As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see Harris’ camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on. When we reached a point from which the valley below was in full view I halted. The place where Harris had been encamped a few days before was still there and the marks of a recent encampment were plainly visible, but the troops were gone. My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards

US Grant Memoirs 1885

At the Witness for the Church blog author Barona notices something consistent with a point I’ve been making for a while concerning how Pope Francis’  words are being reported”

Pope Francis: “children…not even allowed to be born…” ~ Why is the Holy See Press Office censoring the Holy Father?

He goes into more detail:

They were busy away distorting the Pope’s words last October 3rd,  when he addressed the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe. At that time, The Holy See Press Office released thisdocument. But the actual words of the Pope were these. The Pope also spoke these critical words that are totally missing from the Holy See Press Office’s official document: 

Europe has discarded its children. A bit triumphantly. I remember that when I was studying in one country the clinics that did abortions then prepared everything to send it to cosmetic factories. Makeup made with the blood of innocents. And this was something to brag about, because it was progressive: the rights of the woman, the woman has the right over her body.


Once again, to find the true mind of the Holy Father I am forced to search about the Holy See’s website in Italian. One will notice that texts are not being translated into major languages. Catholics are not receiving the teachings of the Pope. This is intolerable! This is a scandal! 

Now he blames this on a corrupt Vatican press office pushing a false agenda (he points to said office as the reason why the press got the wrong idea at the Synod of the family) but while this is certainly possible there, one should not that there have been plenty of orthodox moments that WERE available in English that the press has simply ignored.

I suspect there is a cause that he is missing that is easily explained:

If there is one thing Pope Francis has managed to do is get positive press from a western media that is almost uniformly anti clerical and certainly anti-catholic (at least any Catholic that, you know actually believes in what the church teaches).  This holy father has been a notable exception to the point where some conservatives have actually bought the liberal line that the post is planning to remake the church in their image.

The reality is this Pope emphasizes mercy & forgiveness and confession but all of these things presuppose sin that needs to be forgiven and changed

I suspect the real driver here is cowardice.   A fear that if Francis’ words actually get out to the English Language press, suddenly all the favorable press will evaporate as the leftist media considered their hopes betrayed and this pope will be attacked as savagely as the Pope Emeritus.

One would think that they would have trust in the Holy Spirit but that if that is not the case perhaps they should consider the quote by US Grant that this piece leads with and remember that they press is much more afraid of Francis then the Vatican press office should be of them.

Consider, in an age where right and wrong, good and bad, proper and improper are based on race, ancestry and where you are from does the western press REALLY want to spend their time attacking the first Pope from Latin America who is universally loved by a whole continent?

And remember in the US where every single pol is courting the “Latin” vote who wants to be the first pol to attack Pope Francis for condemning abortion, for emphasising marriage as it has always been, for describing the sanctity of the Eucharist?  How well would that play with people who share a primary language with the Holy Father?  How much time would it take for any such pol to have radio ads in spanish played against them in their district?

That moment terrifies them and they will do all they can to avoid it.

So let me close by suggesting said office takes this bit of advice from President Grant to heart:

This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards

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Hologram Geordi Laforge: Something’s severed the ODN conduit between here and the antimatter storage deck.
Counselor Troi: Geordi, could you repair the ODN conduit if you went into the crawlspace?
Hologram Lt. Worf: Sir, that crawlway is in a warp-plasma shaft. He would never survive the radiation.
Counselor Troi:   I know that. Geordi, could you repair the conduit?
Hologram Geordi Laforge:  Yeah, I think I could.
Counselor Troi:   Then do it. That’s an order.

Star Trek TNG Thine Own Self 1994

 oh, that abominable advantage of the Enemy’s!

CS Lewis  The Screwtape Letters #1

If there is one thing that everyone can relate to is having to do something that’s necessary but you really would rather not.

How many times have you not wanted to get out of bed to go to work or school?  How often have you done chores from laundry to dishes to mowing the lawn to taking out the trash that you don’t really want to do?

There are more serious examples, you don’t go to the doctor to check out that pain or cough because you’re afraid of what might go wrong?  You have something unpleasant to tell your wife, kids or parents that you would rather not but you know if something isn’t done.

Then there are dirty jobs or jobs that take one away from home.  Trash collectors, oil riggers, people who work in sewers, long haul trucking.  One might  enjoy the financial rewards but these jobs involve a lot of time and effort

And then there are the things that are dangerous.  Miners and fishermen put themselves at risk in their jobs  Things that put you at risk that have to be done for the greater good.  Soldiers, Police, Firemen routinely enter dangerous situations for the greater good.

The necessity of doing things unpleasant, distasteful or even dangerous is a most human thing.

And that takes us to the Garden of Gethsemane

He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”

Matthew 26:39

It’s one of the most moving moments in Scripture and in the movie Passion of the Christ it is illustrated with great effect:

It is also an incredible illustration of the fully human yet fully divine nature of Christ.

His divine nature means he knows what that he will suffer personally a price his human self will have to pay

So he does an act that’s fully human, he pleads with the Father for a way to get around this.

But while he is fully human he is also fully God, the God of justice and mercy.  His justice demands that the price for sin must be paid yet in mercy & love he knows billions of people that he loves will, if they wish, be reconciled to him, but only if he pays that price.

Furthermore consider this line from CS Lewis’ book Miracles:

“To Him all physical events and all human acts are present in an eternal Now” 

If that is the case that he KNOWS that every single bit of torture, from the single strike across the face at his trial, to his scourging to his hours on the cross is something he will perpetually perceive even unto to the end of time and beyond.

It’s a price greater than we can even imagine and that’s where his human nature comes into play one last time.

Christ’s fully human nature gives him free will, the freedom to decide:  “Shall I do this horrible thing that I will suffer and perceive for all eternity for the love of the father and of humanity or shall I not?”

There are many aspects of Christ’s life in scripture that are used to illustrate Christ’s humanity.  We hear about Christ’s sadness at Lazarus’ death, his anger at the temple, his hunger during the 40 days of fast and even his cursing of the fig tree that had no fruit for him.

But I’d like to think most human moment of Christ’s life is when he looks at this thing that’s completely necessary for the greater good that he doesn’t want to do, that he’s horrified to do and does it anyway because it needs to be done.

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IN the midst of the campaign to paint Pope Francis as a liberal icon no words have been used as a weapon than the phrase: “Who am I to judge?” when referring to gay people.

Of course our friends on the left take the phrase is taken out of context because if you include the whole thing he said:

“A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will — well, who am I to judge him?” the pope said. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says one must not marginalize these persons, they must be integrated into society. The problem isn’t this (homosexual) orientation — we must be like brothers and sisters. The problem is something else, the problem is lobbying either for this orientation or a political lobby or a Masonic lobby.”

then it becomes impossible to spin this as support for gay culture, gay marriage or as a trick to pull some conservatives away from the church.

Well this week the Slovakians went to the poll to affirm an already existing ban on Gay marriage & adoption in their constitution and our liberal friends are in full spin mode:

Votes counted from 87.23% of the central European country’s voting districts showed turnout of just 21.07%, the statistics office said, far from the legal limit and well below expectations.

It makes sense of course that the left is crowing about people not turning out enmasse on a single issue referendum meant to affirm a law already on the books, after all if you have no prayer of actually wining a vote you can take pretend that those who didn’t vote are with you. Brut while the media plays the low turnout on a single issue referendum they don’t speak much about the results:

Around 90% of those who took part in the vote said yes to the referendum’s three questions: whether marriage can only be a union of a man and a woman, whether same-sex couples should be banned from adoptions, and whether children can skip classes involving education on sex and euthanasia.

Yes you read that right 90% of the population voted against, but that’s not news and apparently neither is this:

Pope Francis offered his support this week to pro-family Slovaks who have championed a referendum this Saturday to outlaw “gay marriage” and adoption of children by same-sex partners.

In his weekly general audience on Wednesday, during the section where the pope normally greets different nationalities, Francis said, “I greet the pilgrims from Slovakia and, through them, I wish to express my appreciation to the entire Slovak church, encouraging everyone to continue their efforts in defense of the family, the vital cell of society.”

In his address, the pope continued his weekly catechesis on the family by speaking about the figure of the father. Naming as the ideal St. Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary, Francis said, “Every family needs a father.”

It is the father’s role to teach children “to feel and act, speak and judge with wisdom and righteousness.” The “wise” and “mature” father corrects mistakes and gives “a testimony of rigor and firmness.”

Odd in the midst of all the Alabama gay marriage news I didn’t see the US media go long on the Pope’s support of the winning side here only a post at the Huffington post gay voices section.

Why is this not news? Because no matter how much the left spins the popularity of Gay Marriage it can’t be spun to be more popular than the Pope who opposes it openly and the left is still openly fearful of attacking the first Latin American Pope who is extremely popular with almost every native Spanish Speaker in the western hemisphere.

So with the Holy Father getting ready to visit the US and to address congress it’s going to be interesting to see how the left manages especially those Democrats in congress so vocal in their support for the subject.

Wondering what the Super Bowl and Pope Francis have to do with each other?  Nothing, but I had to get your attention somehow, because today is the Holy Grail of party days.

While I hope you will enjoy today’s game, maybe by tomorrow you’ll come down to earth (depending on who wins the game, of course), and want to ponder the latest utterance of Pope Francis.

Even though I’m Catholic, I rarely visit most Catholic blogs anymore.  They all seem to be either of the “happy-clappy” – everything is fine in the Church” persuasion, or “the Church is falling into the depths of hell and Pope Francis is a Marxist/Communist/Fascist” camps.

Neither view is correct.

While the Pope has defended orthodox Catholic teaching since the beginning, he does have an unhappy inclination to say things that make people sit back and think, “Whoa”, including non-Catholics.

There are those who wish to undermine the teachings of the Church.  These people have been around since the beginning of the Church.  No surprises from them.

I might add that these same people rarely even know the teachings of the Church, and that includes those who consider themselves “real” Catholics.

Then we have the non-Catholics who latch onto any unfortunate utterance from the Pope, so they can declare the Church to be finally entering the 21st century.  Needless to say, they don’t understand Church teaching, either.

Let me take just a moment to sum up what the Pope is not going to change: If you plan on holding your breath for the Church to condone same-sex “marriage”, say okay to contraceptives, allow divorce with no ramifications, and welcome all to the Holy Eucharist, well, you may also want to plan your funeral because you will surely pass away from lack of oxygen.

I have a much better idea.  How about spending some time in prayer for the Holy Father if you’re Catholic, and if you’re not Catholic, spend time in prayer for your favorite Super Bowl team?  It will be a lot more productive than carping and quoting the Pope out of context, and with no understanding of doctrines of the Church.

And stay away from “Catholic” blogs if you wish to protect your faith.

 

 

Glenn Reynolds has linked Elizabeth Scalia’s piece on the great Vagina wars but while it was an amusing piece the real big news came from a different piece at her site where the media’s favorite Pope continues to act, well Catholic:

“I think of Blessed Paul VI,” he said. “In a moment of that challenge of the growth of populations, he had the strength to defend openness to life.”

In 1968, Pope Paul VI released the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which upheld Catholic teaching on sexuality and the immorality of artificial contraception, predicting the negative consequences that would result from a cultural acceptance of birth control.

“He knew the difficulties that families experience, and that’s why in his encyclical, he expressed compassion for particular cases. And he taught professors to be particularly compassionate with particular cases,” Pope Francis said.

“But he went further. He looked to the peoples beyond. He saw the lack and the problem that it could cause families in the future. Paul VI was courageous. He was a good pastor, and he warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching, and from the heavens he blesses us today.”

What!  Pope Francis attacking contraception and calling Pope Paul VI correct?  Why what will our liberal friends think, before you know it he’s be critiquing Gay Marriage or something:

“The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life,” warned Pope Francis, speaking Friday

I have the odd feeling this is not going to be much press in the MSM.

I wonder why?

 

 

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

Attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours — and the more ‘religious’ (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.”

C.S. Lewis The Screwtape letters VII

One of the oldest teachings of the church is the danger of the sin of pride.  It is listed as the first of the deadly sins.  It a sin that damned Angels and regularly damns men.

The irony and the danger of this sin is the clever ways that the Devil uses it to strike.  One of the most clever cards played is using the difference between a wrong opinion (completely not sinful) and a wrong action (very very sinful).

There are plenty of faithful catholics, who attend mass, who receive the sacraments who might, on a personal level, disagree with a particular doctrine or teaching of the church.

A great example of this came from the late Synod on the family where several Cardinals expressed their opinion that the church should consider revising the rules concerning how the church deals with divorced & remarried catholics.

By its nature a synod or a council is a place of debate and man being a thinking and reasoning creature will naturally analyze situations and come to conclusions based on experience, thus while I disagree with Cardinal Kasper’s opinion on the subject I presume that he was advancing this opinion from pure motives:

It could very well be that Cardinal Kasper and those like him truly believe relaxing the rules for communion on divorced and/or gay couples will win souls for Christ, it may be they consider such moves reforms in the best tradition of the mercy of Christ, while I strongly disagree with this foolishness I presume that’s a question of error rather than sin.

Now as long as this is expressed as part of the synod debate or given as a private personal opinion that opinion is not in itself sinful or even written as an argument that’s not a problem and that’s one of the two traps for the faithful,

In the example above PolBECath was quite correct that the Cardinal was lying concerning a recorded statement.  (If you don’t know the story you need to read this this and this).  However to call him a “heretic” is the trap that is being laid for us who strongly disagree with the Cardinal’s opinion

A “Heretic” is defined at Meriam Webster.com as:

a dissenter from established religious dogma; especially :  a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church who disavows a revealed truth

While Cardinal Kaspar’s actions concerning the Pentin matter were objectively sinful,  his opinions concerning how do deal with divorced Catholics, expressed as such, does not and will not cross over to  heresy until and unless he

1.  Disavows or defies the current teaching/doctrines of the church

2.  Uses his authority as a prince of the church to teach and encourage others to defy the current doctrine of the church.

3.  Proclaims as a prince of the church that the doctrine and teaching of the church is in error.

As long as he doesn’t cross that line not only is he not a “heretic” his opinion doesn’t even constitute a sin and thus judging him a “heretic” would be committing both the sin of calumny, the sin of “judging” and the sin of pride.

Now let’s say he crosses the line, let’s say that the church decides, as it is likely to do,  to maintain the current rules concerning communion for divorced catholics following the wise advice of the five Cardinals.  If and when this happens if Cardinal Kaspar or Cardinal Reinhard Marx or others choose to defy said teaching, they would at that point, in fact be committing the sin of heresy.

And if they did so and did not choose to repent then they would be modern versions of Luther and Henry VIII substituting their judgement for that of the Holy Spirit and the church it guides, no different that a Georgia Walker in Kansas or so-called  “Bishop” Bridget Mary Meehan.

The consequences of substituting your judgement for the church’s judgement are dire.  One of my biggest regrets was accepting advice directly contrary to the teaching of the church from a priest who gave it to me went to him with a problem.  You not only sin, you lead others into the same swamp.

But even if they do this and earn the critique or even excommunication from the church that doesn’t mean the Devil will not be setting the trap of pride for those who do not copy their errors as Christ himself warned us:

He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.

The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’  

I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

Remember these sins and errors are no different than any other, completely forgivable by sacramental confession.  Even one who is excommunicated can return to full communion with Rome (Fr. Leonard Feeney being an excellent example of this.)  The trick is, rather patting oneself on the back is to approach God with the humility of the sinners we all are.

Set as your goal to speak, write, live and pray toward the goal of salvation for ourselves and others.  In doing so we will be avoiding the Prideful traps set for us and work for the day, where as St. Pope John Paul II wrote That They May Be One.

 

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.

Thomas Jefferson

Repentance must precede the right of pardon, and I have not repented

Jefferson Davis 1881.

What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw [in Hell] . But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.

The diary of Saint. Sr. Faustina Kowalska section 741

 

Yesterday I wrote about Divine Mercy and the sense of frustration that I suspect Christ feels at people refusing to accept the mercy that is offered.

The concept of Mercy is something that we are all familiar with.  In culture, books movies television & song mercy is a topic.  From our childhood  when we misbehaved & asked our parents for it, to the police officer that we hope will give us the warning instead of the ticket we all know about either asking for, or being asked to show mercy.

Mercy is considered a great virtue but in all cases there is one determining factor if it is appropriate, the concept of justice.

The  various moral laws and rules exist to encourage right behavior.  It is for the sake of Justice that a price is paid for violating those laws.  If mercy is granted without acknowledging justice then it is not mercy, it is licence and moreover its licence for things that are self-destructive to the individual, and to society.

The theme of Justice vs Mercy is again one that plays often in culture.  Sometimes leaning toward Mercy:

11th Doctor: But they coming back, don’t you see? Every time I negotiate, I try to understand. Well, not today. No. Today, I honour the victims first. His, the Master’s, the Dalek’s, all the people who died because of my mercy!

Amy: You see, this is what happens when you travel alone for too long. Well, listen to me, Doctor. We can’t be like him. We have to be better than him.

Doctor Who A Town Called Mercy 2012

and sometimes Justice:

Clara: Old friend, is she? If you have ever let this creature live, everything that happened today, is on you. All of it, on you. And you’re not going to let her live again.
12th Doctor: Clara, all I’m doing is not letting you kill her. I never said I was letting her live.
Clara:  Really?
12th Doctor:  If that’s the only thing that will stop you, yes.
Missy/The Master: Seriously. Oh, Doctor. To save her soul? But who, my dear, will save yours?

Doctor Who  Death in Heaven 2014

It can be a tough call, if a kid shoplifts and he doesn’t pay a price, will he be persuaded to stop shoplifting?  If your brother blows is money wastefully & you bail him out of his hole without cost, will he just blow his dough again?  If a boyfriend or spouse cheats and you instantly forgive without even a request why would they not break faith again?  If a gang member or a person of privilege a slap on the wrist will they every change their ways?

It’s the same dynamic with God.  He gives us, as a visiting priest to our parish once put it,  laws because they are good, not the other way around and if we live that way, loving God and neighbor our lives will be better, otherwise  not only will our lives and those around us will be worse, but justice demands a price be paid.

And that’s what those who say:  “I don’t believe a just God would allow the tortures of Hell.”  have it exactly backward.  In the same way life would be meaningless if we didn’t have free will to choose the right or not so would that choice between right and wrong be meaningless without consequence.

Without hell, man has a God of licence not justice.

Yet because God is in fact a God of justice he can also offer mercy.  Since that justice is heavy so too is the price to mitigate it ad it’s to pay that price that Christ became man, suffered and died.  He did the heavy lifting giving so even the worst of us could have the opportunity to receive mercy for even the most horrible of sins.

And with the heavy lifting done, all that’s left for us is the simple acknowledgement of said sacrifice by the act of baptism augmented  by the sacrament of confession which can be repeated as necessary over and over again no matter how many times we fail to obtain the mercy offered.

Yet just like Jeff Davis after the civil war who refused to apply for pardon the simple act of repentance,  that baptism or confession,  involves the acknowledgement of a reality that’s more than their pride can bear.

So while the God of mercy offers it at an astonishingly low price and even gives man their entire life to pay it, many, in fact most will exercise the choice that comes from their freedom and reject it until the time comes when it is too late.  Then they will discover once and for all that the free rejection of God’s mercy is the free acceptance of God’s justice.

There is a reason pride is the first of the deadly sins.

And that’s why you should pray so hard, especially at the hour of mercy (3 PM) for the salvation of souls, even the smallest one will make a difference.

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For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation;  but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:5b-6

 

On Monday I was reading a bit from the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska.  The revelation to her has led to, not only the institution of Divine Mercy Sunday the week after Easter,  but the practice of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at Divine Mercy Chapels worldwide.  This is not only a spectacular triumph over the forces of evil but a great example of what can be done when one is willing to be dedicated to the words of Christ.

However considering the words of said diaries and the revelations therein that I’ve read thus far there is one thing  I’ve perceived that is absolutely painful to read.

Frustration!

The frustration is not so much that people are unaware of the Mercy of God, although St Sr. Faustina was specifically tasked to promote and propagate said mercy, it’s that so few people take advantage of it.

Here you have Christ, God himself,  while remaining fully God becoming man and suffering torture and death for the sins and people don’t bother to take advantage of that sacrifice to be forgiven.

And when Christ says he will forgive sins he means it.  It doesn’t matter what your sin is,  Mass Murder,  Genocide, Rape, Theft on a global scale that sin can be forgiven.  No sin is so large that the blood of Christ and the divine Mercy of God can not forgive it.

Yet people don’t bother.

And it’s not like it’s a difficult procedure either.  If you are a non-christian who has never been baptised it’s incredibly easy.   The act of baptism cleans  ANY & ALL sins from the soul, period!

Even if you are an ISIS terrorist who has been killing and raping his way across the Middle East.  Even if you are an Imam who has been calling for the murder and rape of infidels.  Even if you have spending your entire life doing all you can to disparage God and to persecute the church, the simple act of Baptism changes everything.  Every single sin you have committed to that point, from a simple white lie, to mass murder is washed away.  Forgiven, forgotten  forever.

If you have previously been baptised it’s not very hard either.  There are over 417,000 Priests and Bishops in the world.  Each and every one of them can administer the sacrament of Confession.

Thanks to the nature of the Sacrament of Confession said forgiveness is not even contingent on the perfect contrition for sins due to the love of God, even imperfect contrition due to the fear of hell is good enough to get you absolution.

Nor does committing the sin at a later time preclude you from absolution.  Temptation will always exist but as long as at the time of confession you sincerely regret your sin and intend to not commit it again you will be forgiven!

Two minutes of your life for complete forgiveness,  people spend more time that waiting in line for a coffee…and they don’t do it.

Every moment of life,  the hand of forgiveness is offered and every day people refuse it, ignore it or put it off.

I could be wrong but I think this is the greatest pain that Christ suffers.

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There are less than 60 days to the year and to say things are tight financially around here is to say the Titanic had a bit of a leak .

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