“…that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him…

…our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country…” – Thanksgiving Proclamation issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

It is right and just.

And I wish you and yours, and everyone you love a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.

 

Thankful for... children, or dogs, who rigorously test the durability of figurines. Thankful for... my beautiful and amazing wife. Thankful for... family and friends, loved ones near and far, in Heaven and on Earth. Amen.

Thankful for… children, or dogs, who rigorously test the durability of figurines. Thankful for… my beautiful and amazing wife. Thankful for… family and friends, loved ones near and far, in Heaven and on Earth. Amen.

Born that Way(TM): The Tired Refrain of the Evil One

There is a certain female pop star who has made a fortune encouraging her sycophants to indulge whatever base passions they experience, because, she says, we are all Born that WayTM. The adoption of this slogan has “gone viral” and is employed to affirm and excuse nearly every conceivable type of deviancy. What remains of our collective sense of right and wrong may soon give way to this insidious formula for human existence.

As argument (relying upon good reason and logic), Born that WayTM is poorly crafted and simmering in fallacy. It goes something like this:

  1. If there is a God, then
  2. God intentionally made us a certain way, the way we were born, and
  3. If so, every inclination we experience, so long as we were born with it, is good and worthy of embrace.
  4. Therefore, there is no problem or sin in acting upon any particular inclination, so long as we believe we were Born that WayTM.

The problems begin as soon as the Born that WayTM anthem ends. First, it cannot be consistently applied. Do we encourage the person who carries the genetic markers that provide a predilection for alcoholism or addiction to drink to excess or use dangerous drugs because the person is Born that WayTM? Do we decline to propose medical treatment for the cystic fibrosis patient, or a child with cleft palate, because they were Born that WayTM? We do not, because a well-formed society identifies behaviors and conditions that are undesirable, and we use our reason and knowledge to remedy them.

No matter how catchy the tune, Born that WayTM is no imprimatur on the goodness of a particular characteristic in a person’s makeup. Rather, the fundamental intention of Born that WayTM is to excuse sinful inclinations on the basis that if there is a Creator, the way a person emerges from the womb is the sum and substance of their being. No need for improvement or growth. No point in self-examination or discipline.

It’s the same tired refrain of the Evil One: “Go ahead, if you want it, it must be good.” And just as Eve in Genesis tells God – “The serpent tricked me into it” (3:13) – the very same trick is embedded in Born that WayTM.

As a device to reshape the vision of self, Born that WayTM sounds good. It removes limits on behavior, but it also rejects an immensely important and foundational aspect of our nature, because adherents to the Judeo-Christian tradition know that we were born as fallen creatures in need of salvation. To repeat the refrain of Born that WayTM is to embrace our fallen nature and indulge every craven inclination.

Hans_Thoma_001The Church teaches that before the fall of man, Adam and Eve were “…constituted in an original ‘state of holiness and justice’ [which was to] ‘share in… divine life.’” (CCC 375). “By the radiance of this grace all dimensions of man’s life were confirmed. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer and die. The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman, and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called ‘original justice.’” (CCC 376).

At this moment in creation (i.e., before the Fall), Born that WayTM would properly affirm the goodness of humanity, because it precedes the temptation and exercise of free will that brought about the Fall itself. It would, in other words, be True.

Had we remained in that state of “original justice”, Born that WayTM would continue to affirm the intention of Creation. But evil and free will intervened, causing us to lose “The ‘mastery’ over the world that God offered man from the beginning [which] was realized above all within man himself: mastery of self. The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence that subjugates him to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason.” (CCC 377).

Because of the Fall, “The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject ‘to its bondage to decay.’ Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will ‘return to the ground,’ for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.” (CCC 400). And, “After that first sin, the world is virtually inundated by sin…” (CCC 401).

Why must the bunnies suffer? Credit: Fairv8, WikiCommons

Why must the bunnies suffer? Credit: Fairv8, WikiCommons

And potentially, all of Creation is affected. Monsignor Knox, in his book Difficulties (3rd Ed., 1958), theorizes but does not opine on why even animals suffer in our fallen world: “It may be that if God had been preparing the world for a humanity which, he foresaw, would not fall, he would have made it a more comfortable place for rabbits to live in. I do not know… The consequences of the Fall consist not so much in the infliction of certain punishments as in the withdrawal of certain privileges, which privileges were from the first more than man had any strict right to expect. We are not being punished for Adam’s sin, but for a race – sinfulness common to him and us.” (p. 171). In this sense, Born that WayTM is also the “Great Amen” to a fallen world.

Divine Revelation teaches that man is fallen and in need of salvation. Born that WayTM rejects this fundamental teaching. Although it’s catchy, it sounds good, and it may even feel good, Born that WayTM is a tired lie that gets repackaged and represented with abundant shimmer and glimmer to fool the misdirected and pagans. It drives a pursuit of happiness oriented after concupiscence. In other words, without God, our very desires are flawed. Our “control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered” – We can’t even see which of our desires will lead to true happiness, without God’s help!

God does not intend for us to remain Born that WayTM; He intends that we recognize our need for redemption. But He respects our free will. Born that WayTM is the exercise of free will at the expense of relationship with God. In that sense, it’s exactly what a Liar who intends to keep us from God would have us believe. As conclusion, Born that WayTM is both incomplete and long expired.

Giving Thanks for Adoring God

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Two days until Thanksgiving, and it looks as though the day will be quite a bit different than expected, compared to previous years. Yet, I am looking forward to it.

A few weeks ago, I posted about a recent EWTN interview of then-Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. I can’t stop thinking about how in that interview, toward the end (the last three minutes), he talks about prayer:

“How do you pray? … Only asking and giving thanks? ….. Do you praise God? Do you praise God because He is so great, as we do in the Mass, in the Sanctus of the Mass? But do you do that in your heart, when you are in His presence? I ask another question, do you adore God? Are you stopped before this great God and adore Him because he is the only God? To strengthen your faith, besides being a beggar, because we have to be very mendicant. The Catholic should be a beggar. Your prayers should praise and worship God.”

I’ve been going through a personal family issue. I don’t see it getting better soon. The words in Matthew 10:35 apply to our situation. Your prayers for this intention would be most gratefully appreciated. Can’t get into the particulars here, but I can say that I’ve been sorrowful about it.

Because of my sorrow, I’ve been tempted to devote all of my prayer time to simply asking God to repair this situation. I feel a bit like the child who goes to a parent with the latest request: “Dad, thanks for everything, now can you listen to me as I pour my heart out, can you comfort me, guide me, keep me sane, make me happy, and fix this problem for me?”

I love how easily my heart accepts what Francis says, because some of it is difficult for those of us who struggle with detachment. I think he makes it appear more possible to follow, because he displays evidence of having the joyful relationship we truly want, if we could just get out of our own way. Reflecting on his “question” (Do you adore God?) has led me to resist the inclination to pour myself out all the time without adoring and giving praise to God.

At mass, I place myself at the foot of the Cross, and I ask God to help me see the Mystery. I think about how great God is. In trying to devote myself to adoring and praising God, I am filled with joy.

There is no reason to wait to praise and adore God. We mustn’t hold our praise ransom for answered prayers. He gives us all that we have! He receives our prayers and blesses us all abundantly. We do not see all that He does for us!

Give thanks, adore and praise Him!

Another Reason to Love St. Thomas More

MoreBookThe man who defied King Henry VIII in defense of the Holy Catholic Church and suffered martyrdom outside the Tower of London is a personal hero, and my patron in Confirmation. James Monti’s title for his biography on More is after one of the last things spoken before his execution. At pg. 449, Monti writes that “After pleading for prayers that the King might receive ‘good counsel’, he declared ‘that he died the King’s good servant but God’s first.'” He then knelt down on the scaffold platform and recited the Miserere from Psalm 51. 

St. Thomas More had an exceedingly sharp wit, and the fact that he was about to be executed did little to dampen his sense of humor. Monti writes that “When the ex-Lord Chancellor reached the scaffold an officer lent him a hand as he mounted the stairs, More jesting, ‘When I come down again, let me shift for myself as well as I can.'”

What I failed to appreciate before today is that St. Thomas had been locked up for a year in the Tower, and so he would not have shaved. He went to the scaffold with…. a beard. And one of his last earthly acts was to joke about it! Monti writes: “Blindfolding himself, he laid his head down on the chopping block but pulled his beard aside, telling the hangman, ‘I pray you let me lay my beard over the block lest ye should cut it.'” At legend, he purportedly quipped, “This hath not offended the king.

Beards, jokes, and saints. Orthodox Catholic Joy!

The End of the Filibuster: Long Live the Tyranny of the Majority

Amidst years of talking heads in politics yelling that the sky is falling, like the villagers’ ultimate response to the boy who cried wolf, we Americans have become desensitized to the real threats to our system. On this blog, I write about things that involve orthodox Catholic Joy, which generally precludes the standard political discussions. But something happened today, something absolutely terrifying, and I need to address it. 

The United States Constitution, Article II, Section 2, gives the President the power to nominate officials to government, “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate”. Today, the U.S. Senate, currently controlled by the Democratic Party, eliminated the filibuster for almost all presidential nominations.

This is not simply about modernizing arcane parliamentary procedure. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States personally drafted the rules that the Democratic Leadership changed, reversing 225 years of precedent and protection that was always intended to keep the Senate as the “upper house” of the Legislative Branch and the hall of reasoned debate and discourse.

The result: rather than forcing the Senate to continue playing by the same rules in place since the institution of our Republic, now all that is needed is a simple majority of senators (rather than the supermajority of 60 senators) to confirm nominees.

It’s being called the “nuclear option” for a reason: it utterly decimates a long-standing protection for the political minority. And it will be wielded in such a way that the party in  control will no longer need to compromise or negotiate to achieve its objectives.

The end of the filibuster for nominees is just another in the long list of things that the current reigning President was against before he was President (when he was a U.S. Senator) but now favors because it represents a further strengthening of his powers as Chief Executive. In 2005, on the floor of the Senate, Mr. Obama, then the Junior Democratic Senator from Illinois, delivered a speech, in which he said:

The American people sent us here to be their voice. They understand that those voices can at times become loud and argumentative, but they also hope that we can disagree without being disagreeable.

What they don’t expect is for one party – be it Republican or Democrat – to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet. 
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If they [the current {Republican} majority] choose to change the rules and put an end to Democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.

 

But today, His Majesty made a statement in which he noted the various failures of his administration to achieve success in his nominations and legislative agenda, and due to this frustration, he is now in favor of changing the rules that have always governed the process of political appointments. He stated his support of the change to the Senate rules, and refused to take any questions, but as part of his remarks, said the following:

And if there are differences in the Senate, then debate should be had, people should vote their conscience, they should vote on behalf of their constituents, but they should vote. That’s what they’re there to do. And ultimately, if you got a majority of folks who believe in something, then it should be able to pass.

The President of the United States and the Democratic Leadership in the Senate are so politically myopic, so craven for power without compromise, so incapable of admitting even to the possibility of this rule change coming to haunt them in the future, that they now typify the exact political condition that Jefferson and our Founders sought to avoid.

Were it not for the manifold other scandals, games, abuses of executive power and privilege, and outright lies told repeatedly to the American public in order to gain political advantage, we might be able to take the President at his word. But following the ghastly record of this regime, I can only conclude that the President does see himself as a Monarch.

For the future, this can only mean two things: either the Democratic Leadership is egregiously stupid (not impossible!), or it is positively certain that it will retain a hold on the political power given itself for the foreseeable future — forever.

In either case, what happened today sends us even closer to ruin.

TWO Astounding (Miraculous?) Photographs Taken at the same Eucharistic Adoration Chapel

CAM03662-1[Don’t miss this March 2014 update regarding a THIRD photograph.]

[FIFTH UPDATE (11/29/2013 8:30)]: To be clear, I am not claiming that these photos are miraculous; I’m asking the question and trying to discern myself. However, you can watch the interview of the lady who took the first photograph. The reporter says she saw the picture on the lady’s iPhone. The lady says she did nothing to alter the picture and that the light source was not visible to the naked eye. Also, I did nothing to alter either picture, although as I said earlier, I did change the format to JPG. You are free to comment that the photos are faked, but I go on record saying they were *not* faked by me, and that I am not aware of any fakery. If I were, I would say so. That is the truth. Nobody should need something like this in order to believe in Christ or the True Miracle of the Eucharist!]

[FOURTH UPDATE (11/23/2013 11:53)]: WGN TV in Chicago has a news video on this story, which you can see here! The story says that the original photo below was taken last Friday, not Sunday.

[THIRD UPDATE (11/23/2013 11:12)]: So, I said the first photo I posted wasn’t the only one. This is remarkable: A second photograph, taken with a different camera by a different person:

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Below, the original photo posted to this blog taken at the Adoration Chapel at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glenview, Illinois. My source said that this wasn’t the only photo, and found another one, above. 

MiracleACOLPH

[SECOND UPDATE (11/20/2013 22:20)]: The photo was taken this past Sunday (11/17), using a cell phone camera. It seems that this isn’t the first time a picture’s been taken at this Adoration Chapel showing something like this; there’s already some talk among the Chicago Catholics in the know and the person who took this picture went to check it out.]

Look at the pews; the light does not appear to extend to the floor; it’s almost floating. Also, look at how bright the monstrance is — it’s not clear that the monstrance is reflecting the light in the picture; it’s almost as though the monstrance is part of the same light source.

Fortunately, it’s well above my pay grade to opine on whether this photograph is truly miraculous, but I do believe in miracles, and I believe in many of the approved Eucharistic Miracles. Just today, my son asked me if priests always believe that the Eucharist is truly the body and blood of our Lord. I told him it doesn’t actually matter if the priest believes. Reality is not determined by belief. But it brought to mind the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, Italy:

In the Eighth Century, a monk of the order of St. Basil experienced serious doubt while saying mass. He asked God to send him a sign that would help him believe in the Real Presence. At the time of consecration, the host turned into live tissue, and the contents of the chalice became fresh blood. The relics were retained, and can still be viewed today if you visit the church in Italy.

In 1981, scientists from the University of Siena examined the relics, and determined that the flesh and blood was human, the flesh was heart tissue (in section: myocardium, endocardium, the vagus nerve, and left ventricle), both the flesh and blood were the same blood type (AB, the same blood type on the fibers of the Shroud of Turin). Also, the fact that both the blood and tissue were preserved and intact after twelve centuries is in itself an extraordinary phenomenon.

The Eucharist is a Miracle, and yet we frequently think of going to Mass in terms of obligation; it’s not! Jesus invites us and asks us to receive Him. We can be a source of encouragement to one another not by reminding and nagging about the obligation, but by joyfully accepting the graces poured out in the Sacrament and asking God to make us evidence of the good of the Eucharist for the world. Mass is a joy. Attending mass makes it possible to be Catholic.

[Don’t miss this March 2014 update regarding a THIRD photograph.]

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Here’s a Licit Way to Use Artificial Birth Control!

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By Chris Huh, Wikimedia Commons

The Telegraph reports that India is planning to put its rising population of primates on the pill to tackle the growing “monkey menace” in its towns and cities, government wildlife officials have confirmed. Humanae Vitae doesn’t cover other primates, just species homo sapiens. I say “yes” to fewer monkeys!