Monday, November 30, 2009

What Happens When You Lose a Baby?

Trying to Make Sense of a Tragedy

I have read a number of blog postings over at Socon or Bust, and at Catholic Dialogue about what they are calling euthanasia at St. Joseph's Hospital in London Ontario. In their submissions, they have both chosen to go after a Roman Catholic Priest, Fr.Michael Prieur, who I know personally, from working with him for many years, and who I know to be a man of great compassion and kindness.

In a couple of the postings there were references to articles on LifeSiteNews, which made mention of particular cases where the parents of the now deceased children spoke out. I again happen to know one of the couples and discussed the issues and this particular couple with Fr, Prieur. I wrote this posting about it among others.

But, in the last several days, something has been gnawing at me, and when I woke up this morning, I had planned to write this particular piece, until I read an article at National Post. Now I am sure that I need to write this piece.

In the National Post article is a bit of the story of a couple, Barb and Tim Farlow who lost a baby at Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto, and have been on a bit of a crusade to get justice because they believe that the doctors killed their baby with drugs that were administered after Baby Annie was born. One of their problems is that they do not have the money to fight the case, and so tried to get a Human Rights complaint out of it, and a small court claim. The HRTO would not take the case because of the other court action, and the small court claim was bumped up by a judge, and therefor will drop because the Farlow's cannot afford the attorney fees to take a case against a major well legally backed hospital.

That was the final nail in the coffin of my own personal grief that is the subject of this article. It took a long introduction to get here, didn't it?

26 years ago, my father passed away. We were very close, and my then wife and I were very saddened by his passing. To us all, he was a great man. We had some consolation in the fact that my wife was pregnant with a child that was due near his birthday.

However, one month later, we went for our ultrasound. The technician was notably quiet during the procedure, particularly when the baby was visible. In what seemed like no time, we were in the offices of Dr. Jeff Nisker, who is now, and was on the way then to becoming, one of the foremost neonatologists in the country. He is also a professor of medicine at UWO. Dr. Nisker told us that the baby was dead inside my wife's womb, and that she would have to be hospitalized and labour induced to remove the deceased baby and to prevent my wife from becoming seriously ill herself.

We went to my mother's house and the three of us had a good cry over this second death in the family in a month. My wife was admitted to the ward at Victoria Hospital where women go to deliver their babies, but was isolated in a room by herself, while surrounded with women who were excited about what was happening to them bringing new life into the world. It took two days for her to deliver a dead baby.

During that time, I was not allowed by my boss at my place of employment to be with her, but was required to work during the two days she was in induced labour. Though I saw her in the evenings for some time, as allowed by the hospital, it was not the same. I could not concentrate on the work at hand, and did a pretty lousy job actually. Finally, in mid afternoon of the second day, I told the man I was working with at the time, that I was out of there, and went to be with my wife. Not too long after I arrived, she delivered the dead baby in her hospital room. She was covered, and we never saw the baby, which was at 5 months gestation, prior to death. Whoever was attending never showed us our child, nor offered any comfort to my wife. In a rush, we were left on our own to try and figure out what had happened, and how to go on from there.

We later spoke to our parish priest about this and he was sympathetic. However, I realise now that we only glossed over some of it with him, and did not know what to do.

My work performance went to hell in a hand basket, and I went to see a psychologist through the company Employee Assistance Programme, but my wife dealt with it or not, on her own. Shortly thereafter, I was sent by my boss to work in Toronto for several months on a special project, and lived in an apartment in Toronto for the work week, returning home on the weekend. Though I saw the psychologist when I could, the grief, I realise now, stayed with me. After 3 months working in Toronto, I was fired.

Our marriage was never the same as before. We had 3 beautiful daughters together, and I became very protective of them. My wife, on the other hand, was not close to them emotionally, though she loved them. Over a number of years, we drifted apart, not knowing how to bring it back together. We saw a marriage counsellor, but it was not of great help. We eventually divorced, and I remarried. My now former wife still carries much of the pain and sorrow of our life together. I have worked hard to deal with the grief issues in my life, in part because of the disabilities I suffered a number of years ago. But, I can trace the issues in our marriage back to that sad pregnancy.

What kind of grief does a woman live with, who in her own mind has failed at the most important thing that differentiates a woman from a man? It was not my wife's fault that our baby died. She ate well, avoided the things that she should avoid, and was preparing to bring this child into the world, as her body was designed to do, and as her hormones and other systems were preparing her to do.

I felt my own failure from being unable to be with my wife at the time, all the time, to comfort her and to love her. But, my grief and feelings of failure are secondary to those of the one who carries the child.

Grieving a loss, particularly of a child, is almost impossible. How can your child not outlive you? That is not the way it is supposed to be. Part of the grieving is a period of blaming. In our case, we blamed ourselves and to an extent each other, though we never discussed it and never recovered from it.

In the case of the Farlows of the National Post story linked above, they are trying to blame someone for their loss. It could be that someone has done something wrong, but it is also possible that the Farlows are trapped in the grieving over the loss of their daughter. It has taken me over 26 years to get to this place of being able to express my immense sadness at the loss of our unborn child, and to accept it, and deal with it.

In the situation of the alleged (by Socon or Bust, Catholic Dialogue and LifeSiteNews) euthanasia scandal at St. Joseph's Hospital in London, there have been 3 families referenced in their writings. One of the 3 families I know of met with Bishop Fabbro of London, and in that meeting distanced themselves from what they had previously said, and had been published, while in his presence.

In my opinion, and I frankly believe that my opinion has as much merit as those expressed by the bloggers above, these 3 families and all others who have lost a child in this way are grieving, and are unable to make sense of a tragedy. Based on personal experience of a similar nature, which none of the above bloggers have, and based on the length of time it has taken me to come to grips with the loss that we had, I think that the families involved are dealing with a sense of shame, and sorrow at their loss which cannot be explained easily, and as part of the grieving process may lash out at someone to blame. Their grieving process is ignored by those who would like to make a scandal of it, because that makes better reading.

Only now, as I complete this piece can I see why I have been defending Fr. Michael Prieur. He did offer much comfort to my former wife and to me during our time with him, even though we did not know we were in a period of grief and mourning, and that was not the primary reason for us being together.

These families who have lost a child, have much to deal with, and will risk losing their marriages over that and other issues that test the fabric of their union. So, as one who has grieved for way too long, I speak to these bloggers, and ask them to desist from their pontificating about this issue. I thank them for forcing me to deal with my own grief, but believe that what they are writing and wringing hands over is not generally helpful to those who have suffered such a loss. I hope that none of the families involved have read what has been written, because it would only open wounds again for them, as it did for me.

Both Fr. Tim Moyle and I have discussed this matter with Fr. Michael Prieur, who advised us that the matter was going to the Vatican for final approval, and that the policy here in London mirrors a policy in Anchorage Alaska that was approved at the Vatican.

Finally, I pray for all the families that have lost a child prematurely that they will turn their hearts completely to the Lord for his Love and Comfort, and that they will seek Godly counsel in grieving their loss.

I commend myself, my former wife and them all to the tender love of our Blessed Mother Mary, who suffered the loss of her own Son, who died so tragically so that we all may live.

Jesus and Gravity

Dolly Parton Sings

Here is an interesting and inspiring song from Dolly Parton.

If Man is the Head of the Family

Woman is the Heart

Much is made in some Christian circles that man is the head of the wife, blah, blah, blah. Frankly, most of us have long since cut this scripture out of our mental bibles, if we have bibles at all. But here is the scripture from Ephesians Chapter 5:
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

It is less about lordship of the man over the woman, though it does have a historical context that bears some understanding, than it is about our relationship with Christ.

But, on a practical note, there are certain special characteristics of a marriage, that it has taken me many years to draw alongside of. I realised as I spoke with my dear wife ine recent morning over coffee, that I had oversimplified a meaningful concept about married life.

I have thought that man is a hunter gatherer, and that woman is a nester. There is some truth to that, but as I implied above, it oversimplifies a serious concept of a good marriage. A deeper concept is that man is the Head, where woman is the Heart of the home, more as a metaphor with deep roots.

As I watch the care and concern my dear wife has for our mutual children, and for me, I realise that she is very different from me. Not really rocket science to come to that conclusion. She feels more deeply, is more sensitive, and loves more gently than I do. She has a wisdom of one who carried children in her womb, and felt them growing and seeking to come out into the world, at great personal pain to her. The man, me in this case, does not participate in that same experience directly, but is equally important. He is the hunter, gatherer of my early metaphor, but more importantly has responsibility for the woman's safety and care, as well as that of their children.

How I wish that my wife and I had shared the raising of our 6 children, 3 hers, and 3 mine. I get it now, and so dealing with our adult children is a very mutual exercise, that relies on her Heart and my Head, with her Heart touching mine and my Head touching hers. There is a wonderful mutuality in that, a complementarity if you will.

My wife was able to stay at home with her children when they were being raised, and that was a wonderful gift to them. There are things that I see in her loving of them and caring for them in the home, that has blessed them into adulthood.

Feminism had important roots in getting women the vote, and recognizing that they were equal to men. But like all 'isms', it became a religion, and has resulted in great enmity between men and women, and really has women becoming more male than men, in many instances. The feminine characteristics that differentiated women from men, as much as the masculine has given way to an 'ism', that really ends up denying the feminine characteristics of grace, gentility, unconditional love, and caring for which women have deservedly been renowned.

It seems to me that equality for women, which might be a noble goal, is really looking more like sameness. Frankly, from a male perspective, I don't think we care too much one way or another. Those of us who have learned to love our spouses, and the women young and old in our lives treat them with the respect that we can, and over time with love, learn to treat them even more respectfully.

Just some thoughts.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Of Elephants and Christmas

Binks Writes

In a section of Steynian 399, the Reverend Binks writes of his faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that I share, and as he has done it so well, I have reproduced it for you, and thank him for saying it so well:

~ ITEM: APOLOGETICS 101: How to defend Christian exclusivism from the challenge of religious pluralism

There are hundreds of paths up the mountain,
all leading in the same direction,
so it doesn’t matter which path you take.
The only one wasting time is the one
who runs around and around the mountain,
telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Hindu teacher

~ ITEM: God is an Elephant? Examining the Blind Men and the Elephant philosophic argument in philosophy of religion

~ ITEM: Elephant in the room – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

~ A VERY OLD STRAND of anti-Christian apologetic goes thus: there are many paths up the mountain to god, the gods, or the divine– how can you say yours is the best, or the only way? Surely that is very arrogant. Another version of this is the old elephant in the living-room analogy, where each blind man feels something different, and assumes it’s a snake, a wall, a tree-trunk, whatever. Gotcha.

Since it’s coming onto Advent and the Christmas, it’s worth revisiting these objections to Christian claims.

First, the pagan mistakes the order of revelation, and the nature of religion, in assuming the assertion of Jesus Christ that he was God’s only begotten Son, Indeed, the human soul aspires for the divine (or substitutes thereof), and many world religions can be seen as fulfilment of human aspiration. The Christian says, rather, that God has let down a ladder to the mountain-top, by revealing himself to humanity in his Son, that all who believe in him might be saved. It’s a earth-ward motion from God, not another human motion towards heaven (the many paths). For the problem is not mountain-tops, but getting up to heaven: and for that you need love, and a living wind from heaven.

God has revealed himself: so the Christian cannot be arrogant in refusing to pass on the word about the Word made flesh, who dwelt amongst us. It’s not arrogance, but humility to share what God has done, however frail or proud some Christians are or have been in doing so. Indeed, Christianity understands itself as the proper and true fulfilment of every religion, and all human hope, fear, need, and aspiration– and philosophy.

“…according to Plato the truly just man must be misunderstood and persecuted in this world; indeed, Plato goes so far as to write: ‘They will say that our just man will be scourged, racked, fettered, will have his eyes burned out, and at last, after all manner of suffering will be crucified.’ This passage, written four hundred years before Christ, is always bound to move a Christian deeply.”

~ (Ratzinger, 353) ~

As for the elephant, well– it’s an elephant. Even if the describe it wrongly, it’s still an elephant and not some other object or animal. Indeed, unless the blind men were raised in some far country where they’d never met or learnt of such, they’d figure it out.. or ask a local, preferable one with eyesight. Or notice it breathing and farting and getting impatient with being prodded. Never met a blind [person that clueless before, and no-- some of my best friends aren't blind people, sorry.

Whoa there, Nelly-- again, the untested assertion behind the blind men and elephant analogy is that we are all spiritually blind, and can only go by our best guesses, because-- you guessed it-- all religions ar fundamentally equal and all say the same thing and we should be nice and recycle and all that.. except, they don't. Just ask Major Hasan, or the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, or the Dalai Lama, or Pope Benedict XVI, or even sub-sects within each religion.

To claim we are all blind is in fact to beg the question, and arrogantly presume to have answered the question beforehand... it's a fancy version of "So, are you still beating your wife?" It's a sly cheat, however 'holy' the source. It's to say "The only true religion is that which says there's no true religion." Thus, it's also a contradiction, as in: It's absolutely true that there are no absolute truths. Busted!

The question of Christianity is a who, not a what, nor a philosophical puzzle: love him or hate him or in between him, Jesus of Nazareth is the central personage of the last 2000 years of human history, and still confronts those who encounter him with the same question he asked St. Peter: "Who do you say that I am?" And if-- as Christians claim-- that unlike any other religious leader ever, he is eternally and divinely alive despite death and the grave, he actually asks each soul sooner or later, and will not let us go unless we finally and ultimately insist.

That's the big deal behind the wrappings, the converted paganism, the holly jolly music and feasting and all that-- God born as a baby, that we might become gods through him, and partake of his divine nature.

So ring the bells of Christmas, bring the figgy pudding, and joyfully sound the carols, for joy to the world, the Lord has come. Ask any convert, any suffering Christian in Hindu or Moslem or Communist lands, anyone who is spiritually alive and more than a sleepy cultural Christian, and they will tell you... as I just tried to do, in my own poor and inadequate way. Because he lives, I live also-- and that has made all the difference. ~


View From The Pew - First Sunday of Advent 2009

O Come Divine Messiah

Advent is a lovely time of the year. The readings and hymns of Sunday Mass focus on hope and waiting, though seasonally it is the time to wait and hope for Christmas, the day we celebrate the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus Christ into our midst. Of course, in truth, we know that Messiah has come and died and been resurrected, so we are actually celebrating the story of his coming, and are hoping for his return.

The mass is a little shorter because the Gloria is omitted in this season, since the Gloria gives Glory to God in all three persons, and this season is about awaiting the Messiah.

As well, we are preparing for giving to others in this lead up to Christmas. The Giving tree is up now with cards you can pick to buy gifts for young members of the parish family, and extended family who have little to nothing right now. As well, we could sign up to provide Christmas for an entire family or food baskets and vouchers for a family. All in all a great time in the Church. The food basket component of the gifts for families comes with a shopping list, and we are looking forward to completing it as part of our personal Advent celebrations this year.

Mass today opened with a traditional hymn O Come Divine Messiah. Here is a version of it.

Mass concluded with Let Heaven Rejoice

Moral Relativism - Solzhenitsyn Was a Prophet

So Too "Stop Islamization of America" and Carman

H/t Joshua

DL Adams over at SIOA wrote a solid piece on Moral Relativism. Though it is American at its heart, it is also about us here in Canada. What is happening in our two formerly great lands is tragic, but it is reversible, if we have the courage to stand up against it. The piece was too good to just link, so I have reproduced it here:

In the dark halls of denial and confusion once known as the learning and planning centers of great public and private institutions across this great land, it is believed—altogether incorrectly—that Moral Relativism has no victims, only beneficiaries.

We have recently seen a jihadist in the US military commit heinous unspeakable crimes of murder and treason at Fort Hood, Texas. He was allowed to commit treason and murder because those in positions of authority allowed him to do it preferring to avoid the appearance of a negative opinion and concern about jihad (and necessarily the “religion of peace/Islam” from which jihad comes) and treason to protecting the lives and security of American service men and women. This is a disastrous failure on the part of many Americans in positions of grave responsibility. This horror must be laid entirely at the feet of the failed philosophy of Moral Relativism and its ugly sibling multiculturalism. Most horrific of all is the fact that this appalling crime at Fort Hood was so readily preventable.

Equivalence is the essence of Moral Relativism; Hasan at Fort Hood was allowed to do his evil business because his expressions of jihad intent and murderous feelings towards non-Muslims were simply “his opinion”, and nothing more. Even expressions of outright treason by Hasan evinced no definitive reaction from military authorities.

If we have no standards of belief, no accepted concepts of truth and value, then any new ideology that reaches our shores is considered by moral relativists to be as valid as the host culture and perhaps even superior simply because it is “different”. Moral relativists have no basis upon which to make moral or ethical judgments and certainly cannot/must not express any opinions that might denigrate or criticize another’s ideology or belief system regardless of the moral or ethical quality of that system. Moral relativists, multiculturalists, and the politically correct are all “birds of a feather” deluding themselves and others that their openness and radical tolerance, even for those with outright offensive ideas, makes for a happier world. They are wrong; Hasan at Fort Hood is one of many proofs.

When all fundamental concepts of “value” and importance, and even the idea of the dichotomy that results from better/worse, good/rotten, intelligent/stupid, enlightened/ignorant are utterly abandoned, denied, and scorned what is left is moral and ethical equivalence. A society that has no idea what it stands for, what it believes in, what it means for citizens to be part of the society itself—is doomed. A society without core ideas is a society destined to failure.

Such a society of radical tolerance has no moral core, no ethical foundation and is bereft of intellectual honesty even to the extreme of forgiving a traitor his treason as if such ideas are merely opinion and completely victimless. We know that this is not so. Moral relativism creates victims not co-prosperity. Our failure to acknowledge good/evil, loyalty/treason, right/wrong, best/rotten, allowed Hasan to commit his reprehensible crimes at Fort Hood.

We are a society adrift, it is clear, because we have disavowed the foundations upon which our society was built. The preventable mass murder at Fort Hood is but one illustration of the victim-creating debacle that is Moral Relativism. Of course, this obvious negation of the value of Moral Relativism hasn’t prevented us from adopting this failed concept as the basis upon which we interact with others, at home and abroad. Fort Hood is the culmination of Moral Relativism in our culture; it is a failed and repellent philosophy that must be abandoned.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines Moral Relativism as something that one accuses another of, rather than something to which one proudly admits. This alone identifies Moral Relativism as an inherent negative, and not something that most reasonable people admit to proudly or at all. Reasonable people know that some cultures are better than others, but haven’t the courage to say. Political correctness is the strong arm of the intellectual failure that is Moral Relativism and Multiculturalism. And what if someone who speaks the truth is described in unfavorable terms? Who cares? The truth supersedes all of this hokum fake Utopian philosophy bunk. The truth requires no defense but itself.

Most often it is associated with an empirical thesis that there are deep and widespread moral disagreements and a metaethical thesis that the truth or justification of moral judgments is not absolute, but relative to some group of persons. Sometimes ‘Moral Relativism’ is connected with a normative position about how we ought to think about or act towards those with whom we morally disagree, most commonly that we should tolerate them.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the titan of moral clarity and Soviet prisoner of conscience and author of Gulag Archipelago, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, was a prescient man. He warned us about the coming failure of our society back in 1978 in an address at Harvard University (oh, how that institution has failed in its mission!).

The theme of Solzhenitsyn’s address was a warning to the West that a rejection of definitive truths is the foundation of a society’s decline and eventual destruction. He identified the abandonment of the concept of evil and the rise of “humanism” that today is Moral Relativism and post-modernism as the ugly egg from which failed cultures are born.

Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems which must be corrected. Strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still is criminality and there even is considerably more of it than in the pauper and lawless Soviet society. (Solzhenitsyn, address at Harvard, 1978, see citation below.)

Without a firm concept of societal identity and a definitive understanding of and belief in right and wrong, good and evil and similar dichotomies the West cannot succeed over time and will fall to more absolutist ideas due to a lack of moral willpower.

And yet — no weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower. In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal. (Solzhenitsyn, Harvard address, 1978)

We saw with great pride a rush of enlistments after the jihad attacks of 9/11. We know that our heroes still reside in our country, but they are not the standard, they are not the main—they are standard bearers of the idea of self-sacrifice and service that requires a firm understanding of right and wrong and the courage to identify both and take requisite actions. The society from which these brave soldiers sprang has gone in a different direction than they. Our soldiers are our guide, not our politically correct leaders in broken institutions that refuse to defend themselves and us for fear of causing offense to someone real or imagined. Certainly, we have lost our moral willpower.

Facing such a danger, with such historical values in your past, at such a high level of realization of freedom and apparently of devotion to freedom, how is it possible to lose to such an extent the will to defend oneself? (Solzhenitsyn, Harvard address, 1978)

Solzhenitsyn believed that moral growth was imperative for any society and that its citizens must move forward morally and ethically. The existence of and adherence to a legal system was insufficient; meaning and value could never come from law alone but only from moral growth and understanding.

Societies require laws because of humanity’s inherent flaws; if we were perfect there would be no laws. We are not perfect, but adherence to law alone is insufficient to sustain a society and is no foundation upon which societal health and growth can be constructed. Materialism and legality is not enough.

We must have a firm foundation in morality and ethics—which we have abandoned here in this great land. We cannot say that we were not warned. Solzhenitsyn was very clear back in 1978 we just didn’t listen.

It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become an experience of moral growth; so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding.

A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses.

And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn at Harvard Class Day Afternoon Exercises,
Thursday, June 8, 1978

The rise of post-modernism and Moral Relativism whereby equivalence and mediocrity (or outright evil) trumps value and quality (Pirsig, where are you?) continues to be the grim reaper of our cultural and societal life. It will soon eat us whole.

We are now in a great economic collapse, the worst since the great depression. After trillions of dollars have been spent on recovery efforts our national unemployment rate hovers at almost 11% with the “real” unemployment rate considered by some to be much higher. As of this writing there is no recovery but for Wall Street firms enjoying immense infusions of capital because they are simply “too important to fail”. However, the American street (not as important to some as the Arab/Muslim “street”) has felt little benefit and little stimulus and continues to suffer intensely. One would think that in this crisis environment companies and governments would show a clear bias for the growth of American business and therefore support of their fellow Americans; it is not so.

On November 24th it was reported in mainly foreign outlets (China) that a Chinese company was granted a $100 million contract to do subway work on the New York subway system in Manhattan. The only American “news” outlet to cover this contract was the Wall Street Journal, and they literally only ran a two sentence “story”. According to the Journal, the Chinese contract was

…to build subway ventilation facilities in Manhattan.

China Daily quoted one analyst as saying that, “…the order came as no surprise as the US government is spending massively on infrastructure projects.”

How is it possible that the US government and likely the government of the city of New York in this case, are granting massive infrastructure contracts to foreign firms? Certainly there are American firms to do this work? The answer is Moral Relativism.

The article from China Daily was first reviewed several days ago. At that time there were 8 comments from Americans all criticizing the awarding of this contract to a foreign firm and wondering how a foreign company could get such a contract when American companies would be glad to get it. The commenters on this article all wondered how there could be an economic resurgence and recovery here in the United States if foreign firms were being granted large contracts from municipalities and by the federal government itself. These are all important questions to any American. In reviewing the article on China Daily this evening all the comments are gone. Communist states do not have neither freedom of speech nor freedom of the press, remember?

Moral relativism is an insidious thing; Solzhenitsyn warned us about it back in 1978. When we have no loyalty to our own people during the greatest economic collapse in almost a century can we be in anything but a national decline?

China, Switzerland, Rhodesia, Indonesia, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, etc.—every country and culture are all the same to Moral Relativists who have no moral core, no concept of what it means to be an American and why it is important to defend America and the concepts of freedom and tolerance and liberty upon which it was founded.

The horror at Fort Hood occurred for the same reason that infrastructure contracts for improvement of American cities are granted to foreign firms amidst a great economic disaster—because , as a culture, we do not value ourselves above others. This relativism is what “Moral Relativism,” and “Multiculturalism” are all about.

We do not see our value in comparison to other cultures because to make such a comparison is considered wrong, intolerant, and bigoted. Such comparisons are not allowed due to our embrace of multiculturalism and Moral Relativism.

We no longer can identify right/wrong, good/evil, etc. We can only embrace the concept of total inclusiveness; though this is an extraordinarily counter-historical radical concept. We are inclusive to the point where traitors, lunatics, killers, and haters are tolerated because they are simply “different” rather than wrong or dangerous or evil.

Our culture appears to have accepted the false premise that if we are but radically inclusive and uber-tolerant than all of our adversaries will love us for our inclusiveness and tolerance. This idea is a negation of the history of humanity, and the nature of humanity itself.

We live in a Utopian fantasy based upon the denial of the nature of humanity.

Our legitimization of ridiculous multiculturalism and Moral Relativism has disastrous results – most particularly the death of innocents at places like Fort Hood (and on 9/11), and the ongoing decline of the greatest country ever seen on this planet, the United States of America.

If we are to recover from this economic nightmare from which we suffer, and persevere against absolutist and totalitarian ideologies such as Islam and the corruption we see in high and low places in our leadership, we must return to the foundations of our democracy. We must accept that loyalty to our fellow Americans is the first and foremost obligation for us all and that the myth of surpranationalism and global unity is just that - a myth.

There is evil in the world, and humanity is not perfect. We must aspire to greater things than the adherence to only our laws alone (this is the core of Solzhenitsyn’s warning); American power and greatness has always rested upon the concept that our shores are the last safe haven in a difficult and often savage world; our society is open to all who want to assimilate and become American. We must not become like the herd; and remain steadfast as the leader and the safe haven for those innocents who, cruelly abused by their own corrupt societies seek a place to reside in safety and freedom.

Certainly, there must always be a place to go for succor and life for those who flee the horrors of the world – a place of decency, opportunity, and justice. We have the privilege to live in this place.

Benjamin Franklin said upon leaving the Constitutional Convention after ratification that we now have a “Republic, if we can keep it.” We must support our Republic and acknowledge its exceptionalism and value and make good the promise of Lincoln at Gettysburg that this nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal shall not perish from the earth.

If you want a prophetic answer in song to Moral Relativism, try this one from Carman, 'Our Turn Now."

You Must Have This Album - No Kidding

Alma Mater - Music From The Vatican

This will be the most unique music you ever hear. It will calm your soul, and soothe you. Tomorrow this album will be released to the public. Here is an Associated Press article that was picked up earlier in the month.

Pope Benedict XVI sings and prays along to a mix of modern music and ancient church chants in a new album presented Tuesday before its release at the end of the month.

The album, entitled "Alma Mater _ Music from the Vatican," includes eight original pieces of contemporary music, interwoven with Gregorian chants and the pope's voice.

Benedict sings a hymn and recites prayers to the Virgin Mary in various languages, including Italian, French and Latin.

Part of the proceeds will go to fund music education for underprivileged children throughout the world, Colin Barlow, president of Geffen Records in Britain, said at a presentation of the album at Rome's city hall on Capitol hill.

The pope's voice was not recorded specifically for the project. The soundbites were given to record label Geffen/Universal by Vatican Radio, which owns the rights, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman and head of the radio station.

"The pope is open to new ways of evangelization ... to experiment with new ways to transmit a spiritual message that the world greatly needs," he said.

There are nearly 10 minutes of the pope's voice in the 49-minute album.

The composers involved came from different cultural and religious backgrounds. Simon Boswell, who said he is agnostic, said the album was "a fantastic inspiration that had a profound effect on me."

Benedict is accompanied by the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome, recorded in St. Peter's Basilica and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which recorded in London at the Abbey Road studios. The three tracks were then mixed in a studio outside Rome to produce the album.

The German-born Benedict comes from a music-loving family and plays the piano. Mozart and Bach are among his favorite composers.

Benedict is not the first pope to have his creative efforts captured on record.

Some of the composers and producers on the project had worked on a similar 1999 album entitled "Abba Pater" (the word "Father" in Hebrew and Latin), which featured the voice of Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

Last year tenor Placido Domingo recorded an album of poems by the late John Paul. Entitled 'Infinite Love,' it put to music composed by the tenor's son some of the late pope's literary efforts during his years as a priest and then as a bishop in Poland, as well as during his 26 years as pope.

The "Alma Mater" album is not a Vatican initiative but was arranged by Multimedia San Paolo, an Italian Catholic media group.

It is due for release worldwide Nov. 30, in time for Christmas.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Socon - Set Me Free

This is an excellent posting by John Pacheco at Socon or Bust. It requires no further comment:

The great and noble effort by Canadians during the past couple of years to remove the shackles of the Canadian Human Rights Commissions cannot end in a simple legal fiction which treats freedom as an end itself. Freedom – true freedom – is not an end but a means. It is a valid instrument exercised by a free people for the pursuit of the truth. But, as with all instruments, it can be abused to such an extent that its abuse can become the precursor towards enslavement in almost every area of human existence – spiritual, psychological, moral, and material.

The great danger of modern times is to either suppress freedom for some purported good, or to treat its exercise in an absolute way as if it has no legitimate moral boundaries. In the end, both philosophies end up in the grips of tyranny. The human rights thug wishes to impose an arbitrary system of “human rights” which tyrannizes the population by the very system he operates within, while the “free speech absolutist” tears down the boundaries of authentic freedom by eskewing the moral virtues of justice and decency. He may even have little regard for the truth. In the end, both systems end up in the tyrannical gutter. The latter system simply takes a little longer to ripen.

For those of us who have fought the thuggery of the HRCs, we must be wary that any mere legal victory will not keep the totalitarians at bay unless we all recognize that freedom without the truth is a cheap, legal fiction. It will not survive unless it is at the service, and not the master, of the truth.

Genuine freedom is found in truth. And truth is only found in God. That’s why Jesus says, “the truth will set you free“. No human government or even human philosophy sets us free. Only God can truly set us free because He is the author of authentic freedom.

True freedom always has a moral component, while the false freedom that the world offers can only bound us to a moral tyranny. It seeks to enslave us, first, in substance and then later “on paper”. Our ultimate goal is to be set free from the corruption within so that this genuine freedom then becomes reflected in the culture at large. It’s inside-out, not outside-in.

The River

Brian Doerksen

Brian Doerksen is a musician and Christian pastor from Abbotsford BC. He is well published and The River is one of his beautiful songs.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Form Or Substance

Which is Important?

Having followed some animus from Socon or Bust about Father Michael Prieur, and Save a Family Plan, both the priest and organisation being part of St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ontario, I was struck by the eternal question of the importance of substance over form, or form over substance.

I ask that not naively, but as a life long Catholic, with a sabbatical leave for about 10 years, earlier in my life to ponder the meaning of my navel. I returned to the Church that I love before resolving that meaning, but have continued with a certain amount of navel gazing thrown into my daily life processes.

Here's what I mean about the substance/form debate if you will.

Fr. Michael Prieur has a long history of dedicated service to the Catholic Church. He is faithful to His bishop, having served under some of the finest our Diocese has had to offer, from Cardinal Carter to Bishop Sherlock, and on to Bichop Fabbro. He has been called on to make tough choices over the years, because of his work as an ethicist. From time to time, he has been criticized by some wag or another, who has skimmed over the top of some of his work, failing to ask about or to attempt to understand the depth. And it happened again recently over at Socon and at Catholic Dialogue. As Father Michael explained to me the other day, many of the issues he is asked to opine on are not simple black and white issues. There is a depth to them, and a lot of study has gone into a decision, which then is, of course, able to be scrutinized. Those who have written in condemnation of some of his work, do so from their own limited knowledge, and therefor are limited to reviewing form, since they do not know enough to examine the substance of his body of work.

The same can be said about the issue that was raised recently n Socon or Bust about Save a Family Plan. I happen to know more about the evolution of that charitable organisation than I do of the theological questions that Father Prieur has been called on to deal with. I met Father, later Monsignor Augustine Kandathil many years ago, not too many years after he had founded Save a Family Plan. Father Gus was a rare gem. He was a product of his roots in India, but was knowledgeable about the needs there, and the desire of many faithful Catholics in North America to address those needs. So, he started a charity that operated on a shoe string, and it came to rest at St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ontario, where the diocese of London provided free office space, and willing volunteers from among the London faithful and the seminarians to help in the administration of and growth of this charity.

Father Gus, though somewhat enfeabled from his personal health perspective, was tireless. He had a great heart for the poor, and did without to help them. Save a Family Plan by and large supports families of the poorest of the poor, and villages and communities of these poor in various parts of India. Like some other charities, Father Gus linked donors with poor folks to meet the needs of both, quite frankly. Father was as tight with a buck as you could possibly imagine. He squeezed each one of those suckers until they bled. He believed in giving the poor a leg up, not a hand out. Tens of thousands of families have been helped by SAFP over the years. Long ago, he was able to tap into money from CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency, on a matching programme, which enabled him to expand the reach of SAFP, such that they could take on projects to make the lives of more of the poor better.

The funds generated in North America for SAFP are administered in India under the direction of Bishop Sebastian Adayanthrath, the President of its Board of Trustees in India. Bishop Sebastian is every bit as holy a man as Father Gus, since deceased was. He has a wonderful heart for the poor.

The substance of SAFP is that they bring aid to the poorest of the poor, and they manage, because of cost containment in their administration costs, to send 100% of every dollar that you give to the poor. Yes, they have been able to leverage money from CIDA in their work, but they are also well aware of the call of Christ to them.

John Pacheco, over at Socon or Bust, is trying to bust them over some interpretation of his about Form. Yes, he has never spent time with them or Father Michael Prieur for that matter. it is far easier to criticize someone without attempting to step into their shoes first. I know how easy it is. I have done it myself too many times to count, and might do it again.

Is it fair? I think not. If you want to look at someone look at the body of their work, the Substance before you go bust their chops over your interpretation of Form.

Mark Steyn On Political Correctness

Major Hasan was Enabled

Mark Steyn wrote a fine article about the problems the real world gets itself into when it adopts political correctness.

He starts off with quoting the Queen of Censors herself:
Ever since this magazine attracted the attention of Canada’s “human rights” regime, defenders of the system have clung to a familiar argument. In a letter to Maclean’s, Jennifer Lynch, Q.C., Canada’s chief censor, put it this way: “Steyn would have us believe that words, however hateful, should be given free rein. History has shown us that hateful words sometimes lead to hurtful actions that undermine freedom and have led to unspeakable crimes. That is why Canada and most other democracies have enacted legislation to place reasonable limits on the expression of hatred.”

“Hateful words” can lead to “unspeakable crimes.” The problem with this line is that it’s ahistorical twaddle, as I’ve pointed out. Yet still it comes up.
As if what J Ly said was not sufficient, it was mirrored when Messrs Steyn and Levant tag teamed the House of Commons Committee on truth justice and the Canadian way:

It did last month, during my testimony to the House of Commons justice committee, when an opposition MP mused on whether it wouldn’t have been better to prohibit the publication of Mein Kampf.

“That analysis sounds as if it ought to be right,” I replied. “But the problem with it is that the Weimar Republic—Germany for the 12 years before the Nazi party came to power—had its own version of Section 13 and equivalent laws. It was very much a kind of proto-Canada in its hate speech laws. The Nazi party had 200 prosecutions brought against it for anti-Semitic speech. At one point the state of Bavaria issued an order banning Hitler from giving public speeches.”

And a fat lot of good it all did.

But still the old refrain echoes through the corridors of power: vigorous honest free speech will lead to mass murder unless we subject it to “reasonable limits.”

The problem with political twaddle of any sort, but particularly that which demands to be correct, is that is sounds good coming off the tongue, as long as those in earshot are similarly inclined to receive said twaddle. It withers when confronted by someone who is more inclined to the truth, a la Steyn.

As Steyn points out political correctness has finally come home to roost, though most are still trying not to see it that way:
Actually, the opposite is true: a constrained and regulated culture policed by politically correct enforcers leads to slaughter. I’m not being speculative here, as Commissar Lynch is about my murderous prose style. It’s already happened, just a couple of weeks back. Thirteen men and women plus an unborn baby were gunned down at Fort Hood by a major in the U.S. Army. Nidal Hasan was the perpetrator, but political correctness was his enabler, every step of the way.
As Steyn goes on to point out in detail, Major Hasan is what happens when people who know try to hide themselves behind political correctness. The people did not have to die. Someone, one someone had to speak up, and shut Hasan down.

Read the rest of the article, please. Help stamp out political correctness. Engage your brain.

I Came That They Might Have Life

And Have It To The Full.

These are are the Bible words of John Chapter 10, verse 10. He spoke this particular thought in the midst of his dissertation on being the Good Shepherd. Although the entire discourse of Chapter 10 in John's Gospel is significant, this particular clause has caught my attention lately.

It strikes me as a curious statement. If Jesus came that they/we might have life, then he means that they/we did not have life before. I believe that He means that we were alive physically, but not spiritually, in essence, since we were clearly physically alive at the time of his speaking to our ancestors. As a Christian, I can resonate with that part of it. Yeah, He brought us New Life in Him. Yeehaw! Now we're cooking with natural gas. If He ends the statement there, we are home free, and everything stays as it is, except we give our lives to Jesus. We are saved, and life goes on because we now have it.

But, He adds "And have it to the full." Look around you people. Do you see a lot of Full Life going on. Nope, me either. But, Jesus Said. Well, what did he say, really?

He said we MIGHT have life, no guarantees that we WILL have life. In fact, this is totally consistent with the concept of Free Will, where we have a say in whether we have Life or not. Choose Life, choose death. Your choice.

Jesus also instructed his disciples in Matthew 10:7 to go out and preach: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Well, if the kingdom of heaven is at hand, it is really close, but not in hand, meaning that you have to reach out for it.

So, if we Might have Full Life, and if the Kingdom of Heaven is real close, why are we living like this is untrue? Having lived my life like what Jesus said is untrue, even after I knew that it was true, I can tell you that it is hard to see around the blinders and through the curtains of the deception that we have all been taught in our lives. As for me, I take full responsibility for my inaction towards God in my life. I have seen enough of my sinful tendencies, as I yearned for something more.

I spent years as a project manager, eventually getting a Masters Certificate in Project Management from a programme at York University. One thing that I learned that stuck with me in that programme was important to me in the rest of my life. If a certain series of actions produce a particular result that you do not like, there is no way that repeating the exact same series of actions will produce a different result, one that you will like. Systems happen to be perfect that way.

I understand that to apply to how we live our lives. Most of my life, I have chosen to "do it my way". Frank Sinatra was a prophet. So, when Jesus says I "might have life", He was correct in my case. I might have life, but I was too intent on listening to Sinatra, so I didn't have life, at least not the life that He said I Might have. I am firmly of the belief that without Jesus in our lives there is no way that we can have the Life that he has in store for us, where the kingdom at hand, becomes the kingdom in hand.

But, once committed to Jesus, how do I get to have life to the Full? There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus saving actions of dying on the cross and then being resurrected was in itself sufficient to destroy sin and death. What is less certain is our ability to walk in that redemption. So, as Jesus also said in John Chapter 14:
16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
So, that is why I supported my friends these last few weeks as they led a Life in the Spirit seminar in Ridgetown. The problem with most people who are committed to Christ, is that they are not committed to the Counselor that He gave us when he returned to heaven. That Counselor is the Holy Spirit.

If I were rewriting John 10:10 to get the full meaning from it (for me), it would read like this: "I came that you might believe in me and what I have done and have eternal life here on earth, and if you seek and listen to the Holy Spirit, you will have that life to the full."

Of course, Jesus could not really tell them about the Holy Spirit at that time, they wouldn't have gotten it, so to put that in his Good Shepherd speech would have been contextually inappropriate, and confusing. If you read on from that passage you can see that the people were confused by what he told them in the instance, and adding more would have been TMI (too much information) to the max.

We are called to put it together, though, to use our brains to think, to use our hearts to love and hope, and to use our feet and voices to do his bidding in our lives, and in the lives of those we choose to love.

I urge you to let the Holy Spirit be your guide on a journey to Jesus Christ,

Come And Follow

Don and Wendy Francisco

This is a song about Jesus calling the Apostles.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fr. Tim Moyle re Save A Family Plan

When Is Gender Mainstreaming Not Gender Mainstreaming

John Pacheco at Socon or Bust did a dump or two on Save A Family Plan, a charity that both Fr. Tim Moyle of Where the Rubber Hits the Road and I have considerable knowledge of from our experiences with St. Peter's Seminary. John has gone on the attack over the use of a term "Gender Mainstreaming" because of what it means to him, not what it means to Save A Family Plan. This is totally unfair to a very worthwhile charity, and frankly I wish that he would get his stories straight before he launches off on an organisation or a person.

This is not his first kick at someone from St. Peter's Seminary, as you may recall his kicking at Fr. Michael Prieur from there over what he calls baby euthanasia.

Here is what Father Tim Moyle wrote about Save a Family Plan and gender mainstreaming in their context:
John Pacheco of the SoCon website has been raising concerns about the Save A Family Plan, a Catholic charity group that works out of St. Peter's Seminary and in India. He has pointed out that SAFP practices "Gender Mainstreaming" which is a phrase with many definitions. The United Nations seem to use this term to cover a multitude of anti-life and pro-homosexual programs that are absolutely in opposition to church teaching. If SAFP were to use the term to mean the same, then with would be a major scandal.

However, according to the SAFP website, this is not what they mean when they use the term. Below is their definition of "Gender Mainstreaming":

Gender Mainstreaming

SAFP is committed to achieving gender equality, and as a means of addressing gender disparity, gender mainstreaming is applied across all SPED II program activities as a cross-cutting theme. By integrating gender considerations into all organizational and program activities—planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, reflection—SAFP and its partners increase their own capacity to understand, promote, and facilitate development that views the needs of women and men equally. Gender impact assessments guide this process at the planning stage by recognizing the often-different needs of men and women, and by determining how planned interventions will differentially affect them.

This entire issue points once again to the problem of people who set themselves up as the arbiters of orthodoxy on the net and proceed to attack those who do not (in their opinion) meet the Catholic standard. As Michael Brandon at his Freedom of Thought blog has stated on more than one occasion, such people would be better served by going to the source of their concern before publishing edicts of heresy about others.

Don't get me wrong. People like John Pacheco at SoCon do a great deal of good. It is simply my prayer that they would be a little more cautious and do their homework before they issue their pronouncements. Excellent programs such as SAFP are not above criticism, but they have earned the right to be extended the benefit of the doubt in such issues as "gender mainstreaming".

Fr. Tim Moyle
Thank you Father Tim for clearing this up.

In His Time

He Makes All Things Beautiful In His Time

This is a selection from Maranatha Music.

The Lyrics are:
In His time, in His time.
He makes all things beautiful, in His time.
Lord, please show me every day,
As You're teaching me Your way,
That You do just what You say,
In Your time.

In Your time, in Your time,
You make all things beautiful, in Your time.
Lord, my life to You I bring,
May each song I have to sing
Be to You a lovely thing,
In Your time.
Here is the song. Enjoy

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In the Interest of a Little Levity

Here is a Laugh We Received Today

Life really boils down to 2 questions...
1. Should I get a dog.....

2. Or, should I have children?
No matter what situations life throws at you...
No matter how long and treacherous your journey may seem..
Remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Have a great day and remember to give thanks....


Phil Driscoll

This man blows a mean horn, and sings an inspirational song. I was first inroduced to his music over 20 years ago, and it turns my crank now, just like back then.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Saw What I Saw - Life in the Spirit

Maybe You See It Too

At the Life in the Spirit Seminar in Ridgetown last evening, I saw things, and I am pretty sure that I saw what I saw. But, I am not just talking about what I saw with my eyes, but what I saw with my heart. I am reticent to write about it, but feel compelled to do so.

In my View from the Pew piece the other day, I commented on observing that the young people preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. George Parish in London, were invited down to the altar, and asked to make commitments about their faith.

What I did not add is that as I pondered on their ability to make these commitments, I wondered about how much more able to make and live these commitments they would be if they were really empowered by the Sacrament of Confirmation to live a Life in the Spirit. My context for that was the openness of the parishioners of St. Michael's in Ridgetown to let the Holy Spirit have his way with them which was coming up the next evening.

I also wondered why God would give Life in the Spirit to a group of people where the average age was probably 65, in a small out of the way town like Ridgetown. I think that we need the kids to have this Life in the Spirit. They are our future priests, prophets and teachers.

As I was prayed over last evening, and rested in God's Holy Spirit, in what my friends affectionately call "carpet ministry", it started to come to me, and I shared this and an accompanying vision with my friend Wayne on the journey home.

As we started praying with people last evening, which included Father Sam anointing each with oil, in front of Jesus present in the Eucharist in a monstrance on the altar behind us, I had a thought that these mostly seniors were not going to be receptive to well ... carpet ministry for an example. In a few moments, I was amazed at God's immense love for His children, of all ages, and the desire that these dear people had to submit to his love, whatever that entailed.

Most were slain in the Spirit, and fell back into Marjorie's and my arms, and we gently laid them down on the carpet, while God ministered to them. Their general response to God was submission. Their specific responses ranged from tears of joy, to laughter, to broad smiles and immense peace. Two of them tried to rise only to find that God was not finished with them, and went back down again for more carpet ministry. What I saw was hearts open to whatever God wanted.

I realised that these humble people of God, who spent time in front of the Blessed Sacrament whenever they could have a depth of prayer and faith that most of us can only dream of, and that they are the seeds for the young and future generations. They are the prayer warriors that make it possible for other people of faith to do whatever they are called to do. The people of God have different ministries, each as they are called, and these humble servants have important jobs to do to usher in the Kingdom.

On the way home, I shared this with Wayne. I was, as I often have been, humbled to see that the idea that I had originally had was so far off God's ideas. As I described this I had a vision in a couple of parts.

I saw my own gardens at home at the end of winter, when everything is ugly and some dirty snow still lies on the ground. Everything is still brown, and dead, basically. Then I saw the first crocus come out of the dirt followed by others, and I knew that this was the people we had just left in Ridgetown.

Next I saw the garden and lawn greening up, and other bigger, more long lasting plants started to shoot up out of the earth. The crocuses had been a sign of a new Spring, and after heralding the new Spring died away. But, the new Spring that they prophesied of was lush. In my vision, I saw that it was a vision of the Church, the Body of Christ, that so many have abandoned the Church, that our world has gone crazy as people run helter skelter with their fingers in their ears, chasing after things. But, God is not done with His people. He is raising up folks like our friends in Ridgetown to be the beautiful crocus that springs up early to His delight as a sign that Spring, the renewal of life, is upon us.

They are the prophecy of a new Spring in the Church.

And I got to witness it. Oh My God, You are the Alpha and the Omega. I could say something like "It doesn't get any better than that," which seems kind of appropriate, but God never ceases to amaze me, and I think it's going to get lots better.

Life in the Spirit - Week 5

Move That Bus

Last night was Move That Bus night at the Life in the Spirit Seminar my friends have been leading at St. Michael's Parish in Ridgetown, Ontario. The purpose of Life in the Spirit is to invite people to open themselves to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives, such that they can operate in the spiritual gifts that Jesus promised would be available to believers after He left the earth, and the Holy Spirit came.

Last night did not start out as expected. The night was supposed to be held in the Church Hall, but it was double booked, so it was moved into the Church, but there was a bit of a conflict there, or so it seemed at first. God is into resolving conflicts to His own Glory, and so He did.

The conflict was that there was Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament going on in the Church when we arrived. In Adoration, the Blessed Sacrament, the eucharist, is on display on the altar in a monstrance, and worshippers pray generally quietly for a period of time. This Adoration has been going on each Monday evening for some time, and corresponded with the lead up time to the Seminar. So, the two leaders and 3 others of us who had come to assist were unable to set up for the Seminar, but the strangest thing happened. We joined into the Adoration, and then the leader, Wayne Zimmer and a violin player, Brian Benoot got out their instruments and started to lead the congregation in Worship Songs until the completion of the Adoration time.

If you are going to lead into a time with the Holy Spirit, what better lead in is there than time with Jesus? Well, after the Adoration time was over, Fr. Sam Johnson did not remove the Blessed Sacrament from the altar, but decided to leave Jesus present throughout the seminar time. When you think about it, what could be better than to have Jesus present while the Holy Spirit is invited to work in the lives of believers?

So, after a time of praise music, the leaders Barb and Wayne Zimmer gave brief talks on what those present could expect from the Holy Spirit. They asked Marjorie Braatz, Youth Ministry co-ordinator from our home parish of St. George, London who came down with us, and me to join them and Father Sam Johnson in praying with people for the release of the Holy Spirit.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is a gift of prophecy. It is not prophecy in the sense of on what day something is going to happen, but is along the lines of general encouragement, though there is also more private prophecy that can be an encouragement for an individual. When there is prophecy, the place gets eerily still. Everybody just knows somehow to wait upon the Lord because something is going to happen, and they don't know what, but can sense it. Wayne had a prophecy just after the music ended and asked if anyone had a word from the Lord. He knew that someone had a word, and waited on it. I knew where the word was going to come from as well, because I knew that I had that word. I did not want to deliver it, not because it was going to be bad, but at the moment I was trying to be inconspicuous. I opened my eyes and looked at Wayne, and he winked at me. He knew! By that time, the word had basically pushed up my throat, and I really had little choice but to deliver it.

Here's the thing with prophecy. When it comes out of your mouth, you are not in control of it, and basically it isn't about you. It sounds like your voice, but any time I have had a prophecy, I have not had a clue about what it is that I apparently said after saying it. This was no different, and Wayne had no idea of what his prophecy had been. I'll touch on this more in a bit.

So, we commenced to pray with people, and watched as the Lord moved in each of their lives. Wayne led our praying, and as each person came up, he had words of Wisdom and Prophecy for them. He was able to describe certain details of their new home in the Lord that were pertinent to each one. He didn't know details of their lives, so it was particularly awesome that he saw things that he otherwise could not have known. As we prayed with them, occasionally one of the others of us had a Vision of something that was relative to the person.

One of the things that can happen to people, though God is gentle and will only have His way with you, if you wish Him to, is being slain in the Spirit. There are times and it happened often last night when a person is prayed with, and suddenly falls usually backward onto the floor. I was the designated catcher knowing this was probable, and managed to keep all who were so moved from hurting themselves. Near the end, my friends prayed over me, and I too was unable to keep from falling down. It is an unusual happening, not easily explained, but there was no way that I was going to remain standing. Nobody human pushed me, and when on the carpet, I rested and let God work on my heart, as the others had done.

One interesting gift that people receive is the ability to pray in tongues. Some received it immediately and commenced praying that way while being prayed over. Others will notice it later, and some don't receive it. How God hands out His gifts is up to Him really. They are His Gifts, after all.

We will return in a week, to see how they are all doing, and to let them share in what God has done with and for them over the week. Some will have had visions of things in their lives and those of others. Some will have been healed of things, spiritually, physically, mentally and/or psychologically.

Many were overcome with tears of joy, as they knew that they knew that God really loved them. It sound kind of weird, but the first time that I had an inkling of how much God loved me, I cried like a little baby for half an hour, realising that He Loved ME, that He forgave me for my sins, and that He died to set me free of them.

After everyone as prayed with, we closed with another song of praise, chatted briefly with people who were much lighter and happier than they had been only hours earlier, packed up and headed home.

Words cannot properly describe moves of the Holy Spirit. It is experiential. I can tell you everything I know, which is really not much, and describe in detail what I saw, if I could remember it, but at best I can only describe my personal experience, and God was moving in about 23 lives last night. So, the above is merely a Reader's Digest version of something wonderful that happened because God is Love.

Jesus Name Above All Names

Worship Him

What is the most important name in the universe? What's in a Name. Well, in the name of Jesus is power and love, and healing. Let this song wash over you, and let the Name of Jesus bring you peace beyond all understanding.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Celebrate Jesus Celebrate - He is Risen

Don Moen at Mabee Center

Celebrate Jesus for He is risen. He is risen indeed. I could have saved this song for Easter, but enjoyed it too much to hide it under a bushel basket until then.

View from the Pew - Feast of Christ The King

Origin of the Feast

The feast of Christ The King is the end of Ordinary Time, and immediately precedes Advent. Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 in response to a number of the 'isms' of the day, secularism, nationalism, colonialism, totalitarianism. It is so important a feast that it is elevated to a Solemnity.

In the day, not unlike today, the people needed a king, reminding us of Old Testament times, when the people turned to God and asked for a king. In that time, the people wanted a human king, and the Lord gave them their wish. However, in 1925, the Pope in his wisdom proclaimed for all who might think otherwise that we have a King, and Jesus is His Name.

We do not need a king to lord it over us, but a king, like us in all but sin, to free us from our sin, and lead us to heaven.

In celebration of Christ's Kingship, yesterday, we had wonderful reminders of what happens when we make Him, King of our lives. We had the young children sent off early in the Mass by our new Deacon, to meet with their teachers as they prepare for the celebration of their First Reconciliation. Later, after the readings, catechumens who are studying to be accepted into the Church at Easter time, were sent with their teachers to prepare. Finally, all those young people who are preparing for the last Sacrament of their Initiation into the Church, the Sacrament of Confirmation were invited down to be blessed by our Associate Pastor, and to make some promises about their faith lives. All in all it was pretty cool, to see the life of the Church in Jesus Christ.

Here are two of the hymns that we sang yesterday. First, at communion was Blest Are They, a David Haas hymn. In this rendition is a beautiful story of the beatitudes.

We closed the celebration with Lift High The Cross. Here is a version sung by Trinity Episcopal Church in Fredonia NY.

Respect for Each Other

In a Polarized Community

h/t Where the Rubber Hits the Road

Father Ron Rolheiser is a Catholic priest of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and is the President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. He writes a column for the Catholic Register here in Canada, and about 60 other newspapers in the world.

He has a great deal of wisdom and last week applied it to the polarization of our societies both in Canada and the US, and around the world. Here is what he had to say, and where his other weekly words of wisdom can be found:

We live today in a highly polarized world and within highly polarized churches. In this, we are not unique. A certain degree of polarization exists within every community and is normal and healthy. However the bitterness, mean-spirit, and lack of respect that characterizes much of our political, ecclesial, and moral discourse today is not normal and is far from healthy. And we shouldn't delude ourselves in thinking that it is healthy or, worse yet, in the name of truth or justice or God, try to rationalize our lack of respect for those who think differently than we do. We aren't holy warriors, just angry people with a highly selective compassion.

Perhaps labels like liberal and conservative don't accurately name the various tribes we invariably divide into today, but, as an over-generalization, these names still work. We are bitterly divided, liberal from conservative, conservative from liberal, and instead of seeing ourselves as one community caught in a common struggle, we talk rather in terms of "we" and "them", like warring tribes. There's no longer a common plural.

More seriously, we are no longer capable of even having a respectful conversation with each other. It is rare today to have a discussion on any sensitive political, moral, or ecclesial issue that does not degenerate into name-calling and disrespect. Empathy, understanding, and compassion have become highly selective, ideological, and one-sided. We listen to and respect only our own kind. Moreover, neither side has a monopoly on this, liberal or conservative. What is sadly manifest too, on both sides, is a certain hypersensitivity, an over-seriousness, a paranoia about the other, an anger, a joylessness, and the lack of a sense of humor.

Conservatives tend to justify this by pointing to the gravity of the issues they are defending: abortion, family life, traditional marriage. These, they point out with all the proper gravity, are serious issues and liberals are so compromised that there really is no room for meaningful talk. The truth being defended is eternal and allows for no compromise, so what's the purpose of dialogue?

Liberals return the favor: Why discuss something that is rationally self-evident, simply a question of human right, and has long since been enshrined in democratic principle? These issues need not even be discussed. Moreover, in liberal circles, there is all too frequently an intellectual disdain for what is judged to be narrow intolerance stemming from religious fundamentalism. Liberals, despite considerable rhetoric to the contrary, have little genuine desire to have a real conversation about issues like abortion, gay marriage, and family values. For them, just as for the conservatives, these issues already have a clear moral conclusion. Why talk?

Strong convictions are not a fault, but what is distressing is that this unwillingness to be open to respectful dialogue on sensitive issues is generally as prevalent within church circles as it is in political ones.

In church circles we are meant to hold ourselves to a higher standard: to meet viciousness with graciousness, anger with compassion, opposition with understanding, slander with no retaliation, intolerance with patience, and everything and everybody with charity. For the most part, this isn't happening. Sadly, inside of church circles, our conversation about sensitive issues basically mirrors the harsh and one-sided rhetoric we hear on the more strident talk shows. The results are the same: the converted preach to the converted, hearts harden rather than soften, positions become even more bitter and entrenched, and we drift further apart from each other in our churches and in our politics.

At a time when misunderstanding, anger, intolerance, impatience, lack of respect, and lack of charity are paralyzing our communities and dividing the sincere from the sincere, it is time for us, followers of Jesus called to imitate his wide compassion, to reground ourselves in some fundamentals: respect, charity, understanding, patience, and gentleness towards those who oppose us. It's time to accept too that we are all in this together, one family within which everyone needs everyone else.

There is no "we" and "them", there's only "us".

Biblical scholar, Ernst Kaseman, once suggested that what's wrong in both the world and the church is that the liberals aren't pious and the pious aren't liberal. How true. It's rare to see the same person leading both the peace-march and the rosary. Liberals are better at one, conservatives at the other. Each has its own models, its Mel Gibsons and Michael Moores, patron saints of piety or justice. What's needed is a patron saint for both.

Perhaps we might look for that in Dorothy Day, someone whom both sides, liberal and conservative, respect and recognize as a saint and who is soon to be canonized by the church. She was both pious and liberal, a woman equally comfortable leading a peace-march or leading the rosary. She was also able to stand up strongly for truth, for life, and for justice, without bracketing what has to be forever fundamental within all relationships and discourse - charity, respect, wide compassion, and a sense of humor!
All those who have ears, let them hear.