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Monday, August 29, 2016

Trying to be a Good American (and Catholic) when I don't Agree with You

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

1951 Law is a rule of conduct enacted by competent authority for the sake of the common good. The moral law presupposes the rational order, established among creatures for their good and to serve their final end, by the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator. All law finds its first and ultimate truth in the eternal law. Law is declared and established by reason as a participation in the providence of the living God, Creator and Redeemer of all. "Such an ordinance of reason is what one calls law."

Alone among all animate beings, man can boast of having been counted worthy to receive a law from God: as an animal endowed with reason, capable of understanding and discernment, he is to govern his conduct by using his freedom and reason, in obedience to the One who has entrusted everything to him.

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This has been a tough couple of years in the United States.  The unrest and worry has been palpable.  The frenzied media has made heroes by making stuff up out of whole cloth, but at the same time we have had to address racial tensions and misuse of authority.   It has been a bumpy ride. The problem has not been helped by the element of violence against Police Officers carried out by people who claim it is in retribution for unlawful killing of Black men at the hands of Law Enforcement. 

Recently a well-known athlete chose to demonstrate his solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by not standing during the National Anthem before a televised football game.  He did not violate employer policy as the NFL does not require its employees to stand during the National Anthem as a way of protecting possible religious beliefs (there are some sects of Christianity that do not take oaths or stand during the anthem or serve in the military).  His demonstration had actually been going on for sometime but oddly enough the very day he was scheduled to return to active player status somehow his stance (or lack thereof) was leaked to the press.

The outrage has been immediate and almost comical.  He has actually been 'accused' of converting to Islam, being un-American, called foul names, I mean it has been amazing.  His jersey has been burned, Facebook Memes have flooded the internet...it just goes on and on and on.

This kid did not make any obscene gestures.  He did not use foul language.  He stated that he has the utmost respect for Law Enforcement and the Military.  He did not grab an assault rifle, hide in a building and start shooting at police.  He sat down.

I am often accused of being too lenient when it comes to people I love but this is not a similar case.  I don't love this guy.  I barely know him.  For all I know he is converting to Islam.  I don't really care other than I wish he would throw the football better and learn how to properly read a defense.

Here is what I care about:  I care that we as a country not forget that the reason men and women serve in the military is to preserve a freedom not always honored in the rest of the world.  That freedom is essentially a freedom of thought and expression.  If I believe that the intentional abortion of an unborn child is immoral, the fact that it is legal is immaterial.  I have the right to protest that law, to protest that action in a peaceful and non-violent manner.  I do not have the right to burn down an abortion mill or bomb a Planned Parenthood office.

If this young man believes there are injustices being perpetrated against people of color in this country and those injustices are not being properly addressed by  the powers that be OR by the country's own citizens then his is the right to take an action that would bring our attention to that issue.  He does not have the right to walk up to one of the cops on duty at the football game and punch them in the face as an act of protest.

Look, do I agree with his stance?  Kinda sorta.  I know there are problems in this country that must be addressed if we are going to move forward.  One of those problems is crime in our African American Community.  Another of those problems is racial prejudice, religious bigotry and the true war on women which is the perpetration of the lie that abortion on demand is somehow liberating.  We have a lot of problems - poverty, poor education, lack of opportunity and the fact that we have been in an almost constant state of war since our revolution of 1776.   We have a lot of wounds to heal.

I also believe this country, this America, is still the best game in town.  It is the fundamentals upon which we were founded that allow for a rich young athlete to stage a protest without being hauled off to a gulag somewhere to disappear.  It is the rights upheld in our US Constitution that make it possible to change laws and, eventually, hearts and minds so that we no longer legally sell human beings.  It is this country that stands against places that would shove people into ovens and it is the actual laws of this country that make it possible for me to attend Mass without being shot.

Do we have problems?  Oh you bet we have problems.  We are more concerned with what bathroom someone goes into than the fact that 12 year old girls are driven to Planned Parenthood by their 'boyfriends' for artificial birth control and abortions.  We are more concerned with using correct language than we are about a crumbling infrastructure.  We care more about football than God.

I am going to be unpopular with a lot of people because I support this young man's right to do what he did without agreeing with everything he states.  People on both sides of this issue are going to be angry with me because I don't think he really gets it right AND I support his right to protest. 

However, I know what I think and I know what I mean.  I know what is important to me and I know why it is important.  I care more about people and their rights than I do the egg of a California Condor.

I have to - I'm a Catholic.

I hope you can accept me but if not....well.....

You are in my prayers.


PS:  please pray for the healing of Sister Pauline Quinn, OP. Sister Pauline established the program in prisons all over the world that unites inmates with shelter dogs.  The dogs are trained in basic obedience with an eye towards having them develop into Service Dogs for the disabled.  She has been diagnosed with cancer. 

St Peregrine, pray for her.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Holiness - The Struggle is Real

The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines Holiness in this way:

... among creatures they are holy by their relation to God. Holiness in creatures is either subjective or objective or both. It is subjective essentially by the possession of divine grace and morally by the practice of virtue. Objective holiness in creatures denotes their exclusive consecration to the service of God: priests by their ordination, religious by their vows, sacred places, vessels, and vestments by the blessing they receive and the sacred purpose for which they are reserved.

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I asked a question on Facebook the other day about holiness, essentially questioning my friends about what they think keeps them from achieving it.  The answers were surprisingly frank and can be summed up in a one word answer:  ME!  Almost everyone who answered gave a variation on this theme:  if I am being kept from holiness I have no one but myself to blame.

That gives me hope.  It gives me hope because it shows that the majority of the people I have in my life today look to themselves first before they start blaming or pointing fingers.  Oh look, we're far from perfect.  There is still the occasional member of the Piety Police who has no trouble pointing to the splinter in their neighbor's eye or cannot resist telling us that, while they have taken responsibility for their actions it sure would be nice if the ex-husband or the adult child or that pesky neighbor would follow their example.  I myself have been a card-carrying member of that group and it took me a long time to be able to make an amends to someone that did not sound like "I am really, really sorry YOU made ME act like a jerk".

I know that my biggest character defect is my wish to be loved.  This is different from the traditional people-pleasing claim made by some (mostly new) members of the 12 step meetings I attend.  I want to be loved, but I want to be able to live my life the way I want to live it.  I don't want to have to go out of my way to actually DO something you might find pleasing, I just want you to be pleased with me. 

This character defect has thwarted my serenity and caused me more personal pain than any other sin I have committed.  The error of taking my eyes off the prize - off of Salvation - has resulted in loneliness, sleepless nights, anger and feelings of rejection.  It has caused me to lash out when I think I have been wronged and has made me regret my past.  The fear that I will be forgotten or unloved has been the root of most of my troubles.

This struggle to turn over an aspect of my personality that causes me so much pain is probably that which keeps me closest to God.  I am fully aware of my inability to be in close communion with my Creator because of  my need for the praise and love of creatures.  I also know that by acknowledging that struggle I am declaring victory for the Creator when it comes to my life.

I want to be in full communion with God and, therefore, fully human.  I want my will and my life to be something He uses only for His glory and the salvation of souls.  The fact that I also want my neighbors to think I am the friendliest woman on the block or my co-workers to see me as a paragon of virtue reminds me that I have not yet achieved my goal.  It keeps me going, makes me yearn and motivates me to do things I wouldn't otherwise think are important.  I wouldn't partake frequently of the Sacraments.  I wouldn't need them.  I would just 'be saved' and so fine just on my own.

'Just on my own' is a dangerous place to be for someone like me.

The struggle for holiness is a daily struggle.  It involves the whole of the human - body, mind and spirit - and must be something tangible in order for it to be fruitful.  I suspect that every day I tackle the task of being the best Me I can be is another chance for me to draw closer to my Creator.

I believe that the day I decide I no longer have to work at being a good Catholic is the day the gulf between me and God will widen enough to allow me to start inching away from His Church.  And if I do that, I run the risk of being one of those people calling, 'Lord, Lord' at the end of time and not being recognized.  I don't want that to happen.

The struggle for holiness for this girl is real.  It makes her life worthwhile. 







Monday, August 15, 2016

Sticks and Stones

Last night on Facebook I saw a post by a much loved friend asking that those people who discover that his name or likeness has been used as a 'meme' keep the information to themselves.  His request is a reasonable one.  After all, there is nothing he can do about it and all the information does is cause him pain. 

This followed a lively discussion among his followers as to whether or not his reaction and post were worthy of a devout Catholic.  After all, shouldn't he expect to be maligned because of the rather tough line stance he has taken against the support of a particular presidential candidate? 

As always, the discussion degenerated to name calling.  In particular, one person called another poster an assh*le.  I responded, suggesting that the poster could have found a better way to express themselves.  They took offense, and went to great lengths to prove to me they did not care what I thought about them and claiming that their use of foul language (while childish and immature, in my opinion) was not immoral.  The poster continued to prove how they did not care what I thought by going on and on and on and on about it.

I don't know how it ended.  I stopped participating.  I thought it better to let the poster win by no longer responding because my experience is one is unable to gauge the mental stability of others that participate on Facebook.  I didn't want to end up with some sort of nut case tracking me down and showing up at my house, leaving a dead rabbit in a pot of hot water on my front porch.  Or worse.

Their insistence that using foul language is just fine and dandy, however, got me thinking about how one interprets the Catholic understanding of honoring the Dignity of the Human Person.

The Church teaches:

2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

While I am hardly the judge of any Catholic in terms of the state of their immortal soul, I believe calling someone an assh*le is a form of detraction.  It is hardly a term of endearment, unless one is a member of some sort of hardy brigade of revolutionaries or tough soldiers or guerillas fighting against oppression.  I do understand that, under those circumstances,  calling each other awful names is a way to keep their spirits up and distract themselves from the horror of combat.

This, however, is supposed to be a group of people who all support the same guy and I find it difficult to believe the gentleman in question appreciates one of his followers behaving like a thug. 

This particular teaching of Holy Mother Church is one that is often overlooked.  What is amazing to me, however, is the number of people who hold to it when it comes to their own personal dignity without extending that same care outward to others.  We have road rage incidents, stalking on social media, bullying and outright physical attacks because someone perceives themselves as being 'disrespected' by a 'hard look'.  These same people, willing to physically harm another human being because of a raised eyebrow or a frown thrown in their direction, will scream obscenities at them and justify that behavior with a variation of "he started it", just like your average 4 year old.

Try to use humor or just plain common sense to calm things down and these same people will attack you.

What I know today is my worth does not depend upon some random wacko on Facebook.  I took a chance and tried to calm a situation and the person became highly incensed that someone would not think they were wonderful.  The fact that they do not think I am wonderful, however, doesn't upset me.  It gets me thinking.  I allows me to look at the bigger picture and makes me search our Faith Teachings for something that will guide me in future actions, but it does not upset me.  I truly do not care.  I care only about the opinion of God.

I took a chance, and the result was I got to share a little with the person that was called that name.  I got to make a suggestion as to a theologian they might find enlightening.  I got to urge them to not judge The Church by the behavior of Her members.

If that is all I got to do?  That is more than enough - and worth every slight.

On Saturday, I was received as a life member into the Lay Dominicans.

By Sunday night, I got to act like one.

How blessed am I?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Those Darn Catholic Politicians

The Catholic Church teaches:
2104 "All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it." This duty derives from "the very dignity of the human person." It does not contradict a "sincere respect" for different religions which frequently "reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men," nor the requirement of charity, which urges Christians "to treat with love, prudence and patience those who are in error or ignorance with regard to the faith."

Treating those who are in error, whether grave or otherwise, with regard to the Truth of The Catholic Faith with love, prudence and patience can be a monumental undertaking.  It is difficult for me because I hold those Catholics in the public eye to a higher standard than those of us who muddle through our days with little notice from the 'Powers-that-Be".  Let's face it, I may write a brilliant piece today but the chances that the Associated Press or even the National Catholic Register is going to notice and give me any play are slim to none.  For many I am a lone voice shouting into the wind.  For most I am just one more little old Catholic Lady with a Blog.

Whether anyone reads this or not is not the point for me, anyway, because I believe it is my duty as a member of the Order of Preachers to do my best to support Truth.  That is my purpose and my calling.  Whether I am doing that as a writer or a Catechist for RCIA or as another lady in the pew is not nearly as important as actually doing it - supporting Truth, giving my readers my take on a situation and then being willing to listen, open up my heart and 'treat with love, prudence and patience' those who are either in error or ignorant.

It was recently reported that Joe Biden officiated at a same-sex marriage.

Joe Biden calls himself a Catholic.

What he did is against Catholic teaching, though I am certain it was politically expedient and made him feel warm and fuzzy inside. 

Tim Kaine, Vice Presidential Candidate keeps stating over and over that he personally is anti Abortion and pro Life (like any Faithful Catholic, he reminds us) but that as a government official he is bound to uphold the law.   He says he finds abortion abhorrent. 

I would believe him if he made a statement that he thinks it is stupid and morally reprehensible that there are more laws in place that protect the embryo of the California Condor than there are laws in place that insure the clinics that women go to in order to end the baby's life are clean and sterile.  I would believe him if he stated that caring about women means offering them a viable alternative to abortion and that is why he is supporting a drive to make sure the government financially supports Pregnancy Centers that do offer those alternatives with the same zeal in which it supports Planned Parenthood.  In other words, I would believe him if he was more vocal about either changing unjust laws or trying to provide equitable alternatives to those laws.

As a Catholic it is not my place to make any kind of moral judgment on the state of the souls of either of these men.  That is up to The Church and both of these guys know exactly where the nearest Catholic Church is and can look up what time that Church provides the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Both of them know priests and bishops and cardinals and probably could even get through to the Vatican if they wanted to use their political juice.  If they want to discuss their actions and their beliefs with someone in Authority within the Catholic Church they can do so. 

What I can tell you is this:  when people who want to hold themselves out before the world as Catholic either take actions that spit in the face of The Bride of Christ or make statements that beg the general public to forgive them for having to be Catholic when the secular world hates what their religion teaches, they are letting the rest of us down with a thud. 

When I take an action or make a statement that does the same, I too am letting down the Body of Christ.  I have done that very thing in the past and have done so in a spectacular fashion - the difference is no one notices unless I offer to let you all in on my dirty little secret.

The secret?

I am a sinner.  I am not worthy that He should enter under my roof.

Joe and Tim are too.

Good thing the Catholic Church is a hospital for people like us...or we would be in big, big trouble.



Friday, July 29, 2016

And Now the FUN Begins

You have no idea how grateful I will be when the elections are over in November.

It is not just the incredible vitriol and ridiculous behavior of grown men and women in their support for their particular candidate that is annoying, it is the fact that so much of it is played out on social media platforms like Facebook that is driving every thinking, feeling and (dare I say it) normal human being up the flipping wall.

I have read usually quite reasonable people declare that the opposite side supporters are imbeciles supporting Satan's child.  I have watched men who would no sooner cuss out a lady on the street attack a woman who disagrees with them by calling her foul names, doing so from the safety of their living rooms by using Twitter.  One person I know spends several hours online posting Facebook Meme after Facebook Meme in support of their candidate.  Good Lord, I think (as their posts blow up my feed), have you NOTHING else to do?  Are there no homeless shelters you can volunteer at, children that need to be read to at your local library or dogs you can walk for your elderly neighbor?  Have you at least taken a SHOWER today?

I understand being passionate about a subject.  I am passionate about my Faith and probably drive a lot of people nutty coo-koo when I post quotes from the saints or excerpts from the homilies of learned priests.  I support Law Enforcement (when they are right) and I will not allow ridiculous assertions about the Catholic Church to go unchallenged.  If you are going to wave your hands around about the protestant 'reformation' you better have your facts straight.

And let's face it - nothing says "fun on Facebook" like the ComicCon trailer for the next seasons of The Walking Dead or Fear the Walking Dead. 

I know what is important in life and have no problem promoting it.

I guess what I will never understand is the underlying hysteria that seems to permeate all the political discussions today.  Everyone speaks in hyperbole and seems convinced that if Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton is elected then it will be the end of civilization as we know it.  Schools will close.  Churches will explode.  The rivers will run red and the stars will fall from the sky.

Really?

I believe, and I mean it, that whoever is elected President of the United States in November will attain that office by the Will of God.  I believe that, whether it is Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump, nothing happens in God's universe by mistake.  I believe that if we are attacked in our Churches, forbidden to own guns, go to war against Islamo-facists, or build a wall along our southern border God will allow us to skip down our merry path with the kind of Love that only a Supreme Being can dispense - the Love that, from all evil, can pull great Good.

In other words, I just cannot get worked up like the rest of you.  I wish I could....but....well...


My dog wants to go for a walk.

And Dr Phil is on.

And Football starts in two weeks......


Pray for us, Holy Mother of God..that we may be worthy of the Promises of Christ.