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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas, by the numbers

There's a doubter in every crowd. In my family, there's no exception to that rule.  It's okay though, the Holy Spirit keeps leading me to amazing sources of wisdom and strength (The Holy Family, St. Thomas aka Didymus, Ss. Augustine, Monica, and Mary Magdalene, Abp Fulton Sheen and Peter Kreeft to name but a few) to bind up what needs to be bound and to loose whatever needs to be loosed.

This fancy pearl came to me today as I was listening the Bp Sheen's "True Meaning of Christmas" and I thought the mathematical probability would be a lovely gift to you on this Merry Christmas....

Did you know that there were somewhere in the neighborhood of not 5, not 10 but 456 prophecies regarding the Jewish Messiah, the Christ, Savior, Vanquisher of Evil, establisher of the New Covenant  That's an impressive figure. The probability of one Individual fulfilling just five of those prophecies would be one in a million.  What's the figure of one Person fulfilling all 456 of them?  Ready?  Here goes:


Pretty amazing isn't it. 

O Come, let us adore Him. 


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How the "O Orien Antiphon" Guides us in Phoenix Today

"O dawn of the east, brightness of light eternal, and sun of justice: come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death".  This is the O Antiphon of the day - orien meaning dawn.  And yes, I'm guessing this is where we derive the words orient, orientation, oriental in case you're like me and what to go play around with these later.

We need surety about a few things. As a human community, we rely on certainties such as sunrise and sunset so that we can maintain an order about life. Our cycle of life sort of depends on this basic natural phenomenon.  Imagine how lost our agricultural system would have become if we did not have this simple assurance of the daylight cycle. This would be true of every environmental system that relies on the sun - which is all of them.  We need light.  We need enlightenment. We need God's eternal brilliance to drag us out of darkness.

We got that here in Phoenix today, loud and clear from our beloved Bishop Olmsted. We are people who have sat in darkness & the shadow of death.  We were led astray perhaps by powerful, feted and fatted institutions who we thought were protecting and preserving our most vulnerable when in fact they were not.  It is time for light. It is now the time to wake from sleep.

I've attached the Bishop's press conference from earlier today.  Please pray for him and for all who are involved in this situation. And when you get a chance, please thank him for doing exactly what he was called to do:  "To be faithful to Jesus Christ and His Church".

May we all continue to be as courageous for the right to life.

News Conference at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, Dec. 21, 2010 from Diocese of Phoenix on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prepare Ye The Way for Beautiful Sacred Music

Go check out the following link Prepare the Way for Simple Propers over with our friends at the Chant Cafe (Plainsong Latte no whip)  and then come back and celebrate with this fun bit by the Silent Monks.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

St. Bernadette and the Immaculate Conception

Like so many things that arrived late on the scene in my Catholic formation, the Marian Dogmas were probably the last things to really be settled for me as a convert from the Lutheran tradition.  The story of how I finally came to know the Immaculate Conception is rather humorous and occurred at the parish that bears the name of the little Saint born in Lourdes who met her under this title.

My pastor, at the time, knowing me for the impetuous ham that I can be at times, asked me to "perform" a 15 minute biopic of St. Bernadette for our upcoming Feast Day celebration. It was a big acting role to be written, directed and starred in by me in front of my parish.  I was a bit ignorant of the life and times of our patroness however I was up for the challenge.  I must admit, I was awestruck by her still, uncorrupted beauty that has mystified religious and scientific communities.  I threw myself into the task.   I read books, studied photographs and watched the classic black and white film that is still floating around today.  I decided that a simple peasant look with hair tucked into a headscarf would be the Marie Bernadette Soubirous that I would portray.

I practiced for what seemed to be an eternity.  I memorized 16 index cards full of material. I pulled off a fairly convincing French-country brogue.  I became little Bernadette.

Performance day arrived after weeks of self-rehearsals.  (Family is very happy about this).  After delivering the entire monologue sans notecards or cheat sheets in front of a few hundred folks (thank you MSU Dramatic Arts dept for the ONE acting class I took), I rushed out of the church and praised God from my little, almost-french heart.

"Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Oh Thank you Jesus, I DID IT!  It's OVER!"

One problem.  Clip on microphone was still attached to peasant outfit.

So this little Saint of Lourdes had the last laugh. Mission accomplished.  Did I do all of that work for an Oscar or Emmy?  Does anyone even remember it? Probably only the lucky soul who had to come tell me that I still had a hot mic on.  No, our Dear Blessed Mother in her maternal wisdom knew that I needed this unique introduction into her immaculate heart. St. Bernadette herself introduced me to The Immaculate Conception and I am grateful to her for this.

Since I'm not a theologian, and I didn't sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, I thought it might be neat to reprint those index card contents for you here so that you can meet her the same way that I did.

St. Bernadette Soubirous
"I was born Jan 7, 1844 in Lourdes, in the southern part of France.
2 days later I was baptized Marie Bernadette Soubirous but everyone knows me as Bernadette.

I had a happy home life despite frequent bouts with asthma.  Mama always worried about me and kept me at home a lot which was in a small basement room of an old prison.  It was like a dungeon.  I was the oldest of 9 children.  Only 4 of us survived to adulthood. While most of my time was spent helping Mama around the house, what I wanted more than anything in the world was to receive my Catechism. Sadly, I was not a very bright student.  I struggled with reading and writing.  Most people thought that I was lazy or stupid or maybe both.

Papa was a miller but his business didn't do very well.  He gave away more flour than he sold.  He felt sorry for the hungry people who couldn't pay. He took odd jobs for low pay. Some days we went without food.  Even though there were days we went with only bread or no food at all, me and my little brothers founds ways to have fun and joke with each other.  Mama and Papa were very good people.  They gave us all that they could.  

I was 14 years old when the Beautiful Lady appeared at the grotto of Masabielle.  She was young and so lovely -  so much so that when you have seen her once you would willingly die to see her again. She appeared 18 times in all from February 11, 1858 to July 16th of that same year.  It was not until her 16th visit that she told me who she was...


So many did not believe in my Lady. The authorities tried to put us in jail.  Many of the townspeople laughed and thought I was crazy. Some just felt sorry for us.  This all changed over time.

In our conversations, the lovely Lady told me many things.  Some were really wonderful and other things were so sad that I was moved to tears.  Still other things were secrets of things that have not yet come to pass.

She made requests of me:
1) for people to process to the grotto and for a chapel to be built there
2) that all of us pray for sinners
3) for all of us to repent so that we can grow closer to Her Son

She also told me that happiness could not be promised in this life; only in the next.

At the age of 22 I chose my life's ambition and dedicated myself to Christ as a sister. For 12 years, 3 months and 18 days, I was a sister of Charity and Christian Instruction in Nevers, France. I received so many graces that I felt this was the one way that I could really say "thank you" to Our Lord and Our Lady. I never felt that grace could be earned.  It is truly a pure gift from God.

I was ill for most of my 12 years in the convent. I was given Last Rites four times and miraculously recovered from three of my worst potentially fatal episodes.  I suffered from tuberculosis, an abscessed tumor, and severe bone decay.  I was tortured with my own sense of personal sin and imperfection and I found my only comfort in knowing what Christ did for me on the cross.  For Him I would gladly take up my own.

As I conclude my time with you here I would urge to believe in the Lord and His great mercy.  His love endures forever.  And always persevere in times of suffering and affliction.  You are never alone. Your joy is in God's enduring love.  Live for Him only, everywhere and always.

May God abundantly bless you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

When in doubt-Cry out!

Christy and I were at a retreat back in the fall & our leader showed the above video.  Needless to say, I was moved by this portrayal of a father and son caught together in a rain storm.  Naturally, this is a metaphor for how our Father demonstrates his love for us.   It is particularly meaningful as an advent reflection.

You see, God loves us so much; and just like the father in this video, He would do anything to get us home. This includes taking on our flesh as a little baby and being born among us to live with us as a brother.  God loves us so much that he doesn't want us to ever be separated from Him.  That's why he came. He came as one of us. What a brilliant plan.  The most brilliant plan ever created.  We rejected God and refused His divine advances. We rejected Him over and over and over again. Being The Creative Genius, he devised an inside job to take us by surprise and win us back to his Kingdom. He became a tiny, dependent, swaddled, needful, helpless, human infant. We would learn how to love this God of ours because He came as Love enfleshed.  He would not only be hold-able but touchable, huggable, mother-able, edible, drinkable, sentient. God with us.  "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us".

Those words at the end of the video?  They are meant for me and for you...
"I love you!  We're gonna make it.....Dad knows the way home."
What a plan.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

All beasts wild and tame praise the Lord

Thanks Robbie, for this musical treat.  I found that the animal choristers featured above  dovetailed nicely with the Gospel for this 2nd Sunday in Advent...enjoy. 

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
but he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.
On that day, the root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
the Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dear Steve Jobs,

(please feel free to take this or any portion of this and send it to
Mr. Steve Jobs
Apple, Inc.

Dear Mr. Jobs,

We were disappointed to learn that Apple has pulled the Manhattan Declaration app from its app store. We are writing to urge you to promptly restore the Manhattan Declaration app.

As you may know, the Manhattan Declaration is a non-partisan statement of conscience supporting the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and religious freedom and the rights of conscience. The Declaration was issued by more than 150 religious leaders representing a broad spectrum of Christian denominations: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Church of God in Christ, African Methodist Episcopal, and many more. To date, nearly half a million supporters have joined them as signatories. 

As you will immediately see if you read the Manhattan Declaration, it is written in respectful language, and it engages the beliefs of those who differ in an honest, thoughtful, and civil manner. It is entirely free of rancor, name-calling, or offensive rhetoric. It restates, firmly but without animosity towards anyone, central moral teachings of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical Protestant traditions deriving from the biblical witness and the tradition of rational reflection and argumentation that has marked Christian moral philosophy from ancient times to the present day. 

We do not know exactly why the app was pulled, as we have yet to receive any explanation from Apple, but we assume that it was the result of pressure brought to bear by some who, for blatantly ideologically partisan reasons, claim that the Manhattan Declaration is bigoted, or otherwise offensive. We hope that you will see how wrong it would be to let one side shut down the opposing side in a debate by slandering their opponents with prejudicial labels such as "bigot" or "homophobe."

When Apple approved the Manhattan Declaration app, Apple rated it a 4+--free from objectionable material. Apple’s original rating was accurate: While many may disagree with the Manhattan Declaration’s positions on the sanctity of human life or the nature of marriage, no one can reasonably or fairly claim that the Declaration’s presentation of its position was anything other than reasoned, civil, and respectful of those who hold other positions. If the Manhattan Declaration’s positions are enough to have its app removed, then we wonder if Apple is considering removing other Bible-based—or even Jewish or Islamic—apps from its store. There is nothing in the Manhattan Declaration that is not also clearly stated in the teachings of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the majority of Protestant Christian denominations, Orthodox Judaism, and other faiths. Are these faiths to be defamed as "bigoted" and excluded from having apps? 

Certainly Apple has every interest in ensuring that the apps it offers be free from pornography and abusive and defamatory language. At the same time, as an organization that wields enormous cultural power, Apple should also want to offer apps that contribute to reasoned debate over important social and religious issues.

And it is in that spirit of civil public dialogue that we urge you and Apple to restore the Manhattan Declaration app to the iTunes and iPhone application store.


Charles Colson, The Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Dr. Robert George, Princeton University
Dr. Timothy George, Beeson Divinity School 

Thursday, November 25, 2010


"What language shall I borrow
to thank Thee Dearest Friend
for this Thy dying sorrow
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever
and should I fainting be
Lord let me never, never
outlive my love to Thee"

The words of this hymn are attributed to the 12th Century mystic, St. Bernard of Clairvaux.  Since that time, they have been translated from Latin to German to English.  Five centuries later, Bach added the music from a folksong in his Passion Chorale.

On this Thanksgiving Evening, I am grateful for the countless ways that my Lord demonstrates His constant, merciful and abundant love to me through my family, my friends, my feeble faith and the events of my life -- the good and the bad. The attitude of gratitude is a fertile soil within which the seeds of faith can take root and grow.

Luke's Gospel (17: 11-19) tells the story of the 10 lepers who were healed.  When the one grateful leper returned to Christ after having been healed by Jesus, what did the healed man do?  He fell on his face and thanked the Lord. Jesus then remarked, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well".  This man's faith in Jesus made him well.  Think about that. The simple act of having faith in Christ can heal us.  It's fun to  meditate on these elements of scripture.  I find that I like to try to fill in the blanks of what was not revealed in the story. Was the 1 leper a grateful type before Christ healed him, or did it take the miracle to bring him into a grateful state of mind? What about the other 9? Why didn't they return?  Did they feel entitled to the healing? Were they afraid?  Did they think it merely coincidence? Did they rationalize that their leprosy was not so bad?  Were they thinking of their blessed reunions with long, lost family? Of how they would dance and drink with their friends? Did they fear rejection by the authorities if they gave credit to Jesus? He was not real popular with the Pharisees, you know.  If I think about it long enough, I can put myself in both situations.  Sometimes I've had the faith of the 1 leper - face-in-the- dust-type gratitude - and sometimes I've had the sloppy ingratitude of the other 9 and used many of those reasons to justify my inaction.

I need the reminders.  And I need days like today. If I had the faith of a mustard seed, I could move mountains.  There it is again.  Have a little faith and watch what happens.  I have watched these mustard seed miracles in the lives of people that I actually know.  And you know something?  It works over and over and over again. Our Lord is teaching a very important maxim:  Faith and gratitude are connected.  I'd like to think that this gratefully clean leper went on to use that great faith of his to move some mountains. Perhaps he inspired St. Bernard of Clairvaux or St. Damian of Molokai.  Grateful people - people with an attitude of gratitude are spiritually healthy people.  They sort of interiorly 'sparkle'. They may suffer just like the rest of us but they live radically different lives evidenced by their thankfulness to someThing...someOne infinitely more powerful than them.

Grateful people - people of Grace - change our world.  For all of you face in the dust types - I'm grateful for your example.

Happy Thanksgiving. May you be blessed by God's grace, mercy and kindness.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Porch of Advent

Welcome to the Porch of Advent…

Just yesterday, soul mate asked me if we had our labels all set to go for our Christmas cards.  Christmas cards? Mailing labels? Set to go? Let the dither begin.

There are tons of things to do before Christmas.  There’s the shopping and the decorating and the Christmas cards and the concerts; oh, and don’t forget Thanksgiving – the holiday that always seems to get short shrift.  And why this is, truly baffles me.  We spend more time on Super Bowl Sunday than we do on Gratitude Thursday, but I digress. There are tons of things to do before Christmas and they usually have the ability to upset my applecart.

All this shopping and baking and decorating (oh my!) can send one into a exasperating and overwhelming state of anti-serenity.  Tidings of comfort and joy? I think not. Chiefly, the secular, frenetic pre-Christmas pandemonium can cause a disquieting schism in our hearts and can separate us from our deepest desire: union with Christ.  It does not have to be so.  In fact, Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom suggests something completely different.  Advent is a time of waiting in expectant silence.  It probably could be better likened to “nesting”:  what a mother and father do prior to the birth of their new baby.  Notice a pregnant mom in her 9th month.  She doesn’t move quite so swiftly.  She slows down.  She rests more as her body prepares for the busy and sometimes sleepless days and weeks ahead of her as she cares for the new infant family member.  The mom-to-be is not lazy or loafing.  On the contrary – there’s a lot going on…on the inside.  Advent, like the 9th month of pregnancy is a time to slow the outside down, while interiorly recollecting and waiting in expectant joy for the coming of something really special. 

Just how do we do this, then?  I have to “plan” to slow down?  If you are anything like me, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!”  Spend this week and map out a plan. Like most plans, it should be flexible yet sturdy enough to keep you on a well-lit path.  Invite God into your plan through prayer.  Our Blessed Mother longs to help you as well.  She has never failed to guide me closer to Her Son.  Start with some simple things.  Things you can do individually and with family and friends. 

Between now and November 27: 
·      Start with a good confession – unclutter your soul; make room in your heart for His Holy advances
·      Purchase your purple and pink candles
·      Ready the Advent wreath and make preparations for its blessing

During Advent:  November 27-December 24
·      Attend daily Mass if you can; If you are unable, go one more additional time beyond Sunday each week. Many churches offer at least one evening Mass during the week
·      Line up your devotions, the USCCB has a great free, downloadable guide available at
·      Pray the rosary daily.  Pray it alone, with your friends or with your family.
·      Plan a retreat
·      Fast once a week
·      Be of service – be a light: 
-Go a-wassailing! Sing Christmas Carols in your neighborhood or visit a local convalescent home
-Help serve meals or stock shelves at a local food pantry
-Adopt a family for Christmas and share your gifts with the poor
·      Enjoy your family and really take advantage of the gift of Sundays as resting together 
·      Take time each day to ‘waste time with God’…sit in His Holy Presence before the Blessed Sacrament or at home in a private place where you can speak to the Lord in His favorite language: silence

“Advent is par excellence the season of hope in which believers in Christ are invited to remain in watchful and active waiting, nourished by prayer and by the effective  commitment to love.  May the approaching Nativity of Christ fill the hearts of all Christians with joy, serenity and peace!”
(Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, December 3, 2006)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thy Kingdom Come!

A few years after converting to Catholicism and before I had a major awakening into Catholic Sacred music, I listened copiously to Christian Rock.  I enjoyed the likes of, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, Jennifer Knapp, Jaci Velasquez, Chris Rice, and Rachel Lampa to name just a few.  It wasn’t until I started figuring out that many of our brothers and sisters in the Christian Rock biz referred to us Catholics in less than Christian terms and a few were downright hostile to the Eucharist – referring to our Blessed Sacrament as a “death cookie”.  Needless to say this abruptly ended my infatuation with the whole Christian music scene.  I do still like a few of those tunes however and today on this feast of Christ the King, I waxed a little Third Day and the song that is featured above.  Though my musical tastes have shifted dramatically, this song still does something to me. 

A pivotal line in the lyric goes like this:
“But you left your throne in the sky, just to live inside my heart”

I suspect the theology may be slightly off in this rendering, the meaning to me is not lost.

On this most sacred Feast of Christ the King, my thoughts turn towards what it might be like to entertain a head of state.  I would want everything to be perfect; spit and polish down to the last detail.  The meal would be sumptuous;  my home would be immaculate.  I would make sure that my Guest’s needs were attended to that they felt perfectly at home and comfortable in my care.  In common parlance, I would
turn my life upside down in order to hospitably entertain this very important Guest. 

There may be some things that would need to be “fixed”.  I will need to dispense with the amazing amounts of clutter piles that have collected all around the house.  I might even take on some remodeling projects that have been shelved for other pressing matters.  I will, of course, need to review etiquette with my teenagers I would need to be certain that I have take the appropriate time to plan out all of the events and happenings of the evening.  No small task! Hospitality is a big deal. It happens when we prepare exteriorly for house parties and very important visitors but it should also happen interiorly for our soul’s Sweet Guest – the King of Glory.

So, the way I see it is that me and Zaccheus have something very much in common.  He’s up in a tree and gets the very clear message that he’s about to be entertaining this JESUS figure…in his home.  He’s got some work to do, yes?  So do I.  He’s got to make every detail right…so do I.  But there’s more than window washing that needs to take place.  Zaccheus made amends with every person that he stole money from.  He not only offered  “even stevens”…he paid it forward fourfold.  He did the internal work necessary for entertaining his Guest.  So must I.  I must remove clutter piles of envy, rivalry, deceit and calumny.  I must review my own etiquette and appearance:  Do my actions match my words?  Do I put others in the near occasion of sin by my dress? Is my heart a worthy throne for this Most Holy King? I am subject, He is object.  He chooses to make His throne my heart.  Have I adequately prepared a place for him there or am I still caught up in worldly pursuits?   I am reminded in today’s liturgy that Christ comes to dwell in me.  He comes to build His kingdom within my soul.  If I consent to this with my will, He will "replace my stony heart with a natural heart"; I will be remade in His likeness- in the Glory of the King of Heaven. 

Who is this King of Glory?  He is your Lord and Savior. He is your heart’s deepest longing.  May His radiance dispel all of the dark and shadows.  May He reign in your heart.  This King of Glory is Jesus Christ.  He was, He is and He is to come.  Are you ready?

“All the heavens cannot hold you Lord. How much less to dwell in me….I can only make my one desire holding onto to thee.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Random Act of Culture

Thank you Adam Bartlett for sharing this musical joy.  Watch how the folks were transformed by this random act of culture...amazing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My day in Traffic School

Hi, my name is Karen and I'm a red light runner.
I am powerless over the urge to accelerate at yellows and my driving skills have become unmanageable.
It's true. I got busted by Scottsdale photo radar twice - yes two times - within 60 days which means I had to spend my monday  - an incomprehensibly long time to sit on your buttocks - in "Just My Luck" traffic school. I am embarrassed, remorseful, a bit poorer, guilty but  As I sat in the class watching video footage of "Paul's Story: How my License was Suspended" I began to drift.  The room could have doubled for the waiting room that is Purgatory.

Imagine, if you will, not being shot by the intersection cameras but by a sniper.  You are pronounced dead and your corpse is zipped up inside of a black plastic bag.  Lights out amigos. The next scene is your soul entering the classroom of "Just My Luck" Purgatory where we are greeting by the angel Denise. She checks you in, gives you a manual, takes your token (like the one they needed to cross over the river Styx) and tells you that you are to stay seated until you are finished. Shock and awe is the expression of most of the unwitting "students".  They forgot to read the stuff that the court sent you...the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They thought this class was just a touch and go!   For real.  It's a long, indefinite period of something that we'll call time. As the shock of death has subsided some, we go around the room in Purgatory and introduce ourselves.  We are asked our name, our offense and just for fun...our pet peeves. Name is peeves are fun.  You get to project your anger onto other people's offenses and character defects.  But the offenses.  Those are a little embarrassing.  Some people are here for little offenses that they have committed numerous times. Others are here for big offenses that they committed just once and still others are here because they committed biggies multiple times.  It's not easy to talk about these things and most folks have an edge and an attitude about their offenses as though they are still someone else's fault.

That is until we began watching the videos and hearing the stories. Lives shattered and broken, sweet relationships spoiled by selfishness. I had no idea that I could check my sin record by just going to confession on a regular basis to make sure there were no outstanding violations. I missed the opportunities to balance my life by doing regular maintenance in my spiritual devotions. This caused a great deal of wear and tear on my precious soul. I feel immense pain and regret as I watch images of the people that I've hurt through carelessness and sin.

Angel Denise administered several quizzes to us while we were in Purgatory.  I thought I knew all of the answers but I quickly learned that I was a corner-cutter. The laws that I understood as a kid, had much deeper meaning when I was older and began traversing tougher terrain.  I never really updated my understanding of the Code of Conduct where all the laws are kept.  It seemed that most of the class had never taken the Good Book seriously either.  "You mean I really am my brother's keeper?"  The thought occurred to me as I sat on my stiff chair...I wish I could go back and change things.  I would have lived differently.

An immense longing for freedom coupled with a sober gratitude overtook me as I sat in my traffic school class on Monday.  I wanted to be in my car doing things right.  I was grateful for the privilege of a driver's license made poignantly clear to me by certain peers who had lost this freedom.  I made many resolutions: not to use my cel phone while driving; to stay out of the intersection box at all cost unless the light is noticeably green; to drive the speed limits and remain alert at the wheel; to set a good example for my sons.  But I also learned something deeper.

All of the lessons about driving can be a metaphor for living.  Stay devoted through prayer, frequent confession maintains one's spiritual health, be rooted in the Word, be mindful of the character defect weeds that can creep in, love God and love your neighbor.  Just as my driver's license gives me freedom to enjoy & travel the highways and byways, my living license allows me the privilege & freedom of doing God's will.  It is not a license to plow all over creation leaving mayhem and chaos in my wake.

Traffic school, not unlike purgatory is a great mercy.  I don't ever want to end up in traffic school again, but I am grateful for the insights that I received in my little stiff chair.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Experience is a hard teacher..."

..."She gives the test first, and the lessons afterwards".

Whoever coined this profound statement must have been sitting in on yesterday's Legislative Session on the Manhattan Declaration here in Phoenix.  From the Mass to the final words spoken prophetically by Princeton Professor Robert George one could feel the gravity of every anti-life/anti marriage initiative that has taken place since President Barack Obama took the oath of office.  Our culture faces a momentous challenge and just like Abraham Lincoln stated in his famous Gettysburg Address, we too, "are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war." This war, seems to be over the very institutions that this great country was founded".

All politics is local.
Arriving on the campus of the Phoenix Diocese, attendees on their way to the 8am Mass at St. Mary's Basilica were confronted by 100 or so protestors representing No Longer Silent, a group of christian clerics who are at odds with the Church's teaching on homosexuality and marriage. They claim that "Conservative political and Christian rhetoric condemning homosexuals has monopolized public perception of the stance of religious persons on this issue and further state that the Manhattan Declaration declares war on LGBT and women's rights.” 

Circus Maximus
To emphasize their position of tolerance, they shouted at attendees to "not believe the lies in the Manhattan Declaration" and carried signs that purported the church's intolerance and exclusion of LGBT people. They trespassed onto the diocesan property and impeded the attendees while cabling the gates of the diocese and locking arms to prevent entrance to the building courtyard.  Thankfully, the local police were able to peacefully lead the protestors away from the venue and remove the cable to allow the morning to continue. 

And continue it did.
How does one effectively synthesize the words of Bishop Olmsted, Ron Johnson, Mike Phelan, Alan Sears, Marjorie Dannensfelder and Robert George?  I don't know, but I'm going to try...

Our Bishop expanded on the Gospel passage about "not worrying about how or what our defense might be" but relying upon the Holy Spirit who will teach us what we need to do and say; to have faith and not be afraid.  He reminded us that Jesus did not  reprimand His followers with admonitions of "Oh, ye of little love or Oh, ye of little hope".  Rather, he admonished them for their lack of faith.  In our age, we, too, are challenged by the words of our Lord to have faith.  Without faith, we can have neither love nor hope.  However from the foundational virtue of faith, both hope and love flow.  The faith of our founders was tested and purified. It brought forth the great fruit of a free nation united in faith in God and embracing institutions which would solidify it for future generations: marriage and family. It is now our turn to to be tested and strengthened as gold in a furnace.  We are not to be afraid; rather, we are to be people of strong faith to carry out the work that others began. 

Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, said the goal of the seminar was “to encourage people of faith to be well versed about our core values and to emphasize collaboration with other Christians, especially in the public square.”  He reminded us of the sad reality that 45% of Catholics do not believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist - an astonishing statistic indeed.  He elaborated on the Pope's remarks that an alarming number of the faithful are becoming increasingly marginalized in society. Ron exhorted all Christians to embrace, learn and live their faith as this is an inherent act of protecting our religious freedoms that are under deliberate and vicious attack. 

Mike Phelan, Phoenix Diocesan Director of Marriage and Respect Life, elaborated on the efforts of the Covenant of Love Project and the freshly revised policies governing marriage preparation. The enhanced policy emphasizes that couples must receive “personal preparation for marriage, which disposes the spouses to the holiness and duties of their new state.” the new diocesan policy, instituted on January 1 of this year highlighted the teachings of John Paul IIs Theology of the Body, Natural Family planning and an expanded 9 month curriculum for engaged couples.  Impressive early statistics affirm the NFP method as an effective way for Catholics to plan the size and spacing of their families. NFP couples are experiencing a near 50% drop in divorce rates while they learn to trust their spouse, their design and their Designer. 

Alan Sears, President of Alliance Defense Fund, reminded us that the definition of marriage between one man and one woman is non-negotiable.  Marriage either means this or it means nothing at all. Alan and his team of top attorneys are on the front lines every day facing challenge after challenge to those who would sooner redefine marriage into nonexistence. I was surprised to learn that in the average state, roughly 1,100 laws are directly impacted by our current definition of marriage; this is not to mention our country's influence on other nations. One can but imagine the legal, moral, social and psychological pandora's box this will open if we consider the end game of marriage for any and all. Polygamy and polyamory are just the beginnings. Commenting on Vermont's Civil Union law, Alan compared this to feeding a hungry tiger for breakfast and negotiating with him about whether or not he'll eat you for dinner.  We simply must not be naive enough to believe that this is just about wanting gay marriage.  Those who wish to redefine marriage desire that marriage should not exist. For this, we are all called to stand and act. 

Marjorie Dannesfelder, President of the Susan B. Anthony List:  "There is a dearth of special needs children in our society".  I have never heard this statement before and it deserves our attention.  What we don't have a shortage of are an increasing number of triple and quadruple baby strollers in town.  Have you noticed this?  Multiple births are on the uptick but down's babies are scarce. This is a bad sign. From the right to life comes every and all other rights. What kind of society have we become when it becomes okay to destroy the most vulnerable among us?  Marjorie reminded us of the words of the late anti-Nazi activist Deitrich Bonhoeffer, "Silence in the face of evil is evil itself".  She challenged us to be modern day Bonhoeffers and stand up to evil in our midst. She also reminded us that on November 2 we shall not forget those who sold out to evil and acted in poor conscience against those who trusted them (see Stupak is as Stupak does). 

Have you ever researched the ethics codes that govern the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists? Robbie George has. And just like me, he can't get over the reference of the word "healthcare" as it relates to abortion. Robert George, Princeton Professor, philosopher and co-author/signer of Manhattan Declaration was on hand to discuss a recent ethics refutation that he debated with ACOG on limitations that they wanted to place on doctor's rights to conscientiously refuse to perform abortions.  Yes, that's right, they said "limitations".  The ethics doctors wish to stifle the consciences of pro-life doctors who, in their estimation would be complicit in committing grievous sin by destroying the life of another human being. The ethics docs want this right limited. Actually, they want the pro-life docs to go away, plain and simple. (Sort of how Obamacare was voted into office by executive order rather than by legitimate political process).  Dr. George emphasized the point that doctors are to be about the business of science, not about the business of moral philosophy.  How in the world have we arrived at the notion that pregnancy is somehow a state of disease?  Dis-ease, yes, for some, but disease?? George advanced the notion that a sort of "professional cleansing" not unlike ethnic cleansing may be the next chapter in the Obamacare lexicon if we close our eyes to the opinions and matters of these ethics boards.  For it is not a matter of if a morality will be advanced into our legal and ethical codes - clearly morality has already been inserted there. Rather, it will be a matter over whose morality will be advanced. 

As he neared his conclusion, George reemphasized the license with with this current president has acted in the realm of so-called reproductive freedoms...remember the first things that the president did after he took office?  He abrogated the conscience protections that George W. Bush had so strenuously fought for.  This current president has NEVER supported any restrictions on abortion and he has referred to the bearing of children in one famous lecture as a punishment.

Human life is sacred.  It is best protected by God and God gave that privilege to men and women under the bonds of holy matrimony.  Want to fight poverty? Build healthy marriages. Want to build a culture of life?  Stop killing the preborn. Want to make a difference? Go read the Manhattan Declaration and sign it.  Want your voice to be heard?  Vote on Nov 2.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.  (Gettysburg Address)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Good Examen

An examination of conscience is the purposeful act of interior evaluation prior to confession.  It's a butterfly net applied to our thoughts words and actions meant to capture and bring to consciousness not butterflies, but rather, sins - the matter that we take into the medicine box of the confessional. It is here that we lay them at the feet of Jesus, through the person of the priest, where he transforms them through absolution into grace. Ah!  The Sacrament of Confession....what an oft-misunderstood and untold treasure of our faith.  

There are ways to make a confession and ways to make a good confession and this is where a good examen or examination of conscience comes in handy. 

There are many examinations to choose from. I've used Ignatian aids, the small brochure; Guide to Confession and material adapted from 12-Step Recovery materials.  They all work and I've benefitted from them greatly.  But like most things, I can habituate them to saturation level causing their effectiveness to be dulled.  True of many things, I like to change the furniture around from time to time. As I continue to explore some spiritual interior remodeling, my Spiritual Director has wisely supplied a nice one that I've reproduced for you below.  It comes to us from Doris Donnelly, out of her book "The Fire of Peace: A Prayer Book - available from Pax Christi USA.  

by Doris Donnelly
An examination of conscience is a way to hold ourselves accountable before God and each other for the evil we do and the good we do not do. Some refer to it as an examination of consciousness: scanning our motives, thoughts, and actions to detect our loyalty to or betrayal of the priorities of the reign of God.
The delicate and difficult part in this process involves what we hold as our guide for accountability. For centuries the blueprint for good conduct was the list of Ten Commandments, until Jesus proposed a very different set of guidelines with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1- 13).
As early as A.D. 150 in a document written by the Shepherd of Hermas, the Beatitudes were accepted as the positive norm of morality for Christians, stressing the ideals of their founder and avoiding the "do nots" of the decalogue.
What follows is an examination of conscience and consciousness based on the Beatitudes. It makes sense only if we truly believe that the teachings of Jesus have practical applicability in the world in which each of us lives and breathes. If we admit that relevance, we will find enough power in our fidelity to these counsels to renew the face of the earth.
1. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
  • Do I fear being poor, in spirit or otherwise, and prefer to be rich in money, brains, or influence?
  • Is my desire for poverty of spirit congruent with my lifestyle?
  • Do I use the word of God to rationalize my lifestyle, or am I willing to have God's word criticize it?
  • Do I cling to my own ideas, opinions and judgments, sometimes to the point of idolatry? 
  • Do I contribute my time, talent and money to the poor of the world? 
  • Do I make it my business to examine the causes of poverty in our world and work to eradicate unjust systems?
2. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
  • Do I grieve over loneliness, despair, guilt and rejection in the lives of others?
  • Am I willing to admit my own despondencies and need for comfort? 
  • Do I minister consolation and healing, or do I blandly encourage people to "have courage," thereby avoiding the opportunity to mourn with another? 
  • Am I doing anything to dry the tears of those who mourn over war, poverty, hunger, injustice?
3. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
  • Do I see any value in meekness or nonviolence? 
  • Do I cringe at the thought of being called meek? 
  • Do I understand nonviolence as a way to fight evil with good, and do I choose to live that way? 
  • How much are intimidation and force part of my lifestyle? 
  • Do I work for nonviolent social change? 
  • Do I foster a cooperative spirit in my children?
4. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
  • Have I kept myself ignorant of important current events that are manifestations of injustice?
  • Are my energies and passions focused on Christ, or are they scattered, disordered, divided? 
  • Am I honestly trying to improve the quality of life around me? 
  • Am I trying to improve the environment, racial relations, care for the unborn, sexual equality, the lives of the poor and destitute? 
  • Have I decided that I will not be satisfied until justice is fulfilled in my own life, within my family, my church, my community, my world? 
  • Have I let fear keep me silent when I should have spoken out against prejudice, injustice and violence?
5. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
  • Do I operate on a double standard of expecting mercy but not wanting to grant it? 
  • Do I prefer the strict law and order approach, or that of mercy, tenderness and compassion? 
  • Are there places in my life where people are suffering because of me and my unforgiving attitude? 
  • Am I devoid of a merciful spirit toward those I call "enemy"? 
  • What is my attitude toward capital punishment, ex-convicts?
6. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
  • Am I trusting and trustful? 
  • Do I value living without pretense, or am I constantly fearful that someone will take advantage of me? 
  • Am I open and honest about who I am and what I do? 
  • Do I deflect the attention and honor due to God and claim these things for myself? 
  • Have I been untrue to myself, even a little, for advancement, money or good opinion? 
  • Have I failed to take time for prayer, solitude, reflection?
7. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
  • Am I eager for reconciliation, or do I antagonize and yearn for revenge? 
  • Do I think apologizing is a sign of weakness? 
  • Am I willing to be a bridge in family and community arguments? 
  • Do I support violence in films, television and sports? 
  • Have I studied peace and taken initiatives to stop violence and war? 
  • Have I read, and do I support, the many official church statements against the arms race, nuclear weapons, war? 
  • Do I see the Christian vocation as one of peacemaker? 
  • Is my presence a source of peace to those around me?
8. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account."
  • Do I criticize or ridicule those who suffer for their beliefs? 
  • Am I embarrassed to step out of the mainstream to stand up for a principle? 
  • Who are my heroes? Are there any among them who gave their lives without vengeance for what is true? 
  • Would I do the same? 
  • Do I worship security and fear costly discipleship? 
  • Have I called myself Christian without making my life a witness to the teachings of Jesus? 
  • Have I openly supported those who defend justice and give their lives for peace?
9. "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven."
  • Do I live confident of the promises of Jesus? 
  • Do I surrender to pessimism and anxiety? 
  • Do I perceive that there is a paradoxical victory in the cross of Jesus that breaks through power structures and conquers in peace and love? 
  • Have I become cynical rather than hopeful?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

10 Worst (Hymns?) Campfire Songs

If you have not tapped into this wellspring of cathartic energy, you are missing out. Our friends over at First Things (back in July) published this masterful listing of worst Catholic hymns of all time. I'm not sure what I enjoyed most...the list or the exquisite comments that followed. What's amusing is how people choreographed their postings to be lyrically correct..."commmmme live innnnn the liggggght" my gosh, so easy to sing along too!

My contribution:
One Bread One Body (or as a favorite priest friend of mine quips: One Bed, One Body)
Go! (Never heard the song, just amused by the title)
We are one Body
Seed Scattered and Sown (sung with lisp)

Go to the site here:
Are these the 10 worst hymns?

My challenge to them now is to construct a Best Of list.

My contribution:
Panis Angelicus
Tantum Ergo
Ubi Caritas
Adore te Devoto
Beautiful Savior

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's the little things that count

So much can be learned from St. Therese of Lisieux and her way of simple, child-like faith as we celebrate her feast day today. Her way is sublime yet her way of life was profoundly simple, and as she reminded us...accessible to all. Her Little Way is the way of Love. But it's not a fleeting, emotional, sappy love-like feeling. It's the real deal; the crowning virtue of all virtues is Love. It is what drove Therese to Christ at a remarkably young age and what helped her to endure illness, pain and suffering in an untimely death.

Beyond her earthly existence, it is what continues to expand her zealous mission: to win souls for Christ so that we may know God's love and be his children in this life and in the next. So she is our friend.  She, like so many of our beloved Saints can be our "go to" model of prudence, wisdom and sanctity. How timely she is for me today. As I buzz around in all of my busy-ness, imprudently filling my day with tasks and commitments that sit like gravy and mashed potatoes on a full stomach, I am nudged to put a few things back - to leave room for the spouse of my soul. "But I'm too busy to attend daily Mass," I protest. Too busy? Too busy to take 30 minutes out of 24 hours to spend in the Divine Presence? I waste more time in traffic or on the internet. I should never be too busy for the lover of my soul, lest I tempt the same folly of the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida from today's gospel. Woe to me! On the contrary, past history proves that once I do finally make time for God, I enjoy the rhythms of vocal prayer and the stillness of meditation. I find my way to God's heart and there I drink from the streams by the wayside...ask yourself the following question: Have you ever regretted spending time in prayer? (Me neither)

Somebody told me once that we cannot go to God with our hands full (or clenched for that matter). The hands must be empty and open to receive the vast treasures he has in store for us. In the same way, our hearts must not be filled with other lusts or closed to Him, for the great treasure of His Love longs to find its home in a place solely devoted to Him. This is childlike devotion. This is what the great doctor of the Church, Therese of Lisieux teaches us through the story of her own soul.

It is also of great comfort to me to know that in the church's motherly wisdom, she offers a humble daughter that never wandered from her homeland nor studied in great institutions, the title of Doctor. It proves to demonstrate that we can work out our salvation or sainthood in our own backyards. Some have said that what Therese inspired in her short 24 years is more than what most theologians have understood in their entire careers. Therese is my example of the beautifully possible and today I am renewing my commitment to the plausibility of holy simplicity...through her little way of love. The Little Flower earned her nickname by referring to herself "one of Jesus's little flowers" who gave glory to God by just being her beautiful little self among all the other flowers in God's garden. Her goal was to spend her heaven doing good works on earth, and from the looks of it, she's doing a beautiful job. I am grateful for this little Saint who through her powerful inspiration has helped wilting souls find their way back to the tender arms of our Divine Gardener.

"Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be - and becoming that person." (St. Therese of Lisieux)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Abortion or War: Will the real moral absolute please stand up?

A recent email prompted me to extract the below text for your pro-life studying endeavors.  The email I received said something to the effect of:  "George W. Bush is someone who I would not pay to see...I don't agree with his war in Iraq".  I find that most Catholics are intimidated by the"just war" argument.  Below is an elegant exchange that addresses the salient issues of Catholic Moral Teaching on both abortion and war.  Incodentally, the website has a comprehensive treasury of pithy pro-life articles for your use. 

By Scott Klusendorf
To be worse than abortion, how bad would an unjust war have to be?
Just prior to the 2008 elections, a kindly nun at a Catholic high school pulled me aside to thank me for speaking to 400 of her students on the theme, “The Case for Life.”  In fact, she couldn’t say enough good things about my talk.  “I agree with everything you said.  It was exactly what our kids needed to hear,” she beamed. 
However, a moment later it was clear we didn’t agree when it came to applying pro-life principles.  In fact, her moral reasoning was deeply troubling.  She began our conversation as follows: 
Nun: If only our students were completely pro-life on all issues.  I am consistently for life, and that’s why I’m voting for Senator Obama.
Me: Sister?
Nun: That’s right, I’m for Obama.  He’s the real pro-life candidate.  Most people focus too much on abortion.  I’m pro-life and care about all life.  So does Obama.
Me: What do you mean people focus too much on abortion?1
Nun: I mean Bush with the war in Iraq has killed so many people there is no way I could vote for someone like Senator McCain, who will do the same thing.  How can any person who cares about life vote for such a man?
Me: Are you suggesting the President unjustly killed innocent people?  If so, how?
Nun: Yes I am!  Think of all those innocent women and children killed in Iraq—over a million of them since we invaded the place six years ago.
Me: Did you say over a million?  How did you come up with that number?
Nun: I heard it someplace.  Besides, war is a pro-life issue like abortion and right now it’s even worse than abortion.
Me: To be worse than abortion, how bad would an unjust war have to be?
Nun: Abortion, war, poverty—they are all bad.
Me: Agreed, but are they bad in the same way?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t church teaching distinguish between moral absolutes and prudential judgments?  In other words, the decision to wage war is not intrinsically evil, though it must be morally justified and prudently considered.  But the deliberate killing of unborn human beings is an absolute evil and laws permitting it are scandalous.  If I understand you correctly, you are willing to overlook Obama’s pledge to uphold an absolute evil because he might help us avoid a contingent one? 
Nun: I just know war is worse right now.
Me: To be worse than abortion, wouldn’t an unjust war have to kill more innocent people than abortion does each year?
Nun: Yes, that’s true.
Me: For the record, I don’t think you are right about a million deaths in Iraq over the last six years, but suppose it’s true.2  Do you know how many unborn humans are killed by elective abortion each year?
Nun: A lot, I know.
Me: It’s 1.2 million—each year!  So even if you are right about a million unjustified killings in Iraq in the last six years, the evil of abortion is measurably worse.  Yet you think pro-lifers should support a guy who is going to use the entire resources of the federal government perpetrate an even greater injustice on the unborn. 
Nun: He won’t do that.
Me: But he said the first thing he’d do as president—the very first thing—is sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act, which would sweep away all state and federal laws limiting abortion—including parental consent laws, partial-birth abortion bans, and laws forbidding the use of federal tax dollars for elective abortions.3  There’s no denying Obama is deeply committed to the legalized killing of unborn human beings.  Doesn’t that trouble you?” 
Nun: You are being too harsh.  Obama personally opposes abortion—I’ve heard him say so myself.  He wants to reduce it.  But unlike Bush, he’ll actually do something about it by funding social programs that get to the root of why women abort in the first place.  He’ll make health care more affordable for poor people.  That will help reduce abortion.  Everyone knows abortion rates went up under Bush after going down under Clinton.
Me:  As for rates going up under Bush, that’s simply false.  They continued to decline.4  But even so, laws which allow the killing of unborn human beings are unjust even if no one has abortions.  Imagine a candidate who said he was personally opposed to rape while he had a 100% voting record in favor of men having a right to assault women. Suppose he told the public that instead of banning rape, he would make it rare with federally funded therapy for sexual deviants.  It’s no stretch to say the voting public would see right through his smokescreen, even if he favored social programs to treat the underlying causes that allegedly contribute to rape.
Nun: But abortion isn’t the only issue.  We shouldn’t be single issue voters.”
Me: Of course abortion isn’t the only issue—anymore than the treatment of slaves wasn’t the only issue in the 1850’s or the treatment of Jews the only issue in the 1940s.  But both were the dominant issues of their day.   Thoughtful Christians attribute different importance to different issues, and give greater weight to fundamental moral questions.  For example, if a man running for president told us men had a right to beat their wives, most people would see that as reason enough to reject him, despite his foreign policy or economic reforms.  The foundational principle of our republic is that all humans are equal in their fundamental dignity.  That principle is non-negotiable, and yet your candidate for office rejects it.  What issue could be more important than that?
Sadly, the kindly nun didn’t see the problem.  Indeed, many well-intentioned people are confused about abortion because they don’t see it as an absolute evil.  They view it only as a contingent one that can be explained away in light of other issues.  We can’t sit idly by and let them get away with it.  Here at Life Training Institute, we’re gently, yet persuasively, reminding well-intentioned pro-lifers that deliberately killing an innocent human being can never be justified simply because a candidate’s foreign policy strategies or economic views are more to our liking.

1 The questions and comments I posed in this dialogue were influenced by J. Budziszewski’s excellent piece, “Ballot Box Blues,” Boundless, October 28, 2004.
2 The website Iraq Body Count estimates between 88,000 and 97,000 civilian deaths in Iraq from 2003 to 2008.
3 Obama said this in his July 17, 2007 speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
4 See “Trends in Abortion in the United States, 1973–2005,” Guttmacher Institute, January 2008.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How to Vote like a Catholic

It's opening day of election season and I thought I'd mark the occasion by posting some helpful information to rouse our collective conscience.  The Catholic Advocate is an excellent site (so are National Arizona Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List) for obtaining vital information on each candidate and where they stand on the issues nearest and dearest to our hearts.  From the site...

How to Vote Catholic – In Brief:
Catholics should be guided by a few basic principles when considering their participation in politics. Catholics are obliged to participate in politics by voting. Their legislators are elected to serve and protect the common good, human dignity, and rights of human persons.  As voters, they should have a clear understanding of the principles of Catholic moral and social teaching, and they should understand that life issues are dominant in the hierarchy of issues for the Catholic voter.
Prudential judgment is the application of principle to concrete situations, such as those a Catholic might encounter on a routine basis in the political sphere. Catholic principles apply to all political issues. In many cases, however, Catholic principles do not lead prudentially to one acceptable Catholic position, so on certain matters, Catholics of good conscience may disagree. The bishops’ teachings on faith and morals are binding; their prudential judgments on policy guide us but do not bind us.
Each individual Catholic is called to bear public witness to their faith. Faith is not a private matter. The Christian Faith cannot be restricted to oneself and one’s family. Such an attitude would render it impossible to “love one’s neighbor.” Additionally, the political order cannot be separated from the divine order revealed by faith. (Gaudium et Spes, 74). Politics and government need the public witness of what faith teaches about the common good, human rights, and human dignity.

Then you can go to their site at and select from a comprehensive list of issues to review the Catholic position on each:
                Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
                The Death Penalty
                Defense & Terrorism
                Judicial Issues
                Marriage & the Family
                Economic Issues
                Health Care
                Religious Liberty
                The Environment

Eight weeks from today, your vote will have counted....for something.