Archive for March, 2010


Beyond the non-stop health care “news” (much of which is conflicting and confusing), I’d like to link to a brief selection of the best of today’s least-talked-about — but important — reflections:

  • The Anchoress reminds us of the usefulness — and proper focus — of our prayers:

Got this from reader Alexandra, and thought it was such incredibly simple (but profound) advice, that I had to share it. It really humbled and instructed me:

. . .when the Bush-Gore recount battle was going on, I asked my parish priest, a very wise man who loves Christ, how to discern God’s will. I wasn’t asking so much for his opinion on the politics of the day but when I am in one of these political battles and a religious person, can I discern God’s will in the course of trying to decide whether I should write letters, call my Congressperson, or whatever?

His simple answer was “God’s will will always be for the salvation of the individual involved.”

So I try every day now to pray for the salvation of the president, all members of Congress, and the American people. I cast my cares upon the Lord.

We are in a deeper battle here, which you well know . . . I also think in the end this all has to do with the salvation of souls, including the souls of our president and these politicians who deign to rule over the rest of us. I think we who believe must hold fast to Christ, the True Center, and bring as many along with us as possible.

I fear that ominous signs indicate a likely terrible defeat for us today. The Politico reports some disturbing news:

THE ATMOSPHERE: The difference between today and November’s vote is stark. On the night before the House vote last fall, the Speaker’s office was a beehive of activity. Last night, the speaker was gone by 9 p.m. and most of her staff seemed to filter out within the hour. And the Capitol itself was surprisingly quiet. Even most reporters had gone home…

ABORTION: Anti-abortion Democrats met with White House officials last night on how to word an executive order by Obama that will satisfy their concerns. Leadership needs to peel off some of those lawmakers to get to 216.

The major pro-life organizations have all made it clear that an Executive Order can’t negate the bill, as pointed out by Kathryn Lopez. Anyone who supports this bill CANNOT be supported by pro-lifers in coming elections.

  • On a related note, even Thomas Jefferson said: “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” (posted by a Facebook friend)

Finally, as I posted earlier on Facebook: Watching CSPAN/Fox/CNN today is like watching a wreck in very, very slow motion. So, I’m trying to turn it off and pray instead — far more useful, plus the kids seem to enjoy Little Bear reruns on Nick Jr. more than politics. Are these really MY kids?! 🙂

This weekend, my family is attending Sunday evening Mass. It looks like 5:30 Pacific time might be right about the time the final vote takes place. I know what my intention for Mass will be. Miracles still happen!

Happy St. Paddy’s Day and, most importantly, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

What I mean by this is that sometimes, amidst all the St. Patty’s Day partying (which is generally fine, of course), we forget that today is chiefly the memorial of a saint, Patrick.

So, perhaps before we start-in on the green beer and corned beef and cabbage, we can honor this saint by thanking him for his holy example and intercession, and by trying our best to imitate him, particularly his manifest forgiveness and love towards those who enslaved him. Here’s a much more detailed biography.

Briefly put, when he was young, Patrick was kidnapped from what is now England and taken as a slave to Ireland. He eventually escaped and, rather than seeking revenge or avoiding Ireland altogether, he chose to return and — with great difficulty — try to help the pagans there find their way into Christ’s Church.

Maybe today would be a good day for all of us to pray blessings on our enemies, to pray for the grace to forgive them, and if possible, show love to them in a practical way.

Does anyone really think that once the House passes the Senate’s disastrous health care bill, immediately followed by President Obama signing it into law, the pro-life “sidecar” bill will ever even be considered by Congress, let alone passed by both houses and signed by the president?!

It would be the scam of all time if House members were talked into going first and voting for the Senate bill “to keep the process moving” toward passage of a reconciliation package, only to find that they have put Obamacare over the finish line with no guarantee of any changes. If the House passes legislation identical to the Senate bill, the president will surely sign it, and it will become law. That means House Democrats will have voted for a bill that clearly allows federal funding for abortion, which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops solidly opposes. Any promises that this would be fixed later on won’t be worth the paper they might, or might not, be written on.

When all of the pro-abortion provisions are considered in total, the Senate bill is the most pro-abortion single piece of legislation that has ever come to the House floor for a vote…

The House could vote anytime on the Senate bill…

[Read the full story: Dangerous Negotiations Over Abortion]

Let’s not fall for the ploy; rather Congress must pass major amendments to the Senate bill itself or — even better — scrap it to begin a new bill that really reforms health care!

Thom Peters at American Papist has one of the best brief summaries of the current situation for the health care bill that I’ve yet seen. Here are some key excerpts, but it is well worth reading the entire post:

No chance for pro-life healthcare this time around

Pundits continue to claim that this is a fight between Democrats and Republicans. It isn’t. This is a fight between Democrats and other Democrats within their own caucus, a fight between Democrats and the majority of Americans, and a fight between the Democrat leadership and the US Bishops.

How did we get here? The Democrat leadership burned the bishops and pro-life interests. Badly. From day one they attempted to sneak abortion funding into the bill, and they continually shot down every attempt to remove it, either from within their own caucus or when it was offered by Republicans.

All of this backstory and context is prelude to this point: when it comes to abortion funding, the cat is out of the bag, and the Democrat leadership is responsible for this sorry state of affairs. If they refuse to start over, the only health-care bill that can be passed at this point is a pro-abortion bill.

Indeed, because of the corner Democrats and the President have painted themselves into, they cannot give pro-lifers what they have been demanding without admitting to the public that for months, and months, time and time again, they were lying about what this bill really represents when it comes to the interests of the unborn.

A final word: I’m not declaring this legislation dead, by any means. But I’m declaring the possibility of this legislation becoming pro-life before final passage impossible, given the political landscape I have laid out.

Peters also shows how the health care bill does fund abortion in several different ways, despite Democrat claims to the contrary.

It also bears repeating that even if the abortion issue were to somehow be resolved satisfactorily, this bill would remain a disaster for our nation’s health care system and economy, with the government mismanaging an already damaged medical system as it has the bailout, the tax code, disaster relief, terror policy and just about everything else it touches — while adding trillions of dollars of debt.

I urge everyone to read and consider these points and pray for new and genuine health care reform!

  • I urge everyone to pray for Democrat Representative Bart Stupak and his allies, that they hold firm in their promise not to vote for health care reform in its current bad form, for they may be all that is standing between us and a health bill that will ruin not only health care, but the economy in our nation — and take many innocent lives, too. And, how would you like to go to jail for choosing not to/being unable to purchase health insurance?! Sometimes, doing something is WORSE than doing nothing, and this is one of those times. Let’s hold-out for REAL reform of our nation’s health care! (March 4, 2010)
  • I am thrilled that one of my all-time favorite saints will be discussed in Phoenix Bishop Olmsted’s latest series of columns for The Catholic Sun. I have most of St. Francis de Sales‘ writings (Introduction to the Devout Life, and his homilies on Prayer, on Mary, on Advent, on Lent, etc.) and would recommend them to anyone: helpful and not too scholarly. (March 4, 2010)
  • I am more upset than I thought I would be at learning that searchers have found the body of Poway High student Chelsea King. At least her family will now be able to lay her body to rest with respect and, hopefully, there will be enough evidence to help the three (?!) families put this rapist/murderer away for the rest of his life. Why was this unrepentant convicted child rapist given a short sentence in the first place?! And, please Ladies (especially) think of your safety when in remote/dark areas — no run is worth your life!
    I’ll be at St. Michael’s in spirit tonight as her candlelight vigil turns into a memorial. (March 2, 2010)//Our society needs to stop thinking of these crimes as “just” child molestation or “just” rape, and realize that not only are these devestating crimes, but they are also gateway crimes to other violence and murder! Please join this group, and let’s not forget this issue when we go to the ballot box! (March 3, 2010)
  • I returned home a few minutes ago after seeing Rwandan genocide-survivor Immaculee (http://immaculee.com/) in Visalia, thanks to a last-minute invitation from a friend. Her insight and humor were amazing; she held our attention for almost two hours straight. What a gift she is! Now, I definitely have to read her books! 🙂 And become a fan (http://www.facebook.com/immaculee?ref=ts) …
  • This book arrived this weekend as part of my modest Lenten reading goal and, though I’m just starting into the guts of it, I’ve already found some meaningful insights. Hopefully I’ll get through the main part by Easter (the supplemental material is almost half the book, so I’ll have to tackle it later). (Feb. 23, 2010)
  • While I’m making essential blog reading recommendations (like the Archbold brothers at CMR in the previous status), even though I’m trying (and mostly failing) to limit my online time during Lent, I still make sure to at least glance at all blog posts by Liz Scalia (aka The Anchoress) — insightful Catholic spirituality and some social commentary (http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/theanchoress/), Jennifer Fulwiler (http://www.conversiondiary.com/) — amazingly perceptive and prolific Catholic mother of four little ones, Thomas Peters (aka American Papist) — news and comment on the Church and American politics (http://www.catholicvoteaction.org/americanpapist/index.php), and Mark Shea — edgier Catholic commentary (http://markshea.blogspot.com/). (Feb. 21, 2010)
  • My take is that basically, like many mentally ill people, the Austin bomber convinced himself for years that the whole world had formed a coalition against him: organized religion (particularly the Catholic Church), the government, insurance companies, businesses and unions, accountants and the IRS (of course!) etc. — and that these groups, not individuals (namely himself and perhaps his friends), were responsible for his personal failures (repeated financial wipe-outs, divorce, etc.). He also tacks-on quite a martyr (or perhaps patriot)-complex, looking for trouble and finding it, first playing some sort of game with tax laws that apply to churches, getting caught, and paying a high price. Then, he began agitating unsuccessfully against tax laws that he believed harmed his chosen profession of engineering. His manifesto ends with him offering himself as a holocaust, followed by a casual positive reference to communism. It seems to me that this man needed mental help for a long time and failed to get it, and that he could just have easily have flown his plane into any business highrise, government building, or even a church — if he had found a way to obtain and fly multiple planes at the same time. I thank God that he could not, and that he failed to kill his wife, daughter, and any more than the one poor victim in the building! May God have mercy on his soul and that of his victim, and may his wife and daughter find healing. (Feb. 19, 2010)
  • Another awesome idea for Lent is to use this link that I just found today to start to pray at least one of the seven daily offices of the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office). It is second in importance only to the Mass in our Catholic tradition. You will find both free mp3s and text without some of the complexities that usually overwhelm one at first. God bless you! (Feb. 16, 2010)
  • Lent (several weeks of spiritual preparation for Easter) begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. For those who may be looking for daily bite-sized meditations doubling as an intro to St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, I’ve heard good things about what the Jesuits linked here have prepared. May we all have a blessed Lent and emerge better than we were when we entered! (Feb. 16, 2010)

This Lent, one of my key resolutions is to avoid harboring resentments and (often related) complaining, particularly about some particular people in my life. As this has become an entrenched habit over several years, it’s not surprising that I’ve had very mixed results with this resolution. But, I keep trying, which is bound to please our Merciful God and yield more success than giving-up! 🙂

On a related note, I’ve been troubled for some time that another resident of my diocese regularly comments on several wildly-popular Catholic blogs, spreading complaints about our bishop and diocese wherever s/he goes, whether it’s relevant to the original post or not. Worse still, this commenter only uses a geographical handle that doesn’t identify gender, let alone first name, so there is no good way to address the person privately. Though I tend to agree — generally and quietly — with this person’s concerns about our diocese, his/her response of griping all over the Net not only violates the basic charity we owe to all and the respect we owe to our shepherds particularly, but unnecessarily shames our diocese before readers from all over the world.

And, griping campaigns — this person’s loud one and my quiet ones — are ultimately weak tools for addressing our concerns with others. Prayer is not only a stronger tool, but a more charitable one, with ample precedent in 2,000 years of Church history.

Today, I read two valuable reminders about how praying for those who bother us is better than griping about them, privately or publicly.

You don’t have to like him but love him. Pray for him. Or this whole thing falls apart.

This latter statement (“or this whole thing falls apart”) makes another good point. Really, gripe campaigns often fail to even touch the one at whom they are directed — and if they do, it is not in a positive, corrective way, but in a negative, destructive way. Instead, they rather do great harm, especially spiritually and emotionally, to those who engage in them. If one is spending his time going around to blogs and making the same bitter comments everywhere, then how much of his life outside of the Internet must be eaten by the bitterness?!

So, if there must be a campaign, let it be like Rosary for the Bishop! Or for whomever.

I picked-up several more excellent ideas for responding charitably to those who bother us during a recent spiritual talk:

  • Don’t judge the person rashly, as this then becomes a sin on your part.
  • Remember your own sinfulness and quirks.
  • Fight the urge to disassociate from the person and befriend him instead.
  • Have no enemies and write no one off.
  • Let go of anything that is unimportant or a matter of opinion — and not just in your words, but even in your thoughts, as fascades always fail eventually.
  • Ask “Does it offend God?” If the answer is “Yes,” then you are obligated, as a work of mercy, to correct the wrongdoing.
  • When you must correct, do it with prayer, privately, positively (as advice and not a reprimand), at the right time (not when the person is distracted or under pressure).
  • Be patient in waiting for results, as change often takes longer than we might expect.
  • Since joining Facebook a few months back, I’ve been doing a lot of posting of newsy links and brief commentary (in addition to personal/family stuff) there instead of here. Rather than direct blog readers to my Facebook page (because I generally reserve Facebook to my personal friends and family), I’ve decided to begin posting newsy links and commentary here again, and linking to these posts on Facebook for my friends/family. Therefore, posts here will likely become much more frequent than in the past, though more brief, as my responsibilities continue to expand with the birth of Little Blessing No. 5 in late May.
  • Due to some recent spamming of my comboxes, and much against my preference, I’ve decided to moderate comments. Hopefully this will not delay comment posting too much. As before, I welcome comments that disagree with me, as long as they are respectful.
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