gods peace

Needed Instruments of Peace

In our current election cycle, perhaps more than any other in the last forty years, we have two candidates for President with stark, contrasting views about the role of government in the working of society. The differences, one would think, would leave a very clear choice to make in going to the polls. Yet, many of us have experienced division among our friends and new media acquaintances.  My Facebook feed has had some contested back-and-forth arguing among Catholics on the issues of the economy, healthcare, social security and medicare, women’s health, and services to the poor.

Under one of my posts, a fellow Catholic supporting the current administration wrote, “… there are many sick and broken people in America:  the marginalized, the underclass, those who are thrown from their homes (because of) banking policies, and those who simply cannot afford the health care system.”  Many compassionate friends fear that undoing the newly implemented healthcare law will leave those without a voice in the dust. Others have voiced the importance of personal responsibility and economic stability in order to ensure on-going help to those in dire need.

So what to do? How to reconcile the needs on the minds and hearts of the modern Catholic facing an election that is so polarized?

Another  friend of mine, reading a article about subsidiarity that I posted on Facebook was quick to remind me, “Subsidiarity without solidarity, is as unbalanced as solidarity without subsidiarity.”

This is, I believe, part of our problem in trying to reconcile our social beliefs with our civic duty. Many of my compassionate friends who live in close solidarity with the poor, advocating for their needs, have not considered the Church’s teaching on subsidiarity within the broader framework of the Magisterial teaching on the Human Community.  On the other hand, many who are concerned with the economy and limited government have not integrated the Church’s teachings on solidarity and the common good.

I’d like to explore these two principles – on solidarity and subsidiarity – together; the way they were meant to be; like to ends to an accordion that work together for the good of society. These principles are discussed in Part Three of the Catechism: Life in Christ, in the second chapter on The Human Community, in three articles:

ART 1: CCC 1878-1896 ART 2: CCC 1897-1927 ART 3: CCC 1928-1948
The Person and Society Participation in Social Life Social Justice
Subsidiarity Authority – Common GoodResponsibility and Participation Solidarity

Since we are made in the image of God and called through baptism to reflect the Son, Jesus Christ, our lives and relationships should also reflect the relationship of the Most Holy Trinity. By understanding human relationship in this way, the image of the Holy Trinity can be reflected upon in both an individual’s relationships, but also in the relationship of government bodies over the care of their people. “The human person…is and ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions.” (Gaudium et Spes, 25).

With this in mind, organizations – both voluntary and governmental – find their reason for existence, for the purpose of developing “the sense of initiative and responsibility, and helps to guarantee individual rights.”  But there are limitations that government has if the human person is to be free to act as intended by God.

Subsidiarity

While recognizing the importance of organizational structures in society, the Magisterium warns of the danger that organizations and government can have on society, that “excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative.” This is where the principle of subsidiarity becomes important.

The Catechism explains the principle: “according to which ‘a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the later of its functions, but rather should support it…’” (CCC1883). In this way, government becomes a mirror of God’s governance: “God has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of his own nature. This mode of governance ought to be followed in social life” (CCC 1884).

In his article on subsidiarity, Benjamin Wiker uses an example where government, in providing for a man’s family takes away the man’s role as husband and father to care for his children and wife, and thus strips him of the capacity for moral perfection in his vocational role as a father and husband. Too much intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative:

“The state, like a benevolent dictator, could provide food, clothing, and shelter for my wife and children, but in doing so, it would violate my “moral space,” the space in which I have the opportunity and responsibility of using my freedom to become morally good.”

The danger then, becomes one that, a government that does too much doesn’t allow her people to do for themselves what they can, and thus weakens the whole society, and threatens the moral fabric of that society.

Then, what about those who are poor, who legitimately need assistance of one kind or another? This leads us to consider the proper place of the principle of solidarity.

Solidarity

Human beings are made differently. Saint Paul describes the body of Christ comprised of many people with different gifts that go to build up the whole body (Romans 12:3-8). The differences between persons lead to an interdependence in society. We are different, but as the Church defends, “these differences encourage and often oblige persons to practice generosity, kindness, and sharing of goods; they foster the mutual enrichment of cultures.” And this is all part of God’s plan (CCC 1937). The principle of solidarity is characterized as “friendship” or “social charity” that we are called to show toward our brothers and sisters.

Our society sometimes confuses the idea of solidarity with ‘leveling the playing field’ where everyone is the same. The Church doesn’t teach that. On the contrary, she acknowledges that “talents are not distributed equally” (CCC 1936), but also that there are ‘sinful inequalities’ that exist, where unhealthy work conditions are imposed; where human dignity is downplayed (CCC 1938). These would be appropriate areas that government can intervene, to protect and uphold the human dignity of the person, and to ensure that justice – the giving one what is due to him – is assured.

Solidarity, then, the building of friendship and charitable respect between rich and poor, workers and employers, government and its peoples become the foundation by which socio-economic problems can be resolved (CCC 1941). It promotes an individual to act in the best interest and fairness toward his neighbor, and to practice charity freely out of love.

In conclusion, it is good to remind ourselves that the purpose (the end) of human existence rests in God himself. The pattern of inter-relationship found in the unity of the three Divine Persons is a model for the human family and government as well. The love that resides in the Blessed Trinity is the call of all peoples, making the love of neighbor inseparable from the love of God.

It is as though all humanity is called to communicate divine love. Each individual is called to reflect God’s love to his neighbor. Similarly, the greater society, is called to be a mirror of God in the way it must govern her people. In doing so, it “bears witness to such great regard for human freedom” (CCC1884) and by providing security and order, becomes an instrument of true peace.

Crossposted at Ignitum Today

Fortnight for Freedom – Day 13: Living According to Conscience

As we approach the end of our Fortnight for Freedom and our reflections, let it not be the conclusion of our prayers for this very important value in our society: that we may continue to exercise our faith according to our conscience formed by our beliefs; not according to government mandate.

DAY 13: Living According to Conscience

In turn, where the principle of religious freedom is not only proclaimed in words or simply incorporated in law but also given sincere and practical application, there the Church succeeds in achieving a stable situation of right as well as of fact and the independence which is necessary for the fulfillment of her divine mission. This independence is precisely what the authorities of the Church claim in society.

At the same time, the Christian faithful, in common with all other men, possess the civil right not to be hindered in leading their lives in accordance with their conscience. Therefore, a harmony exists between the freedom of the Church and the religious freedom which is to be recognized as the right of all men and communities and sanctioned by constitutional law. Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae), no. 13 December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Thirteen

While insisting upon the religious freedom of the Church, the Council Fathers do not wish to give the impression that in some manner the Catholic Church is special when it comes to religious liberty. Thus, the Council first states above that where the principle of religious liberty is present, the Church is able to peaceably fulfill her divine mission. It is this amicable relationship between herself and civil authorities that the Church always wishes to pursue and ensure.

In the light of this, the Church also champions the religious and civil rights of all so that all people can live “their lives in accordance with their conscience.” In this way there is no conflict with what the Church demands for herself and what she demands for others—the freedom to follow one’s conscience in matters religious. This religious freedom for all is what the Council once more believes should be acknowledged and sanctioned within the constitutional law of countries.

In the United States, religious freedom is protected in the Constitution, as the Council desires. Are those constitutional protections enough? Are they growing stronger or weaker in our society today? What else, apart from the law, can strengthen or weaken religious liberty? What should Catholics do to defend and foster religious liberty in America today? What have Catholics done in the past when religious liberty was threatened?

Let us pray:

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Available in PDF. To read the reflections for all the days of the Fortnight, you may find them here.

___

Day One’s Reflection and Introduction.
Day TwoDay ThreeDay FourDay FiveDay SixDay SevenDay EightDay NineDay TenDay Eleven, Day Twelve

Fortnight for Freedom – Day 10: Equal Rights to Religious Liberty

DAY 10: Equal Rights to Religious Liberty

Finally, government is to see to it that the equality of citizens before the law, which is itself an element of the common welfare, is never violated for religious reasons whether openly or covertly. Nor is there to be discrimination among citizens.

It follows that a wrong is done when government imposes upon its people, by force or fear or other means, the profession or repudiation of any religion, or when it hinders men from joining or leaving a religious body. All the more is it a violation of the will of God and of the sacred rights of the person and the family of nations, when force is brought to bear in any way in order to destroy or repress religion, either in the whole of mankind or in a particular country or in a specific community. Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae), no. 6 December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Ten

Because all human beings possess equal dignity, value, and worth, the government is to ensure that this equality is maintained both for the good of the individual and for the good of society as a whole. This equality specifically should not be violated on religious grounds. Each religious body and the members of that body have equal rights to religious liberty. This equality demands that there be no discrimination based upon one’s religious beliefs.

The Council Fathers now stress that, based upon this equality among its citizens, no government is permitted to impose in any way “the profession or repudiation of any religion.” Such an imposition is a violation of the right to be true to one’s conscience. Because of the freedom of conscience, the government is also not permitted to deny a person the right to join or leave a religious body. The government has no right to stipulate what a person can or cannot believe.

If the above is true, then the Council states that it is all the more wrong when “force is brought to bear in any way in order to destroy or repress religion.” This not only applies to governments but also to religious bodies themselves. No religious body is permitted to harass or seek to eliminate another religious group.

Within our contemporary world, where is religious equality denied or religious discrimination tolerated? Are there instances where one religion violates the rights of other religions?

Let us pray:

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Available in PDF. To read the reflections for all the days of the Fortnight, you may find them here.

___

Day One’s Reflection and Introduction.
Day TwoDay ThreeDay FourDay FiveDay SixDay SevenDay Eight, Day Nine

For more on Fortnight to Freedom, visit the USCCB Website

 

Even Napoleon understood Works of Charity are good for the State

There Peter was, chained, with two guards on either side of him. More guards were standing watch outside the gate. His crime? He was a part of a religious sect that followed the teachings of a man named Jesus, whom they profess had risen from the dead.

According to the laws of Rome, Peter’s crime was not so much he and the other believers held Jesus as a god – for Rome had many of them; but that the so-called ‘Christians’ would not pay tribute to Caesar as god. Rome saw itself as a mother that knew what was best for her children, including how and what would be considered proper worship.

It is good during these last few days of the Fortnight for Freedom to keep this thought in mind. What does it mean that we have – as the Bill of Rights points out at the top of the list – ‘free exercise of religion’? This says more than just a right to worship freely, but we are free to publicly exercise that which we profess.

Unfortunately, the United States government is trying to redefine that very freedom by stringently determining what groups are considered religious and which are not under the Health and Services (HHS) Mandate. The mandate’s definition of religious organizations is the basis for what organizations can declare exemption from a healthcare provision that employers must include abortificient and contraceptive ‘care’ in their healthcare plans.

To understand how grossly errant this policy is, let us compare it with an example from history.

In the years following the writing of the United States Declaration of Independence, on the other side of the Atlantic, Napoleon was conquering Italy. There is a little known story about his ‘governance’ that is well documented in our own religious institute’s history. By decree, Napoleon ordered the closing of all religious institutions in Italy, including those in the city of Verona, the home of our Foundress, Saint Magdalene of Canossa. She was still working out her plans to begin a new religious congregation that, much like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, focused on the welfare of the sick and dying, and education of the poor. But of course, she needed a place in which to carry out her works of charity and to house and prepare her followers for this work. Napoleon had made himself a guest of the Canossa palace, and Magdalene understood that she would need approvals from his government in order to obtain the abandoned convent of Saint Joseph for her works.

It is interesting to note, that despite the fact that Magdalene’s works of charity were clearly based on religious principles, Napoleon was able to appreciate them as a benefit for the society. Her request for the acquirement of the convent of Saint Joseph’s was approved for her works of charity, and thus, May 8, 1808 the Canossian Daughters of Charity – Servants of the Poor was born in an abandoned convent of Saint Joseph’s in Verona, Italy.

Napoleon, who obviously had no regard for religious (demonstrated by the decree of 1806, ousting religious from their convents), was able to recognize the good in a young woman’s works of charity, and grant her the approval to open a house to fulfill them. How is it that the United States government cannot see the harm of restricting religious from equally acting for the good of society through their works of charity, according to their good conscience?

Read the full story at:

And, join each day during the Fortnight for Freedom.

Fortnight for Freedom – Day Nine: Government a Guardian of Freedom

DAY 9: Government as a Guardian of Religious Freedom

The protection and promotion of the inviolable rights of man ranks among the essential duties of government. Therefore, government is to assume the safeguard of the religious freedom of all its citizens, in an effective manner, by just laws and by other appropriate means. Government is also to help create conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life, in order that the people may be truly enabled to exercise their religious rights and to fulfill their religious duties, and also in order that society itself may profit by the moral qualities of justice and peace which have their origin in men’s faithfulness to God and to His holy will. Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae), no. 6 December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Nine

Once again, the Council Fathers turn to what they consider a very important issue. It is not simply that governments should not deny or impede the religious freedom of their citizens, it is also of the utmost importance that they positively, through just laws, be the guardians of religious freedom, so that no constituency—religious or secular—within society would seek to undermine the religious freedom of all. While few today would consider this, the next point that the Council Fathers make is also very significant. Governments should actually “help create conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life.” While governments do not control religions, they should recognize their value and so promote their well-being. This allows all religious bodies and their members to exercise their religious rights and “fulfill their religious duties.” The government’s fostering the religious life of its citizens not only benefits those citizens but also, the Council states, contributes to the good of society as a whole. It helps society grow in its understanding and implementation of what contributes to justice and peace. This justice and peace find their origin in God, who desires the good of all.

How do governments protect and promote the religious life of their citizens? Do governments take this into consideration today? In the U.S., how does the government foster religious life while respecting the principle of separation of church and state?

Let us pray:

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Available in PDF. To read the reflections for all the days of the Fortnight, you may find them here.

___

Day One’s Reflection and Introduction.
Day TwoDay ThreeDay FourDay FiveDay SixDay Seven, Day Eight

For more on Fortnight to Freedom, visit the USCCB Website

Fortnight for Freedom – Day Eight: Parents as Primary Educators

DAY 8: Parents are Primary Educators of their Children

Since the family is a society in its own original right, it has the right freely to live its own domestic religious life under the guidance of parents. Parents, moreover, have the right to determine, in accordance with their own religious beliefs, the kind of religious education that their children are to receive.

Government, in consequence, must acknowledge the right of parents to make a genuinely free choice of schools and of other means of education. The use of this freedom of choice is not to be made a reason for imposing unjust burdens on parents, whether directly or indirectly. Besides, the rights of parents are violated if their children are forced to attend lessons or instructions which are not in agreement with their religious beliefs. The same is true if a single system of education, from which all religious formation is excluded, is imposed upon all. Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae), no. 5 December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Eight

The Council Fathers now address the religious freedom that is enjoyed by the family. Families have the right to live out their faith within the family. Moreover, parents have a natural right to religiously guide their families. They are the ones who have primary responsibility for the care and education of their children, and this is especially true of the religious education of their children. Thus, while parents are primarily responsible for the religious education, they are also free to choose the kind of religious education their children receive.

From within the Catholic tradition, Vatican II stated that the family is a “domestic church,” that is, it is within the family that children are first taught the Gospel, are taught to pray and to keep the Commandments. Together the members of a family live out the Gospel life of love. In keeping with this, the Council states that parents must be free to choose their children’s schooling. The exercise of this freedom should not be the cause of undue financial burdens upon the family. Likewise, children should not be forced to attend instruction that is contrary to the religious belief of their families. Lastly, if there is only one form of education within a country, this does not mean that all religious instruction should be forbidden. Accommodation is to be made. What we see here is the Church ardently wanting to assure a broad and extensive scope for families to live out their faith as families, and this extends to the education of children.

Why is the above important for parents and their families? Are the above aspects of domestic religious freedom jeopardized today?

Let us pray:

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Available in PDF. To read the reflections for all the days of the Fortnight, you may find them here.

___

Day One’s Reflection and Introduction.
Day TwoDay ThreeDay FourDay FiveDay Six, Day Seven

For more on Fortnight to Freedom, visit the USCCB Website

The Sacred Heart and Religious Freedom

Traditionally in Catholic circles, the month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It seemed in my mind a calculated gesture to release the film For Greater Glory on June 1st. The film tells of the Cristero War of Mexico (1926-1929), and the Mexican people’s fight for religious freedom in an anti-clerical climate.

For Greater Glory struggles to explain the history of the conflict leading up to the Cristero War (how much of history can be told in a two-hour film?); how the loss of religious freedom was not done in one sweep with the ratification of the Calles Law of 1926. No, the Calles Law was only the last straw in a long, drawn-out oppression of the Church clerics written into the Mexican Constitution of 1917.

The people’s rebellion began peacefully, with non-violent protests and boycotts, and only escalated as the Mexican government under President Calles began to persecute clerics and the faithful more openly. The people rose up to fight for their religious liberty under the banner of Christ the King (Viva Cristo Rey – Long Live Christ the King).

But much before the Cristero War began, the people have been sharpened like swords fashioned in the hot flames by the oppression they have experienced. Today, here in the United States, where we enjoy and exercise our freedom to practice our faith openly is being challenged under the current President and his administration. You might be thinking, “Oh, Sister Lisa Marie, what we are experiencing is nothing on the scale of what happened in Mexico.” And, thankfully, your statement would be true.

However.

If we keep an attitude that what happened in Mexico can never happen here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and continue to enjoy our freedoms and do nothing to preserve them, we will one day find our Catholic institutions – hospitals, schools and other charitable organizations – closing their doors. This will happen due to the regulations being put in place by means of the Health and Human Services mandate, which defines a religious institution in such narrow terms that Mother Teresa and her Sisters would not even be defined as a religious organization in their works of charity. And this, I fear, would only be the beginning.

Who will lose? First will be those who depend on these services. It is happening already with universities, in planning the new school year they are dropping their healthcare plans because of the mandate and the rising costs involved in meeting mandate criteria. Who will be next?

Those who benefit from Catholic Social Services – and other resources like it – will be the next hit. Catholic Social Services (go ahead and google it; they are found in almost all diocese in the United States, like this one in Sacramento, CA) employs not only Catholics, but people of other faiths too. Because of this, by definition of the HHS Healthcare Mandate, this large network of services for those in need would not qualify for religious exemption by the federal government (because they employ – and serve – people of other faiths). Strange isn’t it? The very quality that demonstrates her Christian principles works against the Church under the Obama administration.

The United States Catholic Bishops have been working to defend religious liberty and has sounded the warning to us all how the recent HHS Healthcare Mandate is a threat to not only our works of charity, but even more so to our ability to live out fully our faith. Our Bishops are proposing some ways in which we too might begin to defend our religious freedom:

  1. send your message to HHS and Congress telling them to uphold religious liberty and conscience rights;
  2. understand why conscience protection is so important;
  3. understand what the mandate includes;
  4. pray daily for the overturn of the HHS Healthcare Mandate; and
  5. participate in a Fortnight for Religious Freedom.

Other things to do:

  • Check with your diocese to see if it has other things planned. The Diocese of Sacramento will sponsor a Walk for Religious Freedom on the eve of Corpus Christi, a Eucharistic procession through the streets of Sacramento.
  • Pray for a positive outcome to the Fortnight for Religious Freedom activities taking place in dioceses across the country. Gerard Nadal is posting a Novena for the Fortnight on his blog for the next nine days to help in this preparation. Please consider praying it.
  • And please continue to pray for our Bishops.

We are called to walk with Christ. What better time to devote to this good work than in the month of June, dedicated to His Most Holy and Sacred Heart. In the picture above of the banner used during the Cristero War, it has a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the words, “Viva Cristo Rey!” Christ is our King, who from the Cross, paved our way to freedom from sin.

Let us pray that we will be able to continue to openly worship and serve Him.

Viva Cristo Rey!

A Lesson from For Greater Glory

Under Your Protection

At the end of the day, before retiring for the night, the Church has the long-standing tradition of praying for protection through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God. This is one of my most favorite prayers: Sub Tuum Praesidium:

Let us ask our Heavenly Mother to watch over those critically injured from today’s tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. May the Lord, in His Mercy, heal them in body and soul.

And for those who lost their lives today: “Eternal Rest grant unto them, O Lord, may your perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.”

Translation:

Under thy protection
we seek refuge,
Holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions
in our needs,
but from all dangers
deliver us always,
Virgin, Glorious and Blessed

__

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Give Praise to the Creator

The Responsorial Psalm of today‘s Mass reminded me of this simple song to the Holy Spirit, a reminder that all is created by a higher power than ourselves. If we deny this truth, we ultimately run the risk of giving control of our lives to mere human beings and human structures, rather than rely upon the Lord of Life who endowed us with our very being.

Let us take a moment to give thanks to our Creator – to God – who breathes life into us anew each day through His Most Holy Spirit (translation follows):

(walk according to the Spirit)
By your Spirit, Lord, the earth is full.
By your Spirit, Lord, the earth is full.

Bless the Lord, my soul.
Lord God you are Great!
How immense and splendid
are all your works and all creatures

By your Spirit, O Lord, the earth is full.

If you take away your breath, everything dies,
and fades away into the earth.

Your Spirit descends and all is recreated;
and all is renewed.

By your Spirit, O Lord, the earth is full.

Your glory, O Lord, exists for ever.
God rejoices in His creation.

This simple song rises up to the Lord,
“You are our Joy!”

By your Spirit, O Lord, the earth is full. (repeat)
___

Holy Spirit Prayer:

Holy Spirit,
heat and fire
spilling out from Christ,
give light and vigor to my spirit
and discernment to my soul,
small and poor,
ignorant and weak,
distracted in the world, I am
humble and living,
show me your untiring love.

Holy Spirit,
Spirit of Love,
that I might possess you always,
eternally,
your love,
single, comprehensive, decisive,
for my life.
In love Your being is consumed in me,
through service Your being is expressed
in my being in You.

Enter, O Light of God,
chase away the shadows
that are in us.
Make bloom in our lives
a new desire to live.

Enter, O Light of God,
scourge the depth of our heart.
Encourage anew,
liberate the sleeping energy,
change all of our days
so to make them pieces of a puzzle
that seeks only to be found
in You.

The Holy Spirit Prayer is written by a Canossian Sister. All rights reserved.

 

Baby Grows up with iPad

In the last few days, I’ve been exposed to a lion’s share of weak reasoning that an unborn baby is not a human being. I will write more about this in the coming days, but had to share this beauty: The iPad app – Hello Baby, which debuted in April.

The add states:

“From the very first moment your baby starts growing a bond begins to form…allowing the whole family to enjoy the baby’s development, even before he or she is born…you can look at his feet and listen to his heartbeat.”

Hello Baby!

Hat Tip:  Lisa Graas

The Reality of the Rare Abortion

Today in an interview in Albuquerque, New Mexico, President Obama made the following statement when asked about his view of abortion: ““This is where Bill Clinton had the right formulation a couple of decades ago, that abortion should be safe, legal and rare.”

Rare? What does that mean? Which child shall be denied life? How many should be allowed to be killed?

So, I did some homework to see for myself how rare an abortion is today. And you know what? It isn’t rare at all.

Doing a little simple numbers crunching, this is what the population growth looks like since 1973, along with the number or reported live births, and the number of reported abortions (click image to view larger):

That number in the little yellow box – 35% – is the percentile of the population from 1973 to 2003 in the United States that has never seen the light of day. One out of every three children.

Is that what you mean be ‘rare’  Mr. President?

_____

Lifenews summarizes well the  President’s record in creating ‘rare abortions’ during his first two years in office. The record is deplorable, as he has helped fast-track abortion funding not only in the healthcare bill, but oversees as well.

To know more about the generational genocide since Roe vs Wade, you can go to http://www.survivors.la/. You may want to support their efforts, if not financially, with your prayers.

You can help end abortion, too, by participating during these ‘40 Days for Life‘ of prayer and fasting.

What America do You Want?

There has been a lot of buildup this past week for the Restoring Honor rally that took place today along the Washington Mall in D.C. Media speculated what kind of event it would be: political? ideological? racist? religious? anti-government?

The Restoring America Facebook page described the event in these words:

Throughout history America has seen many great leaders and noteworthy citizens change her course. It is through their personal virtues and by their example that we can live as a free country. On August 28th, come celebrate America by honoring our heroes, our heritage and our future.

From the beginning to the end of the day, the event held true to these words. The participants used their time together to remember God, giving Him due praise and place in their celebration; honoring our military, past and present; and reflecting on the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love. The content of the day’s rally notwithstanding, the real testimony to the people in attendance came as the day came to a close and folks went home. It is here that the participants demonstrated the kind of people they are, and the kind of America that they live in.

Discussing this on Facebook, one of my friends noted the contrast with this taken following the inauguration of President Obama in 2009:

The orderliness, the spotless grounds of today’s sizable crowd versus the disorder, the filthy aftermath of that day which was suppose to proclaim an era of ‘change’. These images side-by-side make me reflect which group of people – by their actions – represent the America that I love and the America I want all nations to experience.

There Really are Dangers in not Reading the Bill!

As the healthcare debate heated up through the Summer and into late Winter, I remember my agony watching the size of the healthcare bill grow to the monstrous 2700 page bill that was signed into law in March. Many had warned of the dangers of not knowing what was in the bill, and I guess Congress may finally be catching on to that.

The New York Times reports that “the law may “remove members of Congress and Congressional staff” from their current coverage, in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program””. Uh oh. Does that mean that Congress, who probably “likes their healthcare plan, can cannot keep their healthcare plan” ?

Allapundit points out that that this not the first blunder of after-the-fact realizations that there were mistakes in the bill, but only another in a series of “Uh oh” moments (pre-existing conditions of children and college students on parents’ plans). And it probably won’t be the last.

This recent comedy of errors, of Congress voting themselves out of their own federal healthcare plan, has a very good lesson for all of us.

Haste makes waste. All of the intense rush to pass something in order to bring about an ‘historic moment’, has revealed an extreme lack of virtue in those sent to Washington to represent the American people. Congress demonstrated a lack of prudence – a willingness to do good in a good way – replacing it with impatience that drove them to do anything at any cost to pass an healthcare bill.

If they had practiced prudence, they would have been wary about consigning a sixth of the economy for a healthcare bill that they hadn’t even read.

If they had practiced prudence, they would have welcomed opposing views so that they could do something good for the American people – not to gain a memory in time.

If they had practiced prudence, they would have had the humility to admit that the bill wasn’t ready, and according to the will of their constituents, they would not have even considered bringing it to a vote.

If they had practiced prudence, they would have dug down, and looked at what was good in the long run, and with fortitude (perseverance) would have kept at it until it was done right.

If they had practiced prudence, they would have tempered their own desires and ideologies and not have allowed them to ride over the top of the voice of reason (common sense).

If they had practiced prudence, they would have looked to the natural law which tells us that God is our provider, not government. This is to exercise the most basic form of justice: respecting God’s role and respecting the liberties granted man through God’s providence. It is this kind of justice that our Constitution was built upon. What surprises me is that one does not need to be a Constitutional lawyer to know this: he has only to read our Declaration of Independence.

The above outlines only some of the examples of the problems along the road of healthcare ‘reform’ that should have been seen as warning signs that those who were pushing for the passage of the bill were misguided. Congressional and Executive leadership allowed their passions to rule their hearts. In the history of the world, this has proven to be the fall of kingdoms and empires. It is also the reason the Founding Fathers foresaw the need of a restricted government. They understood that man, although has great potential to be very virtuous is flawed, and that even the best of them can easily can be led by his carnal lusts (desires) if not held in check.

This has led us to where we are now. We are now on a path created in haste that jeopardizes our way of life, our economy, our status in the world as a champion of democracy and freedom, and for what?   For an historic moment in time – perhaps, God forbid, a moment when the greatest free-market economy in the world collapses. What a waste.

The Cost of True Freedom

Yes, the cost of real freedom – this should have been the title of the apostle Peter’s first letter. He is addressing Christians under persecution, both slaves and freemen. They felt alienated from the society they have been brought up in; they have chosen to follow Christ, and now are experiencing the full reality of that calling. His words speak loud and clear to our generation as well.

“Gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct.” 1 Peter 1:13-15

Like the early Christian community we are watching the degradation of our own society on many fronts: promiscuity, violence and gangs, deceit and deception in politics, unjust treatment of the weak and the unborn. We are entering into a time where deprivation of moral certitude is escalating faster and faster,  and the voices of the majority are being silenced and threatened. St. Peter poses a challenge for us who claim a Crucified Lord; he points to our conduct – our behavior – and calls us to be different than the society we are a part of.

Does this mean we are to stand aside and do nothing? No.

Does this mean we are not to point out the errors we see in politics and in our local communities? Of course not.

We are, by duty, to speak the truth and to shine that light on the darkness that seems to be growing. The difference lies in how we do it. How is our conduct as we proclaim what is just, good, and true? Peter calls us “strangers and sojourners in exile” . We are foreigners to the ways in which the world operates, and we must have a different measure by which we act. Too often I read posts on twitter and various blogs that tinge the truth with irony or name-calling. I realize that this stems from the frustration of having no conduit for open dialogue by which to share our differences. And yet, we are called to “Maintain good conduct so that if they speak of you as evildoers, they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation”. 1 Peter 2:12

The day of Visitation. This is the hallmark of our true HOPE. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again! We are preparing for the day of the visitation, when Christ will come again in His glory and claim what is His. In the meantime, we are left to follow the example He gave us, which goes against many of our instincts of self-preservation. How many of us have tried to make our voices heard in the healthcare debate, for example, only to feel our voices fall on deaf ears? We feel frustrated and angry and sometimes find ourselves justifying our own harsh words because of the message we want to convey. 

What is the message we want to convey? In all we do we must do so with love, so to proclaim and glorify God, and prepare souls for the day of his coming. How else is it that those who do not know Jesus will come to know and love Him? If our conduct is the same as the world, there is no choice on the day of Visitation. Let us speak of our call to freedom, yes, but it must be grounded in example set by the One who frees us all.