Black Mass Restitution
This, my friends, is how Catholics combat evil. We draw together as one Body and proclaim the Divinity of the One Who Loves Us. We adore our God within the humble Eucharist and refrain our thunderous "AMEN!" as the demons tremble in their hellish shackles.
THIS is the Church Militant as She armors Herself in the Blood of the Lamb.
Special thanks to Justin Bell (@ajustbell) for giving me permission to use the above photo for tonight's entry. He was present for the Procession and took some really incredible photos. Looking through them, my eyes truly began to well up with gratitude for the outpouring of love for Christ within the Eucharist.
Lord, You are loved. Forgive us for neglecting to show our love like this more often.
By now, you've all heard of the repugnant event that was to be hosted on the Harvard campus. I, like many of my Catholics, joined my brothers and sisters in Boston in a national show of solidarity through prayer, fasting and sacrifice.
There is nothing more I can possibly say on this matter that hasn't already been outline hundreds of times by others who have written about this. I will say, however, that I was incredibly hurt by such an event being promoted. Physically, painfully hurt.
So from 7pm until 8pm, I locked myself away and offered the hour in union with the entire Church. I offered it in reparation for the mockery of Christ, I offered it for the conversion and repentance of those responsible, and I offered it for the strength and clarity of those with the power to stop it.
There were no adoration hours available to me locally, so I chose to unite myself by reading about the Eucharist in a little booklet I picked up about a year ago. It's been sitting in my drawer waiting for this day. I pulled it out and spent the hour in prayerful reflection of the lessons contained within.
The booklet is titled The Most Blessed Sacrament and is written by Fr. Stephano Manelli, OFM. I thought it fitting. Fr. Manelli creates a quilt of reflections patched together by various saints who were entirely devoted to our Divine God hidden in the Eucharist.
Folks just don't understand how Catholics can adore what - to them - amounts to be a cracker. God would never, in their minds, appear as something so insignificant. God is majestic - divine! He would not stoop so low as to appear as bread and wine.
And yet this is exactly who we know God to be. This is precisely why we praise Him, honor Him and love Him. The Divine and Unencompassable God consents to become the most base staple of nourishment so that He can mercifully feed us in an intimate and personal way. That is how loving our God is. He is not this mythical creature who is too self-important to care for His children. Instead, He bends over backwards to be near to us. He cares not for golden ciboriums or tabernacles encrusted with jewels; He years to take refuge within the depths of our soul. He wishes to enjoin Himself to our deepest, truest essence so that He can fashion us to Him and make us more like Himself - divine.
This is why Satan hates the Eucharist. He can't stand that the Divine God humbles Himself so basely for the likes of humanity. It is why he seeks to mock and sully the truest, most blessed gift ever given to humanity.
St. Augustine once exclaimed of the Eucharist, "Although God is all-powerful, He is unable to give more; though supremely wise, He knows not how to give more; though vastly rich, He has not more to give."
Why is this? Because in the Eucharist, we are given God's Incarnate Son. Jesus comes to us fully (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity) to feed us and nourish our souls with effusions of Divine Grace. God cannot give more than the gift of Himself in this humble form. This blessed gift is the summation of His promise to be with us always.
Methinks I'll be doing a lot more meditating on the Eucharistic Lord in the coming months. The media still isn't entirely sure if the mockery took place or not. Some reports are saying it happened in a Chinese restaurant across from campus, others are reporting that it has been pushed off indefinitely. Either way, evil is beginning to get increasingly brazen, and a more constant meditation and show of Christian love is necessary to combat this treachery.
Did any of you participate in the 7-8pm vigil?
The Hardest Thing
When asked about the hardest thing I've dealt with regarding Vincent and the confusion of the last several months (years, really), my answer was fear.
At first, I actually said that there haven't been any difficult changes to deal with. Vince is still the same happy, affectionate child. He still loves sports and kitties and trampolines. He doesn't attend daycare or school, but honestly, that means he gets to spend more time with Mommy and Daddy who don't have to spend 45 minutes each way to pick him up or drop him off each day.
If anything, this has made things easier for us (no worries of him catching that stomach bug going around, being bullied, being put in the principal's office for over-stimulation).
However, upon further reflection, there has been a major uptick in fear. I can't deny that. It's been my driving force these last few months.
I was terrified that Vincent was going to be misdiagnosed and put into a program that would not seek to challenge and engage him. I was afraid he had fallen behind his peers with his social skills. I was ceaselessly worried we weren't doing enough as parents to get him to where he needed to be... that I was missing pieces of the puzzle or overlooking some obvious trait that others could so plainly see.
Above all, I was terrified that I was failing my son. I was failing as a mother, and that really did cause me some sleepless nights.
Each time someone asked about Vincent, I physically and mentally braced myself to defend him against the misunderstandings and suggestive conversations I knew were to come.
"Did you ask the doctor about Autism yet?"
"I read this article about Oppositional Defiance. I'd like to send it to you."
"My friend knows a lot about learning disabled students. She works with kids like Vincent all the time."
"I know you don't think he's got Autism, but did you look into Asperger's?"
"Wow, he sure is fidgety. He's probably just got ADD or something."
On and on and on this sort of conversation would take place. Well-meaning individuals (family and friends alike) who were doing their best to guide me through waters which they, themselves, had no lighthouse to follow.
For the most part, I did appreciate their intentions. I just had to tune them out after a while. Behind each good-intention was an unspoken judgement: There is something wrong with Vincent.
Did they mean it that way? Of course not. But I'm his mother. I see him as perfect. I want everyone else to see him that way, too. It was killing me that others were starting to see him as a problem needing to be solved than as a beautiful little boy wanting to play Ninja Turtles.
And I felt that I, myself, was being judged as inferior. I was being deemed a parent incapable of "fixing" my son... of allowing him to spoil in some way.
Isn't that terrible? Each keystroke of this entry feels like I'm pulling tears higher and higher out of the well of my soul.
THAT was the hardest part in all of this. Feeling like a failure. Feeling like others were judging my son... judging me. Feeling like they were judging correctly and feeling absolutely worthless for being unable to change that judgement because they were right.
That sort of paranoia... it is devilishly intense. I'd beg, barter and plead with God to just lead me down the right path because I had no idea what I was doing.
And in all those times of desperation, He answered.
He gave me the mental dexterity to show EI the door when they pushed for Autism testing before Vince was even three. He opened the doors to TLE when I had no idea where to place Vincent. He dropped the most perfect speech therapist into my lap who took flawless notes about his progress. He reminded me of those notes when I read Cam's entry on her own daughter, and He put the pieces of the puzzle together for me before I even knew I was holding puzzle pieces.
Each and every time I found myself doubting His sanity in placing Vincent into my care, He'd swoop in and reassure me that He wasn't, in fact, crazy. He just had a lot more faith in me than I had in Him.
And when I finally realized that, I was amazed and infinitely grateful to be counted worthy of raising my son. He is a gift, and with God in my cheering section, what is there to be afraid of?
As parents, we're always going to fear we're failing. We just need to remember that God would have never placed these blessings with us if He didn't think we could do it. Together, we can. :)
Gas Used in Syria: Graphic
This entry is not for the faint of heart. The image below disturbed me something fierce, so if you don't want to wrestle with the same inner despair I am over this situation, please step away from this article. It deals specifically with murdered children, so please - click to another blog because this will leave your heart crying out for vengeance.
On the front page of the Wall Street Journal today, they posted a very large photo of shrouded bodies. At first glance, they looked to be sleeping, but the central figure, possibly a mother in grief, stooped over one of the figures as a man supported her while another caressed the face of the child.
My heart immediately skipped a beat as I fought the urge to cry out. I stared at the image and couldn't help but note how beautiful these little girls were. I assume the photo was taken outside of a girl's school, because each of the little faces peeking out from the sheets was a beautiful, beautiful little girl.
My God - I pictured my nieces in those blankets. My son. How could we, as humans, do this to one another? To steal away these precious lives, and with them, the lives of those left behind? This is evil - this is such terrible, terrible evil.
Again, I can almost hear my husband saying, "Gina, just stop looking at it. Why do you torture yourself by dwelling on this sorta stuff?"
I just can't help it. Look at those faces. Look at those angelic little faces and tell me they don't deserve to have their stories known. That they don't deserve to have their stories FELT so that hearts around the world resound their anger and defiance of such evil existing in our world.
No. Knowing this evil exists and unmasking it so that others are aware of it is that absolute least I can do. Spreading the word so that others can join their prayers and fasting for these families is a tiny step in the direction of healing, and these children... these families... they deserve at least that much.
So regardless of how much my heart bleeds as I think on this situation, I will look at each of those little faces, think on each of their broken, hurting families, and I will pray. I will meditate on their suffering and I will spread the word so that others can do the same. I will then offer it to Christ and beg that He come back to us soon because truly... we need His help. We are a plague unto ourselves, and we simply do not have the strength to pull ourselves from the mud.
May God have mercy on us.
A Beacon of Hope Amidst Tragedy
My morning started off pretty awesome. My son gave me hugs and kisses before I dropped him off at daycare, several of my friends were already on their way to the Pro-Life March in D.C., and I was on my way to the most awesome job in the world (made that much more awesome by the fact that my coworkers are pretty much the best people in the universe). That all being said, I looked something like this:
About an hour or so after getting to work, however, one of those aforementioned awesome coworkers sent me this article which put me in a mood decidedly...
After a few minutes of fuming - loudly - I checked to see which diocese St. Thomas More was actually a part of. I wanted to make sure it wasn't Archbishop Chaput's old Denver stomping grounds. When I found out the hospital was located in the diocese of Pueblo, I hopped over to their site to find out if any statement had been made by the bishop there. When I got to their homepage (found here), I took a moment to read the press release posted there. While reading, I probably looked a little something like this:
The quick (and pointed) response to this situation is incredibly heartening. In fact, I was SO pleased that they responded that I wrote the wonderful folks over in Pueblo to tell them how wonderful I thought their bishops were in a letter to the Office of the Bishop. I would suggest all of you do the same. When you're done praising them for being defenders of Life, go ahead and exercise your fingers by then moving over to St. Thomas More Hospital's site to unleash a lesson or two on what TRUE Catholics stand up for and defend.
This, my dear friends, is what today's version of Defending the Faith looks like. We might not need to shed our blood in the Colosseum (yet), but we do need to take a stand and refuse to back down on our beliefs simply because it's financially beneficial to do so. Those hack-job lawyers in Colorado have just destroyed so much of what the Pro-Life movement has worked hard for. How DARE they claim that fetuses aren't people only to kick a lawsuit under the rug!
My heart goes out to the father who lost his wife and children. How invalidated he must feel that a set of Catholic representatives (whether or not they were Catholic themselves doesn't matter - they represented a Catholic Institution, and thus should have reflected Catholic values in their actions) basically told him his two children were nothing... that they were undeserving of proper care because they weren't technically alive by the standards of the law...
I am sickened by that! At the very least the firm representing the hospital should never again be allowed to step foot in the courtroom in defense of St. Thomas More. I'd also like to see the administrators of this particular hospital feel a little fire for their part. SOMEONE over there had to have given some sort of consent to this diabolical argument. Ugh - I just... I can't.
Anyway, after you spit some of your justified venom their way, refresh yourself by viewing some of the incredible, uplifting and thought-provoking images of today's incredibly successful March for Life. These imagines? They'll remind you that you're not alone in your desire to see a better, brighter future for this generation and all generations to follow. They'll remind you that you're part of something bigger... something mystical... something militant - the Body of Christ.
Please be warned - the linked article has a moderately graphic image for some of you involving blood. No bodies are shown, but blood smeared on the wall in letters is.
This is an article regarding the wave of anti-Christian crime that's been sweeping through Russia and the surrounding areas in the wake of the Riot sentencing. A few people are now dead in connection to the crime-spree (whether capitalizing on the fame of the trial or not is to be determined) and countless churches and communities have been victimized through desecration, theft and violence.
We are to be tried once more in the public square. Anti-Christian fervor is building, and we can expect more of this to spread even to within our own borders.
Arm yourselves, Church Militant. Prayer is your sword; the saints are your armor. Your battle cry is Truth and that Truth is Christ.
My 1st Quick-Takes... I Think?
So I've seen a lot of my blogger friends take part in Conversion Diary's Quick Take Fridays. I've also been an avid follower of Jennifer Fulwiler's for a while. I'd considered taking part in the past, but my life is honestly not interesting enough to do a weekly "catch-all." Maybe a quarterly one.
Anyway, today I lucked upon some great articles that totaled seven in number. I thought Hey now! That's just enough to make an actual Quick Take Friday post! Then I wondered, Is it cheating to use articles for my quick takes as opposed to using items about my actual life?
The answer I arrived at was "Yes. Yes, it's cheating, but who cares? Doubtful anyone's gonna come after me with some sort of blogging demerits."
So, my 7 Quick Takes:
From Esquire Magazine comes an open letter to the world from a Christian who aims to correct the negative perceptions of an anti-Christian world. My favorite quote:
"... at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again."
NBC reports that some yahoo decided to drop raw bacon in the field where Muslims were celebrating the close of Ramadan. This person (people?) also left a note and police are investigating it as a hate crime.
I'm all for investigating this as a hate crime because it's obvious this person (or these people) was attempting to bully others on the grounds of their religion, but I find it interesting that this had no effect on their celebrations and this wasn't even done on sacred grounds / with sacred objects. It's rightly being investigated as a hate crime, but folks are still indignant that the Russian women - who desecrated the main altar of a Cathedral - were convicted of religious intolerance. Color me incredulous.
A high school valedictorian has been denied her diploma by her school because of the use of "Hell" in her speech. They haven't denied her transcripts (which she needs for college), but the diploma is symbolic of her achievements.
I think the approach is heavy-handed, but I do believe she owes the school the written apology it asked for in punishment for her misstep. Her reaction and continued "I'm right, I'm right, I'm right" when she is CLEARLY in the wrong only serves to show how arrogant she is. She provided them with an approved speech, then she decided to throw unnecessary vulgarity in there. As punishment, they with-held the diploma and simply asked for an apology.
I'm sorta bothered by everyone coming to her defense in saying this is an attack of freedom of speech. It's a SCHOOL SPEECH that everyone knows must be approved first by the board (or whoever is in charge of the ceremony). It's to both protect the school and the student from embarrassment. This girl simply thought she was above the rules because of her intelligence and achievements.
Sorry, honey, but you've still gotta play by the rules. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech. It has everything to do with following procedure during a solemn ceremony. Get over yourself. If this is how you respond to situations that call you out for trying to place yourself above authority, you're in for a rude awakening when you make it to the real world.
Fr. Levi over at The Way Out There came across the last words of St. David Lewis, a martyred priest whose story is incredibly touching.
After reading both his life overview and then his final address, I couldn't help but thank God for granting us so brave and faithful witnesses to His Love. Bless our priests.
God certainly knows how to choose them!
This is for all my fellow educators out there. In a special way, it's for those who are part of the unique group of people who work with children who have speech delays (my son being one of those children!).
I have no words to properly express the appreciation I have for your dedication and your love. Michelle at Liturgical Time does a fabulous job of expressing so well just how much we love the children we're blessed to work with, and I think being an educator myself, knowing that love on a personal level and seeing it doled out to my son just makes me that much more appreciative and awe-struck. Those who work with children are special, special people.
By Erika V of CS!
This is almost another cheat, but CatholicSistas has absolutely been on a roll this week. It's like someone swapped their coffee for Red Bull and they've been hammering out gold on a daily basis. Two of their articles REALLY touched me this week and I wanted to highlight them for you.
The first is Infant Death and Scared Parenting. A perinatal loss nurse is interviewed and she gives an inside look into this oft-overlooked area of holistic medicine. Incredibly inspiring and moving.
The second is titled The Trauma and Pain of Abortion After Rape and is written by a woman who conceived through rape. Exceedingly well-written, honest and poignant.
Finally, and maybe this isn't an article so much as a Book Release, but a mystic I've been following for a while, Maria Divine Mercy, has finally had the messages bundled into a book.
However, you don't need to purchase the book to read the messages. You can simply go to the website dedicated to collecting them all and download the PDF.
Again, typical warning goes into effect with mystics. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance as these are all considered personal revelations. Also, try to forgive the horrific formatting of the website. It's set up very much like a yellow-journalism rag and whoever is in charge of it is definitely trying to capitalize off fear and panic. I don't approve of that. Ignore the terrible formatting and focus on the messages and the Crusade Prayers. I promise you'll thank me later for it.
For more Quick Takes, check out Conversion Diary (who hosts this entertaining weekly blogroll!
The Riot Women
Vince's face says it all.
I'm going to try really hard to remain civil. I apologize in advance if If am less than perfect in my attempt.
Some of you may have been following the deplorable media frenzy over a certain Russian 'band' that decided to stage a blasphemous protest inside the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. For those of you that haven't, do yourselves a favor and simply skip this particular entry so you can remain blissfully unaware that such disregard for common decency exists in the world.
A couple months ago, members of this feminist group trespassed on sacred Cathedral grounds and brassly went up to the main sanctuary to the soleas (the platform in front of the gates that enclose the altar) and shrieked out an incredibly offensive string of lines aimed at denigrating Christians under the guise of opposing Putin.
Judging from the lyrics (and really... don't search them out unless you really want to upset yourself), they were mostly looking to humiliate Christians and drag our beliefs through the mud. To do this in front of the main altar where Christ is present... oh Heaven! Forgive us this travesty.
When these yahoos were finally brought before a judge, they were found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in prison.
Of course everyone and their brother cried foul over this. The media kicked into high gear blasting the government for stifling freedom of speech. Instead of being viewed as a hate crime aimed at humiliating Christians, folks painted the picture of innocent women who just wanted to speak out against the injustice of Russian big-wigs.
How anyone could possibly write this off as simply the government trying to stifle free speech is beyond me - especially given that these same women have landed themselves in prison before. The ONLY reason they've attracted so much attention this time around is because of where they staged their antics.
They chose the central Cathedral of Moscow because it'd garner the most publicity. And instead of just staging this in front of the cathedral (where I doubt I'd've had an issue with it), they chose to go INSIDE the church and dare to go up to the sanctuary.
I won't even go near the sanctuary, and I'm a practicing Catholic!
And yet everyone who I've spoke to about this defends these women because the media is portraying this as an issue of free speech. Instead, the media completely neglects the incredibly horrible injustice done to the Christians of that community. Because most folks don't care about the beliefs of these people, they don't CARE that this injustice has been done.
*Shakes head* That really worries me.
An incredible article that details just how distrurbing this is was written by Janice Shaw Crouse of The American Thinker.
In attempting to explain this to atheist / agnostic / disagreeing friends, I likened it to a stunt orchestrated by a Christian in the middle of a homosexual support group. Let's say Bob wants to protest President Obama because he believes President Obama is in bed with the homosexual lobby. Instead of protesting someplace normal and open to the public, he decides to break into a homosexual support group meeting (or support community home) and yell anti-homosexual things.
Should Bob be arrested? YES! For goodness sakes, he trespassed with the willful intent to denegrate homosexuals! He'd be immediately labeled a homophobe, would probably be arrested and charged with a hate crime, and face an extremely publicized trial that would laugh at his attempt to use "freedom of speech" as a defense for his actions.
This is because most folks are in agreement with the homosexual lobby. Most folks would rightly be offended that anyone would THINK to enter such a safe, sacred spot and begin bullying homosexuals in so offensive a manner - even under the guise of raging against the President.
Why, then, is this same outrage not shown to the Christians who are now left with months of restitution to serve in atonement for the treachery committed against their community by these women?
Ah yes - because it's perfectly acceptable to bully Christians. It's perfectly acceptable - respected, even - to humiliate and denigrate Christianity.
Again - this should be HIGHLY alarming to folks. It certainly is to me.
In Jesus' Name...
The Name of Christ is mighty
Apparently the Name of Christ is more dangerous to the public than concealed weapons (which are perfectly legal) in N. Carolina.
I found a seed on Father Z's blog this morning detailing a new policy enacted in N. Carolina regarding police chaplains' ability to use Christ's name while praying at public events.
One chaplain's response was like an arrow to my heart... a beautiful, wonderful arrow of integrity and wisdom.
Pastor Terry Sartain, upon learning of this change, withdrew from the event because, "Jesus is the only thing I have to bless people with."
This man understands what so many others do not. The Name of Christ is one of our greatest blessings. It's why we always ask for everything "in Jesus' Name." Christ left us even the grace of His own Name to help shield us from harm.
Other religions treat the names of their gods / prophets as unspeakable or curse-inducing utterances. Not Christianity. We were blessed to understand that our God is a loving God who WANTS a personal relationship with us. He WANTS us to know Him intimately. Thus, He blesses us with the comfort of His Holy Name.
To remove our ability to call out His blessing through using His Name, this policy effectively steals from us our ability to properly pray. It also forces us to deny the God who gave His Life for our salvation.
And I can't help but know with certainly that the developers of this policy fully understood that. I believe Satan and his demons coated this with the sugar of tolerance and unity, but in reality, this is just one more step towards a global "religion" that is no religion at all.
It is a dismantling of Christianity in lieu of agnosticism. It is a stifling of our faith... another gentle inoculation to prevent the spread of Christ's Name to new generations of souls. This has nothing to do with tolerance. It is INTOLERANCE that has paved the way for this desecration of religious liberties.
But few will see it this way because so many are grateful for the chance to cast aside the trappings of religion. Their own opinions on religion cloud their ability to see beyond the "Don't use Jesus' Name" and realize that it is a tiny cog in a bigger machine that is shooting down a person's individual right to practice their religion as he or she sees fit.
Chaplains are VOLUNTEERS. They are volunteering their time to give comfort to the men and women who serve. At a prayer service (if one is requested by the police force), folks EXPECT to hear names like Jesus, God, Buddha or Mohammad. These words do not point a finger at atheists, Jews or Spaghetti Monster believers in an attempt to say "You're going to a naughty place for not believing!" If you invite a volunteer chaplain to one of these prayer services, you're inviting their brand of religion. If you don't want to be stifled by Christianity, find a volunteer who will speak what you're looking for. But do NOT, NOT, NOT attempt to tell someone how they can and cannot pray (publicly or otherwise!).
These chaplains (whatever their religion may be) are looking to offer comfort in the form of a universal blessing. Christ does not just bless Christians. He blesses all, regardless of their belief in Him.
If someone were to say to me, "May the Spaghetti Monster's blessing be upon you always" I'd say, "Right on, good sir. Thanks for having my back with the warm fuzzies."
I would not respond, "Dude, I believe in JESUS, okay? Stop insulting me with your well-wishes!"
And yet that's exactly what is being done by this policy. It is ludicrous and is once again an attempt by policy makers to stifle the religious freedoms of folks... folks who are VOLUNTEERING THEIR TIME for goodness sake!
It reminds me of this yearly mess... Will this sort of foolishness have no end?
This is a perfect time for the Golden Arrow Prayer. It was given to St. Gertrude the Great by Christ, Himself, who said, "It will wound My Heart delightfully and heal the wounds inflicted by blasphemy."
As I said on Fr. Z's wall, I hope in this case it will heal the wounds inflicted by arrogance, silence and betrayal.
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth by all the creatures of God and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
Judge Not or Ye Shall be Judged
Judge a tree by it's fruits, man!
I got an e-mail last night from a friend of mine. We had been discussing the current LCWR review. He was under the impression (as so many are) that the Vatican was trying to stamp out the personal freedoms of poor, innocent nuns just trying to live our their vocation serving their communities.
I admit I got rather heated at the thought of these women being pitied as a result of the media's false stories of heroism in the face of the big, bad Vatican. These women should never - EVER - be held up as the gold standard for Catholicism. The women in question shouldn't even be held up as a bad example of Catholicism. Many have given up being Catholic long, long ago and just haven't 'fessed up to it yet. Thus, use them as a bad example of Protestantism. Please leave the word "Catholic" out of their mess.
Anyway, this friend chided me for my harsh words. He quoted the oft repeated (and incredibly misunderstood) line from Matthew 7: "Judge not lest you be judged."
I've already sent this friend an e-mail detailing my feelings on the matter (candidly as I'm apt to do). However, I felt this a topic very necessary to broach with the general population as this quote is so often used by people in an attempt to bow out to political correctness.
In my opinion, it's nothing more than an excuse to hide one's insecurities behind a veil of false nicety.
Let's say my mother is driving a car. We're about to take a curve too harshly. Considering there's a canyon to the left of us, if she continues speeding, we're likely to tumble into the abyss.
Do I refrain from telling her to slow down because I'm afraid I might hurt her feelings for criticizing her driving?
No. I like my life.
Instead, I'd say, "Hey Mom, you need to apply the brakes because if you don't, we're likely to take a tumble neither one of us will enjoy."
Would I be judging my mother to be a bad driver? No.
Would I be judging her behavior to be bad? Yes.
Might she feel as though I'd judged her to be a bad driver? Yes, it's a possibility.
If she feels as though I've passed a negative judgement on her, does that mean I have? No.
Even knowing that she might have her feelings hurt as a result of my criticism, should I refrain from suggesting she slow down? NO.
As I've said in previous entries, I simply do not have the personality to sit on the sidelines while someone is acting in a way that is either harmful to self or others. I can't. I automatically put a familiar face on these folks and my decision is made - political correctness be damned.
That is exactly what we are asked to do as Catholics. The quote "Judge not, lest ye be judged" is often given as a means to stifle this responsibility. However, if we read juuust a little bit further, we'll come to understand that this misrepresented quote (found on everything from billboards to memes to T-shirts) means something much different than the sound byte it's utilized as.
Here is the quote in its entirety (from the New American Bible, so the wording is slightly changed):
Jesus said to His disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” Matt 7:1-5
In other words, use your God-given intellect to discern judgement. It isn't necessarily meaning we should condemn, but it's certainly charging us with the responsibility of properly judging all things with equality.
In fact, there are quotes all over the Bible specifically commanding this of us.
In the gospels, Luke echoes Matthew in Chapter 6 with "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven... For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."
John (7:24) relays Jesus saying "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteously."
In Proverbs (3:21), "Preserve sound judgement and discernment."
In the Letter of St. Paul to the Phillipians (1:9-11), "And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God."
And my favorite (also from Luke 6) stating, "A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."
"See the good that we do and give glory to God."
That being said, we have a Christian responsibility to judge that which is presented to us in this world... ESPECIALLY when that which is presented wreaks of evil. We must not allow such evil to continue spreading as a cancer. The Body of Christ - OUR spiritual body - must be protected. If we remain silent as these "religious" continue to misinform, polarize and confuse the general population, we commit a sin of commission. We allow a greater evil to exist both within our ranks, and within ourselves through our silence.
This is exactly how the atrocities of WWII were accomplished. Sure there were plenty of folks who disagreed with the Nazi ideals. However, too many were silent for too long.
First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
I, for one, cannot endure such silence. I cannot wither away behind a false veil of "live and let live" when that includes allowing misinformation to fester and spread to my friends, family and children. No. It is my duty as a Christian to call evil out where it is and shed the light of truth upon the dishonesty and willful desecration of the Faith.
And those Christians among you who read this (be you Catholic or otherwise), this is your duty as well. We must work together to bring the light of Truth to others. We must not allow the lies, the half-truths, the confusion to tear souls away from Christ.
Laws no longer protect but intimidate.
Thanks to Catholic Vote for seeding. This article details the plight of a young photographer who refused her services to a lesbian couple looking to have photos taken of their commitment ceremony (since homosexual unions aren't recognized or legal in New Mexico).
Instead of simply finding another photographer, these miscreants took Elaine (the photographer) to court. Apparently their poor little feelings were hurt because Elaine didn't want to take pictures of their ring-exchange. So what's any rational couple to do?
Silly me, if faced with such a decision, I'd simply type "photographer" into Google.
Apparently it's way more entertaining to sue the person. With this being the great country of America, it's incredibly easy to do considering we don't understand our own Constitution!
*Grumble grumble grumble*
As I said, the homosexual lobby is attempting to manipulate laws into forcing folks to accept their lifestyle choices. Instead of simply finding another photographer to take photos of their "special day," they wanted to drag this woman through the mud to make an example of her in order to put pressure on others who would deny services to protect their consciences.
Since when did people become so entitled to having the world conform to their opinions? Are they so really so insecure and desperate for acceptance that they're willing to stoop THIS LOW in order to intimidate folks into a false posturing of agreement?
For shame. For absolute shame.
Our 1st Amendment rights as US Citizens... for now.
I'm successfully irritated. My charity level is low to non-existent right now, so I apologize in advance.
There has been yet another striking blow to religious freedoms today... this time in Denmark. All over the world, governments are attempting to put religious freedom to death, and no one is any the wiser. Why? Because it's all being done under the guise of social justice.
Danish parliament has just passed a law making it MANDATORY for all churches in Denmark to provide homosexual marriage ceremonies.
Take a second and let that process (if you're not too busy hurling).
A government is attempting to FORCE entire religious communities to utilize their sacred houses of worship for a ceremony that goes directly against their religious beliefs as a people.
I'm beyond disgusted.
Once again the issue of religious freedoms is ignored because folks are too busy crying foul over the issue of homosexuality.
I don't care if two men want to get hitched through civil unions. Be my guest. I draw the line, however, when those two men attempt making a mockery of our Sacrament by committing such a sacrilege in front of the Blessed Sacrament in a Catholic Church.
As I said on Facebook, welcome to the reason I refuse to vote in favor of anyone trying to push this through our court system.
As I said in a previous entry, Australia is quickly following suit. The US won't be far behind.
I'm all for homosexuals getting hitched in churches that condone it. I am NOT okay with a government stepping in to force ANYONE to accept a union that cannot be recognized by aforementioned religion.
Catholic priests cannot "consecrate" a union that is considered abhorrent and inherently sinful. No matter how much a government wants to kick, scream and cry, a faithful Catholic priest cannot (and will not) call a blessing down upon that which is mortally sinful.
Even if one tried to, do you think God would say, "Ya know what? Alright... since you asked so nicely, I'll be sure to go against that which I've stated - repeatedly - and reward you for your impressively arrogant disobedience."
Again, Lord, mercy.
Playing with Fire
My friend, Christina, said something to me that has been bouncing around in my head for the last few days:
There's something about a fire that doesn't seem to burn you. [This] issue had fire written all over it and you just jumped on in like it was a bubble bath.
Ah... the story of my life.
Last week, when I wrote that "Alone" entry, I got several follow-up messages from the person the entry was originally about. He gave me permission to post his story here, because I honestly think it's something that folks should be aware of, especially those of us who are active on Christian blogs / forums.
While I was chatting with some folks on a Christian forum, a young man timidly asked for advice with an issue he'd been struggling with. We happily agreed to hear him out. He identifies himself as homosexual, he's 19, and he still lives home with his "strict Christian parents." He loves his parents dearly, but he hasn't "come out" to them, yet. He was looking for advice on how to best do it without having them disown him.
Within minutes the thread was lighting up with comments like:
"It's a phase." "Keep that to yourself until you get it fixed."
"You'll go to hell!" "You SHOULD be disowned."
"Homosexuality is a disease." ETC...
Seriously. I was absolutely FLOORED. I immediately jumped in to dispel the notion that his sexuality was a one-way ticket to hell that needed to be exchanged through a one-night stand with a woman (suggested by a particularly vulgar member who, until that point, had been the most proper one of the bunch!). I then pointed out that the various responses were less than Christian in content.
You'd think I stumbled upon a hellmouth or something. Not only was I trying to defend this person against attacks, I was on the receiving end, myself, with no hope of respite. To say anything contrary to "Gays are evil, hell-bound freaks of nature" was tantamount to painting yourself with a bulls-eye and handing out arrows during open season. I felt HORRIBLE because all that viciousness simply caused this young man to pull away, completely embarrassed, ashamed and hurt by the torrent of verbal abuse. Worse, he assumed that response was a unanimously Christian one because no one took a stand against it!!! Heaven forbid!
For the record:
Condemning a person is NOT CHRISTIAN CHARITY.
Suggesting that they commit a mortal sin in order to "reverse" another perceived mortal sin is NOT CHRISTIAN CHARITY.
Responding to a plea for help with vitriol and wishes for the emotional distress of family abandonment is NOT CHRISTIAN CHARITY.
This gentle young man and I have been blessed to have several discussions on this now. He now understands that regardless of his sexuality, he is a body and soul created and loved by God. He understands Catholic teaching on homosexuality, and though he doesn't agree with it, at least he doesn't believe Catholicism teaches he's got a sure-ticket to hell just for being attracted to other men. He also feels better about talking to his parents about this. After all, a parent's duty is to love above all else. Heck, our job as humans is to love above all else. Loving doesn't mean accepting the sins of another, but it DOES mean accepting the person for who they're made as and helping them carry the crosses uniquely granted by God to help them on their path towards Heaven.
Keep folks like this in your prayers. It takes a lot of courage to be upfront about your deepest struggles, especially when you've got the whole world ready to rip into you.
And this is why I tend to step into the fire with seemingly little regard for the flames. On the other end of the verbal assault, someone is feeling the effects. On the other side of the computer screen, someone is being made to feel subhuman. When these hot-button conversations ignite, there is someone, somewhere being given a very incorrect view of Christianity through the poor examples of those who laud themselves as being the epitome of Christian practice. I can't help but feel my own heart break for them.
So yes. I frequently involve myself in these types of conversations and threads because if I don't, who will? Be the change you wish to see, right? If I had kept my mouth shut and just allowed them to steamroll this person, what type of image would he have of Christianity? Would there be no nugget of hope regarding coming out to his parents?
And what of the people who could easily have offered their own "Likes" or commentary to mine? Instead of private messaging, they could have helped this young man feel something of the love of God. Instead, he was left with a very bitter taste in his mouth, spoon-fed by supposedly loving Christians.
Our duty is not to stand by and allow such ill-feelings to spread. Our duty as Christians is to love God by loving one another - not silently... not ashamedly... not timidly. We are called to live our love out loud.
If that means dancing in the fire, bring on the flames.
9 Year Old Combats WBC
I love stories like this.
I'm no fan of Westboro Baptist Church, and I honestly feel terrible for the cultish mentality that the children of that family are an unwitting part of.
However, this entry isn't about WBC so much as it is about a brave young man armed with a pencil, paper and love.
Upon seeing the demonstrators rallying with their anti-homosexual posters and signs, this young boy requested permission to write a sign of his own. Playing off their typical "God Hates ..." signs, little Josef simply wrote "God Hates No One."
Amen, little Josef! Amen!
We'd all do well to remember this.
No matter the lifestyle choices, no matter the faith preference, no matter the grievous list of sins we souls have committed, God still loves each of us and wants nothing more than to embrace us in His arms. Search out that love in yourself, as God is a part of you. Search out that love and extend it to everyone you meet.
Some of you know I'm a big fan of Richard Wurmbrand, a Christian pastor who spent years building up the underground church in Romania, enduring imprisonment and countless tortures. Ever since reading his book, Tortured for Christ, I've been subscribed to a monthly newsletter called "Voice of the Martyrs." The newsletter, put out by an organization of the same name, details VOM's efforts to assist other Christians who are being (or have been) persecuted.
Reading the articles is always difficult. I don't feel it fair to ignore the plight of my fellow Christians, however, so I muster the courage to read on. Countless stories of families being torn apart, illegal imprisonment, careless legal systems, and ruthless persecution overflow from the pages. However, something deeper holds those stories together - Love. Even in the face of such incredible circumstances, these people share such a true and unshakable love of Christ that I am repeatedly amazed. I have learned so much from their steady, courageous examples. They understand the message of love and forgiveness better than I ever could. I am humbled by their strength, and their child-like acceptance of God's Will in all things.
Anyway, with those stories in mind, I knelt down to offer a Divine Mercy chaplet for them before bed. As I prayed the Our Father, I felt my normal twinge at "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
You see, ever since I understood that phrase to mean "Forgive us to the same measure we forgive others" I've added a mental prayer in addition to that. I'll typically ask that God will give me the strength to forgive others to the extent that He forgives. I fully understand that my ability to forgive is incredibly handicapped. I'm much better at being holding grudges or even stamping my spiritual feet in defiance of responsibility. However, each time I pray the Our Father, I note my failings and ask God to teach me the proper road of forgiveness, understanding that this road is what leads me to being forgiven, myself.
That all being said, I had an epiphany last night. Instead of my normal "God, help me to forgive like you forgive" mental note, I was thinking of those tortured families who freely offered forgiveness to their captors. As a result, my prayers slightly changed. My mind added, "God, forgive the torturers their trespasses as those persecuted Christians have forgiven them... and help me to offer that same forgiveness for love of You."
That's when I had my little epiphany. The Our Father is a collective prayer using the words "us," "our," we" and "those." It is inclusive not just of ourselves, but of all people - past, present and future. And since Jesus, Himself, gave us this prayer, we know that He, too, included Himself by first stating "Our Father."
Oh my goodness! This part of the prayer isn't just asking God's forgiveness of daily offenses. This prayer is asking God to collectively forgive all humanity as humanity collectively forgives one another. Since God is within all of us, we each offer one another the chance for His Forgiveness if only we'd open ourselves up to it. Jesus, Himself part of the collective, offered perfect forgiveness. Through Him and with Him we ask God for the chance to be forgiven in the same perfect way that He forgave.
How awesome is that?!
The Our Father, already an awesome prayer, totally just went up a few more notches in my book. The Holy Spirit has been kind to me. :)
That snowball seemed so harmless...
See that snowball rolling down the hill? It's getting bigger and gaining ground - fast.
Our religious freedoms are being gutted, and increasing pressure is being placed on our shepherds to simply bow out to "modern logic."
This must've been how Jews felt when Rome decided to force itself upon their culture. Rome demanded sacrifice to Caesar, Rome stipulated who got to be high priest (and for how long), Rome decided which religious customs could be tolerated and which could not.
Welcome to Rome, my friends. We, too, are experiencing audacious governments that shamelessly criminalize religious beliefs and expression, establish laws effectively eliminating charitable missionary work (I'll give you two on this one), threaten the Sacramental foundation of our faith, and label us as traitors simply for defending our right to practice our religion freely.
There are those in our hierarchy who, much like the Sadducees of Jerusalem, are going along with these malicious and disgraceful persecutions (whether through silence or even direct disobedience). However, there are also many others (WDTPRS for starters) who are decrying this outright attack on religion. Catholics need to figure out which side they intend to stand on.
We're called the Church Militant for a reason - our job is not to remain silent. Our job is not to remain complacent and oblivious to the obvious signs of persecution our brothers and sisters are enduring throughout the world. We are the Church MILITANT. Our job is to actively fight this evil. Our call is to decry such indignation... to rise up and alert others to the injustice. Our mission is to bear forth the Truth, even in the face of political pressure and man-made law.
Our Archbishop said it best in his recent address at the University of Pennsylvania:
"... people have a right to bring their beliefs to bear on every social, economic, and political problem facing their community. For Christians, that’s not just a privilege. It’s not just a right. It’s a demand of the Gospel. Obviously, we have an obligation to respect the dignity of other people. We’re always bound to treat other people with charity and justice. But that good will can never be an excuse for our own silence.
Believers can’t be silent in public life and be faithful to Jesus Christ at the same time. Actively witnessing to our convictions and advancing what we believe about key moral issues in public life is not “coercion.” It’s honesty. It’s an act of truth-telling. It’s vital to the health of every democracy. And again, it’s also a duty—not only of our religious faith, but also of our citizenship."
We are called... COMMANDED... to bear forth the Truth, and as citizens of a democratic world, it is our DUTY to uphold so basic a right.
So again... we need to truly ask ourselves where we stand. As the Gospel from this week suggests, we need to take stock. Are we ready? Are you?
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