they received communion, I saw and felt the grief and pain on their faces. Tears streamed down my face. I couldn't help it. I almost lost it and then I knew why I avoided the news. I just couldn't bear it. I just could not bear anymore bad news, tragic news that seemed to permeate my world in which I lived.

Despite hearing or reading the questions of where was God, or why was God not there, I knew the answers already. He was there witnessing the effects of a broken world in which man had free will and I am sure beyond all doubt that God was horrified at what He saw happen in Newtown, for if he was not horrified by it, as my pastor explained, I would not be sitting here in Mass worshiping a God that didn't care. 

We view God with our limited vision, and think of His motives with limited hearts and minds never really answering our questions during such times. We become angry with God when we are in pain. We may swear off our faith or cut our own noses off by refusing to go to Mass because we perceive God as uncaring when such crimes happen because we think we may be punishing God. I wasn't angry at all, but stunned and hurt. I put myself in place of the parents that lost their children in the wake of this massacre. I couldn't bear thinking of losing my children and put that thought right out of my mind or tried to.

After Mass, as I was getting out of my pew, I encountered a man that I see every Mass I go to and we just looked at each other. Nothing was said but again, our eyes welled up as we nodded to each other in acknowledgement of each others presence. Tight lipped, we turned to our own way and left the church as another day in this broken world was about to begin.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Church and Calamity: Prescription For Truth

I've noticed a ripple of change going on in my parish, good change. Over the last two years my parish priest began a subtle shift in the way he celebrated Mass. It's become more...reverent, not to say his Masses were lackadaisical in the past. He seems to put more emphasis in his prayers, especially the Eucharistic prayers, and his movements are more deliberate, calculated, and with a force of determination in leading the faithful to see what the Mass is: Worship of God. If there was a sense that Mass was leaning toward a communal get together rather than the worship of God through the Eucharist, it no longer exists.

His homilies also seem to have gone through a subtle change. If anything, Father D very often dealt with the Gospel's subject matter in a generalized, "safe" way so as not to offend certain sensibilities in the pews but without pandering, especially in a PC manner. I would have desired a more to the point offering from him during his homily, but overall I liked them and usually could extract something from them that benefited me in some way.

Before his assignment at my parish, Father D was the Dean of Catholic Schools in my state and a bit of a free thinker for lack of a better word. I had a chance to listen in on conversations he's had with other parishioners at social events in our parish at times and he seemed to have a certain "progressive" bent to the way he thought about society in general. I suppose I have always thought him to be a liberal, but certainly not to the extreme that seems to pervade our culture. No, not at all, but it was there, just below the surface. But one thing is certain though, he never let his politics or even his free thinking invade the sanctuary during the Mass.

It was during the last presidential campaign that I began to notice his shift from safe homilies to a more direct trajectory on moral issues in our society, especially in the culture war we are now engaged in such as abortion, homosexual/SSM, the HHS mandate that we as Catholics face and the precarious position our Freedom of Religion has found itself. Though I never heard his opinion on national healthcare, I would have to think that his thoughts on this issue ran along the same lines as the bishops in general, that healthcare should be a right and all of the people should have access to it no matter their financial position. I understand all this and empathize with them, but I believed them naive in trusting the government in doing things in a morally acceptable way, healthcare included.

It seems clear to me that the position the bishops have on national healthcare was never really thought out. I have a distinct feeling that the bishops and some of the priests believed national health would just descend on this country in a non-confrontational manner where peoples rights and freedoms would not be impaired and all would be hunky dory. The 2008 presidential election seems to have slapped the Church back into reality about government and how it is run. This administration was no friend of Christianity or constitutional freedoms. I believe my pastor felt the sting of that slap and began to see what was coming down the pike.

What has really been missing in many homilies across our nation is the direct teaching of the Church on all issues from the pulpits, especially the controversial ones, and it has been no different in my parish over the years until recently. Sometimes teaching a Truth requires no more than affirming the truth rather than condemning an action that is contrary to the truth. With SSM for the future now becoming a reality in many states, Father D has begun to promote traditional marriage as between a man and a woman in all its glory. He never has to condemn the SSM movement that is occurring for the truth about marriage is doing that on its own. His homilies leave absolutely no doubt as to what the Church teaches about marriage without even having to mention SSM. Promoting the good without having to condemn the bad.

This past weekend was no different. Citing the annual secular war on Christmas, Father D spoke of our responsibility to speak out as Catholics, not only with our words but our actions also. He was not ambiguous in any manner as he encouraged all to defend the faith as we profess it, both within our families and in the public square. He acknowledged that many of us, including himself, have not been fervent enough in our faith to teach the public the truth and how we now find ourselves with the very real possibility of losing our religious freedom. Our apathy in faith is what has brought us to this precipice. He encouraged us all to use this year's Advent as an opportunity in not just changing ourselves, but in turn, our society as well. Yes, his homilies are very encouraging to say the least.

Is all this too late? Some may say yes it is, but I say no, it is never too late to speak the truth, though some may have fallen by the wayside because of the lack of hearing it from our Church. Our Church history is rife with calamities that endangered its mission and life yet God has always produced saints to come to the rescue in these times. Heroes of the faith.  We are in dire need of heroes right now that will produce a faithful and pious Church. I know it is the turn of events in the last two elections that has helped Father D along in preaching the Truth more explicitly, but sometimes calamities such as our society is finding itself in is the right prescription to our healing. Painful? Absolutely. Redemptive? Oh yes!. It doesn't stop with the priest at the pulpit however. After every Mass we are exhorted to go forth and spread to others what we have received at Mass. We, as the faithful need to step up to the plate also. We are all to speak the Truth no matter the consequences.




Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Good Deed

By now, many of us know the story of NYC police office Lawrence DePrimo  who upon meeting a homeless man without shoes and who's feet were freezing, went out and bought this man a pair of boots. Chances are that no one would have known of this kind deed had it not been for the picture which has been plastered in the newspapers. Questions have been raised as to whether the man was really homeless and  where are the boots he had been given since he has been seen barefooted about the city. Whether the police officer had been played or not by the man who was barefooted is also being asked. My answer to those questions is so what? What if he had been duped?

Is the officer's deed any less kind or valuable if he indeed has been played by the man in the street? I don't know if the the officer was Christian or not, but what he did for that man was. This whole story says more about the police officer than it does about the homeless man. For the record, it seems that yes, the man is no longer wearing his boots but not because he sold them for drugs or booze but because he hid them. Why? Because they were valuable and his life could have been in danger had someone tried to steal them. That's the reality of life in the street.

What  DePrimo did and the manner in which he did it should be a lesson learned for all of us. Not only did his act of kindness sought to relieve the suffering of a man he didn't know, but it is obvious by now that it was not a publicity stunt and the officer had no idea his picture had been taken. He gave of himself quietly and without fanfare. DePrimo is a public servant as are politicians, but you would be hard pressed to find a pol working a soup kitchen or visiting a slum without the requisite cameras recording their every move for a photo op during an upcoming election. DePrimo did not plan on making himself or the homeless man the focus of the darling media.

 Yet, what if DePrimo had done his act of kindness only to find out later that the homeless man was not homeless and just a drug addict looking for money to buy his next fix, or just to buy a bottle? It would not matter one whit as to whether or not DePrimo's act seemed wasted. No deed to alleviate the suffering that we believe we see is a wasted deed. If the officer had been duped by the man, then the man would have to answer for his deception at some point in his life, not DePrimo.  In his eyes, he saw a suffering man and didn't ask whether he was a drug addict, an alcoholic, a thief or anything else as to why he was homeless and barefooted. He just accepted what he saw and had the means to help and he did. No questions.

Was DePrimo being naive when he didn't question the man about his motives or his present condition? It depends. Was Christ being naive when he KNEW man's motives and sinfulness and did His own good deed on the cross anyway? No good deed to our fellow human beings goes unnoticed by our loving Father, no matter who the recipient of that deed is.








Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent IS Hope and Change

People seem to have a common desire when it comes to hope. Hope to many of us means different things. We hope for better times ahead whether they be in the form of financial stability or success, a better job, a good marriage, having children, our health, etc. Change, when combined with hope means we seek a change in others and ourselves or a change in things around us that conforms  more closely to our own desires or wants.

When Obama campaigned for his first term as President he spoke of hope and change in such a way that many who heard him were captivated by these words. They felt that when he spoke of these two things he was actually echoing their own thoughts of what they believed hope and change meant in their own lives. He never really clarified what he himself meant by hope and change, but allowed others that heard him come to their own conclusions in what he meant. People wanted change in their lives and country for what ever reason and their hope was in Obama, the man to give it to them.

It took a whole generation for Americans to come to accept the belief that government was the source of benevolence, the source that would provide their every need. Though this belief was slow in coming and subtle in its approach, it nevertheless seeped into the American psyche that the government was the entity that would provide all we needed to live a happy and full life. As many have said before, half this nation now has an entitlement mentality, that they are entitled to have what others have whether they themselves have worked for it or even deserve it. Half of America now works for the other half and the balance has not yet leveled out.

The road to government dependency is now fully paved and many are embarking on it. As more and more people begin to see the government as their source of happiness and safety net the more they stray from what should be their hope and the change that true hope will bring about. It has been four years since Obama's hope and change has been implemented and now this nation has to come to grips with it. What we see is hope and change that is empty and with no substance. This is what a nation without God ends up with.

This year as in every year, we enter the season of Advent in preparation for the coming of the Christ Child. It is during this time of preparation that our hope, as faithful Catholics, for His return needs to be honed to a fine edge. It is during this time that true changes need to be made. Unlike Obama's hope and change, our hope and change is spiritual and eternal in nature and should begin with Christ and end with a change in our hearts.

My own yearning of hope and change has been rattled a bit by the elections though I had not placed it in government. No, I did not vote for Obama and no, I did not think that Romney had all the answers for this country, but I do think he would have given this country a bit more time in turning itself around. Calamities, destruction and disasters have always been catalysts for people to turn back to God and when we look around us today and see what we have wrought for ourselves, I believe that it is the wake up call that we've needed and knew was coming. Do not fool yourselves into thinking our politicians are solely responsible for our state of affairs. We voted for them. The responsibility falls right onto our laps.

Advent is a time of hope and this hope in Christ is sorely needed today. Changes made to our hearts to live out this message of Hope that Advent calls us towards is needed also, more than at any other time in our recent history. We all have a desire to see our societies reflect the good and moral nature of God but that will not happen without a true conversion in our hearts. Advent is not just to prepare for Christmas, but to prepare for our Lord's final coming. Lent calls us to fasting and prayer, yet Advent is no less a call to do the same in order to cleanse ourselves of the ungodly that we harbor within our hearts. We as individuals and as a nation need to call upon God to instill new hearts, pure hearts and more loving hearts in each of us if we expect our hope for change to be reflected in the world around us. 

This nation is in for some hard times, though they need not be unfruitful. We should not view the election results as a disaster, but as a time to open our eyes to the spiritual reality that surrounds us and is everlasting. We should look at the results of the last election as an opportunity to renew ourselves and our relationship with God. When we as faithful Catholics see society out of control and headed for an abyss, it is then we see ourselves clearly at the mercy of God. It is too bad that we have to wait until a disaster before we recognize this, but with every disaster comes a chance for healing.

When all seems lost it is then we look to the Shepherd to guide us. Faith needs to be tested in order for it to be strengthened and flourish, and believe me, our faith will and is already being tested. Be thankful for that. Asking God to instill in us a new heart during this season of Advent is a step in the right direction towards prioritizing what is truly important in our lives. It is the first step that should be taken. If we want to change the world, our nation and our society, we need to make changes in our hearts and that can only be done if we place our Hope and Change in God, beginning this Advent.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Preparations During Advent...Again.

I always wondered about the repeated traditions of preparing for Christmas during Advent each year.  We go to confession once at the very least, read scripture that leads us to His birthday, take special care in choosing certain gifts for certain people and decorate our homes to reflect this season that is fast coming upon us. I took all the steps necessary to prepare yet I never really found a place in my heart for the message of Advent.

I read somewhere that the years just prior to our Lord's coming there was a great sense of anticipation in Israel for the promised messiah. So much so that Jewish maidens would ask themselves if they were the ones who were to be chosen to bring him into the world. Throughout the years leading up to the birth of Jesus, God was preparing His people for His coming into the world and when He finally showed up only a handful recognized Jesus for who He really was: God.

I finally realized and came to the conclusion that our preparations for Advent are not only to remember and celebrate Christmas, a day that started it all 2000 years ago, but all the Advent preparations and celebrations of Christmas we have been going through all of our lives are really practice drills for a reality that will come for all of us at some point or another.

Though there are many layers of understanding in what Advent means  for each one of us as individuals, what we do share in common is that Advent prepares us for His coming and I'm not just talking about Christmas each year. In all of our Advents during our lifetime, we have been practicing for the time when we meet Him face to face. We will all die at some point and meet our creator and for some of us it will be sooner than later and at some final point in the world's history, those of us who are left on earth will witness Jesus' second coming.

We all sense an anticipation not unlike 2000 years ago when Mary was being prepared to bring God to us. We live in a chaotic world where things seem topsy turvy as if all hell has broken loose upon the earth and nothing seems anchored in absolute truth. It would be easy to lose hope if that is all we see when we look at the world around us. Israel was also surrounded by a godless society, yet in that little pocket of the backwash village of Nazareth, hope and faith had endured and changed the world.

Those of us faithful Catholics who feel abandoned and alone in a society determined to extinguish faith and hope in God should take heart. In our own little backwash villages of our souls there is still a flame, dim though it may be for some, ready for the bellows of heaven to inflame it. A true Advent preparation has to begin in our souls and not in a tree or other decorations. What happens in our homes during Advent should reflect the conversion that is occurring within us. The darker our world becomes the brighter this flame will be visible to those around us.

The Church has given us the season of Advent to prepare for Christmas, but that is only the official recognition of an advent that should be occurring in each of us all year long. Let me put it this way so that it may be easier to understand. If December 25, 2012 was to be YOUR last day in this world, what would Advent be like for you as you prepare for the few weeks leading up to that day? If this year's Christmas is to be your last day on earth, would you be concerned with baking cookies, scurrying around finding that perfect gift and getting the best price on a tree? Would you venture out on Black Friday, a day that is a contradiction of the Gospel message, just to jostle others around you as you lunge for that item you just have to have in your possession? What would all of the above do to prepare us for our final day?

Do not misunderstand. Decorating our homes, taking time to find a gift to those we love and finally, going to Mass to celebrate the birth of our Messiah are important as part of the preparations we make during Advent, but we have a tendency to go overboard. When Advent begins this year, remember this. His coming for you as an individual may occur at any point and day, whether it is on the first Sunday of Advent, the second, at Christmas or 40 years down the road. We just don't know.

Winter reflects my own timeline in life and its bleakness the world in which I find myself. I sorely need a true Advent in my life. I've just gone through another birthday and I have been told that I have many years left. Maybe so but I really hope not for I long for that Christmas Day when Jesus comes again, this time for me and takes me home where I belong. And when I do go home, I want to present one gift to my Father; a soul that is pleasing to him. My hope this Advent is to prepare that gift. It is all I have to give that is worth giving and I want to be ready to present it to Him..








Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No Time For Despair

It's easy to despair after waking up and seeing the election results, but curiously I am not in despair. Yes, I've seen the results that declare Obama the winner, but I know in my heart of hearts I did my best in trying to achieve a different outcome. It makes one wonder though, as a Catholic, how many of my fellow pewsitters actually went out to vote and voted their (rightly formed) consciences. I've not seen the final results of how many Catholics voted for Obama this time and if they were actually part of the tipping point for his victory. This morning though, it no longer matters for what is done is done. What does matter is what do we do now.

Catholics cannot allow themselves to fall prey to the myth that our happiness and joy depends on who occupies the White House.  Presidents or any other world leader are not the objects of Christian joy. Presidents come and go but God remains always. So for a Catholic, our faith should remain steadfast as we continue to practice our faith and worship God who was and will always be. But we live in the world and what the world does affects our lives. 

Our Church has existed in a pagan society before and by the looks of it, it will have to again. The religion of secularism was victorious last night and its goal is to supplant what is left of Christianity in American society with the godless. It had already made significant inroads to that end in the last four years but I fear what we are about to see is a judgement on a nation who's heart has grown cold. Whether one believes it or not, this nation was a gift to humanity from God and we have trampled this gift underfoot in little more than two hundred years. 

Again, whether one believes it or not, America is a driving influence on this world, good or bad, and what happens here will be felt all over. We are or were one of the last bastions of faith in our world and though it is  not completely lost, it will be severely crippled. At the same time, how we as Catholics conduct ourselves during this period of tribulation will be watched by Catholics the world over. The Church has a history of living in societies that are hostile to it whether it was two thousand years ago or now, in the Middle East, Africa or China. Though the West is not as physically brutal as some other cultures are toward Christians, they have made it apparent that Christianity is not welcomed in the modern world. Now America has joined forces with the enemies of the Church, and with Obama, he  no longer has to answer to the electorate which will now allow him to attack us and persecute us at will. 


Knowing this then, why am I not in despair? Because I know our history and history tells us that in the worst of times the Church flourished despite its humble beginnings in the Colosseum, the fall of the Roman Empire and its survival through what we call the Dark Ages. We now find ourselves in the dark ages again and what we do will determine what history will think of the Church of our time. The first four years of this presidency gave us a taste of what is coming for Catholics and Christians in general alike in America. The first four years of the presidency also exposed to America and the world who is truly a faithful Catholic and who is not. We've had an apostasy in our Church in the making for years and it came to fruition last night. As with our nation, the Church in America is split down the middle.

Are we being judged as a nation by our Creator? I think so yes, but not in a manner where we cannot come back with greater and stronger faith than before. I believe this road of our own making is being permitted by God to wake us up as Catholics and get back to our roots of faith. We as American Catholics have become lukewarm to the point where Christ himself would spit us out of his mouth:



"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."    Revelation 3:15-16

Adversity has always been a a time where great champions of the faith have arisen and this time will be no different. Make no mistake: We are in for some very hard times as Catholics in this country. Our mission to save souls and help the poor will be greatly hampered by the government as the Church is regulated to the private sector under pain of prosecution. The HHS mandate of last year was just the beginning. It was a foretaste of what is to come. Some bishops when confronted with the mandate last year declared that civil disobedience may be in order if the Church is forced to go against its conscience. Perhaps the Book of Tobit is a prophecy for our time that may come true yet:

Chapter One
18 But after a long time Salmanasar the king being dead, when Sennacherib his son, who reigned in his place, had a hatred for the children of Israel: 19 Tobias daily went out among all his kindred, and comforted them, and distributed to every one as he as able, out of his goods: 20 He fed the hungry, and gave clothes to the naked, and was careful to bury the dead, and they that were slain. 21 And when king Sennacherib was come back, fleeing from Judea by reason of the slaughter that God had made about him for his blasphemy, and being angry slew many of the children of Israel, Tobias buried their bodies. 22 But when it was told the king, he commanded him to be slain, and took away all his substance. 

It should not go unnoticed that this world will come under a terrible persecution from the godless unlike that which has never been seen since the beginning as written in scripture. Whether those times are here or  not is not for me to say. What is coming however will not be good. I will predict a few things however and hope to God that I am wrong. 

I believe we will see Church leaders prosecuted for defying laws that prohibit the Church from accomplishing its mission. Penalties or prison? Both I believe. I see, as others have, two churches in America: The Catholic Church who's authority comes from Rome and a state run church that takes it's marching orders from the Washington D.C. much like the state run church in China. This faux Church will be made up of dissidents and malcontents who will align themselves with secular society and it will be this church that the government will see as the rightful authority to speak as the Catholic Church.

I see laws coming that will prevent the Church from speaking out in the public square or lose their right to vote or worse. Rumblings of this has already been heard when Obama speaks of the Right to Worship instead of Freedom of Religion. We, as faithful Catholics will be delegated to practice our faith in the privacy of our homes and church with threats of prosecutions should we dare to speak our faith in public. We would have no choice but to defy such a law as we are commanded to "teach all nations" by Christ. 

Losing our Freedom of Religion will also have to mean our losing our Freedom of Speech and to evangelize to those around us. Should we dare speak against abortion, SSM, euthanasia, state sanctioned suicides and contraceptives, we will again be threatened with fines, penalties or prison. And this is just the beginning.

I've not even touched upon what will happen to our economy, foreign policies et al in the next four years and possibly beyond. My concern is my faith and my soul and the threats to them that, I believe will be coming in the near future. Stand fast in your faith. It hasn't even been tested yet.

 

 
 


 






Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Charism of a Catholic Blogger

I've just discovered a new blogger that gave me much to think about concerning my own blog. Marcus Allen Steele here, discovers that each one of us has a spiritual gift or talent (charism) and has set out to discover his own. As he writes,

 "At the risk of being decapitated, I’m going to stick my neck out and state that writing may be my charism. Holy Spirit, if I’ve missed the boat on this, please tell me. Although I’m not entirely confident in my writing abilities, I remain committed and will hopefully become better. But I’m struggling somewhat with direction." 

I think most new bloggers, and I include myself, go through this self-examination in trying to discover the purpose of our blogs. Before I began blogging, I found myself commenting on various blogs and many times at length. I was encouraged by a few to start my own Catholic blog and in July of 2011 I took the leap and began Peter's Barque. We all know that for a long time now, the liberal, progressive Catholics/Christians seemed to dominate most religious online news sources with very few of us that are faithful to all the Church's Doctrines and teachings, risking ourselves to exposing the scant truth or outright lies of these aforementioned progressives.

I had one purpose in mind when I began blogging; to tell the Truth of our Church as best as I could and expose the lies leveled against her. It's not been easy to do. Like Steele, I do not consider myself a writer, yet in his case he is wrong. Marcus writes very well and expresses his thoughts quite eloquently. As a faithful Catholic however, I do have many thoughts on faith and how it affects the public square, and I try to write them down in a manner that makes sense to others.

Do I have a charism? No, not as a writer, but perhaps I do as a layman that is trying clear the path of chaos among many of us that have fallen victim to a liberal faction within our Church determined to recreate the Church in its own image. Have I been successful? I'm not sure. Though I do have a certain amount of regular readers each week, I still question whether or not this charism I may or may not have is truly divinely inspired and strengthened. I continue to pray to know His will in all of this.

At its founding, Peter's Barque was born out of frustration and a sense of being left stranded by our Church leaders when it came to defending ourselves. As I wrote in another post, Catholic bloggers have picked up the standard and have plowed ahead in making themselves a front line in defending our faith against those too willing to destroy our Church from within and without. Paradoxically, the Church is its own worse enemy to its life on earth, but also Christ's mode of salvation in this world today since Pentecost.

Though still frustrated at times with the slow moving though unmistakeable move to restore our Faith by the Church's hierarchy, as well as their coming to her defense lately,  I also have sought out the Holy Spirit in what I write instead of reacting. The ego is a terrible obstacle when determining what thoughts should be posted. We, I, have tried to find my role in all of this. I know I've opened the eyes of some people to the truth of what the Church teaches, but on the other hand,  I know I've angered others. Sometimes anger is the catalyst to discover the truth, but it also can alienate others. I hope I've not driven any away that may have teetered on their faith, not sure which way to go.

I know I have been blunt in the manner that I write down my thoughts, but at the moment, that is who I am and my style, if I do have a style, reflects this. Like Marcus, I hope to improve my writing skills, say what I mean and mean what I say. To those that may have been offended by my 'style' of writing, I ask that you overlook  my one-brow, Neanderthal clubbing over the head manner. Remember, we are all saints in the making and I am no different.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Big Bird/Cheshire Cat Versus Romney/Ryan

There has always been a certain amount of truth manipulation from many politicians when expressing their views on certain issues, whether the truth is stretched a bit or it is skewed in such a manner that what is said is not what is meant, but the blatant lying that we witness day in and day out in the closing days of this presidential campaign is beyond anything I've seen in a long time.

To say that Obama indulges in fiction is diplomatic at best. Even his supporters in the media have called him out on a number of misstatements(I hate that word). I won't even go further back for examples of his lying than the outrage of Libya and the murder of the U.S. diplomat in the attack in Bengazi. Without batting an eye, Obama blamed the attack on an anti-Islam video when knowing full well that it was not just a protest to the video but a deliberate attack of our consulate by terrorists. Lying to the American people for about two weeks, this administration refused to change their story even in the face of the facts that have come out and are still coming out.

Lying comes too naturally to this President and apparently he's lied so much even he believes his own lies. How else could they trip off his tongue so easily? During the presidential debate we saw our President reduced to nothing more than the fictional character that he is. Never fully vetted as a candidate for president before the last election, this man was created in the perception the media wanted to portray. From the fictional story of his autobiography that he did not write, to the words he speaks ala the teleprompter, Obama's life as we see it has been fictionalized. Like Big Bird in a make believe Sesame Street, Obama exists in a land created by the media, a land of fiction.

Charles Krauthammer told the truth when he criticized those who said that Obama was just not himself during the debate. Krauthammer countered that yes, this was the real Obama that we saw. This is the Obama that has always been there, but masked over by the media, who to this day continues to cover for him. A man, who without his teleprompter to tell him what to say, Obama was no more than a puppet without strings during the debate. Nothing to animate him, the President was hunched over his podium, averting his eyes from his opponent and spouting mere talking points with nary a defense against the slings and arrows coming from Romney. This man of fiction was in full view of about 70 million people during the debate and this all but devastated the liberal pundits who were left with their mouths open at what they saw, or didn't see from their messiah.

Enter Joe Biden. The VP was given instructions for the debate that he would have with Paul Ryan. It is said that he was told to be himself, be the old Joe that we know. In reality however, he was sent out to save his boss's  image since the debate in any way he could. Biden failed miserably. He came off as an arrogant little man who's only defense against the truth was diversion FROM the truth. As one pundit said, Joe Biden kept a creepy smile on his face that resembled the Cheshire Cat. Indeed. Biden's grin would have made the Cheshire Cat envious. The only tactic Biden had against Ryan was the constant interrupting while Ryan spoke. Biden was seen laughing, denigrating his opponent with a shake of his head etc. In a nutshell, Biden was an embarrassment to this country. This was not statesmanship but desperation from a man that had nothing in his bag of tricks to counter Ryan. How could he even begin to defend the failures of these four Obama years we've experienced? Joe had nothing to say. Biden failed to save his president, the Democrats and most of all, Joe failed himself by his lack of truth.

I suppose we could cut Obama some slack concerning his aversion to the truth considering the people he kept company with during his early years. People such as Saul Alinsky, Jeremiah Wright and Frank Marshal were influential to Obama. Their ideology built the bedrock of lies around which Obama's life revolved. But Joe Biden has no such excuse for his inaccuracies and outright lies during the debate beginning with the issue of Libya, that according to ol' Joe, he and Obama knew nothing of the calls for support from the Ambassador prior to the attack. His lie that the HHS mandate exempted employers who objected to providing and paying for insurance covering contraceptives because of their religious faith, and that the Church in particular was exempted from this mandate was blatant, enough so that Ryan immediately countered him by asking why the administration is continuing to be sued by those who supposedly are exempted,  and the Bishops issued a statement that Joe Biden was wrong in saying that the Church was exempted from covering and paying for contraceptives and the like.

Joe Biden admits to being a practicing Catholic, yet, as a man opposed to abortion and believing life begins at conception, he feels that he should not force his view on others, so he supports his boss's agenda on abortion. So much so, he defended Planned Parenthood when he said they could not perform abortions and that it was against the law for them to do so. Was he lying? In a way, I hope he was, for the alternative is scary to contemplate: stupidity and/or total ignorance. This is a man who is a breath away from being the President should the need arise. This more than scares many of us.

Biden did not have the pleasure of sitting in church and listening to Jeremiah Wright as Obama has. No, Joe presumably sits in a Catholic church each Sunday, calling himself a Catholic and receiving Holy Communion. He recites the Profession of Faith as we all do when we say, " I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church..." To believe in the Catholic Church, indeed, to be a true Catholic means to embrace her teachings and doctrines she has put forth. We as Catholic cannot pick and choose what to believe and not  believe. It is the whole shebang. Ol' Joe Biden knows this.

Does Biden feel any guilt or shame for his actions and words during the debate about abortion? Does he think he portrayed his Faith and the Church in a good light and without scandal the night of the debate? After forty or so years of practicing his faith, Joe knows better. Oh...he knows what the Church teaches about the evil of abortion, but like Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Sibelius et al, he seems have sold his faith for the power and the lies the left has promised him. But then again, perhaps behind all the bluster, the Cheshire grin, the maniacal laugh and the arrogance was a small man to be pitied for his weakness of not standing by the Faith he professes every Sunday and defending his faith. Whatever the reason is for Biden's bizarre behavior during the debate, one day in the future, we will all have to answer for what we've said and done in this world. Vice-Presidents will not be exempt either.

 After the debates were over, it was clear that it was Romney and Ryan who carried themselves as statesmen, serious and mature men who take this nations problems seriously and personally. Obama and Biden were painful to watch. There was nothing presidential about Obama that night, and Biden had to have frightened world leaders when he laughed during Ryan's discussion on Libya. Libya is nothing to laugh about certainly, but Joe should have known this.

Big Bird and the Cheshire Cat live in fictional worlds. Fictional worlds are usually easily discernible from reality by sane people. Somebody must have left the door open... 




Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dressing For Heaven

I've noticed for a while now that many of us have little concern for our attire when we come to Mass to worship God in the Eucharist. It's been said often enough that the clothes make the man, or woman for that matter. If it's true, then what does it say about us when we come to Mass dressed in jeans and t-shirts or any other clothing that looks as if we just got out of work, walked in from the beach wearing shorts and flip-flops or dressed in a manner that is immodest at best?

What is it that we've forgotten about God that would make many of us so complacent and uncaring as to how we are dressed when we take the time to come to Mass to worship the Creator? I am not so self-righteous as to suggest that I have not been guilty of dressing negligibly in the past. I am guilty of that, and on more than one occasion, so if it seems I am passing judgement on others, know that I am judging myself first and foremost.

I've made a transition from dressing up for Mass in my youth living in my father's house, to BARELY acceptable attire for a few years while on my own and then slowly began to revert back to wearing appropriate clothes. I say slowly because though I did not dress down for Mass, I didn't wear what I would have considered my best. What caused me to change my mind as to how I should dress for Mass is two fold. First, I noticed others around me and many times what I observed embarrassed me. It did so not only because some people wore scant clothing but for those who were dressed modestly, what they wore was no better than what many of us wear on a regular weekday. Jeans, t-shirts and the like. Second, I didn't feel I could say one thing about it for I saw myself guilty of the same offense: the pot looking at the kettle.

It was on one of those Sundays that I made a decision be begin to wear clothing that said to others around me, that I considered the respect and worship of God central in my life. I looked at what I was currently wearing and decided that I could do much better. If I could dress up for secular occasions that were special, then I most certainly could dress up when in the presence of God in the Eucharist.

When participating in Holy Mass, our dress should reflect the solemnity and holiness of the occasion. The attitude some of us have today of our attire is that how we are dressed should not matter, as long as we are at Mass fulfilling our obligation and God will overlook our lack of discretion. I could not disagree more. What we wear to worship God reveals how much or how little we know of who and what God is and what he's done for us. Never in a million years would the majority of us attend a wedding dressed in jeans and t-shirts. Some of course would and have, but there are always exceptions.

If we were invited to meet with the Queen of England we would make sure we are well dressed and groomed so as to reflect the importance of the occasion and the dignitary in whose presence we stood. We dress in fine array for many occasions which are much less important than the Mass. We know when to dress up and what the convention is regarding certain special occasions when a tie is appropriate and expected.

I knew the situation about wearing inappropriate clothing to Mass was bad when I decided to start wearing a tie and a sports jacket again. I hesitated for I felt like I would stick out like a sore thumb amongst the congregation. NO one dressed like this in my parish. If the occasional person did, they must have felt the eyes of others on them,  for they were hiding and were no where to be seen. I stuck to my guns and dressed up. Of course some noticed and the ushers were the first ones. I looked sharp they said and asked if I was going to a special occasion after Mass. Without being prideful, I explained that I looked at what I wore to Mass and felt I could do much better and that this, the Mass, WAS the special occasion. They smiled then nodded in agreement. The next ones to noticed were the people that sat around me every Sunday. One man who chuckled, asked if I was trying make him look bad and again I told him what I told the usher. I was making no judgement on how others were dressing. This was between me and God.

We may not think we influence many in our little circle of daily life, but what I  noticed is some of the ushers and that particular man in the pew that sat near me slowly began dressing up more often. I began to feel less self conscience about dressing "differently" and realized that maybe I was becoming an example to other men. I'm not saying that we all dress up in suit coats and ties now that I began to wear them myself, but slowly others seem to be making an effort. 

I became a lector again after many months of absence because of my work, but I always dressed up for the days that I was assigned to proclaim the Word. A month ago, my son married and I bought a new three piece suit for the wedding. This is now my Sunday best though  I have not worn it to Mass having again hesitated to do so. I will wear it this morning however, for this morning I am the lector again. I feel this suit may be over the top, yet it really isn't. It's only that in the sea of inappropriately dressed worshipers in my parish, I will again feel like I'm sticking out from the others. I've decided to stay my feelings and wear it for God and his Word that I will be proclaiming, and possibly, again, be an example to others.

In this new era of evangelization that the Pope has set forward for all of us, the way we dress for Mass is an opportunity to make others see the importance of Mass and the God we worship.  It is an opportunity to say to others by the care we place on how we dress for God, that we respect our King and recognize His love for us. We will be saying to others that He is the Creator of all things and that it is time to recognize this at Mass when we go up for communion to receive God among us.

I am asking for all of us, man or woman, to make more of an effort to put our best selves forward at Mass. I ask that we set aside our laziness and our hesitation of sticking out like a sore thumb in Mass and dress appropriately for God. It is not that difficult as I have found, yet it speaks volumes to those around us that see us and especially to God. We may not all own suits and ties, but most of us do have clothes that we consider our best. Others may not see them as such, but God will. It is our best that we should offer at Sunday Mass, for God himself offered up His best for us.












Monday, October 1, 2012

The Not So Subtle "Freedom of Worship"

If there is any consistent tactic in the leftist's strategy to undermine society and move its own progressive agenda forward it is this: The redefining of words to strip them of their original meaning and intent. Freedom of Worship, instead of our Freedom of Religion, is now being used in Obama's attempt to restrict our faith. Since his speech in Cairo a few years back while speaking to the Muslim community, both Obama and Clinton have used this phrase consistently. Though seemingly innocuous to many, this redefinition of our Freedom of Religion has caught the attention of those of us that have paid close attention to what Obama says as to what he does.  And they don't mesh.

At first glance, Freedom of Worship does not seem to worry many citizens. Why should it? It calls for us to be guaranteed the right to worship as we please. So what's the problem? If our Freedom of Religion is watered down to Freedom of Worship, our faith will then be able to be restricted and controlled by the state. Once our religious freedom is replaced with a freedom to worship, our faith would now be fair game to be manipulated and controlled. Though free to worship, our faith could then be restricted to our homes and within the walls of our parish church while banned from the public square while being told, "See? You can still worship all you want, just as long as it is done in private". This would completely contradict the very reason the first immigrants came to our shores in search of religious freedom in the first place and fly in the face of our nation's founding fathers original intent in securing our Freedom of Religion.

It's been said that the government is buying millions of rounds of ammunition from manufacturers in preparation for an eventual uprising by the people should economic collapse occur. Possible? Maybe, but not very probable. As others have said, I think it is more in terms of restricting our right to bear arms. Yes, we will be able to own a gun, but try to find the ammunition with which to use it if there is a shortage of rounds. Our right to bear arms would have been neutered. This is precisely what this so-called Freedom of Worship will do also should Obama be left to his own devices.

The freedom to worship is only a part of our religious freedom and not the whole. Our freedom to practice our religion tells us we can believe and express this belief as we see fit and as dictated by our faith, and that does not mean merely to worship God on a Sunday. It also guarantees that are consciences are protected from being forced to do something our faith considers immoral. The founders understood this and too many today do not.

Religious convictions were part and parcel in the founding of are country. They were not excluded from public debate as our nation wrestled with how to best proceed in securing a nation that guaranteed the rights of its citizens. We as Catholics, faithful to the Magisterium that is, are an obstacle to this Obama administration. We stand in the way of his ideology of promoting abortion, SSM, infanticide and contraceptives in a manner  he deems necessary, even if it means coercing us through executive order or legislative means in order to achieve his goals. To achieve this end, the Catholic conscience needs to be hamstrung and delegated to the privacy of our homes and churches and out of the public eye and square. That is what Freedom of Worship will do. We enjoy and are guaranteed Freedom of Religion and our worship is part of that. Not the other way around.

Those of us who are not of any faith within a traditional belief or any belief, should also be very worried at what this administration is trying to do with this freedom we have, for if our Freedom of Religion can be decimated bit by bit, so can our Freedom of Speech. Once these two freedoms are restricted, all of our guaranteed freedoms are up for grabs. Watch what Obama does and do not listen to what he says. It has been shown that he will lie to get what he wants. It is in what he does that tells us what are truly his intentions for our freedoms, especially our Freedom of Religion. Again, they do not mesh at all.







Sunday, September 23, 2012

Will Christians Also Riot and Kill Because of 'Art' Display?

This is where the rubber meets the road isn't it? Would not this be a defining moment for Obama to quell all the doubts Americans have about him being a Christian? Would not this also be a chance for Obama to actually display his honesty when he says we should all respect the religious convictions of people, whether or not we personally agree with their beliefs, and hold everyone to this standard including himself, or will his hypocrisy show itself?

The anti Muslim film, "Innocence of Muslims", was the catalyst, according to the Obama administration, that led to rioting and the death of an American ambassador by Muslims. The administration went out of their way to apologize to the Islamic world for the the way an American exercising his free speech, produced a film that in their words was disgusting, insulting, and disrespectful of the people of Islam. As a matter of fact, the producer of the film was brought in for questioning by the sheriff's department concerning his film. Whether he had the right under free speech to produce this film is not in question, but whether or not his exercising his right in this manner was the correct thing to do, and that leaves a lot to be desired.

Now, an old wound has resurfaced in the art world. In 1987, artist Andre Serrano, produced an artwork called "Piss Christ" which resulted in strong condemnation from Christians all over the world. Now, this so-called artwork is back in the news as it will be displayed at the privately owned Edward Tyler Nahem Gallery in Manhattan on Thursday.

Is Obama going to apologize to Christians in advance of the exhibition as he did for the Muslims before "Innocence of Muslims" was shown? Will he condemn this display that most Christians find blasphemous and insulting as well as disrespectful to their faith? Will this administration allow Serrano to be picked up for questioning also? Surely Obama will practice what he preaches about respecting other peoples faiths and speak out against this artwork, since after all, he himself is a Christian as he says.

More importantly, we should ask ourselves how many riots and deaths of innocent victims the public display of this artwork will cause in the Christian world? Is this administration not worried of the chaos that will ensue as Christians all over the world march to the streets in protests as thousands chant, "Death to Serrano!!" ? I'm sure many more Christians will be able to procure RPG's and automatic weapons than did the Muslims since many Christians live in a more free society than most Muslims in the middle eastern part of the world, and such weapons are more easily had in the west. Will the re-exhibiting of the "Piss Christ" be the powder keg that will ignite the Christian world into a conflagration of disastrous proportions?

No, it will not. As a matter of fact, I predict that other than a few strong, vocal protests from various Christian groups and threats to bring this case to court(again), very little will be seen or heard from the Christian world. As shown by pro-life Christians at abortion clinics, this "artwork" will be protested against mostly by prayer and the quiet suffering of the faithful at this abomination. Though there may be a few individuals who call themselves Christians inciting violence, the majority of Christians know that violence is not our way to resolve this issue. Prayer is. The tens of thousands of Muslim protesters that marched to the streets in violent protest will not be replicated by the Christian world over this exhibition.

Obama will not apologize. He will not speak out for Christians and ask the world to respect our faith and dignity. It will not even be a blip on his radar though he calls himself a Christian. The respect that this administration and the mainstream media shows to the Islamic faith is fueled by a combination of cowardice and political expediency. In this world where political correctness reigns, all is equal unless it is Christianity: Cowardice for fear of what Islamic extremists will do (death and destruction) and the scoring of political points with his leftist base while dissing Christians. This last was demonstrated by the HHS mandate.

True faithful Christians will do what they do best and that is to pray for Serrano and those of his ilk and to forgive him of this blasphemy. That is the way of Christ. This way also leads to suffering for our faith, which again, we will show the world how we do this with the dignity of a true Christian.






Saturday, September 8, 2012

How Much More Convincing Do Catholic Democrats Need?

This past week, the nation witnessed something that no longer leaves any doubt as to what liberal Democrats believe, or better yet, do not believe.  Before the Democratic convention and with the President's approval, the name of God was removed from the Democratic platform. However, there was such a backlash by some Democrats who obviously still believed in God and felt squeamish to say the least, at the removal of God from the platform, and from some Republicans who mocked the new wording promising to use it against Obama's campaign, that in front of the whole nation, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who was chairman of the convention, called for a 2/3 vote to determine whether or not God and Jerusalem were to be included back into the Democrat platform, per order of Obama.

It was obvious that the Mayor expected a Yea vote to dominate when he called for the vote, but to his chagrin it sounded like a 50/50 vote between yea's and nay's and unable to say the yea's had won, he proceeded to ask for another vote...and then another vote. It was crystal clear that the nay votes had won yet he decided for the yea's and put God and Jerusalem back into the platform. The boo's and hisses that came from the liberal delegates present was sickening. The boo's came from those delegates that did not want God mentioned in the platform and for the wrangling they saw from Villaraigosa trying to justify his decision.  For a party that claims that voter fraud is not widespread enough to condone voter Photo ID, the delegates saw their own party chairman commit voter fraud by declaring the yea votes had won when clearly the nays had overwhelmed the vote.

Though they voted God back into their platform, it was obviously a sham and a visibly embarrassing vote that sought to appease those who had protested the word change. The whole nation has now seen this debacle. There are however, a few questions all faithful Catholics who happen to be Democrats and expect to support the party in November, need to ask themselves. Why did the platform committee vote to exclude God in the first place with this Christian President's approval? What purpose did it serve? What does it say about what the Democrats have become? At least they were honest about what we have known for a long time and admitted it on national tv.

Over the years, many faithful Catholics have closed their eyes, held their noses and have voted and supported a party that endorses death to the unborn, Catholic tax payer funding of abortions and contraception and supports same gender 'marriages' that faithful Catholics know cannot ever be morally legitimate. I know that many Catholics are Democrats due to their cultural history and traditions and because their parents and grandparents were Democrats, but what we have today is not the Democrats that Grandma and Grandpa supported. Today's Democrat party is not even a ghost of what the party was thirty or forty years ago.

Today's Democrat party has a strong anti-christian bent that is becoming more and more blatant and pandering to the more extreme element of the left. Its endorsement of secularism is so evident that we saw the results of that in their vote to remove God from their platform. To those of us that are Catholic Democrats, the choice could not be more clear cut. How can any of us support a party of death, bigotry, anti-religion and has a total lack of respect for the weakest among us, the unborn? And now it has a become a party that has banished God from their platform. Not all faithful Catholics who vote Democrat endorse the radical elements of the party, but the truth is, we are known by the company we keep. If you are a Democrat, you own the platform. Like our Profession of Faith we recite every Sunday determines who we are as Catholics, the Democrat party's platform determines their own ideological beliefs and now, it no longer includes God. It may be on paper, but certainly not in their hearts.

Is this what some of us are going to support and vote for in November?  How can we have any more doubts about the extreme liberal left that runs the Democrat party and that some of us support? Make no mistake; God may be back in the Democratic platform, but as Clint Eastwood would say, the chair where God should sit is now empty.  If Catholic Democrats have any sense left of who they are and what they believe, then the choice to do what is right is perfectly clear. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

How Long Will People Believe The Militant Gays?

Founded on lies, the militant, homosexual community continues to lie when they argue that SSM (same gender marriage) will not affect our society, especially for citizens that support traditional marriage and are against SSM. Perhaps the lies gain traction with those that refuse to understand what the implications will be, once SSM becomes law in all states and revel in their ignorance, but for Jim and Mary O'Reilly, those implications are very real.

“We have never refused rooms or dining or employment to gays or lesbians. Many of our guests have been same-sex couples. We welcome and treat all people with respect and dignity. We do not however, feel that we can offer our personal services wholeheartedly to celebrate the marriage between same-sex couples because it goes against everything that we as Catholics believe in.” This is a quote by Jim and Mary O’Reilly, owners of the Wildflower Inn in Lydonville, VT. as reported by Catholicculture.org. They also went on to say, “The Wildflower Inn has always served -- and will continue to serve -- everyone in our community but no one can force us to abandon our deeply held beliefs about marriage.”

The O'Reilly's were sued by a lesbian couple for their refusal to host their wedding reception at their inn and so incurred a lawsuit brought on by the ACLU for the lesbian couple.  Catholicculture.org also reports that, "Under the terms of the settlement, the Wildflower Inn will pay $10,000 to the Vermont Human Rights Commission and $20,000 to a charitable trust governed by the lesbian couple. The inn will also stop hosting weddings."

Do we understand what this is? This is another attempt by militant gays to coerce society with litigation if they do not comply nor accept homosexuality as a normal and viable lifestyle. The money paid by the O'Reilly's is extortion.  We are told over and over again that allowing SSM to become law will in no way affect the rest of us that refuse to recognize such unions as a marriage. Yet, here we are again. Militant gays are liars. They know their agenda is not swaying or changing the minds of the majority of the citizenry of this nation, so they resort to lawsuits, expensive at that, in order to promote their hatred of traditional marriage, and hatred it is.

But an odd thing is happening in these blatent attempts to force people to do things against their conscience. In refusing to comply to the gay agenda to acknowledge SSM, people are standing up for their right to act on their conscience and faith that tells them homosexual acts are wrong and that there is no such thing as SSM. They are allowing their businesses to suffer rather than submitting themselves to the denial of their faith. The lesbian couple may think they won by having the O'Reilly's settle out of court, but the end result is the same: they were refused the use of the inn even though the owners may suffer for it.

I'm sure they will find some other venue to host their sham wedding reception, but it won't be the one belonging to the O'Reilly's. That much has been made clear. Other's have been threatened by lawsuits for refusing to acknowledge SSM thus refuting the pro gay lie of, "SSM will not affect anyone else." Canada is rife with litigation of those that refuse to accommodate gay weddings, whether through refusal to photograph SSM, or baking wedding cakes, etc. This country is well on it's way also, as more faithful Christians are brought to task for not accepting the gay agenda. Jack Phillips of Colorado has recently said, after refusing to make a wedding cake for an "engaged" same sex couple that he'd rather see his business closed before compromising his beliefs.  This is strong stuff. These kinds of decisions are not easy to make, yet we are seeing them made more and more by faithful Christians.

Nothing good comes from coercing people to do something their consciences tells them is wrong. I feel that the gay community will find themselves in a back lash of anger against them for trying to force their lifestyle on others and trampling on our consciences. I fear that all dignity and respect that the non-militant homosexual has been fighting for all these years will come crashing down upon them because of the few immoral, angry, and violent gays that want to force the issue.  The more law suits are brought up against faithful Christians for not accepting SSM, the more the gay lies will be exposed for all to see.

We have heard from the militant gays for years, spewing their hatred against Catholics and all faithful Christians. It is now time for the reasonable voices of the homosexual community to sound off against what they themselves see as a dismantling of a society of all it's dignity and God given value. I know that any homosexual that attempts to contradict the militants gets persecuted by them, but as with the O'Reilly's, there comes a time when one has to stand up and voice their opposition to such destruction of a society that all should be enjoying and not let the minority rule. Let us hope that fear of militant gays does not paralyze them for long. It is time for them to speak out against this immorality for that is what it is. Pure and simple.