Saturday, December 28, 2013

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents, the day set aside to commemorate the first martyrs of the Christian faith. In a homily earlier this week, the priest said that it is estimated that approximately 28 children were slaughtered in Herod's pogram to eliminate the threat posed by a new king.

Surely the aborted are the holy innocents of our day. Some mention should have been made of their brief lives in today's homily, but once again, the issue of abortion is simply not on the radar of most clergy. Any mention of victims of violence only includes those who have already been born. Once again, this deprives those in the womb of their status as persons, if they don't even get mentioned along with other victims of abuse.

While in England a few weeks ago, I had a brief phone conversation with Robert Colquhoun who began the 40 Days vigil in London about 5 years ago. Robert is a very charismatic young man who has enough chutzpah to start these prayer vigils in England, a place where people said it simply wouldn't work because it was too "American".  Well, England now has 9 prayer vigils, 7 outside of abortion clinics (Marie Stopes) and 2 outside of hospitals. Their health care system is similar to ours here in Canada; abortions are paid for by the state, and there really is no deterrent to someone's getting an abortion regardless of the stage of pregnancy.

Robert has proven the nay-sayers wrong; the vigil has taken off very well in England, it seems to be even more lively than our vigils here in Canada.

One thing that Robert told me is that his plan is to organize pro-life education retreat days for the clergy in the new year. He realises that the clergy are sadly uninformed on the issue of abortion, and I am anxious to see how this goes. Like so many other pro-life leaders, Robert knows that we must get the clergy on board if we want to see the laity come out in good numbers.

While in England, one thing I did notice at the church I attended on Sunday morning, was the great numbers of Africans present. The church had three Irish priests listed on the bulletin, but Mass was said by an African, there were 13 altar servers - 12 of whom were African, and half the congregation was African. I have heard that the Catholic church is growing in England, while the Anglican church is shrinking. And it would seem that the growth is coming from immigration, both from Africa and from the Phillipines.

Also, we knelt from the Sanctus until the Our Father. Here in Halifax, we have been told to stand immediately after the Consecration and to remain standing, even after receiving Holy Communion. None of that nonsense went on in London, England and it was like a breath of fresh air.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Duck Dynasty and a moment of truth for believers

Okay, so the patriarch of Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson offended many people with his remarks made in a GQ interview. And the network A&E suspended Phil from the show until further notice.

As many have stated, Robertson has a constitutional right to free speech, but that does not mean he has a constitutional right to have a reality tv show.  And A&E do have the right to suspend him, even fire him, if they don't like what he has said.

What bothers me is that even Christians are apologizing for Robertson's remarks. Saying things like he was crude and could have said things differently, that he could have said it is his belief that homosexual behaviour is wrong, that he went too far in condemning such behaviour as sinful.

I think this controversy will be very good for separating the sheep from the goats. When Phil made his statement that homosexuals, liars, thieves, would not inherit the kingdom of heaven, he was simply paraphrasing St. Paul in the epistle of First Corinthians.

Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. I Corinthians 6:9-10

Even Bill O'Reilly said that Phil was not speaking the Christian message which is that Jesus told us not to judge. I think O'Reilly must be awfully young in his Catholic faith if he has not yet read St. Paul.

There is no avoiding the fact that Jesus did say not to judge, but what everyone conveniently forgets to say after that is that Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to "go and sin no more". 

Do not judge the sinner, but do judge the sin.

Christians are supposed to judge sinful behaviour; the Christian world view is not tolerant of everything; in fact, it is quite intolerant of many things.

What we are discovering is that most Christians want to be seen as tolerant by the rest of the world. Truly espousing the Christian belief system will not make you popular. In fact, we were told to expect persecution.

So, Phil Robertson didn't do or say anything that should not be expected from any Christian in a similar circumstance. I think what we are seeing is a whole lot of Christians who are running scared when they have to acknowledge publicly that Christianity does in fact condemn homosexual behaviour, just as it condemns any sexual immorality.

It really is time to draw the line and stand on one or the other side of it. You can't remain in the middle if you are a true Christian.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Concerns about this pope

I have deliberately refrained from posting anything about Pope Francis. I have been waiting and watching, and will continue to do so until I am more certain about this new pope.

I find that Michael Coren, a Sun News Network host, is very sensible on these kind of issues and he has just released a new book The Future of Catholicism. He was asked by Random House to write this, when Pope Francis took office.

Coren states that we are not to worry, that doctrines of the Catholic faith cannot be changed even if they are presented in a different way by a new pope.

... there are certain aspects of Catholicism that not only will not but cannot change. The moral and Scriptural teaching of Catholicism is precisely that, and morality and Scriptural truth, Biblical teaching, and early Church history do not change.
Coren thinks that Pope Francis is moving the conversation a little, "that if we are to be heard we should not compromise, but we should approach others more empathetically, more graciously and more gracefully."

The Church of the future will be a different colour, have its heartland in different places, face greater persecution, and resemble its earliest ages rather than its middle ages. Once again, this will not be comfortable to everybody.

Coren also states:
The pope has obviously beguiled the media, and for the moment, they adore him. I predict that the honeymoon will not last. He has also, however, rattled a few serious and devout Catholic out of their comfort zones.
I hope that he is right. About the honeymoon, that is.

However, a recent development has me concerned. The Canadian publication Catholic Insight arrived in the mail today. At the back is a synopsis of recent events in the church around the world.
The first item is from the Vatican and is about Cardinal Raymond Burke and his outspoken words on the homosexual agenda. Cardinal Burke is a personal favourite of mine, he is a man who does not mince words, and I was secretly hoping that he would be elected pope.

In September he spoke about the deceit of some activists who are pursuing a radical homosexual agenda. The cardinal said, "The alarming rapidity of the realization of the homosexual agenda ought to awaken all of us and frighten us with regard to the future of the American nation. This is a work of deceit, a lie about the most fundamental aspect of our human nature, our human sexuality, which after life itself defines us. There is only one place these types of lies come from, namely Satan. It is a diabolical situation which is aimed at destroying individuals, families, and eventually our nation."  - Catholic Insight, Dec. 2013, Vol 21, No 11

This week, Cardinal Burke was removed from the Pope's Congregation for Bishops. He has been replaced by another US cardinal, Cardinal Weurl who does not favour denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians, something for which Cardinal Burke was well known.

Now, it may be that the Pope wants to have more bishops around him who are fluent in Spanish, as that is his preferred language of communication. But I find it worrisome that the one cardinal who is outspoken on the issues of abortion and homosexuality is the one who has been replaced. Something about softening the message coming from the Vatican would seem to be in the works, and that should concern us all.

The softer approach is precisely what the spirit of Vatican II was all about, and look where that got us. Churches emptying out, not because the message was clearer and fresher but because it became soft.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Forgiving those who do evil

I don't know if anyone else is uncomfortable with the idea put forward of forgiving people who do evil, for example forgiving Henry Morgentaler for the abortions he performed and for eliminating protection for the unborn in Canada.  I have heard pro-life people promote forgiving people like Morgentaler, but I have never felt that it was quite right. And I was unable to formulate a response that was logical in return.

Well, thank you Melanie Phillips for doing just that. The woman has a keen sense of truth and of right and wrong.

In today's column, entitled Mandela, Justice and Forgiveness, Phillips writes:

And second, while you are entitled to forgive someone who has done harm to you personally, you are not entitled to forgive those who have not done you any harm but have done harm to others. Only the victim is in a position to forgive. If others do so, this is a presumptuousness which can lead straight to gross injustice or worse. There can be no forgiveness for Stalin, Hitler or Mao. To ‘forgive’ them would be to betray their victims and negate their suffering.

Doesn't that ring of truth?  There is more.
In today’s climate, however, where good and bad have become relative concepts, people have increasingly lost the will to fight for the former against the latter. They would rather reach an accommodation, even with active enemies. But you cannot split the difference between good and evil, for what you end up with is merely a sanitised form of that evil. 
Forgiveness may be necessary for an individual to move from darkness into light; but justice is essential if a society is to be civilised. Forgiveness is a great virtue; but it can never be at the expense of the fundamental moral distinction between right and wrong, good and bad. To make it so, as many are now doing over Mandela’s legacy, is another example of the vicious culture of sentimentalisation to which the morally confused west is now unfortunately all too prone.

It's worth reading the entire article.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Giving Honour to Evil - Gloria Steinem

Longtime pro-abortion activist Gloria Steinem today received the highest honor the Untied States can bestow upon a citizen who is not a member of the U.S. military. Obama today awarded sixteen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and those recipients included abortion activist Gloria Steinem.
 The Presidential Medal of Freedom is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” and Obama apparently believes dedicating one’s life to promoting abortion is a part of that list.

Gloria Steinem had an abortion 57 years ago. Here is what she has to say about it:

It [abortion] is supposed to make us a bad person. But I must say, I never felt that. I used to sit and try and figure out how old the child would be, trying to make myself feel guilty. But I never could! I think the person who said: “Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament” was right. Speaking for myself, I knew it was the first time I had taken responsibility for my own life. I wasn’t going to let things happen to me. I was going to direct my life, and therefore it felt positive. But still, I didn’t tell anyone. Because I knew that out there it wasn’t [positive].

So taking responsibility for one's own life includes taking a life that is not your own.

Canada gave a similar honour to Henry Morgentaler, who admitted to taking over 5000 lives personally; and his fight to legalize abortion on demand in Canada opened the doors to another 3.5 million lives taken.

Not much to say except to quote Isaiah 5:20:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
 I believe it was Cardinal O'Connor of NY who said that we would have to face all those children whose lives were taken when we leave this world. It will be a dreadful truth for all of us to face.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Jesus sent them out two by two

Yesterday a friend and I met for lunch and, while walking back to my car, we met up with two  Mormon young men. They greeted us in a friendly manner and proceeded to engage us right there in the road.

Usually I try to just get away from these kind of situations, but with Margaret, things felt different.  She asked them where they were from and actually knew the exact small town in Alberta where one of them grew up. They talked about the school she taught at and where he went to school, and the other fellow told her where he came from. And didn't Margaret's brother-in-law come from that town in BC!  Common ground for sure.

Then we said that we had just gone to lunch together to catch up with each other's news and that our friendship was based on our pro-life convictions. One of the men asked "what's pro-life?"  I quickly replied"anti-abortion" because that seemed the simplest answer to make. And I said you must be pro-life too.  He cautiously agreed. I then asked him if he had heard of 40 Days for Life, which he hadn't.  So we proceeded to tell them that every fall, Christians pray on the public sidewalk for 40 days outside the hospital where over 1700 abortions are performed every year.

We could see the surprise in their faces; they had no idea.  We shared that it was difficult to do, as we were often met with hostility by the general public, something they could certainly relate to. We talked for a while longer and then shook hands and said farewell. 

It was rather surprising to realise how this encounter had taken a 180 degree turn from what we had anticipated. And it brought home the Scripture passage that gives us direction on how we should evangelize the culture.

After this the Lord appointed seventy two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves." - Luke 10: 1-3

Perhaps it is time for us Christians to follow the example of the Mormons and go out, two by two, to evangelize our society. We might even meet up with people, like these two young men, who share so much in common with us, but whose belief system has gone astray from the real Gospel.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

China, Abortion, and Breast Cancer

This has been written about on many sites, but I haven't seen this particular article referenced before.

Written by a doctor who is on the board of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, I think that perhaps this article is the one to read.

This new article is another example of the recent excellent scholarship on abortion in peer-reviewed journals coming out of the People's Republic. There is no bigger data base than China, where there are an average of 8.2 million pregnancy terminations every year, and 40 abortions for every 100 live births. Chinese researchers and physicians are unencumbered by abortion politics, and do not cover up data showing long term effects of induced abortion, as do their US counterparts in governmental, professional and consumer organizations.
Dr. Davenport, along with two other doctors, was prevented from delivering a paper on abortion complications at Seoul, South Korea earlier this year. She concludes her article with this statement.

 It is a disgrace that a more honest discourse about difficult medical topics can be found in the People's Republic of China than in the USA.  The censorship of medical journals, prevention of conference presentations, denial of grant money and faculty promotions, and self-censorship of honest scholars in academic medicine who want to tell the truth but feel they cannot, impoverishes us, should not be tolerated.

Perhaps now that China is producing the evidence, the rest of the world will pay attention. There is no denying the statistics from a nation that has more abortions than any other country in the world.

Feminists are not our major problem

A video of women assaulting praying men in Argentina is making the rounds. And commentaries abound, with many speaking about the "real face of pro-aborts".  I beg to differ.

Feminists such as these in Buenos Aires are not the majority of women who support legal abortion. The vast majority are the rather silent, non-disruptive women who think that legal abortion solves a problem for women in crisis. They really do see abortion as the best way to handle a situation that backs a woman into a corner. But they are not bullies for the most part.

To concentrate pro-life efforts on militant feminists is to miss the mark.

My parish priest once said to me "1/3 of our church is pro-life; 1/3 is pro-choice; the other third are the mushy middle. It is the mushy middle that we have to work on."  I often recall his statement, because it brings back into focus who we should be trying to reach with the pro-life message and also focuses our efforts on how we can reach them. They will not be reached by militant messages in return, because these are people who simply do not respond to militant methods. They need to be reached with reason, and they need to be shown that the real pro-life movement is compassionate to all. 

One of my favourite pro-life heroes is Monsignor Phillip Reilly, founder of the Helpers of God's Precious Infants. As he says, we don't go to the sidewalk outside abortion clinics to save the babies; the babies are innocent beings and they go to God without question. It is their parents and the medical workers who are in danger of losing their eternal souls. As Msgr Reilly points out again and again, the pro-life movement has to be, at its foundation, about the saving of souls. 

When people are reached with the good news of the Gospel, they will be convinced of the pro-life message as well. I don't see much success any other way.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Great quote on anger

At the Jefferson Lecture a few years ago, Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield said, “You can tell who is in charge of a society by noticing who is allowed to get angry and for what cause.”  - by Hadley Arkes

Monday, December 2, 2013

Trans gender in the mall

This afternoon, I made a short trip to a large shopping mall to get a little Christmas shopping done. Armed with my parcels, I thought I would take a break and enjoy a latte at Starbuck's.  In front of me in the line was a tall, very attractive person whom I took to be a woman. I had to keep my head from jerking to look when I heard the voice.

It was a man, dressed as a woman, made up as a woman, very obviously a man who thought he was a woman. And no, I was not mistaken. A closer look showed that there was  a very faint five o'clock shadow under the chin that even the carefully-applied foundation could not hide. And, for me, a quick look at the hands is the final evidence. Men cannot hide the fact that they have male hands, even when the manicure is very good as this one was.

This person was beautiful. The facial structure was very good and he had become an expert in applying makeup. His eyebrows were beautifully shaped, eye makeup applied tastefully, naturally curly hair swept up into a high bun, everything looked so feminine. Except for the voice and the hands which were a dead give-away.

I wanted to ask him at what age he had been abused. So many people who are confused about gender will reveal that they were sexually abused by an adult in their early formative years and that is so obviously the root of their adult confusion about their gender. I felt incredibly sad that this person was spending so much of his life centred on the issue of gender.

There is so much of life that one just has to get on with. To be burdened by the confusion of what gender one is and to carry on the work necessary to present a gender other than the one nature gave one is so time-consuming. It must leach one`s energy to the point of exhaustion. I can`t imagine trying to live my life, with the constant concern about what gender I am and presenting an image to the public that is opposite to the one I was born with.

I don`t know how many people are carrying this burden. After today, I am beginning to think there are way more than I had thought. For whatever reason these people are burdened with this cross, whether they have had psychological damage from an abusive childhood, or whether they have freely embraced this changed-gender persona, doesn`t really matter. They are walking around with a ball and chain and our society, in the name of tolerance, is telling them this is freedom.

God and abortion

Have you ever heard someone say "what does Scripture say about abortion?"
The answer is clear.  God spoke the Word.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

First Sunday of Advent

Let our hearts prepare for the coming of the Lord.