The Word from the Womb

Today’s Gospel is one I’ve always enjoyed hearing – it gives me a taste of the sheer joy that is Christmas for Christians.  Today, it served a different purpose.  For some time, the Citizen has been concerned about a schism not only among Catholics but Christians as a whole – and that great divide is abortion. Now, how does the first Chapter of Luke become a lesson for the straying members of the flock?

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In God We Trust – our Motto and an Affirmation

“In God We Trust.”

This motto has it’s roots in the work of Francis Scott Key. In the fourth stanza of the Star Spangled Banner was this line :  “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our Trust.'” In 1836 and again during the Civil War, our coinage has been stamped with that motto. In 1883, it disappeared from our coins but between 1908 and 1938, the motto returned to all coinage.

Until 1956, we had no official national motto. ‘E Pluribus Unum’ – Latin for ‘out of many, one’  has adorned our Great Seal since 1782, but it was never adopted in a formal sense – despite the beliefs of such luminaries as Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.Mr. Obama has taken to celebrating diversity over unity by using the ‘out of many one’ slogan.  Ms. Pelosi actually cut the ribbon on a Congressional Museum which proudly displayed the nation’s motto – E Pluribus Unum.  Oh my, I guess she missed 36 USC 302, the Act of Congress that made In God We Trust our official motto.

This act was passed at a time when Americans were probably looking for comfort from God. World War Two levied a tremendous cost on us as a nation and as a people. The mantle of world leadership weighed heavily on us as the only democratic nation capable of supporting a world shattered by years of brutal conflict. And we were a nation facing the rising might of two powerful Godless empires – the communist regimes of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.  That silent affirmation – one that many people whose freedom was paid for by American might and American sweat, tears, and blood shared – continues to be a reassurance for many of us.

What’s the problem with God? Well, if you are a democrat, your party leadership seems to think that there is one. This year’s Democratic planning committee has carefully excised any and all reference to God from the 2012 presidential platform. And I have two questions:

Question the first: Why would a political party go to such lengths to remove God from their platform?

Question the Second: How can any Christian in good conscience support this?

I hope that this is something that all Catholics – indeed all people who hold that there is a God in Heaven, whether you call him Jehovah, God, or Allah – consider and pray on their support these next several weeks.  This is not the work of a tolerant party – it is the work of a party that seeks to supplant God with State.

And history has proven that such an act never turns out terribly well for anyone.

 

The Wheat and the Weeds

The Citizen has been engaged in a forum discussion that has turned to the debate on ‘rightwing’ Catholics and ‘leftwing’ Catholics. There should be no such thing. There are only orthodox Catholics and heterodox Catholics. Any Catholic espousing positions or supporting politicians who embrace policies contrary to the Magisterium, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the traditions of our Faith are heterodox. Unfortunately for some, the Democratic party strongly supports several issues that place them outside of Catholic teachings. Embryonic stem cell research, abortion, gay marriage – all of these platforms directly contravene Catholic principles.

The Citizen has written any number of essays on intrinsic evils, the discipline of being Catholic, and the need to be compassionate and loving but draw the line on tolerating or supporting behavior that is contrary to the Magisterium. I have hyper-linked to some of these essays if you are interested. Some things simply cannot be supported, even if the party or person in question support any number of worthy causes. With the current Democratic party, those issues – abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research – are non-negotiable.

But isn’t there ‘room’ in Catholicism for all types? Sorry, no. Christ Himself illustrated that this would be a problem in Matthew. In the Parable of wheat and weeds (Matthew 13:24-30), Christ tells a story that reminds the Citizen of the predictment the greater Catholic community in the United States faces.

The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.

The parable tells that the servants tending the fields tell their master of the weeds growing among the wheat. He knows that there is little he can do but to allow the weeds to grow among the wheat, and – when the time was right – to pull out the weeds and harvest the good crop. The enemy? Satan – or those seeking to divide us by misusing our teachings in a heterodox manner.

The weeds are those ‘Catholics’ who espouse heretical and unorthodox teachings who dwell among us and claim that they are like us. The fact is that the weed bears no grain, no sustenance and actually chokes out the healthy and life-giving grain. For some reason or another, the Church in America has allowed these weeds to flourish, weakening and dividing us.

It is time to prune the fields. We will lose the weeds, but we may lose some good grain as well. Better this then to allow the field to run wild with weeds that will never yield comfort to those in need. It is my prayer that this will not be so or that those we may lose will return to us when they see that the wisdom of Matthew 7:13:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.

Hopefully, it is clearer that it shouldn’t be a ‘right’ thing or a ‘left’ thing – it should be a Catholic thing. That road is hard and the gate is narrow.  But those who brave that path and suffer through that gate will reap great rewards – not only for themselves but for countless others.

I pray that there are democrats who will take the party back from those who seek to choke the field with weeds. There must be solid democratic candidates who are in Communion with the Holy See. Find them. Support them. And don’t be surprised if other Catholics ignore the letter after their name and vote for them because they are good Catholics and good citizens.

 

May God bless you all.

 

Sorry, but it does take more than love to make a family…

This whole Chik-fil-A furor seems to be creating an interesting bout of finger-pointing about Jesus, gay marriage, and tolerance. One justification of Christ embracing homosexuality came from a fairly liberal (no pun intended) interpretation of Mark 7:15 “…here is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.” Honest. This commentator actually justifies sodomy with this quote. I did a google search and found websites – yeah, plural – that actually expound on this as an endorsement of homosexual acts.

I thought I would simply point out that Christ was criticizing Pharisees who placed too much emphasis on ritual purification – He was simply stating that if a man is pure and follows Him, no impure thing from the world can taint his soul. Sheesh. I guess when you have nothing to stand on, you really stretch. I gotta give someone credit for actually poring through the Gospels, finding that passage, and creating the most tenuous chain of logic ever to justify a shaky thesis.

 

Now, I know that Jesus supported traditional marriage and would not support homosexuality. After all, the Catechism of the Catholic Church wasn’t imagined out of the air but a carefully constructed framework of tradition and statements of belief that is the core of our Church. So I did some digging – this is what I came up with:

 “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’” (Matt. 19:4.)

Sounds like an endorsement of ‘traditional’ marriage to me. Some people argue that homosexuality was simply a part of the Greco-Roman culture of the First Century. That doesn’t mean he approved – in fact, he made his injunction about marriage quite clear.  He quoted Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, linking the laws of the Old Testament to make them relevant to those of us who hold to the New Covenant. It also is approbation for the listener – and us as readers – that God intends us not to heed the conventions of ‘modern society’ but to hold to the will of God in all things.

“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46-47.)

Jesus was stating that the deeds and words of the prophets of the old Testament all led to one thing – the Son of Man incarnate among us. Christ was the fulfillment of  the Old Testament and the Word made Flesh – the living embodiment of God’s law and will.

“Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God. And such some of you were; but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.”(1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles – he had a daunting task in cosmopolitan communities like Corinth. The polytheistic Grec0-Roman culture was replete with gods and goddess celebrating all manner of carnal pursuits and pleasures. While this letter cautions all Christians in Corinth to live holier lives, the Greek for ‘liers with men’ is ‘arsenokoitai’  (arseno=men, koitai=bed). And, I agree with some criticisms that this applies to heterosexuals as well; it is unfortunate that we have become such a sexually permissive society that chastity is the exception instead of the rule.

“For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error.” (Romans 1:26-27)

Again, in the face of a Roman empire that was officially permissive of such activities, for this position to be so strongly expressed it was clearly an core tenet of Christian practices and beliefs.

But wait, the last two aren’t from Christ’s mouth! You are correct, but He said this:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for he will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-14).

This is to say that after Pentecost, one of the gifts of the Spirit would be the spirit of truth. Because of this gift, as Christians, we believe that the Bible has been written through the Grace of God and by the gifts of the Spirit. We believe that the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters are indeed canon.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines this issue with compassion but in a manner that is clear:

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

 

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection

 

Finally:

 

“…Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more.” John 8:11

 

‘Sin no more’. That’s not tolerance – it is forgiveness.

Why this battle must be fought

The controversy over the HHS mandate is one that is bringing a number of festering issues to a head. Some have been orchestrated by an administration hostile to the Catholic Church in America. Some issues are a result of the Obama administration’s blind pursuit of their agenda – despite the cost. In a large part, it is due to contrary visions. The Catholic Church sees the First Amendment guarantees as the founders wrote it – a proviso that promised the ability to pursue our religious beliefs without untoward entanglements from the State. Mr. Obama sees the First Amendment based on the more modern – and flawed  – Black interpretation of the ‘wall of separation’.  So, is the prize merely bragging rights? The moral high ground? Who gets the Catholic vote in November? Sure – but it is much, much more.

The Citizen will be exploring this issue in greater detail over the next few weeks, but one important consideration must be explored now. And it must be acted on without delay. Mr. Obama’s compromise is an orchestrated tactic to give the Executive branch the power to determine who the First Amendment will shield – regardless of your particular interpretation. Catholic universities and colleges, Catholic social service agencies, Catholic hospitals and clinics – even Catholic Charities  – will all come under the scrutiny of the Department of Health and Human Services.  This gives the president the power to determine who will be exempt and who will not – a power that would be granted by acquiescence to this ‘compromise’.

We cannot allow this to happen.  Hugo Black’s interpretation is not the Constitution – it is an opinion. The Amendment is clearly written not to protect the State from people of Faith, but to protect people of Faith from the State. The ‘compromise’ will gut this clause, rendering it meaningless.  It is time – past time, actually – for our Bishops to take a stand.  It is time – and past time – for the laity to rally behind the Church. Birth control is a Trojan horse; the administration knows that the Catholic Church would dig our heels in on this and abortion and now offer a ‘deal’. This kind of one-handed deal is typical of this administration’s idea of compromise. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed with ‘compromises’ – compromises that have largely been ignored or never honored to begin with.

We must not let it happen.  It’s time to flood the White House with letters – emails mean nothing to them; letters and phone calls set the White House staff scurrying for cover. It’s time to call your Congressional delegation and demand that they stand for religious liberty.

Time to stand, brothers and sisters.