Friday, November 30, 2012

Thoughts on Conversion

from Mark Shea on the occasion of the baptism of Leah Libresco.  Excerpts:
...It’s all still true. All still beautiful. All still absurdly undeserved. All still an amazing bolt from the blue that I was born for, made for, looking for all my life–and never saw coming till he stood there in front of me and said, “How about it, pal. I’m your heart’s desire. You want to come with me?” The strangest thing in the world is the sensation of being absolutely free as you choose to do something that feels like everything in your life–everything in history, everything in Creation–has been leading up to. Theologians puzzle out free will vs. predestination. I puzzle it sometimes. But the one moment I really came closest to feeling like the veil was removed and I was staring predestination in the face was the one moment I also felt like I was making the freest choice I ever made. Who would say no to Him? Who would find the love of his life, whom he lost in childhood and thought never to see again, suddenly appearing at his door–and then send her away because a job, or a video game, or a meal, or popularity with the local barflies mattered more? Pearl of great price indeed...

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Mark Shea on Christians and their politics.  Excerpts:
For the Christian, the only kind of conservatism that counts is a Christ-centered one.
The same can be said of liberalism. There is such a thing as a Christ-centered liberalism, as Servant of God Dorothy Day attests. Indeed, here in the US people such as death penalty abolitionist Joseph Ratzinger would be reckoned a crazy liberal by many Americans. The key is “Christ-centered”. Jesus had room for both Matthew the Tax Collector *and* Simon the Zealot. Keep our eyes on him, not on the power struggles of this world.
And some good thoughts from Pat Archbold on the priority of Christ over politics. Excerpts:
...I wished her well and then it struck me. Had I ever represented my Lord or my religion as well as I has just represented my city and my state? Had anyone ever looked at the way I lived my life and the way I treat others as a Christian and taken such notice or comfort? To my eternal chagrin, the honest answer is no.

My faith-formed politics and advocacy have had the front seat in my life and on my lapel for a long long time. It is only now that I realize that the faith that I allege informs those positions has taken a much smaller role, a role like Kevin Costner in insufferable film "The Big Chill." A young Costner played the role of the character that informs and motivates the entire screenplay, but his life and death ended up on the cutting room floor. Nobody ever saw it. The story is supposed to be about him, but nobody would ever really know. I fear that such is my faith, Jesus is supposed to be the main character but in reality He is mostly on the cutting room floor because He didn't help the story I have been telling.

Nobody would ever see Jesus in me precisely because I fail to see Jesus in them. I have been more interested in convincing people that lower taxes and smaller government benefit all than in convincing them that Jesus loves them.

I could convince swarms of merits of my beliefs on the proper role and function of government and yet not help a single person to get to Heaven. That stingy Scrooge could not fear a sadder and more impotent epitaph than "Here lies Patrick, he believed in smaller government."

I have warned repeatedly about the consequence to life and liberty that our chosen course surely portends and I still believe that. But I suspect something worse is coming, something much worse, something beyond politics. Can you feel it? I think I can.

I fear it, but I am reminded that there is no road to Heaven but by Calvary. And if in my fear and suffering I can remain gold, if I can help the many to see and trust in a Jesus that loves them by showing them what Jesus' love has done in my life, I will much better prepare them from what is coming than I have ever before...

The Way to Heaven

The way of the cross.  Excerpts:
...On August 15, the Imperial Rescript which put an end to the fighting was formally promulgated, and the whole world welcomed a day of peace. This day was also the great feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is significant to reflect that Urakami Cathedral was dedicated to her. And we must ask if this convergence of events—the ending of the war and the celebration of her feast—was merely coincidental or if there was here some mysterious providence of God.

I have heard that the second atomic bomb, calculated to deal a deadly blow to the war potential of Japan, was originally destined for another city. But since the sky over that city was covered with clouds, the American pilots found it impossible to aim at their target. Consequently, they suddenly changed their plans and decided to drop the bomb on Nagasaki, the secondary target. However, yet another hitch occurred. As the bomb fell, cloud and wind carried it slightly north of the munitions factories over which it was supposed to explode and it exploded above the cathedral. 

This is what I have heard. If it is true, the American pilots did not aim at Urakami. It was the providence of God that carried the bomb to that destination.

Is there not a profound relationship between the destruction of Nagasaki and the end of the war? Nagasaki, the only holy place in all Japan—was it not chosen as a victim, a pure lamb, to be slaughtered and burned on the altar of sacrifice to expiate the sins committed by humanity in the Second World War?...
The man writing this was a survivor who lost family and friends in the bombing of Nagasaki. The whole piece is shocking and beautiful and redolent with mystery.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Crucifixes and Christianity

Pius XII speaks.  Excerpts:
162. From what We have already explained, Venerable Brethren, it is perfectly clear how much modern writers are wanting in the genuine and true liturgical spirit who, deceived by the illusion of a higher mysticism, dare to assert that attention should be paid not to the historic Christ but to a "pneumatic" or glorified Christ. They do not hesitate to assert that a change has taken place in the piety of the faithful by dethroning, as it were, Christ from His position; since they say that the glorified Christ, who liveth and reigneth forever and sitteth at the right hand of the Father, has been overshadowed and in His place has been substituted that Christ who lived on earth. For this reason, some have gone so far as to want to remove from the churches images of the divine Redeemer suffering on the cross.

163. But these false statements are completely opposed to the solid doctrine handed down by tradition. "You believe in Christ born in the flesh," says St. Augustine, "and you will come to Christ begotten of God."[148] In the sacred liturgy, the whole Christ is proposed to us in all the circumstances of His life, as the Word of the eternal Father, as born of the Virgin Mother of God, as He who teaches us truth, heals the sick, consoles the afflicted, who endures suffering and who dies; finally, as He who rose triumphantly from the dead and who, reigning in the glory of heaven, sends us the Holy Paraclete and who abides in His Church forever; "Jesus Christ, yesterday and today, and the same forever."[149] Besides, the liturgy shows us Christ not only as a model to be imitated but as a master to whom we should listen readily, a Shepherd whom we should follow, Author of our salvation, the Source of our holiness and the Head of the Mystical Body whose members we are, living by His very life.

164. Since His bitter sufferings constitute the principal mystery of our redemption, it is only fitting that the Catholic faith should give it the greatest prominence. This mystery is the very center of divine worship since the Mass represents and renews it every day and since all the sacraments are most closely united with the cross.[150]

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gate of Heaven, House of God

Where Jesus waits in the Arks of the New and Everlasting Covenant.  Excerpts:
136. Strive then, Venerable Brethren, with your customary devoted care so the churches, which the faith and piety of Christian peoples have built in the course of centuries for the purpose of singing a perpetual hymn of glory to God almighty and of providing a worthy abode for our Redeemer concealed beneath the eucharistic species, may be entirely at the disposal of greater numbers of the faithful who, called to the feet of their Savior, hearken to His most consoling invitation, "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will refresh you."[129] Let your churches be the house of God where all who enter to implore blessings rejoice in obtaining whatever they ask[130] and find there heavenly consolation.

137. Only thus can it be brought about that the whole human family settling their differences may find peace, and united in mind and heart may sing this song of hope and charity, "Good Pastor, truly bread - Jesus have mercy on us - feed us, protect us - bestow on us the vision of all good things in the land of the living."[131]

138. The ideal of Christian life is that each one be united to God in the closest and most intimate manner. For this reason, the worship that the Church renders to God, and which is based especially on the eucharistic sacrifice and the use of the sacraments, is directed and arranged in such a way that it embraces by means of the divine office, the hours of the day, the weeks and the whole cycle of the year, and reaches all the aspects and phases of human life.

139. Since the divine Master commanded "that we ought always to pray and not to faint,"[132] the Church faithfully fulfills this injunction and never ceases to pray: she urges us in the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, "by him Jesus let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God "[133]

142. The divine office is the prayer of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, offered to God in the name and on behalf of all Christians, when recited by priests and other ministers of the Church and by religious who are deputed by the Church for this.

143. The character and value of the divine office may be gathered from the words recommended by the Church to be said before starting the prayers of the office, namely, that they be said "worthily, with attention and devotion."

144. By assuming human nature, the Divine Word introduced into this earthly exile a hymn which is sung in heaven for all eternity. He unites to Himself the whole human race and with it sings this hymn to the praise of God. As we must humbly recognize that "we know not what we should pray for, as we ought, the Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings."[138] Moreover, through His Spirit in us, Christ entreats the Father, "God could not give a greater gift to men . . . [Jesus] prays for us, as our Priest; He prays in us as our Head; we pray to Him as our God . . . we recognize in Him our voice and His voice in us . . . He is prayed to as God, He prays under the appearance of a servant; in heaven He is Creator; here, created though not changed, He assumes a created nature which is to be changed and makes us with Him one complete man, head and body."[139]

146. On this depends in no small way the efficacy of our prayers. These prayers in fact, when they are not addressed directly to the Word made man, conclude with the phrase "though Jesus Christ our Lord." As our Mediator with God, He shows to the heavenly Father His glorified wounds, "always living to make intercessions for us."[141

Monday, November 26, 2012

Church, Society=Hierarchy

Or why radical egalitarianism will always run into problems.  Excerpts:
39. The Church is a society, and as such requires an authority and hierarchy of her own. Though it is true that all the members of the Mystical Body partake of the same blessings and pursue the same objective, they do not all enjoy the same powers, nor are they all qualified to perform the same acts. The divine Redeemer has willed, as a matter of fact, that His Kingdom should be built and solidly supported, as it were, on a holy order, which resembles in some sort the heavenly hierarchy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pius XII, Mediator Dei, and Deification by Liturgy

Coolness.  Excerpt:
29. It is an unquestionable fact that the work of our redemption is continued, and that its fruits are imparted to us, during the celebration of the liturgy, notable in the august sacrifice of the altar. Christ acts each day to save us, in the sacraments and in His holy sacrifice. By means of them He is constantly atoning for the sins of mankind, constantly consecrating it to God.

Sacraments and sacrifice do, then, possess that "objective" power to make us really and personally sharers in the divine life of Jesus Christ. Not from any ability of our own, but by the power of God, are they endowed with the capacity to unite the piety of members with that of the head, and to make this, in a sense, the action of the whole community...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"I Saw God Wash the World"

A cool poem, brought to my attention by my grandmother;
By William Stidger

I saw God wash the world last night
With His sweet showers on high;
And then when morning came
I saw him hang it out to dry.

He washed each slender blade of grass
And every trembling tree;
He flung his showers against the hills
And swept the rolling sea.

The white rose is a deeper white;
The red, a richer red
Since Gold washed every fragrant face
And put them all to bed.

There's not a bird, there's not a bee
That wings along the way,
But is a cleaner bird and bee
Than it was yesterday.

I saw God wash the world last night;
Ah, would He had washed me
As clean of all my dust and dirt
As that old white birch tree!
And guess what--God does!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pope Benedict Talks Apocalypse

Not now--later!  Excerpts:
"...Jesus does describe the end of the world. When he uses apocalyptic images, he is not acting as a 'seer'. On the contrary, he wants to rescue his disciples in every age from the curiosity about dates and soothsaying, and give them instead an essential key to understand especially the right path to follow, today and tomorrow, for entering eternal life."...

"Jesus uses images and words from the Old Testament," the pontiff explained. In particular, "he inserts a new centre; that is himself, the mystery of his persona, death and resurrection."

And if "today's passage opens with a few cosmic images of the apocalyptic kind," this element is relativised by what follows: 'And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory' (v. 26)."

"Jesus himself is the 'Son of man' who connects the present with the future," the pope noted. "The ancient words of the prophets finally found a centre in the person of the Messiah from Nazareth. He is the true event that, amid the world's disorder, remains a firm and stable element."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Joy In Suffering

Jennifer Fulwiler has a book recommendation for you.  Excerpts:
...Would you believe that Dan’s father went on to experience profound joy in his life, thanks to his relationship with God? Using his father’s story as a launching point, Dan spends the rest of the book pondering that most pressing of human questions:

How do we find joy when our earthly circumstances are miserable?

And — here’s what I loved — he first takes a hard look at what joy is. This is an important question for those of us whose default state is a spiritual dry spell, who don’t often have emotionally powerful experiences of God. For a long time I thought that that mean that I just wouldn’t get to experience the whole “Christian joy” thing, but I’ve slowly come to understand something that Dan hits home in his book: that joy is not the same thing as a surface-level emotion; that it’s possible to have all sorts of mental or physical tribulations on the surface, yet still have true joy deep within your heart...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Catholics, Politics, and Party Spirit

Catholics, if authentically holding fast to the faith, cannot uncritically accept the platforms of either major party in US politics today. If they are members of one of the major parties, they ought to serve as critical voices within the party calling for a truly pro-life, pro-common good politics. Excerpts:
...Predictably, after this year’s election, there have been articles suggesting that the bishops change their political “strategies.” It strikes me when I read these articles that there is a tendency to speaks about the bishops as if they were any other organization, following the same rules and strategies as the rest of the world.

What many people do not seem to get is that the Church does not choose what to speak out about based on data and political polls. We are not in a popularity contest. If we were, we would be losing badly, even among our own.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Inspiration for the Day

Coolness.  Excerpts:
...Diagnosed with stage 4 head and neck cancer at the age of 57, then let go from his propane delivery job, Thomas began passing the hours on long walks from his home alone with his dog and his thoughts.

"It's a nightmare you can't wake up out of," he recalls.

Then the daily walks down a gravel road led him to the wood-framed country church that would change his life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Foreign Election Officials Amazed by Trust-Based U.S. Voting System"

Well, there's a headline for you.  Excerpts:
For the head of Libya's national election commission, the method by which Americans vote is startling in that it depends so much on trust and the good faith of election officials and voters alike.

  "It's an incredible system," said Nuri K. Elabbar, who traveled to the United States along with election officials from more than 60 countries to observe today's presidential elections as part of a program run by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)...

Most of them agreed that in their countries, such an open voting system simply would not work.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wall Street Loves/Hates Obama

Which is it?  CNN says hates.  Excerpts:
Wall Street's biggest gripe with President Obama is more about what he's said than what he's done.

"There's been so much finger pointing. He's made it seem bad to be successful and to be millionaires and billionaires," said Karl Wellner, CEO of Papamarkou Wellner Asset Management, a fund with $3 billion under management.

Outside of Obama calling bankers "fat cats," most Wall Street professionals point to few specifics and basically say it's more of a vibe they get from the president...

Wall Street has given the majority of its contributions to the Republican party during this election cycle.

In fact, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has received more than three times what Obama has generated from Wall Street professionals, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That's a sharp turnaround from 2008, when Obama generated nearly double the Wall Street contributions of his then rival John McCain.

Beyond the rhetoric, several hedge fund managers also say that while health care and financial regulation were in need of reform, the president tackled them in a manner that put the government too deeply in the middle of both industries...
The Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch, on the other hand, says loves. Excerpts:
The stock market loves President Barack Obama. With all its cheating heart, and all its mercenary soul.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

On Catholic Faith and Politics

This is actually a really useful, interesting document.  Some key excerpts:
...Scientific progress has resulted in advances that are unsettling for the consciences of men and women and call for solutions that respect ethical principles in a coherent and fundamental way. At the same time, legislative proposals are put forward which, heedless of the consequences for the existence and future of human beings with regard to the formation of culture and social behaviour, attack the very inviolability of human life. Catholics, in this difficult situation, have the right and the duty to recall society to a deeper understanding of human life and to the responsibility of everyone in this regard. John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a «grave and clear obligation to oppose» any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.[19] 

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Upcoming US Financial Crisis

Laid out in one piece.  Excerpts:
Over the longer term, the U.S. also faces a debt crisis. Borrowing more than a trillion dollars a year is swelling the debt faster than the economy can grow. That means debt will continue to rise relative to GDP, putting the U.S. on track to economic instability. It will be some years, however, until the country reaches an acute crisis. At present, the ballooning debt – and the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policies that finance it – have not significantly pushed up either interest rates or inflation. The key to any permanent deficit solution will be reform of the major entitlements, including Social Security and health care. And that will require extraordinarily difficult compromises...

Here’s a closer look at what the country faces over the next few months:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"A Vocation of Utter Futility"

A great post from Kevin O'Brien.  Excerpts:
"... I started to see two things.

First, you can't really say you love someone or something (like the Church or your vocation) until you hit a kind of rock bottom and there is absolutely no reason to love it.
Second, the frustratio
n I'm feeling comes from a false expectation - the expectation that the Form I had envisioned for my apostolate - and for my life - is what God had in mind when I said "yes" to His call. In other words, I thought I had said yes to a kind of Hollywood; but God, in His mercy, has given me something far more Real than anything like Hollywood - a grace for which I have thanked God by doing a good deal of complaining (as is my wont, I am sorry to say).

And so, like an actor who thinks he can only be successful if he's a big time TV star and that trudging along doing "guerrilla theater" at wineries and in church basements for 35 years is a failure; or like a religious sister who expects her order to be one thing and finds that it's totally different and perhaps much more painful; or even like a husband or wife who gets married and finds out that it's absolutely nothing like they imagined it to be - like all of these folks, we are usually our own worst enemies, and even when we say "yes" to God, we are often saying "yes" to the image in our minds, and not to the far greater Reality that He intends to give us.

For God is always Real. That's what the Incarnation is all about.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


An interesting interview in the Jerusalem Post.  Excerpts:
...Emails from Benghazi have surfaced showing that Obama, the FBI, CIA, the State Department, the military, as well as other intelligence offices within the government knew within two hours, that the attack on the Benghazi consulate had been carried out by terrorists. 

A live feed of audio and video were being watched at the White House and now we find out from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that the request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate as well as the attack hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA command.

Two times the CIA operatives were told to “stand down” when they requested to go to the aid of the Ambassador and his team.

It has also come out that the 2 former SEALs who were murdered had gone against orders and rescued those who remained at the consulate along with the body of Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack...

GA: I have heard from 3 people and tell me if you are aware of this as well, that The White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and our military monitored the battle in real time starting with the first phone calls directly from Benghazi.

CL: Yes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hey! Pro-Secession People!

To all the people out there passing along those "<Pick A State> Petitions White House To Secede From Union" things:

It's one thing for people with computers to start popping up on the publicly accessible White House petition site. It's another thing entirely for states to file secession petitions. And since when was this ever considered a good idea? Iran, North Korea, China, Russia--are these security threats or not? If so, how on earth are we going to be able to face them off if people start talking seriously about this?

And if the Democrats had been suggesting anything like this after Bush's 2004 victory, what would have been your reaction? Stop it, right now. Reform your party. Listen to your pastors--we've got much, much bigger fish to fry (yes, that was a KoC pun).

Check these out.

Daily Dose of Inspiration

Good work from the medical team.  Excerpt:
...water flooding over the FDR Drive had taken out not only the backup generator but the backup to the backup generator. The secondary backup device is on a low floor and was disabled by the flooding. The primary backup generator is on the roof but the pump that supplies fuel to that generator is on a lower floor and was flooded. When I arrived, there was still some power left in the backup generator but nobody knew exactly how much. Some lights still worked. I was told that some ventilators still worked but that some were operating on battery power.

Many patients were too sick to walk down the narrow staircase to the lobby. They were painstakingly carried on plastic sleds - one by one - by teams of four to five people from as high up as the 17th floor. I went to several of the floors with Dr. Mark Pochapin, the director of the Division of Gastroenterology at NYU. He was one of a team of people making sure that communication flowed and that everybody was accounted for. The intensive care unit was already evacuated when I arrived. Lit only by my flashlight, filled with crumpled blankets and other evidence of a hasty retreat, it appeared eerie to me - like a scene in a movie where a cup of still-warm-coffee tells the detective that somebody had been in a room only minutes before. But this was undeniably real life and the clock was ticking as the team of workers raced to evacuate the patients.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Who Should be Considered the Worst Civil Liberties President in US History?"

An interesting post.  Excerpts:
...If one were simply to consider specific acts which constituted grave assaults on civil liberties - narrowly defined as the core political rights explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights: free speech, freedom from deprivation of life and liberty without due process, etc. - one could make a strong argument for several presidents. John Adams signed The Alien and Sedition Acts, which essentially criminalized certain forms of government criticism in preparation for a war with France, a radical assault on the First Amendment.

Abraham Lincoln illegally suspended the core liberty of habeas corpus without Congressional approval. Wilson's attacks on basic free speech in the name of national security were indeed legion and probably unparalleled. Franklin Roosevelt oversaw the due-process-free internment of more than 100,000 law-abiding Japanese-Americans into concentration camps.

And then there are the two War on Terror presidents. George Bush seized on the 9/11 attack to usher in radical new surveillance and detention powers in the PATRIOT ACT, spied for years on the communications of US citizens without the warrants required by law, and claimed the power to indefinitely imprison even US citizens without charges in military brigs.

His successor, Barack Obama, went further by claiming the power not merely to detain citizens without judicial review but to assassinate them (about which the New York Times said: "It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing"). He has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, dusting off Wilson's Espionage Act of 1917 to prosecute more then double the number of whistleblowers than all prior presidents combined. And he has draped his actions with at least as much secrecy, if not more so, than any president in US history.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Benghazi, CIA, and Motives

An interesting argument.  Excerpts:
At this point it's clear that the U.S. had something to hide at Benghazi, and that's why reports coming out of the Libyan city have been so confusing.

Two key details about the the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans cannot be underestimated.

"The U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation," officials briefed on intelligence told the Wall Street Journal, and there's evidence that U.S. agents—particularly murdered U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens—were at least aware of heavy weapons moving from Libya to Syrian rebels.

Friday, November 9, 2012

CNN, Bahrain, and "All The News That's Fit to Print?"

Interesting. Excerpts:
...On 19 June 2011 at 8pm, CNN's domestic outlet in the US aired "iRevolution" for the first and only time. The program received prestigious journalism awards, including a 2012 Gold Medal from New York Festival's Best TV and Films. Lyon, along with her segment producer Taryn Fixel, were named as finalists for the 2011 Livingston Awards for Young Journalists. A Facebook page created by Bahraini activists, entitled "Thank you Amber Lyon, CNN reporter | From people of Bahrain", received more than 8,000 "likes".

Despite these accolades, and despite the dangers their own journalists and their sources endured to produce it, CNN International (CNNi) never broadcast the documentary. Even in the face of numerous inquiries and complaints from their own employees inside CNN, it continued to refuse to broadcast the program or even provide any explanation for the decision. To date, this documentary has never aired on CNNi...

Good God--The Queen! Save US!

Heh.  Excerpts:
To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

(You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

"You Only Have as Many Rights As The Political Capital You Own"

So this is one of those conversations where the hair starts standing up on the back of your neck.  I've excerpted one string of comments from a longer conversation, first prompted by Cardinal Dolan's letter of congratulations to President Obama on his reelection. 

Cardinal Dolan was writing on behalf of the USCCB the usual letter to the winner of a presidential election.  My Friend objected that Cardinal Dolan's stated intent to stand for religious liberty meant that the USCCB had declared it would violate the conditions of retaining tax-exempt status and claimed to take a stand for the separation of Church and state.  He was rebutted, in part by folks pointing out that the Church was not in any danger of violating its 501(c)3 status by its religious freedom campaign and that when it came to marriage, etc., the USCCB is putting money and support into campaigns based around issues in the realm of natural law, not simply religious doctrine.  This ensued--my emphases added; other commenters redacted for the sake of brevity.
My Friend (MF): You say natural law as if it exists and isn't just something invented based off of interpretation of religious scripture and anecdotal evidence.

Me (M): Yes, MF, I do--because you haven't got a snowball's chance in hell of ever defending universal human rights if first you deny the existence of natural law. Because Lewis lays out its universality pretty darn well in The Abolition of Man. Because it's the foundation of this republic, and once it's denied, all that's left will be power and the imposition of will by force. Because it's the basis of treating humans like humans, the end of slavery, the end of misogyny, the end of homophobia. If you deny the notion of natural law and remove it from its place as the bedrock of our politics, then minorities of every sort are likely to have a very, very hard time of it.

MF: Rights are man made. So is the notion of right and wrong. We have a few different innate drives as animals. We generally do not murder, or steal, etc. Because we are creatures that dislike cognitive dissonance. However our social constructs for the most part are fluid as are political constructs. May I remind you that human sacrifice is featured in the Bible and in fact has been shown as wanted by Yahweh, yet also is condemned by Yahweh. Now to our modern standards the notion is foreign and evil. As is the majority of Biblical history. Natural law as an argument is a neat way to justify the sliding scale of morality when it comes to positive law. However it is a philosophical illusion. The harsh truth is that mankind lacks natural law and that you only have as many rights as the political capital you own.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

King Arthur...St. Armel?

Well, this is cool.  Anyone know if it's true?  Excerpts:
...St Armel, a 6th century saint born on Welsh soil to of noble Breton lineage, is a lesser renowned missionary recorded briefly in an episode detailing his duel with a dragon in the Forest of Teil.

It is said that having been educated in Welsh monasteries, he went on to fight on the side of King Iuthahel of Brittany in AD 555 against marauders and invaders.

So impressed was Iuthahel with the noble fighter that he granted Armel lands in the forest where he was noted and revered for founding a monastery.

Having previously performed miracles of restoration at the court of King Childebert, the soldier-saint soon took orders and settled into holy life.

Yet no sooner had he done so than the monastery and the neighbouring towns found themselves under fire from a rogue dragon.

Not flinching from his duties, St Armel set out into the dark forest and faced off against the dragon, eventually strangling the beast with his vestments and drowning it in a river.

Such is where the fantastical element of St Armel story ends… except for one small detail.

Armel was also, prior to accepting holy orders, known as Arthmael, a name which is more commonly translated in modern English as Arthur...

Debt Limit Hit...Before the End of 2012

Well, crud.  Excerpts:
The U.S. Treasury quietly warned at the end of a statement issued last Wednesday that it expects the federal government to hit its legal debt limit before the end of this year--which means before the new Congress is seated--and that "extraordinary measures" will be needed before then to keep the government fully funded into the early part of 2013...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Evangelization: A How-To Guide

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him “If you will, you can become all flame.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Remember, remember,
the fifth of November,
the Gunpowder Treason
and plot.
I know of no reason
why the Gunpowder Treason
should ever be forgot.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

John Wright's Conversion: The First Post

For whatever reason, I always have trouble finding this when I need it, so here it is.
...The Truth to which my lifetime as a philosopher had been devoted turned out to be a living thing. It turned and looked at me. Something from beyond the reach of time and space, more fundamental than reality, reached across the universe and broke into my soul and changed me. This was not a case of defense and prosecution laying out evidence for my reason to pick through: I was altered down to the root of my being.

It was like falling in love. If you have not been in love, I cannot explain it. If you have, you will raise a glass with me in toast.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eucharistic Adoration: Why?

So I wrote this at the request of a friend.  She liked it.  I decided to post it.

"And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Jesus is fully present in the Eucharist—body, blood, soul, and divinity. When we visit the tabernacle in our parish church for a Holy Hour or attend Eucharistic Adoration, we are spending time with the Son of God and the son of Mary, sitting at the feet of the Rabbi from Nazareth just like the disciples from the first century. Jesus gave us the greatest gift imaginable when he instituted the Eucharist at the last supper (Matthew 26:17–29; Mark 14:12–25; Luke 22:7–38; I Corinthians 11:23–25)—he gave us himself for all time, to be with us as a source of strength and life, as a means of communion with God and the rest of the Church. When we receive him at Mass, we are joined to God like branches on a vine (John 15:1-5). We come to share in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and become more fully sons and daughters of God.

When we spend time with him, we love him as our brother, our teacher, our savior, and our friend. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote, “[T]he only time Our Lord asked the Apostles for anything was the night he went into his agony…As often in the history of the Church since that time, evil was awake, but the disciples were asleep. That is why there came out of His anguished and lonely Heart the sigh: ‘Could you not watch one hour with me?’ Not for an hour of activity did He plead, but for an hour of companionship.” Jesus asks you to spend time with him, to keep him company in his long vigil in the tabernacles and on the altars of the world. Go to adoration and pray. Read Scripture. Listen in silence for a word from God. Love Jesus. He waits for you there, and for generations to come, until the end of the world.

Happy feast of all saints!


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