So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”

Acts 4:18-20

I’ve often said here on the blog that the only reason to be a Christian in general and a Catholic in particular is because it’s true.  If it’s not true after all we’re just an Elk’s Club that meets on Sundays.

We’ll apparently there aren’t a lot of people who want to join the Sunday Elk’s clubs:

we found 93 percent of clergy members and 83 percent of worshipers from growing churches agreed with the statement “Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb.” This compared with 67 percent of worshipers and 56 percent of clergy members from declining churches. Furthermore, all growing church clergy members and 90 percent of their worshipers agreed that “God performs miracles in answer to prayers,” compared with 80 percent of worshipers and a mere 44 percent of clergy members from declining churches.

Or to put it another way, if you don’t actually believe in Christ,  why would you expect people to follow you into Christianity, assuming you want them to:

For example, because of their conservative outlook, the growing church clergy members in our study took Jesus’ command to “Go make disciples” literally. Thus, they all held the conviction it’s “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians,” and thus likely put effort into converting non-Christians. Conversely, because of their liberal leanings, half the clergy members at the declining churches held the opposite conviction, believing it is not desirable to convert non-Christians. Some of them felt, for instance, that peddling their religion outside of their immediate faith community is culturally insensitive.

If you aren’t really into that entire “We must obey God rather than man” business then you aren’t

The really funny part of this story? The fact that discovering believing in something vs believing in nothing tends to attract more people was “counterintuitive”.

Well to a reader of the Washington Post it would be wouldn’t it?

Closing thought, I’d like to ask those members of the clergy who don’t believe in the central tenants of Christianity why they remain?  I suspect the answer mimics this exchange from the old Yes Prime Minister episode “The Bishop’s Gambit:

James Hacker: Humphrey, what’s a Modernist in the Church of England?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Ah, well, the word “Modernist” is code for non-believer.
James Hacker: You mean an atheist?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, Prime Minister. An atheist clergyman couldn’t continue to draw his stipend. So, when they stop believing in God, they call themselves “Modernists”.

When as I suspect, these “modernists” eventually become as extinct as the Shakers only Washington Post readers will be surprised.

The Conversion of St. Paul

“Almost all the great saints were great sinners or, like Saint Therese, knew that it was by sheer grace that they were not,”

Pope Francis

In his spectacular piece at Medium titled The Lesbian and Her Trophy Wife Stacy McCain talks about the Hustle and the grift that professional lesbianism and feminism have become.

Circa 1975, when I was a drug-addled adolescent, the Vietnam-era hippie mentality was fading like an old pair of blue jeans, replaced by a mood of cynical hedonism, as the “liberated” lifestyle became just another commercial marketing pitch.

Feminism quickly became nothing but a hustle, a scam, a way for Madison Avenue to promote commodities. “Sex sells,” and feminism is always about sex. Maybe you’re the kind of natural-born chump who believes all that jargon about the “gender binary” and women being “systematically limited,” but I know a hustle when I see one, and feminism is the biggest hustle ever.
Big Tobacco cashed in selling the Feminist™ brand, and so did all those women who parlayed their talk of “oppression” into book contracts and TV appearances and tenured professorships in Women’s Studies programs. Meanwhile, of course, there were millions of young women who, failing to recognize “liberation” as a phony scam, were trying to reconcile feminist ideology with the reality of their own unglamorous lives.

The bottom line of the piece in many ways is a favorite saying of my own: “There is nothing more dangerous than an excuse.” but more on that another day.

But today I want to talk about a single paragraph that is tangential to the piece but not to my argument here:

Some of my Christian friends say we should pray for women like Robyn Ochs to repent their sins, just as some of my non-Christian friends aren’t bothered by “bisexuality,” which they hope might lead to a ménage à trois. However, I’m not sure there’s any religious hope for feminists, because I don’t know how you can repent of sin while “celebrating” your sin as an “identity,” and how can you save Robyn Ochs’ soul, when she’s an atheist who doesn’t believe she even has a soul? Feminists do not believe that there is any eternal truth — no right and wrong, no good and evil — nor do feminists believe that human life has any intrinsic value, which is why feminists kill babies.

Feminism: We must kill more babies, because we haven’t killed them all yet!
If you want to spend time praying for soulless atheist baby-killers, go right ahead, but there are a lot of other people who probably could use God’s help, and would actually be grateful for it.

While it is true that there are many people we should remember in prayer I would remind Stacy who is a great lover of the old Testament,  of the story of Jonah and God’s admonition to him as he fuses about a dead plant that gave him shade.

Then the LORD said, “You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor and which you did not raise; it came up in one night and in one night it perished.

And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left, not to mention the many cattle?”

Jonah 4:10-11

Of Christ’s words concerning the lost in Luke

Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it?And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’

In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:8-10

And how many people over the centuries might be burning today if God didn’t take an interest in this particular murderous sinner?

I myself once thought that I had to do many things against the name of Jesus the Nazorean, and I did so in Jerusalem. I imprisoned many of the holy ones with the authorization I received from the chief priests, and when they were to be put to death I cast my vote against them. Many times, in synagogue after synagogue, I punished them in an attempt to force them to blaspheme; I was so enraged against them that I pursued them even to foreign cities.

“On one such occasion I was traveling to Damascus with the authorization and commission of the chief priests. At midday, along the way, O king, I saw a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my traveling companions. We all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goad.’

And I said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.

Get up now, and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness of what you have seen (of me) and what you will be shown. I shall deliver you from this people and from the Gentiles to whom I send you, to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may obtain forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been consecrated by faith in me.’

Acts 26:9-18

God obviously things such folk are wort the effort.  This is not a coincidence as C. S. Lewis reminds us through his infernal character Screwtape:

The great (and toothsome) sinners are made out of the very same material as those horrible phenomena the great Saints.

and gives this warning in that small story Screwtape Proposes a Toast.

The great sinners seem easier to catch. But then they are incalculable. After you have played them for seventy years, the Enemy may snatch them from your claws in the seventy-first. They are capable, you see, of real repentance. They are conscious of real guilt. They are, if things take the wrong turn, as ready to defy the social pressures around them for the Enemy’s sake as they were to defy them for ours.

And person familiar with the number of former abortion workers and advocates who are now tireless champions of the unborn know this to be true.

So I say yes it’s worth the time to pray for these women and I make the following suggestion to make it easier.

First lump all of the ladies that Stacy McCain writes about like Robyn Ochs into a single group called: Stacy McCain’s Women. This allows your prayers to be distributed to each new person Stacy adds to his list.

Then consider one of the two following prayers from my daily routine for them: the first invoking their guardian angel.

Angel of God their guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits them here, ever this day be at their side, the light and guard and rule and guide.

Finally offer a single decade of the Rosary (I suggest the Assumption) for them. Not specifically for their souls per say, but just for them and their needs, physical, temporal and spiritual. For who better to entrust these women to than Our Lady.

Of course you can use whatever prayer you like, what prayer is prayed is less important that it being done.

And what better day to begin the effort to produce rejoicing in heaven than the anniversary of the night where the angelic host celebrated the start of the great project of forgiveness with the words: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests”?

I can’t believe I missed this piece by Elizabeth Scalia on a bit of science that completely explains a dogma of the Church

All of that changed for me when I took a class in anatomy and physiology. As marvelous as it was to learn about how “wonderfully and fearfully” we are made — what with blood cells forming and fading, and bones and tissue becoming oxygenated and cleansed via blood and breath — nothing presented in the class coaxed an audible reaction from me until we studied the process of microchimerism. As soon as the professor introduced the process, my Catholic bell was rung: “But that completely explains the Assumption!” I said aloud in the midst of my startled classmates. The professor stared at me for a moment with a puzzled expression and said, “Oka-a-ay, anyway, the thing about microchimerism…”

The thing about microchimerism is that it so profoundly explains and justifies our dogma that it should be included in our Mariological catechesis, where people can both appreciate a demonstration of how science and religion can complement and complete each other, and marvel in awestruck wonder that our Church had reasoned out this reality long ago and without the aid of microscopes. In the simplest of terms, microchimerism is the process by which a smattering of cells live within a host body but are completely distinct from it. In human fetomaternal microchimerism (or “fetal cell microchimerism”), every child leaves within his mother a microscopic bit of himself — every pregnancy, brought to delivery or not, leaves a small amount of its own cells within the body of the mother — and those cells remain within her forever.

As the only practicing Catholic in the classroom mentioned above, can you blame me for my gratified outburst? Microchimerism explained for me the very whys and wherefores of a dogma that had previously seemed like little more than piety on a sentimental rampage, leaving me too cowed to care. Suddenly, it all made sense: A small amount of Christ Jesus’ cells remained within Mary, for the whole of her life. Where we Catholics have a limited experience of Christ’s flesh commingling within our own upon reception of the holy Eucharist, Mary was a true tabernacle within which the Divinity did continually reside.

And therefore:

It follows that His mother’s body, containing cellular traces of the Divinity (and a particle of God is God, entire) could not be permitted to decay, either. The science makes the theology accessible, because, suddenly, there is no need for guessing: at her Dormition, Our Lady’s body, holding Christ within it, could not remain on earth; of course, it would have to join itself to Christ in the heavenly dimension.

I maintain that the Catholic faith is truth and all objective truth including scientific truth (as opposed to scientific theory, still valuable as a basis for experimentation and the pursuit of knowledge but not the same a proven truth) will fit it like a glove.

The fact that Mary carried a part of Christ with her for her entire life at least to my mind also explains the Immaculate Conception and much else that all came about because of the events we celebrate this week.

If I was Donald Trump or the head of the RNC that’s the Press Release I would be issuing in English and spanish. The Spanish version saying:

Periódico propiedad de Amazon.com ataca al culto de Nuestra Sra. de Guadalupe durante la época Navideña

after seeing this Headline at the Washington Post.

Our culture of purity celebrates the Virgin Mary. As a rape victim, that hurts me.

Yes you’re reading that right.

That a protestant reverend is going after the very first Christian, who said “Yes” to God makes it even more ironic.

Of course if you don’t like my suggest press release or don’t want to hit Amazon which might claim they have no editorial control you could go with this in English:

“Washington Post attacks devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe during the week of her feast”

Or in spanish:

“El Washington Post ataca a Nuestra Sra. de Guadalupe en la semana de su Fiesta”

The best part of such a PR release is it has the virtue of being true.

Oh and I’d repeat this is Spanish during the feast of Our Lady of divine providence (Nuestra Senora de la divina providencia) patron of Puerto Rico and the feast of Our Lady of Altagracia (Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia) the patron of the Dominican Republic too.

You know perhaps if the MSM had at least one or two  devout daily mass Catholics they might have figured out this was a bad idea.

I’d suggest praying for the Reverend Everheart for relief of her trauma and ask Our Lady to help her, The Memorare would be appropriate:

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

You can do the same for the editors at the Post and the folks at Amazon, you might think they are beyond Help but with God all things are possible.

My thanks to Fausta for the Spanish translations.

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“..For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace and goodwill towards men.’
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

– Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” 1965

The secular answer is that it’s a federal holiday, having been established as such (along with New Year’s Day and Independence Day) by an act of Congress in 1870 “to correspond with similar laws of … every State of the Union.” Ironically, the holiday that seems every year to cause such politically-correct angst amongst our friends on the left was originally enacted in part as an act of post-Civil-War unification. While it wasn’t always so, by the mid 1800’s celebrating Christmas was pretty much universal throughout the country. And since the First Amendment is exactly the same now as it was then, how can anyone seriously think that celebrating Christmas, even on public property, could be a problem?

Let’s be clear. As much as the secular, commercial view of Christmas as a Santa Claus-fueled gift-giving frenzy has become the norm, there is still an underlying reason for the season, even if not everyone remembers or is willing to admit it. As Linus so beautifully pointed out, on Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Yes, the celebration of this Holy day has taken on additional secular attributes over the years and as a national holiday it can, and should be, celebrated by believers and nonbelievers alike. There is nothing wrong with that. But Jesus’ birth is still the central point of the day.

When my children were little, like most of you we went along with the whole Santa Claus story, leaving cookies and milk out for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer. We even left “Santa’s hat” in the fireplace one year and had a friend call to ask our children to hold onto it so he could pick it up the following year. But our children always understood what we were really celebrating, right down to the baby Jesus appearing in the Nativity scene on Christmas morning. When they got older and we finally told them the truth about Santa Claus, they took it really well. In fact, my daughter said that she felt sorry for people who don’t understand the true meaning of Christmas because, once they find out about Santa Claus, they have nothing left. As a Catholic, I pray that everyone will eventually come to learn the Truth.

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, I’d like to remind everyone of the message at the end of that passage that Linus quotes: “on Earth, peace and goodwill towards men.” Wouldn’t it be great if we could all, regardless of religious, political, or any other affiliation, embrace those words?

Merry Christmas to ALL!

On the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe it’s appropriate to remind ourselves that it was before the image of Our Lady that Hillary committed one of the great cultural gaffes of her time as Secretary of State.

Hillary visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and was shown the image of Our Lady kept there and asked this question:

After observing it for a while, Mrs. Clinton asked “who painted it?” to which Msgr. Monroy responded “God!”

Now you might think that the smartest woman in the world would know the story about the single most significant cultural and religious icon of not only the country she was visiting but of North America, of the seemingly impossible facts concerning it, such as these four via Big C Catholic

1. There is no under-sketch or under-drawing on the image.

Infrared photography has demonstrated that there is no sketching on the image whatsoever. Dr. Philip Callahan, a research biophysicist from the University of Florida explains: “It is inconceivable that an artist in the 16th Century would paint a portrait without first doing a drawing on it.” Making an under-sketch prior to painting a portrait goes back to antiquity. Such an exquisite depiction on textile made from cactus fiber is inexplicable given the lack of sketching.

2. The image has lasted and shows no signs of deterioration.

Juan Diego’s tilma is made of a rough cactus fiber which normally disintegrates in 15 to 30 years. Yet, the image of Guadalupe has remained intact for 484 years without fading or cracking. Moreover, it was subjected to candle smoke for many years, which should have accelerated the process of deterioration.

In 1778, a worker accidentally spilled strong nitric acid onto a large portion of the image. To everyone’s astonishment, only slight stains appeared which can still be seen in the upper right side. Additionally, in 1921 a bomb concealed in some flowers was placed on the altar directly under the image. When the bomb detonated, the marble altar rail and windows 150 feet away were shattered, a brass crucifix was twisted out of shape, but the image was left unharmed.

3. The stars that appear on the image are astrologically correct.

In 1983 Dr. Juan Homero Hernandez and Fr. Mario Rojas Sánchez discovered that the stars on the image correspond precisely to the constellations of the winter sky on December 12th, 1531. Incredibly, the constellations are shown as viewed from outside the heavens, in other words in reverse. It is as if we have a picture from someone looking at it from outside the universe, it is a snapshot of heaven and earth from the very moment that Juan Diego saw Our Lady.

4. Mary’s eyes are astonishingly life like.

Of all the characteristics of the image, this is perhaps the most astounding. The microscopic likeness of a bearded man was discovered in the pupils of the Virgin; first in 1929, and again in 1951. The bearded man corresponds to contemporaneous pictures of Juan Diego. No human painter could have foreseen putting infinitesimally small images of Juan Diego in the eyes of the Virgin so that later advances in human technology could detect them. Furthermore, it is impossible for any human to have painted the images because they are simply too miniscule to produce.

Jose Aste Tonsmann, a Peruvian ophthalmologist, examined Mary’s eyes at 2,500 times magnification. He was able to identify thirteen individuals in both eyes at different proportions, just as a human eye would reflect an image. It appeared to be the very moment Juan Diego unfurled the tilma before Bishop Zumárraga.

Dr. Jorge Escalante Padilla a surgical ophthalmologist considers these reflections to belong to the type which have been described by Cherney on the back surface of the cornea and by Watt & Hess at the center of the lens. Such reflections are very difficult to detect. Dr. Escalante also reported the discovery of small veins on both of the eyelids of the image. In the 1970s, a Japanese optician who was examining the eyes fainted. Upon recovering he stated: “The eyes were alive and looking at him.” [Janet Barber, Latest Scientific Findings on the Images in the Eyes, page 90.] Incredibly, when Our Lady’s eyes are exposed to light, the retinas contract. When the light is withdrawn, they return to a dilated state.

You might think she would have known some background and quit while she was behind.

The version in the Mexican press is yet more cringe-inducing: After being told it was an apparition, Clinton apparently persisted, asking, “But who painted the painting, the roses,” before being informed again that God was the artist in question.

She didn’t

But given that even 8 years after said Gaffe NBC is spinning the lady of Guadalupe into a patron of liberalism vs a path to her son that’s not a big surprise.

Closing thought, I wonder how many voters of mexican ancestry in swing states remembered this gaffe on election day?

Does anyone for one moment believe that the same Fr. John Jenkins, who had no problem with Barack Obama, Joe Biden or Wenday Davis despite their direct opposition and active efforts against the teaching of the Catholic church, would have shown the slightest hesitation to invite Hillary Clinton her to speak at the 2017 commencement if she had been elected?

I’m old enough to remember when Notre Dame was a Catholic College.

There is a lot to be said for this piece by Stacy McCain titled #LashEquality: @CoverGirl Promotes Transgender Agenda in Commercials. Its discussion of history, references to scripture, celebration of his ancient ancestors (Being of Sicilian ancestry from a family that lived next to a volcano (Mt. Etna) I can go back to the mid 1800’s but before that is a mystery, particularly since everyone from the vikings to the Spanish to the arabs conquered Sicily during the course of history) and his defense of normalcy which everyone seems to be terrified to articulating.

But there are two things in this piece that need highlighting and a clarification added to complete the picture being offered by him.

The first the opinion of the greatest generation of the rebellion of their children most of whom still foolishly think they were and are smarter then their parents who conquered two of the finest militaries in history yet had the Christian character, to with the entire world at their feet, not to enslave it

the “Greatest Generation” knew what price had been paid for our freedom. The troops who came home from that war then fathered the “Baby Boom.” When their children reached adolescence, however, many rebelled against America’s patriotic and religious heritage, and by the time I started high school in 1973, the so-called “Sexual Revolution” had been raging for nearly a decade. Grown-ups strongly disapproved of the whole “hippie” youth culture. Our parents and teachers, our coaches and preachers were in unanimous agreement about the need to suppress this social upheaval that had erupted, the cause of which they believed to be either (a) Communism or (b) Satan, insofar as Communism and Satan weren’t the same thing.

It is my opinion that my generation, the baby boomers are the worst generation in the history of this country and possibly the world and that we as a generation for the good of humanity can’t die off fast enough and take our self centered narcissism, self defined virtue and complete ignorance of the wisdom and experience of our parents and the giants who came before them with us.

Secondly it’s worth highlighting Stacy’s statement concerning his own youthful rebellion (emphasis mine)

In high school, I was just a teenager who wanted to be a cool dude, and among my hoodlum buddies, being a cool dude meant getting high and growing your hair long, because that’s what all the cool chicks were into. So I was as far-out as I could possibly get away with, and I got away with a lot more than I ever got caught with. Could I blame all this on “peer pressure”? Maybe, except that I was an active agent of evil, rather than a passive participant. My extensive adolescent experience in the ways of sin — and all the consequences of evil that I witnessed with my own eyes in the ensuing years — left me quite cynical toward the kind of enthusiasm James Charles expresses about the “amazing progressions with gay rights, gender inclusivity and self-expression.”

I can not emphasize the importance of this paragraph because it does two critical things.

  • It acknowledges acts of evil done and witnessed by him
  • Rather than making an excuse for said evil, he takes responsibility for it.

One could call it a great example of the Penitential Rite of the Catholic church

I confess to almighty God
And to you, my brothers and sisters,
That I have greatly sinned
In my thoughts and in my words,
In what I have done and in what I have
Failed to do,
Through my fault, through my fault,
Through my most grievous fault;
Therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
All the Angels and Saints,
And you, my brothers and sisters,
To pray for me to the Lord our God.

That self awareness is a gift from God that should be treasured by him and mimicked by others whenever possible.

Now having highlighted these two bits let’s turn to the part that needs clarification.

Stacy quotes one of his favorite passages from Deuteronomy 30.  As I am quoting Stacy’s piece I’ll stick with his protestant translation here rather than the one on the Vatican site I would normally use

See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live . .

He follows up with these two paragraphs near the end of his piece:

There are still quite a few Americans who believe in the Lord whose anger is kindled against those who turn away from him, and we have already tolerated enough “gender inclusivity and self-expression” that it’s a wonder God has not already destroyed us for this “amazing progression.”

America has had enough. Our ancestors did not establish this nation with the expectation that their descendants would squander their precious inheritance of God’s blessing. The men who died fighting to gain a foothold on that beach at Normandy did not give their lives so that America could sink into decadence, insanity and perversion.

And here lies the part that needs clarification here.  Stacy gives a lot of quotes from that good Old Testament but is missing some key ones from a slightly newer one.  Like Matthew

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house,  many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.

Matthew 9:9-13

And Mark

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.

Mark 10:23-27

And Luke

“Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”  But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

Luke 19:2-10

And John

Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more.”

John 8:3-11

Christianity is a religion of forgiveness and redemption and every single soul from James Charles to Bob Iger to  Stacy to mine and yours is of value to God.  That same merciful God who sacrificed his son for the forgiveness of sins will give each soul a lifetime to repent of their sins and be forgiven.  As Christ said to St Faustina:

Write: before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. 

Diary of St. Faustina

Stacy expresses surprise that God has not already destroyed us, But did not the Knights of Columbus offer a novena before the election for the country asking for God’s blessing and mercy that was prayed in churches all over the country?  Do not contemplative sisters and brothers pray unceasingly for the country the world and for the intentions of individuals?  Do not individuals like myself offer daily rosaries for the country asking since February for Justice Scalia and since April for Mother Angelica to join in these prayers for our land?  And do not relatives friends of those who have been deceived by the world and the culture pray continually for their salvation?  After all do you think it was just blind luck that Stacy himself, turned away from the admittedly evil path he once pursued?  And are not others even now evangelizing those who have fallen away?

The bottom line is there have been many times when the power of evil, and error and sin have seemed insurmountable, yet the faithful still exist, and thrive and the Holy Spirit still calls those who have rejected him.

“If you’re there, you have to help me.”

Those are the words that poet Sally Read said to an icon of Jesus in 2010. Read, a British poet and atheist, had stopped into a church in Santa Marinella, Italy. She felt burdened. Her young daughter was having health issues. Her husband Fabio was enduring some stress at work.

“There was this incredible experience where this presence almost came down, and my tears just stopped, just dried,” Read tells CNSNews.com. “I felt almost physically carried up. It was as if someone walked into the room. I knew this person. I knew that I was a Christian.”

Up to that point Read, now 46, had been an atheist. “I was brought up an atheist,” Read notes in her just-published memoir, “Night’s Bright Darkness: A Modern Conversion Story.” “At ten I could tell you that religion was the opiate of the masses; it was [driven] into me to never kneel before anyone or anything…As a young woman I could quote Christopher Hitchens and enough of the Bible to scoff at.”

As Pope Francis has said God never tires of forgiving us and as long as that potential is there the work of salvation will continue and we can and must aid it by our prayers.

Because even with this clarification Stacy point stands as evidenced by Christ words to Sister Faustina that followed his remark about the door of mercy.

He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice…

I pray to God that I and others will acquire and retain the wisdom to choose the door of mercy in our lifetimes.

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Amid talk of vouchers and charter schools, the Trump administration should consider significant tax breaks for homeschoolers.

The reasons for homeschooling vary. Some parents want to emphasize a religious education for their children. Others want to avoid the left-leaning indoctrination of public schools. Still others face inadequate or unsafe schools.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, more than two million students in K-12 are schooled at home. One study found that more than 30 percent of these students are Black, Hispanic or Asian. Moreover, the students and their parents save taxpayers more than $20 billion a year based on an estimated cost of more than $11,000 a year per child for a public school education.

But homeschoolers receive no significant tax breaks for teaching their children.

Homeschools in most states cannot be run as a business or even as a non-profit as parents cannot charge their children for their education. Moreover, homeschoolers cannot deduct donations to their own school. Also, the IRS usually does not allow homeschooling to be considered a hobby, which could reap some limited tax benefits.

Here are some possibilities to make homeschooling more affordable:

–Allow tax breaks for tuition and books purchased from homeschooling businesses.

–Provide deductions for individuals who are the primary teacher.

–Give tax incentives for tutoring in specific subjects, such as math, science and technology.

–Provide a mechanism to receive a reduction in local property taxes, which often are paid to local schools, for individuals who homeschool.

“Open the schoolhouse doors and let parents choose the best school for their children,” Donald Trump says. “Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition-the American way.”

That competition should include incentives and benefits for homeschoolers and their children to allow them to choose an option other than charters and vouchers.


Christopher Harper is a recovering journalist who worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times and teaches media law.

As you likely know today is the First Sunday of Advent and the first Sunday of the liturgical year for Catholics which officially began yesterday with the Advent vigil mass.

But I suspect some of you might not know that the previous liturgical year didn’t end Friday, but on Saturday morning. The Daily mass celebrated Saturday Morning was the final mass of the Church’s year. It’s also the liturgical anniversary (vs the actual anniversary) of the death of my devout Aunt Lucy who died between the masses so I do my best to make sure I don’t miss it.

So yesterday after work I headed to my church and immediately noticed five unfamiliar faces. A group of nuns in white habits with black veils were at my church, first crowded into our divine mercy chapel and then sitting together at mass.

I didn’t recognize any of the nuns so when mass was over and one finished her prayers I greeted her and asked what order they were from. She told me they were Dominican Nuns of Saint Cecilia from Nashville Tennessee who teach school in Providence Rhode Island.  They were in the area for a hiking trip.

That they were devout was obvious but what jumped out at me the most, every single one of them looked young enough to be my daughter (I’m 53).

This was quite ironic because just a few months ago our parish celebrated the anniversary of the founding of our elementary school by the Sisters of the Presentation. About a dozen of those sisters turned up for the mass as invited guests and there were two things about them that were in stark contrast to the Dominican Sisters at the Saturday Mass.

  • Not a single one of them was in a nun’s habit.
  • Every single one of them was old enough to be my mother

Now I don’t question for one moment the devotion of those older nuns who did yeoman service for the school before they were replaced by lay teachers as they retired but I have yet to see a group of nuns that have abandoned the habit who are not dying out.  As they abandoned the habit, vocations abandoned them.

Meanwhile the sisters in Nashville which did not go down that path apparently has so many vocations that they can be spared to go all the way to New England to teach.  From their website:

The community has continued to experience God’s blessing of new vocations. This past summer, five young sisters professed perpetual vows, with 13 others making first profession. Twelve received the Dominican habit. With the entrance of 15 postulants in August, approximately 50 sisters are presently in the initial four years of formation. The Congregation now totals nearly 300 sisters, the largest number in its history. With this gift also comes the challenge of providing for the needs of a growing community.

It seems at least in the church the orthodox are winning the culture war.

Closing thought.  There is a very devout woman at our parish named Joan.  She has been active in the parish for decades (In fact she was my wife CCD teacher 35 years ago).  Joan is in her mid 80’s and not only makes mass daily but is involved in multiple parish activities on a regular basis.  I remember her being at that Anniversary Sunday mass months ago and mentioned at the time that she was indistinguishable from any of the nuns in attendance.

Yesterday I noticed Joan was in attendance at the mass with the Dominican Sisters.  Devout though she is nobody in attendance would have mistaken her for one of those nuns.

Update: Welcome readers of the Canon 212 blog. Have a peek around. My first short book on the faith. The Hail Mary as Explained to Protestants, is awaiting the Imprimatur from my local Bishop before I go to publish. If you would like to be notified when it is available fill out the form below and I’ll let you know when I have a release date. I am always accepting prayer requests as well, feel free to leave one even if you don’t want the book


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