The attack on marriage is really an attack on the human person, and his dignity, for the devil seeks to pervert our true purpose, to pervert God's holy design. For many of us, we cannot march in protests or write dozens of letters or call numerous times to urge legislators to vote for the Truth. But one thing we can all do is pray and fast. We have designated one day each week to fast for these intentions:

1. That marriage may be preserved, promoted, and understood as God's plan for creation.

2. For all marriages that they may reflect the love of the Trinity.

3. For broken marriages that Christ bring healing and conversion to the spouses' souls.

4. For those who are married, for the sanctification of their marriage and their spouse. For those who are single, for their future spouse and vocation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011



Happy Advent!  What a joyful time of year this is!  Advent is a time of great expectancy as we joyfully await the coming of Christ, the Messiah.  Because we know Christ has already come it can be easy to forget the over aching thirst that our ancestors had for the long-awaited coming of the Savior.  Just as in recent times, every age believes it is the one when Christ will come a Second Time, so too, it must have been that every age since the Fall, since a Messiah was first promised, that men believed it was in their time the Christ would come.  But we too should cultivate this longing in our hearts for though the Second Coming and the end of the world may not occur during our lifetime, our own ends are already certain and we "do not know the day nor the hour".  So how can we best prepare to receive Christ in our hearts?  The following is an excerpt from a sermon by Pope St. Leo the Great:  (*note, the tenth month refers to December as this was before the new calendar)
". . . Since the season of the year and the custom of devotion advises, dearly beloved, we announce to you with pastoral solicitude that the fast of the tenth month is to be celebrated, by which, for the plentiful harvest of all fruits, a libation of continence is most fittingly offered to God, their donor.
For what can be more efficacious than fasting, by the practice which we draw near to God, and, resisting the devil, overcome seductive vices?  For fasting has always been food for the strong. (*emphasis mine)
Moreover, from abstinence proceed chaste thoughts, rational desires, and sound counsels; and by voluntary afflictions the flesh dies to its concupiscences and the spirit is renewed in strength.
But because the salvation of our souls is not acquired by fasting alone, let us supplement our fasting with works of mercy towards the poor.  Let us spend for virtue what we subtracted from pleasure.  Let the abstinence of the one fasting be food for the poor.  Let us be zealous for the defense of widows, for the assistance of orphans, for the consolation of those who mourn, for the peace of dissenters.  Let the stranger be taken in, the oppressed helped, the naked clothed, the sick cared for, so that whoever of us shall have his good works as a sacrifice of such piety to God, the Author of all good things, may deserve to receive the reward of the heavenly kingdom from the same God. . . "
Fasting complemented by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy will help us to "prepare the way of the Lord" by purging our hearts of all desires contrary to the desire for Our Lord.  The Beatitude says, "Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God"; we are capable of adoring the Babe in the Manger when we recognize that He is God.  One of the ten principal virtues of Mary, according to St. Louis de Montfort, is her "surpassing purity".  Mary was the first to adore the baby Jesus not only because of carrying Him in her womb but also because she was so completely pure of heart- so detached from all earthly desires- that could see and know it was God Himself.  The saints could recognize Christ easily in the Eucharist, and in others because of their great purity of heart.  During this holy season, we should strive to purify our desires, detaching ourselves from the world, and attaching our hearts to the humble stable in Bethlehem.

In addition to our spiritual preparation, there are many practical aids in helping ourselves and our families enter into the holy season.  Click this link to learn more about some great Advent and Christmas traditions.

Have a holy Advent!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Daycare for All


I'm a bit late on this post as I saw this last week, but Nancy Pelosi recently told the Washington Post that she wants to do for “for child care what we did for health-care reform” .  It's important to remember that Pelosi was the one that pushed through Obamacare.  After Scott Brown was elected to fill Teddy Kennedy's old seat, the Democrats did not have the votes in the Senate to approve the House bill and Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's chief-of-staff, advised Obama to abandon the plan.  Pelosi urged him not to and promised to ram the Senate bill through the House so that the Senate would not have to vote again.  Obamacare is a huge misnomer; it should be Pelosicare.

Even though Pelosi is out of the Speaker's chair, no one should underestimate her influence.  The same Washington Post article noted that she has raised millions of dollars since the last election, determined to put herself and the Democrats back in power.

And now, Pelosi wants to extend the government's reach into the childcare business:
"Of the need for child-care legislation, she says, “I could never get a babysitter — have five kids in six years and no one wants to come to your house. . . . And everywhere I go, women say the same thing” about how hard it is to find the kind of reliable care that would make their family lives calmer and work lives more productive. When it comes to “unleashing women” in a way that would boost the economy, she says, “this is a missing link.”
Subsidizing childcare would only further add to the breakdown of the family.  Many women who might have tended towards staying at home would now gravitate toward the workforce if given the availability of free daycare.  The pressure on mothers to leave the home and go to work would increase dramatically. Whereas now, many women might have part-time jobs but only to help out temporarily, if national childcare become a reality those part-time jobs could become full-time, that is, become a career. The three components of the family (Father, Mother, children) would spend more time apart than together.  Not only that, but family childcare (when a grandparent, or other relative helps out) would decrease as well so that children would not even be spending that time apart with an extended member of the family.  

Some conservatives will only focus on the part about our taxes going towards another entitlement program.  However, it's important to keep our eyes on the real problem, and the motivating factor behind this.  George Weigel noted, in his autobiography about Blessed John Paul II, that in Communist Poland, both parents were required to work by design so that the government could have the children all day in school and in other programs.  The breakdown of the family was necessary for socialism to succeed because in a socialist country the most important entity is the state, not the family.  Unnaturally divorced from one's own parents, at young ages, the government was able to indoctrinate children and teach them a starkly different value system from their parents.  It is not beyond the realm of possibility that this could happen in the United States with something as innocuous sounding as "free childcare".  Indoctrination is already taking place in the public schools, is there any doubt it would happen at the infant and toddler level as well?  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An "Unnatural" Leader


An extremely interesting and thought provoking interview.  It is with Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and the Birth Control Movement and is from over fifty years ago.  The whole interview is interesting but it is almost 30 minutes long so I encourage you to watch at least the last ten minutes starting at 18:04.

The interviewer is very direct with Sanger, pointing out discrepancies between her current answers and previous quotes.  It is obvious she is irritated by this line of questioning, and more than once fails to remember a quote (even one from earlier in the week).  It is painfully similar to current Planned Parenthood executives and cheerleaders who publicly pretend to be positive influences on the community and indifferent to their opposition, all the while use their allies to force their destructive agenda.  

One of the interviewer's questions is about taxpayers funding the dissemination of contraception, which is amazing considering the year this was filmed (1957).  A revealing moment comes when she is asked if she believes in sin.  Her answer:
"I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world--that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they're born. That to me is the greatest sin -- that people can -- can commit."
The interviewer presses her with questions of specifying sin, to which she replies:
"Well, I naturally think murder, whether it's a sin or not, is a terrible act."
It is also terrible when you are stuck in traffic for 10 hours, but that is not a sin.  Conveniently and persistently denying the existence of sin callouses one's conscience and allows him to live a life free of consequence.  But it is just that, a non-consequential life that does nothing to move him to his intended end.

It is important to note that when given the Church's opposition to birth control on grounds of natural law, Sanger refuses to believe in such a thing.  There is no objective Truth in her mind, no law written on our hearts.  Actually, she ironically attacks the Church's position as "unnatural".  What could be more unnatural than a woman denying her innermost instinct to be a mother?  Whether biological or spiritual, every woman's body has been made to be fruitful.  And yet, because so many women are pumping the pill into their bodies for 5, 10, 15, even 20 straight years they no longer know what it means to be a woman.

Birth control has deeply wounded woman, and has utterly decimated marriages.  We cannot fully promote a culture of life until we recognize these truths.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Les Miserables


David Brooks wrote an interesting commentary on the Penn State situation.  (Its about as theological as the NY Times can be, which isn't saying much. ) He writes how many people like to believe that would have acted differently if they were in the same position as Joe Paterno or the Athletic Director or the man who witnessed the abuse.  He points to both studies and historical examples like the Holocaust to prove the point that many "good" people have witnessed crimes and have failed to intervene.  (Read Brooks' whole article here.)  

Brooks points to the relativist reality that many have created for themselves apart from a moral value system rooted in the Truth.  He then reminds his readers that people's "failings" used to have a specific name:
"In centuries past, people built moral systems that acknowledged this weakness. These systems emphasized our sinfulness. They reminded people of the evil within themselves. Life was seen as an inner struggle against the selfish forces inside. These vocabularies made people aware of how their weaknesses manifested themselves and how to exercise discipline over them. These systems gave people categories with which to process savagery and scripts to follow when they confronted it. They helped people make moral judgments and hold people responsible amidst our frailties."
But the absence of objective Truth, leads people point to other ambiguous sources for a heinous crime:
"We live in a society oriented around our inner wonderfulness. So when something atrocious happens, people look for some artificial, outside force that must have caused it — like the culture of college football, or some other favorite bogey. People look for laws that can be changed so it never happens again."
Sin has existed since the beginning of time, but the main difference between now and centuries past is that people then acknowledged it as sin. Sexual abuse is not "wrong" like saying two plus two equals five. Sexual abuse is wrong because it is sinful.  Failing to correctly label immoral behavior diminishes its gravity.  It is important to reintroduce this into our everyday vocabulary.  Saying an action is sinful makes it personal, and definitive. It provides the root and the solution of the problem.  It also allows us to condemn a situation while acknowledging and perfecting our own weaknesses.   The definition of sin from the Compendium of the Catechism is:
"Sin is 'a word, an act, or a desire contrary to the eternal Law' (Saint Augustine). It is an offense against God in disobedience to His love.  It wounds human nature and injures human solidarity.  Christ in his passion fully revealed the seriousness of sin and overcame it with his mercy."
 Acknowledging an action as sinful reveals that, that action has wounded the soul of the perpetrator, the victim, the whole body of Christ, and God Himself.  Some sins more obviously reveal their offenses than other ones.  We may realize that our sin offends God, but do we remember that it also wounds our own souls and the souls of others. Imagine how a small wound, like a paper cut or mouth ulcer, affects one's whole body; just in the same way, the sins of one person affect the whole Body of Christ. On the flip side, our sacrifices and sufferings can help to heal the whole body as well.

Many deceive themselves of their sin because they live in willful ignorance, knowing that if they recognize sin, they must change their lives.
"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1Jn 1:8-9)
Recognizing that offense has occurred will lead to recognition that reparation must be made and mercy obtained.  All of which cannot not help but lead us and others to the One who took on our sin and obtained God's mercy for us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
We have heard this excerpted quote from the Declaration of Independence so many times that we may have forgotten the magnitude of this statement and the way our present society eschews it though its laws and practices. There is a full frontal assault going on right now. The deaths of over 50 million unborn babies reveals the obvious attack on the right to life in our country.  The government's intrusion into church matters, parental rights, and healthcare decisions hamper our liberty.  Here are a few examples:
  • The government recently argued a case in front of the Supreme Court that it had the right, via the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, to decide if a pastor of a Church should be reinstated.
  • New York has recently mandated comprehensive "sex-ed" for their public schools, with "community groups such as Planned Parenthood" teaching it.
  • Nurses at a New Jersey hospital are filing a legal suit for forcing them to choose between their jobs or assisting with an abortion.  
  • Catholic entities and employers will soon be forced to provide contraception coverage in their insurance packages, which will result in dropping them altogether.
And what about the third right, the pursuit of happiness? What is the pursuit of happiness, if not the striving to reach eternal and true happiness in heaven?  Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, said in his book, The Spirit of Liturgy:
"When morality and law do not originate in a God-ward perspective, they degrade man, because they rob him of his highest measure and his highest capacity, deprive him of any vision of the infinite and eternal.  This seeming liberation subjects him to the dictatorship of the ruling majority, to shifting human standards, which inevitably end up doing him violence." (p.18-19)  
 We were made to "know, love and serve God in this world so as to happy with Him in the next." A government that encroaches upon liberties, and denies basic truths, deprive men from not only pursuing true happiness but also deny him the opportunity to understanding what that happiness is.  If he is not truly free to live out his natural calling, to seek His Maker and understand why he was made, he will not be able to experience the joys of knowing that an eternity of beatitude awaits him. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November 4th Fast

"There can be no doubt that if we wish to emerge intact from the present crisis, society must be rebuilt on a more durable foundation, that is to say, more in conformity with the law of Christ, the first source of every true civilization.  It is no less certain that if we wish to attain such a goal we must begin to making families Christian again, many of which have forgotten the practice of the Gospel, the love it demands and the peace it brings.
 . . . peaceful and well-orded family life makes for good relationships and good citizens.  No one knows this better than those who strive to expel God from society and throw it into turmoil, who spare no effort to deny the family the observance or even the remembrance of divine law, who extol divorce and free love, and who impede the providential task entrusted to parents with respect to their children, instilling in husbands and wives a dread of the physical fatigue and moral responsibilities which accompany the glorious burden of a large family." (Dear Newlyweds, p.45, Venerable Pope Pius XII)
This quote- though delivered in a talk at the end of 1940, in the middle of World War II- could have easily been given today. We pray for peace in the world, but we must first have peace and order in our own homes.  Order that is centered on Christ, peace that flows from Christ.  An army remains in a country after it has won the victory to maintain order and ensure peace.  Christ has won the victory for us, but we must, with the help of His grace, work for the peace.  Our sacrifices not only help others but ourselves as well, and in helping ourselves we are aiding in the peace of the whole family (our own and the family of the Church).  We must fast and sacrifice to discipline our passions, our desires.  Sacrifice tempers souls' passions; it softens our hardened hearts, allowing them to be more open to listening for and accepting God's will.

Living in a militantly secular society that openly persecutes Christian families, clergy, and religious is the reality we face.  When we face persecution and insults, lets remember the words of St. Paul:
"For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of the wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Eph. 6: 12-17)
 Let our love for Christ, our hope for heaven permeate our sacrifices tomorrow and every day.  God bless you!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls Day


Today is the feast of All Souls.  As I mentioned two days ago, there are many souls in purgatory longing for the joys of heaven but the only way of getting there is through Masses being said and prayers being offered.  In his first pastoral letter Bishop John Carroll, the first bishop of the United States, was very blunt when decrying the neglect of many persons in praying for the holy souls:
"On this occasion, I cannot forbear mentioning an abuse, or rather a prevalent neglect and indifference with respect to your departed parents and relations. 
When death has removed them from your sight, you seem to forget that doctrine of your divine religion which ought to call forth all your tenderness: I mean the doctrine, that it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. How different is your behaviour, when such events happen, from that of your Catholic brethren all over the world? Their sensibility is not confined to the unprofitable tears and lamentations of a few days, their faith follows their deceased friends into the mansions of another life, and enkindles all their charity. They procure prayers and sacrifices to be offered to God for the repose of their souls. The exercises of charity to the poor, and all the works of mercy and religion are employed for their relief, as long as there remains a reasonable ground to fear, that they may want it. Thus St. Augustine testified his sensibility, after the death of his holy mother Monica; thus, as Tertullian, St. Cyprian, and other primitive fathers teach us, children expressed their duty and veneration for their parents; and surviving Christian spouses for them, to whom they had been united by the ties and duties of a virtuous marriage. 
When it pleases God to call your friends out of this world, do you, my dear brethren, give such proofs of your affection for them? You attend them to the grave; you shed over it a few tears; and there is the term of your care and solicitude. If a charitable priest offer up to the throne of mercy, for their sake, the blood of the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, he does it, generally unsolicited and unthanked by you. You make no sacrifices of interest or enjoyments to charity and religion, that the deceased may find speedy mercy, and an anticipated enjoyment of everlasting bliss. I earnestly beseech you, to deserve no longer this reproach on your charity and sensibility. Follow your departed brethren into the regions of eternity, with your prayers, and all the assistance, which is suggested by the principles of faith and piety. Let the great sacrifice of propitiation be offered for all, who die in the unity of the Catholic Church, and in due submission to her wholesome precepts. " 
The bishop is quite clear that we cannot call ourselves true friends if we do not continue to pray for others after death.  It is imperative to pray for them every day, and have Masses said for the repose of their souls.  Besides the common prayer said for the souls (May the souls of the faithfully departed, rest in peace. Amen.) we can also pray the prayer of St. Gertrude (Christ promised to free 1,000 souls from purgatory each time it is said) :
"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen."
Another great practice is to pray for the souls every time we pass a cemetery.  Praying for the souls is a spiritual work of mercy, but is also a constant reminder of our own mortality and our true home in heaven.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints Day


Happy Feast of All Saints!  Today is a truly glorious day.  Here is a beautiful sermon by St. Bernard, taken from the Divine Office for today:
"Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.
Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.
Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.
When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honour. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendour with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.
Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession."