Posted by: Thomas Richard | January 4, 2017

The Great Blessings in the Catholic Faith

The Catholic Church has been entrusted with the fullness of divine revelation, revealed perfectly in the divine Person of the Word become man, Jesus Christ. As the apostle John wrote:

1Jn 1:1  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—
1Jn 1:2  the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—
1Jn 1:3  that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Who is this “we” who were there with Him, to see and hear and touch Him? Those who were called into supernatural fellowship (Greek κοινωνία – koinōnia) with Him and with one another. This supernatural fellowship is made possible because of the Gift who is God Himself, given “within” human persons, the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit. This divine fellowship was the beginnings of His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church (ἐκκλησία – ekklēsia, the “out-called”) – the men and women called out of the world and into Christ to share in His holy and eternal life! This sharing is possible only in, and by virtue of, the divine Holy Spirit, sent and given by the Father and the Son.

This same Holy Catholic Church today calls all men and women, in the name of Christ, out of the futility of this world and into the life of the Son, Jesus the Lord. This Church, His Church, can enable human persons to find, to receive, to embrace and to hold fast to their divine vocation to return to God, to live in Him in the fullness of life forever. This embrace of Christ is found and experienced in His way, a way of four facets, or dimensions:

1) The Truth. Jesus the Word of God is Truth. He entrusted to His Church of Apostles the fullness of revealed Truth, insured in them by the abiding Holy Spirit sent to be with them (and their successors) until the end of time. Because of this certainty, they and their successors could do what He sent them to do, with doctrinal certainty. His Church was entrusted with His Truth, thus they could teach, thus they could make disciples:
“make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20)

2) The means of divine grace: the Sacraments. Knowing the Truth is not enough to live in the Truth! Men and women need the power of God in them, to live His truth and thus to be His faithful witnesses for others in the world. Thus God empowered His Church with the seven-fold storehouse of His sacraments each with its particular sacramental graces: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Confession, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony and Holy Orders.

3) The true path of living His life: Christian Moral Truth. Knowing the Truth of God, and receiving the empowering grace to live His will, is still not enough to enlighten the actual path that human persons walk “in real life,” to know and to choose the way of righteousness in real-life situations today. Catholic moral principles give this light to men and women of today, married and single, living in a world far different from that in the days of Jesus, but guided by His Spirit, as He promised, light for “things that are to come”:

Jn 16:13  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

4) Finally, there is that “dimension” or ”facet” of life in Christ that must be included and considered: it is Prayer. We are called into the life of prayer, to grow in prayer, to grow in communion with Him, in His life. Every Christian has, by virtue of the abiding Holy Spirit, an “interior life” that is begotten by the Spirit, vivified by the Spirit, nurtured by the Spirit, and is satisfied and fulfilled only in intimate personal communion with God in the Spirit, and with brothers and sisters in that same Spirit. This “interior life” is the life of communio – of fellowship – of koinonia enjoyed by the Apostle John in the early Church:

1Jn 1:3  that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

This treasure – in its four-fold completeness – the Church was given, and her charge is to preserve and protect it in its fullness, and to offer it to all men in darkness that they may become free, finally, in Him.

These four aspects of Catholic Faith are much more fully developed in our current Catechism of the Catholic Church, available for exploration on-line. As Jesus said, “Come and see.”

Posted by: Thomas Richard | December 20, 2016

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Adam and Eve knew they were wrong to disobey God, but the temptation to eat the fruit was very strong. The evil one, the liar satan, told them what they wanted to hear and needed to hear, to quieten their conscience enough to will and to do the act of disobedience.  The temptation was to be like God! He told them, “No, you will not die; you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a symbol of mortal spiritual danger both at the origins of human experience, and in our current realities in the world today. Knowing good and evil was no arbitrary test for Adam and Eve. No, it would not have just as well been any other test of obedience, such as “Never go into that one little house on the other side of the Garden,” or, “Never eat of that bush with the little red berries.” This test was specific: Never eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

What could be wrong with having such knowledge? Today it might seem to us that we need to have knowledge about what is good and what is evil! Is not a major problem we have today, in a modern “post-Christian” world, that we have no clear understanding of right and wrong, of good and evil? Isn’t a loss of Judea-Christian moral principles – replaced by amoral “political correctness” – a grave threat to our culture and society and nation? The Ten Commandments are hardly even suggestions anymore: indeed, they may as well have been written in pencil with eraser attached – forget the stone tablets – so flexible and adaptable they have become.

But no, this one forbidden tree in the midst of the Garden was of great and mythic significance. It carried within itself a test, a temptation, for human persons in every age and generation from the first to the last. The Catechism helps us to understand the importance of this test – and the dangers it presented and presents:

God created man in his image and established him in his friendship. A spiritual creature, man can live this friendship only in free submission to God. The prohibition against eating “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” spells this out: “for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die.” The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:17) symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature, must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his Creator, and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that govern the use of freedom. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #396)

This test, in other words, reaches to man’s very center of self-understanding: am I a mere creature under subjection to a Creator? I am drawn toward God; I am called into personal communion with God! I am made in His image and likeness! Does this mean I am a God too – that I should be my own God, a God unto myself? The evil one knew how to tempt Eve: “No, you will not die; you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The evil one covered and obscured the truth at stake in the decision set before mankind. ”Knowing good and evil” is much more than knowing about good and evil – it is much more than knowing merely how to discern good from evil.  The Catechism described well the root of this tree: “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil symbolically evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature, must freely recognize and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his Creator, and subject to the laws of creation and to the moral norms that govern the use of freedom.” The temptation was and is this fundamental. Man is man, not God.

The temptation can be more easily understood if we consider carefully this tree and its fruit. The “knowledge” offered was to know good and to know evil as only God can, in His complete union with goodness, and His complete otherness and separateness from evil.  This meaning of the temptation can be seen in comparing other uses in Holy Scripture of the verb “to know” when used to describe the intimate, personal, interior union – meant in verses such as:

– Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived… (Gen 4:1, RSV)
– [Then Mary said,] How shall this be, since I know not a man? (Lk 1:34, KJV)
– I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. (Jn 10:14-15, RSV)
– He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. (1Jn 4:8, RSV)

And so on.  To know good – in the sense intended in the forbidden fruit – would be to be God, who alone is one with goodness itself, who alone is in perfect union with goodness. To “know” in this sense is to possess the reality in one’s own nature, intrinsically and essentially. It is not merely to “know about” as all men are called to do, and to grow in such understanding as creatures of the all-good God ought to do. Jesus in a sense made this distinction when He corrected a man judging goodness carelessly:

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. (Mk 10:17-18)

Thus the temptation, to eat of this tree, is to be one’s own God – a God to oneself, free to define good and evil at will.  This temptation is as powerful and deadly today as it was in the Garden of Eden! This is the horror of our times: men want to define good and evil, right and wrong on their own terms, as they choose. And their choices always go from bad to worse, as they grow in arrogance and in distance from truth, and from the one true God.

We see the path of descent toward evil today, in our post-Christian society. Now men define evil as good, and good as evil!  Now men make it legal to kill the innocent unborn, and call it a “right”. Now men define their own genders as they please, and marry whatever they please, and un-marry whenever they please. Now they rob the innocent of all modesty, invading bathrooms and shower rooms and changing rooms as they please. Now men are stripped of masculinity and women of femininity, and they call it “equality.” Now all are stripped of human dignity, and they call it “liberation.” Now the children are robbed of responsible fathers, and of nurturing mothers, and they call it freedom from stereotypes. The children grow up without parents, and we discover a nation with no grownups.

The fruit of sin is death, America. Men who define good and evil for themselves, are following fools. God, who is good, is patient! But He will endure the foolishness of man, only so long.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | November 22, 2016

America: Is This One Last Chance?

President-elect Trump continues to build and staff his Cabinet, but the stunned shock of defeat postponed only briefly a seething rage among the humiliated “progressive” Democrats. They are now regaining a counter-offensive with bold if shallow threats and prideful promises. Meanwhile, I stand amazed at the miracle that – contrary to almost universal expectation and most of the polls and expert predictions – Mrs. Clinton and the Democrats did not win the election.

Yes I believe it was a miracle! I believe God intervened because of the prayers of His faithful ones. When I reflect on the damage that would have been inflicted on the nation by the Clinton machine, the corruption that would have even deeper and established even more firmly in our economy, our systems of justice, of education, of health, of immigration – indeed our democratic republic itself, I see how close we came to the precipice. And the damage would not have been merely secular, and so to speak external. No, the threat was to the very soul of the nation – the meaning of America – the very beautiful and Spirit-led heart of the founding principles and defining documents of the Republic. “One nation under God” was a principle one president away from being erased completely from the conscience of the nation, and God Himself saved us from falling. He held us back from the precipice; He kept us from the fall.

It used to be very different, in the America I grew up in. America was great because America was good, with a simple and beautiful goodness that we received from the hand and the heart of God. Ours was a culture of respect for the moral good, and the truth of divine revelation. We became a strong nation because the fear of God was real among us, and within us. We were not all saints, certainly, but God was acknowledged among the simple and the educated, among the rich and the poor – among the lawful and the criminals as well. Justice was believed in, and honored. Truth was important; hard work was rewarded and crime was punished. It was common for Sunday to be the day for worship, and for prayer, and for family. Priests and ministers were respected, as was marriage, as was one’s name and one’s word and promises. Along the way, America, we have lost a great deal. Where was the Church, as it was all slowly and gradually changing?

Do you know how close we came to losing this nation – to putting this nation of laws, with a Constitution to protect us and our human rights, into the hands of lawless Judges who feel free to make up laws and rights as they see fit? Do you know how close we still are to falling so far from “One nation under God” to a fragmented, shattered confederation of hostile tribes and identity groups under an all-powerful federal rule by whim and imperial fiat? The Lord has been very patient with us, His Church, as the darkness of the world around us continued to grow only darker.

I believe this, however, concerning the Church: He is giving His Church one more chance. He is God and I am not, and I don’t know that I personally would have given us another chance, so prodigal have we been with our blessings. But He is God and He has given us this one more chance to be who we are, and to be what we are sent to be: Light! We are sent to be His holy light in this dark world.

Where has the Church been, through the decades when this nation was in such grave moral decline? The nation morphed from a culture of life to a culture of death – from a predominantly Judeo-Christian nation to a predominantly materialistic and godless one. The light of revealed truth – even the light of the natural moral law – has been receding, dimming, fading into the horizon while an amoral darkness has begun to envelop the country. Barbarism, cruelty, animal-like inhumanity has crept in. And where has the Church been, as this enemy of souls was infiltrating every facet and corner of America? What has the Church been doing, instead of her holy mission? Whom has she been serving, when she was not serving her Lord and God? What have our parishes and pulpits been occupied with, when they were not occupied with the upbuilding of her people in holiness, and nurturing them toward the fulness and the maturity of Christ?

The more pressing question is, what will we do now? Will we seek holiness, as is our vocation? Will we be light, as is our mission? Will we be witnesses, as we are sent to be, of His life-giving Spirit? Will we see the one door open before us – the door that may be the last chance we will have – to seek His will and do it? Will we pray with all our hearts to do His will no matter the cost? Will we offer Him all that He has entrusted to us, in hope that He may use it, and us, for the glory of His work in this His creation? Thy Kingdom come, Father! Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven! Hallowed be Thy name.

Thomas Richard, 11/21/2016

Posted by: Thomas Richard | October 24, 2016

A Catholic Program for Change

What are we to do?

The country is at a precipice. A great destructive fall is a strong possibility. A profound darkness is growing, deepening, creeping in all directions: a moral darkness that brings only death by cultural suicide. We don’t know how much time we have, but we ought to begin. Even now, at this very late date, we ought to begin to do what we are supposed to do. We ought to do what God formed and sent us to do: we ought to be light. We ought to be light for this darkening world.

The Church today seems impotent in the midst of a cultural collapse: useless, irrelevant, pointless while a once great nation around her is losing all sense of goodness. This can change. The Church can become what she exists to be, but we – her leaders and her members – must be willing, and prudent. We must see the path before us and we must begin, regardless of the costs, to journey one step at a time in one day at a time toward our calling. We must set our sights on what God has called us to do. We must be witnesses of Truth, of Love, of Justice in the midst of a secular godless consumer-driven society. We must be light to reveal the way for this country that has lost its way. We must regain our mission: witnesses of light.

Here’s how.

We must be Catholic. We must help form faithful Catholic households. We must be, and raise our children to be, faithful Catholic citizens. We must generously raise many children as many blessings in God’s creation: a generation to bring an electoral presence to be reckoned with, a generation to righten the direction of our nation, a generation to bring righteousness and truth to government, to the marketplace, to the judicial system, to the entire country. The Church must become God’s leaven for good, permeating the whole of the texture of secular America.

First, our parishes must form faithful Catholic adults and marriages, faithful Catholic households. We must as a priority form our Catholic adults as disciples of Christ in the Catholic Faith. We must make it a parish expectation that all our adults, of all ages, are personally and intentionally growing in the Faith – ever learning though Bible studies, Catechism studies, prayer workshops, retreats, and so on. Our Catholic adults must be led to engage the question, and find answers to the question, to the mystery of God’s very personal call to them, and for them. We must all face and answer the question: “What does God want of me, in this moment of human history?” Then, as Catholic adults do grow in the Faith, we will see real strengthening in the Faith, in our Catholic homes and families. We will see authentically Catholic homes emerging, and coming alive, and growing in numbers and in the holy faith.

As the program progresses, faithful Catholic parents will begin to ask for, demand, enable and support authentic faithful Catholic schools for their children. Authentic Catholic schools in parishes across the country will be seen in the light of the great, the central importance they hold for our mission. They must be supported by the parish and by the member families! They must be staffed only by faithful and competent Catholic teachers (whether credentialed by the State or not!), who can and will integrate the Catholic faith into every class and every classroom, into the whole school curriculum. The Catholic Faith inculcated in these children in the school will be reinforced and complemented and embraced in their authentic Catholic family life at home. A new “identity group” will emerge in the country, impossible to ignore by the politicians: Catholic Christian Americans who demand a just and righteous government, and who will actively support, lobby and vote for such a government.

This movement could have other consequences, troubling for some, turning the parish and diocese status quo upside-down. Lukewarm and “cafeteria” Catholics could become very uncomfortable in churches that take the Gospel seriously. Lovers of this world and the things of this world would be deeply conflicted in Catholic parishes alive in Christ, some preferring to leave for churches more open to compromise, than to embrace the full call of Christ to conversion. They would have a hard choice: to change, to grow with God’s grace, or to turn away, to leave.

There would be other challenges as well, of financial insecurity and instability in Catholic parishes. Some pastors may become afraid, wanting to abandon the new program of Catholic fidelity to return to the old and easier program of low expectations and status-quo maintenance. Bishops and local pastors who persevere in trust may be forced to find ways to “downgrade” – smaller church and school buildings, less expensive equipment, staff salary and benefits reductions, and so on. We might become poorer in the goods of this world, but happy becoming richer in the goods of the Kingdom that is coming. Those who persevere, who seek to remain faithful to Christ and His call no matter what, will find the treasure of His great blessings here and now, and in the Kingdom to come, indeed “manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Lk 18:30)

The Church trusting Christ will, with God’s grace, become a new force in the culture, beginning to bring changes for the good. As the Church becomes recognizable, once again, as a truly different and supernatural presence in the world – a presence of Christ among us – seekers from outside the Church will want to “come and see”, as they did years and centuries ago, and membership could begin to grow both in numbers and in participation in the holy life of Jesus Christ.

What will we do?

Godless secularism encountering a Church on fire and alive in Christ can go one of two ways: into hatred, persecution and martyrdom for the Church, or toward conversion, reform, salvation and life in His name. For us, we owe God obedience and trust. For them, we owe them the Truth of the Gospel. In Him we can and must hope that – if we do our part – this country will change. Goodness can begin to grow in America: goodness that God intends to be present in this world: His goodness, alive in His people.

This Program for Church is not a new idea. It is only the Church taking her tradition, her identity and her mission seriously in our time, first within her own membership, and then in outreach to the lost. It is only the Church taking her Lord seriously, following Him with a cross on her back, willing to go where He sends her, in trust. It is only the Church, in faithfulness. Will we as Church do anything differently, as we see the world and those of this country hardening their hearts more and more each decade against God and against the humanity of mankind? Will we stand true in Christ? Or will we merely “maintain” our lukewarm middle ground, and wait until they come for us to take us away?

Posted by: Thomas Richard | October 21, 2016

The Issue of Abortion

Hilary Clinton’s unashamed and forceful support for even partial birth abortion, at the last Presidential Debate this week, was literally incredible. It was difficult to listen to, and to believe! She had no hesitation, no reluctance to affirm: for the sake of the life and health of the mother, the mother and she alone had absolute power over the unborn son or daughter in her womb – even if only one day, or even hours, from normal childbirth!

Think of it. The child would be viable, and ready for life outside of her – the child would be ready for induced labor, moments away from natural birth right then and there! But if the woman decides at the last moment that for some reason “her health” might be threatened in some way by the life of this child, then she should be free to destroy the life of this child. She should be free to kill her baby. And we suppose that the seriousness of the threat to her “health” posed by the life of her child would be a matter to be decided by the woman and the woman alone.

The child in the mother’s womb has no rights, in Hillary Clinton’s world, absolutely no human rights at all. The mother has complete life-or-death power over this child, right up to the birth of the child. No, even worse, right up to the completed birth of the child! The baby can be partially born, his or her little head exposed, so that the doctor can then easily kill him, or her, during the birth process. Thus the horrific and inhuman name for the “procedure” – “partial birth abortion.”

Catholics, can there be any moral justification for such an inhuman “human right” as Democrats want to assure to every woman in the country, and in the world? The next president will have at least one, probably two or more appointments to the Supreme Court – the court which is supposed to judge laws, but has now begun to define or rewrite laws on its own. Can you imagine America under laws allowing the murder of babies in the very process of being born – again? And with a taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood free to sell baby parts, the by-product of the abortion mills, all for the alleged sake of “science”? Have we really come to this, in America?  Have our hearts become so hardened?

Catholics, can any Catholic – no, can any human being – justify such barbarism, such insanity?

Catholics, can any Christian justify electing such a candidate to be President, having such power and authority?

Here is a comparison the the two Platforms on this particular issue (from Priests for Life website):

platforms-on-abortion

There is more, of course, to consider.  Here are some sober and wise words from Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, of the Knights of Columbus:

Once again we meet during a presidential election campaign in the United States and once again we face the question: “How should Catholics exercise their responsibilities as citizens?”

Catholics often confront a dilemma in deciding how to vote: Can we support a candidate who may be attractive for many reasons but who supports abortion? Some partisan advocates have sought to excuse support for pro-abortion candidates through a complex balancing act.

They claim other issues are important enough to offset a candidate’s support for abortion. But the right to abortion is not just another political issue; it is in reality a legal regime that has resulted in more than 40 million deaths.

Imagine for a moment the largest 25 cities in the United States and Canada suddenly empty of people. This is what the loss of 40 million human beings would look like.

In fact, 40 million is greater than the entire population of Canada. What political issue could possibly outweigh this human devastation?

The answer, of course, is that there is none.

Abortion is different. Abortion is the killing of the innocent on a massive scale. We need to end the political manipulation of Catholic voters by abortion advocates.

It is time to end the entanglement of Catholic people with abortion killing. It is time to stop creating excuses for voting for pro-abortion politicians.

We will never succeed in building a culture of life if we continue to vote for politicians who support a culture of death. Catholic voters have the power to transform our politics.

(LINK)

In this same article, Mr. Anderson cites the wisdom of St. Teresa of Calcutta – “Mother Teresa” – who said,

I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.

Catholics of America – please – save this country from the evil ready to creep in upon us, the evil that is called “Progressivism” – an ancient evil as old as sin, as old as the Culture of Death, as old as the father of lies ever seeking to deceive good people to follow his lies into his kingdom of death.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | October 17, 2016

How Should A Christian Vote?

 

I’m simply urging you  to visit and read what is published on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website – a comparison of Platforms of the Republican and Democrat parties.  Thank you, Franklin Graham!  I apologize that we Catholics have not been as helpful to our members, in making plain and simple how obvious it ought to be to vote this election cycle!  The Democrats have a position – read it!  The Republican have a very different stand and direction for our country – read, and compare!  Can there be any doubt or hesitation at all, for a Christian, for a Catholic Christian?  Please, friends – this election is truly a fork in the road: which direction does Christ call us to take?  Read, talk to your friends, and respond – vote, on Nov. 8.

 

Posted by: Thomas Richard | October 3, 2016

The Last American Election?

The present head and chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for the Obama Administration, Mr. Martin Castro, appointed by Pres. Obama of course, has a very troubling sense of priority concerning “Civil Rights.” He sees such “rights” as superior to and dominant over our traditional American highly treasured right of religious liberty. This ought to be troubling to all those citizens who value the freedom of religion, but especially those Catholics who voted Mr. Obama into office for his first term and even for a second term of office.

Mr. Castro, in a report just this last Sept. 7, wrote (1):

Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights.

What? He is saying that American freedom of religion – a Constitutionally protected freedom, among our inalienable rights – “when they are permissible” (!) “significantly infringe upon these civil rights” such as: “race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.” Sexual “orientation” and the newly discovered now apparently inalienable right to one’s own preferred “gender identity” is seen as more “inalienable” than the freedom of religion! Tell that news flash to the Founding Fathers of our country.

Hillary Clinton – the present contender for the mantle of progressive leader of our country – would add abortion as a right supreme over religious liberty. She said, defending the “woman’s right to choose” abortion (2):

Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.

Yes, Mrs. Clinton has these pesky religious pro-life beliefs in the cross-hairs, among her targets for re-education! Will we have “re-education camps” for all the cultural regressives who are not yet up to speed on the Politically Correct Thoughts of the People’s Socialist Republic of America? Mr. Obama must be proud of his accomplishments, so far, in his power over the “masses of the retarded” of Middle America.  Do you remember this 2008 line to fellow elitists of California? (3):

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them, …. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

What has this country come to! And how did it ever get here, from the “there” where we began? The answer is, of course, one day at a time. Evil never sleeps, but good men do. Evil never sleeps, but good men and women throughout a country can, and it does not take long for the corruption and the dysfunction to permeate the whole culture: sports, movies, television, the music industry, religious organizations, news media, ….  Leaders and spokesmen throughout the culture bend and redirect the path, and we as a nation are headed straight to hell. “In a handbasket,” as they say.

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” This observation is attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, “misattributed” according to some, but if he did not say it, someone did and it is true. America attempted something beautiful, a few hundred years ago, and very dark clouds are now gathering over her and indeed over the world.

Mr. Trump has broken the mold for “politician” this cycle, and he promises much – much around the central theme, “We will make America great again!” He is troubling in many ways – can we trust him? Can he deliver? Can he bear the weight of the office? Will he do what he promises?

For me, I will take the chance.  I’m voting for Donald Trump, in hope and with prayer for him and our country.  Mrs. Clinton is a certainty for America – certain disaster – she has proved herself over the many years of her public life, and it is truly (pardon the word) a “deplorable” future she foresees, and promises. She would continue to redefine America, and civil rights, and religious freedom, to recast them all to fit the image of a humanity that knows no image of God.

I don’t see how we could have another chance, to change the course that Pres. Obama has set for us, than the chance we have in this election! A Clinton Supreme Court and Federal judiciary, a Clinton economy, a Clinton military, a Clinton education system, a Clinton America ever more divided into identity groups all “victims,” all dependent on The State, a Clinton quasi-religious secular system formed around ever-expanding politically correct “civil rights” – in short, a godless utopia – cannot stand. It would fall. It is now in decay, thanks to Mr. Obama’s America; with Mrs. Clinton to continue, it would fall. And Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are all waiting to see just how stupid we can be.

Notes:

(1) http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/09/24/team-obama-launches-shocking-broadside-against-religious-faith.html

(2) http://www.lifenews.com/2016/08/08/hillary-clinton-make-christians-change-their-religious-views-to-support-abortion/

(3) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mayhill-fowler/obama-no-surprise-that-ha_b_96188.html

Posted by: Thomas Richard | September 14, 2016

We Need the Holy Spirit!

“Lukewarm” is not a good word, in the Christian lexicon. It is not a good state of the human soul. The alternative – fervor, zeal and whole-hearted commitment – in the heart and soul of a Christian – ought to be the norm! Every Christian church ought to be on fire for Christ and the Gospel, and thus for the mission of the Church:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20)

There is not a lot of “Go” from many Catholic churches; even the going to search for the lost sheep – the former Catholics who have drifted away from the Faith – is not a big priority among many of our parishes and dioceses. So much of our activity and concern, in my experience, is directed within – within the parish and for the parishioners.  And sadly only little of that activity is focused on the great need among our adults for catechesis and growing in the life of prayer. We need renewal.

Vatican II called us to renewal, in so many ways! The universal call to holiness was proclaimed by the Church to the Church, in that Council, a call to remember who we are, and what we are to be about. We all, every one of us, have a vocation, a divine calling, to be light in this darkening world. We all have been entrusted with Bread from heaven, in a world hungry for that which finally satisfies. We all have been infused with a share in the divine and eternal life – the Holy Spirit – in a world stumbling toward death. How can we be so quiet?

The Holy Spirit is the great awakener of lukewarm and sleepy souls. We need the arousal of the Holy Spirit.

A New Article in HPR

An essay I wrote recently on this matter has just been published on-line, at the website of Homiletic & Pastoral Review, as an article titled The Church Needs the Holy Spirit!  I hope all my readers here will click on the title-link, and read the article. And as usual, I’d be grateful for your comments either here on the blog or added on the HPR site at the bottom of the article.

Finally, let me recommend to you the encyclical of Pope St. John Paul II on the Holy Spirit, which can be found on the Vatican website.  This document was the foundation of a “Novena” of nine presentations on the Holy Spirit which I presented recently in my home parish.  The title of the encyclical (and the link to it) is Dominum et vivificantem. It is lengthy! But it is worth the “price of admission,” in time.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | August 19, 2016

A Campaign Speech Worth Hearing…

After some dark days of grieving for the state of our country, and even darker days of fearing that “Progressivism” may very well swallow this country whole, in a “Democrat” victory in November, I am encouraged that maybe the catastrophe can actually be averted.  I know that with God, all things are possible, and that He is of great mercy and patience toward us, as foolish and stupid as we so frequently are.

This video I include below is of Donald Trump’s latest campaign speech – Aug 18, 2016, in Charlotte NC – it is worth watching, and listening to, and imagining: is it possible to turn this massive ship around, after all that has been inflicted upon America thus far?  The “progressive” ideology – that the Democrat Party has fallen into – is a dark one, an anti-human one, generating a godless culture of death all the while promising to bring a secular utopia.    I almost was believing that Trump – and a new beginning for America – did not stand a chance!  But I’m seeing some light of possibility at the end of the tunnel.  America is not finished yet.  God has not finished with us yet.

In the video Mr. Trump appeals to the African Americans in America – who have been block-Democrat-voters for decades now, abused and used and taken for granted by that party – that it is time for a change!  The Democrats have brought African Americans changes only for the worse.  The same can be said for many American Catholics!  American Catholics have been largely block-Democrat-voters for a long time also, only to see anti-Christian laws and policies multiply under their administration, to our shame.  Secular ideologues have an agenda, and it is deadly.  We need a change. Please watch the video, and recommend it to others.  America needs a change, a new beginning, a new chance.

 

Posted by: Thomas Richard | August 2, 2016

Catholic Politicians and Public Scandal

Shameless public “Catholic” endorsements of the New Morality take one more bow in the spotlight: our present “Catholic” Vice President, Joe Biden, has now officiated for a “marriage” of a same-sex couple. Yes, Joe Biden “married” two men who are long-time White House aides. The story is HERE.

This, to be heard in the echoes of the recent unveiling of a new insult to the Church and the Faith, new to most of us – the “Catholic” Democrat nominee for our next Vice President, Tim Kaine. Mr. Kaine is solidly in support of the New Morality: pro-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-homosexual equivalence in matters of marriage and child adoption. Indeed, “the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, hailed Hillary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine — who has a solid commitment to LGBTQ equality — as her running mate.”

Tim Kaine thinks that his Catholic foundation was laid for him in his “Jesuit education.” There, he believes, he was taught to be a “man for others” in the mold of his Jesuit education. Here is a summary from an article on the Cardinal Newman Society website:

But for Kaine, being Catholic doesn’t prevent him from ignoring his faith to support redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, the use of  birth control and the ordination of women as priests.  Being “for others” doesn’t include protecting the innocent unborn, who are created in the image and likeness of God. His efforts to “battle for social justice” don’t include seeking justice for those killed in the womb.

LifeSiteNews notes that Kaine “has a perfect pro-abortion record in the Senate and supports Planned Parenthood. Kaine is also a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would undermine pro-life laws across the country.” The news service also recently highlighted abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s excitement about Kaine as the Democrat vice presidential nominee, calling Kaine a man who has “dedicated his life to serving others.”

More broadly, Kaine betrays his service “for others” as a Catholic by purposefully causing scandal with his public statements and political positions against Church teaching that could confuse both Catholics and others about the importance of defending innocent life.

Sadly there are many other prominent, well-known figures in our government who are Catholic, and who bring only shame to the Church and confusion to many. Our Church is called to be light in this darkening world! Yet many in the Church seek to aid and further empower the darkness. Many – who are called to be evangelizers for the Faith – instead are sources of grave scandal, leading people away from Truth and into sin.

Scandal is a grave matter – Catholics in prominent, responsible positions of leadership in government – and thus positions of power in society – have a grave responsibility to care for those subject to their authority, their leadership and their example. The Catechism teaches, concerning scandal:

Respect for the souls of others: scandal

2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.

2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” [Mt 18:6; Cf. 1 Cor 8:10-13] Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing. [Cf. Mt 7:15]

2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.
Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to “social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.” [Pius XII, Discourse, June 1, 1941] This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, [Cf. Eph 6:4; Col. 3:21] or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.

2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!” [Lk 17:1]

At least two bishops have spoken out concerning such public scandal:

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Kaine’s home diocese of Richmond, Virginia released a statement regarding Catholics in public office July 22.
“The Catholic Church makes its position very clear as it pertains to the protection of human life, social justice initiatives, and the importance of family life,” he said.
“From the very beginning, Catholic teaching informs us that every human life is sacred from conception until natural death. The right to life is a fundamental, human right for the unborn and any law denying the unborn the right to life is unequivocally unjust.”

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island also commented on the subject, mentioning Kaine by name and lamenting that “apparently, and unfortunately, his faith isn’t central to his public, political life.”

Kaine has been described as a devout Catholic and has attended St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Richmond for decades.

Yes, here I go again. The coming election is haunting me – stalking me – tempting me to grief and worry about the horrors that could come upon us. The country is at the brink of crisis, and people are angry. We are left with two major candidates who are both flawed, both provoking fears and uncertainty about what exactly they would do, and not do, as president. I am left with the resolution that if I cannot in confidence advance the good by my vote, at least I can seek to lessen the evil that could come. And with my primary concern being the right to life, my lot is cast with the Republicans.

I’ve written here several blogs on the concern that our Church is asleep, while our country is adrift and in danger. She sleeps while the world is very busy at work, building its city of deceit, and of death. Some examples –
1. Catholics: It is Time to Awaken! 
2. What Time Is It?
3. Acedia: Spiritual Sloth and the Church of Laodicea, U.S.A 
4. Church as Babysitter in a Culture of Death

I’ll close with this quote from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

… Across the centuries, it is the drowsiness of the disciples that opens up possibilities for the power of the evil one. Such drowsiness deadens the soul, so that it remains undisturbed by the power of the evil one at work in the world, and by all the injustice and suffering ravaging the earth. In its state of numbness, the soul prefers not to see all this; it is easily persuaded that all things cannot be so bad, so as to continue in the self-satisfaction of its own comfortable existence. Yet this deadening of souls, this lack of vigilance regarding both God’s closeness and the looming forces of darkness is what gives the evil one power in this world. On beholding the drowsy disciples, so disinclined to rouse themselves the Lord says, “My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death.” (Mk 14:34)
(Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI)

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