Category: exchanges with non-Catholics


As the self-declared religious, political, and moral enemies of the Faith and or Christians become more hateful and violent towards us (examples could be multiplied almost to infinity), leaving aside any pretense of respect or even tolerance, the question becomes less theoretical and historical, and more practically-pressing:

What should a Christian’s response to persecution look like?

Though by no means a conclusive essay, here are a few conclusions I’ve come to, based on some reflection on the Scriptures and the lives of the saints. I welcome you to share yours in the combox below.

1. We are indeed called to “turn the other cheek” and be willing to “lay down [our lives] for a friend,” but we are not to sell ourselves cheaply; we do not shove our cheeks against others’ hands, or wear a sign that says “Crucify me!” We should fight to preserve our lives, our families, and our rights as fully as possible, for as long as we can. After all, if we are silenced or dead, we are unable to press the vital spiritual battle in any earthly sense.

2. In fighting to preserve our lives, our families, and our rights, we need to be careful not to put ourselves in the way of justice. In other words, if we’re writing/speaking or acting in a way that draws others’ attention almost solely to ourselves and not to, say, the Faith, or the lives of the preborn, or the defense of the family, we are doing it wrong. One way that we make this mistake is by letting ourselves get overtaken by the very natural human emotion of anger that swells when we — or our children! — are unjustly attacked. The antidote to this is supernatural: mercy, particularly the Divine Mercy devotion.

Many times, Jesus slipped-away from those seeking to kill Him because it was not yet His “hour.” St. Maximilian Kolbe published against the Nazis and suffered in a concentration camp for it, but he only put himself forth for martyrdom when necessary to save the life of a father with small children. The early Christians hid in homes and catacombs for Mass — they didn’t set-up an altar in the town square — but when the persecutors came for them, they refused to sacrifice to idols, and they prayed and shared the Faith as they were being tortured and killed for it. None of these called-down the wrath of God to smite their enemies. Jesus famously prayed on the Cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Many saints have used these exact same words on their own crosses, whatever shape they took. Many times, the very men and women who were perpetrating or encouraging the persecution were themselves converted by this example, and persecuted themselves for following it!

3. Some specific strategies that we might follow include:

+ strengthening ourselves spiritually (praying frequently and frequenting the Sacraments, studying the Scriptures/saints/spiritual writings, continuously practicing the virtues — especially humility!, connecting with others who are trying to bone-up, too, etc.).

+ doing what we can practically and legally to protect our families and our legal rights (keeping our children from those trying to take their innocence for malicious ends, having as little as possible to do with government agencies/”mandatory reporters” [doctors, teachers, social workers, etc., who often act like overzealous busybodies] and “keeping our noses clean,” being ready and able to use legal processes when our rights are violated, etc.).

+ spreading, via social networks and conversation, news of injustices and inviting even those opposed to our message to consider what they are really supporting. Are there people who have rendered themselves beyond reaching by willful ignorance and hatred? Sure. But, most people are reachable somehow, sometime! Do this across as many lines as possible (religious, political, class, race, sin-proclivity, etc.).

+ forgiving our enemies, realizing that our battle is not truly against them, but against Satan and his army of fallen angels, and praying for the ongoing conversion of all people, including ourselves.

+ asking the intercession of our fellow Christians and of the Church Triumphant in Heaven, including our Guardian Angels and the Archangels.

+ taking what is intended for evil and turning it to good. For example, if a legislator’s idea of a rip-roarin’ good time/counter-punch to a pro-life bill is to read “The V***** Monologues” on the Capitol steps (see the “hateful” link above), adults can turn-out nearby to silently pray a Rosary, holding non-graphic signs about the dignity of all human life and the help that is available to women in need.

+ having a sense of humor, especially about ourselves. One of the most famous examples is St. Lawrence, who was burned to death on gridiron. At one point, he told his torturers to turn him over because he was cooked on that side!

+ voting — and voting only for those who are worthy of office, even if that means sitting some elections out. Don’t take your party’s word for it; do your own candidate and proposition research!

+ standing our ground, with grace, when the battle is finally brought to our front doors.

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There’s just no good reason to desecrate the Eucharist (or to gratuitously violate anyone’s religious beliefs)! Here’s the text:

To whom it may concern:

Please enforce your hate speech policy and remove from your site the videos of desecration of the Holy Eucharist, which Catholics recognize as the body of Jesus Christ, the central figure in our religion.

These videos quite clearly violate YouTube hate policies.  They are offensive specifically to Catholics and the Roman Catholic faith.  The comments on some of them indicate that the videos’ posters clearly intended them to be offensive to Catholics as an identified, targeted group.

For example: “We are fully aware of what we are desecrating.”

Your refusal to remove such videos would send a confusing message, given your past decisions to pull videos with content that you found offensive to Muslims.  YouTube should not be a platform for bigotry of any kind, against Catholics or otherwise.

It should especially not condemn bigotry against one group while condoning it against another.  Here is a sampling of the videos.

[links to some Youtube desecration videos are provided]

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Please sign.

I just remembered — amid chores, childcare, beginning homeschool, and summer traveling (ugh, DH goes back to teaching school in less than two weeks!) — that I have a blog that I almost never find time to update any more (though I do manage to post my Catholic Company book reviews as promised, at least). I’m cheating a little, as “Tweeting Catholic Lessons” is a series I decided to Tweet and then copy here, but I still do have those dozen or so post ideas that I really want to get to before my kids are out of the house (and I forget what my scrawled notes mean).

Without further ado, here’s the list of lessons, which I’ll try to update periodically. Of course, you can also follow them on Twitter. It’s a pretty neat little communications tool, and there are lots of cool Catholics out there (and some creeps, but we’ll pass over that without further comment for now). Keep in mind that Tweets are limited to 140 characters a piece, so one learns new spelling, grammar and concise expression pretty quickly.

+++++

Beginning Tweet series “Tweeting Catholic Lessons” cuz I keep Cing the same types of Tweets on my “catholic” search, which I find intrsting

Tweeting Catholic Lessons 1: Many ppl see Catholic Mass/weddings as long & boring, & Masses R lots shorter thn many Prot services. Strange.

Tweeting Catholic Lessons 2: Phrase “is the pope Catholic”/some variation appears at least 2x times daily. MayB its time 4 a new expression!

Tweeting Catholic Lessons 3: Among Twitter antiCatholics, atheists outnumber Protestants at least 4 to 1, & they R much, much nastier.

Tweeting Catholic Lessons 4: Tho I was a uniformed Cath skool girl 4 8 yrs, I never knew how many men hv a totally perverted idea of it! Ew!

UPDATED 7/31/09 5:10 p.m. PST

Tweeting Catholic Lessons 5: The priest s*x abuse scandal may B long over 4 most of us, but it will live 4ever among antiCaths on Twitter!

Tweeting Catholic Lessons 6: Im now drunk w/the knowledge that there is a drink called Benedictine. I want the OSB, not the booze, Twitter!

Tweeting Catholic Lessons 7: If U search 4 Benedictine Oblates, U find lotsa sci nerds Twting re Earth=”oblate spheroid.” Fun only 1st 200x.

Tweeting Catholic Lessons 8: Theres more “Catholic guilt” on Twitter than in all Cath parishes combined. Folks, its why we have Confession!

Tweeting Catholic Lessons 9: Some1 keeps starting Cath sales Tweets w/”Catholic for sale” & it continues 2 make me 2xtake. Im not 4 sale!

Tweeting Catholic Lessons 10: Either lotsa young black men went 2 Catholic schools/saying so=an insult among them. White lady confused…

Tweeting Catholic Lessons 11: Some Prots take Jesus ev word literally–until “eat my Flesh”/”This is my Body.” Then its no 2 Cath “ritual.”

Almost every day, I check the headlines of the first paper I read regularly as a very green journalism student in the early ’90s, Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star. It has the well-deserved nickname of “The Red Star,” to give you an idea of the slant. I’m also a very infrequent poster on their forums, usually posting on stories related to the Church or respect for life.

Today, I found this story there (courtesy of the AP). Please join me in praying for the repose of the poor baby’s soul, for healing for the baby’s mother, and for the conversion of the baby’s murderers.

The headline is “Fla. doctor investigated in badly botched abortion.”

TAMPA, Fla. — Eighteen and pregnant, Sycloria Williams went to an abortion clinic outside Miami and paid $1,200 for Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique to terminate her 23-week pregnancy.
Three days later, she sat in a reclining chair, medicated to dilate her cervix and otherwise get her ready for the procedure.
Only Renelique didn’t arrive in time. According to Williams and the Florida Department of Health, she went into labor and delivered a live baby girl.
What Williams and the Health Department say happened next has shocked people on both sides of the abortion debate: One of the clinic’s owners, who has no medical license, cut the infant’s umbilical cord. Williams says the woman placed the baby in a plastic biohazard bag and threw it out.
Police recovered the decomposing remains in a cardboard box a week later after getting anonymous tips.
“I don’t care what your politics are, what your morals are, this should not be happening in our community,” said Tom Pennekamp, a Miami attorney representing Williams in her lawsuit against Renelique and the clinic owners.
The state Board of Medicine is to hear Renelique’s case in Tampa on Friday and determine whether to strip his license. The state attorney’s homicide division is investigating, though no charges have been filed. Terry Chavez, a spokeswoman with the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office, said this week that prosecutors were nearing a decision.
Renelique’s attorney, Joseph Harrison, called the allegations at best “misguided and incomplete” in an e-mail to The Associated Press. He didn’t provide details.
The case has riled the anti-abortion community, which contends the clinic’s actions constitute murder.
“The baby was just treated as a piece of garbage,” said Tom Brejcha, president of The Thomas More Society, a law firm that is also representing Williams. “People all over the country are just aghast.”
Even those who support abortion rights are concerned about the allegations.
“It really disturbed me,” said Joanne Sterner, president of the Broward County chapter of the National Organization for Women, after reviewing the administrative complaint against Renelique. “I know that there are clinics out there like this. And I hope that we can keep (women) from going to these types of clinics.”
According to state records, Renelique received his medical training at the State University of Haiti. In 1991, he completed a four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Interfaith Medical Center in New York.
New York records show that Renelique has made at least five medical malpractice payments in the past decade, the circumstances of which were not detailed in the filings.
Several attempts to reach Renelique were unsuccessful. Some of his office numbers were disconnected, no home number could be found and he did not return messages left with his attorney.
Williams struggled with the decision to have an abortion, Pennekamp said. She declined an interview request made through him.
She concluded she didn’t have the resources or maturity to raise a child, he said, and went to the Miramar Women’s Center on July 17, 2006. Sonograms indicated she was 23 weeks pregnant, according to the Department of Health. She met Renelique at a second clinic two days later.
Renelique gave Williams laminaria, a drug that dilates the cervix, and prescribed three other medications, according to the administrative complaint filed by the Health Department. She was told to go to yet another clinic, A Gyn Diagnostic Center in Hialeah, where the procedure would be performed the next day, on July 20, 2006.
Williams arrived in the morning and was given more medication.
The Department of Health account continues as follows: Just before noon she began to feel ill. The clinic contacted Renelique. Two hours later, he still hadn’t shown up. Williams went into labor and delivered the baby.
“She came face to face with a human being,” Pennekamp said. “And that changed everything.”
The complaint says one of the clinic owners, Belkis Gonzalez came in and cut the umbilical cord with scissors, then placed the baby in a plastic bag, and the bag in a trash can.
Williams’ lawsuit offers a cruder account: She says Gonzalez knocked the baby off the recliner chair where she had given birth, onto the floor. The baby’s umbilical cord was not clamped, allowing her to bleed out. Gonzalez scooped the baby, placenta and afterbirth into a red plastic biohazard bag and threw it out.
No working telephone number could be found for Gonzalez, and an attorney who has represented the clinic in the past did not return a message.
At 23 weeks, an otherwise healthy fetus would have a slim but legitimate chance of survival. Quadruplets born at 23 weeks last year at The Nebraska Medical Center survived.
An autopsy determined Williams’ baby — she named her Shanice — had filled her lungs with air, meaning she had been born alive, according to the Department of Health. The cause of death was listed as extreme prematurity.
The Department of Health believes Renelique committed malpractice by failing to ensure that licensed personnel would be present when Williams was there, among other missteps.
The department wants the Board of Medicine, a separate agency, to permanently revoke Renelique’s license, among other penalties. His license is currently restricted, permitting him to only perform abortions when another licensed physician is present and can review his medical records.
Should prosecutors file murder charges, they’d have to prove the baby was born alive, said Robert Batey, a professor of criminal law at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport. The defense might contend that the child would have died anyway, but most courts would not allow that argument, he said.
“Hastening the death of an individual who is terminally ill is still considered causing the death of that individual,” Batey said. “And I think a court would rule similarly in this type of case.”
I posted the following:

Have we gone so blind that we cannot see that this was not, as the headline egregiously asserts, a “badly botched abortion”?!

When a baby is delivered alive, smashed onto the floor and then suffocated in a plastic bag, the CRIME is properly called MURDER! Even the most hardened abortion supporter should be able to see this! No baby or mother deserves to go through what this baby and mother went through! And, the murderers need to be charged and tried!

I guess we have certifiably lost all sense of shame. Pathetic!

We need to speak-out against these word games because they are deadly!

A frequent misconception of the Catholic Church by Protestants is that we “worship” saints, especially the Blessed Mother, that we engage in idolatry. Most good Catholic apologetics sites include an effective rebuttal of that misconception, but I came across a truly classic rebuttal in today’s Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours. The rebuttal is by none other than St. Augustine, replying to Faustus. Here are some pertinent excerpts from the reading (with my emphases and brief [comments]):

We, the Christian community, assemble to celebrate the memory of the martyrs with ritual solemnity [such as Masses offered in honor of saints on their feast days] because we want to be inspired to follow their example, share in their merits, and be helped by their prayers…[w]hat is offered is always offered to God, who crowned the martyrs [The graces come from God, and thus the glory goes to Him.]…So we venerate the martyrs with the same veneration of love and fellowship that we give to the holy men of God still with us…We honor those who are fighting on the battlefield of this life here below, but we honor more confidently those who have already acheived the victor’s crown and live in heaven. But the veneration strictly called “worship,” or latria, that is, the special homage belonging only to the divinity, is something we give and teach others to give to God alone…[w]e neither make nor tell others to make any such offering to any martyr, any holy soul, or any angel. If anyone among us falls into this error [The Church has always held saint-worship to be an error!], he is corrected with words of sound doctrine and must then either mend his ways or else be shunned [The one in error must amend his ways or be excommunicated until he does so.]…Yet the truths we teach are one thing, the abuses thrust upon us are another. [Despite ample Catholic rebuttal of this misconception of saint-worship, many Protestant preachers and evangelists continue to spread misinformation about veneration of the saints and try to use it to keep others from the Church. This is an abuse!]

Incidentally, this reading was apparently chosen because the saint we honor today, Pope Damasus I, preached the truth of the Faith to those who opposed the Church in the 300s– and “promoted the cult of martyrs whose burial places he adorned with sacred verse.” What a hero for our time: a pope who loved the Scriptures and those who died for Christ, and carried this love to those far away from the Church! Pope St. Damasus, pray for us, that we may follow your example!

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