Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Grief as Spiritual Purification and Renewal

Grief as Spiritual Purification and Renewal: It is our Lord’s will that you should taste of the sorrows of this vale of tears, and not of the milder but of the most bitter kind. May His name be ever blessed, His judgments adored, and His will fulfilled, for the creature owes its Creator reverence and sub­jection in all things, be they pleasant or painful. To test our obedi­ence, and to teach us what great things we are bound to do and to suffer for so great a Master, God is wont to deprive us of what is as dear to us as the light of our eyes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Tolerating Terror - Crisis Magazine-by Fr. George Rutler

Tolerating Terror - Crisis Magazine: by Fr. George Rutler

We do not know what Father Jacques Hamel thought about capitalism or climate change, but it is obvious that he loved, and loved intolerably, and, because of that, his last words to his killer were: “Va-t’en, Satan!” – “Begone, Satan!”

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Healing and Change

Franciscan Penance Library

Healing and Change
They reached Jericho; and as he left Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus -- that is, the son of Timaeus -- a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and cry out, 'Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.' And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, 'Son of David, have pity on me.' Jesus stopped and said, 'Call him here.' So they called the blind man over. 'Courage,' they said, 'get up; he is calling you.' So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, 'What do you want me to do for you?' The blind man said to him, 'Rabbuni, let me see again.' Jesus said to him, 'Go; your faith has saved you.' And at once his sight returned and he followed him along the road. (Mark 10: 46-52)
I have to think that Jesus so often felt like a biological parent. Obviously, Jesus was ready for it since he is God and we are his children.
Look at the Gospel story of Bartimaeus. Doesn’t this sound like a parent and his kids? “I need something and I want it now!” That incessant tugging that a child would do. It makes me think of little kids in a grocery store line right by the candy station. Whoever invented that station, I think moms hate the most. “Mom, mom, mom, look, Snickers!” Doesn’t that drive you nuts?
Isn’t that what Bartimaeus was doing in this Gospel? “Jesus, son of David, hear me! Please!”
And so often God does to us just like a parent would. Our Lord desires what is good for us and, if we are persistent, he is going to listen and hear us. The theme of this Gospel is that we have to work for God’s graces. If we wish to live as Christians, and wish to have the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our lives, then we have to work for it.
This story of Bartimaeus shows us what the stages of conversion are. These are the four things that we must do.
First Bartimaeus wanted to ask Jesus for healing. Have you noticed that, when Jesus heals someone, he does not just heal them, generally speaking, although he could. But that is not what he does. Instead he waits and allows us to call out to him. And then he asks the question, “What is it that you want me to do for you? What do you want from me?”
There is a lot going on with Bartimaeus. He was not just blind. He was also sitting at the roadside begging which meant that he did not have money. He did not have a family to support him. This man had issues!
What the Lord really wanted to know was, “Have you actually thought about what you really need?”
So often that is the problem with kids. They asked for things without thinking about what they really need.
We need to ask, “What is the root of our problem? What is the root of my sin?” Whether our sin is greed, or lust, or sloth, or gossiping, or whatever it might be, those sins are usually just the external manifestation of what is going on internally.
We need to think about what is going on internally. What is the root of our problems? Is it trying to find our fulfillment in this world? Is it the fact that we do not even think about the next world? We should be living for the next world rather than living for this world.
When Jesus asks you, “What is it that you wish me to do for you?”, what answer are you going to give him? You have to know what your problem is before you ask for the right solution.
The second thing we have to do is call out like Bartimaeus and keep calling out. But we need to expect to be answered in his time not ours. Jesus wants to see persistence in us, just like all parents want to see persistence in their children.
What does it usually take to get parents to say yes to something? Do they normally just give it the first time the child asks? No! The child generally has to beg and beg and beg, and then the parents say, ”Sure, if you clean the dishes and clean your room and be nice for a month and get A’s in all of your assignments from now to the end of school.”
Ultimately that is what Jesus does. He is asking, “Do you really want this? Do you really want the healing that you are asking for? Because if you do, you are going to seek it out in the way that I have offered you.”
What does Jesus tell us, “If you go to confession, if you deny yourself, and practice penance, offer up your sufferings, fastings. If you actually want this, are you willing to put effort into it?”
So once we find what the root of our problem is, the next thing is you have to put your money where your mouth is and say, “Lord, I not only know what the root of my problem is, but I am going to search out those many ways that you have given me to fix it.” And all the while you do this, you know that it may take a long time. And our answer may not just happen, just like that.
The third thing is to not be silenced. When Bartimaeus was crying out, the people following Jesus were telling him, “SHUT UP! Go back to your mat! Here is a quarter. Go sit there. Stop bothering Jesus. He is trying to save the world. Go sit in the back of the line, honey.” They were constantly trying to silence him.
People will try to silence us well. Because when you find the root of your  problem and start going to confession regularly, and you start trying to build up your life in the way of holiness and trying to deny yourself, and take on little sufferings, what are people going to tell you? They are going to tell you that you’re crazy. They are going to try and silence you.  They are going to say, “Obviously this is not working. Why do you even bother?”
There was another person who tried to do the same thing to Jesus. His name is Peter, and what did Jesus say, “Get the behind me, satan.” Struggling is worth it. Do not be silenced.
Life is like being on a football team. You have to work hard to get on the team. You have to put in that effort. And you have to know that the first year you start, you will not be playing on the field, because you have to work hard before you get to play on the field. And you can’t let anyone silence you and say, “You might as well give up, because you are never going to make it.” That’s not the attitude of a football star! You keep going because you have grit. You have tenacity. That’s what makes a great athlete. You do not just become a great athlete. You have to work for it.
So, step one -- we are blind and we have to find the root of the problem. Step two -- we have to never give up and we have to put some work into this. “I am going to deny myself, and, Lord, I am going to show you how much I want to be healed. I am not going to give up.” Step three--I will not be silenced by the world. I will not let this failure in my life hold me back. I will not give into the devil.
Lastly, we have to change. We have to be ready for change. Did you catch that nuance in the Gospel? When Jesus called Bartimaeus, he threw off his cloak and went to Jesus. If he thought he would not be healed, he would have carried his cloak with him. Bartimaeus was ready for change! He believed he would be healed so he would be able to see where he left the cloak once his sight returned.
Are we prepared for change? Bartimaeus did not just go back to his mat after he was healed. No, he changed. He said, “Lord, I will now follow you.”
Brothers and sisters, we have to change something in our lives. If you ever wish to be healed, you must change. Because the greatest temptation for Bartimaeus is that, now that he can see with the eyes that the Lord gave him, he could still be spiritually blind and fall into sin. All of us can still fall back into blindness.
We all have to change our lives. There has to be something that changes to live the Christian life. Following the Gospel is not easy. But it is worth the effort.
Do you want to be healed enough to change your life? Do you want to be healed enough to keep calling out? Do you want to be healed enough to spend time thinking about what the root of your sinfulness is? If you follow . Bartimaeus in these four steps, I cannot promise you success in this world, but I can promise you success in the next. Do you want heaven are not?  May the victory of salvation be yours, through the sufferings you have in this life.
--Father Jacob Meyer

America’s rising tide of stupid people

America’s rising tide of stupid people

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BizPac Review.
Stupidity is on a wildfire rampage in America. Yes, the champions of what-won’t-work are in the ascendancy.
stupid questionStupidity is not limited to unintelligent people. Plenty of educated folks sport decent or high IQs, yet they harbor dumb beliefs or devotion to causes that don’t meet the test of common sense. Where these people went wrong, it seems, is failing to apply critical thinking when forming their belief systems. Intelligence does not always bring wisdom. Most intelligent people know they’re smart, but they may not know their judgment is fatally flawed.

Poor judgment sometimes flows from reliance on inaccurate or inadequate information. Most folks in the stupid category have no sense of history, are unwilling to learn the lessons of history, and are unschooled in civic responsibilities and the rule of law. Ignorance of economics is one telltale trademark of stupid political activists, although New York Times economist Paul Krugman has found a way to be both an economist and stupid at the same time.
For some serious fun, let’s survey some categories of stupid people in America:
  • Bernie Sanders star-struck supporters. These are people who support socialism — a destroyer of nations — because they are ignorant of how free enterprise creates vibrant economies and jobs. Sanders believes the private sector role is to transfer revenue to the public coffers. But why would you embrace the judgment of a man who accomplished nothing worthwhile in life and who couldn’t keep a good job until he reached his 40s? And who extolled the virtues of Ortega’s communist regime in Nicaragua, while Ortega killed or tortured 15,000 people and practiced legalized theft?

  • Minimum wagers. Among the prominent members of the Unintended Consequences Club sit the minimum wage backers. The people who push for minimum wages are too stupid to understand how it hurts more than it helps. It causes minority unemployment, “underground jobs” where people are hired off the books and no taxes are paid, people permanently priced out of jobs, stores closing. The real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of laws.

  • “Black Lives Matter”. Radical blacks are driving cops away from protecting innocent blacks and businesses in America’s largest cities. The people being killed in inner city areas are young men of color — and it’s not the police doing the killing. Black Lives Matter is fanning the flames, hastening the plunge. Only crooks, racists and political opportunists say BLM is credible.

  • Tax-the-rich socialists. These people are killing the great job-creating mechanisms that fueled America’s greatness and quality of life, a beacon in the world. If government is going to penalize the risk takers and investors by taxing away the fruits of successful capitalism, too few will expose their own capital to the risk of building innovative companies that employ large numbers of people.

  • “It Takes A Village” Multi-culturalists. These people have barged their way into the ranks of the stupid in recent years by insisting that cultural diversity has no dark side and by denying the truths of human nature and its tribal ways. Powerful tribal coteries can rip a country apart, trampling on minority groups’ rights and sometimes slaughtering religious or political opponents. Stupid multiculturalists are prattling on that there is no danger allowing 10,000 Syrian refugees into this country, relying on Obama’s ineffective vetting system. Every single day, Islamists attack somewhere.

  • Spoiled brat college students. Too many college students enter stupidhood by taking college majors that offer little chance of good jobs that produce livable wages. Their participation-trophy childhoods push them toward wanting to be shielded from competition and “micro-aggressions”. These na├»ve, pampered college students think it’s more fun to play the victim and stage protests, than the hard work of solving problems. Well, you’re not a victim, you’re a psychological problem who wants to be handed a free education. Get over it.
Quibbles are possible, but these people afflict America. Mainstream media culprits often are reluctant to expose stupid and politically correct people, because they frequently espouse such media’s political agenda.  Worse, in too many instances the media won’t reveal the facts that prove stupid people are stupid.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Does the First Amendment Protect Warrior Religions? - Crisis Magazine

Does the First Amendment Protect Warrior Religions? - Crisis Magazine:
After every Islamic terrorist attack, whether in Europe or the U.S., people ask what can be done to prevent it from happening again. But when the obvious solutions are proposed, they are invariably met with the objection that “you can’t do that,” or “that’s unconstitutional,” or words to that effect.
Some of the obvious solutions are to close radical mosques and radical Islamic schools, to monitor suspected mosques, to deport radical imams, and, of course, to restrict Muslim immigration or ban it altogether. If you dare to say such things, however, it quickly becomes apparent that—for many, at least—only politically correct solutions are acceptable. The trouble is, the politically correct crowd doesn’t have any solutions. In the memorable words of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, “France is going to have to live with terrorism.”
Catholics are frequently in the forefront of those who object to these “drastic” measures for preventing terrorism in the West. Pope Francis, for example, has made generosity to refugees and immigrants a hallmark of his papacy. Christians, he has reminded us on several occasions, should build bridges, not walls. Others, Catholics among them, have objected that restrictions on Islamic immigration would violate the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution—as would surveillance of mosques and Islamic societies.
Catholics are understandably touchy about the subject of religious liberty. But concerns over Christians being forced to bake cakes for same-sex weddings shouldn’t be allowed to overshadow some other basic questions about religious liberty.
One of the questions is this: does a religion that doesn’t believe in religious freedom for others qualify for First Amendment protection? Another, related question might be framed as follows: Is a religion that calls for the subjugation of other religions entitled to the “free exercise” of that mandate? The underlying issue, of course, is whether or not Islam really qualifies as a religion. As any number of authorities have pointed outIslam is a hybrid—part religion and part a geo-political movement bent on world domination.
The “world domination” bit, by the way, is not confined to the fevered imaginations of right-wing fanatics. In a recent interview with Religion New ServiceCardinal Raymond Burke said “there’s no question that Islam wants to govern the world.” “Islam,” he continued, “is a religion that, according to its own interpretation, must also become the State.”
Here’s what I had to say about the matter four years ago:
Does this [the 1st Amendment] make the exercise of religion an absolute right to do anything in the name of religion? Should the free-exercise clause be extended to protect suicide cults or virgin sacrifice? The First Amendment also prohibits the establishment of a state religion, but one of the main purpose of Islam is to establish itself as the state religion. It can be argued that Islam’s raison d’etre is to be the established religion in every nation. Hence, another question must be asked: does the First Amendment protect its own abolishment?
Cardinal Burke is a canon lawyer—a profession that requires one to choose words carefully. Hence, when he talks about Islam becoming the State, he should be taken seriously. According to him, “when they [Muslims] become a majority in any country then they have the religious obligation to govern that country.” As we have seen, however, long before Muslims become a majority they begin demanding that their fellow citizens comply with sharia laws regarding diet, dress, and blasphemy. Allowing Muslims the full and free exercise of their faith is tantamount to restricting the freedom of others. Or, as Dutch MP Geert Wilders likes to say, “more Islam” means “more intolerance” for everyone else.
Wilders is referring to the consequences that follow upon the mass migration of Muslims into Europe. Although his was once a lonely voice, numerous polls show that the majority of Europeans now believe along with him that Islam does not belong in Europe. Pope Francis, on the other hand, has been in the habit of chiding Christians for their opposition to accepting more Muslim immigrants. He recently went so far as to warn them that they will have to answer to Christ at the Last Judgment because he (in the guise of the migrant) was homeless, and they did not take him in.
But, although charity is the paramount Christian virtue, there is another virtue that governs the exercise of charity. It’s called “prudence.” And prudence would suggest that spiritual leaders and secular leaders should exercise caution when advocating acts of charity that put the lives of others at risk. In Europe, there are now numerous prudential reasons for slowing or halting the flow of Muslim immigration: the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Bataclan Theater massacre, the massacres at the Brussels airport and subway, the massacre at Nice, the Munich mall massacre, the axe attack aboard a German train, the bomb attack on a wine bar in the city of Ansbach, and the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults which targeted over 1,200 German women.
The most recent outrage was the slaughter of a French priest, Fr. Jacques Hamel, by two Islamic terrorists who burst into a church in Normandy during Mass and slit his throat. Pope Francis condemned the attack, but on the same day in Krakow he spoke once again about the need to welcome refugees. He called for “solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to profess one’s faith in freedom and safety.”
But how about the right of Christians and Jews to profess their faith “in freedom and safety?” Fr. Hamel is no longer free to profess his faith, and now that the Islamic State has proclaimed its intention to target more churches in Europe, Christians are going to feel considerably less safe at Sunday service. Jews in Europe already know the feeling. Most synagogues in Europe are now protected by security guards during Saturday services.
But if you really want to see the European future, just look at those nations where Muslims are already a majority. In Nigeria, where Muslims make up about 60 percent of the population, Christians are regularly attacked during church services, and on some occasions entire congregations have been burned alive inside their churches.
All of which prompts a question: should Western nations passively stand by as their own population balance shifts in the direction of Nigeria’s? A curtailment or a moratorium on Muslim immigration is one of the obvious solutions to the problem of terrorism in the West. But, as I’ve suggested above, many Americans think that such a moratorium would be unconstitutional. After all, doesn’t the Constitution forbid a “religious test” in scrutinizing immigrants? Indeed today’s top news story concerns the attack on Donald Trump by the father of a slain Muslim soldier. At the Democratic Convention, Khizr Khan challenged Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration by asking: “Have you even read the U.S. Constitution?”
In fact, the Constitution has no ban on a religious test for immigration. In a recent National Review piece, Andrew McCarthy points out that Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The clause has nothing to do with immigration and, as our bien pensants like to say, it has nothing to do with Islam.
The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 actually gives the president wide latitude in restricting immigration:
Whenever the president finds that the entry of aliens or any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, the president may … suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
One of the main intents of the act was to prevent communist ideologues from entering the country, but it was also invoked in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter to keep Iranians out of the U.S. And—surprise—according to McCarthy, “under federal law, the executive branch is expressly required to take religion into account in determining who is granted asylum.” As McCarthy notes:
We have a right to require scrutiny of the beliefs of aliens who petition for entry into our country … this includes beliefs the alien may regard as tenets of his faith—especially if such ‘faith tenets’ involve matters of law, governance, economy, combat and interpersonal relations that in our culture’s separation of church and state are not seen as spiritual.
In short, if you believe your religion allows you to execute apostates or subjugate infidels, don’t bother to apply.
When Pope Francis visited Poland for World Youth Day, security in Krakow was at its highest level. Forty thousand security personnel were deployed and, according to The Guardian:
Mobile X-ray devices and metal detectors, as well as dogs trained to detect explosives, are in use at railway and bus stations, major road hubs and venues where papal events are due to take place. Police said that gas tankers and large trucks had been banned from Krakow following the use of a 19-ton truck in a terrorist attack in Nice earlier this month.
Does that suggest anything? Are the officials worried that Protestants or Jews are going to attack the Catholic youth? Are they fearful that Buddhist will attempt to bomb the popemobile? Before the era of mass Muslim immigration into Europe, such precautions would have been deemed as overkill. Now they seem like prudent measures to prevent overkill. The heightened security at World Youth Day and all over Europe is a tacit acknowledgement that Islam differs radically from all other religions. This is a point that Cardinal Burke made in his interview when he criticized Catholic leaders who “simply think that Islam is a religion like the Catholic faith or the Jewish faith.” Just so. It’s well past time to question whether a religion with totalitarian ambitions should be treated like all other religions.
In the Guardian story about the Pope’s visit to Poland, he is described as a “modern pope.” But in some respects he, along with many bishops, seems to belong to an earlier era—an era when it seemed that all people desired nothing more than peace and friendship. At a time when the world is faced with the resurgence of a seventh-century warrior religion, that sixties sensibility no longer seems so modern.