Monday, October 24, 2011

Here and Now

This past week, I had the chance to meet a new friend for lunch, who I already don't get to hang out with enough.  As we got to talking before we even had a chance to order, we discussed all matter of "guy" things--our families, business, promotions, plans for our families to move toward more sustainable living.  That discussion led me to ask a question that's been on my mind lately as we contemplate the next chapter in our lives:

How far is too far when it comes to making long-term family plans?  Where do we cross the line between setting goals for our family (location, lifestyle, etc) and grasping at the future?  What is the point where we go from setting necessary and realistic goals--both as individuals and families--to being untrusting of God and his plan for our future?

My friend so kindly reminded me that God used the very particular language, "I AM," (Exodus 3:14) to refer to Himself when Moses inquired how he should refer to God when the people start asking about his encounter.

With that title, God placed himself squarely in the present.  He did not say, "I was," I will be," "I have been, am today, and will be," or any other tense.  He simply said, "I am."  With that, he came as Emmanuel, God with us, here and now, and in every moment from the present into eternity.  Christ continued this use of the present "I am" in his last words to his disciples before ascending back into heaven:

"...and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matthew 28:20)

Even with his parting words, he remains with us, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the Eucharist and in the body of the Church, inviting us time after time to let go trust him with all the details of our life as he commanded us to do earlier in Matthew, 6:25:

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on."

As a man who, like other men, is hard-wired to protect and provide for his family, I've decided to wrestle some more with this one.  So, I'd like to start this small discernment by asking you all:

Where is the "line in the sand" between looking out and planning for the temporal good of our family but also trusting God and remaining in the present?  How is a parent--especially a husband and father--called to balance the two?  Or do they need to be balanced at all?

I really, sincerely would like to know what you think, and any tips you might have for maintaining the balance.



Sunday, October 16, 2011

Latest Shots in the War for Life

This week was a busy week in the battle between the culture of life and the culture of death. The fight has escalated a few notches, after Archbishop Dolan's warning three weeks ago.

Shot #1:
Last week, Secretary Sebelius, in a strongly worded speech to pro-abortion supporters at a Chicago fundraiser, officially declared war on any opposed to abortion.  She officially targeted "Republicans," but any of us who know exactly what the stakes are in this battle--the life and death of innocent lives and the soul of a society--know that it's about much more than politics.
Florida Independent

Shot #2:
A politically-charged Kansas panel has recommended the suspension of pro-life attorney and former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline's law license, even as the evidence that came from his passionate push to expose Planned Parenthood has resulted in a plethora of criminal charges against the organization's Kansas offices.

Travesty: Panel recommends suspension of Phill Kline's law license - Jill Stanek,

On a positive note, on Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protect Life Act, which would "amend the federal health care bill to include protections against federal tax funding of abortion, as well as strengthened conscience rights for health care providers."  Before the bill was even put up for a vote, President Obama promised to veto it.

As the battle continues to rage, what those who oppose God's plan fail to recognize is that the war, a total war in which the armies of heaven are storming and laying waste to the gates of hell, was won 2,000 years ago.  This age, the age of the Church, are the "closing shots" in that fight.  Although we must continue to fight with everything we have, we also fight with the sure knowledge that we fight with and for the God of the Universe.  Though we cannot always see through the fog of war, we cannot lose.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Guest Post: Why Gay "marriage" Can't be Hitched to the Civil Rights Train

A while back, Leila at Little Catholic Bubble graciously invited me to write a guest post on Civil Rights and gay "marriage," and why the latter has nothing to do with the former.  After many more days than I intended to take, and with a few "Bubble" refinements, here it is.  Thanks again, Lelia!

This past week, Lauren and I had the occasion to visit Birmingham, AL. Although we didn't have time to visit any of the specific Civil Rights landmarks -- we were focused on our little girl's surgery -- it was amazing to think that 50 years ago, in this city that was the hub of the struggle against Jim Crow, we would likely not even have been allowed to marry.

As I thought about that struggle, and the many who sacrificed and literally risked and gave their lives, it began to bother me even more that the "gay marriage" movement is comparing itself to that struggle. The rub of it is that some who fought so hard back then for the equal treatment of those of us whose skin happens to be a few shades darker, including Coretta Scott King, are either not speaking up or, worse, are supporting this wave that would sweep the foundation of the family out from under our culture.

Before getting too far into it, I should start by reiterating the Church's teaching on "Chastity and Homosexuality," from theCatechism 2357-2359. I know that not everyone turns to theCatechism as their first source, or any source at all, but there are so many misconceptions of why the Catholic Church opposes homosexuality (i.e., homosexual activity) and so-called "gay marriage" that the truth, in black and white, has to be laid on the line:

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures.  Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (cf. Gen 19:1-29, Rom 1:24-27, 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10), tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are gravely disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. (2357)
Ok, so the Body of Christ stands staunchly, unshakably against homosexual acts. Nothing new there. It's worth highlighting (after the underlining above) that it's the acts themselves, not any tendency or attraction to them, that are wrong. The difference results from one of two very powerful gifts given to us that distinguish us from the animals: our will, or ability to act decisively. (The other is intellect, our ability to reason.)
...They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.  Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter… (2358)
If there is any point of commonality between the Civil Rights struggle and the struggle of those living with homosexuality, this is it. Bottom line, we have to love those who are struggling with the burden of same-sex attraction—and all others—without  exception. Loving is the only way that Christians truly imitate Christ. But loving doesn't mean rolling over and accepting actions that are contrary to what the Author of Life has laid out; to do that would be to separate love and truth, falsifying one and bearing poor witness to the other.

The third paragraph hits the nail on the head regarding the "call" mentioned above:
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom...they can and should...approach Christian perfection. (2359)
That is the call of all sexual people, which means...all people. We are all sexual beings, and so we are all called to be chaste -- i.e., to live within God's plan for human sexuality -- regardless of our station in life. As much as society would have us believe that we should be driven by our urges, no matter how superficial or deep-seated they may be, it simply is not true. We are not animals.

So, what does this have to do--or not have to do with Civil Rights? It all comes down to the natural law and choice.

Natural law

First, the natural law. Every human society, from before recorded history, has been founded on the family based in marriage: The bodily union of man and woman, and the children that are generated from that union. Putting aside any religious understandings, marriage has always existed as a natural institution.

Regardless of what flawed civil law has tried to tell us time and time again throughout the centuries, this reality of man + woman = children is not and never has been affected by race. This natural aspect of marriage depends on sexual complementarity that is definitely present in a man and woman of different races, but is positively not in two people of the same gender. Even if children do not come from the marriage (due to bodily disorders), the possibility is still there because the marital act itself is ordered toward procreation, unlike homosexual acts. Lauren and I would not have been able to civilly marry in a lot of places as recently as fifty years ago, but that was because of unjust human (civil) law, not natural law or God's law.


The second reason that the "gay marriage" movement cannot be fairly compared to the Civil Rights movement is that sexual activity contains the element of choice. God gave us the gift of free will, to be able to either (1) choose his (all-knowing, wanting-the-best-for-us) will over our own, or (2) insist on having our way. Marriage is first and most significantly represented in the marital act. That act is an act of choice, just like participation in the unchastity of sexual activity outside of marriage (homosexual or heterosexual) is achoice. It may not seem like much of a choice in the heat of sexual attraction, but the reality is that the choice remains.

Race is not that way. We do not choose our ancestry, skin tone, hair texture, or any of the other characteristics that generally differentiate people of one race from another. We did not choose what we look like, but we absolutely choose how to make use of our sexual faculties. Though our physical characteristics (unchangeable characteristics, not changeable ones like weight, dress, etc.) are amoral and more or less defined at the time of our conception, whether or not we engage in licit or illicit sexual activity is far from a foregone conclusion and has a monumental moral dimension.

These are two very big differences that unfortunately are being overlooked by those trying to hitch the "gay marriage" push to the Civil Rights train. For the sake of the truths championed by the Civil Rights movement, which so many fought and even died for, these realities must be brought back into the discussion.


Another Bishop's Warning

Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, ND
Another Bishop is stepping forward to give caution, but Bishop Aquila's seems to be more directed at Catholics, letting us know that the time is at hand for us to step out of the comfort of the boat into the storm of the cultural war that Christ has put us here and now to fight.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Article: It Is Dangerous to be Right When the Government is Wrong

Yesterday, Judge Andrew Napolitano, of Fox News fame, published an article on Natural Law as a primer to his upcoming book of the same title, "It Is Dangerous to be Right When the Government is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom".  If the title looks familiar, it's because it is a quote by the 18th Century French philosopher Voltaire

In the article, The Judge draws together, with his usual wit and pragmatic examples, the relationship between Natural Law, Human Law, and the danger that lies in the movement we have seen recently to uproot the entire system (which has led to the most prosperous and free socio-economic system on earth) and replace it with the tried, tested, and failed political philosophy of Positivism.

Judge Nap concludes at the end of the article (bolded emphasis mine):

Although we have explored at length how man-made law must be subject to the Natural Law, perhaps the best indication of the falsehood of Positivism is that, deep down, we know that the transgression of our natural rights is wrong. We do not simply disagree with it, but feel a sense of visceral outrage that one human would try to treat us as inferior and subject to his will; it is antithetical to our selfhood. Thus it is in our human nature not just to yearn for freedom, but to recognize when those yearnings are unnaturally restricted. Elsewhere, V referenced Thomas Jefferson when he stated that "people should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." It should be clear that Positivism’s scheme of law relies upon the people obeying laws because they are afraid of the government, not because those laws are in accord with the Natural Law, and therefore just.
If we are to live forever in a legal system founded on Positivism, then we can only hope that we will have laws which, coincidentally, happen to be just. But there is another way, the way of the Natural Law: Rather than be content to follow the will of the truncheon, we can choose to listen to those words which enunciate truth, and our Founders’ promise that those truths will not be denied by government.
This book is about the titanic battle between adherents of Positivism and believers in the Natural Law; stated differently, between Big Government and individuals. As we shall see, the danger that befalls individuals inevitably comes from the government. The government makes it dangerous for us to be right when it is wrong.
Click here to read the full article at

I look forward to reading his book and am going to get started on a post on the dangers of Positivism from the Catholic Perspective, which it seems the U.S. Bishops are just starting to wake up to.