Sunday, March 19, 2017

Char Vance - Healed in Medjugorje

Spirit Daily
By Michael H. Brown
When life seems to be closing in on us, in a world that so often seems upside-down, there one way to exit, and that's through  humor. A sure cure for our ills is found in laughter!
Usually, we should be laughing at ourselves.
And one thing that should make us smile is how silly it is to worry when we have God. 
In the Light of His eternity and angels and watchfulness, there is nothing to fear but lack of prayer. We can even pray for a good sense of humor! 
Many of you have heard the experts talk about how laughter can help us recover from serious illnesses. That's because humor is a spiritual release and when we release something on that level, it goes to both our emotions and bodies. 
A great example of this -- of both healing and laughter -- is Char Vance, the television producer and comedian from New Orleans who is often out there speaking at conferences and causing people to roll in the aisles. Char had been in the radio business when she suffered a horrendous accident. It was on Halloween night at a farm she owned back in the 1980s. She and a group were riding on a tractor-pulled wagon when suddenly they caught sight of the barn on fire.
Char jumped off in hopes of running to the blaze but got caught underneath, injured so badly it looked like part of her leg would have to be amputated. The ankle was severely damaged.
Just crushed. No bone support at all. It looked like a lifelong handicap.
At the time, Char Vance was not a Catholic, but a friend got her to go to the apparition site of Medjugorje -- much besmirched these days by the devil. And for good reason: this is a place of enormous conversion. Ask Char. Her recounting of her trip and her conversion to the Catholic faith -- more importantly, to faith in Jesus -- is a hilarious excursion into deep spirituality. Finally, it has been captured on videotape.
At Medjugorje, where Char hobbled in a huge, lumbering cast, the Louisiana woman climbed the holy highland of Mount Krizevac despite those who thought it was crazy and despite her own skepticism. "I wondered why [after Apparition Hill], they wanted us to go up the mountain," she jokes. "I said, why do you have us climbing two hills, two mountains in one day? It's not like we're going to run out of fun things to do here!"
Here she was in a place with no TV and no hotels and no pools, drinking beer while everyone else was praying the Rosary in a way she saw as strange and obsessive.
But Char went up the "hill." As she walked a dirt road on the outskirts of the village, something had said to her, "You know, it will be just your luck if something big happens up there and you're gonna miss it." That's what had finally convinced her to go up. She and her companions caught a cab.  When they got to the mountain, many others were doing the same. 
"I didn't know a lot of prayers," says Char, who was not a Catholic at the time. "I knew 'Now I lay me down to sleep' and the Lord's Prayer, but that's the most wonderful thing you Catholics have: you have prayers for everything," she jokes. "You know, you got department heads. You lost something, you got St. Anthony. You got bad eyes you got St. Lucy..."
Heading up the mountain and praying at the Fourth Station of the Cross, Char propped up her cast on a boulder and here comes a monk -- a very unusual monk. "He had on this white robe and the hood up and he's carrying a tripod with nothing on it, no camera. And he's looking directly at me," says Char. "And coming to me. And he says, 'You know, when I was in Germany, I had the good fortune of meeting Theresa Neumann.' To me it was like saying, 'I met John Jones.' He said, 'You know who that is, don't you?' I said, 'No.' And he said, 'Well, she was a stigmatist.'"
Got me again, said Char.
"Don't you know what a stigmatist is?" the man asked.
Uh uh, replied Char.
He explained what a stigmatic was (someone who had received the wounds of Christ) and pulling out a rosary told her that he had put it on her stigmatic wounds and that it had since healed people of many problems, including cancer. "Here I am with this big cast on the rock, and he says, 'I would like your permission to put this on your head!'"
It's hard to convey how Char tells this story. Her inflections, her timing, her side comments are hilarious. The tape shows an audience in constant  stitches. But she was telling a serious story. "When something like this happens, you think 'somebody has tapped into your thoughts' -- and you better start thinking some holy pious thoughts QUICK!"
The mysterious stranger told Char to say seven Our FathersHail Marys, and Glory Bes, and when she got to the top, the Creed. "When he left he would talk to others," she recounts. "If they were French he would begin talking in French. If you were Spanish he would start speaking Spanish. It was like he knew what you were before he got there."
At the seventh Station, the comedian noticed the "monk" was kind of winded. Char offered him a canteen of water. "He smiled a smile that went all the way through me," she says. 
Medjugorje is famous for the reports of mysterious strangers -- including monks or nuns in white. When Char got to the top, the seers were ready to have an apparition. Char didn't want to see anything -- afraid there would be hysteria and she would fall off the mountain! They were at the large cross there. "All of a sudden it's gets quiet, quiet, quiet. All of a sudden, that cross lit up, and it lit up, best I can describe it, like those old strobe lights, quick, and I see Jesus on the cross. I saw him like I have never seen a person before or since. He looked horrible -- horrible -- his nose was laying over, and He had this enormous crown, not this little crown like you see. This thing was like a big bird's nest. That quickly it lit up again and I saw it again."
Vance wasn't alone. Others in her group were astonished to witness the same thing. The mountain is known for a wide array of phenomena -- although this particular type we had not previously encountered. It is the cross where the Blessed Mother says she prays each day.
A woman next to Char said, "Did you just see Christ on that cross?"
Char felt "totally zapped." She now knew without a doubt that God and the Blessed Mother existed. When she got back, she had to go to the doctor for x-rays. She went in the waiting room "and all of a sudden the technician comes out with all these x-rays and he says [in a loud voice], 'Charlene Vance, you've been healed, you've been healed!'"
"You should have seen the people in there with their People magazines!" she jokes.
But it was true: the nurse ran in too, and then the doctor arrived -- gracing them with his "presence." "When's the last time you saw a doctor come into the waiting room!" she recalls with a roll of her eyes. "The nurse said, 'Did you hear about?'" The doctor said he had to take a look at it. It looked like there was bone growth! He asked Char to slowly try to see if she could move her toes. She could do more than that. She could rotate her whole ankle! She was with her mother. "I started dancing around and saying, 'Ma, ma, I can walk, praise God I can walk!' He runs out and brings out another doctor and they look at the x-rays and my mother says, 'Doctor, doctor, what is it,' and he says -- direct quote -- 'There's absolutely no correlation in her x-rays before she went and when she got back. There's total bone growth everywhere.'"
Jesus is the same as He was 2,000 years ago, she tells those who see her. "Miracles do happen. Believe in miracles. Expect a miracle. Miracles do happen," says Char, who now helps produce videos for Focus International, headed by retired Archbishop Phillip Hannan. "The real miracle was when God healed my head with the gift of faith. Miracles do happen, but they happen in God's time and in His way."
Char had some medals from Medjugorje and started walking all around and passing them out to the people in the waiting room. "Have a medal! Have a medal!" She walked out of that office and never needed crutches like they said she would need crutches and never received a day of therapy. 
And of yes: Charlene Vance became a Catholic six months to the day that she had climbed the mountain.
[Footnote: she also was to learn that Theresa Neumann, the stigmatic, had been born on Friday, April 8, which is Char's birthday -- in fact she too was born on a Friday -- and was injured trying to put out a fire in a barn. It was her ankle that was injured, and the mystic was healed a year later!]
[Resources in the Spiritdaily Bookstore: Char's video is No Phones in Medjugorje; see also Our Lady Speaks From Medjugorje, Medjugorje and the Church, and Queen of the Cosmos]

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017


"Your plans, your projects, your dreams have to always be bigger than you, so God has room to operate." - Mother Angelica

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tom Zimmer - "The Hermit of Loreto" and President Trump

Tom Zimmer - "The Hermit of Loreto" -  3/6/2017
By Bret Thoman, SFO---

About two weeks ago, I began receiving a slew of emails and Facebooks messages asking me what I knew about the American “Hermit of Loreto.” Though I, too, am an American who lives in Loreto, I knew nothing about him.

I was given a YouTube video to watch:

In the video, an American priest named Fr. Giacomo Capoverdi recounts how he encountered this holy man who lived in Loreto. He says that some seventeen years ago, a friend of his -- an Italian American doctor named Claudio Curran -- told him that he had to get up to Loreto on his upcoming trip to Rome to speak with a holy man there by the name of Tom Zimmer.

He said this gentleman, an American layperson, had left everything behind in the US to live in Loreto as a hermit. He added that he was very prayerful and had written a book, “Pietà” which sold upwards of “ten million copies.”

Fr. Capoverdi says that after arriving in Rome, he indeed took a train up to Loreto and went inside the basilica where he saw an elderly gentleman, hunched over, sitting on the floor next to the Holy House in prayer. He sat down next to him, introduced himself in English, and they had a wonderful conversation.

So then Fr. Capoverdi fast forwards until a few weeks ago when he was talking to his old friend, the doctor, who said that back in the 1980s, Tom Zimmer had told him (the doctor) that he had received a “premonition” and that he (Tom) believed that a certain man would lead America back to God. And that man would be none other than Donald J. Trump.

“The millionaire playboy from New York?” asks the incredulous doctor. “Yes,” responds Tom. In fact, Zimmer was so convinced that Donald Trump would become a great spiritual leader of America that he wrote his name on a brick and had it placed in the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Holy Door after the Jubilee in order that Trump would receive blessings from the many Masses that would be said in the Vatican.

Fr. Capoverdi says that he wanted to get this message out after he saw Donald Trump’s wife begin a political rally in Florida by beginning with the Our Father.

Now, I have to admit that my first impression after watching this video was somewhere between skepticism and suspicion. Although I believe that God reveals his plans and messages in advance to his prophets, it is not always clear who his prophets are, or, when people speak as “prophets” whether or not they are true or false.

In any case, a number of people asked me if I would look into Tom Zimmer to see what I could find out. And so I did.

Since the 1920s, the basilica of the Holy House of Loreto has been staffed by the Capuchin Franciscan friars. Due to my participation in the Third Order of St. Francis, my work organizing pilgrimages, and my own prayer and Mass attendance at the Holy House, I know a number of friars and personnel who staff the basilica. And so I went to find to do some “investigative research.”

First, I happened to run into a jovial, 84-year-young friar named Fr. Mario who I’ve known for years. He was in Loreto for a week-long retreat, though he lives not in Loreto, but in the mother house in Camerino where the order began in the sixteenth century. (When we take groups to Camerino, I sometimes joke with Fr. Mario by asking him if he was there when Matteo da Bascio founded the order in 1527.) Since all the Capuchins of this province, the Marches, come here often, as it is one of their most important churches and communities, I asked Fr. Mario if he knew anything about Tom Zimmer.

He said that he recalled an American man who prayed in the basilica, but he added that over the years, there have been many such “penitents” or “oblates” who come here for weeks, months, or even years, and he did not know much about him.

He said the friars all knew of him and referred to him simply as “L’Americano” (the American), and found him to be courteous and polite, if not a little “particular.” They were aware that Tom attended upwards of four or five Masses every day and that he spent the rest of his time praying in and around the Holy House. (The Holy House itself is a small building comprised of four marble-wrapped walls in the center of a large basilica.)

Since he didn’t have any more information about “The American,” Fr. Mario told me I should speak with Fr. Giuseppe Santarelli, who has been in Loreto for decades and would surely know more.

I had heard of Fr. Santarelli and knew that he was one of the more erudite and learned friars in Loreto and works as the director of the “Congregazione Universale della Santa Casa” which promotes devotion to the Holy House and publishes a magazine, among other things. So I popped in and introduced myself.

I immediately sensed that Fr. Santarelli, not much taller than five feet, was a kind man and a gentleman. I told him that I was there to inquire about an American “penitent” who lived in Loreto back in the 1990s and prayed frequently in the Holy House.

Fr. Santarelli promptly cut me off, “Ah sì, Thomas Zimmer, si chiamava... certo che mi ricordo...” (“Ah yes, Thomas Zimmer was his name, of course I remember him...”). He went on to say that everyone in Loreto knew of him.

I told him about the “premonition” he had made about Donald Trump and that a video of an American priest discussing it had just gone viral on the internet. Fr. Santarelli just smiled and added that he did not know anything about that, but that him making such a prophecy may have been possible. I asked him what he did know about Thomas. 

He said he was here in Loreto for about ten years, he was a very pious and devoted man, he went to Mass every opportunity he could and was in constant prayer, he spoke fluent Italian, and the friars held him in high esteem. He said that he knew Tom had gone back to the US before he died. He didn’t recall exactly, but he thought somewhere around 2008.

He said that the basilica had received word of his death and they had a record of it. He took me into another room where there were some archives and pulled out a ledger or two, but could not find the document he was looking for.

He then said that he had a photo of Tom, and he pulled out a hardbound book from a different shelf. It was a type of album. In it, Tom Zimmer can be seen frail and hunched over leaning on a cane sitting in front of the Holy House. He let me take a picture of it.
Thomas Zimmer
I asked him what he thought about Tom’s prophecy, but he said he did not him well enough to have an opinion on that. He said I should speak to a woman who worked in the bookstore next to the basilica. Her name was Michela. He said that she knew Tom quite well and even referred to her as being a “faithful devotee” of his.

So I went next door and, after a large crowd of French speaking pilgrims cleared out, I found Michela and introduced myself to her and explained why I was there.

She said Tom was a very holy man and she used to accompany him back and forth to the Holy House from the retirement home where he was staying. She said he used to joke that he lived in Mary’s House longer than St. Joseph.

During the time she knew him, he taught her many prayers including a devotion to St. Bridget, which helped her during a difficult period while she was pregnant with her child. She also said that after he returned to the US, he wrote to her saying that he regretted his decision to leave Loreto, but that he felt strongly he needed to return to his homeland. Without saying so, it was clear that Michela was very fond of Tom.

I told her about his premonition and what he said many years earlier about Donald Trump, and she said she did not know anything about that. I asked her if he ever confided to her any other such premonitions or prophecies. He had not.

After looking into Tom Zimmer, the “Hermit of Loreto,” I have no reason to doubt Fr. Capoverdi’s statements that Thomas Zimmer communicated to his friend that he received a “premonition” that Donald Trump would “lead America back to God.” Yet, when seeking to determine whether a prophecy is true or false, the Church leaves us some criteria to guide us in discernment.

The first is to look at the recipient of the prophecy. Generally, that person should be a good and virtuous person and additionally, the person’s temperament should also be considered, as well as his or her physical and mental state. Here it is clear that Thomas Zimmer was prayerful and devoted, was courteous and helpful toward others in need, and appears to have been of sound mind, though his body was failing.

Next, a prophecy must not state anything is against revealed truth. Here, too, there is nothing Scriptural or in Church teachings that would suggest that a political leader cannot lead people to God; on the contrary, Scripture indicates it as a duty. (Some have even seen Trump in the figure of King Cyrus [see Ezra 1:1-11]).

Lastly, the prophecy must, obviously, come true. It does seem extraordinary that an elderly prayerful man would have had such an intuition about Donald Trump as being Christian leader when he was, indeed, living a life quite the opposite in that moment. 

However, I believe that here we will have to wait and see … And even then, I will wager that whether Donald Trump “leads America back to God” will be open to interpretation…

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hermit of Loreto and President Trump
Fr. Giacomo Capoverdi Published on 
Feb 19, 2017

In light of current events, I wish to share a true story 

about a hermit from Loretto, Italy and the 

premonition he was given by God.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

FROM THE PASTOR February 12, 2017 by Fr. George W. Rutler

February 12, 2017

by Fr. George W. Rutler
Europe and its contiguous lands were in a chaotic condition in 1240: the Mongols were destroying Kiev, the Novgorod army virtually wiped out the Swedes along the Neva River, and the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, was pillaging the Papal States using Islamic Saracens as his mercenaries. Pope Gregory IX’s attempt to rally a Crusade against the invaders failed, and his good friend Saint Clare was virtually bedridden as the Saracens besieged her convent at San Damiano. Her beloved Francis of Assisi had died fourteen years before. In this emergency, she left her invalid couch, went to the window and exposed the Blessed Sacrament in a silver and ivory ciborium, and the alien troops fled.

   In northern Mexico until just a few years ago, drug- and gang-related violence had made Ciudad Juarez one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Following the example of Saint Clare, missionaries turned to the Eucharistic Lord for help. A perpetual adoration chapel was opened in 2013 when the murder rate was forty people a day, with soldiers and policemen joining the gangs. Increasing numbers of devotees urged the soldiers to join them in Holy Hours. Few now dismiss as only coincidence the fact that within five years the annual murder rate dropped from 3,766 to 256.

   That rate is far lower than many cities in the United States now. With dismaying insouciance, statisticians in our nation over recent years have coldly taken for granted its moral decay. Besides graphic violence in the streets, there are over 500,000 abortions each year. In many places, births out of wedlock are the norm, teenage suicide has doubled in little more than a decade, 40% of all children live in broken homes, school diplomas and college degrees have generally become meaningless, marriage has been redefined into surreality, and freedom of religion has been intimidated by false readings of constitutional rights.

   Recent political shifts in our nation offer a faint glimmer of genuine promise for a change in all this, as more people realize that in the past they had placed their confidence in gossamer hopes and tinsel messiahs. But the ballot box is no substitute for the Tabernacle. A well-known Pentecostal preacher surprisingly admitted that most miracles happen in the Catholic Church because “Catholic people revere the Eucharist.” If more Catholics themselves understood that, there would be more miracles. Now, miracles do not contradict nature: they are God’s will at work at high speed. Christ promised to be with us “until the end of the world.” Eucharistic adoration is simply the recognition of his presence. Saint Clare prayed, “My Lord, if it is your wish, protect this city which is sustained by your love.” The Lord answered, “It will have to undergo trials, but it will be defended by my protection.”


Father Rutler’s book, The Stories of Hymns – The History Behind 100 of Christianity’s Greatest Hymns, is available through Sophia Institute Press (Paperback or eBook) and Amazon (Paperback or Kindle). 

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Why Human Nature is Important When Evaluating Sexual Behavior

Why Human Nature is Important When Evaluating Sexual Behavior

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are acts of “grave depravity” and are “intrinsically disordered” because they contradict the natural law (CCC 2357).

The natural law, which is a moral law built into the nature of man discoverable by the natural light of human reason, has always been the basis for the Church’s teachings on sexual morality. But many deem this reasoning unworthy.

At a Human Rights Campaign dinner on October 10, 2009, President Barack Obama called such views “outworn arguments and old attitudes” and said our attempt to outlaw so-called same-sex marriage is an attempt to “enshrine discrimination into our Constitution” (, October 11, 2009).
Obama’s view is a common one among those who are critical of the Church’s position. Therefore, it’s necessary that we give a rational defense of the appeal to the order of human nature (the natural law) for determining appropriate and inappropriate human sexual behavior.

Instead of asking Tina Turner’s question, “What’s love got to do with it?” we must ask, “What’s nature got to do with it?”

Human nature and our good 
The first and most fundamental reason we must appeal to human nature for determining appropriate human sexual behavior is that living in harmony with human nature is constitutive of human happiness.

As I explained in my blog post “The Natural Law: A Guide for How to be Human,”what is good for man is the achievement of the specific ends toward which man’s nature directs him. (“Nature” here refers to the essence of what man is as a rational animal, an essence that all human beings share. It does not refer to what an individual happens to feel or what commonly occurs in the ordinary course of things.)

Consequently, human flourishing (or happiness) is contingent on whether man orders his conduct toward the attainment of those ends. And since our sexuality is a part of human nature, it necessarily follows that our happiness is contingent on whether we live in harmony with what nature demands of our sexuality.
To President Obama, I ask, “What’s so worn out and old-fashioned about encouraging people to live in harmony with their nature as a human being? What’s so discriminating about encouraging people to live in a way that will help them flourish as human beings and achieve happiness?”

Human nature and love 
This leads to another reason why nature matters when it comes to evaluating human sexual behavior. To reject human nature is to reject love. How so?
Recall that nature determines what is objectively good for a human being (see linked article above). Love, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is to will the good of another (ST I-II:26:4). So, if we reject human nature, we reject what is good for the other. But if we reject what is good for the other, we fail to love.
Sexual behavior divorced from human nature undermines the very thing it’s supposed to express: namely, love. I guess Tina Turner’s song “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” applies after all.

Human nature and other types of behavior 
A third reason is that we appeal to human nature to evaluate other types of human behavior. For example, we appeal to human nature when we say slavery is wrong. We recognize that slavery impedes the exercise of freedom that all human beings have by nature.
We also appeal to human nature when we judge murder to be wrong—it frustrates the intrinsic right to life that humans have by nature. Theft is considered a violation of our natural right to private ownership of goods and resources.
If we’re going to appeal to human nature to evaluate the morality of these non-sexual types of human behavior, then shouldn’t we appeal to human nature to evaluate the morality of sexual behavior?

Human nature and other types of sexual behavior 
The appeal to human nature is justified also because as rational beings we appeal to human nature to evaluate some types of human sexual behavior.
Take for example bestiality, a topic I assume the majority of advocates for homosexual activity reject. When we say bestiality is not appropriate sexual behavior for humans, we are appealing to human nature. We recognize that such behavior is not conducive to what our sexuality orders us toward, namely another human person.

If we’re going to respect nature’s ordering of our sexual powers to another human person, then shouldn’t we also respect nature’s ordering of our sexual powers to a person of the opposite sex? Of course, nature’s ordering of our sexual powers to a person of the opposite sex is a point that has to be defended. But that goes beyond the scope of this article. Be on the lookout for a forthcoming blog post.
Another example is rape. We say rape is wrong because one is being forcedinto sexual activity contrary to his or her will. The assumption is that consent is necessary for appropriate human sexual behavior. But notice how such reasoning is premised on the idea that one should not physically impede another from exercising his or her freedom when it comes to sexual behavior. That’s an appeal to human nature. Even advocates of so-called “same-sex marriage” argue that consent is essential.

We also appeal to human nature when we object to adultery. Even though some may not be able to articulate the reason why adultery is wrong based on natural law theory (it threatens the stable union of husband and wife that is necessary for the rearing of children that sex brings forth), they intuitively recognize that sexual love is supposed to be exclusive. A person who lives the homosexual lifestyle typically is not going to be happy if his or her partner is sexually active with another person.

So since we appeal to human nature to judge otherforms of sexual behavior, it’s reasonable to appeal to human nature to judge homosexual behavior.

Human nature keeps morality objective 
A fifth reason for not rejecting nature in our evaluation of sexual behavior is that moral evaluation of sexuality divorced from human nature becomes contingent on the subjective judgment of the individual, which in turn justifies any type of sexual conduct.
Let’s take the examples mentioned above. Consider bestiality. If sexual morality is relative to the individual’s will, then there would be no grounds for anyone to say bestiality is inappropriate human sexual behavior as long as the individual deems it appropriate.
Lest you think this is outside the boundaries of possibility, here’s what utilitarian moral philosopher Peter Singer has to say about it:
[S]ex with animals does not always involve cruelty. Who has not been at a social occasion disrupted by the household dog gripping the legs of a visitor and vigorously rubbing its penis against them? The host usually discourages such activities, but in private not everyone objects to being used by her or his dog in this way, and occasionally mutually satisfying activities may develop. Soyka [Viennese writer] would presumably have thought this within the range of human sexual variety (emphasis added).
After describing an incident where an orangutan seized a woman in response to his sexual instinct (intentions were made clear with the visibility of certain organs) at Camp Leakey, a rehabilitation center for captured orangutans in Borneo, Singer comments:
This does not make sex across the species barrier normal, or natural, whatever those much-misused words may mean, but it does imply that it ceases to be an offense to our status and dignity as human beings (ibid; emphasis added).
This is just one absurdity to which the divorce of moral evaluation of sexuality from human nature leads.
The approval of rape is another. If the use of our sexual powers is not governed by an appeal to what is good and bad for us given our human nature as spelled out in my article linked above, and is only based on what we feel, then on what grounds can we say the rapist is wrong? He may judge such activity is good for him and argue that he personally has a tendency to do these sorts of things.
Another example is “monogamish unions.”  A 2011 New York Times Magazineprofile of Dan Savage, an American author and activist for the LGBT community, introduced Americans to the term “monogamish,” which refers to relationships in which partners allow sexual infidelity provided they are honest about it. In essence, this is a push to normalize adultery.
What if the couples both judge such behavior is appropriate human sexual behavior? Can we accuse them of being wrong? Not if sexual morality is divorced from the order of human nature.
The bottom line is that if moral evaluation of sexual behavior is divorced from nature’s ordering of our sexual powers, then sexual morality becomes relative to the will of the individual. And if sexual morality becomes relative to the will of the individual, then all types of sexual conduct can be justified, even the ones that we intuitively and rationally know are contrary to nature.
Human nature and intelligent use 
Finally, the appeal to human nature and the ends toward which it orders our sexual powers is justified by the fact that we are rational beings. It belongs to our rational nature to ask, “What is sex for?” The late Frank Sheed, one of the greatest Catholic apologists of all times, comments:
I know that to the modern reader there seems something quaint and old-world in asking what a thing is for; the modern question is always, What can I do with it? Yet it remains a first principle of the intelligent use of anything to ask what the thing is for (Society and Sanity, 111).
In order to flesh this out a bit, consider a microphone. What if I thought the microphone was a hammer, and I used it to hammer some nails when building my house? Obviously I would destroy the microphone.
This illustrates the principle that in order to intelligently use something I must first know whatit is and what it’s for. If I use something contrary to its nature and what it’s meant for, I will likely destroy it.
The same holds true with our sexuality. We need to know what our sexuality is for before we can intelligently use it. But asking the question, “What sex is for?” is simply an appeal to the order that nature has inscribed within our sexual powers.
With regard to President Obama’s objection, how can asking what sex is for be an “outworn argument” and an “old attitude”? Must we stop asking what anything is for? If not, then why apply the principle only to sex?
It’s interesting that the very thing Obama thinks is not worthy of intelligent consideration, the appeal to the natural ordering of sex, constitutes a first principle of intelligent use for anything.
It’s unfortunate that Obama’s comments are similar to that of the character Skipper in the 2014 computer-animated movie Madagascar Penguins:“You know what? I reject nature.” If the appeal to that which constitutes us as a human being—namely, human nature—is an old attitude, then I guess the new attitude is the desire to be something less than human. I’ll take the “old” attitude. How about you?
This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at Catholic Answers.
Karlo Broussard, a native of Crowley, Louisiana, left a promising musical career to devote himself full-time to the work of Catholic apologetics. For more than a decade he has traveled the country teaching apologetics, biblical studies, theology, and philosophy. Karlo has published articles on a variety of subjects in Catholic Answers Magazine, is a regular guest onCatholic Answers Live, and is an active blogger at Karlo holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in theology from Catholic Distance University and the Augustine Institute, and is currently working on his masters in philosophy with Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He also worked for several years in an apprenticeship with nationally known author and theologian Fr. Robert J. Spitzer at the Magis Center of Reason and Faith. Karlo is one of the most dynamic and gifted Catholic speakers on the circuit today, communicating with precision of thought, a genuine love for God, and an enthusiasm that inspires. Karlo resides in Murrieta, CA with his wife and four children. You can view Karlo's online videos at You can also book Karlo for a speaking event by contacting Catholic Answers at 619-387-7200.

Speak Truth to Power?

Speak Truth to Power?

“But what, Quintus Propertius, sir,” says the old bearded fellow, wringing his hands as he tugs at the reins of the centurion’s horse, “do you have to offer us, the defeated peoples of Iberia? Let us reason this out, we and you, together. Is it right by the gods that you should impose your laws upon us at the point of a sword? What have we done to you to warrant it?”

“You have lost,” says the centurion. “I’m a soldier, not a philosopher. You’re an old man, not a soldier. And if you don’t let go of those reins, you will cease to be an old man, too.”

Because of recent events at the school where I teach, Providence College, I have come to see that the winning side of the so-called culture wars has no interest in rational or equable conversation about the neuralgic issues of our time. I use the word interest advisedly. They have nothing to gain by it.

We can ask, till we are exhausted from asking, what they mean by “marriage,” if the thing is not rooted in the fundamental biology of the human race, and exactly what justifies any boundaries at all wherewith they suppose they can limit the definition. If man and man, why not man and woman and woman?

Why not plan for and even intend impermanence? Why not plan for and intend what used to be called adultery? Why not two elderly brothers who live together and do not engage in sodomy?

It won’t matter. The aim was never rational coherence, or even a concern for the common good. The aim was power: to get what they wanted, to keep it, and to crush those who would question their right to it.

So they have the power now, power gained not by argument, whereof there has been very little, but by a combination of political force, mass media sentimentalism, public lassitude, and an anti-culture of licentiousness and the neglect of children.

Why bother to argue? The centurion on his horse does not argue. He brandishes the sword. We can ask, till we are exhausted from asking, what they mean by “culture” when they use the term “multicultural.”

I’m a passionate defender of cultures – their folkways, their worship, their languages, their venerable traditions, their art, their song, and the essential goodness of their very existence. My nightmare is of a homogeneous post-Christian west, spread like a fungus over the globe, reducing all cultures to the same-old secular weariness, world without end.

Universal Seattle appalls me. When I hear that western governments and philanthropic societies use food itself to bribe the poorer nations of Africa into accepting a western secular ethic, my chest swells with indignation. When I hear that only one out of six Welshmen can speak yr heniaith, the old tongue, and that Welsh is the healthiest of the Celtic languages at that, I shake my head with disappointment.

I do not want “first nation” tribes in Canada to govern themselves so as to win the approval of the radically secular and feminist New Democratic Party. I want them to be their own nation first.

I can want these things, and I can teach my students about cultures Babylonian, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, early Christian, Germanic, medieval European (different in Italy from what it was in England), Renaissance (different in Spain from what it was in Germany), and so on, learning original languages so that I can teach them all the better, and somehow none of it matters, neither the obvious and dizzying multi nor the cultures.

I can point to all these things, and it’s like trying to reason with the centurion. It doesn’t matter now, because it never did matter. What matters now is what mattered before: political victory.

Show that the child in the womb feels pain? Big deal. Show that fatherless boys are vulnerable to all kinds of bad things, including prison? And what gave you the strange idea that boys count for anything? Show the glories of English literature, to which you are eager to introduce all students without exception? Yawn; what’s the political use of it?

Say that for the sake of the rest of the world a Catholic college ought to be obviously Catholic, to be different from other places, to offer young people a real diversity among colleges to choose from, and for your vision of a breadth of educational options you will be called narrow and backwards.

Play the fool, and assume that at a college all human things are up for rational discussion, and you had better not have a mortgage hanging over your head. You will soon learn that professors value “academic freedom” as much as, and in the same way as, centurions value the horse. It is for getting them where they want to go, and for trampling their enemies.

Such professors are by nature no better and no worse than anyone else. It’s just that they have, whether they acknowledge it or not, exchanged the God of heaven for a god of prestige and power. Politics is the god.

Nor does it matter what kind of politics it is. I’ve seen a similar dynamic play out at a conservative college. As long as you possess the “right” politics, you are like the pagan who has secured divine favor by the “right” sacrificial rituals.
You may then do as you please. You may, for example, go out of your way to ruin reputations and careers and turn families upside down; all justified, all for the good of the “cause.”

Are there virtuous secularists with a high sense of honor who will stand up for your liberty? Yes, certainly. I number one among my friends. In my experience they are rare, like saints. Sift every college in the country right now and you may find enough to make up a small platoon.
Be advised.

© 2016 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. His latest books are Reflections on the Christian Life: How Our Story Is God’s Story and Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. He teaches at Providence College.

Girl Boy Scouts … and 71 Other “Gender” Options

Girl Boy Scouts … and 71 Other “Gender” Options

The Boy Scouts of America has announced a major policy reversal, a rather dramatic shift in the foundational policy of the organization. It is now accepting girls as Boy Scouts. Yes, girl boy scouts. That is to say, the Boy Scouts of America is accepting “transgender boys”—girls who are biologically female but are declaring themselves “boys,” or, at least, are currently declaring themselves boys, for now, at the moment, for as long as they feel like wanting to be called boys.

These “transgender boys” will be permitted to proclaim their gender identity of preference on their application and thereby gain entry to Boy Scouts’ programs. Michael Surbaugh, the chief executive of the Scouts, explains that the policy change has been dictated by the “complex topic” of transgender identity.

Boy, I’ll say.
This latest Boy Scouts’ capitulation to our culture’s human-nature redefiners comes on the heels of other Boy Scouts’ white-flags-of-surrender, such as the organization accepting openly “gay boys” as members in 2013 and dropping its ban on openly homosexual scout leaders in 2015. The Boy Scouts should have learned then that when you cave to the secular left, even (seemingly) just once, the left keeps coming back. Let leftists whack you with a club once and they’ll keep beating you until you completely submit to their never-ending list of demands of compliance. The intolerant left is hellbent on remaking the Boy Scouts in its own image. Just as progressives have remade sexuality, marriage, family, and gender in their own image.
And so, now, girls—or, that is, girls who currently call themselves boys—can be Boy Scouts.

What to make of this? Let’s not pussyfoot around. Let’s call this what it is: cowardice and madness.
Today’s Boy Scouts organization has cravenly bowed to the mad dictatorship of relativism. The organization is suffering an obvious lack of virtue and common sense, not to mention faith, reason, and science. As to the latter, here’s a quick biology lesson:
A girl has 74 trillion X chromosomes in her body. Think about that. Try to wrap your mind around a number like that. Start cutting and stacking 74 trillion pieces of paper and see how far you get.

Thus, a seven-year-old girl who calls herself a boy does so despite the reality that she has 74 trillion X chromosomes vs. ZERO Y chromosomes. To repeat: ZERO Y chromosomes. Biological reality could not be more stacked against whatever she might be feeling. 74 trillion vs. zero are utterly enormous odds. You’ve heard the saying that every fiber in your body tells you something? Imagine every chromosome in your body telling you something. What they tell you is your gender. You don’t tell your body your gender; your body tells you your gender.

Yes, I understand that perverse political correctness and radical-leftist ideology has warped and disordered our culture, but secular liberalism cannot alter the absolute laws of nature. Call it that pesky Natural Law thing.
Do our schools no longer teach biology or math?
I’m sorry, but if a seven-year-old girl has 74 trillion X chromosomes, and not one Y chromosome, then she’s a girl. And someone in the Boy Scouts organization needs to man-up and tell her the truth. What happened to the Boy Scouts pledge of courage and honesty?

And despite my necessary bluntness, I say all of this with sympathy toward young people struggling with various such issues. (How about a little sympathy for the seven-year-old boys in the scout troop who will be very confused by this “transgender boy?”) I know three young people who have suddenly started questioning their gender, including one college-age young man close to our family. But biological reality is biological reality. Don’t try to fool with Mother Nature. You’re playing with fire, liberals.

And as for Catholics being duped into this, you’re playing with God, your Church, and your pope.

Pope Francis is a longtime adversary of gender theory, which he has candidly called “demonic” and compared to “the educational policies of Hitler.” Francis protests that the transgender movement seeks to erase the image of God in man. Indeed it does. From the very opening of Scripture, in Genesis, it is proclaimed that God “made them male and female,” which is reaffirmed and repeated by Jesus Christ himself in the New Testament (see both Mark 10:6 and Matthew 19:4). (Christ says this in affirming male-female marriage, incidentally.) God “created man in His own image,” says Genesis 1:27.
Francis thus understands the profundity of what progressive fundamental transformers are doing in messing with God’s image of man.
“We are living a moment of annihilation of man as image of God,” Francis told Polish bishops last summer in Krakow. And what is worse: “Today, in schools they are teaching this to children—to children!—that everyone can choose their gender.”

They sure are. It is another maniacal manifestation of the “ideological colonization” of the family, marriage, sexuality, and gender that Francis has denounced, an “ideological colonizing” (he notes) backed by “very influential countries.” “This is terrible,” he said.
As Francis shared these thoughts last spring, he related that he had recently discussed this gender claptrap with Pope Benedict: “Speaking with Pope Benedict, who is well, and has a clear mind, he was telling me: ‘Holiness, this is the epoch of sin against God the Creator.’ He’s intelligent! God created man and woman, God created the world this way, this way, this way, and we are doing the opposite.” Francis urged these bishops to reflect: “We must think about what Pope Benedict said—‘It’s the epoch of sin against God the Creator.’”

Pope Francis has addressed this many, many times. I could give numerous examples from off-the-cuff remarks he made in interviews to statements at formal Church gatherings to homilies to official Vatican letters. As to the latter, he addressed this several times in his apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, particularly section 285, where he wrote the following (twice citing himself in previous statements, including his encyclical letter, Laudato Si):
The young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created, for “thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation…. An appreciation of our body as male or female is also necessary for our own self-awareness in an encounter with others different from ourselves. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment.” (Encyclical letter, Laudato Si, May 24, 2015) …. Sex education should help young people to accept their own bodies and to avoid the pretension “to cancel out sexual difference because one no longer knows how to deal with it.” (Catechesis, April15, 2015)
Indeed, because one no longer knows how to deal with it. A young person might be having questions or struggles about his feelings as a male or female, but trying to trick 74 trillion chromosomes, or even a few sexual parts, surely is going to be a tall task. Such is an enormous subjective battle against objective reality.

And that brings me in closing to an especially apt phrase of Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI: if ever there was another clear-cut case of what Benedict unforgettably dubbed the dictatorship of relativism, this is it. Like their reinventions of marriage and sexuality, the leftist human-nature redefiners don’t seem to give much thought or a rip about the latest can of worms they’re opening. Like the inherent problem of the redefinition of marriage, once you try to kick down absolute standards for gender, you open the floodgates to all sorts of novel reconfigurations that even the most “open-minded” liberals will be uncomfortable endorsing.

In the case of gender, consider the ideological crazy-house that is New York City, where city employees now have the option of choosing from a minimum of 31 different gender identities. Not two gender choices, or even three, four, five, six, or 12, or 20, but 31.
In categorizing oneself, New York City employees are free to fluidly fluctuate among various male-female combinations and derivations. It’s a fascinating thing. You cannot merely change your gender identity once or twice or a handful of times, but you can keep changing it over and over, daily if you’d like, or even hourly—and the government will legally support you in your whims and fancies. The selections include not just “transgender”—which is merely the breach in the dam—but “pangender” and a myriad of other possibilities ranging from “androgynous” and “agender third sex” to “drag queen,” “drag king,” “femme queen,” “Butch,” “MTF,” “FTM, “Hijra,” and (among many others) the particularly convenient “gender fluid,” which is more elastic than the more limiting (presumably) “gender bender” option. There is also the PC-esque choice, “Person of Transgender Experience.”
Also listed by these high-minded New Yorkers is the “two-spirit” gender option, which was spearheaded by the pioneering “gay” communist, Harry Hay.

In responding to this lunacy, a city official confirmed to The Daily Caller that the panoply of gender identities are all protected by the city’s anti-discrimination laws, and added that the current list posted online is “not exhaustive.”
Indeed, why would it be exhaustive? How could it be? Like progressivism, transgenderism is in a state of constant evolution. There will be new forms tomorrow, rest assured. New York’s merry liberals are generously allowing lots of room for yet new gender forms that a person is apparently free to create for himself, herself, or (better) oneself.

As for New York-based businesses that do not accommodate the “gender” choice, they risk six-figure fines under rules established by the city’s Commission on Human Rights. No surprise there. In fact, if you dare not refer to a transgender person by his or her preferred pronoun, regardless of their vast XX or XY chromosomal reality, there are a bunch of angry New York progressives who would fine you and shut you down—in the name of “tolerance” and “diversity,” of course.

For the record, not among the 31 options in New York is “dragon lady,” which is the gender choice of 55-year-old Richard Hernandez, a transgender banker who has had his ears and nose removed in order to become a new gender species altogether. Hernandez now identifies as “Eva Tiamat Baphomet Medusa,” a name taken from a video-game character, and wishes to be referred to as an “it.”

But even then, all of this is limiting, is it not, liberals?
Consider that Facebook lists more options than New York City does, and even those generous options remain (inevitably) in a constant state of flux. Facebook has at various times in the last two years listed 51gender options, 535658, and 71. The list, too, is fluid. Of course, it is. How couldn’t it be?
What a farce. Who died and made Facebook God?

I ask liberals in all seriousness, and I want an answer: which gender options among the lists of 51, 53, 56, 58, or 71 are invalid? Which are illegitimate? Tell us, dear pioneering progressive—which, if any, of these would you rule out? How do you arbitrate acceptable choices? Please, help us, just as you’ve helped so many of these multi-gendered persons.
Will you say? Can you say? Who’s to say, eh?
The answer, of course, is that the logical (or illogical) assumptions of secular liberalism/progressivism inevitably lead to an endless possibility of identities. And dare I say that liberals will not be comfortable with some of those identities. But too bad, liberals—reject the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God and this is what you get.
And that is to say: this is another insane consequence of your dictatorship of relativism, liberals. And so is the idea of girl boy scouts.