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.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Spiritual Reading Arms Us for Battle

Spiritual Reading Arms Us for Battle

Spiritual Reading Arms Us for Battle
What do you say? The reading of these good books does not concern you? But I find this duty more incumbent on you, than on those living in the security of the cloister. For you who sail on the open sea, whether you will it or not, are beset by a thousand occasions of sin. Thus the aid of spiritual books is for you a necessity. A religious cannot be wounded, because she is far from the combat. But you who are in the midst of battle, must protect yourself with the buckler of holy thoughts drawn from good books.
— Saint John Chrysostom
For the past twenty years, I’ve been doing my best to commit to daily spiritual reading. Some days have gone better than others. In fact, some years have gone better than others. But I have done my best to stay the course. In that time, I’ve learned a few things about the process. I’ve learned some basic things, such as how hard it is to make the time for spiritual reading, but how good it makes me feel when I’ve done it — kind of like jogging for the soul. I’ve also noticed that spiritual reading is better for my psyche than any motivational book. It helps me to grow in faith and to deepen my relationship with God, which in turn has strengthened every other area of my life. And although at first I thought that my spiritual growth would come mostly by studying theology, I’ve found that there is also a great intellectually and emotionally challenging component to reading other spiritual material, such as biographies of saints and books on prayer.
But in addition to these basic lessons, I’ve learned a few other things that run a little deeper than the obvious. We’ll look at those here and in the pages ahead.

Life in the Trenches

One need only watch the news for five minutes to know that this world has become a bastion of paganism more and more emboldened in its persecution of those who choose to follow Christ. Everywhere we turn, secularism is the new religion. Worse, the world is fast becoming, not merely secular, but anti-God — and not only anti-God, but anti-everything-that-even-remotely-relates-to-God.
Daily we are bombarded from every angle with messages that are clearly designed to remove us one step further from our Faith or to cripple us within it. Whether social situations at work or school, the news, television shows, movies, books, advertising, or — the ultimate temptation — social media, the influences on our daily lives do virtually nothing to draw us closer to our calling as Christians to live the life of Christ.
The only way to shield our hearts and minds from the lies of a hostile culture is to fill them with reinforcements before we head out to battle each day. Additionally, the more we fill our hearts with the love of Christ, the greater the light we bring to the darkness around us. Spiritual reading arms us for all those daily battles with negativity, temptation, and sin, filling our minds, hearts, and souls with truth, building us in Christ, and strengthening us for combat.
Spiritual reading brings us closer to Christ and provides a peace and joy that the world can never offer. Of course, prayer and the sacraments are also critical to our interior life. Unfortunately, although time in prayer is wisely spent, many claim that they spend hour after hour in prayer and it does no good. They may attend Mass, pray the Rosary, offer up many rote prayers, and even speak from their heart to our Lord; but they often complain that their efforts are to no avail, and they still feel alone in the world.
Sitting (or kneeling) in a room, praying our hearts out, while laudable, can be like sitting on one end of a telephone just talking away, with no input from the other side. But couple that time with spiritual reading from some solid books, and our faith and joy will improve exponentially.
Spiritual reading offers God’s perspective. This is obviously true with regard to Sacred Scripture; but it is also true when we read from any of the countless books written by those with great wisdom and grace whose hearts and minds are united with the Magisterium of the Church.
Spiritual reading provides us with a Person to know; a Person with whom to communicate; a Person to whom we can listen in prayer because, with a better understanding of who He is, we can actually hear His voice when he speaks to us. Saint Alphonsus Liguori, in his On Spiritual Reading, quotes Saint Jerome as saying, “When we pray we speak to God, but when we read, God speaks to us.” And Saint Isaac the Syrian asserts, “From reading the soul is enlightened in prayer.”
Spiritual reading helps us to build a relationship with Christ. Reading Sacred Scripture and the classics helps us to know and to love a God who actually trod the ground we tread, who suffered the things we suffer, who ate and slept just as we do.
We know that spiritual reading can keep us grounded because we have many brothers and sisters in Christ who have been through what we’re going through, fought the same battles we face, and would recommend to us the same solution I’m here to recommend: spiritual reading. Although we have neither time nor room to discuss every friend of Christ who endured an environment hostile to his faith, it seems fitting to examine the lives of two such individuals, one who lived far from us in time, but perhaps not so far in spirit; and another who, like many Catholics today, endured hostility toward her faith even in the sanctuary of her home.
Both of these amazing people would credit their perseverance to God’s grace and the openness of their hearts and minds to the wisdom offered through spiritual reading.

Saint John Chrysostom

We live in a world where Christ is ridiculed and laughed at, even despised and spat upon. Often, we wonder how our Judeo-Christian heritage could have fallen so far. But ours isn’t the only era to experience such derision. Saint John Chrysostom lived in the fourth century, shortly after Constantine converted and turned Rome into a Christian nation. John’s father died when he was only an infant; devoted to her only child, his mother “felt she was called of God to devote herself wholly in the training of her son and to shield him from the contaminating influences of the pagan city of Antioch.” As a young boy, her son received the best education available. As a young man, he lived as a hermit, separating himself from the secular hostility of his culture. He spent this time committing the entire New Testament to memory. This practice served him well throughout his life. Eventually, he returned to society and was ordained a priest. Shortly after his ordination in Antioch, he gave a series of eloquent sermons to fearful crowds who worried about the possibility of retribution from Emperor Theodosius after they had demonstrated against a new tax. John’s popularity grew, but so did the alliances forming against him.
This article is from a chapter in “How to Read Your Way to Heaven.” Click image to preview other chapters.
After twelve years in Antioch, where he gained great popularity because of his speaking ability and his command of Sacred Scripture, John was appointed bishop of Constantinople, enduring great opposition from the powers that be. He was continually the victim of intrigue, lies, and defamation of character. He was accused of supporting one side of feuding clergy over another and was eventually exiled from Constantinople by the emperor Arcadius. His banishment was short-lived, however, as the public threatened to burn the royal palace down unless he was allowed to return.
But John faced exile again for denouncing pagan practices among the ruling class, including the wife of the emperor. In fact, much of his world was affected by pagan practices, against which he preached repeatedly in his homilies.
Throughout his service, John continued to preach that people needed to know the Faith and to practice it. In Eastern Orthodoxy, he is called the Great Ecumenical Teacher because he spoke so profoundly on both the Old and New Testaments while thundering against pagan practices and pastimes. He is known as the Father of Catechesis because he spent much time teaching people the Faith and guiding them to practice spiritual reading, so that they might ward off temptations, particularly those temptations encountered by Christians in a pagan culture.
Here are just a couple of his admonitions:
Moreover, if the Devil does not dare to enter into the house where the Gospel lies, much less will he ever seize upon the soul which contains such thoughts as these, and no evil spirit will approach it, nor will the nature of sin come near. Well, then, sanctify your soul, sanctify your body by having these thoughts always in your heart and on your tongue. For if foul language is defiling and evokes evil spirits, it is evident that spiritual reading sanctifies the reader and attracts the grace of the Spirit. (Homily 32 on John)
This is the cause of all evils, the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, and how are we to come off safe? (Homily 9 on Colossians)
This advice should be applicable to each and every one of us, struggling to keep our bearings as we face a pagan culture day after day.

Elisabeth Leseur

Unlike John Chrysostom, Elisabeth Leseur did not benefit from a high-class education. She came from an upper-middle-class family and had a moderately Catholic upbringing, having attended Catholic school and received the sacraments as a girl. As a young lady, she married Felix Leseur, a well-educated, well-to-do doctor, in 1889 after a brief engage­ment. Shortly before their marriage, Elisabeth learned that Felix was no longer a practicing Catholic. In fact, he was a self-proclaimed atheist and became well known in Paris as the editor of a newsletter that promoted atheist and anticlerical beliefs.
Although he promised that he would respect Elisabeth’s Faith, Felix set about almost immediately to destroy it, and he nearly succeeded. For a time, Elisabeth even stopped attending Mass. Fortunately, at the height of his influence against her Faith, Felix handed his wife a book that made her think twice about the arguments it offered. Rather than be influenced by the poverty of such a book, Elisabeth turned to masters of Catholic thought. Here is what her husband says of her in his “In Memoriam”:
To counterbalance my anti-Christian library, she gathered together one composed of the works of the great masters of Catholic thought: Fathers, Doctors, mystics, St. Jerome, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales, St. Teresa of Avila and many more. Above all she read and reread the New Testament, the Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles; she never passed a day without meditating upon some passage from it. She thus acquired a reasoned and substantial faith. Knowing the opposing arguments, possessing her own replies to them, and strengthening perpetually the foundations of her belief, by the grace of God she established her faith indestructibly.
Read “The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur” to learn more.
More than just reading books, Elisabeth took great pains to apply what she read to her life. She never spoke to her husband about her Catholic Faith. She did not try to convince him of the truth. Rather, she offered all to God, who helped her to live the truth. The beauty within her became evident to everyone she met.
That is exactly what we desire to do: to live our Faith. To experience the peace of knowing that we are not of this world but are to spend this life sharing the light of Christ with others. Elisabeth was so successful in that vein that, after years of offering up her suffering silently and making sacrifices for her husband, she offered her very life to God for his salvation. Upon her death, her husband not only returned to Catholicism but also became a Dominican priest!
Elisabeth armed herself each day to do battle in her own home — not with arguments or smugness, but with love. There was no more effective weapon she could have found to help her win the war.

Arming for Battle: The Church Militant

We may not feel called to memorize the entire New Testament like St. John Chrystostom, but meditating daily on Sacred Scripture will provide us with the strength we need to face the enemy. Saint Paul tells us:
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:11-17).
We need to be armed for battle. At all times, and especially during these crazy times in this vale of tears, we need to lay our foundation in Christ Jesus. I pray that spiritual reading plays a part in helping you build and strengthen that foundation.
Editor’s note: This article is from a chapter in How to Read Your Way to Heavenwhich is available from Sophia Institute Press. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

FROM THE PASTOR February 5, 2017 by Fr. George W. Rutler

February 5, 2017

by Fr. George W. Rutler

In the margin of a public speaker’s manuscript was the notation: “Weak point. Shout.” Such is the rhetoric of those who place emotion over logic and make policy through gangs rather than parliaments. In Athens 2,400 years ago, Aristophanes described the demagogue as having “a screeching, horrible voice, a perverse, cross-grained nature and the language of the marketplace.” That marketplace today includes the biased media and the universities that have become daycare centers.

   The recent action of our government’s executive branch to protect our borders and enforce national security is based on Constitutional obligations (Art. 1 sec 10 and Art. 4 sec 4). It is a practical protection of the tranquility of order explained by Saint Augustine when he saw the tranquillitas ordinis of Roman civilization threatened. Saint Thomas Aquinas sanctioned border control (S. Th. I-II, Q. 105, Art. 3). No mobs shouted in the marketplace two years ago when the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act restricted visa waivers for Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. The present ban continues that, and only for a stipulated ninety days, save for Syria. There is no “Muslim ban” as should be obvious from the fact that the restrictions do not apply to other countries with Muslim majorities, such as Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Turkey.

   These are facts ignored by demagogues who speak of tears running down the face of the Statue of Liberty. At issue is not immigration, but illegal immigration. It is certainly manipulative of reason to justify uncontrolled immigration by citing previous generations of immigrants to our shores, all of whom went through the legal process, mostly in the halls of Ellis Island. And it is close to blasphemy to invoke the Holy Family as antinomian refugees, for they went to Bethlehem in obedience to a civil decree requiring tax registration, and they violated no statutes when they sought protection in Egypt. Then there was Saint Paul, who worked within the legal system, and invoked his Roman citizenship through privileges granted to his native Tarsus in 66 B.C. (Acts 16:35-38; 22:25-29; 25:11-12) He followed ordered procedure, probably with the status of civis Romanus non optimo jure—a legal citizen, but not allowed to act as a magistrate.

   It is obvious that the indignant demonstrators against the new Executive Orders are funded in no little part by wealthy interests who would provoke agitation. These same people have not shown any concern about the neglected Christians seeking refuge from persecution in the Middle East. In 2016 there was a 675% increase in the number of Syrian refugees over the previous year, but while 10% of the Syrian population is Christian, only one-half of one percent of the Syrian Christians were granted asylum. It is thankworthy that our changed government now wants to redress that. The logic of that policy must not be shouted down by those who screech rather than reason.

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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