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.

UNICEF Calls for Legal Abortion in Dominican Republic


United Nations “imperialism.”

“…Nils Kastberg, UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, interjected himself, calling on Dominican legislators to consider liberalizing abortion so women would not be forced into “unsafe procedures.” This type of interjection carries the weight of the United Nations behind it and is quite intimidating to smaller countries. That is why it is commendable that the land of St. Dominic [Santo Dominigo] has stood its ground so far against this type of domination.

http://www.c-fam.org/publications/id.1118/pub_detail.asp

Public Policy, Advocacy, and Life Issues.


The Unborn, First in Public Policy

The Scriptures say, that when we obey Christ and transform our minds to conform to His, that “there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”  Colossians 3:11.  Over history, by development of ideas, and by transformation of minds and hearts by the grace of Him, mankind and the law have also accepted this elevated thinking. 

Before God, as is the goal of modern human law, there is no distinction between groups of people.  In principle, it is “justice for all.”   This is well established in the founding principles and laws of the United States, where it was written:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,  (Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776).[i]  

This elemental legal cornerstone of the United States of America proves we are a Godly nation at our founding, and are based upon two principles: (1) that no man is above the law, and (2) that there are fundamental laws grounded in the natural law, or that law which is derived by nature.  For instance, any human legislative body cannot repeal the law against murder, assault, battery, robbery, stealing, and lying, among others.  These laws are written into our very beings, and if the state were to allow such infringements, the state’s laws are void because they violate the natural law that is written on our minds and upon our hearts. (Hebrews 10:16)  St. Thomas Aquinas says such governmental enactments are not law, but are a type of violence.  Without just men and women serving in governmental posts and without just laws, tyranny will soon follow.  

Public policy and public laws must be rooted in and guided by the natural law and the concept that no man or woman is above the law.   God has called many people to advocate for good public policy.  These are advocates, jurists, and activists who work in the political arena for the common good, seeking to perfect society through the cooperation of public and private officials and entities.  There is many a laudable goal, when these activists advocate for the homeless, the disenfranchised, the naked, the voiceless, and the poor, among others. 

The foremost principle in our modern social culture is that all such advocates and activists should first advocate justice for unborn persons.  The unborn share in the characteristics of all other disenfranchised groups.  In other words, the unborn persons are naked, voiceless, innocent, unseen, disenfranchised, blind, choice-less, and marginalized.    Based upon present U.S. law as stated by the Nation’s highest Court, the unborn have no rights or guarantees to pursue happiness, to own property, to make love, to have children, or to simply live and breathe.    The unborn children who are aborted will never see the sunset, or be guided by the Scriptures, or see, or feel, or touch those about them.    Innocent of personal sin, the unborn child has made no choices, has not failed or succeeded, or responded to God’s grace or sinned. 

Advocacy for good public policy is not grounded in a proverbial woven cloth, but a priority rooted in justice first for the most innocent and voiceless in our society.   Effective advocacy starts with the rights of the innocent unborn, which fruitfully legitimizes and encourages advocacy for the homeless, the disenfranchised, the disabled, the marginalized, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. 

Under the present law in the United States, the pure power of choice trumps the rights of persons (unborn) granted under the natural law—in other words, God-given rights—and life becomes cheap in all its forms; whether unborn, old, sick, homeless, hungry, blind, poor, voiceless, powerless, or disabled.   When men and women of good will seek legal justice and public policy based upon fundamental rights and not for political purposes, it will result in clarity and priority of purpose for all other advocacy. 

Therefore, as a matter of justice, as a matter of true concern and Godly charity, it is essential that Christian advocates and activists, whether for political, religious, or social purposes, and Christian public officials, concern themselves by prioritizing their effort for life; firstly the unborn, and secondly other persons.  To bring justice to all the disadvantaged, we must first bring it to the most humble and poor first.  In modern America, that is the unborn.

 

[i]  I believe St. Robert Bellarmine would have echoed this key element of the Declaration of Independence, with one exception that is set out in the Holy Scriptures, that there is no authority except that which is established by God.  [Romans 13:1].  In as much that all power derives from God, those people who control the government do so by the consent of the governed.   This is one of the key safeguards against tyranny. 


“The great evil of the dichotomizing of Catholic social teaching.”*


This following article describes what has become a separation of the essential teachings of Catholic Social Teaching, a formula set for disaster. It discusses the separation in the Catholic bishop’s office of the prolife offices and social justice office.  It serves the purposes of the Enemy to divide the thinking of the popes for the last 120 years into two separate political camps.

This dichotomy is demonstrated by the fact that the killing of children in the womb is such a fundamental monstrosity, that it cannot help but affect the hearts and minds of people everywhere.  People ponder [especially children and young people] consciously the contradiction of watching many Catholic social justice folks bemoan material shortcomings of society and express great concern for legal injustices and then watch the legal killing of kids in the womb without even a breath of objection.    Monstrous hypocrisy.

The political perspective of social and community problems was rejected by Christ, but politicization of the various issues is precisely what has occurred within the Catholic community over the last 30 years.  What a disaster.  Christ refused to be anointed king when he escaped into the desert after the miracle of feeding the thousands.   [The rally of the people did not occur because everyone simply shared their family goods and food].

If politics had been the answer, could He have waved His hand and millions of Hebrews would’ve thundered the Praetorium in Jerusalem?  Judas sought such a solution.  Not Christ. 

Jesus Christ could have reigned in the stead of Herod, robbed Pontius Pilate of his prefecture and Tiberius of Caesar’s throne in Rome. 

He chose another path—a path of sacrifice.  

Too often, the social justice groups seek governmental solutions, i.e. more money, more committees, and more agendas; trusting in the force of government to either end abortion, euthanasia, or to provide more money hither and thither as if government was the source of wealth.  Government cannot be the solution.  Enough of it!  Enough!  Seek solutions in Christ.  [We cannot deny here that the killing of kids in the womb or euthanasia is a violation of the natural law and should be a violation of the law of humankind]. 

How do we do so?   Christians need to be Christians and act accordingly.  In addition, it will mean changing the hearts and minds of the people of God.  This must start at the pulpit.  It must be preached. 

Too many men of the Altar have failed to touch on the “tough” issues. 

Once motivated in right reason and with well-ordered lives and families, people will give their personal assets, time, energy, and intelligence, and money to aid others and live truly Christian lives.  This is no dream. 

If the government becomes involved and assists, that is good, but we must realize that government is not the harbinger of a better society or of change.   Government is not the source of wealth.  The hard work, production, and use of people’s time, energy, and intelligence is the source of wealth in society.

The better and brighter thing to do is to change our hearts and minds toward Christ, get our lives in order in Christ and His Church, and we will change society, and give of our talents and wealth, and seek change through the Church and private associations.  Government can assist but it is not the all-mighty source of solutions. 

In other words, the solution is not in the White House but in your house. 

Truly.  It is called freedom and responsibility in Christ.

Finally, the article mentioned, so early in this article, draws well the framework of this dichotomy which is a present day disaster.  We don’t need a political perspective, we need a Catholic perspective on social justice.  Here is a beginning.  Hat tip to Barry of the lay provincial council for bringing it to my attention.

* http://www.calcatholic.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?id=217680af-59a9-49e2-a7b9-dbccb3bd2652

 

 

Social Justice, Family, & Social Lies.


American society is still built on a desire for truth. In most venues whether at home, work, business, play, or even in the functions of government, this is true. Despite this longing for truth and honesty in all areas of life, people still lie. I often pause in awe to realize that the American people are still appalled in 2008 when lies or vices are exposed.

Denying a cynical view, they even now look to truth and virtue as the standard and yearn for it.

Most recently as an example, people were surprised at the revelations of the national mortgage lender crisis involving the familiarly known entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The vice of greed most recently exposed the managers and executives of the lenders, because they received false generous bonuses due to pufferied income figures. From the most celebrated case, Enron, to Wall Street, from Congress to city hall, greed and lies continue to be exposed.

Its impact on the U.S. economy and on the international scale may unfold for years as investors and consumers loose confidence and trust in the American financial system–at one time the envy of the world.

The life of overconsumption and abuse of the material creation caused by greed and dishonesty has affected America. Of course, as the old biblical saying goes, the Truth shall set you free. All people hold onto affections, ideas, things, desires, hopes, and dreams that are yet be exposed to the light of truth, and when done so, if we are honest with ourselves, we tend to let those things go. After all, God wants us to be free. When we are truthful with ourselves, and with each other in charity, it is there that we are able as children to receive His grace and adore Him fully.

Yet, the impact of lies on our Nation is especially revealing today. The leading example is abortion (the legal prohibition of abortion was lifted in the 1970s). There are philosophical and religious institutions and profit-making industries devoted to one colossal lie and to the loss of one life at a time: that it is legitimate to spill the blood of a kid in the womb.

Another 1970s monstrosity changed modern American jurisprudence. It enables men and women by the thousands daily to lie with little or no effort in court. In the early 1970s, the legislatures across the United States passed laws that permitted divorce by a reprehensible claim of “irreconcilable differences.”

By simply testifying before a judge under the penalty of perjury, imprudent men and women tell a judge that he or she cannot cannot reconcile with their spouse. Christians and non-Christians alike. Catholics and non-Catholics alike. No statistical difference. Yet, these Christians and Catholics lie, stating proudly and unequivocally that they cannot get along with their soon-to-be former spouse. [Note here that this does not discount the spousal physical or sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, or adultery, or other legitimate causes. These can be legitimate and right claims to escape the terror of real abuse].

Where the claim of irreconcilable differences are made in court, surely there are some differences between spouses that are insurmountable and irreconcilable. Yet, divorce? Have we become so desensitized that America–or should I say, Catholics–has forgotten the real tragedy called “divorce?”

By the grace of God, the effort to get along with one’s spouse is more than mere words, challenges, or claims. Has the husband been all he can be in Christ? Has the wife been the helper that she has been called to be? Most often, the failing answer is “No.” This is not an excuse for divorce. The classroom called marriage teaches us the real reason for the marital institution: to help us save our sinful souls. Men need to be men and use their testicles. Women need to be women and to stop looking at the extremes of feminism or other false ideas.

The real casualty of the courtroom lies is the children. Their limitless imaginations, playfulness, inquisitiveness, innocence, and love are shattered against the rock of selfish and impatient worldliness, and self-absorbed spouses known also as Dad and Mom. The social devastation and evil done to children in this generation and its progeny is immeasurable except by God Himself. Yet, we live with it today, with children who quickly become adults, well versed in the excuses and misgivings of adulthood long before their bodies reach maturity. They have learned the wiles of lying parents, maddened by separation, frustrated by lost and noble parental purposes and love, and haunted by a seemingly unrecoverable loss.

The world looks at this and says, “Get over it,” “Live with it,” or the old primers, “It must have been God’s will,” or “My spouse is not the same person I married,” or with equal nonsense, “He (or she) was too immature, incapacitated, or childish to have entered marriage.” As arrogance is to pride, is denial of the impact of divorce on individuals and society. Another lie.

As friends, ministers, and counselors of these dissolved spouses, we church men and women at times rush to salve the guilt that dissolution brings, ready to deny the truth and the trajedy, to give excuse and comfort to every sigh and whim rather than encouraging the spouse to face, settle, and reconcile differences with his or her spouse. Are those who aid and abet such nonsense any less problematic or better said, any less sinful?

Christ came as a sign of contradiction. Too often, what we see on another person’s face is not what is inside. Defensiveness caulks up our willingness to expose our innards to our spouses and friends. Poor thinking and sinfulness further darkens our minds and weakens our wills that is so necessary for grace, the type of grace that encourages reconciliation and hope for a relationship, for ourselves, but most importantly for our children.

The one hope that can be expressed is that the American people born of freedom and personal responsibilty, still show an outward love of Truth. Yet as the human condition reveals we often tolerate lies that end up either killing people physcially or inside their souls. It is hopeful, that in an effort to right some of the wrongs of the last supercilious 20th Century, i.e., self-absorbed, permissiveness, feelings, sexual revolution, abortion, divorce, and excuses upon excuses, that we can reform some of the laws the permit an easy divorce, or an abortion that kills a kid.

Of course, a change in the law does not change hearts. The law is but a standard. The law will change most fully when we adapt our lives personally to Christ.

A just society can be measured by how it treats its families, treasures relationships, and secures those relationships to secure the institution called a family. In this way, the most innocent members of society which are our children, remain protected whether in the womb or in the bedroom. Trust of family, friends, and institutions will be remade, and our society reformed.

In the end, Catholic social justice demands that the family be protected, that abortion be ended, that the divorce laws are reformed, and that Catholics make their spouses and children their first priorty after God–not jobs, wealth, or things. Outside of Our Lord and the promise of Salvation if we but follow His commands, These are the most dear and lovely things in our personal possession.