The Difference Between Freedom and License

The Lost Art of Self-Control

I recently listened to a podcast produced by The Art of Manliness website titled What Happened to the Idea of Self Control? It was an interview with Daniel Akst, author of the book Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess. He brought up interesting points about how we’ve forgotten the benefits of self-control as a society. Instead, we now have this notion that resisting temptations and showing self-control are somehow contrary to exercising freedom.

When I listened to this podcast, I couldn’t help but think of the Israelites in the Old Testament. Countless times, their lack of self-control led to God punishing them. As I said in previous articles, I bet the “punishment” was just the logical consequence of a society acting immorally. When self-control is no longer valued or promoted by a culture, chaos results. The 10 Commandments and other moral laws don’t exist to inhibit peoples’ freedoms. It’s quite the opposite. They remind people of the foundational moral code that allows freedom to flourish.

Freedom vs. License

Let’s review the difference between freedom and license. Freedom is having the ability to freely choose how you want to live as long as it’s compatible with the common good. License, on the other hand, is doing whatever we feel like doing. We tend to confuse these concepts. True freedom results from people considering the consequences of their actions and how it affects others. Freedom is being able to choose between multiple good or neutral options. Choosing to do harm or evil isn’t exercising freedom, it’s taking license. We can never willingly choose evil under the name of freedom, free choice, or free will.

Elections and Freedom

The United States is entering its midterm elections. We’re not electing a new president, but we are electing members of Congress and voting on various laws. Abortion is a big topic now that the Supreme Court overturned federal abortion laws. You hear many pro-abortion politicians talk about the “freedom” to choose. Some even go so far as to promote radical abortion policies while holding rosaries or displaying religious imagery. They paint pro-life advocates as wanting to take away a woman’s freedom. But abortion is gravely immoral. Promoting abortion can never be an exercise of freedom. It’s an exercise in taking license.

Teaching people the evil of abortion and pushing for an abortion-free society does not impede people’s freedoms. A free society is not one where anything goes. That mindset inevitably leads to chaos and disorder. Look at many progressive cities in the United States like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and Chicago. They are enshrining license in their laws by not enforcing laws against drugs, theft, and even certain violent crimes. This is in the name of “freedom”, “equity”, and numerous other buzzwords. However, these cities have become less free because law-abiding citizens are not safe to lead the life they want. Their freedom to choose the good is restricted so that others can exercise license.

How the Rosary Teaches Freedom

When I think about following God’s laws, I meditate on the First Luminous Mystery. I recall the Holy Spirit coming down on Jesus and God saying “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). God is telling everyone to listen and follow Jesus. And that really is the core of practicing the Catholic faith — listening to Jesus. We affirm this in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Freedom comes down to listening to God and doing His Will out of a love for Him. Even for those who aren’t baptized Catholic, God still speaks to them through the natural law He created. We are all born free because everyone has the ability to know God and follow Him. We all intuitively understand the difference between good and evil and can make free decisions honoring God’s moral laws.

When you examine your conscience (which you hopefully do regularly), ask yourself if you exhibited freedom or license during the day. Did you allow God to guide you in your interactions with people? Look at some of your political views, politicians, and laws that you support. Do you support them because they are morally sound or because they are convenient? There are so many people who will see our world crumble as long as they get to stay on top. They do that by selling license disguised as freedom. Be smart, pray the Rosary, and see through the lies.

The Rosary Response to the Extreme Abortion Position

It’s a Mad, Mad World

There are many concerning events transpiring in the United States right now. I subscribe to CatholicVote’s The Loop email newsletter and the headlines I read just seem to get crazier by the day. The best satire and comedy writers can no longer compete with the unbelievable things people do in the name of fairness, equality, and freedom.

What has really blown out of control are issues related to abortion after Roe vs. Wade was overturned by the US Supreme Court. There is growing violence against Catholics and pro-life organizations. And this isn’t just vandalism or random attacks from confused individuals — it’s coming from various levels of government. Most recently, a prominent pro-life leader’s home was raided by the FBI and he was arrested at gunpoint. His alleged crime? He pushed someone while protecting his son in front of an abortion clinic. It should concern everyone that no one at the highest levels of government thought these actions went too far.

Christian Persecution on the Rise

CatholicVote tracks the number of churches attacked since 2020. There have been 218 attacks since May 2020 with 80 of them coming in the last four months since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision was leaked.

Few people have been arrested in relation to these attacks and the police, FBI, and government officials are ignoring calls to seriously investigate and condemn these attacks mostly perpetrated by a group called “Jane’s Revenge.” As a thought experiment, do you think the government would have such a lax response if 200 mosques were attacked? What about 200 Planned Parenthood offices? I bet it would be the #1 story on the cable news networks if this were something other than Christan or pro-life buildings being attacked.

Law Enforcement as a Political Tool

It’s a dangerous precedent when governments don’t equally enforce laws. A vandalized or fire-bombed church should get the same level of investigation as any other building. When groups don’t get equal protection under the law, the law becomes arbitrary and turns into a political tool. The government is implicitly signaling, “if you don’t fall in line with our policies, maybe the law won’t be there to help you when you need it.” Some of the ugliest points in history occurred in societies where the law was applied differently to different groups.

As we get into elections, there are many abortion-related bills in many states. In a way, this is good and was one of the main points of reversing Roe vs. Wade. There should never have been a one-size-fits-all federal law governing abortion but it should be something figured out at the state level by the citizens. The pro-life movement had a victory at the federal level, but now we have to take the fight at the state level. We have states like California that want to push abortion access to extremes. Join in this Rosary novena to stop CA’s Proposition 1. Even if you don’t live in CA or the United States, a life is a life and needs protection. God will hear you even if you don’t vote in California.

They Know Not What They Do

Now, any website can post articles complaining about the sad state of affairs. But RosaryMeds is not any website. Let’s take a look through the lens of the Rosary. I can’t help but think of the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery when I read news of people creating such ugliness and chaos because they don’t like or understand someone’s beliefs. Jesus was crucified because those in power felt threatened by his teachings. And those in power today feel threatened when they no longer control an issue like abortion at the highest levels of government.

On the cross, Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). When I read about these vandals and domestic terrorists attacking pro-life organizations or politicians pushing extreme abortion laws, I try to understand that they don’t truly understand what they are doing. They are so caught up in the “us vs. them” tribalism that they fail to understand the pro-life position or the states’ rights ruling of the Supreme Court. Jesus prayed for those crucifying him. Jesus calls us to pray for the conversion of those who show so much hate. When we call upon God to help us, there is no soul he can’t touch.

Yes, The Rosary is The Weapon

Christian Confusion

There was an opinion piece by Daniel Panneton in The Atlantic trying to associate the Rosary with Christian extremism. I’m not linking to the article because I would rather not give it a higher search engine ranking. But many Catholic publications have mentioned it. I think it’s important to learn what many people visualize when they think of practicing Catholics. We need to be aware so we can defend ourselves and also pray for those who hate the Church.

Atlantic Article Blasts the Holy Rosary as ‘An Extremist Symbol’

As far as Catholic hit pieces go, this one was poorly written. It reads like Mr. Panneton did an internet search for “guns” and “rosary” and wrote down what he saw in 5 minutes of reading. He saw words like “weapon”, “breach”, and “legionaries” and took them literally. I bet he thought he stumbled upon a goldmine of information about the dirty secrets of Catholicism and couldn’t wait to share them with his readers. Unfortunately for him, the Rosary’s military roots are not only well known but celebrated.

Celebrating Victory

The Feast of the Rosary is October 7 which is the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto. Catch that? We honor the Rosary on the day of a military victory. Not only that, but many saints and our Holy Mother referred to the Rosary in military terms.

  • “The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” – Saint Josemaria Escriva
  • “The Rosary is the Weapon.” – Saint Padre Pio
  • “The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against hell” – Mother Mary in one of her promises to those who pray the Rosary.

Hiding in Plain Sight

To think that we aren’t fighting a war against Satan shows just how well of an adversary Satan is. It’s been said that the Devil’s greatest weapon is making people believe he doesn’t exist. Those who pray the Rosary know that Satan exists and there are evil forces at work in our world. They are utilizing everything they can muster to protect themselves and others. And while people don’t like to think about wars, violence, and evil, they aren’t things we can just wish away.

I carry my Swiss Guard rosary, a concealed carry rosary license, read Into the Breach produced by The Knights of Columbus, and try to faithfully live according to the Church’s teachings. I don’t think that makes me an extremist, but our society and culture have become so twisted and confused that anything the least bit normal will appear fringe.

I actually carry both of these items

Going back to last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus said, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!… Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” It sounds like Jesus was ramping up his disciples for battle. However, the way Jesus wants us to fight this battle isn’t with physical weaponry. He wants us to use a much more effective weapon — prayer and faith in Him. The Church, from its very start, knew it was going to have to fight for people’s souls. That’s not extremism, that’s just Christianity.

The Rosary Is Not Jewelry

That being said, I will give this Atlantic piece some credit. Mr. Panneton talks about people glamorizing the Rosary by literally associating it with weapons by taking pictures of rosaries wrapped around guns. And while there is probably an extremely small group of people who do this, I think we all know someone in a much larger group who have rosaries hanging on their car’s rear-view window who never pray it. What these groups have in common is that they are placing too much value on the physical rosary and not enough on Rosary prayer.

The rosary isn’t a magic talisman that we wear or carry to ward off evil. Nor is it a chant that when said just right protects us from evil. The power of the rosary isn’t in the beads or words, but in what it enables. It helps us form a powerful bond with God who protects us from evil. Mary gave us the Rosary so we may better know her son, Jesus, and come to love him and his Church. If you have a rosary somewhere, make sure you’re actually praying it. Don’t miss this great opportunity to form a relationship with God and relegate the Rosary to a decoration.

Praying for your Persecutors

I’m going to leave you with some thoughts on the Second Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus’ Scourging at the Pillar. I always pray this mystery for those who hate the Catholic faith and try to lead others into hating us too. I also pray for the misguided and confused, like our lost brother, Daniel Panneton. I think of the soldiers who brutally whipped Jesus to the point of almost killing him. They were just following orders or didn’t really understand who they were torturing. When I read articles like the one in The Atlantic, I become mad but also sad because I see someone who needs Jesus. Mr. Panneton and his base need our prayers for the Holy Spirit’s intercession and their conversion.

The Scourging at the Pillar, by Belmiro de Almeida

And in a case of unintended consequences, the sale of “military” rosaries increased since The Atlantic ran that op-ed. I guess not every Catholic has an ammo box full of rosaries like Mr. Panneton assumed and we could always use more.

Thou Shalt Love

Can We Change the World?

We too often believe that our Catholic faith changing the world is something that cannot happen today. We look at the apostles baptizing people by the thousands after Jesus’ Ascension and think that such a large conversion isn’t possible anymore. Or we look at the early Christian martyrs, like those portrayed in Quo Vadis, who helped convert the Roman Empire, and think that those days are over.

We do have more recent examples of the Catholic faith conquering evil, repressive regimes. My family just finished watching Thou Shalt Love on EWTN (for free) which is the story of Cardinal Stephen Wsyzynski of Poland. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union conducted an assault on the Catholic Church in Poland trying to break it. The idea was that breaking the Church would break the people and usher in Communism throughout the country. Cardinal Wsyzynski, and later Pope John Paul II, lead the country in a non-violent show of faith that the soviets couldn’t break despite the arrests, the beatings, and the propaganda.

Watching Thou Shalt Love reminded me of the David vs. Goliath matchup which was the Polish people vs. the Soviet Union. The USSR had all the political, educational, and military power in Poland. And yet, they were defeated by processions, Masses, and prayers. People showed up by the thousands to honor Mary and her son, Jesus Christ. And, it was the hand of God who protected the people so that those who came to celebrate their faith didn’t end up arrested, shot, or sent to labor camps on a wide scale. It shows that when people put their faith in God as the Polish people did, we can bring down hallow political movements regardless of their worldly power.

Communism’s True Colors

It’s also important for people to see what is truly behind the face of socialism. It disguises itself behind ideas of equity, fairness, and reasonableness. It almost sounds Christian — let’s all share what we have in one big pool. But one of its core tenants is the destruction of organized religion. This is because Communism cannot compete with ideas that do not confess the state as the ultimate authority. Communism tries to establish the government as the makers of truth or morality and hence needs to destroy peoples’ faith in a higher truth not established by political apparatchiks, but by God.

The Rosary and Christian Witness

The history of Poland reminds me of the Third Luminous Mystery of the Rosary. The fruit of this mystery is Christian witness and conversion. The Polish people showed us the power of publicly witnessing our faith. It had the power to not only protect their country but ultimately help bring down the USSR (watch Nine Days that Changed the World to see the connections). Like the apostles and early Christian church, they showed the power of God if you just put your faith in Him.

We have a similar challenge today as Poland had during the latter half of the 20th century. In fact, our challenge is much more insidious. When your country is taken over by an outside force, many people find the motivation to fight back. But what if the threat comes from within? I’m going to say that’s what’s happening today. We still have attacks on the Catholic Church, particularly over issues like abortion, family, marriage, and gender ideology. But we don’t have priests being arrested and churches closed.

Soft Attacks Hit Hard

Today’s political powers learned that you shouldn’t display a show of force because that will mobilize the opposition. Instead of churches being closed, we had a global pandemic and live-streamed Masses leading to tepid attendance. Instead of arresting priests, we now just don’t have many men choosing that vocation. There are countless avenues of entertainment to keep people distracted. And acts of violence against Christians are covered up or treated as a rare, outlying situation. These soft attacks are doing more harm to the Catholic Church because people don’t even realize they are under attack.

These soft attacks make Rosary prayer all the more important. We need to pray that we remain strong Christian witnesses to our faith. I think part of that witness and conversion is making people realize that we are a Church under attack. Because when people feel comfortable, we aren’t strong Christian witnesses. It’s when there is hardship that we tend to fight back. And while I don’t wish misery on anyone, it’s an effective means of trusting in God and calling on Him to help us both societally and personally.

Where Are You Going?

As Christians, particularly Catholics, we tend to fall for the recency bias; thinking that current circumstances are greater than similar situations in the past. This is only natural since these events directly affect us while events in the past affected someone else. Naturally, we’ll place greater emphasis on the events we live through. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the past.

I recently read Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz. The book was first published in 1895 and helped earn Henryk a Nobel Prize in literature in 1905. It’s not every day that I read a Nobel Prize-worthy book. Quo Vadis is historical fiction that takes place in the ancient Roman empire under the reign of Nero. It takes you through the journey of a Roman soldier’s encounter with this strange new sect, Christianity, and their peculiar leaders — St. Peter and St. Paul. It concludes with Nero’s burning of Rome and execution of the Christians.

Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero by Henryk Sienkiewicz – Free Ebook (gutenberg.org)

I see many parallels between how the Romans viewed Christians with how modern-day society does. Both wildly misunderstand Christianity. The Romans believed all sorts of false rumors about Christians such as believing they were poisoning the water supply, killing babies in ritual sacrifices, and starting the great fire (it was actually Nero’s doing). When Nero finally martyred them by feeding them to lions, crucifying them, or burning them alive, the Roman people couldn’t believe how calm and at peace the Christians were when facing their deaths. When the Romans actually saw Christians exercising their faith, it shattered their misconceptions. The Christians’ conviction in Jesus Christ and his Gospel is what changed opinions and eventually the empire.

As the abortion debate continues today, we see many misconceptions and lies told about Catholics. The popular line is that we’re all about suppressing women’s rights, we hate anyone living non-Catholic lives, and we want to dictate what people do in the privacy of their homes. The solution to addressing these misconceptions is the same as what Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote about in Quo Vadis — showing the world our faith in Jesus Christ.

I think part of the reason why there are misconceptions about the pro-life position and Catholicism, in general, is that we’re hiding. In Quo Vadis, the Romans’ hearts and minds didn’t change when the Christians remained hidden. When Nero arrested the Christians and publicly executed them, people witnessed the power of the Christian faith. They didn’t choose when or how they would show their faith. But when the time came, they asked themselves “Quo Vadis?” or “where are you going?” They chose to go wherever God led them.

How about us? Are we going where God leads us? With the recent Supreme Court decisions (and not just the overturning of Roe vs. Wade), the world is calling us out. Like Nero, they may think they are leading us to our demise by insulting us, destroying property, and passing laws that undermine pro-life values. We’ve been asking for this for 50 years and now it’s our time to respond as Christians. We win when the world sees the beauty and happiness that comes from publicly following God.

Where do we start? How about returning to Mass? Now is the time to return if you’ve been away from the Mass for a long time or are still watching it remotely. Unlike the working world where many jobs can be done from home, you can’t live the Catholic faith entirely at home. We need the Mass. We need the sacraments. We need to make efforts to live our faith. And we need to act publicly. How can we expect to change the hearts and minds of those who stand against us if we haven’t let God change our hearts and minds first?

The Abortion Battle Will Grow More Fierce

Anxious in Victory

As happy as I am over the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade, it fills me with anxiety. First, the news tends to focus on liberal politicians’ outrage and quasi-terrorist groups like Jane’s Revenge. The media muffles the voices of those happy over the decision. I also have this feeling that something horrible is going to happen beyond the recent vandalism like shootings or bombings. And worse, I feel like those in power will ignore or stoke the chaos suggesting that it’s righteous indignation over an unjust decision.

Fallout from Supreme Court abortion decision: When reporters parrot partisan talking points — GetReligion

Legal Misconceptions

Beyond people’s personal safety, I’m also frustrated over the misconceptions, if not outright lies, that people have over this ruling and issue. Legally, this ruling puts abortion legislation back into the hands of the state governments. This is a good thing. Many of our laws should be decided at the state and local levels instead of at the federal level. People acting crazy over this foundational principle of the United States frustrates me. It shows the lack of understanding of how the US government is designed to function.

As abortion policy returns to the states, the pro-abortion lobby will find themselves fighting on multiple fronts and with less political cover from the federal government. We may start to see greater restrictions on abortions in many states which will put pressure on the entire abortion industry. Like a cornered beast, we’re going to see the pro-abortion lobby get louder, less rational, and more extreme. I think they will counter the general lack of support for their position with outrageous claims and actions. I’m afraid of what those actions may be.

7 myths about Roe v. Wade, now that it’s been overturned | Catholic News Agency

Social Misconceptions

The other aspect of this SCOTUS decision that stresses me is the lack of understanding of why people have pro-life convictions. If you were to listen to the media and shouting heads on Twitter, you would think that the sole reason to ban abortion is to suppress women’s rights and establish a patriarchy in the USA. Why do people have such a hard time seeing that there are those who see the preciousness and value of all human life and seek to preserve it? It seems so obvious and good to me. That is why I get so unnerved when I see the vitriol directed at people who only want the best for everyone — women, men, mothers, fathers, children, the elderly, and the unborn.

This hatred will be well-publicized and encouraged by pro-abortion politicians. They will seek to label all Christians as “extremists” and, ironically, opponents to a just and civil society. I fear that Christian persecution will become more widespread and legal action against those who do harm will go unenforced. And where they’ve lost ground on abortion, we’ll see redoubled efforts in other aspects of the woke agenda to undermine Christian and other religious values.

Strength in Weakness

What frightens me is that all of this comes when the Church is in a weakened state. We’ve endured waves of scandals from the priesthood. High-ranking church officials have become indulgent in political power instead of acting as servants in Christ’s Church. And people in general are starting to believe and practice their faith less. I fear we’ve unleashed wild beasts hungry for our destruction at a point in time when we will have a harder time fighting them off.

I think about Saint Paul’s words, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10) We find comfort and inspiration that the Church has endured and thrived at times when opposing cultures believed they had defeated us. The Church has been in difficult positions countless times. But we have found strength to not only survive but to grow stronger. This isn’t a strength that comes from adopting the tactics of our persecutors. This is the strength that has come from putting our faith in God. It’s about knowing that God is Truth and embracing that Truth will ultimately set us free.

If you’re looking for comfort in the Rosary, meditate on the Second Joyful Mystery. Remember these lines from the Canticle of Mary:

He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.

No matter how much influence and power the pro-abortion lobby has, no matter how much glowing coverage they receive from the media, their efforts won’t bring forth fruits where it matters. Their position is shaky on logical, legal, and moral grounds. They can’t fight Truth and win. Let us pray for their conversion so that God doesn’t send them away empty, but rather unites us all as his children.

Why Abortion Activists Target Catholics

Why Catholics?

One of my goals for RosaryMeds is to draw connections between current events in the world and the mysteries of the Rosary. We do not pray the Rosary in a vacuum but in the context of world events. This is what makes the Rosary such a great and powerful prayer. The mysteries, while remaining the same, take on new meaning and value as the world and our individual situations change.

There is no event in greater need of our Rosary prayers right now than the pending Supreme Court decision in the United States of America that may transfer abortion law from the federal government to the state governments. The prospect of states being free to limit access to abortion has set off a firestorm of attacks against pro-life organizations. The largest target of these attacks is the Catholic Church. But why do pro-abortion activists direct so much rage toward the Church? This Catholic Exchange article, Why Abortion Attacks the Church and the Eucharist, sheds some light on that question.

Rosary Meditation

It’s time to get out those Rosary beads. The article alludes to the Third Sorrowful Mystery beautifully:

Abortion is a new crown of thorns for our Lord, as His innocent children are senselessly killed, the very people He came to save.

When I chose the Third Sorrowful Mystery as my mystery to focus on in 2022, I never thought we, the people of this world, would be adding so many figurative thorns to Jesus’ crown in such a short period of time. Every time we sin, attack, or dismiss Church teachings and God’s Truth, we weave new thorny stems into this crown. Let us pray the Third Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary in sorrow for all the sins we commit against Christ our King.

We should also pray for the conversion of those who are attacking pro-life organizations and Catholic churches. Like the Roman soldiers who created a crown of thorns, I think many of these activists/terrorists don’t fully understand what’s going on. The soldiers and many of the Jews got caught up in mocking and then crucifying Jesus and probably didn’t give what they were actually doing much thought. I think the same goes for those who are attacking churches. They are being whipped up and acting without much thought on what exactly they’re doing.

The situation is going to get ugly in the near future for Catholics and pro-life advocates. Let us remember that things got ugly for Jesus too in his Passion. But all that ugliness eventually led to God’s glory. Let us continuously pray that the same happens to us.

Remember to Honor the Eucharist

By now, many of us have heard about the uproar over Archbishop Cordileone telling Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, that she cannot receive Holy Communion as long as she clings to her pro-abortion views. I think now is a good time to review the criteria for receiving Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Here’s a good article on Catholic Exchange on what one must do to worthily partake in Communion.

I appreciate how seriously Archbishop Cordileone takes the Eucharist. He’s been a champion of promoting the Real Presence of the Eucharist. It’s unfortunate that so many Catholics think the Eucharist is just a symbol of an event that took place 2000 years ago. It’s no wonder that Mass attendance is down. People don’t realize the miracle that takes place when Jesus comes to us through Holy Communion.

There has been a lot of talk of politicizing and weaponizing the Eucharist. But it isn’t coming from bishops despite what uninformed media are saying. It’s coming from radical, pro-abortion groups vandalizing churches and desecrating the Eucharist over the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade. The Archbishop invites all of us to pray with him this Thursday in a Litany of Reparation for Abuses against the Most Holy Eucharist. It’s virtual over Zoom so anyone can participate.

Join the Archbishop to honor the Blessed Sacrament

Thursday is a good day to pray this litany as it’s also when we traditionally pray the Fifth Luminous Mystery — The Institution of the Eucharist. When we pray this mystery, we should remember how the Eucharist we receive today is every bit as real and miraculous as what the apostles received at the Last Supper. We are connected through time, space, the physical, and the metaphysical to Jesus Christ through Holy Communion. This is the cornerstone of our faith. Without it, Catholicism is basically a record of some good advice Jesus gave long ago. Pray that we worthily receive Jesus and for the conversion of those who harm the Church by intentionally desecrating the Eucharist or receiving it unworthily.

Embrace the Pro-Life Label

A Disturbing Ad

I live in California which is run by far-left politicians. We just had state-wide elections for governor, attorney general, senator, and many other high-level offices. Neighborhoods are littered with political signs endorsing candidates and the radio plays political ads nonstop. I just heard one that first confused and then angered me.

I don’t recall the specifics of the political ad I heard. All I remember hearing was that a certain candidate was pro-life. And then the ad ended by proclaiming that the choice is clear who you should vote for. “Oh wow, someone running for office in California is touting his pro-life position”, I thought. But like an M. Night Shyamalan movie, there was a twist. The pro-abortion candidate paid for the ad! He was trying to scare people into voting for him by labeling his opponent pro-life.

The “Pro-life” Label

In the past, pro-abortion candidates would use euphemisms to label pro-life politicians like “anti-choice” or “against women’s health.” They usually don’t say “pro-life” because it exposes pro-choice for what it actually is — anti-life. And being against life doesn’t exactly paint someone in a compassionate light and would scare away voters. At least, that would be the case in normal societies. But this is the liberal Bay Area where being anti-life appears to be a selling point for political office.

There have always been pro-abortion politicians. That doesn’t surprise me. What’s shocking is that now someone can just proclaim their opponent is pro-life and expect support from a significant portion of the voter base. Today’s politics is all about labels; no debate or logical argument is needed. The right labels have the ability to propel you, the wrong labels can destroy you. Labels are the foundation of “cancel culture” — no context or debate necessary. You just label, cancel, and repeat.

Where Labels Lead

But this line of thinking goes beyond a television show going off the air or a comedian not being able to perform. Labels can ultimately lead to the destruction of a functioning society. I think we all know the basic history of people making laws and policies based on labels, not sound arguments. Nazi Germany, the USSR, Cambodia, Rowanda, and modern-day China are all examples of the horrors that occur when the state creates policies that label and target groups of people. And while there’s been an undercurrent of that in American politics, it’s starting to pick up momentum at an exponential pace. Just look at the increased violence against Catholic churches, pro-life foundations, and even Supreme Court justices.

Having the Same Labels as God

Well, now I’m depressed. I started this article by writing about an ad on the radio and somehow I found myself thinking about how we’re seeing the next Khmer Rouge. On the bright side, Christians have been labeled and targeted for 2000 years. The Jews had been labeled even longer. And we’re still here! When you’re on the side of truth, you wear your labels with pride and conviction. If I find myself in the same group as God, should I fear? I should rejoice to be in the same group as God!

Remember what Christ said in the Beatitudes: Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. As difficult as it might become to bear the label of “Christian”, “pro-life”, or “moral” in the modern world, I think about the Beatitudes and the true joy and happiness those labels will bring me if I wholeheartedly accept them.

Communism and the Denial of Human Dignity

Remembering the Evils of Communism

I recently finished reading a book and watching a short movie on peoples’ experience under Communism in the 20th century. This is a timely topic given the current events unfolding in Ukraine. Many of us are so detached from the events of the Cold War and the rise of Communism in the 20th century. In fact, many of you reading this article probably weren’t born when the Berlin Wall came down. It’s important to take a look at the effects Communism had and why it’s so antithetical to Church teachings on the value of human life.

I read a book titled Willing to Die. This is an autobiography of John Muntean, someone who grew up in Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime. He goes into detail about how his village went from close-knit and self-sufficient to just scraping by. He’s quite clear that one of communism’s needed goals for it to succeed is the elimination of religion. This is because a centralized and planned economy and society can’t have anything outside of government interfering with its plans. Under communism, everything is done in service of the state. People are nothing more than cogs in that machine. Religion isn’t tolerated because it preaches the inherent freedom, dignity, and value of the individual.

The Eroding Religion

Much of the religious opposition to socialism has already eroded away since the Cold War ended. And that is what makes Western society’s march towards socialism so scary to me. It didn’t take tanks, soldiers, and labor camps either. It took a virus, mandates, and Netflix to wipe out peoples’ desire for religion. I fear that the days of people willing to die rather than deny their faith are gone in much of the Western world. If communism needs religion out of the way to succeed, then it’s pretty much there. But there’s still a sliver of hope.

I know the Russian invasion into Ukraine is on our minds. And while I’m sad to see fighting and indiscriminate destruction, at least I see a nearly unanimous reaction that what Putin is doing is morally wrong. It doesn’t matter the country or political party, there’s been an almost total condemnation of the attacks. That provides some hope that when the world is pushed into a dire situation, we can put aside various partisan issues and see evil for what it truly is. Perhaps we haven’t moved away from listening to God as I may have thought.

If you don’t have time to read about the evil done in the name of Communism, watch the 1-hour movie, To Believe. It’s free to watch on ETWN. It’s about the horrors done to the Ukrainian people by the Soviet Union in the 20th century. It again focuses on the communists’ hatred for religion because it gave people a doctrine to live by that wasn’t under state control. When you read about current events, keep in mind what it means to these people to have Russia invade their country and why they fight so hard to defend it.

Remembering Human Dignity Through Rosary Prayer

For me, it’s hard to read these books and watch these films and not get angry when I hear people praising socialism. I feel like they have no understanding of history and what socialism inevitably leads to. That’s when I need to take out my rosary and pray the Second Joyful Mystery. I think about Elizabeth’s greeting towards Mary in the Visitation, “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” I think about the inherent value and dignity everyone has from the moment of conception. Every human life is blessed. That dignity is something that a government or ideology doesn’t have the authority to give or take away. It’s given to us by God.

All  human beings, therefore, are ends to be served by the institutions that make up  the economy, not means to be exploited for more narrowly defined goals. Human personhood must be respected with a reverence that is religious. When we deal  with each other, we should do so with the sense of awe that arises in the  presence of something holy and sacred. For that is what human beings are: we  are created in the image of God (Gn 1:27). (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 28)

Life and Dignity of the Human Person | USCCB