"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
|January 22 marks the 39th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Each year pro-lifers observe the date by marching for life. This file photo shows a march in Washington, D.C., in 2000.|
On November 12, Pope Benedict XVI addressed an international conference on "Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture." The meeting was hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture and NeoStem/Stem for Life Foundation.
The Holy Father stated:
". . . Scientific research provides a unique opportunity to explore the wonder of the universe, the complexity of nature, and the distinctive beauty of life, including human life. But since human beings are endowed with immortal souls and are created in the image and likeness of God, there are dimensions of human existence that lie beyond the limits of what the natural sciences are competent to determine. If these limits are transgressed, there is a serious risk that the unique dignity and inviolability of human life could be subordinated to purely utilitarian considerations. But if instead these limits are duly respected, science can make a truly remarkable contribution to promoting and safeguarding the dignity of man: indeed herein lies its true utility. Man, the agent of scientific research, will sometimes, in his biological nature, form the object of that research. Nevertheless, his transcendent dignity entitles him always to remain the ultimate beneficiary of scientific research and never to be reduced to its instrument.
"In this sense, the potential benefits of adult stem cell research are very considerable, since it opens up possibilities for healing chronic degenerative illnesses by repairing damaged tissue and restoring its capacity for regeneration. The improvement that such therapies promise would constitute a significant step forward in medical science, bringing fresh hope to sufferers and their families alike. For this reason, the Church naturally offers her encouragement to those who are engaged in conducting and supporting research of this kind, always with the proviso that it be carried out with due regard for the integral good of the human person and the common good of society.
“I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanks-giving be offered for all men, especially for kings and those in authority, that we may be able to lead undisturbed and tranquil lives.”
(1 Tm 2:1-2)
"This proviso is most important. The pragmatic mentality that so often influences decision-making in the world today is all too ready to sanction whatever means are available in order to attain the desired end, despite ample evidence of the disastrous consequences of such thinking. When the end in view is one so eminently desirable as the discovery of a cure for degenerative illnesses, it is tempting for scientists and policy-makers to brush aside ethical objections and to press ahead with whatever research seems to offer the prospect of a breakthrough. Those who advocate research on embryonic stem cells in the hope of achieving such a result make the grave mistake of denying the inalienable right to life of all human beings from the moment of conception to natural death. The destruction of even one human life can never be justified in terms of the benefit that it might conceivably bring to another. Yet, in general, no such ethical problems arise when stem cells are taken from the tissues of an adult organism, from the blood of the umbilical cord at the moment of birth, or from fetuses who have died of natural causes (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Dignitas Personae, 32).
"It follows that dialogue between science and ethics is of the greatest importance in order to ensure that medical advances are never made at unacceptable human cost. The Church contributes to this dialogue by helping to form consciences in accordance with right reason and in the light of revealed truth. In so doing she seeks, not to impede scientific progress, but on the contrary to guide it in a direction that is truly fruitful and beneficial to humanity. Indeed, it is her conviction that everything human, including scientific research, 'is not only received and respected by faith, but is also purified, elevated, and perfected' (ibid., 7). In this way science can be helped to serve the common good of all mankind, with a particular regard for the weakest and most vulnerable.
"In drawing attention to the needs of the defenseless, the Church thinks not only of the unborn but also of those without easy access to expensive medical treatment. Illness is no respecter of persons, and justice demands that every effort be made to place the fruits of scientific research at the disposal of all who stand to benefit from them, irrespective of their means. In addition to purely ethical considerations, then, there are issues of a social, economic, and political nature that need to be addressed in order to ensure that advances in medical science go hand in hand with just and equitable provision of health-care services. Here the Church is able to offer concrete assistance through her extensive health-care apostolate, active in so many countries across the globe and directed with particular solicitude to the needs of the world's poor.
". . . I want to assure you of a special remembrance in prayer and I commend to the intercession of Mary, Salus Infirmorum, all of you who work so hard to bring healing and hope to those who suffer. I pray that your commitment to adult stem cell research will bring great blessings for the future of man and genuine enrichment to his culture. To you, your families, and your collaborators, as well as to all the patients who stand to benefit from your generous expertise and the results of your work, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing. Thank you very much!"
There once was a man sent by God. His commission was simple: Protect the woman. Protect the child.
He led them on a journey. One night came when he could find no shelter. His money, his strength, his gifts of persuasion, and all his desperate imagination could find him nothing more than a doghouse, a mule stall, a cow stable.
Prayer to St. Joseph
O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain compliancy in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, and all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O Patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity. Amen.
—St. Pius X—
This man sent by God had a dream. Believe the woman, he was told. Trust God. As he pitched the filthy straw out of the animal shelter, as he slapped at fleas, as he made a pallet of fresh hay, as he covered the hay with personal pieces of cloth and apparel, he heard the woman. She cried. She labored in birth. The baby was coming soon.
Whose baby? Hers, certainly. God's? He gritted his teeth, silenced his doubts, remembered the dream, wished he had a real room. Or, at least a place where he could make a fire.
He had God's commission, but no shelter. ?He had God's call, but no help. He was the man God counted on but he failed to provide. He had a dream, but his wife had no bed.
"How humiliating," he thought. Yet, he'd done his best. Tomorrow the news would spread. What kind of man is this? To carry a pregnant wife on such a trip, with so little preparation? When at the focus of public shame, he would recall his private dream.
He stood under the stars that, without the washout caused by modern city lights, pinpricked the black sky with hundreds of thousands of tiny sparks burning in vivid intensity. He is as one of those lights, he thought. A child of Abraham whose children are as the stars of heaven and the sand of the sea. He was one small beam in the sea of numberless pinpricks on a vast canopy of lights.
His lack of success on this awful night caused him to feel meaningless, powerless, and ineffective. But the stars reminded him of the promise of Scripture. The promise and his dream helped him see significance in his tiny life. Helped him through this difficult dark night.
The long night continued. Later he would hear of a strange music concert from local shepherds. Weeks later he would hear a mysterious prophecy from a priest in Jerusalem's temple that covered the life of his wife and the baby. Not him. He would watch over them. But he would have no significant impact on the larger issues in their life of promise.
Even later he would receive some strange rich men, scholars, astrologers. They left him with gifts which would finance his seven years as head of a refugee family in Egypt.
He was a silent man. He was faithful. He kept on keeping on in the face of confusion and humiliation and the jarring changes in his plans. We have no record of his words, and only the dream passage reveals his thinking. Scripture mainly depicts his action.
Joseph is, therefore, known to us as a man of action. A man of integrity. A man who put others first. Was Jesus thinking of him when He preached, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God."
Joseph entertained no dream of big promises for himself. He worked to facilitate big promises for others.
During Advent and Nativity, Catholics and all Christians who practice liturgical worship will consider Joseph, husband of Mary, foster father of Jesus.
Then, as always, I will ask St. Joseph to pray for me that I learn to quiet the voice of complaining and worry and instead practice the articulation of faithful, silent work.
In the prison I live in here in North Florida, I find Joseph particularly brave and helpful. He was caught in his own peculiar prison.
Once he believed the dream, he was apprehended. He was swept into a life he never intended. Joseph was jerked around by circumstances; by God's will. Finding God's fingerprints on his life, he carried on. He knew it was not about him. It was all about the woman and the child. It was about God.
I can see God's fingerprints in my life. It has gotten me through the trauma of this prison experience. Joseph helps me by his prayers and example.
In what type of prison do you suffer? Might you lift up your suffering to Christ and use it as an opportunity to bless others in prayer and action? Could you use it as an opportunity to act like your life is not all about you? It is all about God and His will. His kingdom come in your life as it is in heaven.
Listen to St. Joseph's wordless sermon. Meditate on his story. He will help you find Christ in the difficult phases of your life.
To love and be loved is the greatest joy on earth for most of us. We all hunger, yearn for that perfect relationship, which few of us find. Yet love is the most precious gift God has given us, His love demonstrated by our love for each other. This message is to assure you that, that perfect relationship, that perfect wedding, that perfect marriage where all the desires of our hearts will be totally fulfilled, is being planned for us at this moment. Even the most wonderful marriages in our midst are only mere reflections of what the future holds for each and every one of us.
How do we know these plans are taking place? We know, because the Divine Wedding Planner wrote the Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide. He says "for I know the plans I have for you. Plans for your welfare, plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call Me I will listen to you [how many wives would love their husbands to just listen to them] . . . Yes, when you seek Me with all your heart you will find Me with you." (Jer 29:11-14). What assurance these words are.
This Divine Romance began at the very beginning of the Guide Book when God created the first Adam in Genesis, the one place, while creating, God said was not good. It was not good for man to be alone — thus Eve was formed not out of dirt as was Adam, but out of flesh and blood, the rib of Adam to be his Bride. (Do you know what excuse Adam gave his children when they asked why they no longer lived in Eden? He said, their mother ate them out of house and home.) Now the Bride of Christ, the Bridal Company of the Lamb, the Church, was formed when the side of Christ, the New, second Adam, was pierced, giving His flesh and blood to us while hanging on the cross.
Did you ever wonder why God permeates the Scriptures from beginning to end with the analogy of the Bridegroom and His Bride at the wedding feast, to describe His relationship with us, His people, His Church? Because it describes it so perfectly in a way we can understand. It is the best explanation of who we are, created in His image. In God, with God, through God we find our identity. We were created just to be united to Him for all eternity. He doesn't see us as humans see . . . all our faults, flaws, cellulite, sin, wrinkles. He looks at us through the kaleidoscope of His Divine Love and asks us to do the same for each other. He empowers us, of course, to do this with His grace which we receive from learning of Him in His Holy Word. To know Him is to love Him and each other. "See how they love each other that's how you know that are mine" (Jn 13:34-35). Let's examine the kaleidoscope for a moment. It has three mirrors which, say, represents the Trinity. So even straw, dirt looks beautiful through the glass, even me, poor miserable wretch that I am. I even sin while driving to church by speeding and God looking through His Kaleidoscope eyes thinks I am worth loving and dying for. What an awesome God we have.
God loves us so much He wants to live in a marriage covenant with us. He wants that perfect relationship for each of us, even those never married, could never find the right person, those who loved and lost, divorced, separated, and those who are in bad, unhappy relationships even now. We can all be in the Bridal Company at the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb. We can all participate in this incredible Love Affair with the Divine Lover right now (Rv 19:9). All who confess their sins and accept His forgiveness will be part of that Bridal Party.
Has anyone ever planned a wedding? To plan a wedding, in Hebrew times, first of all a Bride had to be chosen: Jesus says, "I have chosen you, you have not chosen Me" (Jn 15:16). I have called you by name . . . I give Seba and Ethiopia for you because you are precious in My sight and because I love you (Is 43:1-4). Wow, God loves me! God loves you! It says so, many many times in this wonderful book, even if our lives are a shambles, filled with wasted years (Jl 2:25), through our own fault, bad decisions, or someone else's fault, or circumstances. The next thing that happens is the negotiation of a Bride Price. In Hebrew times camels, chickens, linen, grain, gold was offered. Today some grooms promise the "moon." God told Jesus, however, His Bride will cost Him everything, humbling Himself to humanness, His Blood, His life. Jesus' answer: I will pay the price, she is precious in My sight, I see her as she will be when My love fills her.
Jesus did suffer and die for His Bride. When He said on the cross, "It is finished," the chains of sin fell off of us. We are no longer in bondage to our messy past, no matter how horrible it is. No longer are we bound, victims of abuse, failure, rape, incest, abortion, sexual immorality, whether homosexual practices, adultery, or sex outside of marriage, deceit, murder, dishonesty, gossip, slander, theft, lying, witchcraft — such as believing in horoscopes, new age, fortune telling, channeling, Ouija boards, the occult, or any of the past. All sin is gone and He promises to continually forgive, love, nurture, and save us. He does not condemn, nor does He condone, He forgives.
What a relief. Jesus conquered the Devil, Sin, and Death. But you ask, why then do I still sin, why am I still being tempted if the Devil is defeated? The best explanation of this I came across was that we are living in the "mop up time" between Jesus' first coming and His second coming. When a war is declared ended, there is a period of time before it is officially over. During this interim the enemy can still do considerable damage. So the Devil, knowing he is defeated, and his time is limited, is trying to take as many of us with him, before he is officially cast into Hell for all eternity at the second coming of Christ. It occurred to me that each of us has a personal first and second coming of Christ. The first is when we come to know, repent, and give our lives over to Him (Baptism); the second is when He comes to take us home, if that is before His official second coming (1 Pt 5:8).
An Act Of Consecration
To The Holy Spirit
Divine Spirit of light and love, I consecrate my mind and heart and will to You for time and for eternity. May my mind be open to Your divine inspirations and to the teachings of the Church, whose infallible guide You are. May my heart be filled with love of God and of my neighbor and my will conformed to the will of God. May my whole life be a faithful imitation of the life and virtues of Christ our Lord to Whom, with the Father and You, be honor and glory forever. Amen.
- Pope St. Pius X -
The next thing in planning a Hebrew wedding, the Bride has to consent. The Bride looks over the marriage contract and checks out the Groom's promises and decides whether to accept. That's her Hope Chest forming. The Hope Chest was really popular even just a few years ago. I challenge you to check out and claim the hope of Christ's promises. The Wedding Guide is filled with them: "Delight in the Lord and He will give you your heart's desire" (Ps 37:3-3); "Put God first in your life and all you need will be added to you" (Mt 6:33); "Ask and you shall receive . . .," not the Jaguar or the new house but "all" in His Will, what we need (Lk 11:9). Jesus keeps His promises, although you may have been wounded or betrayed, deserted, He will never abandon you. Humans may not always keep promises, check the divorce rate, but He always will. Go to your Bridal Chamber of prayer daily and claim those promises for your own. Consider it. The Bride can refuse. We too, as the Bride of Christ, can refuse if we don't want Jesus to own us, don't want to change our life and repent, which is the only way to get His forgiveness for our sins, don't want His love, His gifts, His promises.
Jesus is a gentleman. He will not force Himself on us. He died to get the sin off us so we can come to the Bridal Table pure and forgiven, but only with our consent. You will then not be your own, He says, you will have been bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body (1 Cor 6:19-20). Women Libbers hate this. They want to be their own person and be miserable. To be owned by Jesus means you are protected, taken care of, safe, loved, your needs met, completed, fulfilled. His commands do not come from out there oppressively, but they become desires welling up from within our own hearts. Thus, our response to Him becomes a service of perfect liberty. Yes, then you can freely surrender totally with your whole being, and receive all of His riches and launch on the most wonderful Love Affair of the Universe. We can't do this on our own, only with the Grace of the Holy Spirit. We must be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom 12:1-2). You can't put new wine, new thoughts, new way of life in old wine skins (Mt 9:17). The mind is the wine skin, it must be renewed. Old habits, old attitudes, old thought patterns must be thrown out and new habits, attitudes, thought patterns developed. Right thoughts, right thinking come from immersion in God's Holy Word which washes away the old stuff and causes us to make right decisions, right actions, form right habits and attitudes. "For whoever is in Christ becomes a new creation" (2 Cor 5:17-19). The old things have passed away; behold new things have come (Rv 21:5).
The Ceremonial Bath, the "Mikval" in Hebrew, takes place after the consenting of the Bride. This is a symbol of purification, getting ready for the marriage bed (Rv 21:2). We, the Church as the Bridal Company, are also being purified by the Blood of Christ, cleansed by the bath water of the Word that we might be presented in splendor, in the pure white wedding garment (dress) without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that we might be holy and without blemish on our wedding day, the Day of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Eph 5:25-33).
Vows are then taken under a Bridal Canopy, provided by the Groom in Hebrew times. When a Jewish boy was born, trees were planted and grew up with him. He used the branches from these trees as poles to make his canopy or "Huppah," which is why we sing, "His banner over me is love" (Sng 2:4). This covering where the marriage vows are taken, before the people as witnesses, is a symbol of a man and woman leaving their families and living together under the same roof and beginning a new family.
Next the couple drinks the cup of the covenant to seal the vows, a most wonderful thing. Does this sound familiar? "This is My Covenant." "This is My Blood." When we drink of the cup at Mass we are making our commitment for being the Bride of Christ. Think of it — we can drink and eat with our Bridegroom, Jesus, as His Bridal Company each and every time we go to Mass. When we say "Amen," we are really saying "I do" to our marriage vows to Christ for all eternity. For Him there is no time. Eternity is NOW!! He wants to be a blessing poured in you, in me, His Bride. I encourage you to receive as often as you can. Remember, though, you cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons (1 Cor 10:21). What are your demons? I plead with you to place them down at the foot of the Cross and leave them there. No fair taking them up again as we do so often. Fear, anxiety, pettiness, resentment, anger, materialism, holding grudges, an unforgiving spirit which is spiritual cancer, addictions, attachments, envy, jealousy, indifference, let go of these blocks. They block our love from flowing to Him and to one another. "Love removes all fears" (1 Jn 4-18). "Love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Pt 4:8). Let love flow!
My friends, when we receive Christ's Body and Blood, He is in us. We become two in one flesh as in any marriage union. This is an incomprehensible mystery. "No longer do I live but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:30), and through that union I am no longer alone. You hear people say, "whine," I'm so lonely. I've tried everything, all that's left to do is pray. Jesus is all I have. WHAT!!! All you have is the CREATOR of the Universe, the One that was nailed to the cross for your sins, just the One Who cleansed you, healed you, has gone to prepare a place for you, and is coming to get you to be with Him for all eternity . . . Is that all you've got, my friend??!! We mustn't let the evil one steal our joy with such "stinking thinking." It paralyzes us from doing what we need to do for His Kingdom. There is a story about Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son. He went to Rwanda, after the massacre there, to help. He brought trucks to transfer the survivors. He saw a little girl in a tattered dress, face all dirty, carrying a filthy little doll, coming toward the truck singing amidst tears in a crackled broken voice. He couldn't understand the words. She was singing in French. It haunted him. He had to know what she was singing. He sent for an interpreter. The interpreter said, "She's singing 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, I am weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me . . .' " She just saw her parents macheted to death. She had nothing . . . Yet she had everything.
Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved; there can be no world peace unless there is soul peace. World wars are only projections of the conflicts waged inside the souls of modern men, for nothing happens in the external world that has not first happened within a soul.
Bishop Fulton Sheen
Coming back to the wedding planning analogy, next the Groom goes to prepare a place for His Beloved. He's getting His home ready to receive her. That's where Jesus is NOW. That's what He told His followers during their last meal together before He died (Jn 14:1-3). He is preparing a place for us until He returns for us, His Bride, and we are being prepared by the Holy Spirit Who Jesus sent to guide us (1 Cor 2:9-12) as His Wedding Gift, while we too prepare and wait. During this time we have to stay alert, stay awake, because we know not the day nor the hour of His return. Not knowing just increases the excitement. It means we always have to be ready for the Bridegroom's return. We have to keep our heart lamps full of the oil of His healing, His goodness, His strength, His joy, His Word (Mt 25:1-13) to be light to all the world around us. Candles at weddings are symbols of these oil lamps. I don't want my lamps to be empty. I don't want to be found sleeping. We must stay alert and grow in love for Him and for each other, whom we will be with for all eternity. We do this through prayer, Mass, studying the precious Words in His Love Letter, our Bridal Guide Book, and receiving the Sacraments frequently. Then with great anticipation He will come for us, snatch us away to consummate the marriage for all eternity in Perfect Joy. "I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:40).
Jesus says to us — My beloved, I took care of the devil for you — no longer can he bruise you or beat you up — I stripped him of the keys of death. Now today I give you the keys of the Kingdom and Crown you with glory and honor (1 Tm 4:7-8) because I've washed you with My blood, cleansed you and healed you mentally, emotionally, physically. I've made you whole. Then at the very end of the Bridal Guide Book it says "The Spirit and the Bride say 'Come' " (Rv 22:17), continuing, "Yes, I am coming soon. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rv 22:20). The apostle Paul says we do not fear death as those who have no hope (1 Thes 4:13). When we get a real vision of our place with the Lord, when we know we've been chosen, when we have heaven in our hearts, death is not scary anymore. Medicaid, Medicare, Medi-whatever won't be our god any longer because we know who we are and we are ready for our Beloved's return for us.
My friends, may we have a hunger and a thirst for the Word of God which washes us and prepares us for the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Word was made flesh to nourish us, to feed us, to strengthen us. Could that be why when Jesus was born, He was placed in a feeding trough? My prayer for you, and I ask your prayers for me, that these thoughts will renew our fervor for receiving the Blessed Body and Blood of Jesus and remember it is a Blood Covenant, as taking marriage vows to consummate our love, our service, our praise, and thanksgiving to Him forever. I encourage you to treasure that moment at the altar when you receive your Bridegroom and repeat your vows "I do," "Amen." This is our Ultimate Love Affair now and to come.
Dear Heavenly Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit, as we go on in our journey of life, moment by moment, let our heart lamps be full of Your light, to shine for all the world to see that we belong to You. Help us bring Your joy, Your healing, Your forgiveness, and love to all we meet so we can make a difference in lives, in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our church, in our nation. Amen.
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
Although good can tolerate evil, evil never tolerates good.
This basic principle is wakening the U.S. bishops to the fact that the Catholic Church here in America is facing persecution by the government. The former Archbishop of St. Louis, now the head of the Vatican's highest court, stated, according to Catholic News Agency, that the Catholic Church in America, "even by announcing her own teaching," will be accused of "engaging in illegal activity, for instance in its teaching on human sexuality."
Cardinal Raymond Burke continued, stating that the United States is "well on the way" to the persecution of Christians. "It is critical at this time that Christians stand up for the natural law." If they fail, he warned, "secularization will in fact predominate, and it will destroy us."
As reported by The Enquirer, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia painted a bleak picture of a nation increasingly intolerant of Christianity:
"The America emerging in the next several decades is likely to be much less friendly to Christian faith than anything in our country's past."
Catholic League President Bill Donohue told LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Burke's remarks were accurate and not exaggerations: "Secularism has become militant…Many elites are taking an aggressive secular approach. They have lined up against the Catholic Church and other Christian churches particularly for their stand on moral values."
"The real big one is the HHS of the Obama Administration," is how Donohue describes the HHS directive mandating that abortifacient and contraceptive coverage in private healthcare plans, under penalty of fines, is being forced "down the throats of the Catholic Church."
In August, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) demanded that the Obama Administration withdraw the new federal requirement that private insurance provide women with coverage for FDA-approved contraception, including sterilization and contraceptives that have an abortifacient effect.
"Such nationwide govern-ment coercion of religious people and groups . . . represents an unprecedented attack on religious liberty," stated the general counsel for the USCCB, reports The Catholic World Report.
"Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic college located in North Carolina, has launched a lawsuit against the Obama administration over the pending abortifacient contraceptive mandate.
"The suit alleges that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has infringed upon Belmont Abbey's first amendment freedom of religion by requiring employers to offer health insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including the abortion-inducing drugs Plan B and Ella. The directive was issued as part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
"The Becket Fund, which is representing Belmont Abby, argued in a press release that the narrow religious exemption has forced Belmont Abbey into the situation of having to choose between holding to its religious beliefs or providing its employees and students with health insurance.
"The Becket Fund also pointed out that though exemptions from the Affordable Care Act were given to a number of organizations for commercial reasons, the HHS had decided to severely limit what organizations qualified as religious. 'Although the government has already provided thousands of waivers for a variety of special interest groups including McDonald's and teachers' unions, it refused to accommodate religious organizations.'
"Freedom of conscience is a 'first freedom,' said Smith. 'If government can demand that private organizations abandon their conscientious objections as a condition of serving their employees or the public, what can't government do?'"
Even if the Obama Administration would exempt religious organizations from its mandate, other Christian employers would be forced to pay, through the hospitalization coverage, for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients.
This summer, the New York legislators passed a homosexual "marriage" bill, which was signed into law by the Democratic "Catholic" Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
As reported by The Wanderer in its article "New Law Can Be Used Against Church," the bishops of New York stated: "We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization."
The definition of marriage "cannot change," they explained, "though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continued to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths."
In an interview with EWTN's Raymond Arroyo, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the USCCB stated: "We said the next thing will be we'll be sued if we don't do [same-sex] marriage, we're going to be harassed if we don't do receptions, we're going to be penalized if we don't allow adoption, we're going to be booed if we don't hire these people."
Dolan continued, saying that people think it will never happen. However, he stated, "It's already happening."
As reported in The Enquirer, "In Illinois, government officials stopped working with Catholic Charities on adoptions and foster-care placements after 40 years because the agency refused to recognize a new civil union."
The Catholic political commentator and former press secretary of Ronald Reagan, Patrick J. Buchanan, stated: "But civil rights and human rights laws are today being used to compel Christian institutions to conform to anti-Christian agendas that violate their basic principles. In the district [Washington, D.C.], a new law ordering all city contractors to recognize 'gay marriages' impelled the archdiocese to terminate its 80-year foster-care program, rather than let children be adopted by homosexuals."
The Catholic bishops should not be surprised that they will be persecuted for their moral beliefs. For how many years now have members of the hierarchy not only tolerated dissent from the teachings of the Church, but many of them have promoted the dissent. Since Humane Vitae was issued in 1968, a number of bishops, priests, and religious orders, as well as Catholic colleges, universities, and medical facilities, have taught that artificial contraception was morally acceptable, if a person in his own conscience thought that it was. When does one's conscience make something morally right when it is objectively wrong?
Those who complained to the hierarchy that contraceptives were being dispensed at Catholic facilities, or that people were being referred by Catholic agencies to others who would provide contraceptives, not only were ignored, but frequently those who complained found themselves being criticized by those employed by the Church.
When was the last time you heard a sermon from the pulpit, or when have you last read an article in a diocesan-owned newspaper, addressing the intrinsic evil of artificial contraception?
Many dioceses, instead of teaching that homosexual acts are always intrinsically evil, have sponsored seminars by pro-homosexual speakers on the so-called topic of "homophobia."
Although the U.S. bishops may be now concerned that the Obama Administration is requiring them to provide health insurance coverage for abortifacients, such as emergency contracep-tion/morning after pill (also referred to as Plan B), some conferences of bishops, including the Kentucky Catholic Conference of Bishops, have approved the dispensing of these abortifacients in Catholic hospitals.
In addition, the hierarchy has not only tolerated pro-abortion politicians speaking at Catholic universities and other facilities, giving credibility and acceptability to the legalized killing of unborn children, but also many members of the hierarchy have sponsored, financially supported, and promoted pro-abortion speakers.
When Notre Dame University honored the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States, giving President Barack Obama also a platform from which to speak, only a minority of bishops expressed their opposition. Notre Dame was awarded by Obama with $30 million from the "stimulus fund." Did the U.S. bishops take any actions against Notre Dame? No, nothing was done.
So why are the U.S. bishops surprised that the evil some of them have promoted and/or tolerated both in the Church and in society, cannot tolerate preaching, or adhering to, the moral teachings of the Catholic Church?
Speaking to the U.S. bishops in November, Pope Benedict XVI stated: "The seriousness of the challenges which the Church in America, under your leadership, is called to confront in the near future cannot be underestimated….The obstacles to Christian faith and practice raised by a secularized culture also affect the lives of believers. Immersed in this culture, believers are daily beset by the objections, the troubling questions, and the cynicism of a society which seems to have lost its roots, by a world in which the love of God has grown cold in so many hearts."
Facebook games have recently turned to Bible-based and Church-based themes and so are perhaps not quite such a waste of time as they had been.
"With web-based games played on social networks drawing nearly half a billion people worldwide, we felt it was time for a biblically-based game that showcases one of the greatest adventures of all time," said Brent Dusing, CEO of Hexify, creator of the first biblically-based Facebook game.
"We were careful to adhere to the accounts in the Bible and the overarching spirit of the story, even vetting certain aspects with theological leaders," Dusing said.
The art style is meant to reflect "the casual social game" that it is, says Dusing. The Journey of Moses if the first game. "It's a fun, immersive, adventure game, so it's meant to be fun but respectful to the content and appropriate for the gravity of the story."
"The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and live temperately and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus. It was He Who sacrificed Himself for us, to redeem us from all unrighteousness and to cleanse for Himself a people of His own, eager to do what is right." (Titus 2:11-14)
"It's an adventure quest game," or a "map exploration game," Dusing said. "A little bit like Zelda merged with the Moses story — that kind of game play where you're exploring different areas and find different items and meet different people to propel the story."
"Whether you already play social games or you are interested in the story of Moses, we believe we have created a game that everyone can enjoy," said Dusing.
"It's a well-polished game with amusing visuals and a surprising amount of depth, much more so than Vatican Wars or Holy Town," wrote AOL Games Blog.
"The very fact that this game does a pretty good job of clearly relating these events [of Moses' life] in such a simple format like a Facebook games is pretty impressive . . . Besides, if you're going to waste time on Facebook playing a game, why not play a well-made one that's about the Bible?" wrote Hollywood Jesus.
Cheyenne Ehrlich, founder of SGR Games (named for St. Genesius of Rome) makes the point that they "are not affiliated with the "Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican, or the Holy See". As a Buddhist, he had intended to make the priests Buddhists, but decided on the larger Catholic Church.
Ehrlich claims that playing the game has increased people's desire to attend Mass and join the priesthood, based on a player survey. Rev. John Kita, a parish priest in Elkland, Pa., wrote to a Knights of Columbus publication earlier this year praising the game as a "great tool to motivate more men to consider the priesthood."
Deacon Nick Donnelly wrote on his blog, Protect the Pope: "A pope could not change the Church's teaching on same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, or the ordination of women. To change these doctrines would be to break with the apostolic faith."
Players build their diocese while taking stands on the controversial topics such as abortion, artificial birth control, clerical celibacy, the definition of marriage, and ordination of women.
The war started in earnest when 10 dissenting cardinals elected Higgins pope last July. Since then there have been 19 popes, 13 Templar, and 6 Crusader. As of this writing Pope Munificentissmus still heads the virtual Church. His rival, "Saint" Gemma, however, writes, "Come together, Crusaders, and join my quest to reclaim the Papacy from the judgmental Templars. Support my quest and I guarantee support of yours so that we can establish a chain of Crusader succession."
His successor will likely be Dodo 7 who is said to be leading in the vote so far two-to one about the same as the pope ratio. That is likely the reason he had not made a counterstatement, since he does not need to do so.
The key to influencing the social agenda of the Church, according to the game rules, is to get as many Stature Points as possible, and to get as many people to play for your team as you can. The more Stature Points your team has, the more likely you or one of your teammates are to become Pope and control the game and thus ensure that the social agenda of the Church reflects Christ's true teachings.
"It attracts people to the game who perhaps used to be Catholic and who are not anymore, or who simply disagree with the Church's social positions," said Ehrlich.
Becoming a bishop requires, among other things, speaking out about clerical sex abuse. Players buy or donate religious goods, so the game is like a visit to a virtual Catholic store including vestments, religious texts, and relics. That the Shroud of Turin is for sale is not the only departure from the real Church. Here all players may vote in papal elections, not just cardinals.
There are a few other faith-based games. For the evangelical Protestant market there is Holy Town in which the player founds his own church and builds his/her congregation by preaching. In Soul Journey the player is the dying victim of a horrible accident trying to save his/her soul by solving Hidden Object mini-games.
(Editor's note: Mr. Chisson writes from David Wade Correctional Facility in LA. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
All the prisoners of David Wade love and care,
A piece of my heart, I would like to share.
Please don't forget us, don't you dare,
We all miss our families.
We would love to be with our families out there,
Let our families know we are in here.
One day God will let us be there,
Please! Strengthen your feelings.
Please, all prisoners, have no fear,
All prisoners of David Wade love and care!
baltimore, md — Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the new Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, addressed American bishops at their annual meeting.
He said, "I know that this great nation of the United States, so diverse and so rich in many ways, is a country filled with vitality, with a spirit inherited from its forefathers, generous and hard-working, self-sacrificing, continually striving together to meet the needs of its brothers and sisters here and throughout the world, and always looking toward building a better tomorrow. This nation, at its very core, maintains the firm notion of trust in God, of the guiding hand of Providence, starting with those who, coming from foreign lands, are looking for a safer and better future.
For The Spirit Of
Jesus In Our Society
O Jesus, come back into our society, our family life, our souls, and reign there as our peaceful Sovereign. Enlighten with the splendor of faith and the charity of Your tender heart the souls of those who work for the good of the people, for Your poor. Impart to them Your own spirit, a spirit of discipline, order, and gentleness, preserving the flame of enthusiasm ever alight in their hearts . . . May that day come very soon, when we shall see You restored to the center of civic life, borne on the shoulders of Your joyful people.
Blessed Pope John XXIII
"I know that the Church has exercised a unique influence in the formation of American society, proclaiming the 'good news', especially by her missionary work and the many educational and charitable institutions that have enriched this country.
"In spite of the many challenges you may encounter today in modern society, the Holy Father is putting great hope in the Church in this country for the future of the universal Church. This is a very encouraging and challenging mandate which he expressed to me in the audience he granted me last Monday. It is a strong message from the Vicar of Christ which you also would perceive on the occasion of your ad limina visits to the Holy See.
"In proclaiming the Year of Faith, the Holy Father is inviting us to rediscover the roots of our faith and its expression in the experience of prayer and worship, which especially for us Bishops, through our own good example, and the dignified celebration of the Sacraments, would be a great inspiration to the faithful in their own experience of the practice of their faith. The faith that we proclaim and live helps others to keep their priorities in focus, for always and everywhere we must first 'keep our eyes fixed on Jesus' (Heb. 12:2).
"The Year of Faith which is before us is a wonderful opportunity for the Church, in its call to holiness, to once again exercise its particular mission of unity in the unfolding realization of itself as a prayerful, Christ-centered people, especially through the Eucharist.
"I ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Patroness of the United States, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, to watch over you and to continue to keep you faithful in the great task with which you have been entrusted . . ."
(Source: USCCB press release)
cotonou, benin — Pope Benedict XVI consigned the apostolic exhortation on Africa to the continent's bishops on November 20.
The Pope said: "In the course of this solemn liturgical celebration, we have given thanks to the Lord for the gift of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which met in October 2009 to discuss the theme: The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, of Justice and Peace: 'You are the salt of the earth . . . you are the light of the world' (Mt 5:13-14). I thank all of the Synod Fathers for their contribution to this Assembly. My gratitude goes as well to the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Nikola Eterović, for the results achieved and for the greeting which he has just addressed in your name.
"Yesterday I signed the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus. Today I am happy to offer it to each of the Particular Churches through you, the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa – both national and regional - and through the Presidents of the Synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Upon the reception of this Exhortation, the phase of assimilation and application of its theological, ecclesiological, spiritual, and pastoral data begins at the local level. This text seeks to promote, encourage, and consolidate the various local initiatives already in place. It seeks as well to inspire other initiatives for the upbuilding of the Catholic Church in Africa.
"One of the first missions of the Church is the proclamation of Jesus Christ and His Gospel ad gentes, that is the evangelization of those at a distance from the Church in one way or another. I hope that this Exhortation will guide you in the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus in Africa. It is not just a message or a word. It is above all openness and adhesion to a person: Jesus Christ the incarnate Word. He alone possesses the words of life eternal (cf. Jn 6:68)! Following the example of Christ, all Christians are called to reflect the mercy of the Father and the light of the Holy Spirit. Evangelization presupposes and brings with it reconciliation and it promotes peace and justice.
"Dear Church in Africa, become ever more fully the salt of the earth – this earth which Jesus Christ blessed with His presence when He took refuge here! Be the salt of the African earth, blessed by the blood of so many matters – men, women, and children, witnesses of the Christian faith even to the supreme gift of their lives! Become the light of the world, the light in Africa which seeks, amid tribulations, the path of peace and justice for all its citizens. Your light is Jesus, the Christ, 'the Light of the World' (cf. Jn 8:12). May God bless you, dear Africa!"
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com