Sunday, April 29, 2012

George Zimmerman's "Ecce Homo" Moment

Over at  Renew America , Lloyd Marcus wrote an opinion piece titled, "What About Justice For Zimmerman" in which he mulls over the Trayvon Martin case and what it may mean for Zimmerman. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Most Americans desire a fair and just outcome of this tragedy. But, Lord help us if the evidence proves Zimmerman to be innocent. If Zimmerman is ruled not-guilty and allowed to walk, I foresee Rodney King-type riots in the streets. Thus, is Zimmerman's fate already sealed? Will a jury decide Zimmerman must be declared guilty of something?" 

Leading the way and trying to ensure a desirous outcome of the trial in their favor, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the high priests of  black American justice, have already decided that Zimmerman has to be found guilty or they insinuate that there will be catastrophic consequences in the already, tenuous relationship between black and white Americans. In short, Jackson and Sharpton have paraphrased the high priest Caiaphas, when he sat  in the counsel of the Pharisees and chief priests to determine what to do with Jesus and said,
" 49... Ye know nothing at all,
 50Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 

There is a dangerous and ugly similarity between Jesus' trial and Zimmerman's. Our Lord's trial was a farce and  Zimmerman's "pre-trial" trial seems to be leading in the same direction through the efforts of the so-called Christian reverends  Jackson and Sharpton, the New Black Panthers and the news media.  

Already, a steady stream of witness's have been trotted out trying to find Zimmerman guilty without benefit of a trial, specifically the news media.  The media in Zimmerman's case have doctored photos and the audio of the 911 call trying to portray Zimmerman as a dangerous, racist, stalker, out looking for trouble and tried to hide the photos of  injuries that Zimmerman claimed to have been caused by an attack by Trayvon Martin. The media has tried to sway public opinion by stacking the deck against Zimmerman with lies and falsehoods, but as in the trial of Jesus, the false witnesses concocted by the Pharisees and chief priests could not agree in their testimony and contradicted each other. The ancient witnesses lied in their testimony against Jesus, as today's media against Zimmerman.

Black activists have cried out angrily for weeks that Zimmerman should be arrested and not be free as they placed a price on Zimmerman's head with threats of death should he be found by the Panthers or those seeking justice for Martin. Even when Zimmerman was arrested, charged and made bail, it was not enough to satisfy those wanting their "pound of flesh". They want Zimmerman crucified no matter what happens in the trial. This is no different than when Pontius Pilate arrested and scourged Jesus, then presented his bloody form to the Pharisees in the praetorium  with his infamous "Ecce Homo". The cries of "Crucify him!" came from the unsatisfied crowd who wanted their own pound of flesh. Pilate tried to set him free because he found no guilt in him but instead, he sentenced Jesus to death in order to prevent rioting.

I have no idea if Zimmerman is guilty and it is not my place to say. I do not have all the truthful information of what happened, so I have to presume him innocent as we all should, but I'm afraid presumed innocence is of no concern to Jackson, Sharpton and their ilk. My real fear is that a fair trial cannot happen. When the media declares Zimmerman as a "white hispanic", it would seem to seal his fate much as Jesus replying to Caiaphas, "I AM".

Lloyd Marcus' article bears a lot of truth when he asks whether the jury will have to declare Zimmerman guilty of something to avoid violence in the streets. Jesse and Al will also be on trial right along side of Zimmerman if their race baiting puts fear in the jury and influences their verdict.  I do not envy the jury that will be put in place at Zimmerman's trial. They have been given the role of Pilate and will have to bear the consequences of their verdict. Will they declare Zimmerman guilty out of fear of Jesse's and Al's threats despite any reservations they may have of his guilt? I truly hope not.  But you can be sure of what they will be thinking during this upcoming trial: whether it is better for one man to be destroyed than a nation.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

For Mary's Sake, Let Rome Decide

Medjugorje has been a balm for some Catholics as well as a cause for divisiveness and it continues with renewed fervor even after thirty years. There is again, a new surge in accusations being flung all over the internet that some stateside Catholic writers and/or bloggers of note are anti-Medjugorje as well as accusations that the faithful who do believe in these apparitions are blindly following a supernatural event that may or may not be true.

It would be unusual if these apparitions of Our Lady were not true while reports of miracles of  physical and spiritual healings continue to come from Medjugorje. Given what we know of Lourdes and Fatima, it would be equally unusual if Our Blessed Mother has publicly communicated with these seers for thirty years! This does not sound like Mary's M.O. but who am I to say she can't or wouldn't choose to do so. If these events had occurred in private all along it would be one thing, but since they occurred while the public surged around the seers during these apparitions almost from the get go, I would be a liar if I said I had no questions concerning their veracity. Everything about Medjugorje is unusual, but then again we do live in unusual times.

Lourdes and Fatima did not have the benefit, if indeed it is a benefit, of having the mass media we have today with the internet and cable T.V. Unlike Medjugorje, Lourdes and Fatima were localized events that took months if not years to be communicated to the Catholic world, and once it happened, the true story was being reported. Not so with Medjugorje. Almost immediately, stories began to leak out to Catholics around the world that something was happening in this little village before all facts were known giving way to less than accurate dissemination of information.

There are too many unanswered questions about Medjugorje. I would love for the apparitions to be true, as I believe in the events of Lourdes and Fatima to be true, but my faith does not rest on apparitions of our Blessed Mother, but on God through his Church. If people come away from Medjugorje with renewed faith, healings of mind and body and a return to the Church, that would be a  good thing. If some come back skeptical, that alone does not make anyone a bad Catholic, but a discerning one who is being protective of  his/her soul until doubts of Medjugorje are resolved one way or another.

I have a two thousand year old suggestion to make:  With Gamaliel, let those of both sides of the Medjugorje issue say, Acts 5 ---38 “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”

Let Rome decide.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Church's Current Persecution: Experiencing New Growth

Anyone who has a green thumb knows that in order to make a rose bush flourish with new, productive growth that culminates in an abundance of new blossoms, it has to be pruned. I recall my mother cutting off branch after branch of her rose bushes, being sure they would die at her seemingly indiscriminate lopping, and her telling me that in order for new branches to grow, the long, unproductive "suckers" had to be cut off. These suckers she explained, were doing exactly that: sucking the life out of the bush and accomplishing nothing but growing thorns and little else. She was right. The following year, young tender shoots would begin to grow and produce so many rose buds that the whole rose bush seemed to want to topple for the sheer number of them. The thorns were still there, but the blossoms that resulted from the pruning were exquisite.

 We in this country are quickly realizing that we've become the target of an increasingly secular government with a particular anti-Christian bent that seeks to put Catholics in their place and out of the public square, and the HHS mandate is only one arrow in the government's quiver. All of the faithful Catholics that are paying attention and are reading the signs of the times knows what is coming down the pike if we do nothing and allow the anti-Christians to ride rough-shod over our faith. The Church in our country will of course survive, but there will be many casualties and we need to take a hard look at ourselves and ask if in the end of this reign of persecution, we will be standing and counted amongst the living.

We have come to another milestone in history where the Catholic Church is again being pruned by God via persecution. We may see society and the government wielding the pruning shears, but in reality it is God doing the pruning. Persecution tends to make those of strong faith stronger and those whose faith is built on sand tend to lose the faith they had. Some see this HHS mandate as a fight for religious freedom, and I will agree to to a certain point, but I see it as far more than that. It is our faith that is being tested by God through the persecution we now find ourselves in, because our faith has become lukewarm. We've allowed ourselves to be dominated in part by a godless society, while becoming apathetic and complacent about our faith. Like the rose bush above, some of us have grown into "suckers" in calling ourselves Catholic, producing thorns and no fruit, while sucking the life out of the Church.

Pruning is painful but necessary, but what we are experiencing is not a judgement on the Church, but a wake-up call to fan the flame of the Holy Spirit each of us received at our Confirmation and become stronger Catholics. A result of this pruning, the Vatican itself, in Pope Benedict, has given us an opportunity to produce new shoots of growth in giving us a new translation for the Liturgy. Though many have seen this new translation as a painful step backward, reality is, that the Eucharist is the center of our lives or should be. The more reverent and holy the Liturgy becomes, the more productive growth will result in the Church. This is how saints, our roses are made in times of need. 

Pruning in the form of persecution is always painful, whether it comes through a godless society, an anti-Christian government, or the SSPX and LCWR initiatives. It makes us face the reality of the state of our souls and our faith, and to reflect on whether we are genuine Catholics. The Catholic Church on Earth is not called the church militant for nothing. We are in constant battle against the world and our own natural inclinations to commit sin. Now, not later, is the time to fall on our knees and submit to this pruning while fighting for our faith, so in the end, we can stand up and greet Him when he comes and be counted amongst the living.

Monday, April 16, 2012

150,000,000 New Catholics

A few days ago the WSJ printed a piece called,  "Traditional Catholicism is winning," by Anne Hendershott and Christopher White regarding rising vocations in the Catholic priesthood. 

Tom Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter, quoted Mary Gautier, senior research associate at the Center for Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in his own response to the WSJ in his own article entitled "Qualifying the WSJ's conclusions about vocations". Roberts questioned Anne Hendershott and Christopher White's numbers in vocations and asked what they really mean in real world application. Here is the quote from Mary Gautier:

While there were 5,000 more priests worldwide in 2009 than in 1999, what isn't mention is the fact that "the number of Catholics worldwide is up by 150,000,000 [Yes, million!] during the same period." Another way of measuring that, she said, is to realize there were 2,551 Catholics per priest in 1999 and there were 2,876 Catholics per priest in 2009. "Catholics are still increasing at a faster rate worldwide than are priests, and the ratio is even starker in the United States." 

She continues: 

"The good news is that the number of men in theology in the U.S. this year is higher than it has been since 1988-89," she said. "The bad news is that the numbers being ordained still do not close the gap for the numbers that are retiring, dying, and leaving the priesthood. We should celebrate the fact that there are still substantial numbers of men responding to a vocational call, but we should not be triumphalistic in proclaiming that the shortage is over."

Yes, Tom Roberts is right when he says we should not be proclaiming the shortage is over, but when he quotes Mary Gautier and writes: While there were 5,000 more priests worldwide in 2009 than in 1999, what isn't mention is the fact that "the number of Catholics worldwide is up by 150,000,000 [Yes, million!] during the same period.",  there is something else that Roberts should be focusing on also: The 150,000,000 new Catholics as well as the increase of vocations.  

Despite calls for the Church to reform and modern up and allow women's ordination, artificial contraceptives, accept homosexual "marriages", divorces and abortions, the Church has not ceased in defending her faith in these matters.

Despite the rising number in the killings of Christians worldwide and the rising number of hostile persecutions by western cultures on Catholicism, the constant portrayal of the Catholic Church as repressive of women, its "out of touch" worldview of celibacy demanded of her priests, a sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Church to its core,  and the refusal of the Church to relinquish any of her "patriarchal power of the hierarchy" and allow a greater role to be played by the laity, especially women, another question should be asked and it is this: How does one reconcile the fact that so many enter the Church despite the above? Yet, the numbers are there, one hundred and fifty million new Catholics in a ten year span.

Of course, one could argue that many have also left the Church during this same period. Many have left the Church citing the Catholic's Church refusal to progress beyond its 1st century mentality and her unreal expectations of living a life in the 21st century as a Catholic as their reasons for abandoning the faith.

What of the new 150,000,000 converts to the Church? Do they not see the same thing as those that have left the very same Church, yet have chosen to enter her anyway? Despite the outcries from small 'c' catholics about the Church's backwardness and insensitivity towards humanity, I submit that it is precisely because the Church has NOT changed her teaching in the last 2000 years of her existence on Earth, that many choose to enter the Catholic Church.

If we recall after 9/11, churches were filled to capacity by people trying to make sense of what happened in NYC that day, trying to understand the purpose of their lives here on earth amidst the suffering and death around them, and how to live in this knowledge. 9/11 shattered the little bubble that many people were living in, thinking they could not be touched by the outside world. They found out different.

 That day, 9/11 represented what has been happening in our world at large. Chaos reigns, evil and goodness are turned on their heads, traditions are scorned, morality is questioned and hope of a better world is all but lost. It is in her 2000 years of unchanged teaching of Faith, Hope and Love that the Church has become an anchor in this world, immovable, constant and clear in what is right and wrong. She is not swayed by polls, sentiment or society, but by Truth. She represents the highest form of divine order in this world of chaos that people are clamoring for: Christ the Truth, unchanged

New denominations of faith continue to be created, always promising something better, new or different to the believer than the last denomination they belonged to, only to fail. Many are looking to go back to the roots of the early Christian church and find that the Catholic Church has been that church all along and unchanged. The Catholic Church is being viewed in a new light by those who are seeking and the truth proclaimed in John 6:44 becomes visible:

"No one can come to me unless the Father, which hath sent me draw him."

Indeed, the Father continues to draw all to the Church, The Body of Christ. Despite all the objections listed above and lies perpetrated against the Church, her Truth stands as a beacon of light that cannot be hidden by the evil in this world. The harvest is growing and yes, the workers may be few, but I have no doubt that within that harvest, God will call out more workers. In fact, that call has gone out and the response is promising.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Catholic's Sexual Obsession?

The Left has always accused Catholics as having an unhealthy and unnatural view of sex, but consider this:

Who promotes:
 1.  Unfettered access of online pornography?
 2.  Homosexuality and identifying oneself by ones sexual orientation?
 3.  The 'artistic' right of Hollywood to churn out movie after movie depicting sexual innuendos and language,  nudity and sexual acts usually aimed at teens as their target audience?
 4.  Distribution of condoms in schools?
 5.  Educating students, including those in kindergarten, about sex in all its forms including transgendered,  lesbian and homosexual practices, and promoting them as normal and being equal to heterosexuality and frowning on teaching abstinence?
 6.  Sex with young boys? (NAMBLA)
 7.  Lowering the age of sexual consent for children to have sex with adults?
 8.  The fashion industry in designing clothes for young, teen girls that highlights their sexuality instead of their dignity, self-respect and modesty?
 9.  Taxpayer funding of contraceptives for students in college to engage in sex, and if the condom or pill should fail, taxpayer funded abortions?
10. "Pride" parades where the participants exhibit their sexuality in explicit forms of dress or even sexual acts to the public with the threat of sexual discrimination should they not be allowed?
11. Legalized prostitution?
12. Prosecution of the Catholic Church to the fullest extent of the law for the sexual abuse of minors by a small fraction of her priests, yet turn a blind eye to the thousands of students that have been abused by teachers, assistant teachers and  coaches in the public school systems, while the media practically refuses to report on the latter?

The Left may point their finger at the Church as being obsessed with sex, but a quick review of the above tells a much different story. Contrary to the Left's accusations, the Church has always promoted the teaching that the gift of sexuality given to us by God, when practiced within the context of marriage between a man and woman, is an expression of a total giving of one spouse to the other in love and holiness, while being open to the the other gift If Catholics are obsessed with sex, then it is in trying to stop the abuse (by Catholic and non-Catholic alike) of this God given gift and preserving the health, dignity and respect all those involved. Not so the Left.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kennedy's Are Not The Center Of The Universe

Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts, after having invited Ted Kennedy's widow Victoria Reggie Kennedy, to speak at their college now seems to have had to rescind that invitation per order of Bishop Robert J. MacManus. The Bishop cited,  " her positions on abortion, homosexuality, and the Obama administration’s mandate on insurance coverage for abortifacient contraception and sterilization were incompatible with Catholic teaching." LifeSiteNews reported.

Of course, the liberal reaction was knee-jerk as it always is when things are not to their liking. One of the reactions that made me laugh was from Steve Krueger, chairman of the Catholic Democrats. He said, “Increasingly, we see more and more bishops playing the role of enforcers of the faith rather than shepherds of souls, because they squandered the trust that they once had and the authority that came with it.”

Playing the role of enforcers of the faith? They ARE the enforcers of the faith which is part and parcel of their responsibility of being shepherds of souls. Part of this enforcement is also a defending of the faith. As far a squandering their trust, though it may not be at its highest since the sex abuse scandal, many Catholics still trust their bishops in teaching and defending the faith within the authority of their office, unless that authority is taken away by the Pope with or without Krueger's approval.

The first line of Krueger's statement is the one that gives me hope that Krueger is right, that the bishop's roles in enforcing and defending the faith is increasing.  This is the second time in just a few years that the Kennedy's  have been at odds with bishops. In late 2009, Bishops Tobin of Providence, RI instructed and requested that Patrick Kennedy be denied Holy Communion because of his support of abortion and now Victoria Kennedy has been denied to appear at Anna Maria College.

In her defense Kennedy said “by objecting to my appearance at Anna Maria College he[Bishop MacManus] has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic. This is a sad day for me and an even sadder one for the Church I love.” Of course she is wrong. By objecting to her appearance, the Bishop made sure the integrity of the Catholic education at Anna Maria not be compromised by a high profile woman who's beliefs about abortion, contraception and homosexuality conflict with the Church. That is his job. If there was a judgment made of her worthiness as a Catholic it was made by her defiance to Church teachings and by no one else.

What has happened here is very important in more ways than one. What we are seeing, slowly I'll admit and not by all, are the bishops exercising their authority not only in demanding that Catholic Colleges adhere to the Church's teachings on abortion, if they are to retain their Catholic identity, but speakers who are invited to Catholic Colleges are also not to be in contradiction with the Church and what she teaches. The Notre Dame scandal with Obama receiving an honorary degree is to be thanked for that.

But, here is something else that should give us hope. The confrontation was with none other than another member of the Kennedy name. This is significant because that indicates that the bishops are courageously standing up against those who are considered untouchables by the Camelot Faithful and who believe the Kennedy name second only to the Pope, perhaps first in some opinions.  Also, by the latest survey, these bishops exercised their authority in the least religious section of the country: the Northeast United States, a hotbed of liberalism. This should give encouragement to other bishops in the country when faced with defending the faith in face of controversy. They can succeed in defending the faith and survive at the same time.

I believe we will see more and more of this type of shepherding from other bishops as they begin to renew their own faith and encourage each other as Apostles of the Church. Bishops Tobin, MacManus and Archbishop Dolan will be good company to be in for any bishop intent on exercising his office in the Church. 
 Pray for our bishops.