Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sky View: To Question a President’s Christian Identity

Sky View: To Question a President’s Christian Identity

"To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice."

Pope Leo XIII, On the Constitution of States

The public, some politicians and some members of the media have questioned if President Barak Obama is really a Christian. Recently, the media- both Left and to an extent, the Right –sees to it that anyone who is bold enough to question Mr. Obama’s Christian identity is publicly disgraced. Thus far, Senator Rick Santorum has come close to making the charge that Obama is not a Christian by questioning his “phony theology.” However, because of the heat of media pressure, he has politely given the president the benefit of the doubt.

It should be noted, however, that at no time in history has the confusion of what a Christian really means been as prevalent as it is today. Not only do people not know what a follower of Christ is supposed to believe and how he is supposed to be behave, but it is deemed socially and politically inappropriate to give a fixed definition of what a Christian really is. And according to conventional wisdom, it is even more inappropriate to question a person’s Christian identity. Indeed, proponents of secular-liberalism have exploited the weakness of today’s Christianity by mounting public pressure on anyone who questions their religious fidelity or patriotism. And Christians, by and large, have acquiesced to this pressure. They have been silenced; not by edict but through the daily threat of ridicule.

But what exactly is the weakness of today’s Christianity? Well, for starters, Protestant Christianity has been splintering and multiplying into thousands of different denominations since the founding of this country. After the persecution and intolerance of certain churches in 18th century America, it became, over the years, a taboo to criticize others on matters of creed. In the name of tolerance there came a reluctance for any church to proclaim, “We’re right and you’re wrong.” With this arose a growing trend that favored religious relativism (and eventually moral relativism). Indeed, all churches and even Christians came to be deemed more or less good.

Secondly, the Catholic Church did a stellar job of avoiding this kind of relativism for about two hundred years in America. She did not shy away from declaring her God-given superiority as the Church that Christ had founded. But that posture changed in the late 1960’s.

Then it became popular among pastors of the Church to give obstinate, unrepentant sinners equal status to that of faithful and repentant Catholics. As such, there was little distinction between the wolves and the sheep. When I speak of the wolves, I here refer to those who refuse to repent from their advocacy of abortion rights and same-sex marriage, from the practice of contraception and cohabitation, and from many other serious sins which daily cause scandal in the Body of Christ.

The result of all of this is that no one seems to know what a Christian is. And with this kind of ambivalence, moral and spiritual relativism reigns supreme. This is why it is deemed socially and politically inappropriate to say whether or not a person like President Obama is a true Christian.

But we know where President Obama stands on moral and policy issues. He is on record for supporting the following:

• Abortion rights

• Infanticide

• Sex education at the age of 5 years

• Same-sex marriage

• The reinstatement of United States Department of Veterans Affairs manual, the version of which is highly suggestive of favoring euthanasia

• Healthcare rationing of the elderly: His comment about having grandma take a pill instead of opting for a costly surgery is indicative of where the president's priorities lie. And Cass Sunstein, Obama’s Regulatory Czar, said the following: “I urge that the government should indeed focus on life-years rather than lives. A program that saves young people produces more welfare than one that saves old people.”

What is equally disturbing about President Obama’s moral and spiritual philosophy is this: As most know, he was mentored for 20 years under Rev. Jeremiah Wright from Trinity United in Chicago. The reverend publically supported Black Liberation Theology and one of its prominent pioneers, James Cone. Few know that James Cone and Black Liberation Theology in general favors a heavy dose of Marxism. As the president himself maintains, his salvation depends on the collective salvation of the people. Without going into a lot of details, the belief that groups of people should be saved over that of individuals is based on socialistic or Marxist premise. Such a premise is contrary to the Gospel and it is spiritually, morally and politically dangerous to society. The dignity of the individual person has been and will continue to be seriously undermined under such an ideology. We can already see that President Obama and is entourage of Czars and Cabinet members do not hold preborn babies, infants and the elderly in high esteem. Neither do Catholics fare well under their governance.

To be sure, there are certain things we cannot judge. We cannot judge intentions, motives or whether or not a person will be saved in the end. But we can judge whether or not a person is believing and behaving as a follower of Christ should. As our Lord said, "You will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:16) In fact, it is the duty of Catholic bishops, pastors, teachers and the laity to make a clear distinction between real Christians and nominal Christians. In the early 20th century, for instance, Pope St. Pius X wrote the following to his priests: "Catholic 'Liberals' are wolves in lambs clothing; hence any priest worthy of the name must unmask for the faithful confided to his care their insidious plotting, their unholy design. You shall be called papists, clericals, retrogressives, intransigents. Be proud of it!" This pastoral wisdom of the saintly pope also applies to Christians in general.

If we cannot say that a “Christian” is not one who would aggressively advances abortion rights, the right to practice infanticide at hospitals and abortion clinics, same-sex rights and healthcare rationing- if we cannot say that this is not what a disciple of Christ does –we are in trouble. We have unnecessarily handicapped ourselves. As such, confusion about what a Christian really is will continue to fog the minds of Americans. The end result is that we will be powerless to resist counterfiet Christianity and those political ideologies which parade themselves in sheeps clothing.

The standard has already been set by Christ, the Apostles, the Church Fathers, the Saints and the Church herself. The legacy of drawing attention to Christians in "name-only" and separating from the flock is legion. There are too many examples to count here. But suffice it to say, this pastoral practice of our Church's watchmen of old secured the moral distinctions between good and evil and the religious distinction between authentic Christians and those who pretended to be Christian for political purposes. We should return to this ancient (and yet not so ancient) practice. The welfare of our country depends on it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The birth control battle is another reminder that entitlements and freedoms do not coexist well, even if we set aside the economic issues, because entitlements end up intruding into the spaces of freedoms. As the United States undergoes the process that replaces the negative right to be left alone with the positive right to be taken care of in every way possible, these conflicts will only worsen.

Americans are getting a taste of life in Europe where social benefits trump individual freedoms, where artificial rights to various government administered benefits and subsidies, along with the protection of national values and social harmony, serve to eliminate most of what Americans have traditionally considered freedom.
While negative rights create safe spaces from outside intervention, positive rights offer a privilege that is overseen by the government. Positive rights are inevitably concerned with social welfare and harmony. They offer universal benefits at the cost of individual liberties.
Every negative right has a mirror image positive right. Freedom of speech meets its evil twin in the right not to be offended by bigotry. Freedom of religion has its evil twin in the imposition of a state religion. Property rights have their evil twin in wealth redistribution and this right is the wellspring of most of the social problems of the state.
The decay of the educational system has created a state of affairs where many can no longer distinguish between the statements, "Everyone has the right to speak their mind" and "Everyone has the right to a home." The inability to make that distinction marks the death of a free society as the former expresses a freedom relative to the state, the latter expresses an obligation on each person to the state.
When people can no longer tell the difference between the right to be left alone and the right to pay for someone else's home, the firewall between freedom and tyranny has successfully broken down. And the most effective way to devalue freedom is by presenting something more seductive in its place, a system that will take care of your needs, that will balance some remaining freedoms with a necessary amount of intrusion that will maximize the collective benefits and harmony of all.
This balance of negative and positive rights is unsustainable, because each new positive rights diminishes the existing negative rights until there are hardly any negative rights left. Each new gift from the government carries with it an invisible price tag in dollars and cents, and in freedoms lost. This loss is often intangible. Like casinos and whorehouses, the progressive way of government is built on befuddling the people so that they don't notice what they are losing.
Positive rights are presented as social obligations, and social obligations are the source of most of the oppressive legislation that exists anywhere. The society is a vague unit which is not represented by a plebiscite, but by the values attributed to it by an elite. It blurs the line between government and the individual by transforming the individual into a collective entity with collective needs and obligations.
Social obligations are often expressed in terms of values. Values are generally code for an emotional appeal to a position that cannot be rationally defended. The values discussed are never individual values, but the collective values of an intangible society as expressed by its cultural and political leaders.
Authentic social obligations and values are not expressed through the state, but through organizations, including religious groups, that reflect those values. A country can and will have groups whose values are in conflict, which is why the universalization and collectivization of values amounts to the creation of a state religion.
Amish values differ from Catholic values which differ from Mormon values which differ from Methodist values which differ from the values of Orthodox Jews, Baptists, Unitarians, Atheists and the whole host of different religious and irreligious value systems that fill the nation. While many of these groups can and do agree on some major points, they don't agree on others, and even when they do, they often differ on the details.
The Catholic Church is strongly in favor of health care for all, it does not however agree on the nature of what health care is with value systems to the left of it. The current controversy is a clash of value systems. Such a clash is easily resolved in a system built around negative rights that leaves all the parties free not to enter into agreements or obligations that they don't want to enter into. However in a system based on positive rights, a clash of values ends with the government compelling one side to abandon its values.
Such clashes are inevitable and so are their conclusions under a system of positive rights. The more positive rights there are, the more clashes develop. And the more they happen, the government begins functioning as a state church enforcing its own values on everyone.
This phenomenon is familiar enough to Europeans where "The Values of the Republic" often replaced the state church and took on an equally sacred meaning. In Israel, Democratic values is often used to mean the same thing, which is particularly confusing as the values involved are never those which have the support of a plurality of the country. In the United States, the progressive Trojan horse way has been to use "American Values" to mean the same thing.
American Values, as used by the progressives to endorse everything from gay marriage to illegal immigration, exists entirely apart from actual Americans who are lectured on the need to do one thing or another in the name of those values. And when there is a conflict between the Constitution and the construct of American Values, then the Values win out over the law. The progressives have done their best to cloak their transformation of the country as a clash between reactionary positions and American Values. Each of their victories is a triumph for the America that they wish to create.
When the state becomes the source of national values, rather than those values residing in religious or other ethical organizations that seek to act out their beliefs in the public space, then the country has taken a significant step toward fascism. The collectivization of values also represents the militarization of a people's beliefs. Such militarization can be found in Muslim theocracies or in any system where allegiance to the nation requires adopting and acting out the values of the state.
The birth control mandate is an example of the collectivization of national values, and the value that every person should have access to subsidized birth control trumps the religious values of major religions. Similar conflicts occur in every arena where progressives create a positive right that conflicts with religious values. The positive right not to be discriminated against conflicts with the negative right of freedom of religion when it comes to gay ceremonies taking place on the property of a church or synagogue.
As the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association found out when it denied the use of their property to two women looking to get married, was sued and lost the case. As the verdict put it, "As to "free exercise," the LAD is a neutral law of general application designed to uncover and eradicate discrimination: it is not focused on or hostile to religion." But that is the genius of positive rights, they do not have to focus on a thing to be hostile to it, so long as the imposition of its guiding virtue is incompatible with the beliefs and values of anyone else.
The decision went on to say: "I do not believe that the facts pose a true question of religious freedom, but were they go, the matter would not be governed by the high bar of "strict scrutiny", but by a much lower standard that tolerates some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals." And that is the progressive tyranny of positive rights in a nutshell which tolerates some intrusion into freedoms for the sake of tolerance and other societal goals.
Similarly for the sake of societal goals, we must tolerate some intrusion into our income, into what we may and may not say, into what we must buy, where we must live and how we must arrange our lives until no safe spaces for freedom actually exist. Only a massive iron wall of positive rights that locks us inside our societal obligations to phantom values that are determined for us by progressive activist groups and the functionaries of the state.
Where does it end? It never does. Values are absolute, they represent ideals and ideals can never be met. To enforce values is to conduct an endless war against all that stands in your way. The wars on bigotry, poverty, greed, bad habits and all the other grave societal ills can never be won. Those wars lead into ancillary conflicts against people who want to hold on to their beliefs and their money, against boys who play with toy guns, the overeaters, smokers and jokers, the cranks who tilt at windmills, economic sharks who take advantage of any situation, and the whole endless list of enemies of the state who stand in the way of its societal goals. 
The unwavering pursuit of ideals ends up destroying the very ideal being pursued. Trying to give everyone a home may have damaged home ownership, particularly among the poor and minority groups, for a generation to come. Fighting bigotry has created bigotry and in some cases even turned it into a matter of state policy, as is the case with affirmative action. But that is why the pursuit of ideals by the state are dangerous. A government has too much power and too little flexibility to pursue goals which involve the touchstones of human nature.
When positive and negative rights collide, freedom is the first casualty, and the second casualty is the positive right which over time cannot survive the pressures of the self-destruction of the system that imposes it. Negative rights which require state inaction can be sustained so long as the state does not become too powerful. Positive rights can only be sustained so long as the money and power holds up. Their fate is thoroughly tied to the fate of the system. When the state that enforces them weakens, so do they.
Negative rights put their trust in people. Positive rights put their trust in the state. All states fall sooner or later. Only the people survive.
From NY to Jerusalem, Daniel Greenfield Covers the Stories Behind the News

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Most Recent Column from Fr. Rutler--Fr. George Rutler is pastor of The Church of Our Saviour in New York City and is a convert to Catholicism from the Anglican Communion.  February 19, 2012
In the vault of modern political oratory is a speech of one senator in the 1960's quoting George Bernard Shaw: “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’ ”  There are noble dreams, such as those of our nation's Founding Fathers, right up to the last century's civil rights movement.  Jacob saw a ladder to heaven in a dream. But dreams can also be the sugar-coated nihilism of John Lennon's song Imagine, which is still dear to the hearts of the mindless.

The Risen Christ ate food to show the Apostles that He was not just a dream, and so the Lenten preparation for the Feast begins with hard reality: “You are dust.” This is an alarm clock that awakens us from moral slumber, and we have been slumbering a lot in our culture. The surest way to guarantee that evil can happen here is to say that evil cannot happen here. God constantly posits a choice between life and death, precisely because both are real, even for those who dream of existence with neither heaven nor hell and “only sky.”

Recent attempts of the Health and Human Services Department to promote a culture of death by violating the Constitutional right to free exercise of religion are in part the work of public officials who have boasted of their admiration for a bad dreamer: Saul Alinsky. That strategist for “community organizers” insisted that there is no objective truth. Pope Benedict XVI would call this the “dictatorship of relativism.” Alinsky, as the common man's Machiavelli, used this relativism to approve of corruption in public officials as a matter of policy, the justification of unethical means to achieve ends and the destruction of any opposition. Alinsky's guide book, Rules for Radicals,  is prefaced with a tribute to “the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.”

While some journalists would give the impression that the government mandates are all about contraception, they also cover sterilization and abortifacients. Many Christians themselves do not understand the moral implications of artificial birth prevention as explained in Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae. In 1968 his prophetic warnings were widely ridiculed as nonsense: moral breakdown, increased infidelity and illegitimacy, pornographic exploitation of women by men. Then he asked: “Who will prevent public authorities from favoring what they believe to be the most effective contraceptive methods and from mandating that everyone must use them, whenever they consider it necessary?”

Who will prevent them?  Only those wise enough to distinguish between noble dreams and nightmares. They will know what many utopian dreamers do not know:  The voice in Shaw's play Back to Methuselah that spoke of dreams that never were and asked “Why not?” was the Serpent in the Garden.

"In many parts of the world, the family is under siege. It is opposed by an anti-life mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalized by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions and cut in two by divorce. ---Cardinal Arinze

Vatican hears Ivan & Jakov and two more visionaries of Medjugorje
Rome hears Ivan, Jakov and two more

Vatican Comitee hears four Medjugorje visionaries | MEDJUGORJE TODAY

By  on Feb 19, 2012

Experienced Medjugorje guide Anita Pehar says the Vatican Commission has called visionaries Ivan Dragicevic and Jakov Colo to be questioned on Monday. Bosnian news portal confirms this, adding that Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti and Mirjana Dragicvevic-Soldo will join them, in line with the guide’s report that more of the seers are in Rome.

“The Medjugorje Commission is to meet tomorrow, February 20 in Rome. The meeting was postponed for a couple days due to the Cardinal consistory meeting held since Friday” she writes on her blog, Medjugorje Web Journal.
The testimonies of visionaries Ivan Dragicevic and Jakov Colo form part of the agenda when the Vatican Commission on Medjugorje meets on February 20 in Rome, pilgrim official guide Anita Pehar informs from Medjugorje.
“We do know that Jakov and Ivan are to give their testimonies but they are not the only Medjugorje visionary in Rome for the same period of time” Anita Pehar also reports.
Early on February 20, Bosnian news portal Dnevnik likewise reported to have learned that Ivan and Jakov were to testify later on Monday, and that visionaries Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti and Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo had also been called.
For both Marija and Mirjana, a meeting on Monday will be their second audience with the international Commission headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. Both visionaries first gave their testimony in Rome in late November 2011.
After the audiences of Jakov and Ivan, all six Medjugorje visionaries will have appeared before the Commission. Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez opened in early June 2011, followed by Vicka Ivankovic-Mijatovic in early October.
The Commission will report its findings to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) before the end of 2012, Commission member Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo told a press conference in Rome on February 14. It will be for CDF to issue a final report to Pope Benedict XVI who initiated the investigation on March 17th 2010.
Anita Pehar notes that, like everyone else involved with the Commission, the visionaries have taken an oath of silence. But from watching the seers, Anita Pehar thinks to have a good feeling of how work is moving forward in Rome:
“As I look at them, how they smile, I guess it must be all well.”

Monday, February 20, 2012

Leni Riefenstahl: Congratulations on the HHS Regulations

This is written like the book, SNAKEBITE LETTERS- (devil to his minions)
Leni Riefenstahl: Congratulations on the HHS Regulations
By Clarice Feldman
Memo: From Leni Riefenstahl
To: President Barack Obama
Schatzi, it's been over a year since I last wrote you. Please forgive me. It's been so hot here I can barely stand to touch the keyboard. Not that I don't appreciate the green energy projects you funded to cool off this place, but dear, you know even with the trillions you spent, those projects just keep going under. Yes, I know it helped put billions in the pockets of your donors, but hell is not freezing over you know and we could use energy for the air conditioners.
Anyway, I forced myself to endure the scorching temperatures and pitchforks to congratulate you on those brilliant HHS regulations forcing people to fund insurance coverage for  abortions, sterilizations and birth control against their consciences.
Darling Adolf just loved to do that sort of thing. Remember -- are you old and well read enough to remember?  He figured out that if he could get people to operate against their conscience on small things, big things like Judenrein would be easier. Of course, that was just a start. 
Martin Bormann said it just right: "National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable."  For the party  to rule, he said  the Churches' influence in the leadership of the people "must absolutely and finally be broken."  He was taking about the Nazi party, but heavens, Democrats, Nazis -- state control is state control.
So, this move by your Administration is just a great first step. You had all the social justice crowd in the church supporting you ,and now those wicked bishops -- how many divisions do they have anyway? -- had to step in to try to put a stop to this.
Well, the match is set.
On your side you have some real geniuses. I mean all the media is helping you sell the fairytale that you are battling people who want to force women to forego contraceptives.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz  is a real feather in your cap; arguing that  all women deserve free contraceptives and that religious institutions shouldn't be imposing their values on their employees is, you should pardon the expression, pure Goebbels.  And you can count on the press to let her get away with this big lie.
The media want to replace old fashioned religion with civic religion as much as you and I do.   So, some Catholics have and continue to threaten to shut down their social welfare services rather than comply with such things?  Great.  The sooner the people learn that the state is the provider of all things, the better -- for you and your party. Of course, not necessarily better for them or their country, but that's not the point, is it?  
I suppose you have some other good ideas in the wings at HHS . Off the top of my head here are some ideas for you: Make public schools serve pork and require all kids to eat it; force Christian Scientists to see physicians and take medicine; make the Mormon Tabernacle Choir admit Moslems; ban religious circumcisions of males; draft the Amish into the military; outlaw Lutheran lutefisk parties  and  bake sales.
My goodness, the possibilities once you control the levers of power! And what could possibly give you more power than controlling healthcare delivery? Imagine the rake offs, too. Plastic surgeons want liposuction and botox coverage?  Let them kick in to your party. Somebody's poor mom is too old for treatment, cross your palm with silver and a hospital bed becomes available. Why am I telling you this, you of all people? I mean Mr. President Chicago Way, right?
And then your opponents are playing this rather stupidly. Letting you and the press frame this as a women's rights issue, not a Constitutional issue. (Is it just gossip or is it true that Harvard Law School where you attended and the University of Chicago Law School where you were a lecturer, are mortified?  Who cares.  That Constitution is so old and updated anyway.  Ask Justice Ginsburg, even she's not crazy about it.) Maybe next year you can wait until Congress is in recess and replace it with something newer from Zimbabwe.  Well, you certainly don't need me to advise you on how to destroy religion or the Constitution. 
I was delighted to see how you are reviving the Sturmabteilung. Of course, you can't credit us -- we all discussed it here and understand.   Calling it a Truth Team, a "grassroots communications team" will go over much better, but , schatzi, we all know  where you got that idea.  The explanation is another bit of brilliant propaganda: "The goal is to ensure that when Republicans attack President Obama's record, grassroots supporters can take ownership of the campaign and share the facts with the undecided voters in their lives."
I mean even Michelle Obama's Mirror calls it the "SS.  See something, Say something."   I think she means it sarcastically but check out the great logos she's come up for the Truth Team!!  We couldn't do better and we tried  in between roastings.
She didn't even get to Project Narwhal, a data-mining outreach operation designed to snare even more low information voters than the media can rope in.
And it's working on ill-educated single women, who'd  apparently gladly give up their right to worship as they choose in order to get someone else to pick up their contraception tab, never realizing they're giving up something for nothing, because there really is no free lunch.
I figure a couple years of this and there will be no private insurance companies because they'll be run out of business, or employer provided health insurance because it's all going to be too expensive.  And then you'll have the entire country in the palm of your hand.
If I had a heart,  liebchen, it would be singing right now.
P.S. I keep meaning to tell you -- when you tilt your chin skyward like that, you remind me so of  the Italian heart throb Benito.

Page Printed from: February 20, 2012 - 10:28:42 AM CST

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Ascent of Prayer

People climbing Mount Krizevak
in Medjugorje, Bosnia
Nighttime on the Mount: The Ascent of Prayer before the Descent of Tribulation
Saturday's Gospel reading: February 18th, 2012: The Transfiguration
Tradition has it that the transfiguration of Christ on Mt. Tabor transpired forty days before his Passion. Evidently, the Lord wanted at least three of his Apostles- Peter, James and John –to experience his glory before they had to drink the chalice of his suffering. St. Peter would later recount his heavenly experience in his Second Letter when he wrote, “For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, 'This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.' We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain.”
Sometimes the Lord guarantees victory before he permits defeats. He might inspire us with an unshakable certitude to take on a mission for his sake and then allow circumstances to contradict that mission. On Mount Tabor, the divinity of Jesus was revealed before his humanity was crucified. Later, in the Upper Room, he would give his resurrected flesh to his Apostles in the form of the Eucharist the night before his death on the Cross and three days before he had actually risen from the dead.
In tasting the goodness of the Lord at the altar, strength is given to us for the trials that are inevitably associated with doing his will. In the Imitation of Christ our Lord speaks to his disciple. He says, “My son, that good and delightful affection, which you sometimes perceive, is the effect of present grace and a certain foretaste of your heavenly country, but you must not rely too much upon it, because it comes and goes.” And this delightful affection and the foretaste of our heavenly country is chiefly to be found in prayer and in meditation. It is, in a real sense, food for the journey and strength for adversity.
To be sure, it was only after an arduous climb up Mt. Tabor and only after the world had fallen asleep that our Lord would give three of his Apostles a glimpse of his glory. But in doing so, Jesus would not stand alone. Moses and Elijah, two prophets who represented the Old Testament and who also experienced the presence of God on Mt. Sinai, stood beside our Lord to give their testimony of support. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke makes reference to these two men as speaking to Jesus about his “exodus,” that is, his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. And who is better qualified to talk about such an exodus than Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land and Elijah who was assumed into heaven on a chariot?
After our Lord’s face had shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light, a bright cloud appeared and the voice of God was heard. It was as if God the Father had bequeathed his authority for the second time (the first time at the river Jordan) to Jesus by saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” This, it would seem, is reminiscent of Psalm 2 when God said in even greater detail, “You are my son; today I am your father. Only ask it of me, and I will make your inheritance the nations, your possession the ends of the earth.”
However, conferring the inheritance of the nations and the power to teach with divine authority did not only issue from the Father to the Son, but it also passed from Moses and Elijah- two of the greatest Old Testament prophets –to St. Peter and the Apostles. Indeed, by "making disciples of all the nations" through the preaching ministry of his Church, Jesus Christ would take back what once belonged to his Father, namely, the world! As the prophet Isaiah said, "In days to come, the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it..."
Every apostle must be equal to his mission. Hence, the work of being God’s mouthpiece to the nations would require spiritual transformation; especially for these frail fishermen. And the symbolic value of the transfiguration of Christ on Mt. Tabor suggests that real transformation can only take place on a mountain of prayer and meditation. When speaking of the soul in contemplation, Cornelius A Lapide, a sixteenth century priest and professor of Scripture, wrote:
“She [the soul] is raised above herself, and is lifted up to God in heaven, where she learns and sees that all the things of earth are fragile and worthless, so that from her lofty height she looks down upon them as fit only for children. She perceives that the true riches, honors and pleasures are nowhere but in heaven.”
Without the foretaste of heaven in prayer and meditation and without eagerly anticipating eternal happiness with God, we will inevitably wince from sacrifice and the price we must pay in bringing souls to Christ. The meditation of heaven inspires a farsightedness that is needed not only for living out the life of Christ on a day to day basis, but also for the challenging work God has called us to do.
No doubt, while St. Peter was crucified upside down in Rome- while St. James was dragged to his death in Jerusalem -and while St. John was in exile on the island of Patmos, recalling this heavenly vision of our Lord on Mt. Tabor was probably of great consolation to them. And although we may not enjoy the vision of the Transfiguration in the way the Apostles did, God will certainly not fail to give us a taste of that heavenly sweetness in prayer and meditation in proportion to our faith. This is God's way of giving us a sneakpeak of eternity so that we might be encouraged to hold nothing back!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sky View: Bill O’Reilly’s Observation: The Popularity of Free Stuff

Sky View-Bill O'Reilly's Observation: The Popularity of Free Stuff

This week on the O’Reilly Factor, anchor Bill O’Reilly noted a peculiar poll trend that shows President Barak Obama’s job approval rating is on the increase. Some polls have him close to 50 percent. This is peculiar and surprising considering our economic and religious liberty challenges. Although the so-called contraceptive (and abortifacients) mandate is predicted to hurt President Obama’s chances for re-election, he has not yet taken a hit on his job approval rating.

From these observations Bill O’Reilly concluded that it appears that the perks of a welfare and nanny State is beginning to sell with the American people. More and more, Americans like to get free stuff from the government. In fact, on other Fox News programs, statistics have been presented to illustrate that the takers in society are becoming just as numerous as the givers. Call it what you will, but this is but the result of the increasing popularity of “socialism” in the land of the free. As for where this might lead, we do not have to guess. All we have to do is look at Greece and the predicament Europe is currently in. Daniel Hannen, British journalist and member of parliament, said as much at C-PAC on February 13th, 2012. He issued the following warning to Americans:

“If you repeat our mistakes, if you shift power from the 50 states to Washington, from the elected representative to the federal czar, from the citizen to the state, we know exactly what lies in store for you. I've been a member of the European parliament for 12 years. I am living in your future, or at least the future towards which your present leaders seem intent on taking you. And believe me, my friends, you are not going to enjoy it.”

But long before Daniel Hannen gave his eloquent speech at C-PAC, long before conservatives began to oppose Socialism, Communism and Secular-liberalism, the Fathers of the Catholic Church in modern times have sounded alarm well over hundred years ago. For instance, in 1891 we have Pope Leo XIII issuing this warning approximately 120 years before redistribution policies of socialism were accelerated in the United States through the President Obama:

“Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal…The door would be thrown open to envy, to mutual invective, and to discord; the sources of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry; and that ideal equality about which they entertain pleasant dreams would be in reality the leveling down of all to a like condition of misery and degradation.” (On Capital and Labor, art. 15)

This takes us back to Bill O’Reilly’s observation about more American’s wanting free stuff from the government. Don’t they know where this will lead? And can we really expect them to know?

The answer to the latter question is- not really. First, Catholics have not helped matters by not taking full advantage of those public venues to teach and illustrate the connection between faith and freedom. Even from the pulpit, diocesan pastoral letters and the classroom, there is not much said in this regard! In fact, I would argue that several influential members of the Catholic clergy have promoted big government programs in name of Christian charity. Indeed, the Catholic Church in America used to say (long ago), “If there is a person in need, in the name of Christ, I will help that person.” Today when she finds a person is in need she says, “Wait here, I’ll get the government.”

Secondly, and this where the dereliction of conservatives and Americans who hold to traditional values comes in, one thing has got to change and that is the monopoly of State-run education. Without this change Americans will continue to favor Big Government or the Entitlement State and they will continue to be won over by the illusion that they are getting free stuff without consequence. Being that education is second to the family in terms of shaping how we perceive the world, our public schools are simply making society- and even government –into its own image. Just about everything the way public schools operate and teach favors a secular all-powerful State. Until this changes, until the monopoly of the State on what our children learn is broken and cast away, any political advance at the ballot box which favors America’s heritage of freedom and individual self-sufficiency will be temporary.

You see, the State, as the primary educator our children, has preempted the authority of parents; not only of parents, but of God Himself. As it stands today, God is deemed a rival to the State. When the State wants full control of education, it does not want God to interfere. Before prayer, bible reading and the mention of God was prohibited in public schools beginning in the 1960’s, Etienne Gilson said this,

"To the full extent that it educates, the State educates in view of itself…The only conceivable end of a State-owned education is the State itself. States themselves may not know it. They may sincerely believe that nothing is more foreign to their honest intentions; yet, to put it bluntly, the only reason why a State may not want children to be educated in view of God is that it wants them to be educated in view of itself. Totalitarian education does nothing more than go the whole way along the same line. The result is what we know: political, economic, intellectual and spiritual slavery." (1951)
The last sentence of Gilson’s bears repeating: “The result is what we know: political, economic, intellectual and spiritual slavery.” What people used to know about the hazards of State-run education, we have forgotten. We will continue to be ignorant of why there is political, economic, intellectual and spiritual slavery as long as the agent who is causing that slavery is educating our children!! Indeed, that carrot on the stick- that is, the growing popularity of free stuff held out by the all-powerful State -will continue to allure citizens to surrender their liberty for security. After all, for years the desire to be hand fed by the State has been instilled into the souls of the American people by our State-run education system. This is our Berlin Wall! And to be sure, it must come down if America is to remain free, prosperous and loyal to God!

Sunday, February 5, 2012 for satan.

During the last presidential election, Catholics voted by a margin of 55-45% for the most pro-death President in history. Of course, he started out by covering up the crucifix at Georgetown before delivering a speech, so as not to offend Muslims or Atheists, proceeded to declare that “America is not a Christian nation,”, then bowed before a Saudi king. Therefore, should we be surprised when this secular humanist, pro-abortion President now attacks religious freedom by backing regulations which force Catholic hospitals—against their will and the tenets of their religion—to fund and or even perform abortions or risk sanctions and closure?

Before it is too late and we re-elect the most pro-abortion politician ever to hit Washington, perhaps we should revisit Obama “family values.”

Let’s start with babies. Of course we know that Obama would not want his daughter to be “punished with a baby” [sic] if she became pregnant. But it gets worse. In February of 2004, Michelle Obama authored a fund raising letter soliciting funds for Obama’s senatorial campaign.

Preaching to the radical, left-wing, pro-abortion, feminist choir, she railed against the federal partial birth abortion ban, and trumpeted the fact that her husband would never allow pro-life judges to interpret the law and would preserve the right of a woman and her doctor not just to perform an abortion, but to kill viable babies who were inches from life, by stabbing them in the head with scissors and sucking their brains out—euphemistically referred to as “partial birth abortion.” (Perhaps if commentators, politicians, and the rest of us referred to the procedure as “stabbing a nearly-born baby in the head and sucking his or her brains out” rather than “partial birth abortion,” people would better understand the hideous nature of this procedure.) But, back to the fund raising letter. Michelle Obama, when raising money for her husband, referred to “partial birth abortion” (“stabbing a nearly born baby in the head and sucking his or her brains out”) as:

“a legitimate medical procedure.” [sic]

This, of course, begs the questions: 1. In whose book is this a “legitimate medical procedure?” and 2. When did Michelle Obama go back to school and get her medical degree?

Obama family values

Of course the salient point is this: The Obamas, when raising money for his senatorial campaign, elicited money from the radical left pro-baby- killing wing of the Democratic party, bragged that Obama would prevent the politicians and the courts from ever presuming to protect babies, and trumpeted the “legitimate medical procedure” [sic] of stabbing babies in the head and removing their brains—just inches and moments from birth. I don’t know whose family values these are, but they are not mine, and certainly not those of Middle America or Kansas either, I presume.

But it gets worse. Forget about “punishing your girl by allowing her to have a baby.” Forget about stabbing live babies moments from birth in the head with scissors and sucking their brains out. The Obama family values go even further. Obama does not even favor protecting innocent babies who actually are “lucky” enough to survive late term abortions. In testimony before the United States Senate just before the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act was passed (98-0 with Hillary Clinton supporting the Act) the Senators heard of instances in which babies surviving late-term abortions were actually thrown into waste bins or allowed to die by indifferent doctors or mothers who found the babies inconvenient. This is not just an abortion, this is not just a partial birth abortion; this is nothing less than infanticide. However, when a similar measure was brought to committee in the Illinois Senate—a committee chaired by none other than then Illinois Senator Barack Obama—he let the measure die in committee.

Like the babies who survived late-term abortions and then were allowed to die, the bill protecting born alive babies in Illinois was allowed to die by none other than Barack Obama**. Put simply, whenever Barack Obama had the chance to vote on and promote a bill in the Illinois Senate which would have prohibited doctors from allowing born alive babies to die or be killed or be thrown into dumpsters, Obama—the family man with good ole fashion American values—did nothing. Worse yet, he prevented the bill from being passed and argued against it. He would, as it turns out, let born alive babies die rather than prevent their deaths because to do so might some day, restrict a woman’s right to an abortion or result in the questioning of Roe v. Wade—God forbid.

So, before you vote again for the first secular humanist president of the United States, and as you watch the campaign commercials touting the Obamas’ family values, featuring the Obama family sitting around a cozy fireplace, think not of the image that they want to sell you. Think rather about the reality of who they are and what they stand for. If killing nearly born babies, and allowing born alive babies to be thrown in to a dumpster while still alive is your idea of family values, then vote for Obama. He is, after all, the champion of the right to kill babies. But just don’t say you didn’t know. Fifty million American babies have been killed since Roe v. Wade. And the Obamas are proud to have done their part to expedite the slaughter. As Michelle once said: “He is a fighter [for the right to abort and kill babies] and he will be a champion we can be proud of.”

Should it therefore have come as any surprise that Obama once announced to a meeting of Planned Parenthood Action Fund that:

“Well, the first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing I’d do”?

That legislation “....applies to every Federal, State and local statute, ordinance, regulations, administrative order, decision, policy, practice, or other action enacted, adopted or implemented before, on, or after the date of enactment of this act” and proscribes any impediment to the delivery of reproductive health services, including abortion, in the provision of benefits, facilities, services and information.

Recently, the Department for Health and Human Services on behalf of the Obama administration released guidelines as part of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The guidelines mandated that by the summer of 2012 all individual and group health insurance plans, including self-insured plans, cover all FDA-approved contraception, sterilization procedures and pharmaceuticals that result in abortion.

Government, it seems, has outlawed God, and has, in effect, become God

These regulations apply to all Catholic hospitals and there are no provisions exempting Catholic hospitals (which employ Catholics and non Catholics alike) from their reach. Accordingly, Catholic hospitals and health care providers either have to provide or fund abortion services or drugs which induce abortions or face closure. Clearly, the freedom to kill babies trumps the freedom to exercise religion.

The President worships at the Altar of Choice. He considers freedom of choice so sacrosanct that pro death legislation was and is his top priority; he is more than willing to risk closure of hundreds of hospitals around the country and force them to act against their religious beliefs all for the sake of the right to kill a baby. As remarkable as this seems, it is the tragic truth. Government, it seems, has outlawed God, and has, in effect, become God.

So when, in time, Catholics observe their local Catholic hospitals close down because they refuse to abide by this modern-day Herod’s proclamation that babies must be killed, will they be so anxious to vote again for the man they blindly embraced four years ago? Will they too late suffer buyer’s remorse when they re-elect him? Even worse, will Catholic hospitals accede to his demands that they kill babies or provide the drugs to abort them? That seems unimaginable. Yet, after watching the majority of Catholics embrace the most pro death president in the history of our country, anything, sadly, seems possible.

© 2012 William Kevin Stoos
**The Illinois Born Alive Infants Protection Act passed the Illinois Senate after Obama left for Washington.