Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Phyllis Schlafly on the NEA

The NEA - or National Education Association, as it purports to be called - is the largest teachers' union (and largest "labor" union overall) in the United States. This union recently held its annual convention in Washington, DC; and famed ERA-killer Phyllis Schlafly highlights what the convention "accomplished" this year. Her article can be found here. A word to the squeamish: what this article reveals is highly, highly disturbing. If not for its name, one would never associate this group with education of any sort. That's no accident: the NEA is about as interested in teaching children how to become critical thinkers and well-adjusted, morally upright human beings as Jack the Ripper was in rehabilitating prostitutes.

That's three posts in a row highlighting what's horribly wrong with our society. I promise to include posts on more heart-lifting topics in the near future. I'm just taking as my cue the tagline of the old Reader's Digest feature That's Outrageous: "Spotlighting absurdities in our society is the first step towards removing them." It is also an important step in conquering evil. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Monday, July 28, 2008

10 Commandments for Classy Girls

I came across a great article today on Townhall.com, courtesy of author Doug Giles. Entitled "Ten Commandments for Classy Girls", the article shines a much-needed spotlight on today's not-so-modest teenage girls, the parents who lack the backbone to curb the behavior that leads to such tendencies, and the plastic culture that encourages these girls to embrace their sexual dysfunctionality as a symbol of "self-empowerment."

Why are parents so surprised when - after forgoing their parental responsibilities and entrusting the development of their children to the "flower power" moral degenerates of yesteryear - their children turn into insufferable little brats? And why are these parents so surprised when the aforementioned degenerates of yesteryear keep cramming measures down our throats that make it increasingly more difficult to hold our children accountable for bad behavior?

As the old saying goes, you lose your right to complain when you refuse to act. No one is more fond of reciting this saying than the "nanny state" politicians and lobbyists who enact measure after measure specifically designed to make it harder for parents to take decisive action that is in the best interest of their children. The best action we can take is to vote out the politicians who insist on trying to raise our children for us. And while we're at it, let's make sure that the role models our children embrace are honorable, self-sacrificing, and virtuous and not the latest of the shallow, self-absorbed, and scandal-plagued MTV divas. But I digress...

Read the article; and if you have a daughter that is either a teenager or is destined to become one, have them read it too. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Barack Obama on Abortion: the Basics

A brief summary from the National Right to Life Committee about Barack "The Great Uniter" Obama's unconditional opposition to any measure that can even remotely be construed as benefiting unborn children. The summary can be found here.

Obama's callousness towards the unborn is nothing short of bone chilling. Make no mistake about it: if this man becomes President, the pro-life movement will have a "War on Terror" of its own to wage.

I've always found it humorous that my Microsoft Outlook spell checker does not recognize the word "Obama," and always offers "Osama" as an alternate spelling. There are those who would caution me to tread carefully when making that point, but really: who among the two should be more offended by the comparison? After all, Bin Laden may be working to destroy the blessings of liberty the Constitution secures "to ourselves;" but Obama is just as zealously working to destroy the blessings of liberty the Constitution secures "to our posterity."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fr. John Corapi on the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

I haven't really addressed this yet, but this week marks the 40th anniversary of what is easily the single most important encyclical to come from the Vatican since the Second Vatican Council. Make no mistake about it: those who support artificial contraception are aiding and abetting the culture of death, no matter how opposed to abortion they imagine themselves to be. Beyond this statement, I will mention two more points: first, it is imperative that you read this encyclical if you have not already done so (the text can be found here); second, any self-professed Catholic who uses the phrase "safe and effective birth control" or some variation thereof - and does so with a straight face - is not a person I would turn to for Catholic-related advice. Having said that, I shall now let a far holier and more eloquent man explain the significance of the occasion. If you have not had the opportunity to listen to Fr. John Corapi speak in person or on EWTN, please do so. Here is his take on this occasion (and in case you've ever wondered why I attach the "Culture of Death" label to all my posts dealing with the so-called "homosexual rights" movement, Fr. Corapi has been gracious enough to provide an answer):

"The Catholic Church is in the process of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the prophetic and landmark encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, on human life. At the time the Holy Father promulgated the encyclical there was a general spirit of dissent in the air. This inspired document put the dissenters into yet a new orbit, even further from the center of Church teaching. Their lack of humility resulted in disobedience, ultimately resulting in moral death for them and countless others.

What has resulted from the rejection of the principles contained in this great document is a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. “Life begins at conception. Abortion begins at artificial contraception.” Pope Paul VI prophetically predicted that if artificial contraception were to become generally acceptable in society, then abortion would inevitably become just another means of artificial contraception. Today, not only have what is approaching one billion children been murdered in the name of “choice” worldwide, but a host of incredible evils have followed in the wake of the rejection of the Holy Father’s teaching on life.

Pope John Paul II called abortion murder in the clear and inspired language of his encyclical Evangelium Vitae. If a single abortion is homicide—and it is—then the cumulative result of abortion on demand is genocide. Numbers of innocent and helpless children totaling more than the population of large countries have been annihilated. Can a society that elevates such an outrage to the noble status of law be pleasing to God? Or, will God’s patience soon run out and visit an avalanche of natural disasters, wars, chaos, and economic collapse on the perpetrators of such violence and evil?

I have no doubt whatever that the Western world is headed for collapse and annihilation, and it will be by suicide, not at the hand of terrorists or enemy states—although that may well facilitate the demise. As Abraham Lincoln asserted, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

The Western world’s wholesale rejection of the teaching of “Humanae Vitae” ushered in a death wish that is even now well on its way to completion. Pseudo-Christian Europe has had an extremely low birthrate for decades, while the burgeoning Muslim population is growing exponentially. With the average European family having less than 2 children and the average Muslim family having 8-10 children it won’t be long until Europe as we know it will be no more. Muslims vote and they will vote to radically alter laws that facilitate gross immorality. God may use them to chastise a decadent West. I assure you they will not need bombs and bullets; mathematics will more than suffice.

The unspiritual person cannot see reality as it is, hence they cannot discern the advancing disaster of our rejection of both common sense and proper morality. The spiritual person must pray fervently for the Spirit of God to discern reality as it is. (i.e., 1 Corinthians 2:12-16). Things such as artificial contraception, abortion, homosexual sex, and euthanasia all have something in common—They have no life in them. They are part of a death wish that when brought to its inevitable conclusion will result in the annihilation of the West as we know it, if something isn’t done to change course immediately.

Every one of us, as disciples of Christ, must pray and sacrifice for the cause of life, and do so with earnest. The hour is late and time is now short. The battle between truth and lies, good and evil, life and death rages on toward its consummation. We know the ultimate outcome—truth, the good, and life is victorious in Christ the Conqueror. We, however, must fight the good fight. How we shall live forever is determined by how we live now. We are being called upon by the Spirit of God to be the saints of these times. How we respond to the call will dictate the rise and fall of nations, and the eternal salvation of many.

“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

God bless you,
Fr. John Corapi"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Great Chesterton Quote

This is from the concluding paragraph of the introductory chapter of his treatise Heretics:

"Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, 'Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good -' At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is put down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled down the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark."

Seems to me like a fairly accurate portrayal of the dysfunctional feeding-frenzy that is the modern-day philosophical, political, social, and "spiritual but not religious" landscape. Only nowadays the grey-clad monk gets knocked down before he has a chance to speak (usually by those who know what he is going to say and have a vested interest in not letting others hear it) on the grounds that his unexpressed viewpoint must necessarily constitute "hate speech"; and, because his viewpoint is never submitted for consideration, it never occurs to those unfamiliar with his viewpoint to consider that in the end it really is about the philosophy of Light. It ends with those who hate the Light convincing everyone else that the dark really is a better setting for their discussions. Unless, of course, the grey-clad monk picks himself up off the ground, remembers what he is about, accepts the fact that getting cursed in the Light is infinitely better than being praised in the dark, and lives up to his vows by grabbing the lamp-post, swatting the evil-doers into the recesses, and setting the thing upright again.

Any grey-clad monks listening?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Road Less Traveled

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

- Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Of all God's creature, none is a better tactician or a more skillful manipulator than Satan. He employs many tricks to keep us in the dark and turn us away from the truth. It is no coincidence that, as mentioned in a previous post, noted Marxist and crowd manipulation specialist Saul Alinsky acknowledged Lucifer as "the first rebel," the first to employ the very techniques so skillfully employed by modern-day enemies of truth to brainwash or coerce others into adopting their points of view. Lucifer is, after all, the origin of such techniques; Alinsky concedes as much through that acknowledgement (whether this was a deliberate concession on Alinsky's part is a question I will not presume to answer, preferring instead to leave the matter between Alinsky and the God he so brazenly defied in life).

Such manipulation techniques are a staple among so-called "Catholic progressive" organizations such as Call to Action, Voice of the Faithful, the ARCC, SIECUS, CORPUS, FutureChurch, and JustFaith, just to name a few. It happens on the national, diocesan, and parish level, and is employed most effectively in areas where Catholics are poorly catechized (largely owing to decades of watered-down catechesis foisted upon an unsuspecting public by members of these very same groups) and where bishops and pastors lack either the desire or the moral courage (or both!) to use their authority to counter these spiritually corrosive influences.

Despite this prevalent and highly disturbing trend of individuals with decidedly un-Catholic ideas trying to reshape the Church from within, the silver lining is that, no matter how skilled at deception and manipulation the evil one is, he can never get the better of the One who created him. I imagine it is no small source of rage for Satan that his tricks often backfire. Hard as it is to imagine, it does occasionally happen that the actions of heretics drive poorly-formed Catholics deeper into the heart of the Church rather than away from it. I should know, since this is exactly what happened to me.

Before I go any further, I want to make a couple of things clear: first, I do not imagine myself to be some great Hammer of Heretics (St. Anthony assumed that role far more humbly and more capably than I could ever hope to do). I know God has a purpose for my life, and I believe the events I will summarize below will play a great part in helping me fulfill that role. However, I do not imagine my role to be more important than the role anyone else has played or will play in God's design. And I certainly don't envision my actions having the far-reaching effects that the actions of the Saints have had. If it does happen, I pray that I not know it in this lifetime, lest I succumb to the sin of pride in the process. I must always be aware of the fact that all things are from and through God, and that all things must be for His greater glory.

The second thing is this: the path that led me deeper into the heart of the Church is not a commonly traveled one, nor is it one that I recommend anyone else follow. I started down this path in ignorance, and it was only by the grace of God that the obstacles along this path did not consume me. It was the will of God that I see firsthand the things that I saw. Such may or may not be the will that He has for any of you. If it is, I pray that you are in a better position than I was to be able to sort fact from fiction.

Those who know me personally and have had the opportunity to speak with me at length already know most of this story. Some of you actually shared in these experiences.

I graduated from high school in 1995. I enrolled at the University of Florida that fall. When I first came to UF, I essentially came alone. I had a cousin who lived in town, but he and I led very different lives and our paths did not cross very often (actually, I went with him to a fraternity party the first night I was in Gainesville. It was the first and last frat party I ever attended; but that is a story for another time). Likewise, I only had a handful of high school classmates come to UF with me; and I didn't cross paths with them either (there was one person who graduated the year before me that I spent some time with, but she traveled in very different circles, and I won't elaborate beyond that). Gainesville did not feel like home to me that first year, and I found myself doing the 75 mile trip back home to Jacksonville every weekend.

Life during the week was rough. I would meet different classmates, have lunch with them, even occasionally go to the movies with them. I joined the College Bowl team (yes, I'm a geek, a fact that should have been made painfully obvious by now) and had the chance to spend time with people there. Some of the people I knew on the same floor of my dorm seemed nice as well. Despite all of this, there really weren't any people in the bunch that I had a great deal in common with. I felt incredibly isolated and alone, and this feeling began to increase inside of me until it reached a boiling point a few weeks into the start of the spring semester, 1996. I was in Jacksonville, and was set to go back to Gainesville the next morning; and I was dreading it something fierce. I remember it was Super Bowl Sunday, because we were watching the game on TV (a game not fondly remembered by Steelers fans, if memory serves). Long story short, I was with family, and I started to think about the fact that I was leaving home again to go back to what was at the time the most depressing place on earth to me; and I started to cry. I resolved that week that I would have to do something in Gainesville to not feel so desolate while there. That something, as it turns out, was attending daily Mass at the Catholic Student Center. From the time I arrived in Gainesville to the time I first set foot inside St. Augustine's was about six months. Within a week, one of the associate pastors had signed me up for the ALPHA retreat, which I attended about a month later. And thus began in earnest what was a tug of war for my soul.

Here, in a nutshell, was my dilemma; and like so many others who have faced this particular dilemma, I was not aware at the time that it was a dilemma: I was a poorly catechized Catholic in an emotionally needy state. Far too often, that particular combination is a recipe for disaster. This is especially true in a place like St. Augustine's, which does a great job of fostering a sense of community and making people feel like they belong (provided, of course, that they don't "stir the pot"; but I'll get to that in a moment). It didn't matter what kind of ideology was being promoted at the parish, because a) I was too ignorant about my own faith to notice and b) I was too wrapped up in the fact that I had found people who genuinely wanted to be around me to really care.

Emotionally needy people are especially ripe for the picking at St. Augustine's. I remember having a deep desire to want to be accepted by others, and this made me particularly eager to please the established leadership at the parish. Prominent among the people I wanted to impress was the then campus minister, who also happened to run the ALPHA retreats. He was also (and still is) actively involved in Pax Christi and the Catholic Worker movement, and has been a militant advocate of Marxist ideology and liberation theology for most of his adult life. I was involved with just about all the young adult activities at St. A's: the ALPHA retreats (I was on the team 7 times), Newman Club (I served as VP in 1998), CSF (I was involved with the group almost from the time of its inception in 1996, and was part of the group's leadership from 1999 through the end of 2001, which factors heavily into this story), and the ministry formation program. I spent more time at the parish than I did in class (as a testament to how messed up my priorities were at the time, I went from being a high school valedictorian to losing all of my merit-based scholarships and barely avoiding academic probation at UF because I rarely showed up for class); and over the next few years I became a very recognizable face in the parish.

One of the saving graces I had during this time was the presence of a small circle of friends who were far more knowledgeable about their faith than I was, and they would occasionally express frustration at the way things were being done at St. A's. This would prompt me to ask them why they were frustrated. I didn't understand their responses at the time, but as it turned out they were planting seeds that would come to fruition later. What was also important was the fact that they were not forcibly trying to win me over to their point of view. They trusted me to arrive at the truth on my own, which I think was ill-advised given my stubborn streak. Thankfully, it turned out for the best.

I also possessed a socially conservative philosophy throughout this time. I couldn't tell you the first things about why homosexuality was wrong, but there was something about the lifestyle I always found unsettling; and discovering something of a homosexual subculture at the parish was a bit of a shock to me. I also knew that abortion was wrong, though I wasn't especially keen on challenging others on their views about the issue. I had a more permissive attitude about pre-marital sex, largely because I didn't know any better. Not surprisingly, I saw nothing wrong with contraception until I began to read the Church's viewpoint on the matter. Seeing that the values espoused at the parish differed so much from my own was a contributing factor to my eventual "awakening" to what was going on around me.

There were other things, too. The lack of ministries in the parish dedicated to promoting an interior life of prayer and devotion seemed odd to me, as did the lack of Eucharistic adoration and Marian devotion (the explanations given by the priests and parish staff for why this was the case always seemed flimsy to me, but I always dismissed any reservations I had on the grounds that they knew what they were talking about). I remember one day I was looking for a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, only to find that there were no copies present (years later, I would put copies in the library only to see them disappear within a week or so - longer if I did a good job of hiding them, which kind of defeated the whole purpose of putting them there in the first place). After hours of searching, I asked one of the assistant liturgical directors if she had a copy I could borrow. She did, and let me borrow it. I assured her I would return it by the end of the day. Her response: "Take your time. I never use it."

Slowly, doubts began to form in my mind; but since I was still unfamiliar with the concept of dissent, I could not piece the whole puzzle together. Then I began reading books from the parish library by the notoriously heterodox Fr. Richard McBrien. Sensing that there was something wrong in what I was reading, I began to do some research about the man on the Internet. Within a few days, I knew more about dissent than I ever wanted to know.

Then there was the day I sat down with the aforementioned campus minister and director of the ALPHA retreats. I was at the time interested in finding out more about what it took to become a campus minister, and thought he would be the person to ask. He encouraged me to begin my formation by reading a number of books written by known dissenters - including McBrien - and discouraging me from reading the Catechism and various spiritual classics. His exact words were: "let me decide what you should read." Slowly but surely, increasing numbers of warning bells were going off in my head.

There was one final piece left to the puzzle. It arrived in the form of a religious sister from the Sisters of Notre Dame in the summer of 1999.

I think the beginning of my "awakening" was sometime in the fall of 1999, when I became involved in the leadership structure of the Catholic Student Fellowship group. My aim was to help increase turnout for the meetings while keeping the general format of praise and worship and apologetics-related discussions. The newly arrived sister became the parish liaison for the group. By this time, I had begun to become frustrated with many of the liberal tendencies of the parish (though I still did not allow myself to believe that their politically liberal philosophy would spill over into their views on Catholicism. I was that ignorant). I began to confide in this sister, naively thinking that all professed religious women were faithful to the Church (over the next few years, this particular sister would shatter that illusion with extreme prejudice). In retrospect, she turned out to be someone well-versed in the implementation and practice of the Alinsky method. She pretended she was everyone's friend, lulled her way into everyone's confidence, and began to play various groups off against one another. She was also adept at convincing students to not only embrace her ideas as their own, but in convincing students that these ideas had been theirs in the first place. I made the mistake of thinking her someone worthy of my trust, and I began to confide things in her I should not have. It was a gradual process, but I soon began to realize that my trust in her was misplaced; and when she began to subtly push things such as women's ordination and contraception during the CSF meetings, I lost confidence in her completely. I also noticed how neatly she would deflect my efforts to include topics for general meetings dealing with Catholic teachings on spiritual and moral theology. By the time I and a good friend of mine had taken over CSF in the fall of 2000, I began to realize that my goal of promoting authentically Catholic intellectual and spiritual formation within the group was not shared by the priests, the sister, or the parish staff. The resistance to our attempts to lead discussions dealing with apologetics and issues of moral theology continued, and we had to fight off numerous attempts - usually initiated by the sister - to allow presentations friendly to things like women's ordination and liberation theology. And every time we tried to do a talk on abortion, there was always an outcry against it for fear of offending the sensibilities of "pro-choice Catholics." So we began to play a game of cat and mouse with the sister. Even though she remained the official parish staff liaison to the group, we began to exclude her and others we knew to be friendlier to her than to us from the planning meetings, so we could better control the agenda. She would respond by having students e-mail the CSF listserv (which I started as a way to post news and other events for the group) and arbitrarily change the topics for the upcoming week. We, for our part, had to crack down on that sort of behavior, eventually forcing a standoff of sorts with her about who was really in charge of the group. To some extent, she backed down, though her undermining of our status as leaders of the group continued in subtle ways; and less than a year later, after I relinquished control of the group, she started asserting herself again; and within a semester she was for all intents and purposes calling the shots. I think she had figured out that I wouldn't be there much longer, and so she backed down knowing that all she had to do was wait me out.

All the while that this was happening, I was on the payroll of the student center as a parking lot attendant. If not for the fact that the parking lot manager (my immediate boss) and his father (the head of maintenance) were friends of mine and often stood up for me, I think I would have been fired for reasons not at all related to my job performance. This is not a situation I ever care to find myself in again.

Looking back, I know now that I was in over my head back then. I had a group of about 6-8 people that I worked with over the course of 2 years to try to bring about an orthodox revolution at the student center; but I was young, intellectually and spiritually immature, and dealing with people who were better educated and in positions of greater influence than I could ever hope to be. I often came across as a control freak in the way I did things, when in truth I am the exact opposite of a control freak; there just happened to be very few people I could trust to help me effectively with what I was trying to accomplish. I'd rather not accuse anyone of character assassination, but for years after I left Gainesville I continued to hear from friends still in Gainesville about how I was sometimes bad mouthed and likened to a bogey man by students I never even met. This was something that had been going on ever since my orthodox sympathies (and vocal criticism of the parish's heterodox sympathies) became known.

When it comes right down to it, though, my experiences at the Catholic student center played a prominent role in my going to Steubenville. I look at the situation in Gainesville and I find myself constantly worrying about the spiritual condition of those who get involved with that parish (indeed, with any of the Gainesville parishes), especially those who come in with a fragile and untested faith. I've met so many who left the Church after leaving Gainesville because they were left craving the sense of community they found at St. A's; and all too often they could only find that again in Protestant circles. And because they came to Gainesville poorly formed in their faith and left no better (and oftentimes worse), they found the sense of community to be more important than adhering to a faith they never truly understood (and which was under constant assault by their newfound and seemingly knowledgeable friends). I wanted to work to promote intellectual and spiritual formation among individuals before, during, and after their time in college; but I realized that I needed better intellectual and spiritual formation of my own before I could effectively do that. I had resolved to seek that formation by the time the opportunity to go through the MA program at Franciscan University presented itself. I am not by nature a person who makes snap decisions; but fifteen minutes after the thought of going to Steubenville entered my head, I wanted to realize that goal as badly as I had ever wanted to realize any other goal in my life, and once I was accepted I never looked back. I have never been more certain of God's will in my life than I was about knowing that He wanted me in Steubenville (this point was strongly reinforced when, over the course of nearly a year, just about every obstacle that presented itself and stood between me and Franciscan University was blasted aside with an ease I simply never experienced while dealing with obstacles in other aspects of my life). And that would never have happened if I had not been exposed to the rampant dissent at St. Augustine's to such an intimate extent.

I'd like to say I followed the path that I have just to spite the devil. Truth be told, that was just an added bonus. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Friday, July 18, 2008

3rd District Court Denies Christians the Right to Act Like Christians Around Homosexual Militants

From World Net Daily.

PHILADELPHIA, PA: 11 Christian demonstrators were arrested for peacefully protesting "Outfest," a publicly-funded annual celebration of the homosexual lifestyle. The "criminal" charges were promptly dismissed as "having no basis in fact" by a local judge (who, aside from the so-called "Philadelphia 11," appears to be the only person of sound mind involved in this whole sorry episode). The 11 Christians immediately sued the city for damages as a result of their treatment.

But the 3rd District Court - a dreary place since Justice Samuel Alito moved on to bigger and better things - decided that the city was within its rights to deprive Christians of their civil rights so a bunch of hypersensitive amoral sexual degenerates could be spared the "trauma" of being reminded that their lifestyle is inherently sinful.

Anyone still think that the homosexual rights movement is compatible with Christianity? Or, for that matter, compatible with a free and democratic society?

If you still think the answer is yes, then perhaps I can interest you in some beach front property in Tibet...

Once, again, to quote Mark Shea, it's not enough to simply tolerate the homosexual lifestyle. YOU. MUST. APPROVE.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Planned Parenthood Opposes Conscientious Objector Clause for Medical Providers...Again

No need to explain this one. You can read the article here, courtesy of Lifenews.com.

This multi-billion dollar business/special interest group continues to clamor for tax-payer funds to promote ideas most taxpayers find abominable, and while pretending to protect and promote "free choice" continue their crusade to deny the first amendment rights of anyone who does not wish to participate in their demonic ritual of human sacrifice.

Liberal politicians continue to throw money at Planned Parenthood, pretending it is some kind of "charitable organization."

The only thing anyone should be throwing at Margaret Sanger's brainchild is holy water. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Word About Saul Alinsky

I was reading a Townhall.com article today, and it was the second time in three days that someone brought up the name Saul Alinsky in relation to Barack Obama. This prompted me to look up more information about the man who is known as "The Father of Community Organizing," and who was so admired and such an inspiration to Barack Obama that he chose to follow in Alinsky's footsteps and become a community organizer himself. Why I haven't researched the man's life before is really quite beyond me; but I'm glad I didn't, because what little I have read has made me downright sick.

Alinsky was a committed Marxist who saw community organizing as a means of preying on people's fears in order to consolidate power to achieve selfish ends. I wish I could say he was something else, but the man's words speak for themselves. As quoted in his book Rules for Radicals:

"There's another reason for working inside the system. Dostoevsky said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution. To bring on this reformation requires that the organizer work inside the system, among not only the middle class but the 40 per cent of American families - more than seventy million people - whose income range from $5,000 to $10,000 a year [in 1971]. They cannot be dismissed by labeling them blue collar or hard hat. They will not continue to be relatively passive and slightly challenging. If we fail to communicate with them, if we don't encourage them to form alliances with us, they will move to the right. Maybe they will anyway, but let's not let it happen by default."

So the key to attaining power is to convince people that things are wrong with the world and that you are an agent for the change they seek. Now who, exactly, does that remind me of? Hmm...actually, quite a few people.

Turns out Obama isn't the only Democrat nominee for President this year influenced by Alinsky. Hillary Rodham wrote her thesis on Alinsky during her senior year at Wellesley. The thesis was entitled There is Only the Fight...:An Analysis of the Alinsky Model. The thesis was inspired by the fact that Alinsky took an interest in her while she was in college and even offered her a position coming out of college (which, though flattered to be offered, she declined). Hillary was so proud of her work and the positions she embraced that during the full 8 years of the Clinton administration she arranged it so that her thesis was declared off-limits to any would-be readers in the Wellesley library (even today, it is only available for reading under the condition that one go to the library in person to view it, though they are not allowed to check the thesis out of the library and they are not allowed to copy more than a few pages).

I could keep going; but the truth is, I'm still reading up on the man myself. Here are a few links for further reading (I was going to include a link to a 2007 Washington Post article detailing Alinsky's influence on both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but within the last few hours the article has mysteriously disappeared from the Post's website):

Wikipedia article

What the Heck is the Alinsky Method?

What is "Sensitivity Training"?

I'll add just a few more points. Already I have seen how the Alinsky Method has been employed by Catholic dissenters at the parish and diocesan levels (and through so-called social justice groups like Call to Action, Pax Christi, FutureChurch, and JustFaith) to push liberation theology on poorly-formed Catholics, intimidate orthodox Catholics (even those in positions of authority) into silence, and manipulate the process of selecting leaders of parish and diocesan sponsored lay groups.

Not that Alinsky had any respect for Catholicism - or organized religion in general. In what is easily his most sickening quote (and that is saying a lot, so brace yourself), he opens his book with an acknowledgement to another rebel from whom he apparently drew inspiration. And lest anyone think this was written early in his career before he became a community organizer, it should be noted that Rules for Radicals was published in 1971, a year before Alinsky's death. Here is the acknowledgement:

"Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer."

Well, Mr. Alinsky, you may have thought the acquisition of that particular kingdom was a worthwhile venture. I can only pray that you are not now residing in said kingdom.

People might accuse me of quoting only select Alinsky excerpts in order to take them out of context. I challenge anyone to show how, exactly, that comment could be taken out of context - and be sure to include an explanation of how exactly it should have been taken. While you're at it, please explain to me why anyone who would model any part of his own career after this man has any business being President of the United States. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On the Virtue of Sweetness

I've often said that, despite my insistence on the importance of knowing our Catholic faith for the purposes of educating others and incorporating Catholic teaching into our own lives, the greatest Catholics I've ever know - and you will see them in almost every parish - are the sweet, devout elderly women who are daily communicants and pray the Rosary daily. Their love for the Blessed Mother is surpassed only by their love of the Triune God, including the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Their every action speaks of true charity in that those actions are founded upon and directed toward a love of God above all things and for His own sake. Their knowledge of theology may not be vast, but their faith and devotion is virtually unparalleled; and I thank God every day for their presence.

I posted a comment on a blog a few years back and mentioned this point, and received an almost immediate response from a woman who took offense to my post. She said she was one of the elderly women I described, and that she was neither sweet nor given to mere sentimental devotion. Not in a mood to pull to punches that day, I proceeded to tell her that she was mistaken in her assumption that she was among the women I had described. With the help of a few other well-informed Catholics on the board I also explained to this woman the difference between "mere sentimental devotion" and devotion borne out of a deep and abiding faith (those who practice the latter possess an abiding inner strength that is generally lacking in those whose devotion is based primarily on sentiment). We then engaged in a lengthy discussion about the meaning of the word sweetness and how it related to our Catholic faith.

We begin the conclusion of the Salve Regina with the invocation: "O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary..." As Catholics, we recognize sweetness as a part of the character of the Blessed Mother. She was, among other things, a person of good humor and kindly disposition. This is not a coincidental part of her nature. Let us remember that she was free from sin, and that what we know of her and of her divine Son gives us an insight into the nature of man prior to the Fall.

It is easy to confuse sweetness with other character traits, especially in a day and age where man's knowledge of his own nature has become so horribly distorted by secular humanism and the various other isms that seek to direct man's focus away from God and toward fleeting things. As was the case with the woman above, there are those who identify sweetness with being ignorant or naive about the ways of the world, as though man must necessarily be emotionally scarred by the knowledge he acquires. I trust we have all met living examples of people who have put this stereotype to rest, be they parents, priests, teachers, or other mentors in our lives who were both knowledgeable and of a sweet disposition. Indeed, if they're anything like the mentors I've known, their knowledge and experience helped them grow in sweetness, rather than the reverse.

Another common misconception regarding sweetness is the notion that someone with a sweet nature can never behave in a way that others may deem unpleasant (this is very similar to the fallacy concerning the modern notions of charity, which I previously addressed here). A man may be of sweet disposition towards his newborn son, and that sweetness may persist throughout the son's life. However, a father who catches his son in the act of doing something wrong may need to address that particular situation with something other than a kind word and a smile. This may not affect the generally sweet disposition of the father toward the son, though the son may certainly wonder where the sweetness has gone while he is being punished.

By the same token, the person who treats his enemy with kindness is certainly displaying a form of heroic virtue. However, at times that kindness may have to be exercised in the form of restraint while using force. Being sweet does not mean being a doormat, and it certainly does not mean letting others get away with murder (literally or figuratively). It is, as are all virtues, a disposition of the heart that requires a well-informed understanding of right and wrong in order to be exercised properly.

So we see that sweetness, contrary to being the product of ignorance, is in fact an exercise in virtue; specifically, an exercise in the theological virtue of charity. And like any other exercise in charity, it is exercised most appropriately in ways the secular modern world either cannot or will not understand.

The thoughts for this blog post did not flow as smoothly as I would have liked, but I hope it served the purpose of getting you to look at the virtue of sweetness in a new light. There are parallels here to the virtue of innocence that I would like to address sometime soon. In the meantime, I pray all is well with each of you. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Requiescat In Pace, Tony Snow

Tony Snow, the Catholic journalist who was best known as White House Press Secretary for the Bush 43 administration, died at 2:00 this morning from complications stemming from a lengthy bout with colon cancer. He was 53 years old.

I will not rehash here today what so many others have already said in the last few hours (you can also go here to read the touching tribute my brother posted on his blog). Instead, I will mention what - besides his undying devotion to his wife and three children - most impressed me about the man: namely, his penchant for cutting through the spin and getting to the heart of the matter. He was a man who called the media on their many mis-characterizations of current events, and always managed to maintain good humor in the process (his press conference exchanges with the liberal reporter Helen Thomas are already the stuff of legend, and some of the most entertaining dialog you will ever come across). He held the media accountable for its words and actions in a way that precious few others have (and many, many others should have done) over the years. I was extremely disappointed to see him leave the position of Press Secretary after only a year and half; but given his personal circumstances, it was perfectly understandable.

His death came as a shock to me, because everything I'd heard in the last year indicated he was successfully battling the cancer. But he did not want his turn for the worse to be made public. I don't know much about his Catholic faith, but if the manner in which he bore his crosses is any indication, he was a man of heroic virtue; and I pray that when my time comes I will be able to meet him in Heaven. In the meantime, I join my prayers to all those already offered up for the repose of his soul and for the consolation of his family.

Tony Snow, Requiescat In Pace!

Friday, July 11, 2008

If You Don't Know What The Word Orthodoxy Means, It Probably Wouldn't Mean Anything To You Anyway

It was sometime during the summer of 2003 - I don't recall the exact date, only that it was a month or two before I left for Steubenville - and I was still working as an attendant for the parking lot that belonged to St. Augustine Church and Catholic Student Center at the University of Florida. If you have read some of the blogs I link to - or if you have had ample opportunity to speak with me in person - you are no doubt aware of the less than sterling (and well deserved) reputation this particular parish has among Catholics who regard orthodoxy as a good thing. How I found myself relying on this particular parish for my only means of financial support is a story unto itself. Perhaps I will share it with you some day (along with the story of how people at the parish reacted when I showed up for work wearing a cap bearing the wonderful inscription: "Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club...Putting the Smackdown on Heresy Since 1981"). But I digress...

At any rate, on this fine and relatively quiet summer day I found myself being greeted by a number of people who were coming to the parish for a series of mid-day meetings. Although some of these folks chose not to give me the time of day (I had become somewhat notorious in the parish by this time, and for reasons other than that wonderful cap; but again, that is a story for another day), most of the folks who came in were exceedingly nice to me. Among these was a woman whom I knew to have what she would refer to as exceedingly progressive tendencies (what a horrible misappropriation of this word). As she pulled into the parking lot that day, she greeted me and, for whatever reason, decided to stop and have a chat with me. What was of primary interest to her - as to so many others in the parish at the time - was when I was going to go far away from Gainesville and begin the next phase of my life. Well, I had been in Gainesville for 8 years at that point and would have long since worn out my welcome even with people who didn't possess an unhealthy loathing for the beliefs I embrace, so I can only assume that hers was a genuinely benign interest. She seemed especially interested in whether or not I had ever considered going on to further education, and she rattled off the names of several Catholic schools she thought I should consider. I had been admitted to Franciscan University several months before; but I was still in the "I must be dreaming" phase concerning the fact, and was only too happy to share my joyous news with anyone willing to listen. She took the news in stride, said "That's wonderful!" - and what's more, seemed to mean it - and then began to drive off.

It occurred to me that she probably had not recognized the name of the school right away, so I looked at her car as it drove off to its parking place wondering if there would be a delayed response. Sure enough, she had barely gone twenty feet when she abruptly slammed on the brakes, shifted the car into reverse, and drove the car in reverse back to the spot where she had been speaking with me. Her eyes narrowed slightly, and in a tone of voice that suggested she was positively scandalized she asked me, "Wait a minute. Isn't that that conservative school?" Trying my hardest to suppress a laugh, I responded, "The proper term for it is orthodox." She shook her head incredulously, said, "Oh...so that's what they're calling it now," and proceeded to drive off.

I really, really wish I could tell you that I made that story up. But let's face it: oftentimes truth really is stranger than fiction. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Two Great Articles

Greetings all,
Just thought I'd link to a couple of great articles I came across today on the Townhall.com website:

Pornography Pretensions - The author of the article, Alan Sears, served in the Reagan administration in many capacities. One of the roles he served was as a member of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography (here's to guessing no such commission has existed since the beginning of the Clinton administration). Sears pulls no punches in delving into the real motivations behind the movement to elevate all forms of pornography - including child pornography - to the status of protected free speech under the First Amendment (yet condemning homosexual acts during a Catholic homily gets labeled a "hate crime." Anyone else see something horribly wrong with this?). The article reinforces the truth that sin is by its very nature regressive.

Jesse Helms Vilified Worldwide - Jesse Helms, an icon of the late 20th century conservative movement, died on the 4th of July at the age of 86; and already I've lost count of the number of tributes (and hit pieces from his bitter ideological opponents) directed his way in the time since. Despite the title of the piece, anyone who's read Humberto Fontova won't be surprised to learn that this article pretty quickly segues into a full-frontal assault on the Communist Castro regime in Cuba. Actually, that's what makes the article - and Humberto Fontova in general - an entertaining read. Fidel Castro and Che Guevarra's most fervent apologists hate Fontova almost as passionately as they embrace Marxism. This article should leave no doubt as to why.

Pornography and Communism...I'm pretty sure I can draw a theological link between the two, aside from the obvious fact that lovers of both display a wanton disrespect for the dignity of the human person. I'll give the idea some more thought and get back to you :-). God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Thought for Independence Day

This is a quote that one of my professors, Dr. Mark Miravalle, often liked to mention in class (he was quoting someone else, but I can't remember who):

"God became the Son of Man that man might become the son of God."

Let us never forget that God desires that we use the free will He gives us to freely choose Him. The freedom we now possess can never compare to the freedom and joy we shall know when we are reconciled with the Father in the life that is to come, a freedom that was purchased for us through the blood of the Son. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Makes Sense to Me...

When I read it, this is what I understand it to say:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

More and more though, it seems like a certain segment of society is reading:

"We hold that there are no self-evident truths, but will in the name of tolerance vigorously persecute anyone who disagrees with the following: that everyone who makes it out of the womb is equal, and that there is no such thing as complimentarity because being equal means that we are all exactly the same; that once our mothers affirm our worth as human beings - by allowing us to make it out of the womb we entered into through a completely random and meaningless sequence of events - we are entitled to certain rights; that among these are a woman's right to choose without concern for any consequences to herself or to others, the right not to be subjected to any speech we find offensive (while tolerating no constraints on our own speech, no matter how vulgar or vitriolic), and the pursuit of equality of outcome for all, regardless of the individual efforts put into achieving that outcome."

Begs the question of what the kids in our public school systems are being taught these days, doesn't it?

For those of you who understand that freedom goes hand in hand with accountability and sacrifice, I wish you a happy 4th of July. For those of you who think the second interpretation of the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence mentioned above makes more sense than the first interpretation - which happen to be the words the Declaration actually contains - I wish you a happy 4th as well, and want you to know that I will pray for you. I will also pray that none who think like you are ever given the power to be able to constrain true freedom. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

They Are Judged By the Company They Keep

In the spring of 2003, Georgetown University made a decision they have regretted ever since: they invited the incomparable Cardinal Francis Arinze to be the keynote speaker at their commencement. Those of you who know of Cardinal Arinze know him to be a very eloquent, highly intelligent, and unabashedly orthodox defender of the faith; and the Church is very blessed to name him among her princes. The organizers of the Georgetown commencement had no idea what they were in for. The typical keynote speaker in American Catholic institutions (by this I mean that such schools have a Catholic charter. Whether or not they actually honor their Catholic identity is another matter entirely) usually speaks in rosy platitudes that in no way, shape, or form challenge graduates to live an authentic Catholic life. Perhaps this is what the Georgetown commencement organizers were hoping for.

We will likely never know in this life when it finally dawned on these organizers that Cardinal Arinze was not going to respect politically correct sensibilities. The final straw apparently came when he dared to condemn adultery, fornication, and sodomy - among other things - as assaults on marriage and the family (and, by extension, an assault on society). This prompted one member of the faculty to get up and walk off the stage in protest. It also prompted one of the most disgraceful actions ever taken by educators at a Catholic institution of higher learning (again I refer you to the above definition), when dozens of members of the theology department issued a joint statement formally apologizing for the Cardinal's "un-Christian" remarks.

You'll notice that in my links section on the side of this blog I have a small list of links to Catholic universities. I will only include links to universities that I am satisfied are committed to the authentic Catholic formation of their students and who have promised to abide by the norms of Pope John Paul II's 1990 Apostolic Constitution on the nature and mission of Catholic universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Needless to say, Georgetown University is not on that list, and is not likely to make the list within my lifetime. I may eventually expand the list to include over a dozen schools; but given the fact that there are nearly 230 Catholic institutions in this country, that relatively small number should be an indication of the massive scandal that is being perpetrated by schools with Catholic charters.

One of the biggest scandals occurring in Catholic schools - and the actual reason for this blog post - is the habitual invitation of commencement keynote speakers whose views are contrary to Catholic belief and nothing short of scandalous to the faithful. A list of recent speakers who fit this description - and the universities who invited them - can be found here, courtesy of the Cardinal Newman Society website. Rather sad that these speakers get unwarranted praise while the Cardinal Arinzes of the world get condemned for standing up for the true teachings of the faith.

Kind of a roundabout way of getting to the point, but there you have it. I pray this message finds you well. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,