Married love “advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God” (#122), says Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of Love in the Family. There is no limit to the spouses’ ability to participate in the infinite charity which is the Holy Spirit (cf. #134). “Even amid unresolved conflicts and confused emotional situations, they daily reaffirm their decision to love, to belong to one another, to share their lives and to continue loving and forgiving. Each progresses along the path of personal growth and development. On this journey, love rejoices at every step and in every new stage” (#163). On this journey to full maturity in Christ, the Church accompanies married couples and assists them in the lifelong task of formation of conscience which, as the Catechism says (#1784), “guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.”
Two gifts of God are necessary in this lifelong task of conscience formation: the light of God’s word and the authoritative teaching of the Church (Ibid, #1785). For good reason, then, Pope Francis affirms both of these as the primary foundation for his document. Literally and organically, he puts at the center of his Exhortation both these gifts of God: the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterial teaching of the Church. In chapter four, he reflects on God’s teaching on love from the famous text of 1 Corinthians 13; and in chapter five, the Holy Father affirms the Church’s teaching on fruitfulness in marriage.
To assist married couples in the journey to mature love in Christ, the Church “seeks the grace of conversion for them” (#78), and encourages them to have confidence that forgiveness is always within their reach: “When we have been offended or let down, forgiveness is possible and desirable, but no one can say that it is easy. … We need to learn to pray over our past history, to accept ourselves, to learn how to live with our limitations, and even to forgive ourselves, in order to have this same attitude toward others” (#106f).
Throughout the entire Exhortation, and indeed throughout all of his papacy, the Holy Father has gone to great lengths to show that God’s Plan for marriage and family is truly good news, and that it is possible, with God’s grace, to know His plan, to accept it in faith and to live it with joy and ever deepening love.
As a good shepherd, Pope Francis focuses special attention on those who walk on the edge of despair because of personal failures and problems they have suffered in their families, and because of the complex and contradictory situations in which they find themselves now. He calls for deeper and sustained pastoral accompaniment of these suffering families, assuring them that they are welcome in the Church family, and that we are eager to seek ways to integrate them more fully into our local communities. This situation does not, it is important to note, mean that the Catholic persons are excommunicated from the Church. They should be encouraged to pray, attend Mass, and rectify the situation in communication with their pastor, who remains their pastor despite the case of objective sin. Accompaniment is possible and should be the case in our parishes.
This does not, however, include receiving Holy Communion for those who are divorced and remarried. Pope Francis specifically calls those in this situation “to seek the grace of conversion” (#78). Throughout Amoris Laetitia we see a continuity with the Church’s Magisterium especially that of Blessed Paul VI, St. John Paul II, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI which reaffirm the constant tradition of the Church.
In Familiaris Consortio #84, for example, St. John Paul II taught, “… I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced, and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the Church, for as baptized persons they can, and indeed must, share in Her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace. Let the Church pray for them, encourage them and show Herself a merciful Mother, and thus sustain them in faith and hope. However, the Church reaffirms Her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and affected by the Eucharist.” Similarly, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI affirmed this consistent teaching and practice of the Church in Sacramentum Caritatis #29.
With wisdom, the Catechism teaches that (#1785), “we must … examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross … assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Without embracing the Cross of Christ, we cannot have life in Him. Only when we “take up our cross each day” and follow Him can we be His disciples. The Lord gives us the command and also the grace to do this, every day, beginning within the family in which by God’s grace we live.
Home blessing/spiritual cleansing: A priest does a spiritual cleansing of the home, sprinkles holy water and blesses the home. It smells clean and fresh; the air is light. Then he leaves and we turn on the TV, that perpetual source of the mortal sin of lust and a teacher of pernicious liberal attitudes. Then the air once again feels heavy and is fouled; the anxiety and incessant anger return together with sleeplessness. If only we could set those multiple TV’s we have at home perpetually at EWTN channel, then our homes would be cleansed automatically, and we need not trouble the priest frequently for a home blessing.
“If only we could set those multiple TV’s we have at home perpetually at EWTN channel, then our homes would be cleansed automatically and we need not trouble the priest frequently for a home blessing.”
The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia or any form of intolerance. – US Commission on Civil Rights Chairman, Martin Castro.
There it is, folks — the official position of an official agency of the federal government, not an LGBT activist group. Actually, it appears that the Commission on Civil Rights is now, in fact, an LGBT activist group.
For those paying attention to the assault on life, faith, and family-really on every natural and traditional institution in the nation — the September 7 report from the US Commission on Civil Rights is not so much shocking as it is another chance for people to wake up to how far our nation has fallen.
The report from the now-ironically-named commission was called “Peaceful Coexistence: reconciling non-discrimination principles with religious liberties.” Honorably, two of the commission’s own members spoke up in protest, their opinions having been excluded from the document itself.
The Government’s Cabal of Sexual Revolutionaries
Those who think the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights still hold in this nation need to face reality. The religious freedom “guaranteed” by the First Amendment is now declared subordinate to the wishes of the powerful cabal of sexual revolutionaries that have power in our government.
Our current president barely pretends to care about any limitation on his executive power, defending and executing laws based not on his responsibilities but on his whims. The Supreme Court continues to find emanations and penumbras floating from the nation’s founding document, upon which they pin the most tenuous tethers of the sexual revolution, giving them the effect of law. The only federal body that holds any representatives who share our values has slowly chosen irrelevance as its powers are taken over by an executive branch that is out of control and a Court that is allowed create law out of whole cloth.
We Must Fight
Yes, the nation is coming apart, and the middle ground is dropping away. The numbers of those who understand the signs of the times are few, but we still have options, and we still have each other. Most importantly, we still worship the God who made heaven and earth, who when He wills it will deliver us from the collapse we see around us. In the meantime, we fight with everything we have to protect our families and the most innocent and vulnerable.
A few weeks ago we published an article calling for Christians to start thinking about how to secure our rights at local political levels, where we can still hold politicians accountable even as the federal government draws further and further from the rule of law and accountability to its citizens. We received a lot of feedback, for which we are grateful, and the Commission on Civil Rights’ assault on its own mandate may be the occasion to address some of the questions.
Creating Catholic Sanctuaries
The idea for Christian sanctuary cities is based in Catholic moral and social doctrine: In an effort of solidarity and subsidiarity, those Christians of orthodox belief need to do what is necessary to defend their families and communities, to uphold collaborative institutions that help us take care of one another. That is, we have to strive for the common good, in which all participate in freedom and virtue with the good of the whole person and every person in mind.If we band together we can create sanctuary cities for Christians where local leaders of courage will follow the precedent set by “progressive” cities that ignore federal immigration reporting laws. At this more local level, or even perhaps at the state level if enough politicians have the courage and foresight, families and life may be defended in law and policy.
Some of our respondents seemed to think we were calling for a new city built up from the ground, perhaps in another nation. Truth be told, we have supporters who now contact us from abroad, having expatriated rather than pay taxes to a government that facilitates the death of untold millions of unborn children. We understand this inclination, and we frequently share news of meaningful victories in nations where politicians are still accountable to citizens, and they still hold more or less the same values that naturally lead to human flourishing, beginning with a proper respect for life, faith, and family.
Yet these nations are under assault as well, even though several have fought off their “Roe v. Wade” moment to date. We have to get over the idea that there is a truly “safe” place within this vale of tears. We also cannot let fear be what guides us, or make drastic decisions that are hard to come back from. We still need the virtues of prudence, courage, and strength as much as we need faith, hope, and love.
It’s Not About Running and Hiding
The point is not to run and hide, but to make a strategic and prudent retreat to places where community and family have the best chance of flourishing. If you have taken your children out of public school and are homeschooling or placed them in private schools or co-ops, you have already begun to think this way. If you have sacrificed professional and financial opportunities to live in a place where you have a strong community, you’re already on your way. I’ve even met some folks living boldly and faithfully in large cities, homeschooling and building community around strong Church parishes.
So many of you have already gotten rid of the television, or at least the daily drip of cable-delivered poison that people used to think they had to swallow. There is already a renewal of the Church and faithful religious orders that are doing very well. See the dioceses where the bishop embraces his mandate as a shepherd of souls and patterns his life after Christ the Good Shepherd. These bishops are truly leaders, and young men want to follow them into the priesthood. Finding dioceses like this makes great sense right now.
But act out of love, not fear. Build and serve community first. With these things in place, you can select those who can become political leaders or creatively build relationships of trust and accountability with your local and state leaders.
Importantly, I think, the growing number of creative Christian legal defense organizations would do well to start thinking about how to draft laws that would support those cities and states who see the need to protect their neighbors from the federal government’s corruption. Indeed, this is happening already with state-level legal battles such as those in North Carolina and Indiana. But we need to be proactive as well in seeing how we can get cities to declare the rights of life, faith and family to be secure. At the same time, we need to be ready to sacrifice as well, to not blink when doing the right thing means losing a major sporting event or businesses that have already been corrupted by radical sexual ideology.
It will be a battle fought in high places and low, and we’re already entering into it. It will not be easy, and there will be no place to hide, nor should we really seek to hide.
You were born into this time, in this place. God knows well where you are, and is asking you today to use your gifts for His glory. Have courage and strength, my friends. Be awake, and don’t be afraid. God wins, and those who remain faithful, who love and support one another for love of Him, will as well. It is a great time to be a Christian!
Archdiocese of San Antonio Responds to Catholics for Choice Advertisement in San Antonio Express-News
Posted by Archdiocese of San Antonio:
An organization called Catholics for Choice placed a full-page advertisement in the Sept. 12 edition of the San Antonio Express-News with inaccurate information which must be corrected, since it misrepresents the truth and what the Catholic Church believes and teaches.
This misrepresentation is demonstrated by their statement that “Public funding for abortion is a Catholic social justice value.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Before responding to claims made by Catholics for Choice in “Abortion in Good Faith,” it should be noted that this group does not speak for the Catholic Church. The group undertook a similar media campaign in the state of Colorado just two years ago, and the bishops there also responded in reiterating authentic Catholic social teaching and the consistent ethic of life.
For more than 2,000 years, the Church has steadfastly proclaimed that respect for all human life at every stage is foundational to the Catholic faith. Abortion from the earliest tradition of the Church has been considered immoral.
The Catholic Church’s position on abortion is clear. In the magisterial document Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affirmed that, “The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life,” (Sec I.1) Direct abortion, or the intentional killing of a human being living in the womb, is always seriously immoral because as persons the right-to-life is the most basic and fundamental right we possess.
It is our hope that one day Catholics for Choice will take the time to acquaint themselves with basic Catholic teachings, and acknowledge the truth of the Catholic faith, and not choose to misrepresent her teachings with false and inaccurate information and ads that only work to confuse and mislead the public. Upholding the sacred dignity of all human life is the duty of every member of society and this duty must be taken seriously in order to ensure that we are a part of a culture that affirms the right to life for all, especially the most vulnerable among us.
There is a growing consternation among some Catholics that the Church, at least in her leadership, is living in the past. It seems there is no awareness that we are at war and that Catholics need to be summoned to sobriety, increasing separation from the wider culture, courageous witness and increasing martyrdom.
Jean-Léon Gérôme, “The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer” (c. 1863-1873)
It is long past dark in our culture, but in most parishes and dioceses it is business as usual and there is anything but the sober alarm that is really necessary in times like these.
Scripture says, Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle (Psalm 144:1). Preparing people for war — a moral and spiritual war, not a shooting war — should include a clear setting forth of the errors of our time, and a clear and loving application of the truth to error and light to darkness.
But there is little such training evident in Catholic circles today where, in the average parish, there exists a sort of shy and quiet atmosphere — a fear of addressing “controversial” issues lest someone be offended, or the parish be perceived as “unwelcoming.”
But, if there ever was a time to wear soft garments, it is not now.
The Church of the 1970s-1990s was surely well described as the era of “beige Catholicism” (a term coined by Bishop Robert Barron, and not by way of flattery either). Those of us who lived through that era, especially in the 1970s, remember it as a time when many parish signs beckoned people to “come and experience our welcoming and warm Catholic community.” Our most evident desire was to fit in and be thought of as “normal.” Yes, Catholics were just like everyone else; and we had been working very hard to do that, at least since the early 1960s when John F. Kennedy was elected. Catholics had finally “made it” into the mainstream; we had been accepted by the culture.
Church architecture and interiors became minimalist and non-descript. Music and language in the liturgy became folksy. Marian processions, Corpus Christi processions, many things of distinctive and colorful Catholicism all but disappeared. Even our crucifixes disappeared, to be replaced by floating “resurrection Jesus” images. The emphasis was on blending in, speaking to things that made people feel comfortable, and affirming rather than challenging. If there was to be any challenge at all it would be on “safe” exhortations such as not abusing the environment or polluting, not judging or being intolerant, and so forth.
Again, if there ever was a time to wear soft garments, it is not now. It is zero-dark-thirty in our post-Christian culture. And while we may wish to blame any number of factors for the collapse, we cannot exclude ourselves. We who are supposed to be the light of the world, with Christ shining in us, have preferred to hide our light under a basket and lay low. The ruins of our families and culture are testimony to the triumph of error and the suppression of the truth.
More than ever we need to shift toward being distinctive from the culture we have refused to critique and call to reform. More than ever our faith needs to shine brightly and clearly in our churches and communities.
And if a world now accustomed to great darkness calls our light harsh, so be it. If our light does not shine, there is no light at all. Our Catholic faith is the sole and last hope for this world. It has always been so.
Simply put, it is time for clergy to prepare themselves and God’s people for sacrifice.Seeking to compromise with this culture is now unthinkable. Our only recourse is to seek to lance the boils. And the culture will cry foul. And we who do the lancing will be made increasingly to suffer. But we have to be willing to embrace and endure such suffering in increasing ways in the months and years ahead.
We are at war for our own souls and the souls of people we love. We are at war for the soul of this culture and nation. And like any soldier, we must train to fight well. We must study our faith and be more committed than ever. We must also know our enemy and his tactics, and we must be prepared to suffer — and even to lose our life.
We have to retool and provide every opportunity to get clear about our faith. Sermons and other teachable moments must sound a clear call to personal conversion and to battle for souls and to stop treating lightly the sinful disregard for God’s law in our families and communities.
Our bishops especially need to shift into another mode entirely. Collectively and currently they seem more interested in protecting what little we have left, than summoning the Catholic people to battle. Priests too seem loath to summon people to anything challenging or uncomfortable. The image of Peter trying to keep Christ from the Cross comes to mind. Peter said, “This shall never be for you!” And the Lord severely rebuked him saying that he was thinking as man, not God, and was in the service of Satan.
And what of us? The Church cannot even seem to ask people to attend Mass on a Holy Day if it is on a Monday or a Saturday. It is apparently too much to ask people to come to Mass two days in a row. If that be the case, who will summon them to withstand and vigorously protest unjust and evil laws, even if it means financial penalties or even jail? And blood martyrdom? It hardly seems likely that most clergy today would counsel readiness for such a thing or even be close to being ready ourselves. Bishops or priests who do so can expect to be called reckless and imprudent in shy and soft times like these. The cry will surely go up, “It is not yet the time for such things!”
But if not now, when?
Scripture says,If the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? (1 Cor. 14:8). It cannot simply be priests who must make this call. Parents and other leaders need to sound it as well. Yes, parents need to prepare their children for more than a career. They need now to prepare them for difficult days ahead — days that will include persecution and even martyrdom if they decide to follow Christ unambiguously.
Am I wrong? I sure hope so. But we can no longer, as a Church, sit idly by and hope things just magically get better. As a culture, and even in segments of the Church, we have sown the wind, and now we are reaping the whirlwind.
Many, these days, like to criticize the Church of the past for any number of failings. But I wonder how the future members of the Church will remember the Church in our times. Columnist Joseph Sobran, writing over 15 years ago, wondered the same thing and wrote:
[Catholics of the future] certainly won’t accuse us of excessive zeal. They might be shocked by our lukewarmness, our cowardice masquerading as tolerance, our laxity, our willingness to countenance heresy, sacrilege, blasphemy, and immorality, even within the Church itself, our eagerness to ingratiate ourselves with the secular world …(Subtracting Christianity, p. 268)
Yes, I too wonder. From St. Peter to Constantine there were 33 Popes. Thirty of them were martyred and two died in exile. Countless clergy and lay people too were martyred. It is hard to imagine the Church in the decadent West being willing to suffer so. Surely our brethren in many less affluent parts of the world are dying in large numbers. But I wonder: After all these years of “comfort Catholicism”, would the average American parishioner or clergyman be willing or able to endure such loss?
It is time, past time, to retool. It is time to prepare for persecutions that will get bolder by the month and year. The dark movements that marched in under the banners of tolerance never meant it. And having increasingly gained power, they are seeking to criminalize anyone who resists their vision. No tolerance for us. Religious liberty is eroding, and compulsory compliance is already here. The federal courts increasingly shift to militantly secular and activist judges who legislate from the bench.
When will we as a Church finally say to the bureaucrats who demand we comply with evil laws: “We will not comply. If you fine us we will not pay. If you seek to confiscate our buildings, we will turn maximum publicity against you, but we still will not comply. If you arrest us, off to jail we go! But we will simply not comply with evil laws or cooperate with evil.”
Right now, most of us can barely imagine our clergy standing so firm. Quiet compromises and jargon-filled “solutions” will be a grave temptation to a Church ill-prepared for persecution.
Call me alarmist or call me idealist, but I hope we find our spine before it is too late. It is usually a faithful remnant that saves the day in the Biblical narrative. I pray only for the strength to be in that faithful remnant. Will you join me too? Let’s pray and start retooling now. Only our unambiguous faith can save us or anyone we love. Pray for strong and courageous faith.
Never forget: Those who suffer for proclaiming the faith, and for living it boldly, are of highest honor in the Kingdom of God.
I was surprised and grateful for the wide readership and support on an article I wrote here at the Register recently: Comfort Catholicism Has Got to Go. In it I argue that clergy and other leaders in the Church need to retool and prepare God’s people for increasing persecution and martyrdom. I note that the Church, both clergy and lay, is largely unprepared to meet the coming challenges to our faith and religious liberty, many of which are already here.
But firmly resisting or refusing to comply with immoral and unjust laws, whatever the consequences, is simply not in the mindset of most Catholics who have long been content (and even counseled) to get along with everyone, to be pleasant and nice, and to blend into the American experience.
The strong emphasis has been that God is here to comfort us and would surely not ask things of us that are too difficult. Martyrdom (both red and white) has usually been thought a thing of the past or for other nations — but not here, not in America. I argue that those days are vanishing, if not already substantially gone.
Some, predictably, responded that I am alarmist and that things are not so bad. I wonder if they are living in a parallel universe, or some isolated place. Ask believing photographers, caterers, bakers and pharmacists if things are bad or not. Ask healthcare providers and healthcare workers if things are just fine. Ask employers who provide healthcare benefits. Many of them have already been compelled to act against their religious beliefs or be forced out of business.
If things are “not that bad”, why are we being summoned to courts, threatened with fines by government, and being forced as Christians to sue for our rights? What are pharmacists in Washington to do who are required by law to provide abortifacient “emergency contraception”? The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal. Justice Samuel Alito in his dissent spoke of this refusal — and the law that now stands — as “an ominous sign” and goes on to show how those who are concerned at the steady erosion of religious liberty have good cause to be concerned.
We are winning some of our cases, but other significant cases in places like Washington State and California have delivered serious blows to religious liberty and seek to further marginalize Christian churches and groups from participation in the national conversation and commonwealth that is theirs as American citizens. The Washington case has no appeal and a Catholic pharmacist has to risk losing his livelihood by refusing to comply.
I argue that a pharmacist should take that risk. But we in the Church have not really prepared our people for this. It is time to do so. We must resist the temptation to hide our faith under jargonistic “solutions” that are usually a mere compromise with evil and unjust laws.
THE 5 STAGES OF PERSECUTION
For those who think examples listed here are just odd situations and not really indicative of where we are as a culture, I would like to represent something I wrote on almost four years ago: The Five Stages of Persecution. The five stages are not unique to me. They come from the world of sociology and political theory and are commonly observed in cultures that eventually turn against segments within them.
As you will see, persecutions do not come out of nowhere. They build in a culture over time until they boil over into often-horrific acts wherein those who inflict them actually feel justified in what they do.
As we consider the descriptions of the five stages, it is hard to argue that we are not well into the fourth stage here in America and edging into the final stage.
Here, then, are the five stages. My commentary focuses on religious persecution.
Stage 1. Stereotype the targeted group
To stereotype means to repeat without variation, to take a quality or observation of a limited number and generalize it to describe the whole group. It involves a simplified and standardized conception or view of a group based on the observation of a limited sample.
And thus as the 1960s and 1970s progressed, Catholics and Bible-believing Christians were often caricatured in the media as “Bible thumpers,” simpletons, haters of science, hypocrites, self-righteous, old-fashioned, and backwards.
Catholics, in particular, were also accused of having neurotic guilt and a hatred of or aversion to sexuality. We were denounced as a sexist institution filled with clergy who were sexually repressed, homosexuals, or pedophiles. We were labeled an authoritarian institution stuck in the past, one with too many restrictive rules.
Basically, as the stereotype goes, Catholics and Bible-believing Christians are a sad, angry, boring, backward, repressed lot. To many who accept the stereotype, we are a laughable — even tragic — group caught in a superstitious past, incapable of throwing off the “shackles” of faith.
To be sure, not everyone engages in this stereotyping to the same degree, but those are the basic refrains. And the general climate of this sort of stereotyping sets the foundation for the next stage.
Stage 2. Vilify the targeted group for alleged crimes or misconduct
As the stereotyping grew in intensity, Catholics and Christians who did not toe the line in the cultural revolution were described as close-minded, harmful to human dignity and freedom, intolerant, hateful, bigoted, unfair, homophobic, reactionary, and just plain mean and basically bad people.
The history of the Church is also described myopically as little more than a litany of bad and repressive behavior as we conducted crusades and inquisitions, and hated Galileo and all of science. Never mind that there might be a little more to the story: that the Church founded universities and hospitals, that many of the great scientists were priests, that the Church was a patron of the arts, and that she preached a gospel that brought order and civilization to divided and barbaric times in the aftermath of the Roman Empire. The critics won’t hear any of that — or if they do, they’ll give the credit to anyone or anything except the Church and the faith.
As with any large group, individual Catholics and other Christians will manifest some negative traits — but stereotyping, vilifying, and crudely and indiscriminately presuming the negative traits of some to be common to all is unjust.
Yet all of this has the effect of creating a self-righteous indignation toward believers and of making anti-Catholic and anti-Christian attitudes a permissible bigotry for many today.
Stage 3. Marginalize the targeted group’s role in society
Having established the (false) premise that the Church and the faith are very bad and even harmful to human dignity and freedom, the critics proceed in the next stage to relegate the role of the Church to the margins of society.
To many in secularized culture, religion is seen as something that must go. They will perhaps let us have our hymns, etc. within the four walls of our churches, but the faith must be banished from the public square.
In this stage it becomes increasingly unacceptable and intolerable that anyone should mention God, pray publicly, or in any way bring his or her Christian faith to bear on matters of public policy. Nativity sets must go. Out with Christmas trees. Even the colors red and green during the “Holiday Season” are forbidden in many public schools!
Do not even think of mentioning Jesus or of publicly thanking him in your valedictory address; you could very well have a judge forbid you to do so under penalty of law. You may thank Madonna the singer, but not the Madonna.
The LGBTQIA club is welcome to set up shop and pass out rainbow-colored condoms at the local high school, but Christians had better hit the road. No Bibles or pamphlets had better see the light of day anywhere in the school building. Separation of Church and State, you know…
Stage 4. Criminalize the targeted group or its works
Can someone say HHS Mandate or Washington State Pharmacy Case?
But even prior to these and other egregious attempts to violate our religious liberty there have been many other times we have had to go to court to fight for our right to practice our faith openly. An increasing amount of litigation is being directed against the Church and other Christians for daring to live out our faith.
In addition to some of the cases noted above, some jurisdictions have sought to compel Catholic hospitals and pro-life clinics to provide information about or referrals for abortion and just like the pharmacists above, to provide “emergency contraception” (i.e., the abortifacient known as the morning-after pill). Several branches of Catholic Charities have been de-certified from doing adoption work because they will not place children with gay couples. In 2009, the State of Connecticut sought to regulate the structure, organization, and running of Catholic parishes. And recently a number of Christian valedictorians in various states have suffered legal injunctions when it was discovered that they planned to mention God in their addresses. (More details can be found here.)
Some of these attempts to criminalize the faith have been successfully rebuffed in the courts, but the number and frequency of the lawsuits, and the time and cost involved with fighting them impose a huge burden. It is clear that attempts to criminalize Christian behavior is a growth sector in this culture and it signals the beginning of the steady erosion of religious liberty.
Many indeed feel quite righteous, quite politically correct, in their work to separate the practice of the faith from the public square.
Stage 5. Persecute the targeted group outright
If current trends continue, Christians — especially religious leaders — may not be far from facing heavy fines and/or incarceration.
Already in Canada and in parts of Europe, Catholic clergy have been arrested and charged with “hate crimes” for preaching Catholic doctrine on homosexual activity.
In this country there are greater provisions for free speech, but as we have seen, there is a steady erosion of our religious liberty and many Catholic dioceses are very familiar with having to spend long periods in court defending basic religious liberty. The persecution takes forms that are increasingly heavy from the loss of employment, lawsuits, large fines, and ultimately jail for those who refuse to comply.
Unlikely you say? Alarmist? Well, stages one through four are pretty well in place. One may wish to “whistle past the graveyard,” but it looks like we’re pretty well set for stage five. You decide.
This is why we need to prepare.
For those who think God would not allow or demand this of us, remember: God has slated some ages, and place and people for persecution since day one. Jesus did not exempt himself from this and, enduring the world’s hatred told us we would be hated too (e.g. John 15:18-25). And the Book of Revelation says:
If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people. (Revelation 13:10)
So the Lord does appoint some to suffering and martyrdom of various degrees, for the sake of the faith, and asks us to endure. None of us seeks this, but to some of us in this more militantly secular culture, persecution with increasing intensity and frequency will come. But never forget: Those who suffer for proclaiming the faith, and for living it boldly, are of highest honor in the Kingdom of God.
I think Catholics need to be continually reminded of the importance and seriousness of our obligation in love to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every Lord’s Day and Holy Day of Obligation. It is God’s third commandment, and one which is emphasized by the Precepts of the Church which oblige Catholics to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days, confess sins at least once a year, receive Holy Communion during the Easter season, observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence, obey the laws of the Church in regard to marriage, and to support the Church conscientiously according to their means.
I refer to that third commandment—“Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day”—not as an obligation in a negative way but as an obligation in love. Our motive for worshiping God and giving Him thanks, which we do in a perfect way through Holy Mass, is one of love and not just obligation.
Yes, It Is. And Don’t Forget Confession.
If the Holy Father Goes to Confession, Shouldn’t You?
It is such a serious obligation that the Church has always taught that to neglect it through our own fault constitutes a grave (Mortal) sin, which must be confessed as soon as possible in order to be restored to God’s grace and be able to receive Holy Communion worthily again. Unfortunately, I know that some Catholics today regard the “Sunday Obligation” very lightly and skip Mass when they are out of their normal circumstances as when on vacation. What is worse is that they continue to receive Holy Communion even without repenting and having gone to Confession first. This simply compounds their guilt and sinfulness, for to receive Holy Communion unworthily, that is, in the state of Mortal sin, is what is called a sacrilege and a further serious sin.
It is of course more challenging to attend Sunday Mass when we are traveling or otherwise out of our normal circumstances, but I am a firm believer in the old adage—“Where there is a will, there is a way.” It is even easier today than in the past to make plans and arrangements ahead of time since through the internet we can easily find Catholic churches and Mass times, and GPS gives us directions to them. We plan ahead for lodging and meals and entertainment. Why should we not do the same for our obligation to God?
The Courageous Priest family-run apostolate is excited to announce a special offer to celebrate St. Teresa of Calcutta’s Canonization. The offer ends tomorrow Monday, September 4th. What a great saint the Church is giving us today. We are offering two unique evangelization packages to help increase your devotion and help spread devotion to our beloved Saint Teresa. You won’t find anything like this offer anywhere. Thanks for the support.
St. Teresa of Calcutta Coffee Mug
You are getting a St. Teresa Coffee Mug, Key Chain, Refrigerator Magnet, 50 Paper Prayer Cards, and 25 Laminated Prayer Cards.
St. Terea’s Coffee Mug, Price Range $11 to $15
50 Prayer Cards and 25 Laminated Prayer: Price Range $24 to $43
St. Teresa Key Chain: Price Range $7 to $15
St. Teresa of Calcutta Magnet: Price Range $6 to $10
Honestly to buy this package will cost anywhere from $48 to $83 depending on your shopping habits. That doesn’t include shipping which could easily cost you around $24.
Today, until Monday, September 5th, we are offering the this one of kind package for $47 plus shipping and handling. Will you support the Courageous Priest Family Apostolate and share your love of the great St. Teresa of Calcutta and buy the Evangelization Coffee Mug Package. To order by check, our preferred payment option, please call 573-735-2002.
St. Teresa of Calcutta Holy Water Font
You will receive the same items mentioned above but we are swapping the St. Teresa Holy Water Font for the coffee mug. Here, the package is a Holy Water Font, Key Chain, Refrigerator Magnet, 50 Prayer Cards, 25 Laminated Prayer Cards.
St. Teresa of Calcutta Holy Water Font: Price Range $25 t0 $30
This package will cost anywhere from $62 to $98 depending on your shopping habits, which doesn’t include shipping and handling.
Today, until Monday, September 5th, we are offering the this Holy Water Font package for $61 plus a reasonable price for shipping and handling.
When you buy, we Guarantee Your Satisfaction and the Quality – Buy it Risk-Free, you will “love it or your money back.”
All Buyers Receive a “Thank You Gift”
Your entire family, living and deceased, will be included in the 900 St. Padre Pio Novena during his feast day of September 23rd which is offered by the Seraphic Mass Association. Can you beat that bonus?
May God, who is rich in Mercy, bless you.
P.S. Please don’t wait. The offer ends this Monday, September 5th. For questions or to order by check, please call 573-735-2002.
P.P.S. And don’t forget about the the 900 St. Pio Mass Novena your family will be automatically enrolled.
P.P.P.S. We don’t ask for donations, but we do ask for your support. If you have a devotion to St. Teresa of Calcutta, please buy. Thank you for your support.