Rare depiction in which the colt AND donkey are present!
So this past week, I discussed Palm Sunday with my CCD class. After giggling like, well, sixth graders at the reading (in which the term "ass" is used in lieu of "donkey"), I made sure they understood the significance of that donkey and even the colt that sometimes seems so forgotten (because of that messy business attempting to explain why there might be two vs. one animal that Christ rode upon into Jerusalem).
Greek translations aside, the donkey itself is extremely important for two reasons. The first is obvious. Christ came to fulfill the Promises of God the Father (which included reconciling humanity to Himself). Prophets had come and gone, describing to Israel the events surrounding the Savior's coming. Jesus fulfilled every single prophecy made about His arrival. Nothing escaped His Will, even the act of riding into the city on the back of a donkey.
After giving them a brief lesson on the etymology of "ass" and "donkey," I asked them why they thought Jesus might choose to ride into Jerusalem on one. The answers ranged anywhere from "Because He didn't have a horse" to "He was too poor to buy anything else."I'm surprised no one mentioned He might be afraid of horses... Heh.Anyway, I had them read that above quote from Zechariah 9:9. After they'd finished reading it, I had them try again. Why might Jesus have chosen a donkey for His grand entrance into Jerusalem?One of my kids correctly said that Jesus had to do everything that was in the Old Testament because that was "His job." (He totally got a piece of candy for that gem! I love it when they pay attention to these things!)I affirmed that though he was right, Jesus did come to "fulfill" the Old Testament prophecies. But why, I asked, might God have chosen the donkey in the first place? What did donkeys do?Another child raised her hand and said, "They carry stuff."Another chimed in, "Yeah, like blankets and baskets and stuff."I smiled. They were getting there!So I said, "Yes! You're on the right track. That's exactly what donkeys did. They still do today. In fact, donkeys are responsible for carrying large amounts of heavy, heavy items because they are so strong. Back in Jesus' time, they didn't have SUVs with huge cargo bays to hold everything. Instead, they led donkeys around with their backs piled high with goods and equipment. They were basically walking "trunks" that carried everything that their human masters didn't want to lug around themselves. So why, then, might Jesus have chosen to ride on one into Jerusalem?"Since they were still at a loss, I redirected them back to Zechariah and pointed out the word "meek" to them. I then defined "meek" as the ability to endure suffering with humility and patience. A donkey is considered meek because it patiently carries heavy burdens over long distances. Even though the donkey may get tired or sore from such hard labor, he continues on, content to be serving as best it can.That all being said, I again asked why Jesus might have chosen a donkey. I saw some light bulbs flicker.A hand shot up. "Jesus is meek! But He's meek as a lamb, not meek as a donkey."I was surprised by that connection. We had spoken about Jesus as the Pascal Lamb the week before, but I was impressed he remembered the term "meek" and connected it to the donkey. I explained (since the poor dears were so close but beginning to get flustered by the Socratic questioning):Yes! Jesus is meek as a lamb because He is The Lamb of God who consented to the Will of His Father, accepting death on the Cross for our salvation. However, Jesus is very much like that donkey - He fully accepted the burden of our sins without complaint, humbly carrying them on His Back in the form of His Passion. He was tired, He was in pain, and He was so sore, yet just like a donkey, He kept carrying our sins (truly the weight of the world) all the way up Calvary. Jesus chose a donkey because He was, in fact, beginning His own journey. When the people accepted Him as the Promised Savior on Sunday, He understood that this acceptance would be short-lived. The Essenes may have understood Him to be the Son of God, but the Sanhedrin most certainly did not. Pontius Pilate and Caesar most certainly wouldn't have, either. Thus, Jesus understood that He was coming to accept His Passion and Death in atonement for the sins of mankind... the price for our reconciliation with the Father.It's interesting to note, BTW, that Jesus specifically requested the COLT of a donkey (which is basically a younger donkey who hadn't carried anything yet). This donkey was innocent and pure, much like Christ who never carried sin of His own.Father Byers (of Holy Souls Hermitage fame) even taught me through his blog that Christ was depicted in the early Church as a crucified donkey! No April Fool's joke, I promise. Read it for yourself here!What's more, I found an interesting little poem regarding the "cross" that all donkeys seem to have on their backs (their fur just seems to stick out in this pattern). It's similar to the story of Our Lady's blessing of the Tabby Cats at that first Christmas (which can be found here). Anyway, I shall leave it with you. Enjoy!
Image of a donkey's back - most really do have this marking!
"Bring me the colt of a donkey,"
was the Master's request.
A young donkey was brought to Jesus
to carry him into Jerusalem.
A week later Jesus was ordered
to be crucified.
The little donkey so loved the Lord
that he wanted to help Him carry the cross.
But, alas, he was pushed away.
The sad little donkey waited to say
goodbye until nearly all had left.
As he turned to leave, the shadow of
the cross fell upon the
back and shoulders of
the little donkey.
And there it has remained,
a tribute to the loyalty
and love of the humblest of
Please add yours to the mix!
All the better if you use one of these!
Oh, and last but not least, don't forget to ask the saints and guardian angels to pray with you! I think I'll be enlisting the guardian angels of the children in peril as added prayer warriors. No doubt they're on their holy knees before the Throne of God begging for the chance to fulfill a lifetime of angel-duties...
Blessed be these children. Blessed be the mothers who shelter them within their wombs. Blessed be the fathers who can step up and support them. Blessed be the families of both mother and father who can support BOTH in their decision to choose life. Most of all, blessed be the doctors and nurses who perform these atrocities. May this blessing consist of wisdom, humility, and clarity regarding the life they are holding...
St. Joan of Arc, pray for us!
I just finished reading Father Z's defense of the clergy in the middle of this HHS Mandate mess. Here is my favorite highlight:There is only so much the bishops can accomplish in the public square on their own: the rest is your job. Don’t shirk your role even if you think bishops and priests are being lazy or craven. Stand up and get to work right now, even if you are disappointed that bishops aren’t beaming lasers out of their eyes or issuing decrees of excommunication while they levitate to the strains of Verdi’s Dies Irae.Yes and yes. So many people are complaining about how little they see priests and bishops doing. I'm always confused by this, mainly because I see them doing so much. We can't expect them to hop onto the pulpits and scream bloody murder. We can't have them running around denouncing entire political parties or trying to convince folks that all Pro-Choice candidates are going straight to hell. We can't expect them to fight, fight, fight while we cower in the corner waiting for the spat to be done with. And yet that seems to be what's happening by and large. I've seen the Church in the US mobilize in a way I've never encountered. Bishops are uniting and are extremely vocal on the issues that face us as a people. Leaders from other faiths are coming out in support of us. Catholic who have been wayward now feel a calling to defend the Church that blessed them with their faith and traditions. They can only do so much, and Father Z is right... we need to pick up the beacon ourselves to carry forth the Flame of Truth. We can, and we MUST. WE are the Church... all of us. Not just the priests, not just the bishops, and not just the little old ladies praying the rosary after Mass. WE are the Church, and we really need to start acting like it.
I have two rosaries that I typically use for everything. I used to have three, but I'm waiting to purchase a new Rosary for the Unborn (since I lost mine on the airplane back from Jamaica - bah).
I digress... as usual. *Blush*
The first is my Confirmation rosary. I was given this simple white rosary by my Aunt Bernadette (both my Godmother and sponsor) back in 7th grade when I was confirmed. I had it socked away in a drawer for years, but since my reversion, it's never been far from my side.
I chose that rosary to take with me on my trip to Treasures of the Church, though, which meant I got to touch it to almost 200 1st class relics. From that night on, anytime I pray with that rosary, I feel it's perfectly acceptable to ask all the saints I venerated to pray along with me. I'm sure they're only too happy to oblige. Anyway, last night I said my prayers downstairs so as not to wake up John (who had gone up to bed an hour earlier). Since I keep my Confirmation rosary next to my bed, I reached into my purse to use the one my mother gave me for Christmas. It's a beautiful birthstone rosary with lavender pearls and amethyst beads. The Crucifix and center piece are by far the nicest I've ever seen. As I pull the beautiful rosary from my purse, I realize that I can't fairly ask the saints to pray along with me since I don't have "their" rosary. Mind you, I'm fully aware that they'd pray along with me just the same, because they have no care what's in my hands so long as the prayers are coming from the heart, but I still feel as though that something is missing. This is sort of like Jesus being fully present as I accept Him in the Eucharist vs. Him being fully present in the Eucharist at Adoration. In both instances, He is absolutely fully present. There is, however, a different type of intimacy. I feel the same way about praying with the two rosaries. Both obviously help me in my spiritual development, and both guide me through the meditations of the Rosary / Divine Mercy chaplet, but in uniquely different ways.So instead of asking the saints to pray along like I normally do, I ask my guardian angel to pray along with me. Whenever I make this request, I always picture a beautiful ethereal being solemnly bowed down in prayer, then rolling his eyes at me for such a foolish request. Of COURSE he'd pray with me. He'd do it regardless, and probably tries to coax me into doing it more myself!But I ask anyway, because I don't want him to feel left out or think that I don't appreciate his presence. So off we begin our prayers when a thought enters into my mind:"Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in their midst.” (Matt 18:20)Welp... me and my guardian angel make two, right? So I wondered if Jesus was hovering around us somewhere. As I made my way through an Our Father, I realized that not only was Jesus present, I was SPEAKING HIM! Jesus is the Word of God, right? He is the Word of God incarnated, but the Word of God nonetheless. The words of the Our Father were given to us straight from Jesus, Himself, so that's about as "Word of God" as it gets. In the state of prayer, in acknowledging His Presence, I understand that I SPEAK His Presence. He really was present with us as not only were His Words being used... His Will was being done through those prayers. The Holy Spirit was kind to me with that little nugget of illumination. When I acknowledged that, too, I realized that the Trinity does fully exist with, for and in one another. One can never be without the Others. As soon as I realized that I was speaking Christ's Presence, I realized it was the Holy Spirit who placed that thought in my head. I realized then it was the Will of the Father being done through the simple action of reciting His Words granted through Jesus, His Son. This is another reason why prayer is so important. This is proof that not only do we talk to God, God speaks directly back to us... just not necessarily in the ways we expect or are used to.So make use of your guardian angels! I hear they like that sorta thing... *wink.*
This sculpture is the first (and as yet only) piece of art that has ever made me weep. I came across it in my travels, and the reaction was instantaneous. The tears were coming before I even understood what it was I was looking at.
The tender love and comfort extending from the child as she reached out to touch her agonizing mother is intense. That flood of intensity was then made into a deluge of sadness as I realized the child was "invisible," the symbolic soul of a child this mother lost. Then, when I realized what the title of the sculpture actually was, I just about died of a broken heart.
Though this sculpture doesn't necessarily have to speak of the post-abortion grief many woman feel, that was what I took it for at first glance. Then I realized this grief could easily be felt by women who suffered miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, or even hysterectomies before fulfilling their vision of a family. This sculpture could also encapsulate the grief of a mother denied children through birth control, social pressures or infertility... maybe even a mother who lost her child to illness, violence or trauma.
Such ceaseless pain is perfectly juxtaposed with undescribable love. This ghost child is peaceful, seeking no solace for itself; she is only looking to comfort her stricken mother. The mother, overcome by her emotions, cannot feel the touch of this angel. She wants to... she yearns to... but she cannot.
Oh my heart. I'm actually writing this entry with my "window" scrolled up just enough that the image is not visible on my screen. I can do nothing but weep when I see it.
May the Lord grant us mercy for our transgressions against these innocent babes. May those who seek reconciliation find peace, and may the Holy Spirit alight in the hearts of those who don't understand that life begins at conception.
To all my newly pregnant friends out there...
The Vatican JUST approved the publication of a blessing rite specifically for children within the womb.
Read more about it HERE.
How amazing! I know while I was struggling with the threat of miscarriage, I wanted nothing more than something JUST like this for Vincent!
Pass it along! Our babies need all the help they can get in this new Pro-Death society we find ourselves in!***Also, if anyone's able to locate the text of this, I'd appreciate it. Someone on the actual article wondered if this could be prayed outside an abortion clinic by the laity. I'll keep an eye out for the answer. Off to ship this to Father Z***
This is the most uplifting thing I've read all day. Yay Adoration!The reason I chose to place an image of the Visitation up here is that, in truth, Elizabeth's reaction to Our Lady and the Child she carried within her was probably humanity's first act of Adoration (aside from Mary, of course). Since the Blessed Mother was the first Eucharistic Procession (being that she was the living Tabernacle / Ark of the Covenant which carried the Incarnate Word), it follows that Elizabeth, being the 2nd person to know of the Savior's coming, would drop to her knees in humble thanksgiving for the gift of God.Yes, even in her 6th month and on her old, feeble knees, I bet Saint Elizabeth dropped down and wept tears of joy in the Presence of the Messiah. Little John the Baptist, also within his mother's womb, felt the blessing of his Master and leapt for joy at His nearness.May we all approach the Blessed Sacrament with the same love and joy as Saint Elizabeth. May we all accept and carry the Word Incarnate within us, bearing Him forth to others that they might know something of His Love.
Oh joy of joys! Happy Solemnity of the Annunciation!
Today our liturgical calendar marks the momentous occasion in which the Blessed Mother becomes the new Eve through her eternal "Fiat" to the Divine Will of God!
Our humanity, overshadowed by sin and a longing for the Messiah, is granted not only the Savior Incarnate... we are granted a dignity that far surpasses our mortal minds. God, Himself, takes on our flesh. God - the timeless, omnipotent Author of Life - constrains Himself in the womb of His Mother that He might teach us all the way of holiness.
God did not demean Himself by taking on the form of man. Instead, God elevated humanity to Himself, allowing His Divinity to sanctify the physical temple of the flesh. This is simply unfathomable, and I honestly get a little dumbstruck every time I think about it.
Anyway, you folks know I'm a big fan of the Annunciation. I've spoken of it many times in the past. Bear with me while I talk about it again. This is one of those mysteries I'd be content talking about forever. In fact, I'm hoping to ask God to let me watch a "replay" of it when I die just so I can see that blessing unfold over and over again! :)
Click the photo for more information!
When Eve said that first "No" to the Divine Will of God, humanity suffered. Until that "No," all of creation was in perfect union with God. There was joy, happiness and peace because everything followed the Will of God (which was and always will be perfection). However, as soon as Eve consciously turned away from God's Will, she unwittingly destroyed the peaceful flow. It was like a pebble being dropped into God's ocean of tranquility, and the ripples reached out, touching everything and everyone in future generations, reverberating back to the source from all angles.
As a result of this break from God's Will, humanity was forced out of Eden to await one who would help rectify the reverberations that disfigured creation. One would come who would help restore balance, peace and dignity to the fallen people. One would come who would say "Yes" where Eve had said "No."
My favorite Theotokos icon
The Blessed Mother was that person - the Theotokos. Mary, within her immaculate womb, bore the remedy to sin and death. Only through her consent to God's Divine Will did Salvation through Christ become possible.
This is why Catholics believe her to be the Mediatrix of all Graces. However, as pointed out in the Second Vatican Council's Lumen gentium, this understanding "takes nothing away, or adds nothing to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator." Mediatrix simply means "woman mediator" and Our Lady was (and is) the go-between of God and humanity. Her sinless life - from her Immaculate Conception until her glorious Assumption - was one, singular "Fiat" to the Will of the Father. And as I said before, she's not only our example of how we, too, can lead lives in union with God's Will, she's also our strongest intercessor helping us ensure we do just that!Jesus, having given everything He even unto His last drop of Blood from the Cross, looked out at His people and saw one thing left to share with us - His Most Holy Mother. Mary, who had been His consolation, joy and refuge was no left without her Son. To both console her and to console us, He bequeathed this gem to us through the person of St. John. Louisa Piccarretta's description of this moment is entirely too moving for me to fully encapsulate here without delving into the entire Hour. Suffice to say, however, that this gift of Christ was majestic, and I, for one, am eternally grateful for His arrival via Annunciation / Incarnation! :)Say it loud and proud, Angel Gabriel!!!
I admit it. I'm a McDonald's girl. Always have been, and probably always will be. I once went through an entire semester eating nothing but #2's (their two cheeseburger meal which, after a couple years of hibernation, now seems to be their #4 in S. Jersey).
I could drench my fries in Sweet-n-Sour sauce all night long and never once think to myself, Gina, maybe you're overdoing it a little bit.
Nope. I'd give people directions using McDonalds' as landmarks. Friends would get me McDonald's gift certificates for holidays. I even bonded with my future-husband over McDonald's history and lore. Apparently it's what cemented his love for me...
But I digress.
In all my years as a McDonald's girl, I've scoffed at those who preferred Chick-Fil-A. One of my best friends, Frank (you can check out his Phillies Blog here
), swears by it. I'd religiously pass it up in favor of McDonald's. If I'm gonna have fast food, I may as well have the good stuff, right?Well, ladies and gentlemen, over the last year or so, I've heard an increasing amount of arguments in favor of Chick-Fil-A. My husband always liked their stuff (he didn't have loyalties like I did), but he could never convince me to give them a fair shot. It took a troupe of Mommy Bloggers to finally pave the way for me to give them a real go.Thus, when John asked "Where do you want to take Vince to lunch?" while we were out last weekend, I surprised him with "Chick-Fil-A." I seriously think he had a minor heart attack.Anyway, we made our way to the one down the street from us. John was in his glories (he loves their nuggets), and I was in the playroom with Vince. I had already eaten (since I wasn't expecting to like anything - chicken sandwiches never appealed to me), but John got me a sandwich anyway. "It's for later" he said.Sure.
Anyway, the restaurant was just what all the Mommy Bloggers had talked about. It was clean, the staff was extremely friendly, they were very obviously "kid-friendly," and as a result, their customers seemed very much like us... young families looking to capitalize on a good deal.
I was amazed!
The playroom was perfect. It had several activities and kept Vince thoroughly entertained for about 45 minutes. When we finally pulled him away for food, he enjoyed that, too! John had gotten him nuggets and waffle fries with an apple juice to drink.
I tried one of the nuggets because they looked homemade. I don't like nuggets, but since these looked so (for lack of a better word) natural, I took a nibble and was thoroughly surprised when I liked that, too!
The real test came a few minutes later when I had to change Vince in the bathroom. Imagine my surprise when the bathroom not only had a changing station, but a clean one at that! It was even stocked with little baggies to toss away diapers, and extra wipes in case a mom forgot her own!
And as we were leaving the bathroom, I spotted a little step stool for Vince to use to wash his hands. I didn't have to help him levitate (which inevitably leaves him soapy and covered in water)!!!
Okay, Chick-Fil-A... I think you may be on to something!
So I decided to go back again today. I wanted to see if I'd just gotten lucky and saw them on the best day they'd ever had. Today's trip was even BETTER!
The staff was in full force today, giving balloons to all the kids, asking parents if they wanted free "toys / books" for them, making sure every one had all the condiments / drinks they wanted.
The playroom was still pristine (with the exception of a tiny Purell packet on the floor which immediately got swept up by one of the staff members), and yes, the bathroom was STILL stocked with extra wipes!
Alright, alright... I can admit defeat. Chick-Fil-A, you have a new raving fan. Now I fully believe what all the other Mommy Bloggers were saying when they swore by this place. Now I can go back to Frank and say, "Alrighty, I apologize... you're not entirely wrong in your opinion of Chick-Fil-A." And John... John can be super happy that Chick-Fil-A has become a possibility for the family again!
So yes... for any of you folks wondering if Chick-Fil-A might be for you, give it a whirl. I wish I had done it a lot sooner!
Special thanks to Creative Minority Report for not only having the full ad, but the full text here.Another special thanks to Nicole for dropping this off via FB. I'd seen it being talked about on a few blogs, but I hadn't gotten the full text until now!I'll deal with the Catholic vs. Muslim NTY Ad issue at another time. Today I want to focus on the Catholic ad.I'm all for free speech. I honestly don't mind that they paid for an ad that voiced their opinions. That being said, I'm unsurprised that they chose to exercise their freedom of speech by once again attacking Catholicism and seeking to muddy the real issues that surround US Catholics at present.I'll take the text and respond - one at a time - to their ludicrous statements. My comments are in red.Dear ‘Liberal’ Catholic: It’s time to quit the Roman Catholic Church. It’s your moment of truth. Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages? Do you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs? Whose side are you on, anyway? Common ploy to polarize! You're attempting to juxtapose issues that don't actually exist. For example, in attempting to contrast our Bishops and "their wrongs" with women and "their rights" it appears that the two are at odds. In truth, Catholics are attempting to continueproviding women with the most comprehensive healthcare possible. And these are only a few examples - a very tiny sampling of the almost unfathomable amount of resources we dedicate to providing reliable, charitable healthcare to ALL people all over the world. But sure - this is simply a matter of us suddenly wanting to stop providing what is a vital part of our Catholic identity. Of course. That makes perfect sense. <sarcasm> It is time to make known your dissent from the Catholic Church, in light of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ ruthless campaign endangering the right to contraception. If you’re part of the Catholic Church, you’re part of the problem.I didn't realize that practicing my faith somehow trampled on your rights. In speaking out against this mandate, I'm not stopping you from purchasing condoms, pills or even abortions. I'm simply attempting to keep myself from footing the bill for your lifestyle choices, especially when those lifestyle choices go directly against my faith. Isn't this what you've always wanted? This is the Church attempting to stay out of your bedroom. Stay out of my wallet, k? Why are you propping up the pillars of a tyrannical and autocratic, woman-hating, sex-perverting, antediluvian Old Boys Club? Your proof for any of those completely fallacious statements is where? And that whole sex-perversion comment makes me laugh. We're upholding sexual intercourse to be a holy, beautiful and intimate bond between husband and wife. You folks are the ones attempting to make it a free-for-all that is free from emotion, respect, and responsibility.Why are you aiding and abetting a church that has repeatedly and publicly announced a crusade to ban contraception, abortion and sterilization, and to deny the right of all women everywhere, Catholic or not, to decide whether and when to become mothers?Because the Church is correct in attempting to stamp out that which is morally bankrupt. We're NOT attempting to refuse women the right to choose whether / when to become mothers. They're perfectly capable of doing that on their own. It's as simple as saying "No, honey, not tonight." Or are you attempting to assert that women are ignorant and incapable of understanding their own bodies well enough to address this issue themselves without the aid of harmful chemicals /invasive procedures? When it comes to reproductive freedom, the Roman Catholic Church is Public Enemy Number One. Think of the acute misery, poverty, needless suffering, unwanted pregnancies, social evils and deaths that can be laid directly at the door of the Church’s antiquated doctrine that birth control is a sin and must be outlawed.Oh really? Reproductive freedom goes both ways, dear. How about we call it Reproductive RESPONSIBILITY. Folks don't want to accept responsibility anymore. It has nothing to do with freedom. It has to do with a refusal of responsibility. Freedom is as simple as saying "No, I'm not ready for a child, thus I'm not ready for the act that goes into creating a child" or even "I'm not ready (or willing) to have a child, thus I need to be aware of my body's signals that I'm fertile."In the eyes of the Church, birth control, abortion and sterilization are mortal sins. Our doctrine on this is not something that can become "antiquated." So regardless of how much public opinion is influenced by your liberal thrust, the Church will remain firmly rooted in the Truth of the Teachings of Christ. Thus, call us outdated all you want. Truth is timeless, and no matter how many times you try to say 1+1=7, the Catholic Church will always discern your folly and seek to correct that folly for the good of Her people. A backer of the Roman Catholic presidential candidate says that if women want to avoid pregnancy we should put an aspirin between our knees? Apparently we must take his word for gospel because he's a Catholic. Good thing there haven't been any folks who parade themselves as Catholic and do / say some REALLY anti-Catholic things (Pelosi, anyone? Cuomo? I could go on). Catholic politicians are urging that the right to contraception should be left up to states? Nearly 50 years after the Supreme Court upheld contraception as a privacy right, we’re going to have to defend this basic freedom all over again?Back to that whole "Truth is timeless" point. Just because the SC said something's A-OK doesn't mean we have to agree. We'll keep plugging away until all life (even that within the womb) is viewed with the respect and dignity it deserves. You’re better than your church. Correction - we ARE the Church.So why? Why continue to attend Mass? Tithe? To worship God in a way He specified was holy and good.To join together as a community to renew our covenant with God as His family.To listen to the Word of God and participate in His Death and Resurrection.To partake of the Blessed Sacrament - something no other religion has.To bear our petitions before the Throne of the Lord on the wings of our angels.To unite ourselves more fully to the Church Triumphant, Penitent and Militant.To express thankfulness for the blessings we've received through Divine Providence.Annnnd, this list could seriously go on forever.Why dutifully sacrifice to send your children to parochial schools so they can be brainwashed into the next generation of myrmidons (and, potentially, become the next Church victims)? Of course it's seen as brainwashing to you. And that's fine - no one's asking you to send your kids to Catholic school. However, I know I intend to send mine to a Catholic school so they gain a firm foundation for TRUE Catholic teachings - not the misinformation you spread as fact. I also appreciate the comfort of knowing Catholic education does a much better job of helping children succeed academically than its secular counterpart. And for the record, that information was compiled using the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).For that matter, why have you put up with an institution that won’t put up with women priests, that excludes half of humanity?This simply shows your ignorance of Catholicism. ALL people are part of the royal priesthood (men and women alike). However, only men can belong to the ministerial priesthood through Ordination, and that's because women are NATURALLY able to become vessels of life. Men can only gain that gift through the vocation of priesthood (in bearing Christ to the people through Consecration). But since folks like you can't seem to grasp that dignity is not something measured by things you can pat yourself on the back for, just read this and learn why we believe women cannot be priests. No self-respecting feminist, civil libertarian or progressive should cling to the Catholic faith.Again, you're attempting to polarize things that honestly have no reason being a part of this discussion. You're attempting to shame folks into leaving the Church because you view it as anti-feminist, stifled and archaic. The Church is none of these things. We respect our women, we revere tradition, and we are able to grow in spirituality courtesy of the Holy Spirit. Just because we aren't willing to fall into the muck you call "progress" doesn't mean we can't be progressive. We just think your version of "progress" is highly suspect and can be likened more to humanity slipping BACKWARDS into slime and filth. As a Cafeteria Catholic, you chuck out the stale doctrine and moldy decrees of your religion, but keep patronizing the establishment that menaces public health by serving rotten offerings. You have completely misunderstood the concept of Cafeteria Catholic, haven't you?Your continuing Catholic membership, as a “liberal,” casts a veneer of respectability upon an irrational sect determined to blow out the Enlightenment and threaten liberty for women worldwide. You are an enabler. And it’s got to stop.I agree that Cafeteria Catholics have to stop, but I think we differ on the reasons why, as these folks do nothing to cast ANY sort of respectability upon those of us who are faithful Catholics. And as for your talk of Enlightenment... well... that's obviously hogwash as Catholicism is a beacon of truth in your sea of folly. As much as you want to claim we're threatening women's health / liberty, we're probably the last bastion they've got that is willing to provide them the compassion and dignity they desperately need. If you imagine you can change the church from within — get it to lighten up on birth control, gay rights, marriage equality, embryonic stem-cell research — you are deluding yourself. For any Catholic that thinks they can change that stuff, you're not understanding the concept of dogma, and I'd agree with the statement of "you are deluding yourself." If you remain a “good Catholic,” you are doing “bad” to women’s rights. Not only is a non-Catholic attempting to tell me I'm being "bad" but an atheistic one who HATES Catholicism. No conflict of interest there, right? Excuse me, waiter... can I please have a heaping serving of salt to go with this garbage?You’re kidding yourself if you think the Church is ever going to add a Doctrine of Immaculate ContraCeption.I bet you thought you were hilarious with that one, didn't you? *Shakes head* That's pathetic. It is disgraceful that U.S. health care reform is being held hostage to the Catholic Church’s bizarre opposition to medically prescribed contraception. No, what's disgraceful is that the current administration is attempting to dismantle our 1st Amendment rights and a portion of the population is perfectly content to stand by because they don't understand / care what's going on. No politician should jeopardize electability for failure to genuflect before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Again, while I'm sure you thought your imagery was hilarious, you fail to make any sort of substantial point. No one is expecting politicians to genuflect before a bishop. We (meaning faithful Catholics) want politicians to uphold the office they were elected for. We want them to hear our voice and protect our right to freedom of religion. If they fail to uphold the dignity of their office, we'll be sure to give them a good old-fashioned boot come next election.(Question to ask your Bishop: Does he hold up an umbrella against the rain? Isn’t that just as “unnatural” as using a condom or diaphragm?)Again, this foolish question makes no sense, but it betrays your view of sex. For Catholics, sexual relations are a renewal of wedding vows. It is the total giving of self by husband to wife (and vice versa). Exactly what sort of loving, self-giving exchange is occurring between a human being and rain? Your Church hysterically claims that secular medical policy is “an assault against religious liberty.” It's not a hysterical claim, but I know you're trying with increasing fervor to make others believe that's all it is. This is a proclamation of TRUTH.You are savvy enough to realize that the real assault is by the Church against women’s rights and health care. I see what you attempted to do there. I know you're attempting to stroke my ego and make me go "Yeah! I AM smart enough to realize the Church is really anti-women!"Unfortunately for you, I'm actually much more intelligent and knowledgable about my faith than you are. So how about you back off with attempting to tell me what my religion stands for and you go about your business of trying to prove to yourself that there is no higher power awaiting you at death.As Nation columnist Katha Pollitt asks: Is it an offense against Jehovah Witnesses that health care coverage will include blood transfusions? The Amish, as Pollitt points out, don’t label cars “an assault on religious liberty” and try to force everyone to drive buggies. The louder the Church cries “offense against religious liberty” the harder it works to take away women’s liberty.Mark Shea answers this way better than I ever could, so just read this. Obama has compromised, No, no he didn't. In fact, he outright lied.but the Church never budges, instead launching a vengeful modern-day Inquisition. Yup. And I'm quite pleased that She's finally mobilizing the Church Militant in defense of Truth!Look at its continuing directives to parish priests to use their pulpits every Sunday to lobby you against Obama’s policy, the Church’s announcement of a major anti-contraception media campaign — using your tithes, contributions and donations — to defeat Obama’s laudable health care policy. Have you actually been to any churches on Sunday? That's an obvious "no."The Church has introduced into Congress the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, ” a bill to place the conscienceless Catholic Church’s “rights of conscience” above the rights of conscience of 53 percent of Americans. That the Church has “conscience rights” to deny women their rights is a kissing cousin to the claim that “corporations are people.” The Church that hasn’t persuaded you to oppose contraception now wants to use the force of secular law to deny contraceptive rights to non-Catholics.Wow - to be quite honest, you lost me at "conscienceless Catholic Church." Also, what is this "53 percent of Americans" you're referring to? But is there any point in going on? Plenty, as you've yet to give me any solid reasons to leave what I know to be the fulfillment of God's promise for salvation. We have the Sacraments, we have true, moral guidance, we have a community of good, charitable people who seek to extend their hands to help Divine Providence along. We have the Church Triumphant and the Church Penitent pulling for us, and we've got the guidance of the Holy Spirit to navigate us through your treachery. You've got what? Pills and condoms? Moral bankruptcy? A hopeless future in which life amounts to nothing more than personal gratification and selfish ideas of how others can be utilized for your own ends?Yeah... no thanks.After all, your misplaced loyalty has lasted through two decades of public sex scandals involving preying priests, children you may have known as victims, and church complicity, collusion and coverup going all the way to the top. Ah, there it is... I was waiting for this to rear its head. Yes, we've had our share of fallen leaders, same as everyone else. There really isn't much we can do to rectify all the hurt and pain we've caused, but good luck to the world in attempting to pay us back for all the good we've done. We are a sinful people, but in the end, our track record is much more golden than tarnished. Though this is an ugly scar we will bear forever (and rightly so), it doesn't diminish the humane, holy, and charitable good we've done all over the world.Are you like the battered woman who, after being beaten down every Sunday, feels she has no place else to go?Really? You seriously went with THIS imagery? I guess you're really trying to bring home your whole "the Church hates women" argument. Again - very sad. But we have a more welcoming home to offer,Like all those wonderful things I mentioned above??? Again - no thanks! free of incense-fogged ritual, Also free from holiness, blessings and Godfree of what freethinker Bertrand Russell called “ideas uttered long ago by ignorant men,”Apparently free from common sense and knowledge of what Catholicism actually teaches, too. free of blind obedience to an illusory religious authority. And to top it off, free from absolutes, tradition and reality. Again, no thanks!Join those of us who put humanity above dogma.You're confusing humanity for personal gratification and immaturity - a life free from responsibility, meaningful relationships, and most importantly, God. Pardon me if I don't come rushing over to sign up. As a member of the “flock” of an avowedly antidemocratic club, isn’t it time you vote with your feet? Please, exit en Mass.Again, I realize you think you're hilarious, but wow. It's like your puns get more cringe-worthy with each passing paragraph! I'll continue voting with my feet straight up the Communion line where I can kneel before my Lord and my God to accept Him with love and joy, content to bear Him forth to others. Amen, dear Lord - never allow me to tear myself away from Your Heart.