Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pro-Life, Canadian - Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Catholic Insight Newsletter

In my email, I received this piece this morning, from Catholic Insight.  Father Alphonse De Valk, its head is unabashedly pro-life from conception to natural death.  He is a somewhat in your face supporter of life, and has been pilloried for it in polite society, human rights claims, emotional beat downs, etc.  But, he is a priest and man of God, committed to the truth, and committed to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on life.

Acknowledging that at some time in the not too distant future, Canadians will go to the polls again, here is his advice for voters who care about life.  In Canada, unborn life has little value, unless you, individually want it too. No protective legislation exists in our country for the unborn.  Thank you Pierre Elliott Trudeau, though had it not been you, it would have been another leader.

What will you do the next time the opportunity to cast your vote comes up?

Father De Valk views the honouring of life as the most basic issue facing us as human beings and as Canadians (or Americans).  How you treat the least of our society, the voiceless is how you will ultimately treat those higher up the food chain.  Read what he has to say:
January 27, 2011

Dear Friends,

It is not known when the federal election will be called, but we had better think hard about how we will vote. By “we” I mean the people whom politicians call “social conservatives” and the media, anti-abortionists. We call ourselves “pro-life.”

In Canada, politically speaking, pro-lifers are between a rock and a hard place. We have no political leaders in office, no political party in Parliament and no power-brokers who champion our cause, decent and honourable though it is. We are orphans in every sense.

We defend the right and dignity of life of all human beings, including the unborn, the elderly, the poor, women, parents and families, but government ignores us. Of the four political parties, three are pro-abortion by constitution and principle and the fourth, the Conservatives, by decision of its leader.


There are still many who do not understand what is happening to society. They perceive the decline in moral standards, but they do not see the connections between one thing and another.

Let me present the briefest outline. The first serious setback to the Canadian moral standard, which also governed the whole Western world, came in 1931, when the Anglican church approved contraception and thereby shattered the age-old unity against contraception that had existed among otherwise-divided Christians. Within 20 years, practically every Protestant church adopted the Anglican position. This was followed in 1960 by the invention of the birth control pill.

Contraception, including the pill, had two consequences: it created the false belief that people could follow their own course of action in matters concerning procreation; secondly, that there was no longer much need for religion. By 1975, many countries, including Canada, had changed their laws to allow contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexual relations, sterilization, suicide, pornography, artificial insemination and bio-ethical experimentation.

Contraception, abortion and same-sex “marriage” are all of one piece. All three are united in their refusal to acknowledge the primacy of God in creation. All three refuse to allow the act of pro-creation to follow its natural course. The first makes it subject to the will of humans instead of God; the second snuffs out the delivery of the child; the third denies the natural pro-creative function. The other legal changes complete the evils of the first three.

Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, however, does not grasp the magnitude of the issue. On January 18, 2011, the CBC interviewed him. While he favoured a return of capital punishment, he said, he refused to touch abortion. CBC: “Would you re-open the abortion issue?” Stephen Harper: “No, no. Look, Peter, I have spent my political career trying to stay out of that issue. It is one on which people, including in my own party, have passionate views. They’re all over the map … What I say to people, if you want to diminish the number of abortions, you’ve got to change hearts and not laws. And I’m not interested in having a debate over abortion law.”

Well, a return to capital punishment has little or no support in Canada. The number of people erroneously convicted for capital crimes and then set free is sufficient to quash that idea. But on abortion, a majority of Canadians want restrictions on numbers, (110,000-115,000 a year) and their cost ($300 million annually).
Pro-Life: What to Do?

1. Vote for a pro-life Conservative in your riding. Why? Because Conservatives minus Harper provide theonly solution.

2. Do not vote for a Conservative who is not pro-life, even if there is no other pro-life candidate.

3. Do not accept a candidate’s claim that he/she is pro-life without checking how he/she voted.

4. Check with for the candidate’s voting record.

5. Tell your Conservative pro-life candidate to retire Stephen Harper after the election, regardless of the outcome (majority or minority).

6. The pro-life issue is the most important issue Canada faces. Continued abortions will kill Canada economically, socially, morally, culturally and religiously.

7. If there is no pro-life Conservative, try another candidate, but only if he/she is pro-life. Check record as above under 4.

Stephen Harper has expressed his view often enough for us to know he means what he says. He has chosen to build his “legacy” on tinkering with economics and finance, instead of transcending the daily cut and thrust of venal politics and challenge the root issues that gnaw relentlessly at society: killing our children, destroying our families and rotting away our principles.

He does not understand that changing hearts and minds requires changing laws and leadership. He won’t do it; hence, retire him and find someone who will.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is it Possible?

Could the Eucharist Actually Be From God to And For Us?

If you go to a prayer meeting, or a gathering led by a man or woman of God, you may hear the speaker say something like:  "God can do ANYTHING.  Can I get an AMEN to that?"  To which all gathered, shout out a resounding and joyful "AMEN".

But, do we believe that Amen, which means simply: It is so.

Because if it is so, God can do ANYTHING, and is not limited by our imagination, beliefs, aspirations, or fantasies.

So, could God, just could He, not does He, but could He actually make himself present in the Catholic Eucharistic celebration in the form of bread and wine?  Well, could he?  Why not.  He can do anything.

I have read our Protestant brothers and sisters writing that God wouldn't do that.  Some have said: It's gross, and it would be cannibalism.  I can see how you could think that.

We Christians have little trouble believing that Jesus healed the blind, deaf, possessed, those with skin diseases etc.  We Christians even believe that He raised the dead, Lazarus, and Jairus' daughter.  So, c'mon here, when somebody is dead, they are gone, gone, gone.  If He can do that, He can do anything.  Which is easier, healing someone, or forgiving their sins?  He did and does both.

We Christians can believe that Jesus went up on a mountain with his closest followers and was transfigured right before their eyes, and they saw Him as glorious and glorified.  We believe that He can do that don't we?  If that didn't prove that He was God, what would it take? 

And if He could do that, could He allow himself to be nailed to a tree, and killed to take away our sins, and free us from sin and death?  We Christians believe He could and that He did.  But, if you think about it logically, wouldn't we be more likely to look at it as Peter did, and say "No way.  No way?"  It is only in retrospect that we can believe, as Peter believed.

So, why could Jesus not have instituted the Eucharist, as a memorial, but also as the real sacrifice of Himself on the Cross, once for all time, but suspended in time, complete and finished, once and for all, yet joined by the Eucharistic celebrations in time, to eternity.

Eternity (Jesus) stepped into time (here where we are).  Could He, just could He have provided a way for us to step into eternity, where time no longer needs to exist?

Could He?  Of course, He could.

But, did He?  That is a matter of faith.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Engaging with Pro-Choice Advocates and Christian Fundamentalists

CAN Be Like Teaching a Pig to Sing

The reason why one should never try to teach a pig to sing is that it is a waste of time and it also annoys the pig.  For Catholic Christians committed to their faith and animated by that faith to honour life and their faith, engaging with those committed to fundamentalist Christian beliefs, and those committed to pro-choice beliefs tends to waste time as well, while begetting just another flurry of platitudes and rhetoric.  Pro-choice advocates and Christian fundamentalists make strange bedfellows, and indeed they are, by and large, but their animus towards the beliefs that we, as Catholic Christians hold dear is very similar.

This past year, I have engaged in dialogue with a Christian fundamentalist over at Father Tim Moyle's blog "Where the Rubber Hits the Road".  It proved to be a waste of time, and bore similar characteristics in responses to engaging pro-choice folks over there, as well.  Both groups seem inclined to feed you their rhetoric; in the case of the fundamentalist it is focused on the errors of the Catholic Church.  In the case of pro-choice folks, they label us as anti-choice, and then carry on their spiel about the evils of denying women the choice to do what they want with their own bodies.  In both cases, they tend to get it wrong, factually.  So, attempting to be honest and faithful to our Catholic heritage and beliefs, I have presented the truth as we/I understand it.  There, a real similarity surfaced, that I found curious.  Both groups when presented with something that does not fit their belief system, gloss right over it and move on to the next item on their list.

But, it brings me back to what this is all about.   Ephesians 6:12, in the New International Version translation, says this:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 
So, engaging as I have, for me at least, is a lot like taking a pocket knife to a gun fight, where the only reason you had the pocket knife in the first place was to clean under your nails.

My visits to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, including the one I will set out for in a few minutes have reminded me that Jesus is what this is all about.  As Catholic Christians, we have Jesus as Our Lord and Saviour.  BUT, in that faith, we also have the Eucharist, which the catechism, referencing Lumen Gentium, the papal encyclical, describes as "the summit and source of our faith."

When Father Clement Agamba, or Father Tim Moyle, another priest or deacon, or an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist presents me with Holy Communion, he or she says: "Body of Christ."  I respond: "Amen."  It is so, nothing less.  It is Jesus present here in this place, just as He said He would be.  I take a brief moment to look at that wafer of bread, now transubstantiated into the body and blood of Jesus, My Jesus, Your Jesus, and allow Him to come into me.

At SEAS, they have Eucharistic Adoration Monday to Saturday, for an extended period of time.  As I watched Father Clement prepare the altar for this Adoration, I could see the love He has for Jesus, and the love that Jack, a member of the parish, who was helping in the preparation had for Our Saviour, has for Jesus, and it started to become Clear, Crystal Clear.

Those in attendance are led in prayers to open Adoration by the priest, and then one particular woman leads us in the Divine Mercy Chaplet and other prayers.  She ends the communal part of the prayers with prayers to end abortion and for the closing of abortion mills.  And again, it becomes Clear, Crystal Clear for me.

Our greatest weapon against ignorance and bigotry is prayer.  We pray to return love where we are hated and reviled.  We pray to let Jesus shine through us so that He cannot be mistaken.  We pray for forgiveness for our sins and sinful tendencies, those things that prevent others from seeing Him in us, and blind us to Him for ourselves.  We pray to see Him in those who oppose us, for He is surely present in them.

Prayer changes things, and the first thing that must change is our own hearts, if we are to be witnesses to Christ in this world.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

We Are all Pro-Choice - As For Me, I Choose Life

A recent attempt at debate on abortion over at Father Tim Moyle's Where the Rubber Hits the Road got into semantics as these debates always seem to do.  Those who favour a woman having the right to abort her unborn child prefer to call themselves pro-choice, which is at least euphemistically easier to swallow than pro-abortion.

Pro as used in words like pro-choice and pro-life is a prefix that quite simply means "favouring or in support of".  No mystery there.  Anti on the other hand, which pro-choicers use to attempt to tarnish their adversaries in this debate is a prefix used to mean "opposing, against or the opposite", so in this case, when Pro-choice folks call pro-life folks anti-choice, they mean opposing choice.  So, to say that those who are against abortion are anti-choice is at first blush ingenuous, and is meant to be pejorative.

Jared Loughner was pro-choice a few weeks ago here in Tucson, Arizona.  He went to a polite political gathering with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and many of her constituents, and firmly expressed his choice that she and several of her supporters did not deserve to continue to live.  It was, after all, his choice to believe that.  To prove his point, he pulled a Glock 9 gun out and shot Ms. Giffords point blank in the head, and shot an additional 18 other people, 6 of whom died from their wounds.  Not one Pro-Choice organisation came out in favour of Jared Loughner's right to choose to shoot those people.  Not one.  So, those groups calling themselves pro-choice are not pro every choice, just particular choices.

People make choices every day.  I chose to drink a cappuchino just a few minutes ago.  I might have chosen a chai latte, or a cup of decaf, but, no, I chose a cappuchino.  I exercised my right to choose.  Yet, those who favour abortion call me anti-choice, because I do not believe that it is a woman's right to impose her will on an unborn child that she helped create, usually complicitly.

In the debate that waged over at Father Tim's, those favouring a woman's right to have an abortion were attempting to say that organisations offering abortion as an alternative to a live birth of an unborn child are not really pro-abortion organisations. 

They were in particular writing about NARAL. That organisation's official name today is NARAL Pro-Choice America.  It's original name when it was established in 1969 was National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws.  After Roe v.Wade, it changed its name to National Abortion Rights Action League, then to National Abortion & Reproductive Rights Action League. Finally in 2003, the long form was reduced to the current moniker.  In that time, only one major change happened.  Where the second "A" in the short form NARAL stood for Abortion early on, it jumped up to the first position in the later names.

One commenter over at Father Tim's blog post, who is pro-choice quoted this from the NARAL web site:
Our Solution
We will always have to fight to keep abortion safe and legal. This means defeating attacks in Congress and in the states.
We also believe in reducing the need for abortion. This means we support improving access to birth control and teaching young people comprehensive sex education.
Finally, we always are sure to separate anti-choice myths from facts.

-NARAL's page on Abortion, 1/20/11 (emphasis added.)
Of course, if there is a solution offered, it is appropriate to know the problem that is being solved, so here it is direct from NARAL's site:
The Problem
Anti-choice people want to outlaw abortion, regardless of the woman's situation. They will stop at nothing to make it harder for women to access abortion. They even target the doctors who provide abortion care.

Anti-choice people use many of the following tactics to reach their goals:
Violent tactics that intimidate doctors and patients
Bans on safe abortion methods that protect women's health
Restrictions on low-income women's access to abortion and other health care
Dangerous laws that jeopardize young women's health and safety
"Crisis pregnancy centers" that intentionally mislead women
"Personhood" measures that would ban abortion
Distortions of science to instill fear
Restrictions on women's access to RU 486
Refusal clauses that deny women basic health services.
So, this sounds like a lot of rhetoric to me, but let's break it down a little piece by piece, starting with the Problem.

"Anti-choice people want to outlaw abortion, regardless of the woman's situation."

Yes, they have that one sorta right.  1 for 1, except for calling pro-life people anti-choice.  Those people who identify with the pro-life cause are FOR all human life from conception to natural death.  We cared about Terry Schiavo, when she was killed by her husband removing her feeding and starving her to death.  We are against Dr. Death (Jack Kevorkian) and euthanasia.  We are against placing a score on a human life that makes it more valuable than another, or less valuable than another human life.  We are against a choice that would terminate a human life chemically, surgically or otherwise, and that particularly includes abortion in its many shapes and forms.  So I guess it is not really 1 for 1.

So, how about this next piece:

They will stop at nothing to make it harder for women to access abortion. They even target the doctors who provide abortion care.

That is a highly charged statement.  "Stop at nothing".  Really!!  Almost to a one, pro-life people are fighting this battle on their knees.  The Catholics pray the Rosary, pray prayers of intercession for the babies, their parents, abortion providers, and others caught in this web of deceit.  And they do target the doctors, by picketing peacefully in front of their abortion mills, and do so with more vigour during the 40 Days for Life programmes twice a year in most major cities in the US and Canada.

Let's move on to the tactics attributed to those mean anti-choice folks:

Violent tactics that intimidate doctors and patients

Some anti-choicers actually enter restricted zones to tell young women that they are praying for them and to beg them not to abort their unborn child.  I'll bet that the truth does intimidate people.  It does me, when I am off the reservation.
Here's the next 3:
Bans on safe abortion methods that protect women's health
Restrictions on low-income women's access to abortion and other health care
Dangerous laws that jeopardize young women's health and safety

There is no abortion method that is safe for the unborn child, and the number of cases where unsafe abortion practices are coming to the fore is reprehensible, in light of such a declaration.  What particular need do low income women and young women have for abortion?  If you keep it zipped up, there is no need for abortion.  If you value the child that you created, you do not have a need for abortion either.  There is also no evidence to suggest that an abortion protects a woman's health.  In fact, the evidence of post abortion mental and physical health issues is heading for an epidemic.  See what former abortionist Joy Davis has to say, or read the stories of these other former abortion providers.

How about this one:
"Crisis pregnancy centers" that intentionally mislead women

Crisis pregnancy centers take in young women and help them to deliver safely the babies that they have in their wombs.  These babies are often put up for adoption, though a mother who realizes that she wants to keep her baby is encouraged to do so.  How's that for misleading?

This one is actually true:
"Personhood" measures that would ban abortion

We of the pro-life belief hold that an infant in the womb is a person from conception, and deserves to have all rights that other persons have.  One pundit, who is a Catholic, though one must question his sincerity on this particular point, proclaimed a couple of times on his show that a child in the womb is a "potential human being".  A baby in the womb is as much a potential human being as a 2 year old is a potential teenager. 

Or this one:
Distortions of science to instill fear

The only distortion of science is by the pro-choice crowd, who keep trying to insist that a baby is not a baby, but fetal tissue, able to be aborted at least until it leaves the womb.  That does not even make sense.

This is no surprise and is absolutely true:
Restrictions on women's access to RU 486

Pro-life folks are absolutely in favour of a complete ban on RU 486.  Why is pretty simple?  RU 486 causes an abortion of a live fetus early in its gestation.   By the way, many instances of birth control pills also cause spontaneous abortions, preventing the fetus from implanting.

The last one is pretty rich:
Refusal clauses that deny women basic health services

There is no pro-life follower who is interested in denying any woman basic health services, but abortion is not a basic health service.  It can easily be argued that abortion is hazardous to a woman's health.

So, NARAL wants you to believe that they are not a pro-abortion organisation.  I, for one, do not believe it for an instant.  The above from NARAL is all rhetoric and baffle gab, intent on misrepresenting facts to show a false front.

It would be appropriate to read what Abby Johnson, a former abortion clinic director, says on her web site. in her new book "Unplanned," which is available on Amazon or from her web site.

The truth is painful.  It usually is, but it sure beats the lies that have been floated to trap women into surrendering the children in their wombs.



Friday, January 21, 2011

Left/Right - Herding Cats

Earlier today, I posted a conservative perspective on the issues of Democrats and Republicans, which is really more easily described as left versus right.  In Canada, we have the Liberals and the Conservatives, though with two other major parties, the left/right gets a little more muddled.  Father Clement Agamba, a native of Ghana assured me in a note today that in Ghana it is also the same, where they have, as he said, the "National Democratic Congress who see themselves as social democrats, and National Patriotic Party, who believe in the individual working to create wealth for himself/herself."  He also noted that this condition exists in all democracies around the world.

"Left wing" and "right wing" as terms to define political orientations first began with the French Revolution, where in the Estates General in France, the liberal deputies, members of the Third Estate, who were most interested in reform and revolution sat to the left of the president's chair.  Those of the Second Estate, which comprised the nobility of France, were most interested in preservation, conservation of the status quo, counter revolutionaries, as it were.

It is interesting to note the matter of Estates in France.  The First Estate, omitted above, were in fact, the clergy of the day, where the Bishops were the higher clergy, and parish priests and other religious were considered the lower clergy.  But, moving on.

Father Clement in his homily today spoke of the 12 disciples, who Jesus picked to follow and become his apostles.  Were they all carbon copies of each other?  No, in truth they were not.  In their midst was Matthew, a tax collector.  A tax collector was an outcast.  After all he robbed the poor to give to the rich, and was on the payroll to do so.  No fancy IRS code, or Income Tax Act at his side.  Things were a little more spontaneous for tax grabbing in those days. 

And too, there was Simon the Zealot. The zealots as Father Clement explained in his note to me, and at Mass this morning, were nationalists. So, for Simon a nationalist to be called to come together with Matthew, a source of revenue for the occupying Romans is a stretch.  But, we know it happened.  By the grace of God, these two men from opposite ends of the spectrum became two of those who carried on the work of Christ on this earth.

Imagine how lively discussions between these two must have been in the early going.  Natural enemies.  Then, of course throw in the other ten, including the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, called in today's Gospel, "Sons of Thunder".   A number of years ago, our parish priest at St. Joseph's Parish in London Ontario was Father Jim Williams.  He was called Father "Tiny" Williams, though he was 6'4"tall.  Somehow, I don't get the feeling that the Sons of Thunder were shy and retiring sorts, so they would have added to the mix.

Jesus was the first recorded herder of cats in history. 

If we look at the desires of the liberal leaning members of our society, not with a jaundiced eye, but rather attempted to understand what it is they believe, those of us who are conservative in our leanings might learn something new.  If the liberal leaning members of our society were to look, without prejudice at what conservatives are interested in, again something new might be learned.

But, most of us are too committed to positions to listen to reason, or to engage in meaningful dialogue.  A televised presidential candidate or party leader debate during elections in the USA or Canada, does not qualify as sharing of beliefs and listening to each other.

But, there is a small wind of change happening here in the US next week.  Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives will be intermingled for the State of the Union address by President Obama.  We would be cautious to not see this as a kiss and make up occasion, where bygones will be bygones, but it is as opportunity for some fence mending, and some sharing of thoughts.

At election times, the will of the people surfaces to a small extent, but often gets blurred by political rhetoric and character assassination ads on television and in other media.  The ads remind me so much of the family squabbles between siblings that happened in our family, and I hazard a guess, in yours.  "Mom, she hit me."  "Mom, he hit me first."  "Did not."  "Did too."  You get the picture. 

And so, the collective might of nations to govern themselves in the interest of the people gets lost, in childish power struggles and bickering.

Jesus knew how to make men of different backgrounds and leanings work together, even with their free wills.  He gave us His Authority to use here on earth, to continue his work, to make the Kingdom of Heaven remain at hand.  A successful marriage is the uniting of a man and a woman, and there is nothing more different than men and women, forging a unity out of their differences in love for each other.

Can we learn something from marriage, and from Jesus selection of the Apostles, that we can apply to the political realm in our two great North American nations, to quell the rancor and back biting that pervades our political climates?

As a humorous aside, here is a commercial shot a few years back about herding cats.  If they can do it, we can too.

A Father Daughter Discussion

Liberals vs. Conservatives/Democrats vs. Republicans
The following arrived in my email inbox today, and I find it interesting.  It is a perspective, as is the quote from Margaret Thatcher and link to a NY Post article about Liberal Myths, and the truth about them.

What I found even more interesting was Father Clement Agamba's final prayer at the 7 am Mass at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton this morning.  It was a prayer for peace, including peace between and among Democrats and Republicans, something that might be easier for him as a Ghanan citizen and me as a Canadian citizen to pray for than for the local citizenry.
A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very Liberal Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in Favor of higher taxes to support more government programs, in other Words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the Lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to Higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to Be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by Asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that She was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people She knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends, because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked , 'How is your friend Audrey doing?' She replied, ' Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are Easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She Is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over.'

Her wise father asked his daughter, 'Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA, and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.' The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, 'That's a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I've worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!'

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, 'Welcome to The Republican party.' If anyone has a better explanation of the difference between Republican and Democrat I'm all ears.

If you ever wondered what side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test!

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one.
If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat..
If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for

If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church.
A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.
(Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)

If a conservative reads this, he'll forward it so his friends can have
a good laugh.
A liberal will delete it because he's "offended".
Here are the other two items a quote from the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, and a link to a NY Post article.
Margaret Thatcher, the former Conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain said in a TV interview for Thames TV This Week on Feb. 5, 1976, "...and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They [socialists] always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them."

You might find the linked article from the NY Post interesting titled Liberal Myths vs. Reality.

Patience and Wisdom

In my life, I have learned that among the most important qualities in a person are patience and wisdom.

Patience for me has come after many hard lessons.  In fact, God, in His patience and wisdom finally had to hit me in the back of the head with a Ford Aerostar van over 7 years ago.  Patience for me became not an option.  I wish that I had been able to learn patience another way, but I am grateful that He loves me enough to teach me patience inspite of my long term impatience.

Wisdom is a whole other matter.  Many of us possess tons of knowledge.  A life lived will give you that.  For many of us, our knowledge has been limited.  At 60 years of age, do I have 1 year of experience 60 times, or 60 years of experience?  But, wisdom is not just about what you know.  There is wisdom in knowing what you do not know, and even more can be found in not knowing what you don't know.

Here is a humorous pictorial example of wisdom and patience.  Works for me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

From Death to Rebirth

We Are Resurrection People

The people who were killed and injured here in Tucson recently have been in my thoughts and prayers since, and as I related, by my attendance at the daily and Sunday masses held at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish, I have felt at least a remote part of the tragedy and its aftermath.  The healing of those wounded continues apace, and the healing of those who lost loved ones begins.

Funerals and memorial services have been held for the deceased, including the funerals of Judge John Roll and Christina Taylor Green that were held at SEAS.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a 53 year old man and father of a 9 year old son, whose wife passed away this past October from brain cancer.  Although she had been diagnosed 23 months prior to her demise, she was only seriously disabled by the disease for the last 5 months of her 49 years here on earth.  This man is grief stricken, but coping as best he can, and looking after his son to the best of his abilities.  It should come as no surprise that the Tucson shooting did not come up in our discussion.  He has enough coping with tragedy on his own plate to last him for some time to come.  He wondered if the grief he was feeling was appropriate.  I have had enough personal grieving over losses to know that we are all individuals, with individual circumstances, and how we grieve our losses is very personal.  I assured him that he was doing fine, and that there was no blueprint, just a journey.  

Yesterday, before meeting my new friend, I had been at SEAS for mass, and spent time before the Eucharist exposed for Adoration.  For me, coming to grips with the incomprehensible is not about finding who to blame, as many are attempting, but in putting it all at the foot of the Cross, and giving it to Our Saviour in hope and trust.

But, this morning I had two opportunities to witness the aftermath of the tragedy, and whereas aftermath is usually a harsh word that means more bad stuff, what is coming out of the tragedy is not unlike what has arisen out of 9/11.  

On the Catholic Channel there was an interview today, replayed from late last summer with Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, speaking with Father Jim Martin, a Jesuit priest, and well known Catholic writer.  Father Martin related how he had been in New York at the time of 9/11, and had the opportunity to minister to people at Ground Zero for the two weeks after that monumental tragedy.  He spoke of how the Holy Spirit was alive and well, and that there was much good fruit that came out of what happened that September day.  He said mass there, and distributed communion to the faithful, and witnessed to them of the forever love of Jesus.

This morning I attended the 9 am mass at SEAS, and it was a mass for the students of the Catholic school on the property.  The students were all in their school uniforms and many of them were seated with their parents, and families.  Something special happened at this mass.  3 young people, students at the school, 2 of whom were about the age of Christina Taylor Green, were baptized during the mass.  Father Al Caponigro, a transplant from Cleveland, spoke during his homily of how SEAS had become famous for all the wrong reasons last week, because of the funerals, and how when he turned his cell phone on after the masses, he had several voice mail messages from people from Cleveland and around the USA who he knew, who suddenly realized that he was where the goings on were going on.

He reminded those in attendance that SEAS was not just a building that had held funerals for two decedents, but that it was the spiritual home of all present today, and many who had attended the funerals as well, and that SEAS was joined in prayer with Christian congregations around the world, by our faith in Our Saviour and Lord.  And, further that played out in the admission to membership of those newly baptized.

So, while we bid some adieu at their funerals, and godspeed to their heavenly home, we also are renewed by the new members who join us in communion.

After mass, I drove over to the Safeway store at Ina Road and Oracle Road, the site of the shootings.  I was curious to see how the event was being remembered.  A monument of sorts had been placed in front of the store for Rep. Giffords, and for all who were killed and injured.  Many local residents had put hand written notes of condolence there.  Many more had placed a bouquet of flowers, or a teddy bear, or other memento.  But what was very evident was the faith component evidenced by votive candles that were burning to keep the light of faith in memory.

At the Baptisms at SEAS, the final sacramental is the lighting of a candle from the Easter candle for each of the baptized, and as a reminder to their families, godparents and us all that we are to be the light of the world, in our role of being Christ for others here on earth.

And so, the candles at both locations remind us that in tragedy or joy, He is present.  He is the Light of the World, and we are to bear that light to a world that is in darkness.

May God use these tragedies, and joyful occasions to bring us all to knowledge of Him, and of the redemptive work His Son accomplished for us here on earth.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Catholic Priests - in persona Christi

Much of the problem that exists between Catholics and Protestants, is that our Protestant brothers and sisters have looked upon Christianity as a buffet, and not as a 10 course sit down meal served by Our Saviour.  That has happened because the senses of mystery, including timelessness and adoration of Jesus, has been lost.  But, in fact, who can blame them for moving in that direction?  So many of the members of the Catholic Church who have always known and practiced the truth of the mystery of the divinity in ritual and prayer have not been good keepers and purveyors of this mystery.  Shame on us, and shame on them.

Take the Catholic priesthood.  The priesthood is a link to our Jewish brethren, and to the Great High Priest, Jesus.  The ministerial priesthood is one of the great examples of the presence of Jesus Christ here on earth to this day.

Last week, something caught my eye at morning mass.  At 7 am, there was a family with 6 boys ranging in age from 3-13 or so, and another family with two girls and a boy from about 5-8 or so.  At communion time, the family of three children came over to the other side of the chapel, so that they could present themselves to the priest for a blessing as they had not yet received their first Holy Communion.  After Mass, the celebrant, Father Clement Agamba stayed near the altar for a few minutes to greet the boys in the other family and shake their hands.  These young boys then took time to pray kneeling in front of the alter and assisted in blowing out the candles. 

This Sunday, I went to mass at Our Lady of Fatima parish nearby, and there saw little children jumping over to the line of Father Ray Ratzenburger so that they could receive communion from him or a blessing.

It brought to mind one Sunday morning when my own children were quite small, and we attended St. Justin's Parish in London, Ontario. The priest there was Father Pat Mellon, in his college days a big strapping tight end for the University of Western Ontario Mustangs, now deceased for many years.  On this particular Sunday a little boy turned to his mother just after Father Pat passed him by and said in a loud voice: "There's God, Mummy."

At first blush these incidents are cute, and speak to the innocence of little children, but do they say more?  Do these little children in that innocence know more than we do spiritually?  Are they just not yet tainted by worldly knowledge?  Jesus told us to come to Him as the little children.

I think the little ones have lessons to remind us of, if not to teach us of outright.

God had the Jews institute a ministerial priesthood to stand between the people and God imperfectly and ceremonially.  When Jesus walked the earth, He did so as our High Priest, and so like the Jews he offered sacrifice, once and for all, to God for our sins.  He stood in the gap as man and as God.  Only God could come face to face with God, and only man could meet us here on the earth, since we could not be in the unblemished, and pure presence of God and survive.

But, He who was God every bit as much as He was man, chose to have man participate in His atoning sacrifice.  How, you ask?  Though as God he was every bit as capable as we were of nailing himself to the Cross, we had to do it, to participate in this atonement.  We too, had to take Him down from the Cross, lay Him in a tomb, and go back to the tomb and see that He had risen from the dead, none of which was practically necessary for the God of the universe.  And if one of us had been the only person on the planet at the time, the one would have had to do all those tasks.  That's love, His not ours.

Our Protestant brothers and sisters say that His sacrifice was sufficient of itself, and we, as faithful Catholics should say a resounding Amen.  Our Protestant brothers and sisters also say that only Christ can forgive our sins, to which we should again say a resounding Amen.

But, Christ gave his authority to the Apostles, with the intention of it continuing.  So, we say in the Catholic Church that our priests, including Bishops and Cardinals are operating in persona christi, as it relates to the administration of the sacraments.

So, when a priest hears a confession, it is not he as himself, but he as Christ, Christ with skin on as it were, offering absolution, and conferring the graces of confession on the penitent.

When a priest comes to the altar of the Lord and offers the sacrifice for us during Mass, he is not doing it on his own, and he is not offering a new sacrifice.  He is presenting again, and still the one sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, in the substance and form that Jesus prescribed at the last supper.  In the persona of Our Saviour, this priest offers the elements to God for God to change them into the Body and Blood of Jesus so that we the members of the royal priesthood in attendance, can obey Jesus words to us to take and eat, and take and drink.

Children are not caught up in time and space, as we are.  Therefor, they see things as they really are, not as we believe them to be as we get older and jaded by life in the trenches.

We have been jaded by priests who have not taken their vows of chastity and continence seriously, and have fallen to temptation.  Though the statistics show that the percentage of priests who fall into sexual sin is not greater than other parts of society, their sin destroys for many the image of in persona christi.  They are called to live lives of holiness, like Jesus, and to present Him to us.  When a priest leaves the priesthood to marry, or commits a crime, or even when he tries to be just one of the boys, rather than being set apart, we all suffer.  (The problem is not being one of the boys, but being just one of the boys.)

We are their families, you and me.  They have a responsibility to be Christlike for us, to show us the way, but it is not all on their shoulders.  WE owe them the responsibility to pray diligently for them, because the temptations are great, and without proper prayer cover from the faithful, the road is very hard indeed, not impossible, but very hard.

Father, as a great gift to us, you call many men to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood, and many listen to and follow that call.  Sadly, some have fallen by the wayside, and without our prayerful support more will fall.  But, that is not as it should be Father, and so we, the royal priests, intercede on their behalf with you Father, for their protection, for their encouragement, for their sanctity.

Mother Mary, surround these precious brothers of ours with your mantle of protection, as they strive daily to represent your Son, Jesus for us in daily life.

Saint Michael and our guardian angels, come defend them (and us) in battle, Be their (and our) safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou o prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of their (and our) souls.  Amen.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tucson- A City Mourns

Yesterday was the funeral of Christina Taylor Green, a precious 9 year old who went to meet her Congresswoman to learn more about the American political system.   Caught in the midst of a senseless shooting by a deranged man, she and 5 others were murdered, while the Congresswoman and 12 others were wounded.

Yesterday, I touched on some of the tangible Signs of the Arizona Tragedy that I witnessed as I went to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton church for morning mass.  The funeral was held in mid afternoon.

This morning, I went up once again for morning mass, not knowing what to expect, but thinking something might be up, with today being the funeral mass for respected Federal Judge John Roll, and it also being scheduled for mid morning.

All was quiet as I parked my car in the north parking lot, rather than the south as per yesterday, and approached the chapel entrance.  The only sign of anything in the early hours of the still dark morning was that the door was locked and had to be opened for me by a parishioner.  My prayers and the prayers of others in the chapel at the time before mass for those involved in this tragedy were uneventful, and Mass proceeded as the Mass does.  Father Clement Agamba was the celebrant, and was clearly under some direction to get on with it.  There were no prayers of the faithful,the homily was brief, and Mass was over a few minutes early.

As I made my way to the parking lot to get my car, I noticed across the street, that news trucks for many stations were already assembled there, and police were directing traffic already.

 I pondered this as I drove, and listened to Gus Lloyd on the Catholic Channel during the last half hour of his morning show.  However, as I drove south on Interstate 10 through the heart of Tucson to our winter home, Gus had an interview with Bishop Gerald Kikanas, the Bishop and shepherd of the Diocese of Tucson.

A couple of years ago, I was here in Tucson, and was involved with 40 Days for Life, praying in front of abortion mill with other Tusconans.  On the 40th day, there was a special prayer vigil led by one of the priests of the diocese, but Bishop Kikanas made an appearance.  He had just arrived the day before from the periodic visits that groups of Bishops make to the Holy See, and so was jet lagged and clearly fatigued.  Yet, he made an effort to greet and speak briefly with all gathered there.  As he shook my hand, made eye contact and greeted me, I felt blessed to have met the local shepherd.

This morning his leader's faith and love reached out to me and to anyone listening to their satellite radio at the moment.  This gentle man of faith has reached out to his flock in this time of tragedy.  When the tragedy occurred, Bishop Kikanas was once again overseas, in Jerusalem this time, and immediately made arrangements to return home to be with his people.  Even before he left Jerusalem, he had sent a letter by email to the parishes of the diocese, expressing his deep sorrow and desire to be one with those he loves so much.  This letter was read at the masses at SEAS last Sunday.

When Bishop Kikanas arrived home, he went to the hospitals and visited with a number of the sick, and reached out to the families of the deceased.  

The Bishop presided yesterday at Christina Taylor Green's funeral, and spoke of the liturgy that was held to bid her body adieu.  He made mention of the selection of the passages from Ecclesiastes about a time for every season, a time to live, a time to die, and spoke about her love of dance, and love of sports.  She was a pretty good baseball player, better than most of the boys her age.  Her pedigree as the grand daughter of former major league pitcher Dallas Green, and daughter of an LA Dodgers scout probably helped with her ball playing.  He told the children who sang with her in her church choir that though they are pretty good, and she loved singing with them, that she is now singing in the celestial choir.

Last evening, he was at the wake for Judge John Roll.  He spoke of how Judge Roll was looked up to by other lawyers in the community, as a mentor, and how his participation in things of faith in the community and in the judicial aspects of the community will be missed.

He related how he had phoned the judge's wife from Jerusalem when he heard of the tragedy, and of her conversation with him.  Mrs. Roll stated that her husband told her that morning that he was going out to mass, and would stop by to see Congresswoman Giffords on his way home, because she was going to be just a few blocks away from their residence.  He never made it home, at least not to that home.

Today, Bishop Kikanas will preside at Judge Roll's funeral, and will have the opportunity to bid adieu to his mortal remains as well.

As the Bishop spoke, my eyes welled up with tears, to hear his love for his community, and to hear how he and other faith leaders in the community had gathered to discuss joint responses to what has happened.

It has been said that: "That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."  But, as well, that which kills you, can only kill the body, and so in faith we know that Christina Taylor Green and Judge John Roll are with our Saviour in heaven.  We hope and pray the same for the 4 others killed so senselessly in Tucson last Saturday.

For those who were injured, we pray that they will be made stronger, stronger in the seeds of faith that are inside them, stronger in their respect for human life in all its stages, and that they will become witnesses of the healing and saving power of God.

The tragedy has passed.  The healing has begun, and those who mourn today will one day laugh again.

When President Obama was here in Tucson on Wednesday, he spoke words of healing, and did not point fingers.  In fact, he was a leader of the people, not a politician.  He left partisan politics and policies behind and came to be with a wounded section of the American people.

All will be well.  All will be well. All manner of things will be well. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Litany of Humility

by Merry Cardinal del Val, secretary of state to Pope Saint Pius X

from the prayer book for Jesuits, 1963

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, O Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

"Charity is patient, is kind; charity does not envy, is not pretentious, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, is not self-seeking, is not provoked; thinks no evil, does not rejoice over wickedness, but rejoices with the truth, bears with all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

To have Charity is to love God above all things for Himself and be ready to renounce all created things rather than offend Him by serious sin. ( Matt. 22:36-40)

H/t Norm Sutherland

Signs of the Arizona Tragedy

This morning I was heading over to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in the north end of Tucson, to attend the 7 am Mass.  I had decided to go a little early as Father Clement had told me that the church was open from about 6 am so that people could come early and pray in front of the tabernacle.  I wanted to have time to pray the Rosary before mass, for those whose funerals would be held there today and tomorrow.  Today, the funeral for Christina Green, the 9 year old girl who was gunned down is being held.  Tomorrow, Judge Roll's funeral will take place here.  SEAS is the largest church in the area, and the best able to handle these two funerals.

When I arrived, it was still dark, though some lights were on in the chapel.  As I exited my car, which was the second car in the southern part of the parking lot, the other car turned on its lights including a spotlight, and gave a short whoop on the siren. 

It was a Pima County Sherrif's Deputy, and he called me over to his car.  He asked me why I was there.  I responded that I was there to pray and attend Mass.  This struck him as odd, as the area had been swept with bomb sniffing dogs, and searched for weapons and explosives, the previous afternoon.   He expected that there would be nothing going on at the Church until the funeral Mass.  I suggested that he accompany me and another woman who had arrived for mass to the chapel, and see for himself.  I told him that there had been a sign on the door yesterday telling us that masses would be held (7 and 9 am today, and only 7 am on Friday).

Well, when we got to the entrance door to the chapel, that sign had been changed to one that said only that Eucharistic Adoration, which is held each day for several hours, was cancelled for both today and tomorrow.  The deputy asked us what he misread as "adornation" was and I explained to him about Jesus being present in the Eucharist and being exposed on the altar for people to pray and worship Him. 

He looked at me like I had two heads on my shoulders, much like the response I expect from some of our separated brethren.  When he looked into the chapel, he saw that other people had entered from the north side and so he was perplexed.  He said that he had to look into this, and left, and did not return.  So obviously, we must have received a Sherrif's dispensation, and mass proceeded without incident.

This is as close as I will get to the funerals being held, but both families are in my prayers, and I hope in yours as well.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, we trust in your love for the Green and Roll families.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Church Humour


One Sunday morning, a mother went in to wake her son and tell him it was time to get ready for church, to which he replied, "I'm not going."
"Why not?" she asked.
I'll give you two good reasons," he said. "(1), they don't like me, and (2), I don't like them."
His mother replied, "I'll give YOU two good reasons why YOU SHOULD go to church. (1) You're 59 years old, and (2) you're the pastor!"

The Picnic

A Jewish Rabbi and a Catholic Priest met at the town's annual 4th of July picnic. Old friends, they began their usual banter.
"This baked ham is really delicious," the priest teased the rabbi. "You really ought to try it. I know it's against your religion, but I can't understand why such a wonderful food should be forbidden! You don't know what you're missing. You just haven't lived until you've tried Mrs. Hall's prized Virginia Baked Ham. Tell me, Rabbi, when are you going to break down and try it?"
The rabbi looked at the priest with a big grin, and said, "At your wedding."

The Usher

An elderly woman walked into the local country church. The friendly usher greeted her at the door and helped her up the flight of steps, "Where would you like to sit?" he asked politely.
"The front row please," she answered.
"You really don't want to do that," the usher said "The pastor is really boring."
"Do you happen to know who I am?" the woman inquired.
"No." he said.
"I'm the pastor's mother," she replied indignantly.
"Do you know who I am?" he asked.
"No." she said.
"Good," he answered.

Show and Tell

A kindergarten teacher gave her class a "show and tell" assignment. Each student was instructed to bring in an object to share with the class that represented their religion. The first student got up in front of the class and said, "My name is Benjamin and I am Jewish and this is a Star of David.."
The second student got up in front of the class and said, "My name is Mary. I'm a Catholic and this is a Rosary."
The third student got in up front of the class and said, "My name is Tommy. I am Methodist, and this is a casserole."

The Best Way To Pray

A priest, a minister and a guru sat discussing the best positions for prayer, while a telephone repairman worked nearby.
"Kneeling is definitely the best way to pray," the priest said.
"No," said the minister. "I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven."
"You're both wrong," the guru said. "The most effective prayer position is lying down on the floor."
The repairman could contain himself no longer. "Hey, fellas," he interrupted. "The best prayin' I ever did was when I was hangin' upside down from a telephone pole."

The Twenty and the One

A well-worn one-dollar bill and a similarly distressed twenty-dollar bill arrived at a Federal Reserve Bank to be retired. As they moved along the conveyor belt to be burned, they struck up a conversation. The twenty-dollar bill reminisced about its travels all over the country.
"I've had a pretty good life," the twenty proclaimed. "Why I've been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City , the finest restaurants in New York , performances on Broadway, and even a cruise to the Caribbean "
"Wow!" said the one-dollar bill. "You've really had an exciting life!"
"So tell me," says the twenty, "where have you been throughout your lifetime?"
The one dollar bill replies, "Oh, I've been to the Methodist Church , the Baptist Church , the Lutheran Church ."
The twenty-dollar bill interrupts, "What's a church?"

Goat for Dinner

The young couple invited their elderly pastor for Sunday dinner. While they were in the kitchen preparing the meal, the minister asked their son what they were having "Goat," the little boy replied.
"Goat?" replied the startled man of the cloth, "Are you sure about that?"
"Yep," said the youngster. "I heard Dad say to Mom, 'Today is just as good as any to have the old goat for dinner."

Lord, keep Your arm around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth

Burying the Dead of the Tucson Tragedy

During the winter, My Dear Wife and I come to Tucson AZ to escape the Ontario cold and snow.  While we really like it here, we are not unaware of levels of violence with which we are unfamiliar in our part of the world.  On a periodic basis, we hear gunfire some time during the night, and from time to time at night police helicopters fly overhead as police attempt to apprehend a suspect in some crime.  I have never in 50 of my 60 years on the planet of living in London Ontario ever heard a gunshot in the city.

Handguns and rifles are readily available to be purchased in many stores, and so Jared Loughner purchased for himself a Glock 9mm pistol with an extended 30 shot magazine last November.  This is not a hunting weapon, so he was not going to shoot coyotes.  And so, this past weekend, he shot 20 people in the north east corner of Tucson, killing 6, and seriously injuring his primary target, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.  By all accounts Jared Loughner is a disturbed individual, but that does not make any of those killed by him less dead, or the injured less sore.

Many mornings I attend mass at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish, which is also in the north east corner, a few miles away from the site of this tragedy, and although it is not the home parish of any of the murdered, it will host the funeral masses for two of the deceased this week because it is the largest Catholic Church in the area.

On Thursday morning, the funeral mass will be celebrated for Christina Greene, the 9 year old girl who died, a young faithful member of St. Odilia Parish, who went to see Rep. Giffords to learn more about government.

On Friday morning, a funeral mass will be held for Judge John Roll, 63, a faithful Catholic, 4th degree Knight of Columbus, and highly respected jurist.

May they and the others killed in this senseless tragedy rest in peace.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sola Scriptura and the Doctor Phil Test

In an article earlier this week "Sola Scriptura Takes It On The Chin", I put forward mostly the writings of a respected Catholic Apologist, Dave Armstrong. 

The article was cross posted over at "Where the Rubber Hits the Road" by Catholic priest Father Tim Moyle, and there were comments on that site to my article.  The largest volume came from our old friend though definitely not a friend of the Catholic Church, Small Town Guy (not his real name), who commented long after anyone was interested in reading what he had to say in defence of sola scriptura.  He accounted for 17 of the 28 comments to date.

My objection to sola scriptura is that it is one of a few points that separate Catholics and other Christians from being one as Jesus called us.  It was a dogma created out of the Reformation that did not exist in Christianity before, and bore no resemblance to any other existing belief.

Newton's third law of motion has been stated as: "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."  It is my contention that this law applies to the Reformation and its original emergence.  At the time of the Reformation, leaders of the Catholic Church were behaving badly, to put it mildly.  Luther did not want to leave the Catholic Church, but to Reform it itself.  However, his reaction, which included the posting of his 99 theses, resulted in the Church leaders reacting themselves.  This led to Luther's next reaction, and so on and so on.  The net result is that we have two serious brands of Christianity, the Catholic and the Protestant, and a host of other churches and cults.

Yet, Jesus called us all to be one.

Among the things that separate us from each other in full communion is sola scriptura.  Having stopped reading the fulmination of those on either side of the debate, I came to the conclusion that you say tomato, I say tomahto, but I don't want to call the whole thing off, because Jesus called us all to be one.

Many readers are familiar with Dr. Phil McGraw, or Dr. Phil that Christian psychologist made famous by Oprah and by his own television show, mainly because of the wisdom he dispenses.

Dr. Phil says two things that stand out for me.  The first is that the best predictor of future behaviours are past behaviours.  If that is the case, then Catholics and Protestants will remain divided for the foreseeable future.

But, his other famous words are actually a question.  That question is "How's that working for ya?"

So, let's apply that question to sola scriptura, and ask how that's working for the Reformation.  So, you can defend the veracity of sola scriptura to your heart's content, but is it working?  If it is of God, it will work.   In fact, it has to work.  But, 500 years in it is a dismal failure, and is attempting to make a farce of the bible, which is untenable.

The number of Protestant denominations spawned in the last 500 years is significant, regardless of who you turn to for statistics, and these further separations are the in no small part the result of dogged support of sola scriptura.  Whenever a sub-group of Protestant believers come to the conclusion that the group they are a part of has misinterpreted scripture, they break away and form a new church.

If sola scriptura is so good, how come the Pentecostals are not Baptists, and the Presbyterians are not joined with the Methodists, and all of them joined together for example?

Just a question?

All Christians should agree that the Bible is the truth, and as such is indisputable in its truth.  If that is so, is the Bible in error when one group breaks from another over the interpretation of the Bible?  It cannot be so, and therefor man must be in error, and these divisions in the Body of Christ cannot be of God, but of man's origin.

The Catholic Church teaches this about the Bible in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and all faithful Catholics are required to believe this:
105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."69

"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."70

106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more."71

107 The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures."72
The numbers that follow each of these paragraphs are references in the Catechism.  In this case all of them (69 through 72) refer to the encyclical letter Dei Verbum that was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965.  They also refer to Paragraph 11 of that encyclical:

11. Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.(1) In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him (2) they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, (3) they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted. (4)

Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).
God wants us all to be one as Jesus and the Father are One, as stated in John 17:21.  To be one with each other, we must all be seekers of the truth, for the Holy Spirit will present to us all truth and wisdom.  It may take time, and it may take a great deal of humility, since we also want to be right.  But, we are not called to be right, but to be righteous, and above all to be holy as He is holy.