On Recovering the Culture

Last night, in my blog post, I said I think our culture is past the point of no return, and that we are presently on a Search and Rescue mission. I then woke up, in the middle of the night, and I think it’s the Holy Spirit reminding me that He transformed civilization under more daunting conditions, 2,000 years ago, and will do it again —

BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT
1) We must recover our zeal for Christ, a zeal to match that of the early Christians, who carried the Gospel through the entire world, even when doing so meant their physical death.

2) And men must step up and lead the way. We women have a role to play, but we cannot do a man’s job with a man’s strength and skill. Men *must* exert their physical and moral strength and courage, and make a public stand for Christ. Without masculine leadership, Christians cannot recover our influence in the world.

 

New Year, Resolutions?

January 1, 2019. Another year, and the push to make new resolutions for a “New Year, New You” for the coming twelve months, mixed with the jokes about broken resolutions and the unending cycle of same.

For us as Catholics, the year begins with Mass – not for a new year, but to honor the power of the Incarnation through the fiat of Mary, in a grand Solemnity. I cantored for a local Mass last night, and played at the chapel for another, this morning. This is a very good way to begin.

We are in a grave time of crisis, and we have important choices to make. Our culture is running mad. Children are being exploited as sex objects, even applauded for being transgender or a drag queen on national television, for all our children to see and to think should be imitated or looked up to.  Local libraries and bookstores are promoting reading hours with drag queens — again, to influence our children and to lure them into a false glamour, to rob them of their innocence.

There is an increasing push to criminalize reparative therapy:  the gay lobby insists, very loudly, that it is impossible to change one’s gender preference and that reparative therapy is abuse of a criminal degree — while they insist that one can overcome biology to change one’s own gender.

Public schools are promoting these ideologies, and even taking children to begin the process of “transitioning” — without parental consent.  Parents who oppose these manipulations of their children are being charged with criminal acts and losing their children to the State.

It’s being reported than nearly 14,010,000 babies were aborted in the past year.

The hallmarks of paganism are human sacrifice and sexual depravity.

More and more, Christians and those who hold traditional moral and social values are being scorned, persecuted, punished in the public square.

And even our beloved Church, which is supposed to be the safeguard of all things holy, and the example of sanctity in the world, is embroiled in one controversy and crisis after another — as princes of the Church protect one another from accountability for grave misdeeds, and promote individuals who defy Church teaching in order to promote deviance in the name of “love” and “acceptance.”

We can’t even take our own pontiff seriously, any more, for whatever words he might utter about homosexuals being kept from the priesthood, he promotes and protects the apologists for the homosexual lifestyle and punishes those who actually hold faithful to the Magisterium.

So, in this coming year, I propose that we must be resolved:

  1. to make an oblation, an offering, of our lives to God.
  2. to live faithfully to Christ, even in isolation, even in defiance of the tsunami of atheism and insanity that is pouring in on us.
  3. to know our Faith better, day by day, through diligent study of the Scriptures and works of the Magisterium (beginning, in conjunction with the Scriptures, the Catechism)
  4. to foster a greater love for Christ, through an increase in prayer and devotional time, so that the whole of our life might be a continual, unceasing prayer and praise
  5. to practice the Works of Mercy – which includes the often-uncomfortable Works of rebuking sinners and instructing the ignorant
  6. to guard our minds and hearts against the influence of the Evil One
  7. to do all in our power to protect our homes and families from evil influence
  8. for those who are married to pray together as a couple, and those with children to incorporate the family rosary and prayer in your daily routine
  9. for those who are not married to find prayer partners with whom you will unite in prayer and service, holding one another up to God and to accountability
  10. to serve faithfully in the Church Militant in that sphere of life to which we are called, and in which we daily live.

Frankly, I think our culture has gone past the point of no return. I don’t believe we can recover the innocence and purity of past generations.  I believe we are now on a Search And Rescue mission.

Let us do our very best.

Vivat Christus Rex!

There is nothing that can happen to us –

I would not, for all the world, want to seem to trivialize the tragedy of Newtown, CT, but I think I would be mistaken if I did not post this. I have learned its truth over the years, and after my ranting and raging, earlier today, it slips into my conscious thought with soft but victory-promising murmurs:

There is nothing – nothing! – that can happen to us that God will not redeem, that He will not use for our greater good and for His own greater glory.

Human Life – Disposable

I’m still reeling from the news about the school shooting in Connecticut, which I’ve been following all afternoon. One of my piano students is kindergarten-age, for goodness’ sake! And I remember so vividly how sweet and small and precious my own daughters were at that age.

So many people on Facebook are screaming for more gun restriction laws – but just who’s going to have guns, then? I mean, for crying out loud, people, the school was a NO GUN ZONE… and who had the guns there? The criminal. The off-hinged young man who came in and shot up the school and killed at least 26 people, 20 little kids.

No. The problem is not “gun control.” It’s a rotten, selfish attitude that people are here for someone’s personal convenience, are disposable. It begins with the 1960s and the idea of contraception on demand, the idea that we can have our pleasure without consequences, without lifechanging commitment. It grew in the 1970s with the legalization of abortion-on-demand, and the idea that if the contraception fails (or if one is too lazy or selfish to use it) then a little surgical procedure will take care of the problem – the baby can’t even be called a baby any more; it has to be a “clump of cells” or a “fetus”; God forbid we should acknowledge the humanity of the unborn.

It grows with a sense that children can’t be spanked, no matter what they do, because that would hurt their precious feelings. Most of the parents I’ve known who refused to spank their children have tried to present themselves as morally superior to the rest of us, but in reality they’ve just been too damned lazy to deal with their kids. Working in a lawyer’s office, several years ago, I saw the names of some of those unspanked kids of my acquaintance listed on a series of police arrest reports for drug, larceny, and property damage charges. Mom and Dad wouldn’t deal with them as toddlers and preschoolers, so now the court system has to deal with them.

What happened in CT this morning is an extreme consequence of the disregard of personal responsibility. It’s really not so ironic that on the same day, in another abortion capitol, China, a man went through a crowd of school kids with a knife, hurting more than 20 of them.

We must renew our fight against the attitude of children – of people – as accessory objects that can be casually gotten rid of if they get in the way of our personal satisfaction.

The HHS Mandate

Every blogger in Christendom has addressed their reaction to the Health & Human Services mandate for religious institutions to fund contraception and abortion in their insurance packages. I think I’m ready to post mine, now. Goodness knows, I’ve commented on enough blogs and Facebook posts, this week.

Obviously, I do NOT support the Obama administration’s move. Sure, there are exceptions. If you only hire members of your church, and if you only serve members of your church, you’re exempt. But what church do you know of that is so self-limited and self-contained as that? Every church I know of, Catholic and Protestant, hires people outside its own membership. Most Catholic parishes have to hire nonCatholic musicians because there aren’t enough musicians to go around any more. Right now I have the pleasure (heightened by my delight in the irony of it all) of being a Catholic filling in for a nonCatholic church’s pianist while she recovers from surgery. Many churches have support staff not from the membership, for a variety of reasons – if nothing else, many hire cleaning teams.

Every church daycare I know of serves families not of its membership. Every charitable outreach, whether food pantry, clothes closet, or whatever, is extended to the larger community, not limited to that narrow congregation. Catholic hospitals comprise some 25% of medical services in this country – and they don’t limit their hiring or their caregiving to Catholics.

So the exemptions are worthless.

Right now, Catholics are being named as the target population being affected by this mandate, but let’s not fool ourselves, Mr & Mrs America: many, many nonCatholic Christians find this mandate a violation of their own religious sensibilities. Every Protestant Church I was ever part of – Methodist, Baptist, Christian & Missionary Alliance, FourSquare, Pentecostal Holiness – taught that abortion is wrong, that it is murder of an unborn child and therefore unconscionable to a Christian community. Many, many of those churches taught against certain types of contraception which act as abortifacients (IUD and the Pill). They, too, are being held in contempt by this Administration in this mandate.

We must band together in fighting this threat to our Constitutional liberty and to the salvation of souls. What’s more, we must learn to band together to fight the even great threat to souls: the paganization of our culture.

We’re told that we, as Christians, have an obligation to sit down and shut up and quit trying to manipulate the culture. This is a lie straight from the pit of Hell. Our obligation, friend, is twofold:

We are obligated, mandated, to carry the Gospel into the highways and byways, the marketplace and where we are often the only representatives of the Gospel encountered by our fellows;

And we are obligated, mandated, called by Christ to infuse that world with Gospel values.

If we sit, silent, and let a government agency that is hostile to Faith call the shots, if we sit silently by while our neighbors, coworkers and very family members wallow in grave sin, then we not only are failing to achieve our calling – we are bloodguilty of their souls through our silent complicity in their sins.

That’s serious business. That’s scary business.

And this “accommodation” of mandating insurance companies to cover things objectionable to thinking Christians? Just a wicked ploy to force a diabolical mentality on us. If I had a dollar for every time I encountered the argument that we Christians need to get out of the abortion debate “because it’s legal, so shut up,” I’d be a rival to Bill Gates in wealth. People really do think that because something is legal, it’s acceptable. (And point out that owning human beings through slavery was legal, or that all the atrocities of Hitler’s Germany were legal, and listen to the screams of indignation.)

We know better. Or we’re supposed to know better.

So I oppose this mandate as the forcing of a pagan values system on a nation that was founded on a premise of Christian moral and social values. I oppose the coercing of our children and our young adults to be desensitized to the utter wrong that is abortion and the contraception mentality – the divorcing of sex from love, commitment, respect and family life. Okay, from procreation. But that’s another blog post.

The American Catholic bishops have stood up and howled – a bit late; they should have begun standing like this when President Bush’s conscience protections were overturned almost as soon as Obama got into the Oval Office, and they should have stood united to defend Catholic Social Services when that fine organization, in several states, quit handling adoptions rather than yielding to new state “laws” that mandate serving gay couples in the adoption process. But they didn’t. Now they’re standing – and I hope they will continue to stand and give us leaders to be glad of, to rally with.

But if they fall flat on their faces, we the Faithful must continue the fight.

A contrast of two deaths

He’s not my uncle, he’s the uncle of my dearly loved friend, Angela. He lived in Holland, and was elderly and ill, and on Friday, March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation – Feast of the Incarnation) “Uncle Theo” was propelled unnaturally into Eternity. Put to sleep like a dog or a cat.

Euthanasia sounds like such a compassionate act – take the elderly, the infirm, the incapacitated, the suffering, and just go ahead and ease them out of their misery.  “I don’t want to suffer like so-and-so,” someone will say. “I’d like to just be put out of my misery.” But we don’t really expect to be taken literally, do we?

After all, our hours and our minutes belong to the Author of Life, to God Himself, not to us. We didn’t ask to be born, and we don’t get to determine when or how we die. It’s His call.

We don’t always get to see the point. There lay my dear friend Nora, incoherent so far as we could tell, unable to eat for months because of the cancer that had ravaged her body for the past four years. But her vital signs remained strong, and when her husband tried to help her take her meds, or to perform some other service for her, she fought back.

Pain was compounded by fear.  Severe depression, depression that had required electroshock therapy more than once, had left her bereft of hope. “I’m scared,” she grabbed my arm on one of my visits. “I’m so scared.”

Father had pointed to a statue of an angel and told her to remember her Guardian Angel. “You are not alone,” he promised her. “God loves you.” But she had become unable to hold on to that hope for more than the time it took to sing the refrain of “Be Not Afraid.”

“There’s no point to this!” her husband protested during one of my visits. The lingering, with the impossibility of providing true comfort, or to see how long the ordeal would last, took a toll on everyone. It always does.

But there is a point. And I saw it in the family – in Nora’s husband as he persisted in getting pain meds down her throat for as long a time as she could swallow, in her children as they came and kept vigil with their mother. Love was perfecting them – they might not see it right away; it might take years before they can point to this time in their lives and say, as I now can after my mother’s horrific death from lung cancer, twenty years ago: “We were all made better people because of this.”

Nora died a week ago – at home in her own bed, quietly, gently, naturally. Yes, she was momentarily alone as her husband had to leave the room briefly. But she was not really alone, because her family had waited for God’s hand, for His time, to choose the moment of Homegoing.

That last afternoon, I went to visit. We didn’t know it was the last afternoon, of course. I just went, because it was a day when I could. And after I’d been there a few minutes, another of her friends arrived, and a few minutes after that, still another – and each time a new friend walked in the room, Nora’s breathing quickened and deepened: she was aware that we were there.

Sally and I prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet, sitting by the bed, and Nora became still and quiet, her breathing regular and steady. When Carole came back in, and the conversation shifted to mundane things, her breathing altered with the flow of the conversation.

Nora – who could not actively communicate, was still in our conversation. I’m chuckling to recall how a couple of times she seemed to interject her own responses into my mind. She had a low opinion of one of the people being spoken of, and I could hear her calling him by a not-very-nice word.

But we had to go home, not knowing that it was the last visit, expecting to return the next day – and that evening, while herchildren were en route from their own families and jobs, and while her husband stepped out of the room ever so briefly, she died.

Nora’s death was a victory of human spirit and the Love of God over suffering – seemingly pointless suffering that had the point of perfecting Nora and refining the hearts and characters of those of us who loved her.

What beauty of redemption was circumvented because some Dutch doctors were too impatient to let death come in God’s time? Two doctors told Theo’s daughter that euthanasia was “the only option left.” What obscenity!

And what a stark contrast between these two deaths.

Mortal v. Venial

Mortal sin is like a bomb blast: the damage to one’s soul is immediate and catastrophic.

Venial sin is like a termite infestation. It may not seem like much at first, but if you don’t deal with it quickly and decisively, that one or two wee little bugs you almost don’t even notice are going to multiply, and become a colony; and that colony has the capability of doing some serious long-term damage to the structure it inhabits: your soul.