by baldilocks

I had a lot of trouble concentrating today, as anyone who follows my Facebook and Twitter feeds already knows. I got up at around two this morning, having “slept” for a few hours—more of a fitful opening and closing of my eyes.

The problem? I have been applying for jobs like crazy for the past few months and the only feedback I received was an “Unfortunately” letter from Trader Joe’s. You’d think that it would be easy to get a job in the present environment—especially for a veteran who can write, think a little bit, and pass a drug test, but it isn’t. I haven’t been looking for a jackpot; just something I can use to keep from scratching, scraping, and begging my readers to help me with. By the way, fans of baldilocks are some of the most wonderful and generous people in existence.

So, as I said, I expressed my frustrations on my accounts and received an avalanche of great ideas, leads, links and at least one solid opportunity.

I’ve kept some information to myself and to personal friends, but I want to let it out here and now. The only reason I’ve remained in California since the loss of my house in December 2014, is to be near my church. Otherwise I’d be in New Mexico near my parents and most of the rest of my family. I love my people dearly (here’s a gratuitous link to one of the writers among that number), but God comes first and when I put Him first, He provides. I’m human and my faith wavers, but it does not fail because I’ve asked Him to help me with it. It’s an ongoing endeavor.

I love to write; here, at baldilocks, and wherever. One of my wonderful friends even gave me an opportunity—a different one than the one mentioned above–to get a well-compensated position as a technical writer. However, it’s necessary to consider that job in the context of why I remained in California. Would I have time for my church? What about time to write in-depth pieces for DaTechGuy and for baldilocks? Unlikely. No doubt, I will have more difficult decisions to make, should the job be offered.

But today, I have faith, just enough for today. Tomorrow, will be time enough for tomorrow’s faith. And so on.

(Thank to FW, CF, and JVS)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

Being a Christian in Hollywood can be difficult. There aren’t a ton of movies being made today that fit in with a believing actor’s moral compass. Moreover, there’s a stigma attached to many actors who willingly profess their faith just as there’s a stigma against conservatives. As such, the average Christian-themed movie is pretty poorly done from a purely critical perspective. The messages can be great, but the delivery can be lackluster. Neither Kirk Cameron nor Nicolas Cage could make one of the most popular Christian book series of all time successful.

The Case for Christ is different. I was shocked when I saw that it received a 77% critical response on Rotten Tomatoes until I realized it was only reviewed by 13 critics. Go figure. Nonetheless, it was encouraging so I took my wife to see it last night. We were familiar with Lee Strobel’s journey from truth-seeking news reporter to truth-seeing evangelist and author, so we didn’t go for the sake of the story. As highly selective adults who have chosen to restrict our movie viewing to ones that fit our worldview (or that at least don’t attempt to trash it), we wanted to see if it was the rare “well made” Christian movie.

We were pleased with the results.

Both the acting and the cinematography were very good. They delivered 1980 about as well as big-budget films, 70s red Camaro and all. Nobody’s going to win an Oscar from this movie, but compared to the poorly crafted Christian movies of today that have good messages but are artistically weak, this was a real winner. Mike Vogel delivered the right mix of skepticism and intellect. He was believable as he struggled in a quest to debunk the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I wasn’t expecting it based upon some of his previous performances in cultural garbage flicks like Cloverfield and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but he found his groove with this role.

While far from being a critical masterpiece, this will hopefully bring more attention to the quality of Christian movies. They don’t have to look like they were made by a high school film studies class, nor does the dialogue have to sound like carefully crafted proselytizing disguised as robotic conversations. There needs to be a gelling of message and art that gets people not only interested in seeing a movie but that compels them to recommend it.

Hollywood is a cesspool of left-wing manipulation of progressive propaganda. As a society, we’ve fought through to make conservative-themed movies like American Sniper and Zero Dark Thirty critical and box office successes. Now we need to do the same for Christian-themed movies.

The Case for Christ is a step in the right direction. We need more of them.

St. Peter’s Church, New York, NY

Please do not be misled by the dishonest anti-Christian media or by urban legends about New Yorkers and New York’s Catholics; see for yourself who these people really are and what they do…

The Roman Catholic Parish of St Peter has a history of nearly a quarter of a millennium in Lower Manhattan and is home to the Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton; Mother Seton is our first American-born Catholic Saint. Saint Peter’s Church is the oldest parish in New York City. This is a true American Roman Catholic Church, that pre-dates the American Revolution, and its community is truly a reflection of what it really means to be New Yorkers.

Here is their Mission:

We are the Roman Catholic parish of St. Peter’s – Our Lady of the Rosary, encompassing
St. Peter’s Church, Our Lady of the Rosary (the Seton Shrine) and St. Joseph’s Chapel
(The Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero).

We are the first Catholic parish in New York State (est. 1785) but our legacy in Lower Manhattan pre-dates the American Revolution. The parish has served as a safe haven both in the past for needy immigrants and more recently for victims and rescue personnel in the wake of 9/11, without regard to religion. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Venerable Pierre Toussaint, who performed many works of charity in this parish, inspire us to a tradition of service to the residents, the many people who work in the area, and the multitude of visitors who come from around the world. We strive to serve our neighborhood in that spirit, with welcome and compassion for all because we are all children of God.

The Church is located just a street away from The World Trade Center, which was attacked by islamic terrorists on February 26, 1993, and, again on September 11, 2001. Via the St. Peter’s website, here is their story about what happened on both occasions:

  • “Prior to September 11th we were accustomed to look at the Twin Towers as the symbol of America’s strength and power in the world of trade, commerce and finance.  But as those buildings turned to dust before our eyes, we came to look to each other to see where our true strength and power lie.  Our true strength was in all those acts of compassion, those deeds of generosity and self-sacrifice that were performed that day and in the days, weeks and months afterward.”    

    – Fr Kevin Madigan

     

    WE WILL NEVER FORGET

    The World Trade Center cast a shadow over the Church of St Peter’s, a street away.  The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 profoundly affected our parish and without a doubt made us stronger and more connected.  Here is an account of how we opened our home and hearts at our three places of worship and how faith helped to resurrect downtown in New York City after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

    ST PETER’S CHURCH AND 9/11 TIMELINE

    At 8:45am, the impact of the first plane hit the first World Trade Center and shook St Peter’s Church with a violence that caused the parish secretary, Patricia Ruggiero, to scream.  She ran outside and took a look at the enormous gash surrounded by flames and billowing smoke. Rushing back inside she called out to the pastor, Reverend Kevin Madigan, that the plane had hit the building.  Fr Madigan looked out the window and saw the almost instantaneous response of fire engines and ambulances, and he hurried out to find out where the wounded were. At 9:03am, Fr Madigan was speaking with the police when the second plane crashed into the South Tower. Debris blew everywhere from the second impact; many larger pieces were on fire.
    “I remember seeing a wheel of the plane fly over my head”, Fr Madigan told American Catholic Magazine.

    Fr Madigan rushed back to St. Peter’s to make sure the staff got to safety and then returned to the street.  He met the Assistant Fire Chaplain and started walking southbound on Church Street when the South Tower began to collapse at 9:59am. Thinking quickly, Fr Madigan led the assistant chaplain down into the nearby subway station where they took temporary shelter with transit police officers and emerged safely after some of the dust had settled.

    When Fr Madigan returned to St Peter’s, he found out the landing gear of one of the airplanes had pierced the roof.

    STAGING GROUND FOR 9/11 RESCUE AND RECOVERY

    Roman Catholics were the most represented faith group of those lost in the attacks.  The parish can’t be certain of all the members of the parish who were lost, since many don’t register but we do know that a lector at St Peter’s and a parishioner at the mission of St Joseph’s Chapel were killed on that day.  After 9/11 far fewer were coming to weekday morning and lunch hour Masses because the roughly 50,000 workers in the towers had to work in new locations

    During these operations, Fr Madigan celebrated Mass, heard Confession and provided pastoral care to rescue workers and those allowed to enter the area.  The church was open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for the workers until the end of October 2001 when martial law was lifted and workers returned to work downtown.

    The doors of St Peter’s stayed open to America’s heroes, and the church transformed into a relief supply station. “We were the first place they were bringing all the emergency equipment. Everything was in disarray,” Fr Kevin Madigan stated. “Supplies were piled six feet high all over the pews, bandages, gas masks, boots, hoses and cans of food for the workers and the volunteers, many of whom were sleeping in the pews on bedrolls.”

    FATHER MYCHAL JUDGE

    Father Mychal Judge OFM, the beloved chaplain of the New York Fire Department, was early to the scene of the disaster, giving absolution and prayers for the wounded and dying.  Late that morning, he was in the North Tower lobby surrounded by rescue workers when the South Tower collapsed.  The force of the building falling on itself blew cement dust and debris at speeds estimated to be 100mph. The impact of the implosion was so violent that parts of the compromised North Tower building fell.  Obscured by the cloud of dust, it was only after the incident that the men nearby saw that Fr Judge had been struck down and killed.  Fr Kevin M. Smith, another fire chaplain from Patchogue, NY blessed the body on curb.  Eventually his body was carried by two firemen, an FDNY medical technician, a police lieutenant and a civilian bystander into St. Peter’s and laid in front of the altar.  Fr Fussner, a priest at St. Peter’s Church noticed that Fr. Judge’s neck was swollen and appeared to be broken.  Resting on the marble, Fr Judge’s body was covered in a white cloth with a fresh stole from sacristy on top and his chaplain’s badge and helmet resting on his chest.  Fr Fussner added that the firemen pulled two of the candles close to either side of his body and a Franciscan friar later pointed out that the resulting pose resembled a bas-relief sculpture of Christ immediately behind the body.  At around 2pm, two Franciscan friars from Fr Judge’s residence carried his body to a fire station across from his residence.

    Fr. Mychal gave the following sermon at a Mass for New York City Firefighters at Engine 73, Ladder 42, Bronx, NY on September 10, 2001:

    You do what God has called you to do. You get on that ring, you go out and do the job. No matter how big the call, no matter how small, you have no idea of what God is calling you to, but God needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us. God needs us to keep supporting each other, to be kind to each other, to love each other.
    We love this job, we all do. What a blessing it is! It’s a difficult, difficult job, but God calls you to do it, and indeed, He gives you a love for it so that a difficult job will be well done.
    Isn’t God wonderful?! Isn’t He good to you, to each one of you, and to me? Turn to God each day — put your faith, your trust, your hope and your life in His hands. He’ll take care of you, and you’ll have a good life. And this firehouse will be a great blessing to this neighborhood and to this city. Amen.

    WORLD TRADE CENTER CROSS

    Two days after the 9-11 attacks, Ground Zero looked and felt like hell on earth.  The ground was scorched, the air held the odor of incinerated building material and felt heavy with the weight of thousands of departed souls.  Long shadows of autumn sun and lights erected to illuminate the wreckage gave the area an amber glow.  Police, firemen, first responders and many volunteers began to search the rubble for a few survivors and scarce remains.  Many of the men who flocked to the site to volunteer were experienced hands that knew how to cut steel and move rubble so the search could continue and the area cleared.

    (Frank Sileccia found the World Trade Center Cross)
    A volunteer construction worker named Frank Silecchia discovered the cross in a carved out area of the pile in the lower core of Building 6.  There he spotted a cross made of steel standing upright.  Fused to one side of the cross was large piece of melted metal that resembled a rumpled cloth which brought to mind the cross and shroud of resurrected Christ.  Frank Silecchia fell to his knees as did many who came to see it later.  Firefighter John Picarello described what he saw in a story published by Christian Broadcast News: “Just the way the sun shone down…it looked like an amphitheater with benches.”  Believers and non-believers came and bowed their heads or knelt.  Many of them came back again and again over the course of eight months to reflect, worship and hope.  Mayor Giuliani remarked that the cross, “kept a lot of people going”, especially those directly involved in the recovery efforts.
    Ten days after the cross was found, Frank Silecchia took Fr Brian Jordan, OFM, a Franciscan priest, to see what he thought was a revelation:  that God had not abandoned us.  Fr Jordan saw it as a sign.  Some time later the men were concerned that in the reconstruction efforts the cross might be taken away to a storage facility or destroyed, so Fr Jordan contacted the mayor’s office.  Mayor Rudolph Giuliani replied quickly that, ‘we will keep that cross as a reminder of God’s love for all of us’.
    Fr Jordan then reached out to Fr Madigan who agreed to host the cross. In October 2006, a group of about 150 workers from the site, relatives of those killed in the attack and onlookers watched over as volunteer workers labored to move the 6,000-lb steel cross three streets and set it down outdoors on the side of the Church at Barclay and Church streets.  People from all over the world and all faiths came to see the cross.  In 2011, the relic, borne of the terrible events of 9-11, was lifted by a crane, loaded onto a truck and taken to its current location at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

    TRIBUTE CROSS

    On August 11, 2011, a new custom cross was installed to stand in the same place on the side of St. Peter’s.  The modern sculpture commissioned by the Archdiocese of New York, was made by artist Jon Krawczyk.  Crafted in Malibu, California, the cross was transported through sixteen states to reach New York.  On the journey, many stopped the artist to inquire about the cross and share a moment of reflection over the events of 9-11.  The “Tribute Cross”, as it is now called, represents the resurrection of the neighborhood.

    ST JOSEPH’S CHAPEL BECAME A FEMA COMMAND STATION

    On September 11, the cloud of dust and ash from the imploding World Trade Center towers also engulfed St Joseph’s Chapel. During the week of the disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated the chapel as a command station.  The Chapel and its furnishings were a great help to the rescue effort and even altar cloths were used as temporary bandages.  Following the rescue operations, the chapel became a temporary sanctuary where construction workers, police offers and firefighters could come to eat, email their families, talk with spiritual counselors and rest from the physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting work at Ground Zero.  The priests of St. Joseph’s continued to celebrate Mass in a gym nearby..

    After opening her arms to so many, the chapel interior suffered extensive damage.  The pulpit, pews and chairs, which were moved outside, were destroyed in a rainstorm.   After a degree of normalcy resumed in the downtown Battery Park City neighborhood, the idea for a Catholic Memorial was brought up in discussions about the need for a renovation. The initial thought was to express the journey of grief and healing the parish had taken as a faith community.  But as we clarified our vision through discussion and prayer, we determined to create a memorial that would respond in a broader way to the event from a Catholic perspective.  The memorial also affirmed our belief that life is stronger than death and love is stronger than hate.

    Fundraising commenced and the Mission of St Joseph’s Chapel received the support of Cardinal Edward M. Egan and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  In a letter, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani wrote, “St Joseph’s Chapel in Battery Park City is creating a Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero to honor those who were lost, and pay tribute to those who responded with such heroism and bravery in the face of mortal danger.”  (Read full letters written by Cardinal Egan, Mayor Giuliani and Fr Madigan.)

    Fr Madigan and a committee of parish leaders commissioned artwork to honor the heroes of 9/11 for “their bravery, sacrifice and love.”  (Details about Catholic Memorial artwork.)

    In May 2005, Cardinal Edward M. Egan held a ceremony to bless the refurbished St Joseph’s Chapel.  Cardinal Egan remarked that, “the memorial affirms the presence of God in a place that has tested the faith of many.”   The completed Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero honors those who died, those who performed heroic and selfless acts on that day, and all of us who survived to bear witness.  The memorial compliments the 9-11 National Memorial and gives visitors an opportunity for prayer and reflection in a quiet sanctuary.


    OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY REACHES OUT TO BRETHREN

    After September 11, 2001, Our Lady of the Rosary held a memorial service for the sixty-seven British and twenty-four Canadian citizens who died in the World Trade Center attack. The church kept its doors open and, for seven Sundays, hosted the services of Trinity Episcopal Church. Trinity had to shut its doors until they were assured the historic building was structurally sound.  Two months later when Trinity held a ceremony at their reopening, they thanked
    Fr Peter Meehan, the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary and Seton Shrine, for the generosity.

    THE FIRST ATTACK IN 1993

    February 26, 1993, a truck loaded with bombs, parked in a public garage below the North Tower of the World Trade Center and exploded.  Terrorists set of the powerful homemade bomb by way of a twenty-foot fuse.  The blast killed six innocent civilians.  The bomb was powerful enough to create a 200 by 100 foot hole in the building.  Approximately a thousand office workers suffered smoke inhalation injuries.  One hundred and twenty four of those injured were rescue personnel.  Seventeen kindergarteners were trapped when the electrical power line was knocked out and one woman in labor was airlifted out of the area to a hospital.

    The terrorists intended for the North Tower to come crashing down and topple the South Tower. Seven men have been convicted for their role in the attack but only six have been caught.

    Many have forgotten the first truck bombing of the World Trade Center in the wake of 9/11.  A son of a victim in the attacks, Stephen Knapp Jr., is quoted in the New York Times:  “It started on Feb. 26, it played out on 9/11, and it is still going on now.”

    Our Parish has not forgotten.  Every February, the families and friends of people who died and those who were injured, hold a memorial Mass at St. Peter’s Church.


  • This account of what transpired on September 11, 2001 and in the aftermath of the attacks has been prepared by parish volunteers.  The research and fact checking continues and will soon include further quotes from our clergy.

May God continue to bless St. Peter’s Church, parish, and people, and may the Good Lord forever bless New York, America, and you as well.

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla of the Resistance at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals – including Siberian Husky Dalmatian Lab Puppies and their parents. Zilla is a proud New Yorker and a parishioner of Saint Denis Church in New York’s Hudson Valley

See also by Zilla at DaTechGuyBlog:

Remembering Saint Scholastica

The majority of things that come out of Washington DC do not require our assistance. President Trump lays down an order, Congress passes a law, or some agency puts out a regulation and the citizenry does what it can to comply. It sounds Draconian but it’s a system that works. Our participation in the republic is to vote in representatives, empowering them to keep order and hopefully assist us in prosperity.

Today’s rumors that Trump is about to take religious liberties onto his plate will, if true, require our actions. He will need our help. Defense of religious liberties has been a hot topic since before the country was even formed and will continue to be a hot topic long after we’ve left this world. That’s the nature of the most polarizing aspect of human existence.

For eight years, faith-minded Americans have witnessed a government that has positioned religious freedom as a form of discrimination. They say that a baker can’t practice her religion in her own private business and must bake whatever cakes people order. They say a wedding photographer must take pictures at an event even if her religion tells him it isn’t really a wedding. They say that religious organizations cannot express their political opinions because they’re a religious organization.

All of these things are (hopefully) about to change under Trump’s administration. If they do, it’s up to us to support it appropriately.

This is a tricky subject. The cultural promotion of religious freedoms isn’t a black and white issue even though it probably should be. We’re going to have to make tough choices in the near future. One of the toughest is acceptance of other religions. The Judeo-Christian faiths are, in my humble opinion, the most accepting of the other religions. We need to take this up a notch if and when religious freedoms are taken up by the administration. True tolerance is accepting that everyone’s religion, even those with values that run contrary to our own, has an equal right in America. There are those who will say, “but we’re a Christian nation.” I agree, but part of being a Christian nation is accepting the commission to spread the Word of God. It doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to accept others of our faith and ignore or reject other faiths. It’s our right in the Constitution to share our faith and it’s a calling in the Bible to do the same.

When Trump makes his move, it will be first positioned by the left as an attack on LGBT rights. Then, it will be positioned as an attack on atheists. Then, the narrative will shift to this being about Christians only and that other religions aren’t going to be allowed to share in the same freedoms. All of these narratives are pre-packaged and easy to fight, but the President cannot fight them alone. Those of us, regardless of personal religious beliefs, who embrace the freedoms that the 1st Amendment grant us must be vocal in our defense. We must support all righteous decisions at all levels of government. Moreover, we must denounce all perversions of the 1st Amendment that attempt to use the freedoms against us. Yes, that’s going to be a thing at some point in the near future. Watch for it.

Between travel bans, walls, and a flurry of executive orders, it will be easy for religious freedoms to get lost in the sea of issues. It’s our duty as Americans, whether we’re religious or not, to defend the rights of individuals and organizations to freely practice their beliefs. This is the battleground that requires us all to take up spiritual arms. It’s time to stand up for what’s right.

Joseph: I forgot what I was supposed to tell him.
Jules:Oh, well tell him he should on no account try to open that cage. Tell him because if he does try to and puts his hand inside of the cage to find out what’s there, he’s liable to be disagreeably surprised.[laughs] Tell him, well that there’s a deadly poisonous snake inside, of the cage. Tell him. [Joseph leaves the room & Re-enters a few seconds later] You didn’t tell him!
Joseph: He knows already.

We’re No Angels 1955

The great Synod Debate continues and my Friend Elizabeth Scalia has reached a point of frustration:

My dear synod fathers, my dear co-religionists, I am a nobody and am the first to admit it—I am shocked to hear myself ask this question. But what if Christ Jesus is rolling his eyes at us because we are still wondering whether people should disperse and go find bread elsewhere, when the True Bread is before us and abundant? What if, as the debate rages over whose hands are clean enough to eat the Food that cannot defile, he is sighing and asking us, “Do you still not understand?”

As have her critics:

That the long-settled question regarding the presentation of Holy Communion to notorious, unrepentant sinners is even up for discussion at this Synod is a tragic scandal. But for this consideration to be promoted by a prominent Catholic writer who has a reputation for orthodoxy? Ms. Scalia … please retract your article.

I very much understand both of their frustrations because the sin they are warning against is spiritual pride, It a sin that terrifies me because it’s an easy sin to fall into and feels so warm on the skin until like Adolph the poisonous snake in the movie it bites you.

Cousin Paul: Still in all I’d feel better if I had a doctor look at it.

Joseph: He Says he’d feel better if a doctor looked at it.

Jules: Oh, He wants to send for a doctor

Albert: Tell him to save his money.

Joseph: He says to save your money that’s good advice take my word for it.

Cousin Paul: I guess you’re right, it stung at first but now I don’t feel a thing 

That’s the nature of spiritual pride, it bites for a second but before you know it you don’t feel a thing. And spiritual pride comes in multiple flavors both being too rigid to see the possibilities and being too willing to bend the rules are two sides of the same coin, but I think the best answer to both comes from the Gospel of Luke:

At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?  By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!  Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?  By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. (So) cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’  He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'”

Luke 13:1-9

This passage is telling. The first paragraph reminds everyone that salvation isn’t like running away from a bear where you just have to be faster than the guy behind you.  Being right on the issue of the Eucharist or having mercy in the heart isn’t going to be enough to get it done.  It’s about finishing the race with Christ at the finish line.

The second paragraph parable reminds us that those who are stuck in mortal sin are worth the extra effort to help them out but it also says something more.

Note what the gardener does in trying to save the fig tree,  He cultivates the ground around it, he fertilizes it.  He doesn’t do anything extraordinary, anything miraculous, he uses the regular methods of any gardener he just gives this tree a little more extra personal attention because that’s what it needs.

Michael Hickborn is correct about not being too keen play fast and loose with the rules. This is well founded remember what a tiny exception did to the protestants at Lambeth in 1930 and we have all seen results of the spin of Vatican II for those whose goals were to change the faith.

Meanwhile Elizabeth Scalia is correct that the call of God to an individual is subtle and we MUST be willing to cultivate and fertilize the ground around them so the call can bear fruit because that is the bottom line of Christianity, the salvation of individual souls. I suspect each of us can tell a story like Elizabeth’s of a person finding the faith and as the Holy Spirit told Peter.  “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.

However the difference between cultivating and coddling is the difference between a person hearing God calling despite their sins, and a person calling God out demanding what he considers his due. It’s the difference between the synod looking for a way to enable those who seek God’s mercy and enabling those who seeking the world’s agenda.

Closing thought, one of my favorite movies is the 1955 classic We’re no Angels.  Starring Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov as three escaped Devil’s island convicts who come to a house and shop to rob it to aid their escape but find themselves instead coming to the aid of the honest husband his devoted wife and their Daughter accidentally causing the end of their tormentors leaving the parents rich and the daughter with a fine young doctor as a suitor and in the end rather than board the boat and escape decide to turn themselves in. The final scene show them walking away back to the camera with halos appearing over their heads.

It’s how God sometimes works, slowly and subtly until in the end they do the right thing.

People who want to find God, who are seeking mercy will find it, it might take a lifetime but they’ll get there.  Those who are looking to justify themselves for their own power, their own glory or to bring down the church will fail in all those counts because that’s how the Holy Spirit works and as Christ said when it comes to his church the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.

I’m a big fan in the truths of the church, we should have faith in this one.

****************************************************************************

The only pay I get for this work comes from you. My goal for 2015 is $22,000.

Given that fact and the discovery that the repairs needed for my car that failed inspection will run between $500-$1000 I would I ask you to please consider hitting DaTipJar.




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I know you can get the MSM for nothing, but that’s pretty much what most of them are worth.

I talked to Joseph Shomali of Shomali Inc at the Catholic Trade show

You can check out Shomali Inc’s products “>here

You will note that he and his wife both left lucrative jobs to go into this importing religious objects from the holy land. One of the things you will find in a lot of these interview is just how many people took leaps of faith away from security to get into either religious business apostolate or writing.

Stacy McCain makes some excellent biblical points in this piece concerning a young lady who with some diabolic help has made some really bad choices 

Can you imagine the insane hatred inside this woman, that she would take a Bible — a gift from her own grandmother! — and make it into such a heinously abusive celebration of degeneracy?

Do you think that people this crazy and hateful are not also in the grasp of a frightening evil? What kind of person do you think would act this way? Nine months later, the same person posted this:

Moreover he points to bad decisions having bad results:

So, five years ago, she began doing tarot card readings, and by November 2014 she’s so sick and crazy she’s soliciting donations to help her get diagnosed to be eligible for federal disability payments. Maybe you think this is all just a coincidence, that Robin’s mental illness and her sexual perversion are unrelated to her blasphemous hatred of God and her dabbling in the occult. Maybe I’m just an ignorant hillbilly Bible-thumper for suspecting that Robin’s misfortunes are not entirely coincidental.

Remembering Christ’s admonition from Luke Chapter 13 verses 1-5

At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?  By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!

Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them  – do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?  By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

…I find it improbable that her physical illness is directly related to these particular bad decisions.

However even if we come to that conclusion concerning aliments physical and / or mental the 2nd half of both of the examples Christ gives are in play here:  “I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did.”

That being the case we are required to pray for Ms. Robin and not just for her conversion in the spirit of (I’m better than her)  but for her physical and mental well being and happiness in the spirit of love for as Christ said

“But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Luke 6:27-28

or as in an earlier testament:

When you come upon your enemy’s ox or ass going astray, see to it that it is returned to him.  When you notice the ass of one who hates you lying prostrate under its burden, by no means desert him; help him, rather, to raise it up.

Exodus 23:4-5

The example of how this young lady’s decisions neither lead to happiness nor peace is an important one, but not as vital as the reminder that she is as much a child of God made in his image as any other person and Christ loves her.

And to those who insist that prayer for her is not worth our time let me leave you with one final verse from Mark 10:27

Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”

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.

 

Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that ‘only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilisations’. You see the little rift? ‘Believe this, not because it’s true, but for some other reason.’ That’s the game,

C.S. Lewis The  Screwtape Letters #23

Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1John 4:1

Back in January 2009 in my 2nd full month of blogging the topic of why you should believe in Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular:

Many people give many different reasons why they are Christian in general and or Catholic in particular. I maintain there is only one valid reason, and that reason should trump any and all others:

Because it’s true.

This should and must be the primary reason for being a Christian. No other trumps it. Christianity and the Church is either true or false, there is no middle ground here.

That the Church is based on truth is completely consistent with Christ’s own words yet Christ also emphasised over and over the need for faith  Faith and reason go hand & hand.  Without faith the church becomes a cold place of just rules and without reason one can fall for everything (there is a reason why the church declares some private revelation “worthy of belief”  and others Constat de non supernaturalitate).

To put it simply as when it comes down to doctrine, belief or even miracles, truth is paramount.

Would that our feminist friends (via Ed Driscoll)  had the same standard to wit:

I can’t state this more emphatically: If Jackie’s story is partially or wholly untrue, it doesn’t validate the reasons for disbelieving her.

— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) December 5, 2014

That comes  from feminist Melissa McEvan who Robert Stacy McCain has described as…

a phenomenon I intend to address at some future time of my choosing.

She continued:

“Discrepancies” is all it takes to convince most of the world Jackie is a liar. Welcome to the rape culture.

Now while this kind of reasoning was, as Glenn Reynolds noted, all the rage in Scottsboro in 1931 at least,  in fairness to Ms. McEvan,  she had a traumatic personal experience that might understandably cloud her reasoning in that direction.

This however is not the case here:

One group of female students said “the rapist” must be expelled. But he hasn’t been found guilty of committing rape, I said. “We know he committed the rape,” one said, with the kind of steely-eyed conviction that recalled (admittedly in a much less lethal context) how KKK members once “knew” that their black victims were guilty of raping local white women.

A male student told me my insistence that individuals suspected of a crime must be fairly tried and found convincingly guilty before we ruin their lives — and being expelled from a prestigious university for rape would undoubtedly be life-ruining — was evidence that I had fallen for the “liberal paradigm” of justice, which tends to benefit white, well-off men. Apparently there is another “paradigm,” a better one, in which women who accuse men of rape are instantly believed and the men in question swiftly and severely punished.

The speeches made by students from the mattress-strewn steps leading up to the beautiful Low Library were chilling. Many focused on the need to believe women who make accusations. “I believe!” they hollered, to cheers from the crowd. This casual assertion of belief in all accusations of sexual assault mirrors the gullible fanaticism of the 17th-century Salem trials,

Or here:

Ultimately, though, from where I sit in Charlottesville, to let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.

Or here

“[The wrongly accused] have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’ ‘Do I have the potential to do to her what they say I did?’ Those are good questions.”

The Irony here is delicious.  The christians of the Catholic Church or as Amanda Marcotte calls us Godbags who the left routinely (and falsely) label as “anti-science”  choose to use a standard of reason, testing for truth when dealing with phenomena that might be considered advantageous to our arguments while Journalists and students attending Universities seem to be basing their beliefs on faith and feelings alone.

I wonder how many of these people who are so ready to believe that one in five women in college are being raped  without question doubt the miracle of the sun at Fatima an event seen by thousands of witnesses?  I submit and suggest if that former figure was true the number of lawyers filing class action suits against every college in the country would be nigh on incalculable.

The reality is feminism like Christianity is a religion.  The other reality is Feminism, unlike Christianity doesn’t have the physical, intellectual or historical evidence to back up its beliefs beyond a tiny but loud niche of humanity that has allies in media and entertainment.

After 2000 years of being under attack Christianity if followed by over 1/5 of the world’s population.  I wouldn’t bet the farm on modern feminism being as successful.

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All you then have to do is to keep out of his mind the question “If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?” You may ask whether it is possible to keep such an obvious thought from occurring even to a human mind. It is, Wormwood, it is!

C.S. Lewis The Screwtape letters

One of the clubs that’s frequently used to discount Christianity in general & Catholicism in particular is the “hypocrisy card” the idea that the commission of and struggles with sin are proof that the entire faith is somehow false and worthy of being dismissed.

Now while a society that does not have the understanding of basic Christianity that it once did,  said society might not realize the entire basis of Christianity is the need for the redemption of sinful man.

A practicing Christian of any denomination has no excuse for ignoring that vital fact and acting accordingly.

I’ve talked about courage as being a vital ingredient to Christian virtue.  To many that statement brings to mind facing an Islamist’s sword when being ordered to convert, facing a lawsuit when refusing to sin or being willing to loudly proclaim their faith in the church in public.

However sometimes a shortage of courage doesn’t involve such dramatic things, sometimes it involves something as small as like facing your priest when you need to confess a sin that’s embarrassing.

Christians sin, sometimes on great matters, sometimes on small matters and sometimes on matters that might to others seems small but still rise to the level of mortal sin or grave sin according to doctrine.  We all know this as rote

But what happens when that person is you.  What happens furthermore when you are a person who knows doctrine, attends daily mass, recognizes a temptation,  understand that temptation is to a grave sin, then commits it anyways?  That realization is an incredible burden.

Not so much for the slings and arrows of those who don’t believe or who dislike Christianity, frankly those are badges of honor and might actually provide relief and distraction from the state of one’s soul, that requires less courage than you might think.

But try facing a priest you know when you’ve committed a sin that embarrasses you.  That’s a different story.  You know in theory the priest doesn’t judge you but you say to yourself.  What must be going through his mind?  He sees you at mass, he sees you pray the rosary, he sees you do devotions, does he think you’re a phony?

And if that’s not complicated enough consider the guidelines for receiving communion per the USCCB (emphasis mine)

As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.

and remember “being embarrassed by your sin” does not constitute a “grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession”.

I found myself in that situation last week and found myself in a quandary.  I had been wrestling with sin and received confession but within a couple of days I was in the same boat.  Because I am familiar with the norms I couldn’t in good conscience receive communion but I still didn’t approach my priest, embarrassed not only by my sin but at how soon after confession I had fallen into it.

I found myself skipping communion one day,  then another.  I couldn’t bring myself to sit in my normal spot at Mass staying in the back.  I felt every eye was on me “Why isn’t HE going up for communion, what did he do?”  Oddly enough the temptation of the primary sin that put me in this mess was gone, it wasn’t needed, that introductory sin  had already roped me into the much more effective and deadly sin of pride which was rapidly joined to despair.  I found myself judging not the others but myself,  judging the sincerity of my own prayers condemning myself and tricking my way toward the only unforgivable sin not seeking and accepting forgiveness that was there for the asking.

It was a trap worthy of the master psychologist who set it for me:

In this state your patient will not omit, but he will increasingly dislike, his religious duties. He will think about them as little as he feels he decently can beforehand, and forget them as soon as possible when they are over. A few weeks ago you had to tempt him to unreality and inattention in his prayers: but now you will find him opening his arms to you and almost begging you to distract his purpose and benumb his heart. He will want his prayers to be unreal, for he will dread nothing so much as effective contact with the Enemy. His aim will be to let sleeping worms lie.

Then an interesting thing happened while I was at mass one morning I noted a person I had seen many times but I had never formally met.  It was a mother with young children.  I had often seen her at daily mass and admired her willingness to make mass daily with young (and sometimes difficult) children in tow.   I remembered how hard that was once a week so her ability to do it nearly daily really impressed me.  So when mass was over I introduced myself complemented her and thanked her for her example.  This  produced a welcome smile on her face as she did her best to control her rather active toddler.

At that point it hit me how small my worries were next to hers and approached the priest near the altar asking if he had time to hear my confession.  By an odd coincidence there was another woman ahead of me who was making the same request.  The priest told me that he would be happy to do so but there were two ahead of me so he suggested I wait in the back of the church till he had finished with his post mass duties and he would hear our confessions in order.

I went to a pew near the back of the church and knelt down in prayer waiting for the priest, a few minutes later started heading for the confessional in the back of the church.  I knew the woman next to me was ahead of me so I turned around to see who was first and that’s when I saw that pious young lady toddler in hand enter the confessional just behind the priest.

I laughed aloud and it was a laugh of relief  This young lady provided me with the final example I needed.  Here I was worrying about how going to confession a few days early would look and here was this woman whose piety I admired taking the sacrament with humility (it hit me that she also had skipped communion staying in the crying room but at the time I presumed it was due to the rambunctious child).  When I got into the confessional I poured out my sins, not just the base one that got the ball rolling but the pride and despair as well.

Father listened intently and gave me one other important perspective.

He talked of the great saints and how they attended confession but not just that they received the sacrament for the sake of receiving it but how they perceived their own sins and how those sins pressed upon them.  While others saw them as examples the more advanced they progressed in the faith, the better their understanding of God the more conscious they were of their own inadequacies and failures like a professional carpenter seeing a beam that’s a 1/32″ off line or a support that’s failing when  an untrained person or amateur eye might not see a thing.  To the casual observer they were the holiest of men and women, to themselves, experienced in the way of Christ & the Church they saw themselves as they were and did not hesitate to ask for the forgiveness and absolution that they needed to progress further.

It’s one thing to know something in your head, it’s another to have the understanding written on your soul.

I left that confessional in tears from the joy of absolution and with the knowledge that the relief & release I was feeling from my sins was the very same as the great saints whose path each one of us are called to follow and that young woman will likely never know how she helped me back on the path I needed to be.

Without question the Lord works in mysterious ways.