Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Remarks (with commentary!)

I couldn’t help but notice obvious contradictions in the President’s remarks as I read them earlier today. His remarks, which can be found at the White House website are in quotes (with my own emphasis), and my commentary is underneath (or simply visualized by photo).

We know that part of living in a pluralistic society means that our personal religious beliefs alone can’t dictate our response to every challenge we face.

He contradicts himself about 4 sentences later…

… the majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action — sometimes in the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance.

We can’t leave our values at the door.  If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries, and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union.

And yet this is EXACTLY what the President is asking US Catholics to do with the HHS mandate requiring Catholic institutions to violate the very principles they were founded on, and the very values and consciences of those who run and work for these institutions by forcing them to pay for ‘health’ coverage which is morally wrong. He wants Catholic hospitals to ‘leave their values’ at the door and provide abortions, cover such disgusting murderous procedures, and cover contraceptives (the use of which has led our society to embrace heinous practices (like the slaughter of children in the wombs of their mothers as legal). All of which the Catholic Church and institutions run by the Church greatly object to precisely because of her values and religious beliefs…

But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.”

Uhh… Our Lord wasn’t talking about money… (and how many times is this now that Obama has placed himself in the position of Jesus???  Instead of it being Jesus–the Just Judge–requiring [x] of said person, Obama himself is going to tell you how much you’ve been given and how much is thus ‘required’ of you– through the eyes of the government. What a way to twist the words of Sacred Scripture!)

 But part of that belief comes from my faith in the idea that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper; that as a country, we rise and fall together.

It’s also about the biblical call to care for the least of these –- for the poor; for those at the margins of our society.
To answer the responsibility we’re given in Proverbs to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”
Treating others as you want to be treated.
Living by the principle that we are our brother’s keeper.  Caring for the poor and those in need.
how we ensure opportunity for every child,

Obama says, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves"

I’m more than certain that these “unwanted children” who are murdered through abortions are truly the “least of these” in our society, they are the poorest, and they are the marginalized. They cannot speak for themselves, they are destitute and their God-given inalienable rights have been ignored by the government of the United States with the full support of President Obama. He is his brother’s keeper–except for those in the womb. We must ensure opportunity for every child–unless they’ve yet to be born.

Does he even think before he writes his speeches (or I guess I should be asking if his writers think things through before allowing him to speak such contradictions openly!)?!

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Movie Review: The Rite

Throw in a quote from Blessed Pope John Paul II at the beginning of a movie and apparently all the Catholics will think it’s a great movie.

On the contrary, Catholics need to be more discerning. Besides, it wasn’t even that fantastic of a quote about exorcism, evil, and existence and influence of the devil in the modern world. And it wasn’t even that fantastic of a movie. I also disagree with the USCCB’s overly positive review (which I read after watching the movie myself), and think the movie does nothing to underscore the value of priesthood. Rather, I think it undermines it through the excessive portrayal of a layman performing priestly duties. I am therefore not inclined to read the book.

Problems with the movie:

~Michael Kovak (the seminarian) absolves a dying girl– or rather, pretends to, with a priest (albeit, injured) no less than 10 feet away. Without ordination, his blessings and absolutions are ineffective. Plus… the priest was RIGHT THERE… It was the cruelest thing he could’ve done to only pretend to offer a dying girl what she desperately wanted when the real thing was readily available.

~Unrealistic. They would never send a seminarian… or ANY person of weak faith into a room with a demon. Bad idea. That doesn’t help a person find faith, but it does make them an excellent candidate for the next possession. The best line of the movie was probably, “choosing not to believe in the devil won’t protect you from him”. The truest thing said in the movie. However, they did the exact opposite– the seminarian doubts the reality of possession, and the existence of the devil, so they throw him into a room with him and his demons ready to devour a doubting soul.

~The priest takes a phone call on his cell phone in the middle of an exorcism. Yes, this portrays priests in a bad light. Anthony Hopkins makes a bad priest (… typical Hollywood style).  They tried (inappropriately) to inject some humor into the movie. It’s a scary situation. A scary portrayal. The attempt at a laugh was pathetic, pitiful, and inappropriate.

~A layman (Michael Kovak) performs an exorcism, even wearing a stole (a vestment proper to a priest) part of the time.

To be fair, they did get some things right:

~The fear factor was there, though I  think perhaps it was a bit overboard at times which made it seem less realistic. Nonetheless, evil is a scary thing. It should be scary, but we should not have an irrational fear about it. Our Lord has conquered and triumphed, and we do so in and through Him.

~The demon telling Michael (the doubting seminarian) that he’s followed him. When he didn’t believe, when he doubted, he was really following the devil; though he falsely believed he was following no one. This is not a battle where one can ride the fence or sit on the sidelines. If you don’t play on God’s team, then you play for the devil. It’s that simple.

This is not an exhaustive rendering of the pros and cons of the movie, but I had no desire to watch it a second time to really parse through it scene by scene or line by line. And if I had to watch a girl die begging for Last Rites with a priest 10 feet away and a doubting seminarian pretend to mutter a powerless absolution all over again, I probably would’ve broken the disc. At the very least.

Practical tips in response to evil:

Get yourself some holy water and USE it. Frequently. (… as an added bonus, holy water remits venial sin!)
Pray the Our Father. Frequently.
Pray the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. Frequently.
Pray the Rosary. Frequently.

*NB: “Frequently” means “at least daily”.

Good reads on exorcism/the struggle against evil:

The Spiritual Combat/Treatise on Peace of Soul by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli
An Exorcist Tells His Story
by Father Gabriele Amorth
An Exorcist: More Stories by Father Gabriele Amorth

The Real Story of Halloween…

… Or “All Hallows Eve” (i.e., the evening of All Hallows– All Saints–Day) as it was traditionally known, is a Catholic holiday which unofficially recalls the reality of Hell and the despair of the damned. This ‘scary’ subject is the source for the scary/gory/evil ideas about Halloween which popular culture has turned into a celebration–not of triumph over evil– but a celebration of it. Is Hell a scary topic? Of course, but along with the reality of Hell and the punishment of the damned Catholic parents (and all in charge of handing on the Faith) are responsible for teaching the end of the story… namely, Our Lord’s words, “… rest assured for I have conquered the world.” (cf. John 16:33).

Instead of dressing up as secular/profane characters, today would be a good day to dress up as Saints and talk about their virtues and holiness. Instead of gorging on commercial candy, make some Italian ‘Ossi di Morto’ cookies (bone cookies), sugar skulls, toasted pumpkin seeds, “Soul Cakes” (doughnuts), etc.  and celebrate the triumph of Jesus Christ over sin and death (… and Hell) and the fact that through Him we can also be spared the eternal torment of damnation.

Lastly, since it is the last day of October (the month of the Rosary) pray a Rosary today for the conversion of unbelievers and the lukewarm.

Reads for Halloween:
The Dogma of Hell: Illustrated by Facts Taken from Profane and Sacred History by Fr. F.X. Schouppe, SJ
(TAN Books has an edition that also includes How To Avoid Hell by Thomas A. Nelson)
Hell and its Torments by St. Robert Bellarmine
Preparation for Death by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Life Everlasting by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Ossi di Morto Cookie Recipe (taken from FishEaters)

1 1/4 cups flour
10 oz almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 oz pine nuts
1 TBSP butter
A shot glass full of brandy or grappa
The grated zest of half a lemon
Cinnamon
One egg and one egg white, lightly beaten

Blanch the almonds, peel them, and chop them finely (you can do this in a blender, but be careful not to over-chop and liquefy).

Combine all the ingredients except the egg in a bowl, mixing them with a spoon until you have a firm dough. Dust your hands and work surface with flour, and roll the dough out between your palms to make a “snake” about a half inch thick. Cut it into two-inch long pieces on the diagonal. Put on greased and floured cookie sheet, brush with the beaten egg, and bake them in a 330-350 oven for about 20 minutes. Serve them cold. Because they are a dry, hard cookie, it is good to serve these with something to drink.

(I made these cookies last year along with some (poorly crafted) sugar skulls, and they are relatively easy to make and rather tasty!)

News worth repeating

“All friends and supporters of Saint Benedict Center are hereby informed that Father David Phillipson has been appointed to serve at Saint Benedict Center, Richmond. Father has been granted faculties by the Bishop of Manchester to offer Mass and hear confessions at the Center’s Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel. Please join the Brothers and Sisters, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in our gratitude to Bishop McCormack for approving our chapel as a place of Catholic worship and for allowing Father Phillipson to serve here.”

http://catholicism.org/very-good-news-a-new-priest-for-sbc.html

 

Deo gratias!

Fr. Thomas Dubay, SM – R.I.P.

Fr. Thomas Dubay, SM died on Sunday, September 26 at around 4:45am after battling a long illness.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Fr. Dubay was the author of many books on the Spiritual life worthy of consideration and reflection:

Seeking Spiritual Direction
Prayer Primer
Fire Within
Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer
And You Are Christ’s
The Evidential Power of Beauty
Happy Are You Poor
Faith and Certitude
Authenticity

In his honor, I hope to get a couple reviews of some of his books up on the site relatively soon.

What Really Constitutes Extraordinary Means?

Life issues are always at the forefront simply because they are life issues. Life and death are serious events that demand reflection.

I’m sure most people remember and are familiar with the Terri Shiavo tragedy from 2005… though the news media (fueled by her  demonic husband, Michael) painted her death as “merciful” and “peaceful”– it was anything but that. It was, at the very least, inhumane. In her final moments, Terri’s skin was flaking off, her eyes sunken, and blood leaked from her eyes and mouth because her body was so dried out because of dehydration. Her death was full of suffering and intense, agonizing pain. It’s not a quick process; a person who starves to death doesn’t die instantly. It’s a long, slow, painful process that takes weeks.

Why do I bring up Terri Shiavo today? Because the same thing is happening to another unfortunate victim. Only this time, instead of taking 14 days to die from dehydration (like Terri did), the patient has been clinging to life for over 55 days. Trisha Rushing Duguay has been fighting for her life, without nutrition or water, for 55 days. Almost 8 weeks. 2 months. Have we become the Nazis? Or worse? Feeding a person is not extraordinary means. Trisha, like Terri, needs no machines to keep her body functioning. She needs, as we all do, food and water. To strip a person of a feeding tube and refuse them fluids to let them die of dehydration is not humane or merciful… it’s vicious and demonic. This is euthanasia. The fruit of the culture of death. We kill our children in their mother’s wombs, and now we kill anyone who is unable to speak for themselves.

Trisha Rushing Duguay was married and within 48 hours diagnosed with a brain tumor. Within 10 days of her marriage, she’d fallen into a coma. What were her last words?

“I am going to beat this,” she told [her husband], then joked: “You are not going to get rid of me this easy.”

And still here she is, clinging to life while being starved to death as doctors, nurses, and family members look on: unwilling to care for her most basic needs: food, and water. Her husband who promised to love and care for her “in sickness and in health” etc. and explicitly promised her before her surgery that he would always take care of her if she became disabled has broken those promises. Broken his wedding vows. He’s killing his wife, not caring for her.

Pray for Trisha Rushing Duguay, her family, friends, and those who sit idly by while she dies an agnozing and painful death. Pray for those are starving her, and consenting to her starvation.

What is the world coming to?

Pray for Trisha Rushing Duguay facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/group.php?gid=128342343885221&v=wall&ref=ts

UPDATE: I learned that Trisha died Friday September 24 a little after 9am. 56 days to starve and dehydrate to death…  she fought hard for her life.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Pope Benedict XVI to visit England

If you haven’t already been hearing about it in the news, Pope Benedict XVI will visit England in a few weeks for 4 days. Our Holy Father is definitely going to need prayers. There are already planned protests and everything anyone disagrees with regarding the teachings of the Catholic Church seems to be back on the table for discussion. The Church is never going to ordain women as priests. The Church is never going to allow contraceptives to ruin the marital embrace. Get over it. Find something else to complain about. Putting an ad on a London bus is not going incite an Ecumenical Council to overhaul the teachings of the Church. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It’s just wasted money.

And earlier this summer, it was reported that English Muslims were planning to protest the visit and “tell the Pope what they really think of him” (i.e., utter slanderous and spiteful words). Supposedly the UK police are going to be monitoring the situation, and I hope they keep on it. The extremist website promoting the hatred is still fuming over Pope Benedict XVI’s 2006 Regensburg Address… they obviously never read Pope Benedict XVI’s Truth and Tolerance.

Thus it becomes apparent that, beyond all particular questions, the real problem lies in the question about truth. Can truth be recognized? Or, is the question about truth simply inappropriate in the realm of religion and belief? But what meaning does belief then have, what positive meaning does religion have, if it cannot be connected with truth?
… we have to get a view of the phenomenon of religion as such and cannot simply start from an undifferentiated mass of “religions” in general. We first have to try to understand them as they are, in their historical dynamic, in their essential structures and types, as also in their possible threats to each other, before we try to arrive at any judgments…
And finally, we have inevitably to face up to the question of whether man is made for the truth and in what way he can, and even must, put the question of truth.

From the Regensburg Address:

…I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on – perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara – by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both… The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur’an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between – as they were called – three “Laws” or “rules of life”: the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur’an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point – itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole – which, in the context of the issue of “faith and reason”, I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.
In the seventh conversation (διάλεξις – controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: “There is no compulsion in religion”. According to some of the experts, this is probably one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels”, he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness that we find unacceptable, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God”, he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.
The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature…

The Address was a speech on faith and reason, and the hullabaloo over Pope Benedict XVI’s quotation is pure childishness. He is making a point (in relation to faith and reason) about violence and God using an example from someone else. The Holy Father was never claiming Islam is a religion of violence, or making a statement about Mohammed. Though, the reaction of certain Muslims to the out-of-context quote following the lecture is demonstrating its own point… that it still continues to be a point of contention regarding the Pope is even more baffling. Anyone who flames up at the Holy Father for it, has completely missed the entire point of the lecture, and I hope they will read it (the whole thing), in context.

In any case, we should prepare for the Holy Father’s visit to England by praying hard for him, and for those who will hear him. Viva il Papa!

V. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto.

R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat
eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.
[Ps 40:3]

Pater Noster…,  Ave Maria….

Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum
Benedictum, quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti,
propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo,
quibus praeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi
credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Christum, Dominum
nostrum. Amen.

V. Let us pray for Benedict, our Pope.

R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make
him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the
will of his enemies. [Ps 40:3]

Our Father…,  Hail Mary….

O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look
mercifully upon Thy servant Benedict, whom Thou hast chosen
as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we
beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify
those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the
flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.