Scott Hahn gives some rare financial advice on his tape series “Calling All Catholics to Be Bible Christians. And Vice Versa”. Scott advises that if you want to make millions then you should invest in Zondervan, Moody, or any number of top Christian book publishers. He points out that Protestant Christians are ravenous readers and Christian book publishing is booming.
By contrast most Catholic publishers seem to be languishing. One major Catholic publisher recently put out a notice to its customers and resellers that it was going into bankruptcy protection, and I’ve heard (I own a bookstore) rumors of several other looming crises with other publishers with whom I deal. In addition I see the appeals from many Catholic publishers for donations & contributions to help them stay solvent.
So what’s the deal? Why are Protestant publishers booming and Catholic publishers bombing? (Allow the generalization for the sake of the discussion.)
Scott gives two reasons. First, Protestant publishers seem to understand the essence of supply-side economics: “If you build it they will come” In other words, the publishers themselves created the boom by building the business and promoting their books. In addition, Protestant church leaders constantly promote books and individual study. Good evidence of that on Guam is the fact that the only bookstore on this mostly Catholic island for many years was a Protestant bookstore.
By contrast, Catholics seem to be stuck in demand-side economics: “I will build it when they come.” This mentality became quite evident to me when I first floated the idea of a Catholic bookstore. I was told many times that it wouldn’t work because “Catholics don’t read.” Maybe I’m part Protestant but my thought was “well we don’t have anything to read”, and that maybe if we had something to read we might read it! In other words, I was confident that supply side economics would work. (It has.)
But Scott’s second point is that Catholics seems to have neglected part of Christ’s command in Mark 12:30:
“And thou shall love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment.”
What is of GREAT interest here is, as Scott points out, is that Jesus is not just repeating the first commandment from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, He actually is amending it, adding to it. The fact that Jesus actually adds to something as well known as the first of the Ten Commandments is worth noting. Here’s the commandment as stated in Deuteronomy 6:4-5:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength.”
Now compare this with the above scripture from Mark. We note that Jesus added “and with thy whole mind”! Why did he add this? What does he mean by “our whole mind”? It appears that Jesus doesn’t just want us to love God (heart), have faith in God (soul), and do His will (strength). He also now commands us to KNOW God (mind)!
We must impress upon ourselves that every word that comes from the mouth of God is of eternal significance and consequence. Jesus didn’t just throw in “with thy whole mind” just to round out the paragraph. He obviously commanded something here.
We may claim to believe this, but languishing Catholic publishers tell a different story. Compared to our Protestant brethren we are, in general, not as encouraged to read, study, and invest in our faith.
(Originally written and published September, 2000)
Perhaps you’re not familiar with Bud the Wiser. Well, let me tell you. He must have been quite a guy. Unlike other patron saints whose feastday is only celebrated once a year, St. Bud’s feastday is celebrated just about every week. On any given Sunday you can see his name plastered on banners tied to church fences.
Drive through the village and you’re sure to see enormous inflatable statues of this affable saint towering from the rooftops. Stop and join the fiesta and you’ll be handed a small, chilled St. Bud icon. The icons are unique in that they have a pop top and a nice fermented beverage can be found inside.
St. Bud is the patron saint of fiestas, every fiesta. Or at least that’s what it must look like to a non-Catholic who sees his coat of arms (logo) next to whatever real saint the village is honoring. Well you’re probably on to me by now. I have nothing against beer. But I do wonder about the propriety of emblazoning the logo of any commercial product, particularly an alcoholic one, to the same banner that salutes and honors a holy saint.
We’ve all seen the banners and those giant inflatable cans perched on the rooftops at every village fiesta. I’m a businessperson, so I can empathize with the sponsoring companies for wanting to get their brand names in front of the public at every opportunity. But again, it’s a question of propriety and a question of what the signs and inflatable statues actually say about our Catholic values.
For most of us seasoned Catholic fiesta-goer’s, the fact that a banner sports both a beer logo and the name of a patron saint is hardly noticeable. The question I propose though is what does it say to our non-Catholic neighbors? In case you haven’t noticed, the LDS’s, JW’s, SDA’s, and “born-again” churches of all kinds are having a field day on Guam. Our island has become a happy hunting ground for these folks and their scouts are bringing home more and more Catholic trophies every week. Perhaps some of your kids have already “lost their heads” to one of these roving bands.
I’ve been to some of these “spear-a-Catholic” churches, and parading a newly “saved” former Catholic out to witness about the evils of the Catholic Church is usually the highlight of the service. The Catholic Church, they say, is the “whore of Babylon”. The Pope is the “anti-Christ”. We are idolatrous worshippers of Mary and the saints. We are ignorant of the Scriptures. And Catholics are going to hell. Well, some may say it a little nicer than that, but it’s there.
Sadly, most of us are woefully inept at defending even the least precept of our faith. And given the dearth of any form of fellowship at most of our churches, many of us, especially our young, are “ripe-pickins” for the bible-thumpin’, fellowshipin’, pot-luckin’ Church of the Warm-Friendlies down the road.
Why so many of us are unable to defend or even explain our faith is another topic. Meanwhile, we need to be aware that most of these other churches are opposed to the consumption of alcohol and see it as a great evil. They laugh at the incongruity of our attempt to oppose casino gambling while we raise banners to brews on our church doorsteps.
I happen to believe that because we have the true faith and our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist that we don’t have to get all tied up in the moral scruples that other churches seem to impose for themselves. The proper ordering of our faith automatically puts what others may consider vices of great evil into proper and relative perspective. In other words, no problem with a beer or two.
But do we really need to mix the blood of martyrs with “a cold one” and fly it on the same flag? Doing so seems to hand even more bullets to those who already hold their anti-Catholic guns aimed and ready at our young. But perhaps losing our children to a church that doesn’t booze is still better than losing them altogether to the booze itself.
Still, we need to rethink if it’s really wiser to include Bud the Wiser in our calendar of feasts. I think it best we take down the signs and statues and just keep him in the cooler. I’m sure our feasts will not be any less festive.
No it’s not a new apparition; it’s an old one, and an approved one at that. As a matter of fact, Our Lady of Wolf River is one of the most beloved “Our Lady’s” in all the world. Her appearance occasioned the largest single mass conversion in history (8,000,000 people) and the subsequent conversion of many more millions over the past five centuries.
In 1544 a pilgrimage of children to her shrine resulted in the cessation of a deadly plague that had already killed at least 12,000. A painting of her image played a significant role in the world-turning battle of Lepanto. (We might do well to employ this same “Our Lady” and her sacred image in our modern day Lepanto – look it up if you know not to what I refer.) In 1737 a typhus plague that had claimed 700,000 lives ceases when she is proclaimed Patroness of the country.
In 1921, there was a miraculous preservation of her sacred image when a bomb, planted by an anti-religious government agent, exploded directly beneath the sacred image and did not even crack its glass cover.
Many more miracles and pontifical honors can be accorded the Lady of Wolf River, but perhaps the most wonderful and amazing thing is what she herself has revealed to us through the name she chose. Three hundred years before Lourdes, Our Lady of Wolf River identified herself to a dying Indian as the “Immaculate Conception” and the woman of Genesis 3:15.
The old Spanish word for “river” is “guada” (today it means bog or marsh), and the Spanish word for “wolf”, which today is “lobo”, is etymologically descended from the old Spanish word “lupe”. “Guadalupe” literally means “Wolf River”. Our Lady of Guadalupe! Our Lady of Wolf River! So how did she get this name and what’s the connection with “Immaculate Conception”?
What follows is speculation, but extremely well documented and professional speculation. (See The Wonder of GUADALUPE by Francis Johnston.)
In Spain, there is a statue of the Blessed Virgin holding the Child Jesus in one hand and a crystal scepter in the other. The pose signifies Mary’s Divine Motherhood. Tradition has it that Pope St. Gregory the Great venerated it in his private oratory. He eventually gave it as a gift to the Bishop of Seville where it was venerated until the Moorish invasion of 711 A.D. Legend has it that it was hidden away in a cave on the banks of the Guadalupe, “Wolf River”, and probably so named for obvious reasons. In 1326, Our Lady is said to have appeared to a herdsman and revealed the statue’s location. The statue was entrusted to the Franciscans and a monastery was built on the spot. It soon became the most celebrated shrine in Spain. Christopher Columbus is said to have prayed there before he embarked on his momentous voyage. Indeed, he christened the island that providentially saved him, “Guadalupe”.
Now, back to Mexico. Though Juan Diego became the hero and now saint of the “Our Lady of Guadalupe Story”, it was not to him that Our Lady revealed her name, but to his uncle, Juan Bernardino, whom she visited and miraculously cured at the very moment she was instructing Juan Diego, many miles away, to gather the flowers that were to turn into her sacred image on his Tilma.
Like, his nephew, Juan Bernardino was an Aztec. He did not speak Spanish, but the Aztec language of Nahuatl. Of course our Lady spoke to him in his own language and the word she used to identify herself was most likely not “Guadalupe”. Johnston (in the aforementioned book) points out that not only does the word “Guadalupe” have no connection at all with Mexico; the word itself was not pronounceable in the Aztec language because it had no letter or sound for D or G. (The Aztecs have always rejected the Spanish name and have given their beloved Virgin various Aztec titles.)
In 1666, when depositions on the apparition were forwarded to Rome to Pope Innocent X, it was pointed out by the coordinator of these Apostolic Proceedings, that Our Lady in fact did not use the word “Guadalupe”, but most likely used the phonetically similar Aztec word Tequantlaxopeuh (pronounced Tequetalope), which literally translates as “Who saves us from the Devourer”.
A little bit of Aztec history here in order to understand what a baptized Aztec, such as Juan Bernardino would have understood. The great “Devourer” was the dreaded Aztec feathered serpent god, Quetzalcoatl. Over 20,000 live victims every year had their living hearts gouged out of their chests to appease this fearful, blood thirsty Aztec deity. To the baptized Juan Bernardino, “the great Devourer” meant both Satan and this terrible pagan god, behind whom, of course, was Satan.
A history of the apparitions, “Estrella del Norte”, published in 1688, concurs with the earlier speculation about the use of the Aztec word and its meaning, and the author further inferred that Our Lady had identified herself as the “Immaculate Conception”, the One who would vanquish Satan, indeed the Woman of Genesis 3:15. Though the actual institution of the dogma was yet a couple centuries away, this description of Our Lady was known well enough for the then Bishop of Mexico, Bishop Zumarraga, to refer to her as the “Immaculate Conception” in a communication to Cortes (yes, that Cortes) in 1531, inviting the Conqueror to participate in a procession with her sacred image.
Before we go on and tie this all together, it is important to note and easy to see how the phonetically similar word used by Juan Bernardino in his native Aztec language and spoken through a Spanish translator (Juan Gonzalez) would invoke the word “Guadalupe” from the Spanish mind as devotion to Our Lady of “Wolf River” in Spain was well known, and indeed, at its peek at the time.
More recently (1895) an intensive study of the word Guadalupe was undertaken with the conclusion that the Virgin used the word Coatlaxopeuh, which means “she who breaks, stamps or crushes the serpent”; again, the equivalent of the Immaculate Conception. Johnston also points out that in their catechesis of the Aztecs, the Franciscans at the time referred to the Virgin as “she who crushes the serpent”, knowing that the Aztecs would draw the obvious parallel between Satan, and their own horrific pagan god.
One last study and I’ll get to my point. Helen Behrens, credited as the 20th century’s foremost authority on the sacred image, studied the Aztec word even further and made the following observation. The words “te Coatlaxopeuh” which the Aztec Juan Bernadino probably used, and which sounded like “de Guadalupe” to the Spanish ear, can be translated thus: “te” means “stone”; “coa” means “serpent”, “tla” can mean “the”, and “xopeuh” means “crush, or “stampout”. Thus the Virgin of the Tilma should be known as “Our Lady who will crush, stamp out, abolish or eradicate the stone serpent”.
So, in a way, Our Lady was trying to tell us, exactly what the Catholic Church has always told us, and eventually proclaimed, that she is the Immaculate Conception, the Woman of Genesis 3:15, through whom redemption would come. And just as our Redemption did come through her body in the person of Jesus through her to us, He still comes through her to us.
However, we have a modern problem. Modern translation have either virtually eliminated or effectively downsized the Woman of Genesis 3:15 as the One who will “crush and “stamp out” the serpent”. The Bible that the Church has used for 1,600 years, the Old Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome says: “…ipsa conteret caput tuum et tu insidiaberis calcaneo eius” , or, in English, as translated in the Doauy Rheims Bible, “…she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel”.
This of course fits perfectly with everything our Church has taught about the role of the Blessed Mother in salvation history. All those statues of her crushing the head of the serpent come from this verse. And of course, it fits exactly with what she revealed about herself in the above account. However, perhaps to appease our separated brethren in the name of ecumenism, modern Catholic biblical scholars have opted to leave Jerome and nearly two millennia of Catholic tradition in the following translations:
“He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel” – NAB “…he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” –CSRV “It will crush your head and you will strike its heel.” – JB & NJB
Perhaps Our Lady of Wolf River anticipated this rewriting of her redemptive role in her visit to Tepeyac Hill in 1531. Perhaps we should listen to her name. Perhaps we should learn to pronounce “Coatlaxopeuh”.
The following was written on 10/22/2000 and appeared in the Pacific Voice. It was not well received.
The current advent of RU486 on our shores and the upcoming March For Life caused me to think of an article I wrote last year entitled The Evil Beyond Abortion. The evil I wrote about was the practice of contraception. The point of the article was my view that all our efforts against abortion are meaningless without equal efforts against the use of birth control. I posited that abortion is just a more radical form of birth control and is really “the child” (bloody pun intended) of the contraceptive mentality.
In the recent movie U-571 a submarine captain, pursued by a depth charge-dropping enemy ship, shoots a load of garbage out of a torpedo tube in order to create a debris field. He hopes the debris will trick the enemy captain into thinking that he has already hit his mark. The ship’s captain takes the bait and goes to investigate. Meanwhile the sub capitalizes on the distraction and maneuvers to fire its last remaining torpedo at the ship. The tactic works and the sub wins.
I can’t help but think that the Devil is quite pleased with all of our pro-life marches and protests. That’s right, “pleased”. In our fight against abortion the Evil One seems to have succeeded in allowing the debris field of dead and dissected babies to distract us while he maneuvers for a more pervasive and effective evil. For if the Devil’s end is to deny God souls, future citizens of heaven, then contraception is obviously a much more effective means.
So, in my imaginings. the Devil allows us our small, feel-good victories, and he smiles at our marches, sidewalk protests, and our weekly Pro-Life Prayer at Sunday Mass because he knows that many if not most of the pro-life legions and people in the pews are using some form of birth control. How do I know? What’s my evidence? It’s called “family size”. Have Catholics suddenly become naturally infertile in the last 20 years? I don’t think so.
It’s not often that we hear the subject addressed so for those who don’t know the exact teaching on the issue here is a section from Humane Vitae which I believe encapsulates the whole document:
“... the Church, calling men back to the observance of the norms of the natural law, as interpreted by their constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marriage act (quilibet matrimonii usus) must remain open to the transmission of life.
In conformity with these landmarks in the human and Christian vision of marriage, we must once again declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth.
Equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman.
Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible.
I don’t believe Humanae Vitae is up for debate. Near as I can tell it was a binding pronouncement. As the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano pointed out in an editorial in 1968 soon after the release of Paul VI’s Humane Vitae: “When the Pope, with his authority derived from Christ, has made a pronouncement on a definite question over which theologians are divided, it is irrelevant to consider the numbers of eventual supporters, or the force of their arguments.”
But, and of course this is just further imaginings on my part, where I think the Devil has his most fun is with Catholics who actually think that they can avoid the Humane Vitae radar because they use Church-approved NFP. Yes, Natural Family Planning is approved, but ask how many couples who use it actually know that: “...observing the non-fertile periods alone can be lawful only under a moral aspect, and that to avoid children always and deliberately without an extremely serious reason would be "a sin against the very meaning of marriage." (Pius XII-"Address to the Italian Catholic Union of Midwives" to warn against the selfish use of natural family planning, Oct 29, 1951)
It all comes back to this thorny question of obedience. If legitimate magisterial authority has proclaimed a teaching, can we disobey? Can we re-interpret based on our personal circumstances? I don’t think so. But again, I’m open to correction by those more in the know than I am. I only ask that the same level of documentation that I am providing validate their corrections.
A well known Catholic apologist recently characterized the Feast of the Assumption as that which is "best known to Evangelicals and Fundamentalists as 'the Marian dogma that isn't mentioned in Scripture'." He also rightly conceded: "it is true that Scripture nowhere mentions the Assumption--while noting the antiquity of the belief plus the fact that nothing in Scripture contradicts the Assumption."
The appeal to Tradition ("antiquity of the belief") and the fact that Scripture does not contradict the belief is standard apologetic fare when it comes to defending this dogma. However, I have never been able to make much headway with it.
Non-Catholic Christians pretty much tune out the Tradition argument because it falls into their standard "Catholic box of errors". In other words, they expect us to go there and by our "going there" their Catholic "mis-preconceptions" are reconfirmed.
Catholics should also understand that the Dogma of the Assumption is a favorite target not only because "it's not in Scripture", but also because it is a "Defined Dogma" (a Catholic MUST believe it and cannot hold otherwise). It is also the most recent "Defined Dogma" (Munificentissimus Deus, 1 November, 1950, Pope Pius XII) - thus it is fairly "fresh meat" for the antagonist.
I'm a great advocate of challenging the "it has to be in the Bible" but I have often wondered why we (Catholics) don't make more use of Scripture in the defense (and advocacy) of what the Catholic Church teaches when it is quite easy to do so.
As we know, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are not in conflict and everything the Church teaches (Tradition means "teaching") can be found either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. However, there is little need to resort to the "implicit" when the "explicit" is readily available. And the Scriptural basis for the Assumption (I think) is actually quite "explicit".
Perhaps I can offer a little help with how to explain the Assumption to folks who do not accept the authority of Church, but who do accept only the "authority of Scripture".
The word "assumption" (small "a") means a thing supposed, a postulation, or proposition. The word derives from the Latin "assumere" which means "to take". The Ecclesiastical use of the word, with which we are concerned here, means a "taking into heaven".
Though the word "assumption" does not appear in Scripture (at least in the English versions), the act of a person being taken into heaven (assumed) does.
In Genesis 5:24 we read: "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (KJV)
Here we see that Enoch was "taken", "assumed". Taken where? We have to "assume" that he was taken into heaven since Scripture states that he "walked with God". Even if you refuse to "assume" that Enoch was taken into heaven, you still have to admit that he was in fact "assumed", "taken".
In 2 Kings 2:11 we read about a better known instance of an "assumption": "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." (KJV)
We don't have to wonder where Elijah was taken as we did with Enoch, for Scripture explicitly says where he went. We also have a confirmation that he was taken body and soul for we have an eye-witness: "And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more…" (the very next verse)
Before we move on we should mention that there is also clear evidence for the assumption of a third Old Testament prophet. Though we don't have the clear reference to an "assumption" of Moses in Scripture as we do with Enoch and Elijah, we can be fairly sure that Moses was assumed otherwise it is difficult to explain how he came to be one of the two Prophets present at the Transfiguration (the other being Elijah - Matthew 17:1-9)
Note: There is also an ancient book entitled "Assumption of Moses" - a book that didn't make the cut for the Canon (books of the Bible) but is nevertheless thought to have been referenced in the canonical epistle of Jude. (Actually a discussion of this book and St. Jude's allusion to it, as well as his use of the Book of Henoch -another canon loser, bears on the whole issue of who got to decide what went into the Bible in the first place.)
So now to the Assumption of Mary. We have established that "assumption" has clear biblical precedent. The next step is to pose the question: If God could take Enoch and Elijah into Heaven, do you think he could have also taken Mary? The answer is of course, yes, since God can do anything. So the next question is: Do you think He would have wanted to?
Summary: 1. There is biblical precedent for bodily assumption into heaven 2. God could have done the same for Mary that He did for Enoch and Elijah and given who she was, would have had greater reason to do so. 3. There is no evidence from Scripture or history that contradicts the assumption of Mary. 4. The belief in Mary’s assumption extends back to the earliest centuries of Christianity.
The Immaculate Conception
Happily, an honest look at the reality of Assumption of Mary in the Bible lays the foundation for an easy explanation, if not proof, of the other favorite target: the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
Having recounted the Biblical accounts of the Assumption in the cases of Enoch and Elijah the next question is "How is that Enoch and Elijah got to go to heaven before Christ died to open it?"
Enoch and Elijah were stained by original sin, "unclean", as was all mankind after the Fall. And since Revelations 21:27 tells us that nothing unclean shall enter heaven: "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth…" (KJV), how did they get in?
We also know that the only way that one could be cleansed of the stain of original sin and restored to God's friendship would be through the merits of Christ's passion, death, and resurrection. But of course that hadn't happened yet.
So what to make of Enoch and Elijah? Is God not true to His word? Did He "cheat" in their case? Of course not. But how to reconcile? Catholicism offers the only available answer…an answer incarnated in the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception holds that Mary was in fact "saved": ("I rejoice in God my Savior") from original sin at the moment of her conception. She was saved in the only way that she could be saved, as we all are saved, by the passion, death, & resurrection of Jesus. But that hadn't "happened yet" either.
The words "happened yet" are the key. As we know, God, being the creator of Time is not subject to it. As an eternal being there is no past or future for Him. All is an eternal present. So though for us the salvific mission of Jesus on earth happened at a particular point in historical time, the merits of that mission are not subject to historical time and can be applied by God as He wills.
This is the only way to explain how Enoch and Elijah could be taken up into Heaven to “walk with God". Since God's Word will "not be mocked", we have to acknowledge that Enoch and Elijah were "saved". And since the only way to be "saved" is through the merits of the Paschal Mystery; and since that Saving Event hadn't "happened yet" (in time), the only answer left us is that God, who is not subject to time, chose to apply those merits to Enoch and Elijah, which, in effect, meant that they were "pre-redeemed".
The Church hasn't defined this "pre-redemption" of Enoch and Elijah, but She has defined it in the case of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The saving merits of Christ's passion, death, and resurrection are applied to Mary by God at the moment of her conception.
Obama's radical aborticide agenda has puzzled me. How could a Black American so radically oppose the basic right to life when the same Supreme Court argument - that the unborn are not legal persons - was used to justify slavery in the Dred Scott decision.
The very fact that a Black Man could even run for president is a direct result of our nation finally seeing the fallacy of that decision and eventually granting Black People full personhood.
The struggle against aborticide mirrors the struggle of Black People against slavery in almost every way. So how could someone who benefited so directly from the correction of the gross injustice that justified slavery turn so violently against another segment of our society and deny them the very rights that his ancestors were denied and fought against??
And then it hit me. The word is "ancestors". Barack Obama is not a descendant of slaves. Barack Obama is not a "Black American" in the sense of the historic struggle in this country. He is of partial African descent but other than that he shares no history with the Black Americans of this country.
Black Americans everywhere are celebrating his election and seeing his election as a statement, even a final victory, on the long road from slavery. But the victory is as symbolic and as hollow as Obama himself.
Trace Obama's history and you will be hard pressed to find any truly influential Black American leaders. The one exception could be "Rev." Wright, but Obama claims to have never even heard any of Wright's "black power" sermons, essentially eschewing any influence by Wright and the Black Ameican struggle, however skewed Wright's racism may be.
Black Americans, wake up. This man is a partner with the white supremacist establishment that was founded to elimnate Black People form the earth. It's called Planned Parenthood, and Obama is the greatest advocate they've ever had.
Obama is an imposter. That's already known on many levels. His birth certificate is in question. His health records are incomplete. There are no appointment calendars or records of his time as a state senator. There is no record of his billable hours as a supposed attorney. He refuses to release his college transcripts. His supposed dissertation at Columbia U. has mysteriously disappeared. He refuses to release his application to the Illinois state bar which could clear up allegations that his application was inaccurate. He has never released his records from his time at Harvard. He has all of 143 days work experience as a U.S. Senator, a number that wouldn't even get you a management position at McDonalds. He has written two memoirs but no significant legislation. The list goes on.
But the most glaring thing that's missing is Obama's Black pedigree. It's not there. Save for the fact that he is a darker shade than other presidents there is nothing that is "Black American" about him. This should be an insult to the memory of Martin Luther King and the many Black Americans who suffered the many long decades to help Blacks become truly free in America.
But now we've elected a man who said that the first thing he will do as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law, a law that would allow Planned Parenthood to renew their black genocide without restraint.
As the possible election of a president who had vowed to remove all limits on killing children, both born and unborn, approached, there was a flurry of internet activity among Christians encouraging prayer and fasting.
The sheer volume of email was evidence that Christians were definitely aware of what such a presidency would mean to millions of more babies. For not only will there be the aggresive pro-death policies of the next 4 years, but a pro-death judiciary for decades to come.
However, God, did not answer these prayers and we now face the Culture of Death in all three branches of government.
What happened. Was God sleeping? Why didn't he hear us?
I pondered this question at Mass on election day and had a private revelation that I will share.
There are somethings that God cannot do. I will qualify that statement. Of course there is theoretically nothing that God cannot do since He is omnipotent, but there are somethings that God cannot do by His own design.
God "cannot" make any new human beings without the coorperation of a man and a woman. For God has given the power of creating new life wholly over to us. His unlimited desire for souls is completely at the mercy of our willingness to create new people for Him to love and populate Heaven.
In the same way God's infinite mercy and grace is contingent on the righteousness of souls who invoke His mercy and grace.
James 5:16 tells us that the "prayer of a righteous man availeth much". This short phrase tells us that the "much" that can be "availeth" is dependent on the righteousness of the man who is aksing.
Again, we see that in the mysterious designs of God, He has willed that his infinite well of mercy, grace, and love that He wishes to pour out upon the world is limited by the righteousness of those who pray.
The silence of God in this election is a referendum on either the amount of praying we do or on our state of righteousness.
Given that in this election the level of exhortations to pray was without precedent, I think we need to take a look at our "righteousness" as the culprit.
I don't think its an exaggeration to say that 95% of praying Christians are using some form of birth control. Take a quick survey of your immediate circle of family and friends and you will easily come up with a similar number.
No you don't have to ask them. Just look at the number of children that a yet fertile couple has. It's highly doubtful that they're all using NFP (Natural Family Planning - Ovulation Method). And even if they are, NFP is to be used ONLY for grave reason, otherwise it is simply birth control. And grave reason for most normal healthy couples is rare, yet small families are common.
At the root of abortion is the contraceptive mentality simply because contraception is anti-life at its core. Aborticide is simply the logical result of the moral order of contraception.
Contraception is evil simply because you are saying NO to God and YES to you. Contraception makes you God. Now it's YOU who gets to decide who lives and who doesn't.
For those Christians who think that this is just a Catholic thing, let me put it in language you can understand.
The common claim of a Born Again Christian is that he or she has "given my life to Jesus". That's a lie if you are using contraception. You have not given your WHOLE life to Jesus. You are keeping your reproductive power to yourself and under your control.
By nature (God's design), sexual intercourse between a male and a female is designed to make another male or female. You don't have to believe in God to know that.
In order for that not to happen you have to intervene mechanically, surgically, or chemically. You have to interrupt nature which in Christian parlance is simply denying God both His right to your body and His creative design.
The bottom line is that we are praying with diseased souls. We are no match for Satan and his minions in the battle against the Culture of Death, because mechanically, surgically, or chemically, we are already a part of it.
Thus we got the president we deserved because our prayers are as fruitless as are wombs.
I think we Catholics on Guam have missed an important opportunity in the gaming debate to witness to the unique Oneness of the Catholic Church. I think that it would have been much better for us to say we opposed gaming simply because we respect both the office and the pastoral concern of our Archbishop.
Such a stance, I believe, would have served us much better, both in protecting us from misusing the Church’s authority and its sacred symbols, and in signifying to all other forces, both pro and con, the singular authority and respect that a Bishop alone can lay claim to by virtue of his apostolic pedigree.
Instead we have launched a retaliatory attack from a multitude of directions that is uncoordinated, overly defensive, and in some cases, intellectually dishonest or severely uninformed, and even demeaning to the sacred symbols of our Faith. Almost anyone with a story about a relative who lost his house playing a poker machine, or who has learned how to google, has become a spokesperson for the opposition.
We can’t stop people from speaking their mind. However, if our local Church is going to publicly oppose gaming (and there will certainly be more opportunities), then I recommend that we let the Archbishop lead and that we simply back him without panic, without fanaticism, without public condemnations in the name of Santa Maria Kamalin and Divine Mercy, BUT WITH the “hope that is in within us” (1 Peter 3:15)
Now, for those who are serious about opposing this issue, I would like to discuss honestly what I believe are serious flaws in our opposition.
The "Gambling is Immoral" argument
I have personally confronted priests who said from the pulpit “gambling is a sin”. And it WAS said. I also publicly challenged media personalities who used this error to highlight alleged hypocrisy.
While other (non-Catholic) religious communities are free to generate their own moral code and promulgate its latest version, we are not. We are not in the business of making new sins. As you are aware the Catechism states the following:
"Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant." (2413)
There are some who quibble over the meaning of the words “contrary to justice”. However, the sentence about cheating clarifies the whole paragraph. In identifying “cheating at games” as constituting “grave matter”, it’s obvious that games (of chance), i.e. gambling is not the issue for cheating could not occur if the game was not being played. It’s also amusing to note that the Church even “winks” at cheating in the last sentence.
To our credit, I have not heard this refrain (gambling is a sin) during the current campaign. I’m even hearing some opponents preface their remarks with the truth that “gambling is not a sin”. However, in the absence of an official disclaimer, there remains a heavy implication that even though we cannot say directly that gambling is evil we can certainly claim that those associated with it are. This leads to my next point.
The argument that "Greed is at the root of gambling"
Sorry, but we don’t get to judge the motives of others. My father enjoys gambling. He is a self-made businessman who provided for eight children and is even now providing for the education of several grandchildren. He has no need of gambling winnings. He enjoys the game, as I suspect many others do.
Gambling is a legitimate form of entertainment. I personally fail to see its entertainment value, but I would throw video games, most movies, and almost all of TV into the same sinking boat. I happen to think that more corruption enters the family home through the “black wall snake” (cable) than a casino could ever bring. However, I don’t get to “pull thy neighbor’s plug”. (By the way, my idea of a good time is an evening home with my children or spiritual reading without interruption.)
I could list a myriad of social ills that we already entertain quite readily without the help of a casino in our so-called “Keep Guam Good loving family culture”, ills that we not only for the most part ignore, but even celebrate (gluttony - and the diseases that accompany it - comes to mind), and I’m sure you could add to the list.
No one seriously contends that our island is “good”. Most casino opponents readily admit that we have huge problems but consider a casino as adding to those problems. Their contention is that gambling is never good. Let’s take a look at that claim.
The "Gambling is never good for society" argument
I recommend that in future campaigns we "refrain from this refrain". Gaming proponents missed an incredibly easy chance to discredit the opposition by simply highlighting the fact that the destination of choice for many local families who have left Guam since our recession began in the mid 90’s is Las Vegas.
Ask these new residents of “Sin City” why they choose to live there and they will tell you “better schools”, “better jobs”, “better everything”. The fact is, Vegas has only one industry. And while there are many associated industries, if it wasn’t for the crap table and the slot machine, Vegas would be nothing more than the assemblage of desert shacks and dilapidated trailer homes that typify many remote southwestern towns, and it would certainly not be the “destination of choice” that it now is.
Opponents will recount the stories of shattered lives but will leave out the very obvious evidence that many people, many Chamorro people, are, by their own testimony, better off there than they were here…which is why they are there and not here.
Keeping locals out
I'm not Chamorro, but if I was, I would be extremely irate as the opposition seems to be aimed at Chamorros as if Chamorros had a genetic predilection towards gambling addictions. Sadly, in our panicked defense, motivated mostly by bad memories, we implicate the whole of the Chamorro people as irresponsible and imply further that they must be protected from themselves.
But casinos are not just gambling parlors. Usually they include restaurants, shops, shows, etc. Many people rightly desire more opportunities and venues for relaxation and entertainment. The argument that the irresponsibility of some should not dictate the availability of choices for others is valid.
Prop A will benefit only Greyhound?
This is simply not true and evinces a deep ignorance on the part of those who continue to repeat it. How often have I heard that Prop A will give a sole license to a sole entity for the sole benefit of that entity?
Every business gets a sole license for a sole entity for the sole benefit of that entity. No business gets in business for the primary purpose of benefiting others. That’s called a charitable organization. But the nature and genius of free enterprise is that no business can benefit itself until it first benefits another.
With the recent passing of Mr. Ken Jones , we have the opportunity to review the life of a man who got very rich. His contribution to Guam is immeasurable. Try to imagine a Guam without Payless Supermarkets, the Cliff Hotel, the Hilton. All told, Mr. Jones started around 70 businesses on Guam. How many people have benefited as employees, customers, associates, suppliers? It’s incalculable.
How was he able to do this? First and foremost his businesses made money, lots of it. From the moment Ken Jones sold his first product and made his first penny Ken Jones made money FOR HIM. To his credit, and to our benefit, he took that penny and made 2 pennies…and so on. Regardless of his motives, be they selfish or philanthropic or just because he enjoyed the process, the reality is that because of Ken Jones and his profits, many people are eating today.
Regardless of Mr. Baldwin’s motives, Guam has already been the beneficiary of the almost one million dollars that Greyhound has invested in this election alone. Lots of children of people who work for the media are eating a little better just now. And families of contractors and construction workers, engineers and architects, future employees and suppliers, will all benefit before Greyhound makes a red cent.
Another bad argument is that that there is something wrong with Greyhound keeping 90% of net profits with the other 10% going to Rev & Tax. In case you didn’t know, most other business on Guam get to keep 96% as they only pay 4% to Rev and Tax. Greyhound will pay MORE to Gov Guam than most other businesses, including the strip clubs, massage parlors, porno shops, and abortion clinics that we allow to go unchallenged.
If we even begin to add in the tax revenues generated by the payroll, the increased sales of suppliers, the associated corporate income taxes, and the whole range of increased revenues due to the multiplier effect of a successful industry, the amount injected into the local economy would be many times more than the 10% being ridiculed by the opposition.
No control over where the 10% goes
Opponents of Prop A fret that the 10% tax that Greyhound will pay and earmark for education , healthcare, and public safety will go into the General Fund and disappear. Well whose fault is that? Ours! What we’re saying is that we don’t trust ourselves to elect people we can trust to do what we elect them to do.
This is actually our NUMBER ONE problem on Guam. I have been actively interviewing many people on who their top choices are in this election. I then ask them why. The number one reason is “He/She is nice”. That’s it.
As many of you also know I have been behind the campaign to identify the true positions of the candidates on abortion. When I confront the “He’s nice” people with the fact that their candidate of choice refused to sign a formal commitment to pursue anti-abortion legislation on Guam, the response is usually apathy or “don’t worry, he’s pro-life”.
Need I say more?
Pseudo religious ads
The use of sacred images to promote a political point of view on an issue that Catholics have a legitimate right to support or oppose is at best an act of ignorance and at worst an offense against the sacred.
While individuals are totally entitled to a personal view, they are not entitled to take that which belongs to all of us and use it as their personal property. Santa Maria Kamlin is the patron saint of all Catholics on Guam, not just the opponents of gaming. All Catholics have the prudential right to decide for themselves on this issue.
Use of church property and liberties at the pulpit
I also take personal issue with using the Catholic churches and schools to display anti-gaming signs. Since Catholics are free to choose in this regard, the use of church property to display those signs is an infringement on our freedom and a disregard for our financial support of our parishes and schools.
The same is true for the employment of Catholic school students to “wave” against gaming. This is an infringement on the rights of parents. Something tells me that this is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
I also reject the use of the pulpit to bully congregations. Catholics must attend Mass under pain of mortal sin. While “Father” is free to teach about those things that really are sins, he is not free to lobby against Prop A for reasons stated already above or to slander the people who support it. A more appropriate approach would be to hold a prayer service after Mass that people are free to attend.
The “ends does not justify the means” and this is already backfiring on us. I know of several people who were willing to vote no on Prop A but who changed their minds after being “bullied” at Mass or saw those offensive ads.
Abuse of "Love thy Neighbor"??
This assumes that you know what's best for your neighbor. If we finish the instruction ("as thyself") then we would have to conclude that those who enjoy gaming and find it beneficial liesure would rightly want the same opportunity for others. As Catholics we don't get to decide what's best for our neighbor in matters that are prudential. Again, though well intended, it is a usurpation of the Faith that belongs to all.
A recent entry in the local newspaper claimed that if one life is negatively affected by a casino on Guam then that's one life too many. Sounds nice, but such an argument is simply futile in the real world. Every action has a reaction of some sort. The proposed military buildup will affect Guam both positively and negatively. Should we tell the military now to get lost because at least one life will be negatively affected? Some think we should.
The sad thing is that none of this had to happen. The Archbishop has decided that a casino is not good for the island. He has stated his reasons, and as faithful Catholics we can simply state that we back him. We can also add our personal reasons. We can state that we also think that a casino will not be good for the island and give our personal reasons for why we think that.
But the emphasis is on “personal” and prudential. We don’t get to make new sins. We don’t get to pronounce judgment on others. We don’t get to be economic experts. And while we can question the findings of the likes of Fr. Richard McGowan, S.J., we certainly do not get to publicly impugn or question his priestly integrity - as was publicly done by some well-known Catholics
Perceived or real, the public sense is that groups like “Keep Guam Good” and “Lina’la sin Casino” are front groups for the Catholic Church on Guam. Despite the efforts of their spokespeople to deflect the implication, it is quite obvious that all roads lead to the Archbishop.
As stated at the outset, I see this is an excellent opportunity to witness to the Oneness and Apostolicity of the True Church. I do believe that the Archbishop has stated his opposition in a clear and reasonable manner. But there is a disconnect between his leadership and the many factions within the opposition.
It is these factions, this lack of coordination, this scattered message, along with the obvious ignorance inherent in the standard positions and tactics of the opposition enumerated above, that give the proponents reason to keep trying.
It is my opinion that only the Archbishop can coordinate the message and the opposition. For the record, I would support a Casino on Guam (though not necessarily Prop A) save for the wishes of the Archbishop. I have no personal issue with gaming and I'm all for the rights of others to enjoy legitimate entertainment even though I myself would not imbibe. I believe that despite the estimated “social cost”, a free people should not be denied access to something they enjoy that is not in itself a bad thing regardless of the potential for addiction (e.g. alcohol, smoking, etc.).
And that's what this should be about, letting a free people, freely decide. There is no problem with laying out the arguments and standing by them. But we in the opposition have allowed legitimate arguments to be manipulated and misaligned to achieve our ends. We have also maligned, defamed, and judged the hearts of those who don't agree with us. Yes, some of them may have done that to us, but need I remind you that we don't get to do that to them?
If you’ve read this far, I thank you for honestly engaging my positions and accepting my right to prudential judgment. I know that I’m probably just asking for trouble by releasing this. But I also know that there are intellectually honest Catholics, though they may disagree with me, will not let their disagreement interrupt our relationship and cooperation in pursuing the true cancer on our island.
If the Bishops are willing to pay attention, they could learn much from the results of the upcoming election about the effectiveness of their words.
While McCain's record on life issues is not perfect, there is simply no comparison between the Obama-Biden ticket and McCain-Palin.
While the McCain-Palin camp have not stated any outright pro-life strategy, or even stated their pro-life stance definitively, the pro-abortion voting records of both Obama and Biden, combined with their campaign pledges to not only uphold abortion rights but to radically expand them, leave little doubt as to what an Obama presidency would bring.
The USCCB and individual bishops throughout the U.S. have compiled and distributed many words regarding the responsibility of Catholics at the voting booth. The fact that this race is even close with Catholics comprising 25% of the vote shows us just how much attention Catholics are paying attention to their Bishops. But then what's new?
It's hardly news that the American Catholic Episcopate is virtually ignored by its subjects. Any investigation into why would reveal a list ranging from episcopal aloofness to the priest abuse scandal.
While a list of such accusations may be valid, I think, that at least in this case - influencing the Catholic vote - the answer is simple, obvious, and self-destructive. As a matter of fact, almost every episcopal statement has lent justification to Catholics looking for an excuse to overlook the radical pro-abortion platform of Obama/Biden. Here’s why:
While every episcopal statement includes the requisite reference to the primacy of the "life" issue, there exists within every statement (that I have read) two obvious factors which immediately nullify the theme. I will state those factors and then illustrate.
1. The context of the statement is clouded in such a way that a Catholic looking for justification to vote for a pro-abortion candidate immediately finds what he is looking for.
2. The issue within the issue, which is the moral gravity of each life issue, is never explained or prioritized, thus all life issues become level, and again the pro-Obama Catholic voter finds what he's looking for.
"It is the rare candidate who will agree with the Church on every issue," they acknowledged. "But […] not every issue is of equal moral gravity. The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all."
The problem is the phrase: "The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person..." Why is this phrase a problem? Because it is used without qualification. Both an aborted child and a 6 year old child who is killed in a war are “innocent human person(s)”.
The voter is led to believe that abortion and war are moral evils of equal weight. Thus we have Catholics believing that it is okay to support a pro-abortion candidate as long as he opposes the war.
Some Catholics stretch this even further to include economic policy: Innocent people are dying around the world due to the economic policies of the United States. Therefore, we need a president, despite his commitment to make abortion even more available, who will change those policies.
The true moral view is that while innocent people may die due to wars and economic policies, so long as the death of innocent people is not the intention of a war or a policy, such actions do not qualify as “objective evil”; whereas procured abortion would qualify as objective evil as it is a direct attack on innocent life.
The failure of the Catholic leadership to spell this out has created a flood of pro-abortion legislators, some of whom are Catholic themselves (Biden, Pelosi, Kennedy…)
My 2nd point - that there is a moral priority within the life issues and that this also is not spelled out - is illustrated in the next paragraph:
"The right to life is the right through which all others flow. To the extent candidates reject this fundamental right by supporting an objective evil, such as legal abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research, Catholics should consider them less acceptable for public office."
This, by itself, is a true statement. But within the context of the current election, it is simply a pass for Obama. Here's why:
The Bishops do absolutely nothing to morally weigh each of these issues. At face value, this statement gives each of these issues the same moral weight. Thus the pro-Obama Catholic will think like this: - Yes, Obama supports abortion - But, McCain “supports” embryonic stem cell research (1) - Both of those, according to the Bishops, are objectively evil - So they cancel each other out - Let’s disregard the life issues since both candidates are on the wrong side and let's move on to gas prices.
You think this is a "stretch"? You ought to talk to the Catholics I talk to. Clergy and laity alike walk this through step by step and straight to a clear-eyed, rational Catholic vote for Obama.
The correct moral view is that Abortion outranks all other life issues. It must be considered pre-eminent (2). Here’s why:
Abortion must remain the pre-eminent life issue because it involves two objective evils: the intentional killing of an innocent human being and torture.
50% of all abortions occur after the 9th week when the nervous system has formed sufficiently for the child to experience pain. How much the child feels before the 9th week is conjecture, but there is always the possibility that the child experiences pain.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research does not rank with abortion because it does not directly entail the torture of a human being, though the abortion that provided the fetus and thus the stem cells may have.
Euthanasia also normally does not directly entail torture, though it may as in the case when victims are starved to death. Euthanasia also differs from Abortion in terms of the "defenselessness of the victim". While in some cases the victim is truly helpless (Terry Schiavo), often the person being euthanized has some control over the situation whether in a will or with a direct request.
The fact is that while Euthanasia MAY involve the true "defenselessness of the victim", Abortion ALWAYS involves the "defenselessness of the victim". Thus, from a purely objective standpoint, ABORTION must rank as the life issue with the greatest moral weight and thus the one issue upon which every other issue must hinge.
The bottom line is a failing grade for most of the class. When most of the class fails it is really an indictment of the teacher. Bishops must do more than disseminate statements. What can they do? I’ll get to that in my next post.
(1) McCain’s support of ESCR is limited to existing embryos that would otherwise be destroyed. While this does not change the objective nature of the evil, it is worth noting as a matter of moral degrees.
(2) To it’s credit, the USCCB document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship does reference the issue of abortion as “pre-eminent” (par. 90), but the impact is immediately lessened by an list of other issues that quickly dwindles into concerns over economic justice and health care.
A friend of mine recently forward to me an article from America Magazine entitled Conscience and the Catholic Voter, written by Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M., director of media relations for the USCCB.
I've been reading quite a few articles like this lately and I can't help but notice a trend, or even a "template".
It goes like this:
1. Clear statement of authentic Catholic moral teaching (i.e. "Not all issues are equal")
2. Followed by words, more words, more and more words, words, words, and more words…(i.e. the rest of the article)
3. Along the way, a plethora of issues are mentioned that by the time you get to the end the initial statement is so diluted and blurred that either the average reader just gives up and votes his/her gut (as item 6 even suggests), or the Catholic, looking for justification to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, finds what he/she is looking for.
Actually this article doesn't wait long to reveal it's pro-Obama bent. It gets right to it in item #1.
Item 1 begins with the lofty "Not all issues are equal" and identifies "life" issues as paramount. But then opts for singling out Embryonic Stem Cell Research as an example of a life issue.
It's not a coincidence (in my opinion) that ESCR is selected and isolated. This is the only issue that McCain is at odds with Church teaching on.
The author's intention is clearly suspect in selecting ESCR as the demonstrable issue. Here's why:
The debate over ESCR is divided between: 1. Harvesting new embryos for research 2. Using existing embryos for research that would otherwise be destroyed. (McCain ONLY supports this option)
Also in the moral gradation of Life Issues, procured abortion would trump ESCR because abortion involves another intrinsic evil: torture. (That abortion is NOT EVEN mentioned in the article is EXTREMELY ODD especially coming from an office within the USCCB.)
While neither option a nor b is morally acceptable to a Catholic, a non-Catholic, like McCain, may not have the moral foundation to clearly understand the nuance (most Catholics don't either). The author makes no attempt to define the debate.
As for point 2 above, the fetal spine and brain (and thus sensitivity to pain) are usually developed between 5-9 weeks. About ½ of all abortions happen after the 9th week. Almost all abortions after the 9th week involve surgical dismemberment, crushing of the skull, burning the child in the womb, or some form of mutilation of a living, feeling human being. Obviously we are speaking of torture here- something that wouldn't apply to ESCR.
The author then descends into the normal litany of issues such as health care, poverty, right to a job, just wage, immigration, discrimination, etc.
All of these are important issues in themselves and must be dealt with but the author's design seems an obvious attempt to scurry away as quickly as possible from the the Life Issue.
There is also the requisite back handed slap at the Bush administration, most evident in the health care and economic issues.
What's sad is that traditionally the Church did not wait for the government to provide health care, She provided it. She invented the medical missionaries, the hospital, the orphanage, the soup kitchen. This is the way the Church USED to work for justice and human rights.
Taking care of the poor, the stranger, the downtrodden ourselves was our FIRST order of business. Campaigning for legislative change was secondary. We now (not all of course) excuse ourselves from doing this dirty work because the "grant didn't come through" or "the Republicans took away the funding".
I could go on point by point but it just gets thicker.
Catholics form the single largest voting block in the United States (approx 25%). Indeed we could say “As the Church (in America) goes, so goes the country.”
However, Catholics are given very little direction as to how to vote according to a “properly formed Catholic conscience”. As a matter of fact, Catholics are given very little direction as to how to properly form a Catholic conscience in the first place.
Consequently, politicians and candidates who support laws and social programs that are diametrically opposed to Catholic moral teaching have little to worry about.
What little official direction is given is often inaccessible to the average Catholic, or is difficult to decipher. An example would be the recent (2003) statement from the USCCB: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.
While the statement contains all the essential facts for Catholics, one could read it and still be left wondering on who to vote for as the document assumes some degree of moral formation on the part of the reader.
Private organizations and political action groups have entered into the confused milieu of Catholic voters and offered help. Two known voter guides for Catholics are:
1. Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics published by Catholic Answers 2. Voting for the Common Good – A Practical Guide for Conscientious Catholics published by TheCatholicAllilance.org
Both claim to present Catholic teaching…and both do. But there’s a difference Catholics should know about.
The Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics approaches the issue by delineating 5 moral issues upon which the Church’s teaching is clear and “non-negotiable” as the guide so calls them. (Abortion, Euthanasia, Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Human Cloning, and Homosexual Marriage)
Voting for the Common Good mentions some of the same issues as does the “Serious Catholics” guide, but also mentions several other issues such as Immigration, Jobs, and Worker’s Rights, and makes no attempt to note any of them as “non-negotiable”. Nor does the guide infer a moral ranking. (In other words, the reader is left to decide whether abortion and the right to work carry the same moral weight.)
The question then is: While there are many issues of concern for Catholics, does the Church regard some issues to be more important than others and thus impose a greater claim on our consciences?
The answer is “Yes”. Par. 37 of the USCCB document states:
“…all issues do not carry the same moral weight and ….the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions.”
The fact that Voting for the Common Good completely ignores a moral priority in the list of issues is a “red flag”. The “flattening” of the moral landscape or what is called the “seamless garment” approach is a common tactic amongst pro-abortion Catholics who pander to the Catholic vote.
They use this approach because it is the only tool they have at their disposal. A clear reiteration of the Church’s teaching on moral matters would show that the Right to Life, ESPECIALLY AT ITS INCEPTION, always takes precedence.
The reason this is so is because of the degree of the defenselessness of the victim. It even trumps euthanasia to a degree since there are times when the person euthanized may have played a role in the decision. Not so, the unborn child.
The issue of procured abortion as a direct attack on human life even trumps the closely related issue of embryonic stem cell research, since, with abortion, we must include fetal pain.
Critics are quick to point out that the Church also condemns genocide, poverty, starvation, racism, attacks on non-combatants, etc. Yes, this is true. But no Church document ever lists any of these FIRST! Abortion is ALWAYS listed first.
As RED as this “flag” was, a bigger red flag shows up on page 9. The guide says:
“Catholics must look at a candidate’s position on other life issues. Can one really claim to be ‘pro-life’ and yet support the death penalty…”
This is a direct attack on George W. Bush, who of course is “pro-life” and does support the death penalty. But more so, with this question, the guide reveals not just its partisan intent, but the authors’ real intent to misrepresent Catholic teaching.
The answer to their question is in fact “Yes”. A Catholic CAN BE “pro-life” AND support the death penalty. While John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, came as close as any Pope could come to calling the death penalty immoral, he stopped short.
He stopped short, because he had too. A Pope can create no new doctrine. He can clarify it. He can attach disciplines to it. But he can make nothing new.
In fact, the Church has always allowed for the death penalty under certain conditions. The Pope’s only new move was to question as to whether those conditions exist any more in today’s world. You can read it for yourself in paragraph 56.
The “Common Good” guide irresponsibly equates abortion with the death penalty, not just a mistake, but a dishonest political ploy, and a direct attempt to misrepresent authentic Catholic teaching and mislead Catholic voters.
Further investigation reveals that the publisher, TheCatholicAlliance.org, was conceived and is led by Alexis Kelley, a well-known democrat and supporter of pro-abortion Catholic politicians.
While Ms. Kelley is welcome to her political views and support whatever party or politician she chooses, she is NOT welcome to interpret and misrepresent Catholic moral teaching.
The real question that arises is why there is so much effort to diminish the abortion issue. I will offer an opinion.
Abortion is the ultimate way of covering one’s tracks. People, lots of people, lots of married people, are having sex out of wedlock. While birth control is the first line of defense in covering this sin, abortion is the last line.
But nothing is hidden from God. Adultery is bad enough to have to answer for. But the murder of a defenseless child to cover for adultery…? I’ll let you fill in the answer.
I watch your program often (Life on the Rock). The other day you were discussing Pelosi's obviously uninformed statement on abortion. Your program is probably not the program to get into this, but I believe EWTN needs to address the reason behind the reason why so many Catholic politicians...and Catholics in general believe they can have an independent opinion on abortion.
The problem is so pervasive that our Church must stop addressing the smoke and start dealing with the fire.
I believe Pelosi's own statement gives us a clue. She mentioned that while other politicians had been denied communion for the public pro-abortion positions, her bishop had not denied her communion.
It's easy to see how one might get the idea that the moral teaching is up for grabs when the application of the penalty appears to be..
The real culprit in the constant problem we have with Catholic pro-abortion politicians is the Church leadership in America.
When Mother Angelica was around she didn't hesitate to go after this. I've noticed that, now that she is not around, EWTN doesn't seem to have anyone with the guts to go arter this as she did.
She suffered for it, too. But that's what made EWTN. I don't see a future for EWTN unless you find someone who has the guts to do what she did. The problem is not the people. The problem is the Church leaders who continue to disobey. Mother Angelica knew that, said that, and paid the price for saying that. Will anyone follow her?
You would be hard pressed to find a more ardent advocate of Humane Vitae than myself. Not only am I extremely vocal about this issue, I have 11 children to prove that I walk the talk. I could also list a dozen reasons as to why our medical, physical, financial, emotional, psychological, and even geographic situation all could have sufficed for a serious reason to limit the number of our children.
Add to this the counsel from (some) clergy, friends, relatives, and doctors to do exactly that (stop having children) and we find ourselves truly alone in our desire to persevere. But we perhaps find ourselves most alone witihin the pro-life community itself. Let me explain.
There is a plethora of literature, audio & video programs, and support groups of all kinds that gush over the wisdom of Humane Vitae and the beauties of Natural Family Planning, etc. But there are two major points that I've never heard addressed, even when I've directed these questions directly to the sources of said "gushing".
The first question has to do with the much lauded example of Paul VI, standing up to the commission that studied the birth control question, going against the majority opinion, and releasing Humane Vitae anyway. While Paul VI is heralded as a hero by the pro-life community for his action, the question I have asked and never had answered is:
WHY DID PAUL VI ALLOW THE STUDY IN THE FIRST PLACE IF THE TEACHING COULD NEVER BE CHANGED.
It was the very fact that the Vatican authorized a commission to look into the birth control question that sent ripples throughout the Catholic world that there could be a possibility that artificial contraception would be allowed. Given the times (1960's), such a thought fell right in line with the current climate and expectation of change.
The bottom line is that the creation of the commission created the expectation of change. And for a Catholic populace that was both still very attuned to Church Authority (i.e. "whatever Father says...") and at the same time on the verge of a cultural implosion (at least in the West), it is natural to see how the Catholic world could have gotten quite exercised about this. (After all, it was the Pope himself who was looking into it!)
It is the Church, and specifically John XXIII (who initially created the commission), and Paul VI (who expanded it) that must take the blame for the crisis of Faith that has plagued the Church since July 10, 1968 (the date Humane Vitae was released).
While hindsight is 20/20, and it was certainly never the intention of the Popes (John XXIII, who created the commission, and Paul VI, who expanded it) to create the havoc and crisis of faith that has plagued the Church since July 10, 1968, the damage was done, is still with us, and in my opinion, the blunder was huge.
Even Paul VI's rational for overriding the commission's majority findings ("the findings were not unanimous") created even more room for doubt and havoc since saying that the findings were not unanimous gives the impression that,, had they been unanimous the Pope would have changed the teaching. This leaves us thinking that all we need is another commission and a unanimous decision, that the teaching itself is subject to a vote!
Want to know what the numbers were? Of the 72 members on the commission, the dissenters (opposed to the liberalization of birth control) included 4 theologian priests, 1 cardinal and 2 bishops. From the impression Paul VI gave, we were only 7 votes away from the change that the world had been breathlessly led to hope for.
I only bring this up because despite the major efforts and resources devoted to the promotion of Humane Vitae and NFP and all the associated issues, I believe we are making little headway. And why is that?
1. Already mentioned.
The creation of the commission was a papal error. That has to be admitted. As long as we're apologizing for the Inquisition, the Crusades, and whatever else, we might as well apologize for this. The Church needs to let people know that this (the creation of the commission) was a mistake, that it falsley raised hopes, and that we are sorry for doing so.
(My feeling is that Paul VI was aware of his mistake and was sorry for it as he would never again release another encyclical.)
The Church also needs to aplogize for the Pope's second mistake of giving the impression that a unanimous decision might have led to a different encyclical. This is even more damaging as many continue to live in hope that eventually a change might come if another commission might come up with a unanimous decision.
And why not? The "people" have seen disobedience (communion in the hand, altar girls, eucharistic ministers, etc.) rewarded over and over by an indult from the Vatican.
(Note: "NFP'ers" referred to in the following does not mean those who employ NFP according to the strictures of Church teaching. With this term I am primarily referring to those who promote NFP in the Catholic media with a type of positiveness that seems to avoid any discussion of the cross and even leans towards positioning NFP as a norm for marital relations. The ensuing will give the context to this term which I do not intend to use in a demeaning way, but perhaps skeptical.)
2 "NFP 'ers" need to get off their high horse and talk about the Cross.
Ultimately NFP is allowed because it is still open to life. Notwithstanding that perhaps many, if not most, NFP advoates use it as a form of "Catholic birth control" (spacing or limiting births without serious reason as required by the Church), the reality is that, for most couples, another child represents an unimaginable burden at every level of life. I know.
The bottom line is that the use of NFP may, regardless of the best kept charts, lead to another baby. Because the majority of NFP-ers (in the Catholic media) are busy gushing over its glories and congratulating themselves for their "openness to life", we hear little about the actual cross that comes with the child..
While some may wonder how I could dare equate a child with a cross, I would say that it is ignorant and uncharitalbe not to. It is only in understanding and taking up the cross that the cross (the child in this case) can begin to be a source of grace. For with every cross comes sufficient grace.
But because all we hear about is the warm fuzzy stuff about being open to life, parents who actually are open to life, and who continue to bring new life into the world despite staggering hardship, are left to wonder "What am I doing wrong?" "How come this doesn't feel good?" "What am I going to tell my doctor now that I'm pregnant again and I still owe him for the last one?"
No, that's the stuff we don't get to hear about...and THAT'S WHY WE ARE NOT GETTING ANYWHERE.
The NFP-ers have made the same mistake as the liberal liturgists. They have taken what is essentially an indult, a permission, and a permission only granted for the gravest of reasons, and made it the norm. In fact, that is why non-Catholics snuff off NFP as simply Catholic birth control. They are closer to the truth than we are ourselves.
What Catholicism uniquely understands is the Cross. In the end, that is all we have to hold onto anyway. It is terribly uncharitable to pretend that this isn't so.
An account of the history of the commission as found on Wikipedia
With the appearance of the first oral contraceptives in 1960, some voices in the Church argued for a reconsideration of the Church positions. In 1963 Pope John XXIII established a commission of six European non-theologians to study questions of birth control and population. After John's death in 1963, Pope Paul VI added theologians to the commission and over three years expanded it to 72 members from five continents (including 16 theologians, 13 physicians and 5 women, with an executive committee of 9 bishops and 7 cardinals). The commission produced a report in 1966, proposing that artificial birth control was not intrinsically evil and that Catholic couples should be allowed to decide for themselves about the methods to be employed.
One commission member, American Jesuit theologian John Ford (with the assistance of American theologian Germain Grisez) drafted a minority report working paper that was signed by Ford and 3 other theologian priests on the commission, stating that the Church should not and could not change its long-standing teaching. Even though intended for the Pope only, the commission's report and two working papers (the minority report and the majority's rebuttal to it) were leaked to the press in 1967, raising public expectations of liberalization. However, Paul VI explicitly rejected his commission's recommendations in the text of Humanae Vitae, noting the 72 member commission had not been unanimous (4 theologian priests had dissented, and 1 cardinal and 2 bishops had voted that contraception was intrinsically evil--significantly Cardinal Ottaviani, the commission's president and Bishop Colombo, the papal theologian). Humanae Vitae did, however, explicitly allow the modern forms of natural family planning that were then being developed.
It struck me one Saturday afternoon, as I drove past several churches, that there are a lot of people who attend Saturday "evening" Mass.
As an aside, I put "evening" in parentheses because that's the actual word used in Canon 1248 where we find the permission for this "evening" Mass. However, as I drove around in very broad daylight, it was certainly not "evening".
In justifying Saturday night Mass, there is a common appeal made to the "Jewish day" (sundown to sundown) when finding justification for the Saturday "evening" Mass. (1)
The appeal is understandable but then what about actually waiting until "sundown". A literal interpretation would also negate any Mass on Sunday after sundown which would mean most Sunday evening Masses.
Actually, the Church did not make this appeal to the "Jewish day" when making the concession for the fulfillment of the obligation on the previous evening.
Here is what the Church actually said:
Where permission has been granted by the Apostolic See to fulfill the Sunday obligation on the preceding Saturday evening, pastors should explain the meaning of this permission carefully to the faithful and should ensure that the significance of Sunday is not thereby obscured. The purpose of this concession is in fact to enable the Christians of today to celebrate more easily the day of the resurrection of the Lord. (EucharisticumMysterium, Sacred Congregation of Rites, May 25, 1967)
There are a couple things to note:
1. There is a singular emphasis on the significance of Sunday and the fulfillment of the "Sunday obligation".
2. The allowance for the Saturday evening fulfillment of that obligation is in fact only a "concession".
"Concession". That means that it is not the desire of the Church that the faithful fulfill the Sunday obligation on Saturday but only an allowance. But an allowance for what?
The key is in the words "Christians of today". The Church recognizes that the modern world is not a Christian world and that we nevertheless have to live in it. Work responsibilities on Sunday make it difficult for some to attend Mass on Sunday. The Church, in her charity and desire that all the faithful assist at Holy Mass admits a concession for the fulfillment of the obligation on Saturday evening.
In other words, you should NOT be going to Saturday "evening" Mass, unless for reasons beyond your control, you cannot attend Sunday Mass.
In the same document we find this unswerving emphasis on Sunday:
Whenever the community gathers to celebrate the Eucharist, it announces the death and resurrection of the Lord, in the hope of His glorious return. The supreme manifestation of this is the Sunday assembly. This is the day of the week on which, by apostolic tradition, the Paschal Mystery is celebrated in the Eucharist in a special way.75
In order that the faithful may willingly fulfill the precept to sanctify this day and understand why the Church calls them together to celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, from the very outset of their Christian formation "Sunday should be presented to them as the primordial feast day,"76 on which, assembled together, they are to hear the Word of God and take part in the Paschal Mystery.
This portion of the document is presented before the "concession" so that there can be no mistake that Saturday evening Mass is in fact a "concession".
And there is also the additional appeal to pastors to safeguard Sunday:
...pastors should explain the meaning of this permission carefully to the faithful and should ensure that the significance of Sunday is not thereby obscured.
Should there be any doubt over the concessionary nature of the Saturday evening Mass consider Cardinal Arinze's recent (December 1, 2005) directive to the leaders of the Neocatechumenal Way requiring that:
”at least one Sunday per month, the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way must participate in the Holy Mass of the parish community”
In addition to the problem presented by the Neocatechumenal Way celebrating Holy Mass apart from the parish community, the NCW also had been celebrating exclusively on Saturday evening.
I am not challenging the practices of the NCW, I am pointing out a contemporary application of how the Church views the Saturday evening Mass as only a concession.
If the Church at the highest levels has restated its desire that Sunday Mass remain paramount or the "primordial feast day" as the document states in regards to the practices of this one ecclesial community, then should not this desire be applicable to all of us?
Given the actual words of the Church herself:
1. Catholics must reexamine their reasons for attending a Saturday evening Mass and must assure themselves that attendance at this Mass in lieu of Sunday is for reasons beyond their control.
2. Pastors must "explain the meaning of this permission carefully to the faithful and should ensure that the significance of Sunday is not thereby obscured." And they must periodically remind the faithful of the nature of this permission.
One final note on the time of the Saturday "Evening" Mass. While the biblical definition of "evening" varied, the contemporary definition of "evening" is normally considered that period which is "just before twilight" until "astronomical sunset" or the time when the sun no longer illuminates the sky.
Because the Church authorized the "evening" Mass for the "Christians of today" we should assume the contemporary usage of the word "evening". But as you can well see, the majority of Saturday "evening" Masses do not occur in the "evening". There is one Mass I know of that occurs as early at 3:30pm
However, EucharisticumMysterium gives the authority to the local ordinary to determine the allowable times for Saturday evening Masses.
(1). It's interesting to note that Canon Law actually defines a day as follows: In law, a day is understood as a period consisting of 24 continuous hours and begins at midnight unless other provision is expressly made... (Can. 202 §1.) Obviously, the Church does not consider the day to start the evening before.
The following excerpt is taken from SACRED THEN AND SACRED NOW - THE RETURN OF THE OLD LATIN MASS by Thomas Woods, Jr., Roman Catholic Books, www.booksforcatholics.com, Copytright 2008. (My emphases and comments appear in bold type.)
Important Features of the Extraordinary Form: Eucharistic Ministers Not Used
In the extraordinary form, the distribution of Holy Communion is confined to the ordained priest (or, in rare cases, to deacons who are on their way to becoming priests). Lay ministers of the Eucharist are not used.
This aspect will no doubt seem jarring to those who have grown accustomed to the sight of laymen flocking into the sanctuary in order to function as "Eucharistic ministers." But for one thing, this practice was supposed to be rare even in the ordinary form of the Mass-hence the official title "extraordinary [in the sense of unusual] ministers of the Eucharist." More importantly, the beautiful practice of receiving Holy Communion at the hands of a priest plays an important role in reinforcing priestly identity and gives meaning to the discipline of celibacy observed throughout the Roman Rite.
Father James McLucas, former Christendom College chaplain and a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, wrote an extended and important reflection on this subject in 1998. The celibate Catholic priest, who gives up the holy estate of marriage and an exclusive relationship with an earthly spouse in order to devote himself to God's service, was traditionally consoled by an exclusive relationship of his own; he alone could touch God." The traditional role of the celibate priest as the sole administrator of the sacred, "Fr. McLucas explained, "assisted him in sublimating his natural desire for exclusivity with another in marriage, and preserved his orientation toward his spiritual espousal to the Church and his spiritual fatherhood." (10)
The priest does not lose his normal human need for an exclusive relationship with another simply because he is a priest. But while other people satisfy this need through marriage, the priest finds it in his exclusive custodianship of the Eucharist-"an incomparable and unparalleled intimacy", with God, as Fr. McLucas put it. When laymen touch the Host, they (unwittingly, no doubt) deprive him of this exclusivity, which is supposed to ground and give strength to his celibate commitment.
Furthermore, the paternal dimension of the priesthood-the priest's role as spiritual father-is undermined when the priest is in effect told that after the consecration he is really no longer needed; the laity can take things from there. "The act of the priest 'feeding' the faithful with the Bread of Life incarnates his role as Its sole provider and, far more than the eye cans see, forms his and his people's perception of his spiritual fatherhood," wrote Fr. McLucas. And young boys are less likely to pursue priestly vocations, or indeed to be intrigued by and attracted to the priestly office in the first place, if the priest is not a figure of awe, who alone brings his people the divine gifts. If Mrs. Jones can do practically everything he can, young men will be less likely to be willing to make the sacrifices associated with the priesthood.
(10) This section is deeply indebted to an extraordinary article: Fr. James McLucas, "The Emasculation of the Priesthood," The Latin Mass, Spring 1998, available at http??www.latinmasmagaizne.com/articles/articles_emasculation.html
The following excerpt is taken from SACRED THEN AND SACRED NOW - THE RETURN OF THE OLD LATIN MASS by Thomas Woods, Jr., Roman Catholic Books, www.booksforcatholics.com, Copytright 2008. (My emphases and comments appear in bold type.)
In 1994 female altar servers were suddenly permitted for use in the ordinary form of the Roman rite. But the concession...came in the form of an indult - that is, an exception to a general rule - and one that bishops were at liberty to forbid in their dioceses. "The implication is that the general liturgical norm prohibiting female altar servers remains in existence, so that in general women may not serve at the altar undless a local ordinary intervenes by a positive act and grants permission for his territorial jurisdiction. Thus, the Congregation [for Divine Worship] has clarified the authentic interpretation to mean that an indult is given to diocesan bishops to permit the use of female servers." Instruction number 2 of the indult itself urges that "it will alway be very appropriate to follow the noble tardtion of having boys serve at the altar."
[While Rome of course is within its right to do this, I have always felt that such "indults" place the bishop in an awkward position, evidenced by the fact that most of the bishops eventually "cave". However, today's bishop is the one clamoring for more autonomy and local authority in manners of church discipline. So with that freedom has come the responsibility to be the "bad guy" once in awhile. Much praise to the bishops who stand up to popular opinion and, despite indults, continue with what the Church actually prefers.]
...The very fact that the exclusively male preserve of altar service can be traced back to the beginning of the Church weighs very heavily in the equation, particularly for a Church that values Tradition as one of its pillars. ..."In the case of religious tradition which has not only existed, but has been consciously, continuously, and emphatically reaffirmed and insisted upon for two millenia, there must be an enormous and overwhelming presumption that such a traditon reflects the will of Christ." ... the "general discipline of the Church [against female altar service] has been set in stone by canon 44 of the Collection of Laodicea which dates generally from the end of the 4th century and which has figured in almost all canonical collections of East and West."
Many of the arguments against female altar servers are similar to those that justify the reservation of the priesthood to men alone, particularly since altar servers are often considered extensions of the priest (Arguments in defencse of a male-only preisthood are well summarized in Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and the Congreagation for the Doctirine of the Faith's 1976 document Inter Insigniores, both of which are available online.) We see this close relationship between altar service and its culminationtion in the priesthood not only in that both the priest and altar servers wear the cassock and surplice, but also in certain linguistic conventions. The Spanish word fo altar boy is monaguillo, which means a "little monk." In Italian, ... "the word for altar boy is chierichetto - a "little cleric," which means that the term used naturally for "altar girs" in Italian is in itself an affront to Catholic doctrine: they are called donne chierichettoa, "little female clerics."
A married person, according to Catholic teaching as well as common sense, may not flirt or become involved romatically with a member of the opposite sex even if their relationshiop should remain technically chaste. Their behavior toward each other is logically ordered toward physical consummation even if such consummation does not in fact occur.
..."From this perspective...we could say that a woman or girl serving at the altar, no matter how devout her personal intentions, no matter how reverent, recollected and modest her deportment and dress, is by her very presence in the sanctuary engaging in what is objectively a kind of spiritual immodesty. She is flirting, as it were, with priestly ordination-mimicking it, drawing as near as she can to it with an indecorous familiartiy and an intrusive intimacy. Her liturgical role insinuates and suggests ordination as its proper goal or fulfillment, even though this is absolutely excluded by the Law of Christ."
Female altar service, in short, introduces a deep tension, an inner contradition, into the sacred litrugy. It makes an ideological statement which both politicizes and secularizes our Eucharistic worship. Instead of reflecting the sublime harmony of the communion of saints, a foretatste of Heaven itself, the sanctuary comes to symbolize an earthly battlefield in the new cold war against "patriarchy."