Our Bishops Need to Preach Faith and Morals


In order to advance the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church;

OUR PASTORS NEED TO PREACH FAITH & MORALS

and the Laity need to be Holy.

          On April 13, 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops [hereinafter “USCCB” or “Bishops”] forwarded to members of Congress a letter [See here] noting that writing a federal budget demands “wise bipartisan leadership, clear priorities, and moral clarity.”   America’s financial house needs to be put in order, the USCCB noted, by “fulfilling the demands of justice and moral obligations to future generations; controlling future debt and deficits, and protecting the lives and dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable.”  

 The Bishops note three “moral criteria” regarding difficult budgetary decisions:  (a) that “every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity; (2) that “the central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects ‘the least of these’”  (Matthew 25), including the those who hunger and are homeless, or who are without work or are in poverty; and, (3) that “government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.” 

 Calling life-affirming health care an “urgent national priority,” the Bishops throw great doubt on current proposals to convert entitlement programs such as Medicare or Medicaid to block grant programs or subsidies; and the Bishops called foreign aid an “essential tool to promote human life and dignity” and to enhance global security. 

 Pleading that the budget must reduce deficits and protect the poor, jobless, and vulnerable, the U.S. bishops call for “shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirements programs fairly.”   The Bishops declare themselves pastors and teachers, “not experts or partisans.”  Experts they are not.

 While the Bishops call for “priorities” in the national budget; their focus is wrong-headed.   It is agreed that the budget must be life-affirming, it must contain and reduce worldwide military adventures and commitments, it must provide a social safety net for the poor and vulnerable, it must tackle the monumental debt as an overarching generational moral issue; and it must control spending and entitlement programs.  However—for the USCCB—there is more to consider.

 In 2007, David Walker, Comptroller of the United States at the time, recalled that nearly 2000 years ago, the Roman Empire fell for three main reasons: [1] declining moral values and political civility at home, [2] an overconfident military in foreign lands, and [3] government fiscal irresponsibility.  

 As the old saying goes, nothing changes under the Sun.  Our modern American Republic is plagued by the same issues.   Whether Congress should expand or contract national spending, on what programs it should focus, and the degree of international spending is a prudent question to be answered within the constraints of the constitutional system of limited government framed by the American founding fathers.  That question is for the politicians.

 The real Gospel focus of the American bishops is not a call for governmental action, but the moral make-up of our country.   Every resource of the bishops should be focused on improving the mediocre catechetical teaching and preaching that occurs around the country, from the pulpits and in the classrooms, and call American Catholics to personal responsibility and to live a moral life. 

 While not universally true, many pastors fail to teach or preach, but often cite platitudes and generalities during the Homily at Holy Mass.   

 What is needed?  True preaching.  If the Bishops want to change the culture and touch the hearts of the American people that will ultimately guide the Congress, then preach

 In other words, the Bishop’s beseeching Congress regarding spending rings empty.  Why?  As teachers, the primary office of bishop is to teach the Faithful through effective formation of his priests and congregation.  The Bishops need to preach charity and morality from the pulpit with particularity.  In order to realize social change, the Bishops must engage the hearts and minds where it counts: at Church.  

 A converted heart motivated by love of God and the Gospel, will seek the necessary right action and moral change in their own lives and in their own families and communities.   It is the believers who are “doers” of the Word that change the World.

 Many of the social problems our Nation faces are a direct result of immoral conduct.   For example, the rising poverty rate among women and children is due to sexual conduct outside of marriage.    The federal Medicaid and supplementary security income budgets have exploded over the last decade.   Far too many unwed mothers find themselves with few choices and cornered in poverty.  Government rightly comes to the rescue to aid these mothers and children to uphold the human dignity of these vulnerable persons; but let’s not deny the immorality at play.  

 When unwed men and women act immorally and sleep with one another with utter disregard for other human lives, the children are born in poverty, the mothers are desperate, and too often the fathers abandon the family.  In the end, the taxpayer is called to fill the remaining monetary void.  It is a desperate problem that finds no immediately political solution; yet the focus of the Bishops should be on the right moral sexual conduct of the American people—especially Catholics.

 The Bishops need to preach.  Their priests need to be pastors.  The priests need to preach from the pulpit.   Part of the solution is concrete preaching calling people to improve their personal lives by ordered thinking, right action, personal responsibility, and moral conduct. 

 Preaching should encourage the Faithful to follow the Ten Commandments; to go to Mass; to engage only in marital sex; to uphold marriage as between a man and a woman; to encourage choices of life and family; to stay faithful to their spouses; to raise their children rightly; to not worry so much about activism but more about putting their own lives and families in order; to act charitably with family, neighbors, and other parishioners; to work hard, to pay their bills; to pay their taxes; to stay faithful to home and country; to give a day’s work for a day’s pay; to be honest and not to commit fraud or lying; to be good and effective students and teachers; to be fair and just business owners, bosses and managers, and on and on.   

 Admittedly, the USCCB has a role in national politics, but its call over the years for expanded government belies the reality that the quality and nature of preaching over the last generation has achieved a level of sustained mediocrity.  On many moral issues, until recently the Bishops have remained silent.  In order to pursue a more perfect society, they must engage moral Preaching.

 Calling the Faithful Catholics to live faithful, moral, responsible and good lives is the first step to changing society to live like Christ and focusing His people to act justly with charity.  Such a message will change the world.

 By Mr. John Keenan, O.P., J.D., promoter of peace & justice, Western Dominican Province; Blessed Margaret of Costello Chapter, Boise, Idaho.

 

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My autistic son. I love America.


Today, as I sat in my office, my youngest and autistic son called me on the phone from summer school.  He said, “Hey Dad, I need some money to go to Dairy Queen across from the school.”    He is in summer school and attends with a number of other children who either have some mental or physical (or both) limitation.   His teachers intended to take him and the entire class of students to Dairy Queen.   Like so often what happens, I had given him about $5 earlier in the morning, but he had lost the money!  Nevertheless, I took off from work for a few moments and joined my son at the local Dairy Queen with about 25 other students.   I am always excited to see my son.  He is autistic but he is a joy to be around.   His simplicity of heart and good will is a genuine resting place for me because of my crowded and busy life.

In addition, I rejoiced in seeing how the teachers treated the other students as they lined up to purchase items at the Dairy Queen counter.   With a beautiful face and a wide smile, the counterperson smiled as she attended the obviously handicapped kids.   The children comprehended the universal language of ice cream, milkshakes, soda, and corn dogs.  The teachers treated each student under his or her charge with patience and attention; tending each as if the student was a son or daughter. 

The experience reminded me of the grace with which Our Lord treats each of us, despite our weaknesses, sins, and faults,  or our tendencies or fallibilities; He attends us with grace.  All He asks is our love and obedience in return and adherence to the truth.  His truth.  The good, really good, thing about all of this is that in life, we must seek the truth in charity.  If we ignore the truth, we do so at our own peril.   

On the eve of our national 4th of July weekend and celebration, I am very thankful that I live in America, that my family lives here, and that this land still loves and lives freedom.   I am thankful despite all that has occured and the injustices of people who commit and endorse the killing of kids in the womb, or the elderly or infirm, or the “inconvenience” of those who are weak and need our attention, I still love this country.  I am thankful despite the politics of reprisal and the agenda of politicians driven by ideology and agendas rather than truth and right order.   I still love this country.  I will be singing this weekend.  Somewhere, probably at Church or thereafter, “God Bless America” and “The Star Spangled Banner” will be sung and with a heart full, I am thankful for the men and women over the last two centuries who have given their lives, their time,  their energy, and efforts to defend this Nation.   May God grant repose of the faithfully departed veterans, fathers and mothers, and friends that have gone before us.  May God heal our land and bring it to the Truth with charity in peace. 

A Pretzel and The Absolute Right to Abortion.


The blog at First Things gets it right.  In modern America, abortion matters.  Often, it surpasses other rights.  After all, the act of an abortion grants an ugly spiritual power to certain groups in our society and  in the end, it “matters more than anything else.”     Our society is disordered and the logic is twisted into nonsense, when it permits the killing of kids in the womb and justifies it through politics.  In fact, lesser crimes like lying and cheating, and denying the rights of a parent become easy. 

For instance, as First Things reports in its blog about a 15 year-old pregnant girl that attends a public school and goes to the local school medical clinic.  In the case reported, the local school district cooperated with the minor’s abortion without a parent’s consent.  

Ironically, what if the pregnant youth, while being transported to the abortion office, had a headache and requests the school nurse for a pain reliever?    Imagine it for a moment, during transport, while attending the pregnant child, the school nurse calls the mother and asks permission to administer aspirin to the minor child?   That is required by law.  Yet, with great irony, the school nurse is not obligated to inform the mother or obtain the mother’s permission for the girl to commit an abortion.

This is absolute objective nonsense.   Yet, that is the state of the law in some states in America!   When human law abandons the concept that each and every human person has human dignity with the right to make choices and live in dignity, this is the kind of twisted mess that results. 

With further irony, what happens if the provider botches the abortion that requires immediate hospital treatment? The girl will be transported to the local hospital via ambulance and, guess what, absent an emergency the hospital would have to call a parent for permission to medically treat the child!  Also, regardless of what happens at the hospital, who is responsible for the hospital bills and ambulance?  The parents.

Only a pretzel could do better.

“To ‘Do’ Works of Peace We Need to ‘Be’ Men of Peace”


From Zenit, Monday September 21, 2009, the Holy Father’s words on seeking Wisdom:

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered at Castel Gandolfo.

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, for the customary Sunday reflection, I will take as my point of departure the passage from the Letter of James that is proposed to us by today’s liturgy (3:16-4:3), and I will pause, in particular, on an expression that is striking for its beauty and contemporary relevance. It has to do with the description of true wisdom that the Apostle contrasts with false wisdom. While the latter is “worldly, material and diabolical, and is recognized by the fact that it provokes jealousies, arguments, disorder and every kind of evil deed” (cf. 3:16), on the contrary “[true] wisdom, which comes from above is first of all pure, then peaceful, meek, docile, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (3:17). A list of seven qualities, according to the biblical custom, from which perfection of authentic wisdom comes along with the positive effects that it produces. As first and principal quality, almost the premise for the others, St. James sets down “purity,” that is, sanctity, the transparent reflection — so to say — of God in the human soul. And, like God, from whom it comes, wisdom does not need to impose itself by force, because it has the invincible vigor of truth and love, that affirms itself. That is why it is peaceful, meek and docile; it does not need to be partial, nor does it need to lie; it is indulgent and generous, it is recognized by the good fruits that it bears in abundance.

Why not stop every once in a while to contemplate the beauty of this wisdom? Why not draw from this unpolluted source of God’s love the wisdom of the heart, which cleanses us from the filth of lies and egoism? This holds true for everyone, but, in the first place, for those who are called to be promoters and “weavers” of peace in religious and civil communities, in social and political relations and in international relations. In our day — perhaps also because of certain dynamics proper to mass society — one often sees a lack of respect for truth and the word together with a widespread tendency to aggressiveness, hatred and vendettas. “The fruit of justice is sown in peace by those who make peace,” St. James writes (3:18). But to “do” works of peace we need to “be” men of peace, entering the school of “the wisdom that comes from above,” to assimilate its qualities and produce its effects. If everyone, in his own circle, succeeds in rejecting the lie and violence in intentions, in words and in actions, carefully cultivating sentiments of respect, understanding and esteem for others, perhaps it would not resolve every daily problem, but we could face them more serenely and effectively.

Dear friends, once more Sacred Scripture leads us to reflect on moral aspects of human existence, but starting from a reality that precedes the same morality, that is, from true wisdom. Let us ask God with confidence for wisdom of heart, through the intercession of her who welcomed Wisdom Incarnate, Jesus Christ, into her womb and gave him birth. Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!

Pope2You: the Vatican in the social network


A Note from Fr. Paolo Padrini:

Benedict XVI Speaks to the Net Generation through the World of Social Networks.

The new media of Facebook, the iPhone, YouTube and Wikipedia are increasingly becoming the new forum where the Catholic Church dialogues with the world. As Pope Benedict XVI noted in his message for the 43rd annual World Communications Day, the Internet is a place where young people need to develop true friendships which spring from an encounter with the Risen Christ. With this awareness and the courage to enter into the world of social networks, the project Pope2You was started with the idea of helping these networks become authentic places of friendship and true dialogue.

Pope2You ( HYPERLINK “http://www.pope2you.net/) was created in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications as an experiment in providing a new forum and channel of communication using the latest platforms. The Pope2You website provides a new way for Pope Benedict XVI to reach out to young people around the world. The site can be viewed in five languages and allows young people to learn more about the Church and Benedict XVI through his own writings, starting with the message for the 43rd World Communications Day. While the site aims to generate the interest of young people, it is also meant for people of all ages. It features news on the Catholic Church and details on the pastoral activities of Benedict XVI incorporating content from the Vatican’s YouTube channel. At the same time, a new application for the iPhone and iPod Touch has been created by the Catholic news agency H2Onews, with plans to add other mobile platforms later.

Pope2You also provides a gateway to a parallel world in Facebook with an application where you can create and send to your friends virtual postcards with the Pope’s own words, greetings and excerpts of his writings staring with this year’s World Communications Day message. Also, with the help of the Media Office of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, a special area has been created along the lines of a WIKI with suggestions on how to put into pastoral practice the Pope’s 2009 Message.

These new applications highlight the latest example of the Church reaching out in new ways in the world of social networks – a forum where the Church can meet new people, make new friends, dialogue and offer solidarity.

http://www.pope2you.net/

Is there no balm in Gilead?


Check this nonsense out:

“I was sensitive to the fact that we don’t impose religion on our staff, and that it is not appropriate in the context of a staff meeting to use certain phrases or ‘God’ or ‘Holy Father,’ because some of our staff don’t believe at all,” [Hospice CEO Paula] Alderson said.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/community/news/bocaraton/sfl-flphospice0318pnmar18,0,5601993.story

What about the sensitive people who are believers?  Do people think today?

Jeremiah 8:22.