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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

I thought I'd recall the epitome of Love, on this festive day.

"For God so loved the world, that  he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." John 3:16

"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19

We learn the true meaning of love at the foot of the Cross.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Daily Doctrine - No Other God

For thus says the LORD,
The creator of the heavens,
who is God,
The designer and maker of the earth
who established it,
Not as an empty waste did he create it,
but designing it to be lived in:
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret
from some place in the land of darkness,
I have not said to the descendants of Jacob,
“Look for me in an empty waste.”
I, the LORD, promise justice,
I declare what is right.
Come and assemble, gather together,
you fugitives from among the nations!
They are without knowledge who bear wooden idols
and pray to gods that cannot save.
Come close and declare;
let them take counsel together:
Who announced this from the beginning,
declared it from of old?
Was it not I, the LORD,
besides whom there is no other God?
There is no just and saving God but me.
Turn to me and be safe,
all you ends of the earth,
for I am God; there is no other!
By myself I swear,
uttering my just decree,
a word that will not return:
To me every knee shall bend;
by me every tongue shall swear.
- Isaiah 45:18-23

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Daily Doctrine - Obedience

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
-Romans 6:16

Friday, February 3, 2012

Religious when it's Useful

Didn't anyone teach you at an early age these important basic principles?

They are:
1. Religion is a tool.
2. It is to be used as is appropriate for accomplishing your goals.
3. Any religion will do, as a tool, for accomplishing your goals.
4. You are not bound to any one religion, as a tool, to accomplish your goals.
5. If you desire, you may use religion only at certain times that it applies to your goals.
6. You may also discredit and ignore others who use their religion for accomplishing goals, as your tool is better than their tool, simply by the law of "individual" over "common good."
7. Religion is not to be confused with anything that has deeper meaning or applies to the values of your life. It is a tool.

Maybe something inside of your head is flashing right now, some kind of small red warning signal, hinting that this might be blatantly wrong, or at least illogical.
Hopefully, that is happening.

However, is appears that while many people (thank God), were not raised with such nonsense as what is above, some, including certain leaders, were.

Now, as I do not really know how our President was raised, I cannot say that this is so. I want to be respectful of the man who is carrying the weight of answering for the United States. I disagree with many of his policies and decisions, but I want to clarify that this is not some hateful post or something that is meant to be disrespectful.

That being said, when one reads this article, it is very hard to not assume that the principles listed above are in play. When you look at it from the objective, this is what you see:
- Religious discrimination in the form of a failure to respect religious freedom and conscience rights for the many American citizens (many who are Catholic and Christian) who do not find abortion, contraception, sterilization or embryonic stem cell research to be morally permissible.

So it is acceptable for the Department of Health and Human Services to require that organizations and institutions (such as Catholic schools and hospitals) provide contraceptive services, against their moral beliefs, while it is simultaneously acceptable for the President to state that his decisions on taxes stem from a Christian understanding of shared wealth?

I'm not arguing here about taxes... I'm going to a much more fundamental issue. This is about "when" and "where" is is acceptable in this country to talk about JESUS, and when it isn't. Did we not just see Tim Tebow taking heat for his overtly Christian messages in the public eye? Do we not also see the Susan G. Komen organization taking heat for making a fiscal decision that others are insisting is a ethical/moral decision? The problem here is consistency.

Please don't take this the wrong way: I'm not asking that "if we aren't all allowed to say, 'I live this way because of Jesus,' that no one should be allowed to." Clearly not. That would be a rather extreme persecution. However, I would like to call for some consistency in respecting religious beliefs! If the President can comfortably say that his policy on taxing the wealthy in this country is coming from an understanding of the Gospel, than by all means, I believe that any organization or institution that conscientiously objects to contraceptives/abortion/etc... should be comfortable (and in all legal rights) to say their policy of not offering those things comes from their understanding of the Gospel. End of story.

Now, I know that the President's comments were not so forceful, etc.. to be highly bent out of shape. It is still an issue that I see in the black and white - there is right, and there is wrong. It is not wrong, by any means, to help the poor and needy. I have been fortunate enough to live a life that was provided for, but I have also lived with people who have nothing, and I understand how important this message of generosity and charity is. I simply do not think that it is right to say that this particular moral truth is acceptable in this instance, but the other moral truths, those concerning life itself, are not acceptable.

Let's keep praying for religious freedom and the end to the culture of death that continues to seek ways of seeping into the fabric of our lives.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Daily Doctrine - Sacred Scripture and Prayer

Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church, from Catechism 131-133:

"And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life." Hence "access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful."

"Therefore, the study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too - pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place - is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture."

The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Discrimination and anti-trafficking

I would like to draw attention to another issue that revolves around religious freedom and the movement of this great Nation.

This article, found in the Washington Post, discusses a serious debate that has begun over the decision of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award three lesser-ranked organizations grant monies that had previously been awarded to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) (specifically to the Migration and Refugee Services (known as MRS) Anti - Trafficking Services Program). The controversy comes from the fact that as a Catholic organization, MRS refuses to refer victims for contraception or abortion, as those go against the Church's moral teaching. The question presented is: does this border on religious persecution when this organization has been higher ranked, consistently, for since 2006? That's six years of successful service to victims of human trafficking and their families, and the funding that had assisted in this positive and necessary work has now been refused.

A number of congressmen have raised issue with this decision, and are now writing letters calling for legal action against HHS. Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), Rep. Christopher H. Smith (N.J.), Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and 24 other senators signed a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Secretary. The letter stated:
"A fundamentally religious organization, it is well known that the USCCB - in lawful exercise of its conscience rights - foes not provide abortion referrals. To ensure your department respected USCCB's conscience rights and did not violate current law in awarding this grant, we request specific information related to USCCB's grant denial, a full explanation of your department's decision, and whether the USCCB's position regarding abortion referrals was a factor in your department's decision making. As you know, your department is expected to award federal contracts to the most qualified applicants who demonstrate the greatest capability to administer a program's goals."

I applaud those who are making a stand for justice in this case. These congressmen and women are pointing to what is clearly wrong here: choosing organizations with lesser ranking and poorer performance over an organization with a higher ranking and better performance, because the organization will simultaneously maintain its religious liberty and not recommend actions to which it conscientiously objects. This can only hurt the men, women and children affected by human trafficking and their families.