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Communion and Consequences

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in featured, Morality, Politics | 1 comment

Communion and Consequences

Why are so many Catholics leading the civic charge towards American degeneracy? Our vice-president is Catholic, and champions abortion blithely, unblushingly, as a matter of course. Same goes for the House Minority Leader, the highest ranking female politician in our history so far. The last Secretary of Health and Human Services is Catholic, and warred with her own bishops in an effort to get Catholic money to go to drugs designed to kill kids and objectify women. Out of nine Supreme Court Justices, six self-identify as Catholics. Six! That’s a majority vote plus one! And that’s the governing body that just made a disorder of body, mind and soul legally equivalent to one of the fundamental metaphors for understanding how we’re loved by God. What’s going on here? It’s one thing for Catholics to be sinners, for God’s people to be tempted by the conditions of time and place to the point where they’re no longer distinguishable from their non-Catholic or non-Christian neighbors. That’s one thing. But it seems like another thing when you’ve got so many high-profile Catholics doing such disproportionate damage. Scandalous Catholics are nothing new, but why are there so many scandalous Catholics, and why are they so lamentably influential? My take? It’s because they receive communion. I bet these prominent, disastrous Catholic politicians go to Sunday mass with some regularity, and I’m sure every time they go they receive the Eucharist. And that’s really dangerous, because receiving the Eucharist always has an effect, and it’s not necessarily a good one. Drinking the Blood of Jesus can, of course, make you a saint, but you can also be drinking your own damnation. God in flesh is never something neutral – after contact you’re either a greater vehicle for good or a more effective tool for evil. So, obviously, it’s no surprise that many of the architects of our national downfall take communion. Judas took communion. And we take communion. We’d better be taking it with repentance and gratitude and awe, and above all with a prayer that God will help us get closer to him. Because one way or another, after we receive the Eucharist we’re going to be a better instrument in somebody’s hands.   Clearing the Heart to See the Truth Subscribe today to receive an email once a week.  A great way to get regular insights into the Catholic faith....

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An American Experience and the Inconsistency of Civil Rights

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 in Current Events, featured, History, Morality, Politics | 6 comments

An American Experience and the Inconsistency of Civil Rights

A few nights ago I watched an interesting documentary on PBS called American Experience. This particular episode was entitled, “1964.” The makers of the show examined that particular year as the year that ignited the social revolution in America. The issue that caused the combustion: Civil rights; in particular, the efforts of northern white college kids who headed to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 in order to assist southern black citizens to register to vote. As the show progressed, my sentiments certainly followed the trajectory of the show’s emotional appeal. The civil rights movement revealed both the ugly and the beautiful struggle of a certain segment of American citizenry to gain political access to a rule of government that is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. I greatly admired the efforts of these Northern white college kids and black civil rights activists in the face of possible violence and even death—as was the case when three volunteers met their doom one night when they encountered some Klansmen. Their bodies were later discovered in shallow graves near a dam in the process of being constructed. Yet, I was also aware of a particular undertone during the entirety of the program. This undertone became clear when, later in the episode, a historian made a statement that both shocked and rankled me. He said that these white kids returned home from their experiences in Mississippi with the stark realization that everything their parents had told them about America was a lie! America as a society, he opined, was utterly bankrupt. His statement was followed by footage of police brutality, footage of the Klan beating people and terrorizing citizens, footage of Republican senator Barry Goldwater stating publically that he didn’t support the civil rights movement, more revelations about the Klu Klux Klan and their involvement in southern politics, etc. Then the documentary shifted focus a little to Betty Friedan and her popular book The Feminine Mystique, which argued that homemakers and mothers, the backbone of the social fiber in America, were secretly sick and tired of the lives they were living, feeling trapped and desperate to get out and live lives freed from the constraints imposed on them by men. Again, the moral was clear: something was deeply, deeply, flawed with America. The good ol’ U.S. of A. not only was not good, but was morally broken and corrupt! Radical change was needed, and the true heroes of this change discovered their cause and their voice in 1964. This episode of American Experience was interesting and eye-opening. The program challenged me to have a deeper appreciation for the courage of the leaders of the civil rights movement. But the implied conclusion seemed to be if one is a compassionate, civil rights-caring American, one is liberal. However, the day after the airing of this program something happened that disputes the conclusion that the show seemed to advance—the annual March for Life. It took place in Washington, D.C. with hundreds of thousands of protestors marching through freezing temperatures and blizzard-like conditions to reveal the corruption of our day, abortion, and the 55 million citizens who not only will ever have the right to vote, but won’t even have the right to live! Who is leading the charge...

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Our Lady of Guadalupe and 50 Million Names

Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in Current Events, featured, Morality, Politics | 2 comments

Our Lady of Guadalupe and 50 Million Names

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe—indeed, the whole of the Advent season—reveals and reminds us of the utter importance of innocent life and its innate dignity. When the young virgin appeared miraculously to Juan Diego on Mount Tepeyac, she made it known to him that he would have a significant role in converting to Christ 9 million Aztecs who worshiped their false gods with human sacrifice. The indelible image left upon his cloak was that of a young, dark-skinned woman standing on the moon, shrouded in glory with a mantel of stars covering her head. Around her waist, she wore the black sash that young mothers wore in Mexico at that time, indicating she was with child. This image conquered the world, as it not only secured a foothold for the holy faith of Christ in Mexico, but it also proved pivotal in one of the grandest battles in the history between Christianity and Islam not 40 years later, at Lepanto, Greece. Giovanni Andrea Doria, one of the Christian naval commanders, prayed before a replica of this very image in the early morning hours before the commencing of the great sea battle. By 4 in the afternoon, Doria, on behalf of all of Christendom, celebrated victory over the much larger Muslim fleet. All of the Christian naval commanders along with the Pope credited the victory to Our Lady’s intercession. Thus, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a beautiful reminder of the powers and victories of this Virgin Mother of God over the forces of death and darkness. Unfortunately, these forces are reasserting influence on contemporary society in manifold ways. In the United States of America, abortion slays millions of innocent lives annually, and the coercion exerted on young mothers to rid their wombs of their own children reveals the sinister motives of those working at these so-called women’s clinics. These deaths rival that of the blood-thirsty idols of the Aztecs, who worshiped their spurious gods by offering countless lives of innocent people in order to consecrate their temples. It was against this macabre form of paganism that our Blessed Lady came to rescue God’s people. He heard the cries of the innocent. He sent the one human whose faith overcame the slaughter of the innocent child, Mary, the Mother of God.  He hears the cry of the innocent today, and He still sends the one whose faith helped bring about the victory.  In honor and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Great Intercessor of Life and Patroness of the Americas, a dear friend of mine, Charlotte Ostermann, sponsored an event she called the 50 Million Names Project, launching it on December 12, 2013 with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Chancery chapel for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. This much-anticipated launch will allow those wishing to participate to quickly log-on to the online memorial site and formalize a name for one of more of the 50 million babies lost to abortion in this country alone. Charlotte developed a website that has one specific mission: to recognize each and every child as an individual and to honor them with our prayers and special intentions by naming them, thus giving them an identity that gets lost amidst the statistics and rhetoric. Charlotte is encouraging us to offer our prayers not...

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THE TRUTH, THE LIE, AND THE LAST BATTLE

Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Current Events, featured, Interior Life, Politics, Theology | 6 comments

THE TRUTH, THE LIE, AND THE LAST BATTLE

The thing that bugs me most about all of the unfolding scandals and problems sprouting and spreading in our culture is the manifest inability for people to distinguish truth from fiction.  Worse, I fear that people are growing disinterested from even pursuing the truth. It seems as though we have taken Pilate’s words to Jesus, “What is truth,” as our own. When a political figure utters all kinds of obvious falsehoods to the media-fed public that is too distracted, disinterested, skeptical, or cynical to notice, this is horribly frustrating and frightening, and has led to a series of inconsistent and sometimes contrary states of affairs. For instance, when President Obama made his speech to Planned Parenthood recently and thanked them for the hard work that they do to make parenthood possible, and then invoked God’s blessing on their brutal assault on life in the womb, his contradictory platitudes were mostly received with approval, with only a thin minority in the media expressing shock or outrage.   Similarly, when debating atheists, my colleagues and I are always vexed at the atheist’s ability to take whatever point we are trying to make and twist it to his advantage. “You say that your God shows mercy to the sinner, but why did He make such evil people in the first place?” Try criticizing Obama in a room full of college students or professors and regardless of the evidence provided, you will be judged personally, and your evidence will be ignored or explained away. It is becoming commonplace to disdain authority when it is authoritative (meaning when those in authority are held accountable to the truth), and rally around authority when it is authoritarian (complete lack of accountability to the truth).  Benghazi, the AP and Fox news phone-tapping and email snooping, the IRS targeting groups at odds with the President’s agenda, Federal Programs that proffered assault weapons to drug cartels only to hide behind executive privilege in order to avoid scrutiny,  etc. are all examples of unaccountable government leaders. What gives? This absurd situation is as troubling as it is perplexing. I have spent many an evening racking collective brains with friends over a glass of scotch dissecting such strange affairs. Recently, a friend of mine asked me when the last time was that I read C.S. Lewis’ conclusion to his Narnia series, The Last Battle? Hmm. I thought for a minute, and then realized I had never read that particular book! He couldn’t believe it, and assigned it to me as homework like a high school English teacher. “That way we can discuss it next time we get together,” which was all the inspiration that I needed. I don’t intend to offer this post as a book review for this great story. Instead, I encourage you to read it for yourself. I do, however, want to offer some of the more prophetic and insightful points from Lewis that help me make more sense out of what is going on. There are many profound themes Lewis skillfully weaves through his book: manipulation of sentiment versus pursuing the truth, ends justifying means, cynicism versus conversion, as well as a scary portrait of the minimum necessary conditions needed for evil to appear triumphant over good. Lewis, like any Christian, knows that evil can never totally triumph....

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Fertile Sex For Infertile Couples? The Fallacy of Division and the Procreative Process

Posted by on May 6, 2013 in featured, Morality, Politics | 35 comments

Fertile Sex For Infertile Couples? The Fallacy of Division and the Procreative Process

By C0-Blogger John-Mark Miravalle, S.T.D. Defenders of Humanae vitae have sometimes felt forced into a bit of a tightrope walk when it comes to the connection between sex and fertility. On the one hand, the document’s principle is straightforward enough: don’t separate what belongs together. It’s the principle invoked by Christ against divorce, and it covers plenty of other cases. It illuminates why we should avoid decapitation (separation of head and body), hypocrisy (separation of declared conviction and behavior), and even the use of torture in interrogation (which tries to separate the prisoner’s speech from his considered judgment). So it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to apply the same principle to sex and fertility: don’t separate them. The devil, as always, is in the details. When you get down to particular cases, the “No Sex Disconnected from Fertility” rule looks pretty extreme. In fact, it might seem to ban any sexual behavior that doesn’t actually terminate in a child, or at least any sexual behavior that we’re certain won’t terminate in a child. Of course, not even the Vatican wants to go that far, but then how to make sense of the rule? The case of infertile couples is surely the favorite counter-example of those who question the consistency of traditional Catholic sexual ethics. How can homosexual, masturbatory, or contraceptive behavior be condemned for its infertility when allowances are made for heterosexual couples who know in advance that pregnancy is an impossibility? Traditionalists usually argue that, for instance, when a man engages in sexual acts with another man he is choosing to pursue sexual fulfillment in a way that removes the potential for procreation. To which critics respond that when a man knowingly engages in sexual behavior with a woman who is post-menopause or post-hysterectomy, he is choosing to pursue sexual fulfillment in a way that removes the potential for procreation. The latter activity may look very different from sexual activity between two men, but surely they are both equally known to be incapable of resulting in a child (barring a miracle, of course, but best to leave miracles out of it, otherwise it might be claimed that God could, if He wished, ordain the impregnation of a man). The presumption is that sex between an infertile heterosexual couple is, by definition, no less infertile than that between two members of the same sex. The standard traditionalist strategy at this stage in the discussion is to try and characterize heterosexual intercourse between infertile couples as “procreative in type,” or “oriented towards procreation” or “fulfilling the behavioral conditions required for procreation.” This is all surely true, but to my mind it already yields too much ground to the opposition. Why not simply say that sex between infertile couples is still fertile? If we find such a claim paradoxical it must be that we have fallen victim to the fallacy of division, whereby a property belonging to the whole is ascribed indiscriminately to the parts. Such a fallacy would be at work, for instance, if one began with the fact that a week is made up of seven days, and then went on to suppose that each of the days is itself made up of seven days. Just because something’s true about the whole doesn’t mean it’s true about...

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THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING REVEALS THE TRUTH IN IRONY

Posted by on Nov 23, 2012 in featured, Politics, Theology | 3 comments

THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING REVEALS THE TRUTH IN IRONY

We approach the end of time, at least liturgically, by celebrating the solemn festival of Christ the King.  This marks the end. Only in the end do we see Christ revealed in all of His glory as King. Only now does His reign begin, unmasked and unhidden, previously existing only in the hearts of His disciples. When confronted by Pilate upon His arrest, Jesus responds to Pilate’s interrogations regarding His own divine authority by stating, ‘Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.’ To which Pilate retorts, ‘what is truth?’ (cf. Jn 18: 37-38.) The one precondition to receiving Christ as King is to desire and live in the truth. Pilate’s response reveals why people fail to accept Christ as their King: they don’t want the truth! Or maybe stated differently, they don’t want a truth when they can’t set the terms. Moderns will believe in the truth so long as it’s their truth, a truth either invented or agreed upon by them. Of course, this isn’t the truth at all but a confused counterfeit which is nothing other than what I want. This is precisely why Christ can only be revealed in full at the end, the termination of riches, status, power, and pleasure which tend to dominate human motivations. This is what fallen man calls the truth. When opening the pages of the Bible, it’s true that we read God’s word to man. We read about God and learn who He is and how He acts in human history. This isn’t all we read, however. In reading the Bible we also discover us, the story of ourselves, the story of fallen humanity. The Bible is a fantastic study on the human psyche, with all of our flaws, fallen desires, and futile goals, and told with such irony. This is one of the features of salvation history not often talked about, its distinctive sense of irony! For instance, in Numbers 16, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram revolt from the authority of Moses, claiming his authority for themselves. Then, Dathan and Abiram snapp at Moses’ summons to meet him, “We will not come up. Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also make yourself a prince over us?” (Num 16:12-13.) They are not referring to the Promised Land, of course, but Egypt. The irony is that they were slaves in Egypt under Pharaoh, who ruled as a tyrant and abuser. They were starved there, beaten down, trodden under foot. By accusing Moses of assuming authority over them and by desiring to return to Egypt, they desired a return to slavery and tyranny, the very thing of which they accused Moses. Why did they want a return to Egypt? Because they were still spiritual slaves to the gods of Egypt, gods that represented honor, money, power, and pleasure. These gods abode no competition, and demand a slavish servitude very different from the service of the God of Moses. It is to these gods they desire a return, and the irony is that it is only the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God revealed by Moses, who can save them from such a fate! Elsewhere in the...

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AMERICA GONE TO POT: THE LEGALIZING OF MARIJUANA AND THE LOSS OF OUR COUNTRY’S SOUL

Posted by on Nov 15, 2012 in Current Events, featured, Morality, Politics | 8 comments

AMERICA GONE TO POT: THE LEGALIZING OF MARIJUANA AND THE LOSS OF OUR COUNTRY’S SOUL

Among the lesser talked about but just as troubling results from the travesty known as the Election of 2012 was the approval of the recreational use of marijuana in my once native state of Colorado, along with the state of Washington. This situation is sad and regrettable but unfortunately not surprising. The moral compass in our country was broken in the 1973 legalization of baby murder, and has only grown more warped with each passing fall lineup for network t.v. (I think writers for most current t.v. programs must have a bowl with three slips of papers in it which they select to determine the plot and theme for this week’s episode: sex, morbid violence, more sex.) Those who favored the legalization of marijuana in Colorado argued that regulating the drug would keep it from the “underground market.” O.K.  Other proponents argued that it is safer and healthier than alcohol. Hmm. Spoken like a true consumer of healthy, mind numbing narcotics. For the clearer-minded, these arguments should have sounded just a little convoluted and irrational. Should not the question under consideration be is marijuana use really good for America? Hang out with a few pot-heads for about a day and your question will be answered. Amidst bouts of laziness, irresponsibility, and conversations lacking both focus and substance, interrupted only by ravenous forays into somebody’s kitchen to snarf anything resembling food, anyone with half of a brain not dazed by the second-hand smoke would see that legalizing marijuana may not be the best of ideas. Voter response like this makes me yearn for a return to the days of a government ruled by monarchs named Louis. At least then I’d expect self-serving, short-sighted superficial rulings aimed at placating an egocentric faction of the citizenry.  So what‘s the difference between smoking a little weed and drinking a little alcohol? Is a drunk any safer behind the wheel of a semi than a stoner? The answer to this question is obvious: neither a drunk nor a stoned driver is safe behind the wheel of any moving vehicle, nor are any of the other drivers. Pot-users argue that motor function isn’t impaired with marijuana use the way alcohol use impairs motor function. This is like saying that someone handling dynamite in public is less dangerous than someone handling nitro glycerin. But what is a person doing having explosives in public?? Asking which poses the lesser danger is a foolish question if the goal of government is to protect the safety of its people. The difference between consumption of alcohol and consumption of marijuana is that a person can sit down and have a drink or two without the goal or end of getting drunk. In fact, he can stop once he feels the ‘buzz’ coming on, which is the sign that he has had too much and is about to intentionally damage his rational and moral judgment (hence, the buzz.) This is not the case with pot. With pot, the intention—whether to have one hit or more—is to get stoned, to get impaired rationally and impaired in one’s moral decision making. That’s what it means to get ‘stoned,’ or high, or whatever. Thus, what is called the ‘remote intention’ is different in these two cases. A temperate person can remain so with one...

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ARE CATHOLICS BECOMING SECULAR LIBERALS: OBAMA AND THE CATHOLIC VOTE

Posted by on Oct 25, 2012 in Current Events, featured, Morality, Politics | 10 comments

ARE CATHOLICS BECOMING SECULAR LIBERALS: OBAMA AND THE CATHOLIC VOTE

There’s an interesting story about an unusual problem St. Francis of Assisi had to face once his fame began to spread and followers and disciples had begun to collect around him. It seems some early Franciscans understood Francis as a religious Robin Hood; their error led to them robbing the rich to give to the poor. To counter this threat, Pope Innocent III sought to ordain Francis to the priesthood in order to give the latter greater juridical leverage within the burgeoning community. Although Francis’ humility prevented him from being ordained to the priesthood, he did accept ordination to the diaconate. This, as the story goes, was one of the sets of conditions that initiated not only his official canonical recognition as a religious brother and founder of a community in the Church, but also the codification of the Rule of Life in his order to prevent further abuses. This story perhaps illustrates not just Francis’ challenge, but also the difficulties Christians had and continue to have regarding the proper Gospel response to the poor. If poverty is the root of social injustices, as his filching friars believed, then a Christian must act, using whatever force is necessary, to alleviate this great evil – even if that should mean robbing from the rich. After all, taking what belongs to another is wrong only of the other possesses it justly. Clearly, this wasn’t exactly what Francis had in mind. In fact, he referred to poverty as ‘Lady Poverty,’ and voluntarily accepted this state in order to reveal to the world the true joy that can be had in possessing God alone. In so doing he made plain his conviction that ridding the world of poverty could not be the Christian’s primary goal. This story may serve as a parable regarding our current political situation. Although there’s much chatter regarding what is called, ‘the Catholic Vote,’ it’s clear from the polls that Catholics are greatly divided regarding their political choices. This isn’t too surprising when we consider how divided Americans are in general. What is surprising is that Catholics are so divided based on their claimed religious commitments. Catholics voting Democrat are just as likely as those voting Republican to cite religious reasons for their political affiliation. This becomes quite perplexing when one considers that both groups claim to belong to the same religious organization that prides itself on doctrinal clarity and consistency in order to foster a unified social mission. Why then the stark religious motivated disparity for voting Catholics? It may be that the reason for this disparity lies close to the same difficulties Francis had with his followers regarding how a Christian should respond to poverty.  A quick assessment between Catholic political affiliations reveals a deep cleavage in this response, one not unlike that present in that of the early Franciscans. The Catholic approach to politics can be classified, as I see it, into two basic camps: The first sees poverty as the root of all social ills – from abortion to war – and believes it to be the result of various governmental and economic institutions; the second sees poverty as symptomatic of a deeper problem – selfishness – which affects the materially poor and rich alike and is epitomized by sexual immorality. For those in the...

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