Teacher Fired from Confirmation Class for being “Too Passionate” About Her Faith

I have to share a sad story about a friend of mine who the parish pastor removed from teaching a Sacrament of Confirmation class for “being too passionate about her faith” around “impressionable” students. This is an unfortunate event but hopefully some good can come out of it if it awakens the conscience and awareness of others about the threats to the Catholic Church. Here is a letter my friend wrote explaining what happened (I removed the names at my friend’s request):

Last night I was “let go” from teaching Confirmation to High School students at [name of school] because I am accused of “being too passionate about my faith” and the students are “too impressionable”.

I am a very good faithful Catholic Catechist that teaches only the Truth from Scripture and the CCC.

I believe in helping the students to develop “well formed consciences”, so I speak about the “intrinsic evils” in our current dark culture. Abortion, euthanasia, cloning, destruction of stem cells for embryonic research, the eroding and re-definition of traditional marriage and the assault on our religious freedom. But most of all the disappearance of “God” in our world. The DRE says that I’m only to teach Confirmation (LOL).

Last Wednesday the day after the election I spoke to the students about voting as Catholics when first and shared the above with them. A question came from a student asking “does this mean if you voted for Obama that you are not Catholic?” I said that voting for a platform that supports intrinsic evil like that means you are not a “faithful Catholic”.

I had a meeting with the pastor this morning, he is supports the DREs viewpoint. He voted for Obama and doesn’t believe that in doing so you are not a “faithful Catholic”. I told him he was wrong and that the majority of U.S. Bishops and our Pope thinks so too. He said he didn’t care what the Bishops say–which means this Priest is outside the magisterium of the Church–which is not new news to any of us. The majority of current leadership of our Church have succumb too.

It’s terrible enough that those who are not Catholic would attack us–but to be attacked from within is very depressing. I believe that God is allowing all of this to happen to me and to the world for a greater good and I trust in Him. I will fight this and all those like this within the Church and in the public square.

First, we should look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches about the Sacrament of Confirmation. The introduction in the CCC says (italics mine):

For by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.

The Sacrament of Confirmation is a calling to spread and defend the faith. Defend it from what? What are the threats to the Catholic faith? I think my friend nailed it in her letter when she identified these threats as “the ‘intrinsic evils’ in our current dark culture. Abortion, euthanasia, cloning, destruction of stem cells for embryonic research, the eroding and re-definition of traditional marriage and the assault on our religious freedom. But most of all the disappearance of God in our world.” In order to defend against evil, you must be able to identify it. All my friend did was introduce these evils through the lens of the Church. We cannot act so naïve as to think that these young adults will never encounter these challenges to the faith. So shouldn’t we prepare them using the best tools available to us like the CCC?

The paster’s actions also seem to fly in the face of this year’s theme for the Catholic Church, the year of faith, and the call for the New Evangelization. This is a call from the highest levels of the Catholic Church for the faithful to become better catechized and make an effort to grow deeper in their faith. And yet, at the local level, when someone tries to do just, she gets kicked out of her role.  The world will catechize these impressionable teenagers one way or another. Would you prefer the future generation of the Catholic Church to be catechized by popular culture, the media, and our politicians or by those who truly love their faith and want to see the Church thrive in the grace and love that Jesus intended?

By avoiding teaching these difficult issues, local parishes present a watered down version of Catholicism. Teenagers are impressionable, but they can also be very astute. They detect when someone isn’t giving them straight answers or presents Church teachings using clichés and platitudes. Church teachings no longer become the product of centuries of thought by some of the most brilliant theologians the world has ever known, but instead are reduced to the equivalent of flowery song lyrics. And like a song in a large playlist, teenagers will just file away their perception of Church doctrine as just one idea of many and head towards what they feel is more exciting, interesting, and important. When local parishes keep this status quo, I’m not surprised that regular Mass attendance is down to 23% among US Catholics. Teenagers crave substance and yet many parishes are afraid to give it to them.

What Does the Rosary Teach Us?

My friend’s situation reminds me of the Third Luminous Mystery of the rosary — Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of the Heaven and the Call to Conversion. Remember the response Jesus received when He announced that He was the fulfilment of scripture. Did the people rejoice and listen intently to Jesus’ teachings? Nope. They chased Him out-of-town and later crucified Him. Similarly, St. Paul caused riots and was almost assassinated trying to spreads Jesus’ teachings in the Acts of the Apostles (you should definitely listen to it). And so we find ourselves in a similar situation today. There are many people out there who truly love Jesus and His Church and want to proclaim authentic Catholic teachings. But they are chased out, like Jesus, because those teachings upset the status quo and force people to evaluate their priorities and values in life. Conversion is difficult and takes effort especially when it forces us to leave the comfort of the status quo or admit that we are on a wrong path. But in the Third Luminous Mystery, Jesus asks us all to a life of continuous conversion and to always try to move ever closer to Him.

When we pray this mystery we should keep in our intentions those people who cling to their beliefs even when they run counter to the Church’s teachings. May the Holy Spirit open their hearts to the true conversion to which Jesus calls them. And we should pray for all of those who want to teach the Catholic faith but are persecuted and chased out. Like St. Simeon in the Fourth Joyful Mystery, may they stay steadfast in their convictions even when it seems pointless.

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The Battle Over Religious Freedom Intensifies

Prayer warriors, consider this article as your declaration of war and your rosaries as your draft card. Now that the election is over the government’s battle on religious freedom will turn from covert, guerrilla warfare to an all out, open attack. I wrote a few articles about the attacks on religious freedom such as the Health and Human Services Contraception Mandate and liberal Catholics marginalizing authentic Catholic teachings. But these issues are just the “opening shots” in the war against religion and morality (particularly against the Catholic Church). It’s a test of what type of defence the faithful will put up when attacked. The answer so far — not a very good one. And now the anti-religion lobby will feel all the more powerful to lay down a political blitzkrieg on the United States of America.

U.S Postage Stamp, 1957There were many wasted opportunities for the people of the United States to show that we would not stand for an assault on religious freedom. When the Obama administration announced the HHS Mandate, it was still questionable whether Obamacare was going to stand in the Supreme Court. But it did. It was then questionable whether Obama was going to win re-election. He dodged both of those hurdles with relative ease. But the HHS contraception mandate is really just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, I think the HHS mandate isn’t so much about contraception as it is about the Obama administration testing to see the effects of attacking a pillar of American democracy — the freedom of religion. Unfortunately, the Obama administration learned that they can get away with their attacks on religion since nothing he did stopped the American people (even 50% of the voting Catholics) from re-electing him. If Obama can force employers to pay for contraception or force states to fund Planned Parenthood and still get support from the American people, what’s to stop him from pushing the assault on the faithful even further?

Many people and groups are really starting to ratchet up the pressure to compromise on issues of morality and religious freedom. Right after the election, the president of Planned Parenthood called on the GOP to drop their pro-life base. Basically, she said that the Republicans tried that whole pro-life message and failed to beat Obama. So they should give up that “extreme” position to win the women’s vote. Similarly, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal called on conservatives to “tone down the abortion extremism.” How dare people pray in front of abortion clinics! Evangelical writer Jim Wallis said that ” it appears that a strategy of citing a “war on religion”— and doubling down on the long-failed strategy of citing abortion and traditional marriage as the two “non-negotiable” religious issues — once again failed.” And the Department of Justice said that you give up your freedom of religion when you go into business.

In my opinion, the people who want to curb religion’s influence on society are striking while the iron is hot after a large Obama victory. They want to plant those seeds of doubt on organized religion, morality, and natural law now so that later restrictions on religious freedom might become codified in the law. If they continue to present this narrative that traditional values and morality just don’t work in today’s world, people will start to buy into it making it easier for government to curb religious liberty even further. And why would government want to do that? Morality based on a natural law is something that the government cannot control. It means that they have to accept that a higher power than government guides peoples’ views. But if government and the groups that heavily depend on the government (I’m looking at you Planned Parenthood) can lead people to believe that natural law and Church teachings are wrong or short-sighted, then the government can control morality through the law. The country becomes a place where right and wrong are defined by the law (and hence political campaigns, lobbyists, and other influential sources), and not the other way around where the law recognizes and enforces what is intrinsically good or bad.

What Does the Rosary Teach Us?

When looking at the challenges religious liberty in the United States faces, it’s important to meditate on the Fifth Joyful Mystery — the Finding of Jesus in the Temple. There are several analogies between this mystery and current events. First, look at how Mary and Joseph, when travelling away from Jerusalem, didn’t realize that Jesus was not with them. I think this symbolizes the state of many Catholics today who have drifted away from the core teachings of their faith and don’t even realize it. Because they don’t make understanding the authentic Catholic faith a priority in their lives, politicians’ passionate speeches that tug at the heartstrings but might run contrary to Church teachings lure people away. The Fifth Joyful Mystery reminds us how important it is to keep Jesus “in our sights.” It’s important to do routine spiritual “gut checks” through prayer, meditation, reading the Bible, learning the Church’s teachings, attending Mass, and receiving the sacraments. When we make an effort to embrace our faith, we will have a better awareness when people are trying to influence us to act contrary to that faith.

The other important aspect of the Fifth Joyful Mystery is that Mary and Joseph searched for Jesus for three days before finding Him. In this politically charged environment, it is so easy to become depressed when you see your deeply held beliefs torn down by the institutions that are supposed to protect them. Much like how Mary and Joseph’s search was fruitless for several days, so it may seem like our efforts of praying and living the faith do not lead us or this world to a better place. But our faith tells us that our efforts will bear fruit one day if we just keep searching for Jesus in our lives. If we are lucky, maybe there will be an awakening of conscience and a call from the people for our leaders to protect our religious freedom, not attack it. But even if the world spirals permanently downward we can take comfort that we will find eternal joy and perfection in Heaven. And in the end, isn’t that what truly matters? The politicians may strip religion from our laws but they can never strip the reality of morality, God, and Heaven from our souls.

Fight the good fight and live to pray another day!

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Because I said so…

Picture this.  You’re watching a football game and in the middle of a play some yahoo, frustrated with his team’s performance, jumps from the stands and runs on to the field.  He manages to take the ball from the quarterback and runs into the end zone.  He spikes the ball and declares that he’s such a great football player.  Meanwhile, his drunken friends in the stands are also cheering him on by telling everyone just how great of a football player their friend is.  However, that fan’s shenanigans ultimately do not mean anything. His touchdown wouldn’t count for either team, and his effort would not go down in any official record book.  And no amount of cheer leading or yelling from either him or his friends would change the fact that he is not an actual football player that has an effect on the outcome of the game.

English: Caroline Kennedy speaks during the fi...

And so we shift from football to the Democratic National Convention.  Here we have Obama and other Democrats cheer leading for their base.  Many people who spoke basically said, “Look at us! Look at how compassionate and pro-life Obama and the Democratic party is!”  But like the yahoo who ran onto the football field acting like a football player (and his drunken friends who echoed that claim), simply proclaiming you are compassionate and pro-life doesn’t make you so.

For example, we heard Caroline Kennedy say how a women’s reproductive health care is under attack because of the stricter abortion laws passed in many states.  She said that her Catholic faith would not allow her to support such laws.  I don’t know what theology class she took or what priests she consulted, but the Catholic Church is definitively against abortion in all forms.  Implying that the Church supports abortion in any way is a gross distortion of the truth and is scandalous because it misleads other Catholics who aren’t educated in their faith.

But the real woppers came from former congresswoman, Kathy Dahlkemper.  She went one step further than Caroline Kennedy and actually tried to make the argument that Obama is pro-life and that ObamaCare is the most pro-life piece of legislation ever passed in the Unite States.  Her words were:

So when people criticize Obama for his record on abortion, she continued, “you can turn on them and say, ‘He is pro-life.'”

Well that settles it.  There is no more debate.  Obama is pro-life because someone said so.  Never mind any of the hidden abortion funding in ObamaCare, the HHS contraception mandate, federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, the cancellation of federal funds for adult stem cell research, and the attacks, blackmail, and extortion from the federal government towards any state that tries to restrict abortions or defund Planned Parenthood.  Never mind the glowing endorsement Obama got from Nancy Keenan, president of National Abortion Rights Action League Pro-Choice America (NARAL), at the start of the DNC.  Never mind what Obama and the liberal left do, they are pro-choice, pro-life, whole-life, no-life, and whatever else they want you to think they are… because they say so.

Our Lady's Island Church of the Assumption Eas...

The twisting of facts and the outright lies at the DNC regarding contraception, abortion, and the teachings of the Catholic Church remind me the importance of the Fourth Glorious Mystery — Mary’s Assumption.  We remember in this mystery that Mary calls us to forge a deeper relationship with her son, Jesus Christ.  Part of forging this relationship is coming to know Jesus as the Truth and not distort it to fit our wants and desires.  But this is an understanding we only receive when we pray, read the Bible, learn the Catechism and tradition of the Catholic faith, receive the sacrament of Reconciliation, and receive the Eucharist.

There will be many people and groups that will try to confuse you and distort the truth in the upcoming weeks.  The Caroline Kennedys and Nancy Pelosis of the world will try to use their twisted view of the Catholic faith to serve their political ends instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them in making wise decisions.  It is so important to make an effort to learn and understand your faith so that you won’t be swayed by anyone’s empty words, promises, and distortions.

I think it’s fitting to end with a small prayer:

Oh Lord, be with us now in this time when Your Word is so distorted or ignored in this world.  May we seek the guidance of Mary, the Holy Spirit, and the angels and saints to understand Your Truth and find the energy to follow it.  We pray for the conversion of those who choose to speak in Your Name to solely fit their personal ends instead of humbling themselves to truly listen and follow You.  Amen.

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It Will Get Ugly in November

I have a feeling this year’s presidential election is going to get much uglier than in years past.  Politics has always been a dirty business, but lately everyone seems to act so much more “unhinged.”  People are expressing the slightest disagreements with such high levels of vitriol and anger.  Looking at some peoples’ reactions, supporting traditional marriage or Paul Ryan‘s budget proposal isn’t just a difference of opinion, but more akin to supporting a holocaust or war crime.  In case you forgot, here are some of the issues that will bring about an unprecedented level of conflict leading up to the November vote:

  • Class warfare (Occupy movement, the 99% vs 1%, taxing the rich, more entitlements, etc.)
  • Financial warfare (budgets, deficits, defaults, socialism vs. capitalism, etc.)
  • Armed conflicts (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, global terrorism, etc.)
  • Government expansion (Obamacare, HHS mandate, nanny laws, greater police surveillance, etc.)
  • Social issues (the poor, gay marriage, identity politics, etc.)
  • Religious freedom threats (HHS mandate, freedom of “worship”, abortion funding through Planned Parenthood, etc.)

And those are just some of the real issues.  We will also fight through accusations of racism, bigotry, and intolerance for any criticism of the Obama administration, media bias, and all the “fakeraversies” and “outrage du jour” that people cook up.  This election will be a perfect storm of important, country-changing issues mixed with just plain craziness.  If you remember back to Obama’s first months as president, the biggest controversy back then was him authorizing federal funds for embryonic stems cell research.  Compared to what is on the table this election, that ethical breach seems like small potatoes now.

I came across this article after hearing about it on Immaculate Heart Radio.  It’s titled “10 Ways Catholic Voters Will Be Misled” and is worth a glance.  It breaks down how the various political groups, the Obama administration, and the media will spin various issues to either tug at the Catholic voters’ heartstrings or attack and dismiss the Catholic position on certain topics.  For example, here is one way Catholic voters will be misled:

“Progressive” Catholic groups will produce polling that supposedly shows Catholics disagree with Church teaching on the sanctity of life and marriage, implying those who agree are in the minority and “behind the times.”

We hear this sentiment all the time whether it be from Nancy Pelosi, Katherine Sibelius, or the Georgetown University administration.  The attacks are only going to get stronger and more aggressive as we get closer to November.  And they won’t magically disappear regardless of the election’s outcome.  Unfortunately, Catholics are going to have to bunker down for a war we will probably fight for our entire lives.  We will experience some glorious wins and some agonizing defeats.  But it’s important that we keep up the fight for what is good, just, and right.

These political battles remind me of the Fourth Joyful Mystery — The Presentation in the Temple.  Remember, St. Simeon waited and prayed in the temple his entire life before finally meeting the baby Jesus.  His life was probably full of frustration as people probably mocked him and what they saw as a sad waste of time.  But he endured and eventually had his victory when he laid his eyes on Jesus.  We should remember the strength and endurance St. Simeon showed when we feel crushed by political forces that seem unstoppable.  Defending our faith will eventually lead to happiness.  It may not be a happiness this world can offer and to many, it may look like we’re wasting our time living Catholic values.  But we will find happiness in God’s heavenly kingdom where we will find our true victory.

Catholic Cross Jesus

When thinking about defending the Catholic faith in the voting booths this November, I’m also reminded of the lessons from the Fourth Glorious Mystery — Mary’s Assumption into Heaven.  We must remember that Mary and the saints are our guides who help us navigate life’s obstacles by showing us the path God puts before us.  Mary has given many messages throughout history.  One theme she keeps repeating is the importance of knowing the faith.  After all, how can we live and defend the faith and love God if we do not know Him?  That is why it is so important to learn the Church’s teachings on various issues so you won’t be misled by those who try to use your faith for their poltical advantage.  Read the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Listen to Catholic radio.  And most importantly, open your heart and mind in prayer to listen to the guidance of Mary and the saints (need help?  Buy my book on Amazon).  Our battles will not end at the polls in November, but with the help of the Church and the power of our faith we can endure whatever craziness comes our way.

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Obama Contraception Mandate LinkFest

The articles regarding President Obama’s contraception mandate keep piling up.  Everyone is weighing in, whether it be Catholic bishops or secular sources evaluating the Constitutional consequences of this mandate.  President Obama stirred up a hornets’ nest with this decision as it has now brought to the forefront questions of religious freedom, healthcare, and conscience in America.  Unfortunately, this issue also has brought out the deeply seated prejudice against the Catholic Church that many still harbor in this country.

We really do stand at a juncture in the USA.  This is not like previous political fights like raising the debt ceiling or passing a budget.  In those fights, the various sides can make compromises and deals since the issue at hand is usually morally neutral.  But various religions cannot compromise their morality.  Unlike the typical politician that usually bends in whatever direction that will result in reelection, religions just can’t redefine intrinsic evils to make their situation politically convenient.  And it doesn’t matter if Obama gives Catholics one year, ten years, or ten centuries to comply with this mandate.  The Church’s position will be the same because morality is not a democracy.

I encourage you to read these articles and share them.  Sign petitions, make donations, and spread the word as we face this very real assault on our religious liberty.  I wish I had the time to comment on each one of these articles, but there are just too many outlets now covering this story.  Read the articles, read the comments, and pray for the conversion of hearts in our politicians and those who have so much hatred towards the Church.

Remember the Fourth Joyful Mystery and how Simeon’s patience and endurance eventually paid off when he finally saw the baby Jesus.  He waited in the temple his whole life when others probably told him his mission was pointless and silly.  Pray that we too will show that same level of steadfastness as Simeon in this assault against our cherished values.  Right now we are like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in the First Sorrowful Mystery.  I fear that we will have trials ahead.  But like Jesus, we will find strength through God and the Holy Spirit to endure any challenge this world throws at us.

 

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Urgent Moral Turnaround Needed!

Last week Obama declared that all health care providers must cover contraception regardless of their moral objections.  That’s it, no discussion, no conscience clauses, nothing except a token stay of execution.  Laws that reflect and respect morality are on life support and the government is looking to euthanize them.  I wish I could say that we’ve hit a crescendo on the assault of religious freedom, but unfortunately I think we are still in the initial salvos.  It’s contraception coverage today, tomorrow its mandated abortion coverage, then on to mandated abortions and who knows what else.

Is this the new face of morality?

Remember that laws reflect the morality of a civilization.  If morality played a more important role in peoples’ lives there is no way a law like this would even be considered.  For me, one of the largest problems with this contraception mandate is not that it’s a law, but that the general public doesn’t recognize or care that evil is becoming rooted in our laws.  Any civilization that makes intrinsic evils the cornerstone of its laws cannot thrive or even survive.  I’ve heard the saying, “Satan’s greatest weapon is making people believe he does not exist.”  That saying has never been more true than when intrinsic evils become the law of the land in the land of the free.

I could vent and rant about this topic for a thousand more words and look at it from a variety of angles.  I could dive into how the systematic dismantling of morality has led to a breakdown in all aspects of society whether it be education, economics, medicine, or crime.  But I’m going to leave that to other articles.  I want to focus on the central theme of RosaryMeds — discussing the need for prayer and the rosary.

Pope Benedict XVI prays in front of the image ...
I prefer his moral guidance

Look at the Fourth Glorious Mystery — Mary’s Assumption into HeavenGod assumed Mary into Heaven and gave her a special role — bring us closer to her son, Jesus Christ.  Over centuries, she has appeared to many people with many messages.  She asks us to have a strong faith.  In order to have a strong faith, we need to be well versed in the Bible and the teachings of the Catholic Church.  How else are we to love God and do His will if we never learn His will?  How do we know right from wrong if we never study it and then meditate on it?  Part of the reason laws like the contraception mandate pass is in part due to Catholics not taking a true interest in learning and then defending their faith.

I also think we should turn to the Second Joyful Mystery — The Visitation.  Prayer is good and I truly believe it has the power to change the world.  But part of its effectiveness is that we must act on what God gives us through prayer.  Mary didn’t sit on the grace God gave her in the Annunciation, but she went out into the hostile world and shared that grace with her cousin Elizabeth.  And her son, Jesus, didn’t spend all His time in meditation but instead went out in the world and converted people.  His life was a living prayer since all His actions reflected God’s power and glory.  And so, He calls us to also go out into the world, powered by the guidance of the Holy Spirit from our prayers, to convert souls.

Finally, think about the Fifth Joyful Mystery — the finding of Jesus in the Temple.  Mary and Joseph travelled for three days before realizing Jesus was not with them.  And when they did realize He was missing, they searched in sorrow before finding Him.  I believe we are in a world that has gone very far and still hasn’t realized that Jesus is missing in it.  Hopefully, one day soon, we will realize that Jesus is missing and have the courage to turn around and find Him.  Like Mary and Joseph searching for Jesus “in sorrow,” our return to God’s grace and the rebuilding of morality will not be easy.  There will be setbacks.  There will be those who will stand in our way every chance they get.  But we must have the conviction to endure and continue our arduous mission to bring Jesus’ love into this world.

It’s simple physics.  The world will stay on its course unless opposed by an opposite counter action.  It’s not like one day laws will suddenly appear that will magically turn the world into a moral place.  If we want to change the laws, we have to first start by converting souls.  It takes people like you and me, fueled by prayer, to influence others and change this world for the better.  Without moral people speaking up, this world will continue on its course.  And if you think things are bad now, just wait and see where we go if we sit on our hands.  That’s all I can say for now or else my blood pressure will shoot through the roof.  But believe me, I will revisit this topic and do what I can to fight the further legalization of intrinsic evils.

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Why Catholicism is not a Democracy

Vote

I listened to Ave Maria radio on my drive home from work the other day and had a chance to listen to a replay of a talk given by Al Kresta, host of “Kresta in the Afternoon.”  His talk is titled “The History of Dissent in the Catholic Church” and he takes a very high level view of progressive groups like the American Catholic Council and their misguided attempts to change the Church by making it behave more like democratic government.  I’m going to dive in with some of the highlights I took from his talk as well as show its relevance to the rosary.

Kresta talks about various “constitutions” and “bill of rights” that the American Catholic Council has drafted over the years.  Their demands range from changing dogma on social issues such as abortion, contraception, and homosexuality to how they believe the Church should govern itself.  In summary, they basically want the Church to function like a democracy where the faithful elect Church leaders and can vote for changes to the Church’s moral dogma.  At face value this seems like a great idea.  After all, who doesn’t like democracy?  Democratic nations are usually the freest, happiest, safest, and most prosperous places on the planet.  So wouldn’t a more democratic Catholic Church be a better one?

The answer is no, it would not.  Jesus’ teachings, God’s will, and the basis for all morality cannot be subject to opinion polls, campaign slogans, and popular elections.  For example, something like abortion cannot go from an intrinsic evil to morally acceptable because it wins a vote.  Imagine a faith where your morality and state of grace could flip-flop with every election?  One day you’re in a state of grace and the next day you’re in a state of mortal sin.  Does that sound reasonable to you?  This is moral relativism at its worst.  You just can’t take Jesus Christ and reduce Him to just someone who came up with a bunch of well-meaning ideas that are now outdated and need changing.  Nor can a group of popularly elected “scholars” take it upon themselves to improve on God’s will because they feel it really doesn’t reflect the modern Catholic.  To put it another way, the Church makes “laws” based on moral truths.  You cannot reverse the process and change moral truths because you pass a law.

c. 1459

When we pray the rosary, we should remember the Fourth Luminous Mystery — The Transfiguration.  Here we see the power and majesty of Jesus Christ as God Made Man.  Jesus was not just a man who was trying to interpret God’s Word, but was the Word Made Flesh.  What Jesus taught was not opinion, but Truth.  And that truth remains the same and isn’t something that huamans can change to fit with societal norms.  We also recall the Third Joyful Mystery — The Nativity of Christ.  We meditate that God does not interact in this world on our terms, but His.  While many would have liked Jesus to be a political leader of high stature, He was not.  Jesus was born in a stable and grew up to become a simple carpenter because that was God’s plan.  We should pray that we accept Jesus and His Church for what it is and not try to shape it to our human whims.

Finally, we should pray for those who do find the Catholic Church and God’s will so difficult to live up to that they instead want to change it to suit their desires.  We pray that they allow the Holy Spirit into their hearts, as the apostles did on Pentecost, and go out and face life’s moral challenges instead of fruitlessly trying to redefine morality.  Our Mother Mary has said many times and in many ways that the sooner you stop fighting God, the sooner you can embrace the joy and happiness of His grace.

I highly recommend listening to Al Kresta’s “History of Dissent.”  You can listen to it online (link below) or download it do any portable device.  Do what I did and listen to it in your car.  It makes for a good commute.

DownloadHistory of Dissent

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Remembering Souls in November

Created with images found in Wikipedia. All of...We just celebrated two important, yet often overlooked, religious feast days.  On November 1st we celebrated “All Saints Day” and on November 2nd we celebrated “All Souls Day.”  If you went to Mass on one or both days then good for you (FYI, All Saints Day was a Holy Day of Obligation for all those able to attend).  If you did not attend Mass or just forgot about these feast days then here’s a quick recap on how they relate to the rosary.

All Saints Day, as the name implies, is a time when we remember the saints of the Catholic Church.  We look to the saints as examples of how to live God’s will.  They made sacrifices in this life knowing that there was much more to their existence than what they could experience on Earth.  They made that giant leap of faith that God called them to do more than just live for the earthly pleasures of this world.  When we pray the rosary, we should remember the saints when we pray the First Glorious Mystery and recall Jesus’ resurrection.  Jesus showed us through His resurrection that there is so much more to our existence than what we see in this world.  And while we may know and profess this when we pray, being able to have the courage to actively live for Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven is what truly makes someone a saint.  And just as Jesus rose from the dead to redeem all humanity, we should remember that He calls everyone to be a saint.  It doesn’t matter whether you go to Mass every day or have not been in a church for years.  We all have the ability to receive forgiveness and resolve to do God’s will.  Remember, the first saints denied they even knew Jesus (Saint Peter) and abandoned Him at His Crucifixion (the apostles).  But through the gift of the Holy Spirit, they found the strength to ultimately live as true disciples of Christ.  If they could become saints, then any one of us can be one as well.

Another image of souls being purified by flame...On All Souls Day we remember all those who have died.  I think All Souls Day is one of the most important, yet least celebrated, feast days in the Church (unless you live in a country that actively celebrates “The Day of the Dead”).  We remember those who have left this world and who now exist in either Purgatory or Heaven.  It is especially important to pray for those in Purgatory because they rely on our prayers for their final purification.  Think about how frustrating it must be to exist in Purgatory.  You are so close to the eternal joy and happiness of Heaven and yet you’re not quite there.  And there is nothing you can do to get into Heaven yourself.  You are completely reliant on others’ prayers and God’s mercy.  And you know what?  Not to scare you, but most of us will probably find ourselves in this state of existence one day.

So pray for those in Purgatory.  Encourage others to pray for those in Purgatory.  Because the more people who actively pray for souls in Purgatory now will mean that there will be more people praying for you and those you love when you enter that last step before entering Heaven.  I encourage you to make praying for the souls in Purgatory part of praying the rosary.  One of my concluding prayers is “Saint Gertrude’s Prayer.”  The Lord told St. Gertrude that He would release 1,000 souls from Purgatory each time it is offered in sincerity.  Personally, I find it staggering how many souls must be in Purgatory if this 30 second, twelfth century prayer release so many.  So many souls are counting on your prayers and you, one day, will be counting on others in order for you to make that final leap into God’s Kingdom of Heaven.

Saint Gertrude’s Prayer

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

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Crisis of Faith

You have to love our German Shepherd, Pope Benedict XVI.  Last week he traveled to Germany and delivered some great speeches and homilies.  What I like about the Pope is that he tells things as it is and teaches the Catholic faith even if it runs contrary to the norms of modern society.  And unlike many politicians, he doesn’t take on the victim mentality but instead challenges the faithful to really live as Jesus calls them regardless of the obstacles imposed by the outside world.  Like the manager of a sports team, he discusses our weaknesses so that we are aware of them and can aim to be better Catholics and better people.  In this day and age, that level of honesty mixed with compassion and motivation are rare.

Last Saturday, Pope Benedict met with Central Committee of German Catholics and discussed challenges the Church faces in developed, Western countries.  According to the Catholic News Agency, the Pope told them:

“We must honestly admit that we have more than enough by way of structure but not enough by way of Spirit.  I would add: the real crisis facing the Church in the western world is a crisis of faith.”  This is observed, said the Pope, “in the inconstancy and fragmentation of many people’s lives and in an exaggerated individualism,” such that many people “no longer seem capable of any form of self-denial or of making a sacrifice for others.”

Pope in Fatima
Image by Catholic Church (England and Wales) via Flickr

I understand what the Pope means in terms of the Western Church having structure but lacking faith.  I receive a Church bulletin every Sunday and there is no shortage of club meetings, events, and services.  There is also no shortage of people in the pews at Sunday Mass.  And yet, I do feel that something is missing in terms of spirituality.  Many people treat Sunday Mass as putting in one hour of work before they can socialize and enjoy donuts and coffee.  And yet, where are the large crowds to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, pray the rosary, and attend Adoration?  How many people attend Mass on Sunday almost like they are clocking in and out of work because it is an obligation?  And worse, how many children learn that “in and out” attitude regarding Mass from the adults’ example?

Contrast the modern day American parish with that of a small village in some unknown part of the world.  I’ve seen other parts of the globe where someone’s life and faith are basically one.  They pray regularly for long periods of time, dedicate and offer fasting and abstinence for intentions, attend Mass multiple times a week, and receive the Sacraments.  But there is more to their faith than just these outward acts.  It’s hard to explain, but you just get the sense that their faith is just part of who they are and means so much to them.  When you compare these two groups you realize that Pope Benedict is right when he noted that the Western Church has plenty of structure and not enough of the Holy Spirit.

When praying the rosary, meditate on this crisis of faith on the Fourth Glorious Mystery — The Assumption of Mary.  Remember, God assumed Mary, body and soul, into Heaven.  And she is now our guide in all things spiritual.  We pray for her guidance that we live our faith fully every day, in every word, every action, and every thought.  We pray especially that we can muster the strength to imitate Mary and not take the great gift of faith for granted or reduce the Church to a weekend social club.  Mary begs us to follow her advice because she knows the great joy that awaits us in Heaven and she does not wish for that joy to be delayed (Purgatory) or lost (Hell).

We must remember that we are Catholics, not just for an hour at Mass on Sunday, but 24/7.  And nearly all of us fall short of living our faith in its entirety.  And that is why we pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit, Mary, the saints, and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

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Have You Friended Jesus?

True or False?  As Catholics we should abstain from eating meat on Fridays.  I know a lot of people hear this and think this is an older tradition that no one really follows anymore.  Or this is only required during Lent.  However, the Bishops of England and Wales, to reunite people with their faith, are reminding people in their diocese to abstain from meat on Fridays.  From their press release:

The Bishops also wish to remind us that every Friday is set aside as a special day of penitence, as it is the day of the suffering and death of the Lord. They believe it is important that all the faithful again be united in a common, identifiable act of Friday penance because they recognise that the virtue of penitence is best acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness.

Demonstrating outward signs of our faith is something lost in modern society.  Many people go through the entire day without a saying a single prayer or having any thoughts about God.  We tend to live our day in a religious neutral zone of neither separating ourselves completely from God through mortal sin but not really making much effort to further our relationship with Him.  Basically God has become like that Facebook friend we mostly ignore but have not de-friended.  We just aren’t interested in sharing our life with Him.  The bishops remind us that there are many simple things we can do to make our relationship with God a more integral part of our lives.

The bishops’ words remind me of the Second Joyful Mystery of the rosary.  Remember, in the Bible immediately after the Annunciation, Mary travels to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  After receiving such a tremendous gift from God the first thing Mary does is goes out and shares that joy with others.  Mary shows us that when you receive God’s grace the best thing to do is go out and share it with others.  Similarly, the bishops want us to live our faith publicly and share the joy of Jesus’ love with everyone.  When we weave little reminders of our faith into our daily routine, whether it be fasting, abstaining from meat on Fridays, or praying more regularly, we forge a more intimate relationship with God which will burn much brighter for all the world to see.

Let us pray for the resolve to live our faith publicly by consciously performing outward signs that remind us of God’s presence.  We should also pray for those who are persecuted for living their faith.  May they draw strength from the Holy Spirit to continue living as God calls them.  And finally, we should remember when we pray the Second Joyful Mystery all of those who have left the faith for whatever reason.  May our outward signs of the greatness of God’s loving grace bring them back to the Church’s welcoming arms.

Do you have any simple things people can add to their daily routine to remind them of their faith?  Please leave a comment below.

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