Sunday, April 5, 2015

He is Risen! Happy Easter!

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."  Colossians 3:1-4

If your family is like ours, you will be celebrating with some of your family, while missing others. Yet, we all have the joy of His Rising and the Salvation He brings!
From our family to yours,

Happy Easter and a Joyous Resurrection Day for us All!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Catholics, Seder Meals, and the Lamb of God

The readings for Holy Thursday make a point that may be easily overlooked. The first, from Exodus provides a glimpse into the Jewish tradition of Passover - a practice Jesus would have participated in with His family. The second comes from 1 Corinthians and tells us of the Last Supper, the New Covenant, and the first instance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When we ponder this choice of readings, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, we begin to see that Jesus did, indeed, come to fulfill the Old Law by the institution of a New Covenant.

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
This brings us to the logical, and morally sound, conclusion that celebrating a Seder Meal is not a practice that should be observed by Christians. We are the Easter People and Jesus is the Lamb of God. He is the New Covenant, the New Sacrifice, and His death saves us from Eternal damnation. No longer are we to offer animal sacrifices; the Temple has fallen, the biblical Jewish priests are gone, and Jesus has died for our Salvation.

As we celebrate the most holy of seasons - the Triduum, let us remember the importance of our beautiful faith, given to us by Jesus the Christ Himself!

If you'd like to delve further into this teaching please continue to Why Christians Shouldn't Celebrate Seder Meals. There you'll find references from Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Council of Trent, and Catholic theology books as well as an extremely informative audio presentation by a good holy priest.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

7 Ways We Might Be Politically Correct Like Pilate

Palm Sunday 2015

As Holy Week begins, we might ask ourselves a question: Are We Politically Correct Like Pilate? Saint Mark's Gospel tells us that he was certainly a biblical version of the ‘go along to get along’ crowd. When he asked the throng what to do with Jesus, he clearly demonstrated that he knew Jesus was blameless. We got further confirmation of culpability when Pilate cited the jealousy of the Chief Priests for the arrest of Jesus. In washing his hands of the entire affair, he showed his lack of conviction and profound failure to take a stand.

In this final period of heightened anticipation, will examining our consciences find us similarly weak-spined? By scrutinizing our actions in relation to prominent issues of the day, we might find an answer that does little to vindicate us. Here, then, is an opportunity to search our hearts and find His Truth.

1. Are We Politically Correct About Abortion?

Mouthing the prolife mantra among like-minded friends isn’t enough to make us genuinely prolife. What exactly are we willing to do for the innocent, voiceless victims of the Culture of Death? Can we be found praying for the unborn - either at Mass, in private prayer, or at abortion mills? Do we seek out conversations, even to the point of discomfort, in order to share the message of God’s unconditional love? How about the ‘exception’ children? Rape and incest are taboo subjects to many, yet the children whose conception traces back to a violent, unlawful attack on their mothers are certainly beloved children of God. 

2. Same Sex ‘Marriage’, a Leading Politically Correct Issue

It’s all over the news. If you don’t rise to defend the sinful actions of those who suffer from same sex attraction (SSA), you are somehow deemed judgmental and uncharitable. The justly charitable position fails to be mentioned – loving all people enough to witness to the Gospel. Standing silently by while the mainstream of society pretends that acting on SSA tendencies is moral and even something to be proudly proclaimed, is to witness to the twisted logic of the devil. That all people deserve to live with God-given dignity is a given. Yet to praise those who persist in sinful living is to scandalize others and to lull those searching for the truth into morally fatal complacency.

3. Leaving Religion at the Church Door

Whether it’s the leading moral issues of the day or subtle rebellious acts, leaving our faith at the church door after Sunday Mass is seen by some as an accepted politically correct way of life. Listening to scripture, partaking of the True Presence, and mouthing the words of prayer – all these are of no benefit if they aren’t the vehicle that sends us out into the week, nourished and armed with conviction. In order to reach for the goal of sainthood, desired for all of us by God, the Holy Sacrifice of Mass is the springboard toward living life by sharing His Word.

4. Ignoring the Promotion of Intrinsic Evils

Do we facilitate organizations, celebrities, or events that glorify evil? Once we know of these unholy alliances, we share a moral responsibility to live accordingly. The Girl Scouts and their collaboration with Planned Parenthood or the acceptance of embryonic stem cell research and abortion by the March of Dimes, begs for action from the faithful. Do we share this information with our brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to contact the offending groups and charitably express our moral outrage? What’s more important in our lives – the cookies and the praise for donations, or the unvarnished truth?

5. Speaking Up For Those Falsely Accused

Have you ever been present when someone was maligned? It’s so easy to either slip into an uncomfortable silence or to share in the gossip. But is that what we are shown by the examples of Jesus and His saints? We’ve not been charged with having an easy life; we’ve been charged with walking the narrow path. With this comes the responsibility to refrain from gossip, idle talk, calumny, and other sins of the tongue. Who stood up for Jesus when He was being falsely accused? The politically correct crowd didn’t. They remained silent or worse, shouted “crucify him, crucify him”. Although they knew of no wrong with which to accuse Him, they gave in to the mob mentality. Surely this isn’t something to be emulated.

6. Ignoring the Poor and Struggling

They’re out there, waiting to be acknowledged, looking for a kind word or smile. How many times do we simply turn away, cast down our eyes, and forget them as soon as we walk away? Remembering the poor or struggling doesn’t involve just the obvious Lenten alms giving. It can entail going out of our way to smile at a weary stranger or the mother whose life is overflowing with beloved yet boisterous children. They may look frazzled but we can make a difference by a smile, a kind word, or an offer of help with some small task. There are those who are poor for lack of love in nursing homes or those who are poor in catechesis and struggling to find Truth. We have untold opportunities to make a difference in the lives of everyone we encounter.

7. Failing to Speak Out Against Evil In Media

It isn’t necessary to name them. We all know of movies, television shows, and music that are so offensive to moral sensibilities that the heavens cry out for their denouncement. How do we react? Are we content to stand by and revel in the fact that we, ourselves, don’t participate? Or do we take a stand? We certainly have the opportunities. Yes, posting a truthful warning on your Facebook wall or speaking out at a gathering may garner some uncharitable comments toward you, but is that really enough reason to abstain from doing what is right? We will often find that, when one person has the courage to take a stand, others will join in – relieved that someone took the initiative.

So how do we score when we ask ourselves these seven questions? Is there a bit too much complacency or is there something more we could do? These are things we would do well to ponder as we enter into Holy Week. As our priest told us during his homily today, we can’t bypass the Cross on our way to the Resurrection. To be fully immersed in the season we must partake of the sacrificial giving before we claim the Easter Joy!

“We can't let Holy Week be just a kind of commemoration. It means contemplating the mystery of Jesus Christ as something which continues to work in our souls.” Saint Joemaria Escriva

Friday, March 27, 2015

50 Shades of Nausea

I know sharing this makes me guilty of what I'm about to rant about...but, it's an attention-getter - an effort to make a point.

Ever since the pornographic series of books and then movie, 50 Shades of Grey, came out we've been inundated with 50 Shades of Everything. For example Target not only carried a line of 50 Shades products (lotions, hand cuffs, blindfolds, etc.) - in some stores they were even next to children's toothbrushes. Evidently mommies with kiddies are the chosen demographic. Kind of makes you think twice about letting Junior spend the night at Tommy's house, doesn't it?

Then we had teachers handing out 50 Shades of Grey word searches to middle school children and other horrifying examples of irresponsible adult example.

This was blatant coattail riding on the wildly successful, albeit perverted success of all things 50 Shades. At least you knew what they were about.

Now, however, we're seeing an entirely new use of 50 Shades - mainstream, 'normal' products are joining the porn coattails. I've seen 50 Shades of Gray Hair, 50 Shades of Savings, 50 Shades of Debt, and all sorts of 50 Shades references from sources who have nothing to do with bondage or perverted sexuality. Is this the direction we really want to go?

We've all seen the effects of advertising and how it colors our world. Hearing the same phrase over and over again, ad nauseum (pun intended), tends to normalize an otherwise offensive topic. Yes, many columnists have expended many keystrokes to objecting to (or recommending) the offending books and movie - and using some twist of the 50 Shades title garnered interest and readership - but using this phrase in mainstream advertising runs the risk of coloring (yep, I went there) the consciences of even the most sensitive souls.

In the same way that marketing PG-13 movies to the toddler set by licensing toys to fast food chains is a problem, so is this. Currently Subway is giving out Guardians of the Galaxy take home bags with their kids' meals, even though the movie is rated PG-13. Now I ask you, won't many children be inclined toward watching this movie, based on a favorable association with their meal and gift? Will you, a morally responsible parent, take them to see the movie in question? I would think not!

Why then, associate anything - especially morally neutral somethings - with a horrific display of sexual depravity? That's the question and that's what brings me to 50 Shades of Nausea.

What strange 50 Shades associations have you encountered?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

To Be Prolife Is to Accept No Exceptions

Is your love conditional? Do you love one child more than the other, based on some perceived value? Who determines the right to life?

These questions may appear simple on the surface but what does the world tell us? When it comes to the unborn, how does your prolife walk measure up to your prolife talk?

The morally acceptable answer can be found in the Great Commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. (Matthew 22:37) And the second, which is like it, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:39-40)"

If we follow this explicit instruction given by Jesus Christ, we can demand no exceptions and accept no compromise. We are to love our neighbor and our neighbor is everyone - every human being!

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus shared this story with a lawyer who had attempted to entrap Him. The lawyer slyly asked, "Who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus left no room for doubt in His replay. The command was clearly stated and clarified. Even though some may shy away, repulsed, as they did with the unfortunate robbery victim, we are called to show loving care. If it means stepping out of our comfort zone, proves to be inconvenient, or takes an abundance of grace - we are still charged with obedience.

So how can we position ourselves to hold exceptions when it comes to the most vulnerable of all neighbors? The violent war being waged against the unborn, in our country and around the globe, begs an honest answer. These innocents have done no harm, have committed no crime. Like the man who was robbed on his way to Jericho, they are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Some babies come to this world with less than perfect credentials as well - at least from a secular viewpoint. There are babies who are conceive through rape or incest, those who have physical anomalies, or who could be a challenge to the economics of a family. Yet their worth, their right to life is not a choice we have a right to make. Even when based on flawed human preferences or false values.

The undeniable conclusion must be, then, that whether or not we are righteous in claiming to be prolife is decided by whether or not we attempt to put conditions on who deserves life. That's simply not our call. God, the Author of Life, has given the right to life to each individual at His desire. He, and only He, creates the life and only He has the right to call a life into eternity. The righteous heart acknowledges no exceptions and no compromise!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Evangelium Vitae Novena - Closing Prayer

Happy 20th Anniversary of Evangelium Vitae and Feast of the Annunciation!

Thank you so much for joining us in prayer for an end to the ill effects of the Culture of Death. As Saint John Paul II taught us in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, all life is immeasurably valuable and beloved by God. During these past nine days we have invoked the intercession of a saint who had great love for life and showed the world an example of a holy death. May Saint John Paul II continue to be a protector of all people - from fertilization until natural death. As the faithful people of God and brethren of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we have a duty to continue to put on the armor of God and protect those who are spurned.

Daily prayer: Pope Saint John Paul II's Prayer to our Lady.

O Mary

bright dawn of the new world,

Mother of the living,

to you do we entrust the cause

Look down, O Mother,

upon the vast numbers

of babies not allowed to be born,

of the poor whose lives are made difficult,

of men and women

who are victims of brutal violence,

of the elderly and the sick killed

by indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son

may proclaim the Gospel of Life

with honesty and love

to the people of our time.

Obtain for them the grace

to accept that Gospel

as a gift ever new,

the joy of celebrating it with gratitude

throughout their lives

and the courage to bear witness to it

resolutely, in order to build,

together with all people of good will,

the civilisation of truth and love,

to the praise and glory of God,

the Creator and lover of life.

Closing reflection: March 25 - The Feast of the Annunciation.

On this Feast of the Annunciation, let us reflect on the gift God has given us, the great gift of His heavenly Mother. May she always be our model of purity, holiness and motherhood.

The "woman clothed with the sun" - the Book of revelation tells us - "was with child" (12:2). The Church is fully aware that she bears within herself the Savior of the world, Christ the Lord. She is aware that she is called to offer Christ to the world, giving men and women new birth into Christ's own life.But the Church cannot forget that her mission was made possible by the motherhood of Mary, who conceived and bore the One who is "God from God", "true God from true God." Mary is truly the Mother of God, the Theotokos, in whose motherhood the vocation to motherhood bestowed by God on every woman is raised to the highest level. EV 103