The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An Act of Suffrage

Suffrage is not a word that comes up in regular every day speak. It seems to surface every four years in line with the election. Before the U.S. Treasury minted an annoying little dollar coin with her image, Susan B. Anthony was once better known as a pioneer for the suffrage for women in the 19th Century. Today, it seems more comfortable to say one has a right to vote than to say one has suffrage which if one did not know better might be confused with some kind of disease.

In some parts of the world, voting is not an option, it's compulsory. For example if one lives in Singapore, then it is the responsibility as a citizen to vote in any presidential or parliamentary election. To fail to do so removes one's name from the list of certified voters and bans one from holding public office. And while one can reapply to be eligible to vote again, one had better have a pretty good excuse for not previously voting such as being out the country or in the midst of delivering a baby in order get any kind of consideration to participate in the country's democratic process.

The Catholic Church has its own use of this word, suffrage. From the Latin suffragium, a suffrage is a series of short intercessory prayers. Throughout the Middle Ages and the Reformation the word evolved and got redefined to mean asking for assistance then later to assistance via voting for a higher purpose. The word was smartly hijacked in a sense by the right-to-vote-women of the 19th Century because the word naturally evokes the totally unrelated word suffer, which many women at that time felt they were forced to do by not having the right to fully participate in the electoral process.

How fitting that The Church celebrates All Saints Day and All Souls Day a few days before the election when the original meaning of this word suffrage gets more properly exercised. For it is on these holy days that the faithful especially ask their triumphant brothers and sisters in Christ, the ones whom are known to share in the beatific vision of Our Lord, for their assistance on this trek to Heaven.

Catholics believe in the eternal nature of the being. One gets created by God at conception, and from that second on one begins the eternal journey. And the Catholic does not go it alone. From her earliest days, the Church has taught that the mystical body of Christ included those who have gone before. The teaching was affirmed in 1964 when Pope Paul VI promulgated the dogmatic constitution on the Chruch:

Fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead, and "because it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins", also offers suffrages for them. The Church has always believed that the apostles and Christ's martyrs who had given the supreme witness of faith and charity by the shedding of their blood, are closely joined with us in Christ, and she has always venerated them with special devotion, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the holy angels. The Church has piously implored the aid of their intercession. To these were soon added also those who had more closely imitated Christ's virginity and poverty, and finally others whom the outstanding practice of the Christian virtues and the divine charisms recommended to the pious devotion and imitation of the faithful.
- Lumen Gentium

As America prepares to hopefully, peaceably elect a new President, perhaps more important than one's vote on November 4th is the daily suffrage to the saints to implore them to ask Christ for His Divine Mercy on America. The votive candle shown here that bears Barack Obama's image as a Catholic Saint, while incredibly offensive to the believer, does demonstrate how desperate this nation thirsts for salvation, and how easily led astry its citizens have become.

Vote on November 4th, but pray unceasingly for the conversion of hearts away from those who promulgate the culture of death under the guise of a savior.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

License for Freedom

Americans are having a difficult time these days finding the lines that define virtuous living. In this country if one professed that one was striving to live a virtuous life others might label one as a prude or even a bigot. Citizens of the United State so do cherish their freedom as they have come to understand it. But what if their understanding of freedom has been lost in translation from one generation to the next? Could not the freedom the founding fathers envisioned have transformed into something that even a liberal of that era, Thomas Jefferson, would no longer recognize?

And he said to them, "Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man."
Mark (RSV) 7:18-23

The Savior has provided a nice pick list for one to examine the culture as a whole. The first striking thing? The things that defiled man in Christ's day have not changed in the modern era. Anyone who seeks happiness in any of the above sins only ultimately fails in that pursuit. Generations from now, historians will scratch their heads and playwrights will author tragic comedies about the Baby Boom generation that sought to license every human passion. A generation that truly believed its shallow, puny intellect could change the natural law defined by God.

Confusion between freedom and license leads many astray. One has a license to drive a car and the freedom to drive drunk. True, drunk driving is against the law, but if one chooses to break the law, the freedom is there to do it. An electrician has a license to practice his trade and the freedom to ignore the building code. True, there are hefty fines for violating such codes, but the freedom to violate remains. A stock broker has the license to trade securities and the freedom to recklessly transact his client's money. A doctor has the license to practice medicine, and the freedom to kill the baby in the womb at his patient's behest. A couple has a license to marry and the freedom to step out on it.

Through the sacraments, Christ has given humanity a license to be one with the Trinity. This license had been revoked by our first parents in the Garden of Eden when they exercised their freedom and violated its privileges. And even then, this loving God did not throw the lot of humanity into perdition, but rather engaged in a continuous struggle to bring man back to Him, and ultimately sending His only son to pay the fine for everyone's benefit.

Returning to Our Lord's list of things that defile humanity. How many of those sins have been trumpeted as protected rights and in some cases even codified? For example, in America and most of the West, fornication is the expected norm. In all fifty states of America, murder is legal provided the victim has not yet been born, though the law gets a bit fuzzy. A woman can legally have her child killed from conception to birth; however, if the child dies during the commission of a crime against her, then the perpetrator can be charged with murder. Huh?

Licentiousness comes from the Latin word impudicitia, which translates into sexual impurity most often related to homosexuality. It seems nearly every television drama or sit-com has its token episode that celebrates a gay or lesbian couple which only fuels the liberal agenda to legitimize these relationships as equal to marriage under natural law.

The question must be asked, have a majority of Americans truly rejected God's natural law or have they been deceived? Hope remains that it must be the latter. For if it is the former, then the prospects for longevity as a nation are gloomy. Deception is fixable, but a firmness of will proves more unlikely to change, and history has borne out that cultures, even non-Christian cultures, who stray from God's natural law do not last. How many Romans, Aztecs, or Tartars has one run into lately?

God's law is a license to love. One has the freedom to exercise that license or not. As America prepares to once again decide who best represents and reflects her ideals, pray that the person elected strives to protect the true freedom that the country's founding fathers envisioned.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Personal Property

''We are now seeing, in the collapse of major banks, that money vanishes, it is nothing. All these things that appear to be real are in fact secondary. Only God's words are a solid reality''.
Pope Benedict XVI addressing Synod of Bishops - October 2008

The news is awash with stories about the economic crisis that has sent world stock markets into a nose dive, frozen up credit, and crippled banks. If one attempts to understand it all, one quickly starts to become familiar with a new set of terms and phrases like, "breaking the buck," "credit default swaps," "leverage and hedging." Such is the language of those serving mammon.

What is of true value?

As one looks around at the material possessions one has acquired over the years, it proves a humbling exercise to examine each object and ponder its relevance in the grand scheme of things. Certainly a dollar value can be set upon the car, the jewelry, or a work of art, but even that is subjective. A dent in the car, a flaw in the diamond, or a tear in the canvas suddenly diminish their value. Nevertheless, regardless of condition a price can be affixed to one's personal property.

Prior to the Civil War in America, human beings from Africa were bought and sold as personal property to wealthy plantation owners or really anyone who wanted someone else to do the hard labor or menial tasks. And while the war between the states ended slavery in these United States, there are currently, today, approximately twenty-million people in human bondage in places like Sudan, India, Haiti, and Pakistan. Life is cheap in these places. For about $15 one can purchase a slave in southern Sudan. It costs more to have a pizza delivered to one's home in America.

A sense of outrage should resonate within the heart at the thought of human life as personal property to be bargained to the highest bidder. And yet the smaller and more innocent the life is, the greater probability it has of being treated as less than human. A vast majority of slaves, today, are children.

In the state of Oregon, human life as personal property has extended into the womb. Dr. Laura Dahl a pediatrician and her now ex-husband, Dr. Darrell Angle, an orthodontist, engaged in a custody battle over the disposition of six frozen embryos they had produced for in vitro fertilization. According to an Associated Press news article, Dr. Angle wanted to donate the embryos to another couple; however, Dr. Dahl objected to this because she did not want anyone else to raise her child and she feared that one or more of six might one day try to contact her son who was naturally conceived. Her choice was to destroy the embryos as was her right under the contract she had with Dr. Angle.

Presiding Judge Rex Armstrong of the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that there was a contractual right to determine the fate of the embryos as personal property. Assuming the case does not get appealed further, these six human beings, innocent, vulnerable, and signifcant, will be unceremoniously destroyed.

What is of true value?

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
Luke 12:24

How ironic that were one to find a birdsnest with six eggs, one would likely take care to leave it be and allow those chicks to hatch; yet human life get summarily extinguished. Small wonder that a culture who cannot figure out that which has true value has such a difficult time handling its finances, which as our Holy Father so adeptly pointed out, is of no value at all.

Put in the vernacular of Wall Street, human life is subject to being sold short.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Share This Video


Please share this video with your Catholic Christian friends and family.

To my fellow 4th Degree Knights...

...Vivat Jesu!

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

An Issue or an Evil?

Today, O.J. Simpson was found guilty on all charges surrounding an armed robbery he participated in to get back some sports memorabilia that very well may have been rightfully his. Instead of letting the authorities handle the matter, Mr. Simpson took a pistol and some armed thugs with him and tried to enforce his will upon the situation. How ironic that that he will likely spend the bulk of the rest of his life in prison for a two-bit robbery. Robbing two people of their lives as he so famously did so many years ago earned him infamy but no jail time. The legal system supported him in murder, but not robbery.

Only in America.

Respect for life exists as a fundamental tenet of Catholic teaching. Catholics believe that life begins at conception and has a natural end determined by God. A sad and interesting phenomena has emerged over the years as abortion has become so common place in the culture which now conveniently chooses to terminate one in four pregnancies via this method. In an attempt to justify voting for a political candidate who supports abortion, many Catholics have diluted the horror by delineating "respect for life" as an all inclusive category that takes into consideration not just abortion, but also health care, looking after the poor, feeding the hungry, and the proper use of military force.

On the surface, the association with these other peace and justice categories seems quite logical. Certainly anyone who respects life would want to examine all of those categories. The danger, however, lies in the inequality of the gravity of the issues at hand. While striving to ensure that all Americans have adequate access to health care is a noble cause, does the hard reality that some members of her society will fall through the health care system cracks rise to the same level of importance as the fact that every day four thousand of her citizens will be summarily killed in the womb? While one may disagree over the prudent use of military force in places like Iraq, are the war dead whom we can see on the nightly news more precious than the over one million innocent lives that are snuffed out every year in the privacy of the abortion clinic?

The argument often gets made that one should not decide how to choose one's choice for public office based on a single issue. Okay, ponder this. If the candidate for president of the United States professed that he had a plan that would guarantee low cost and high quality universal health care; and that he would end homelessness; and that he would lower taxes for everyone; and that we would rarely if ever put the country's military sons and daughters in harm's way; and that he would work to build consensus among the parties; and that he would even allow that nativity scene to be brought back to the public square at Christmas time; but he strongly supported legalizing slavery for black people again...would one ignore the moral evil in exchange for potentially realizing the promises made by the politician?


So why does one make an exception for abortion which is an even greater moral evil than slavery?

Archbishop Raymond Burke was recently named by Pope Benedict XVI to be the Prefect of the Vatican's Supreme Court of Apostolic Signature which is the highest Canon Law court in the Church. Recently in an interview with an Italian newspaper, he lamented about the Democratic Party in America as “transforming itself definitively into a party of death for its decisions on bioethical issues.” Abortion would certainly be one of these issues.

Perhaps it is that word "issue" that leads many otherwise well intended Catholics astray. Abortion is many things far more horrific than an issue. It's a reality, and one that inflicts infinitely more harm upon society as a whole than all other issues combined. For how can one anticipate achieving peace or justice within the society if one overlooks the leader's proclivity for protecting the right to kill the culture's most vulnerable and innocent members?

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me;

"See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 18:1-5, 10

Pray for the conversion of Catholics who would support a candidate who supports abortion.