Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Plea For Life

This week will see the 35th anniversary of the legaliazation of abortion on demand in this country. On January 22, 1973, in the now infamous case of Roe vs. Wade, the Unites States Supreme Court ruled, in effect, that it was a woman's right to kill her unborn child. Since that insane decision was handed down, approximately 50 million American children have been senseslessly slaughtered in the very wombs of their mothers. Can anyone think of another case in which that many people could be annihilated and no one would blink an eye? Why is it that we think abortion is something other than what it is- MURDER?

The word abortion means to bring to a sudden halt to a process that is already in progress. Thus we use the term "abort a mission". To abort a child is to immediately terminate the process of life. This is common science as well as common sense. The only controversy to this topic is because it means that we must ignore our conscience so we can be morally irresponsible.

Four years ago, most Christians believed the Republican party was serious about the pro-life agenda and handed them the White House as well as control of congress. With the appointment of two Supreme Court judges that appear to be more amenable to the pro-life cause, the stage was set to finally undo the greatest outrage in our country's history by overturning Roe. But the Republicans did nothing!

Now they do not even think the pro-life plank is that important. The only significant voice for it comes from Mike Huckabee. While Mitt Romney says he is pro-life, his previous record indicates otherwise. How can we trust him now? Meanwhile, Guiliani is anti-life and McCain says whatever he thinks will win him votes.

On the Democratic side, there is really nothing to talk about. The Democrats have made themselves the party of the perverse and promiscuous at least since the previous Clinton era, and probably before that.

So where do we turn? Who will be for life? And as if it isn't already pretty bleak, we should remember that to be truly and completely pro-life means to safeguard life from conception to natural death. A truly consistent pro-life ethic opposes contraception, abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem- cell research, capital punishment, and war (at least in most cases). Where do we turn to find those who will stand for life in all of those cases?

I am not naive enough to believe we can find such a person in the political arena. Still, the cause of justice demands that we raise our voices and insist that people be confronted with moral responsibility even if they're unwilling to accept it (think John the Baptist and Herod). So I plead with all those aspiring to public office to soberly consider the claims of life. I urge them to fight for these principles.

If I could find someone of demonstrated character and integrity who would take such a stand, I would cast my vote for that person in a heartbeat. Until then, I am left to wonder what is the least of all evils and to pray that God have mercy on us when this is all the choice we have!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

How Will They Know We Are Christians?

How will the world know that we are Christians? Virtually every Christian I know, be they Catholic, Protestant, non-denom, etc., while very nice people and sincere enough in their faith, do not differ radically from the nicer, conservative element of our society. Given that, how is it that we are supposed to stand out? Some initial thoughts come to mind.

Our religion basically boils down to 2 great commandments: love God and love our neighbor. One of the defining characteristics of a Christian is love. God is love and those who belong to Him will reflect that essential trait of His being. So what do we mean by that? Christians will be known because they are nice people? Not quite.

First, we love God. We love Him above anything, or anyone, including ourselves. He gave Himself for us. Now we are called to give ourselves to Him. This is marital language. This is the language of love. In so doing we make a radical departure from our old lives of sin. We no longer lie, cheat, or steal. We do not indulge in parties with excess of eating and drinking. We cease loving our possessions. We become chaste. Our times of entertainment and leisure reflect our love for God both in what we refrain from doing as well as that in which we participate. Even our standard of dress reflects our love for God by being moderately attired and not dressing in such a manner as to attact undue attention.

Second, we love our neighbor, and everyone is our neighbor. This includes people in other countries that we will never see or meet. In our modern age of global technology, we cannot ignore the plight of our neighbors across the world. This means we will do all we can to see that they have the same necessities we do. After all, we are called to love them as much as we love ourselves. Therefore, they must have the necessary food, drink, shelter, clothing, education, employment, and health care that we want for ourselves. To do this, we will find it necessary to curb our own indulgence so that we will have something to give for them. Furthermore, we must work to raise the awareness of others to their plight so that necessary laws will be passed to allow them these things as well. And while we are focusing somewhat on nations overseas, let us not forget that these same issues exist right in our own neighborhoods as well. It is our obligation to get our heads out of the sand and find out how we can help.

Finally, we come with a message; the message of the Gospel- that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting men's sins against them. It is the message of reconciliation. It is the means by which those who have made themselves the enemies of God through their sins are brought back to Him through the message of the cross. Once reconciled, they now find peace with God in their hearts and experience His love shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.

All of these elements must be in place for the world to take notice that we are indeed Christians. Without one of these things, the message is skewed. Quite frankly, I think this is a great reason why so few in the world do take notice of the Church. We don't live like we believe it. Why should they? So we can see the great need for these stumbling blocks to be removed. Let it begin individually with me and you. And let us pray that more will follow so that the world will behold the love of God in us and know we are indeed Christians. May they who see us come and join us for the glory of God in our Lord Jesus Christ!

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Today is the Feast of the Epiphany; a very wonderful and sacred time in the Church. This feast was celebrated early in the Church's history and held pride of place long before the first celebration of Christmas. Traditionally celebrated on January 6th, it is now celebrated in the United States on the first Sunday after January 2nd. This year, that Sunday happens to fall on the traditional date.

Today we celebrate the revealing, or manifestation of Christ to the world, specifically focusing on three events: the visit of the Magi, our Lord' baptism, and His first miracle at the wedding in Cana. Since it is the theme of the visit of the Magi that is at the fore of this feast, I want to share some reflections from that event as recorded for us in the second chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel.

The coming of the Gentiles to faith in Jesus is a key theme in this story. The Magi were most likely Persian astrologers who recognized in the Star that a great god-king had been born. Though they were pagans, completely cut off from the heritage of the worship of the one true God of Israel, yet God chose to reveal Himself to them through means that they would understand. This shows the great love of our God who is always calling out to us and has come to us in Christ (Emmanuel- God with us). In addition, this provides some insight into the "ethical" dilemma of how it is that God will judge people who have never had the opportunity to hear of Christ. We find that God is ever resourceful in finding ways to reach His people. So it continues to this present day. While angels announced the glad tidings to the people of God (Jews), a simple, silent star lead the way for the pagan Gentiles.

When they came to Herod they asked where He is who is born King of the Jews. They expected that all the Jewish nation, including their king, would be waiting with great anticipation for this event. But Herod had no idea. He had to consult the chief priests and scribes who told him of the prophecy that our Lord would be born in Bethlehem. Then Herod feigned piety, asking the Magi to return to him once they had found the Child so he could worship Him too. It reminds me of our current time when all our political presidential hopefuls are working overtime to convince us how religious they are. But one must wonder if they will also turn and commit great sacrilege in the murder of innocents (abortion) once they are elected.

Upon finding the Holy Family in Bethlehem, the Magi offered gifts to our Lord. Gold is of the highest worth and a fit gift for a king. Frankincense is reminiscent of the incense that continually ascends before God representing prayer. Myrrh was used in embalming and speaks of mortality. So in these gifts we see that the Magi recognized this Babe as King, God, and Man. They believed in Him, worshiped Him, and thus found salvation. We do not expect that their faith was like ours in every particular, primitive as it was. But we must believe that it was acceptable to God.

We too are called to come and adore Him. We offer the gold of pure hearts as the highest gift we have. We give continuous prayer and worship to Him as frankincense. We offer the myrrh of our own mortality in freely choosing to mortify that which is yet sinful in us so that He will have pure temples in which to dwell.

When the Magi left they did not go back to Herod, or return the way they had come, but returned to their own country by another way. St. Gregory the Great says this is indicative of the call to conversion. When we come to see Jesus, we are changed forever. We cannot return to our old lives as we once knew them. We are called to go out by another way- the way of the cross; the way of eternal life.

On this glorious day of Epiphany, may the visit of the Magi find a place within our hearts. May we, like them, offer our worship and our selves to our Lord Jesus Christ. Then let us take this wonderful message by another way to our homes, businesses, and communities that others, too, may come to know our wonderful Lord!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Random Thoughts on New Year's Day

For those who are eager beavers and have already taken down their Christmas trees, etc., the Christmas season is only 8 days old. It will last for another 12 days officially, ending with the Baptism of our Lord on January 13. So bear with those of us who observe the traditional season and will still be singing Christmas carols after everyone else is thinking about Valentine's Day.

What is the big deal with that ball dropping in Times Square?

I'm not terribly interested in any of the football games on today, with the possible exception of Michigan/Florida as I am from Michigan and a Wolverines fan. But alas, I fear my boys are in for a rough time of it from those guys down south.

Speaking of football, I wish they would finally get over the whole BCS fiasco and let the teams play a series of playoffs to see who is really the national champion.

2008 is an election year. Now you may be thinking that 2007 was an election year, but that's just because we began the 2008 campaign a little early. You'll be thoroughly sick and tired of the whole process by November, and by January 2009 they'll be revving up for the 2012 elections. Ah, the glory of democracy!!!

For some reason I had insomnia last night. Maybe it's all the stuff I ate before going to bed. I think I'm finally starting to respond to caffeine. I used the time wisely enough, reading from Scripture and the Fathers. I read some really great stuff. It's just that I would rather have been reading it at 2:30 in the afternoon rather than 2:30 in the morning.

Today is a holy day of obligation for Catholics. It is called the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. That's important to us because in acknowledging Mary this way we are saying that Jesus is fully God. A holy day of obligation means that we have special Masses on this day. Protestants will have a tough time understanding holy days of obligation. Quite frankly, I think Catholics have a hard time with it as well. Personally, I can't understand why anyone needs to be told to go to Mass. If one really understands what is happening there, you wouldn't stay away. To me, being told you have to go to Mass is like telling newlyweds they need to be intimate. If every Catholic could grasp that, no one, Catholic or otherwise, would give another thought to the whole idea of holy day of obligation.

All that to say that it was great to begin a new year by going to Mass. Mass was wonderful. It always is!

Thoughts from the homily: we should be filled with the same kind of joy as the shepherds on Christmas Day. This should lead us to be excited enough to tell others about it.

Also: quoting St. Francis of Assisi- "If you want to sanctify the world, begin by sanctifying yourself." We really can change the world if we are serious about starting with ourselves.

I suppose it's obvious by now that I am sleep-deprived. So, "Happy New Year" to everyone!