Monthly Archives: June 2012

We Are Catholics And We Will Be Heard

 

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Bravo to The Catholic Association for the fine video above to help us kick off Fortnight For Freedom.  People don’t truly appreciate their freedom until it is threatened.  I think that is also true for many Catholics in regard to the Church.  Time to stand up.  A time for choosing is here.

Fortnight For Freedom Day 1: Freedom is Not Just a Big Word

 

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Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the first of these blog posts.

The video at the top of this post is a scene from the classic movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), based upon the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, in which Daniel Webster bests Satan in a jury trial to save the soul of New Hampshireman Jabez Stone.   In this scene Daniel Webster addresses a jury of the damned, all villains of American history.  I have always thought this speech one of the most eloquent statements of what it means to be an American.

In regard to Freedom it reminds us that it is just not a word:  Freedom is not just a big word — it is the bread and the   morning and the risen sun. It was for freedom we came in boats and ships to these shores.  It has been a long journey, a hard one, a bitter one. There is sadness in being a man, but it is a proud thing, too.  Out of the suffering and the starvation, the wrong and the right, a new thing has come, a free man. When the whips of   the oppressors are broken, and their names forgotten and destroyed, free men will be walking and talking under a free star. Yes, we   have planted freedom here in this earth like wheat.  This is the priceless treasure that Goverment encroachments like the HHS Mandate begin to take away from us.

Go here to read the passage in the Stephen Vincet Benet’s short story.  Below is the scene as written in the screenplay: Continue reading

Obama Creates Jobs!

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Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air.  I do not want to hear the meme any longer that Obama has created no jobs in the private sector.

Here is proof to the contrary:

The protesters popping up at Mitt Romney’s rallies throughout Michigan Tuesday look like run-of-the-mill grassroots liberals — they wave signs about “the 99 percent,” they chant about the Republican’s greed, and they describe themselves as a loosely organized coalition of “concerned citizens.”

They’re also getting paid, two of the protesters and an Obama campaign official told BuzzFeed…

Neither of the representatives agreed to give their names, but two protesters said they were getting paid to stand outside for the rally, though the wage is unclear: one said she was getting $7.25 per hour, while another man said they were being paid $17 per hour.

Meanwhile, about 50 feet away, another protest had been organized by local Democrats in conjunction with the Obama campaign. A campaign official told BuzzFeed they had nothing to do with the other group — which he said he believed they had been sent by the labor-backed “Good Jobs Now” — and confirmed that they were being paid. Continue reading

Barack “Milhous” Obama

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Judging from this morning’s events, I can only assume that there is a Romney campaign mole high up in the councils of the Obama administration.  Absent this, it is hard to understand why the Obama administration, less than five months from election day, thinks it is a brilliant idea to invoke Executive Privilege in order to block the turnover of documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal to the House:

President Obama has granted an 11th-hour request by Attorney General Eric  Holder to exert executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents, a  last-minute maneuver that appears unlikely to head off a contempt vote against  Holder by Republicans in the House.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is expected to forge  ahead Wednesday morning with its meeting on the contempt resolution  anyway.

If the vote proceeds, Republicans have more than enough votes on committee to  pass the resolution. However, Holder would not be considered held in contempt of  Congress unless and until the full House approves the measure.

The move by Holder and Obama to lock down some requested documents only  complicates the fight over the botched anti-gunrunning operation between the  legislative and executive branches. Continue reading

A Better Life Than Julia’s

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Another fine, and timelyecon 101 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

This is a response to the daft Obama campaign’s Life of Julia, that hymn to life as a government serf.  The truth is that in this life you have to depend upon God, yourself and, if you are lucky, your family.  Government assistance must exist for people who cannot take care of themselves, but as a way of life for those who can, it is soul destroying, trapping us, at best, in a permanent status of child-like dependence on the State, a dependence that is increasingly precarious as governments sink under the burden of unsustainable spending.

Are vouchers for Catholic schools the answer?

Consider the following statistics:

  • Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago saw enrollment increase 3% in 2012 and 1% in 2011—the first two-year period of growth since 1965.  Archdiocese of Boston elementary schools had a 2% bump—the first in two decades.  The Archdioceses of Los Angeles and Indianapolis and the Diocese of Bridgeport (CN) also increased in student population for the first time in a very long time.
  • Since 2000, U.S. Catholic school enrollment has plummeted by 23% and 1.9k schools have closed.  However, the rate of decline in the number of Catholic schools has slowed.  In 2012, 2M students attended Catholic schools, down 1.7% from 2011, but less than the average yearly decline of 2.5% since 2000.

The Wall Street Journal suggests that much of this growth is due to the increasing availability of vouchers, which ease the financial burden on parents of sending their kids to non-public schools. 

For example:

  • Vouchers are currently available in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Virginia, Florida, and Louisiana each created or expanded voucher or tax credit programs in the last 18 months.
  • Indiana boasts the largest voucher system in the nation.  More than 2.4k students have transferred from public schools to private Catholic schools since the program began last year.

Perhaps this “success” is for entirely the wrong reason.

While voucher programs may have “breathed new life” into Catholic schools while simultaneously offering students the opportunity to receive a superior education, are those schools decidedly Catholic?  And if it is claimed they are, how so?

Let’s try a couple of “not’s”:

  • A good private school that calls itself Catholic isn’t a Catholic school.
  • A good private school that offers a generic or optional Christian religion curriculum isn’t a Catholic school.
  • A good private school that doesn’t immerse students in the faith and its practice isn’t a Catholic school.
  • A good private school whose faculty, administration, and staff don’t believe what the Church teaches isn’t a Catholic school. 

Then, let’s try a couple “what’s”:

  • A Catholic school is one whose faculty, administration, and staff view their work as a vocation and collaborate together in the ministry of providing young people an integral education—mind and soul—as that is informed by Church teaching.
  • A Catholic school is one whose students grow in love of God and neighbor through the practice of the Sacraments and communal prayer.
  • A Catholic school is one where students learn about the Catholic religion and appreciate its role in salvation history.

The Motley Monk would rather there be no “quasi” Catholic schools than an increase in good private schools that masquerade as Catholic, take government money, and in the process, erode the important and distinctive mission of Catholic education.

 

 

To read the Wall Street Journal article, click on the following link:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304821304577440763188839928.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

Book Review – Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics

I have been intending to write a long review of Ross Douthat’s new book, Bad Religion: How We Became A Nation of Heretics, for about seven weeks now, but due to various obligations and, well, the NBA playoffs, that hasn’t happened. So here’s a short review: it’s an excellent book that accomplishes three basic purposes: one descriptive, one controversial, and one normative.

The descriptive section, consisting roughly of the first half of the book, is a useful, accessible account of the rise of a vibrant, frequently orthodox, Christianity following World War II, and the decline of orthodox Christianity and the institutions that undergird it over the past sixty years. Douthat is even-handed in his treatment of a wide variety of theological movements, theologians, and denominations. While most of the material will be familiar to those who pay attention to these matters closely – including many readers of this blog – it should be acknowledged that most Americans do not fall in this category. And even for those who do, Douthat’s synthesis of events, movements, and people is perceptive and sympathetic. Refreshingly, he avoids most of the exaggerated caricatures that populate popular writing on these themes. The average religion reporter for the Washington Post or the Associated Press would do well to use Bad Religion as a starting point and model for writing intelligently about religion in the contemporary U.S.

The second half of the book is straight forwardly controversial, as Douthat explores a variety of influential religious works and figures, ranging from Joel Osteen to Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love) to participants in the Jesus Seminar, and criticizes the superficiality, self-absorption, and lack of scholarly rigor that characterizes Christianity-lite and Christian-influenced spirituality in much of the contemporary United States. In many respects, it reads as an update on Chesterton’s Heretics, although it must be said that none of Douthat’s targets approach the caliber of H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, or any of Chesterton’s original antagonists. To a certain extent, Douthat is shooting fish in a barrel; but at least they are the biggest fish, if book sales, packed stadiums, and cultural notoriety are any indication.

Continue reading

Franciscan Love

 For love of Him they ought to expose themselves to enemies both visible and invisible.

Saint Francis of Assisi

 

Born in Louisville, Kentucky on July 17, 1913, Herman G. Felhoelter was ordained a Franciscan priest in 1939.  He served as an Army chaplain during War II and was awarded a Bronze Star.

Reenlisting in the Army after the war, on July 16th 1950 he was a Captain serving as a chaplain with the 19th Infantry in Korea.  The 19th was in a tough spot that day.  The North Koreans had established a road block in the rear of the regiment near the village of Tunam, South Korea.  The regiment was in retreat, moving through mountains, trying to get around the roadblock, and slowed by the numerous wounded being carried due to the heavy fighting with the North Koreans during the battle for Taegu.  It was obvious by 9:00 PM on the evening of July 16th that 30 of the most seriously wounded could go no farther due to their stretcher bearers being exhausted.  Father Felhoelter and the chief medical officer Captain Linton J. Buttrey volunteered to stay with the wounded while the rest of the men escaped.  Father  Felhoelter was under no illusions of what would happen to the wounded and to him after the advancing North Koreans captured them, and swiftly gave them the Last Rites while he tended to them. Continue reading

20 of my Dadisms

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Ah, Dadisms, the short hand that many fathers use as they attempt to navigate life with their families.  Here are some of my favorite:

 

 

1.   Clean up this dump!

2.   You are not going outside like that!

3.   When I was young and dinosaurs ruled the earth…

4.   I’m proud of you!

5.   Always get it in writing.

6.   Can’t I trade you in for a new kid?

7.   Because I said so, that’s why!

8.   Did you ask Mom?

9.   Take this twenty, it might come in handy.

10.  Careful, there are lots of loosely wired people out there. Continue reading

Corpus Cristi: A Saint, A Pope and a Miracle

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(A guest post from Don the Kiwi on the backstory regarding the institution of the feast of Corpus Cristi.)

 

Last Sunday we celebrated the feast of Corpus Cristi, which literally means the body of Christ, in solemn commemoration of the Holy Eucharist.   As with many of the great feasts of the Church there is a fascinating history associated with the establishment of this holy day, which involves a saint and a miracle.

God’s instrument on this occasion was a woman known to history as Saint Juliana of Liege, or Julian of Mount Comillon where she was educated as a girl by the Augustinian nuns at the convent there, after the death of her parents when she was only five.  She was accepted into the order, made her religious profession, and became the mother superior of the convent.

Juliana had an ardent love of Our Lady, and also cultivated an extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.  As she grew in her vocation, she increasingly longed for a special feast in honor of the Sacrament.  She had a vision of the Church as a full moon with one dark spot, symbolizing the lack of such a feast.  Juliana expressed her to desire to the Bishop of Liege and the Archdeacon of Liege, who received her request favorably.  In 1246 the Bishop at a synod of bishops from lands now in the country of Belgium, successfully proposed that a feast in honor of the Blessed Eucharist  be instituted in the dioceses respresented at the Synod.  The Archdeacon of Liege, Jacques Pantaleon, in time became the Bishop of Verdun, then Patriarch of Jerusalem, and, on August 29, 1261, was elected Pope under the name of Urban IV.

Shortly after this, in an example of that synchronicity that often reveals the Hand of God in history, one of the great Eucharistic miracles of the Church occurred.  In 1263 Peter of Prague, a German priest, stopped at a town called Bolsena while on pilgrimage to Rome.  He was a pious priest but had difficulty in believing that Christ was truly present in the consecrated host.  While celebrating Mass in the Church of Saint Cristina, he finished saying the words of consecration, when blood started to seep from the consecrated host and trickled over his hands and onto the altar cloth and corporal Continue reading

Only a Dad

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When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.

Mark Twain

Only a dad with a tired face,

 Coming home from the daily race,

 Bringing little of gold or fame

 To show how well he has played the game;

 But glad in his heart that his own rejoice

 To see him come and to hear his voice.

 Only a dad with a brood of four,

 One of ten million men or more

 Plodding along in the daily strife,

 Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,

 With never a whimper of pain or hate,

 For the sake of those who at home await.

 Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,

 Merely one of the surging crowd,

 Toiling, striving from day to day,

 Facing whatever may come his way,

 Silent whenever the harsh condemn,

 And bearing it all for the love of them.

 Only a dad but he gives his all,

 To smooth the way for his children small,

 Doing with courage stern and grim

 The deeds that his father did for him.

 This is the line that for him I pen:

 Only a dad, but the best of men

Edgar Guest

June 17, 1812: Congress Declares War on Great Britain

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On June 18, 1812, President James Madison signed the declaration of war passed by Congress on June 17, 1812, starting the War of 1812.  I think it is safe to say that rarely has the United States gone to war more ill-prepared than in 1812, with an Army of 7,000 men and a Navy with 12 combat vessels, which is odd considering that there was no precipitating crisis that mandated a declaration of war at the time.  The United States could have prepared for the conflict and then declared war, but no such pre-war preparation occurred.

The vote totals in Congress, in the House 79-49 and in the Senate 19-13, indicated that the war was largely at the desire of one political party, the Jeffersonian Republicans, and opposed by the Federalists.  The opposition of the Federalists would continue throughout the war, and the conflict would be bitterly divisive in the United States.

The whole undertaking has a fairly surreal quality in retrospect, with the Madison administration, propelled by the War Hawks in Congress, undertaking a war that the President himself thought unwise and ill-considered against the mightiest Empire in the world.

Here is the text of the war message sent by President Madison on June 1, and which served as the basis for the declaration of war: Continue reading

“Gay Marriage, No Religion, Legalization of Pot” Mass Media Loves Brad Pitt’s Ideology!

Brad Pitt for Mayor of New Orleans? He didn’t think he’d have a chance due to his stands for “Gay Marriage, No Religion and Legalization of Pot” but the fawning Mass Media Representative Anne Curry doesn’t seem to think this is problematic at all as she gushes all over the place. What exactly does he mean “no religion”? Does that mean only that he personally doesn’t have a religion or that he would like to abolish religion? Curry doesn’t seem to care to find out more- and I doubt that the liberal secularist would mind trying to crush traditional religion down into a tame little side show- in fact traditional Faith is the great enemy of liberal secularism- and vice versa.

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What’s a Constitution Between Friends?

The federal DREAM Act failed to pass Congress; however, President Obama has never been one to let a pesky little thing like the U.S. Constitution to get in the way of achieving his policy objectives.

The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.

Let’s take a look at Article II of the Constitution (the article dealing with the presidency, for those of you in Rio Linda). Hmmm, we’ve got length of term, eligibility requirements, the electoral college, Commander-in-Chief, state of the Union, adjourning Congress . . .  don’t see anything here about just ignoring the will of Congress when they don’t implement policies you approve of.

Oh. Wait. There it is. It’s right between the penumbras and emanations guaranteeing the right to privacy and abortion. My bad. Clearly my Ph. D training was incomplete.

Now you might be upset with this decision, but do not question President Obama’s fealty to the Constitution. This is a man who has been a zealous guardian of the Executive Branch’s duties and responsibilities. And if you don’t believe me, just take a closer look at the tremendous work the Justice Department has done in fighting for the Defense of Marriage Act. No, that president would never let partisan politics prevent him from faithfully upholding the laws of our land.

In all seriousness, this is another power grab that would be impeachable in a saner world. Make no mistake, this is not about the policy itself. That is a topic for another discussion, and is absolutely not the point of this post. The merit of the policy is irrelevant to the concerns over constitutional authority and power. Last I checked this was still a constitutional republic, not an autocracy, and the president of the United States cannot simply make policy absent a grant of legislative authority.

What’s troubling to me is seeing a handful of Catholics applauding this decision, including Archbishop Schnurr of Cincinnati. I understand why these individuals support the overall policy, but again, the policy itself is beside the point. You should not applaud a policy when the manner in which it is implemented so flagrantly violates the Constitution.

So let me say this bluntly: if you approve of the president’s actions in this particular case, then you have absolutely no standing whatsoever to to complain about the constitutionality of the HHS mandate. If you support this action but think the HHS mandate is a tyrannical show of force, then you are a complete hypocrite. You’re essentially signalling that you are okay with usurpation of constitutional authority when you agree with the policy outcome. Just as we can’t be cafeteria Catholics, we don’t get to be cafeteria constitutionalists either. You don’t get to pick which parts of the Constitution you uphold. Now of course constitutions, unlike dogma, can be amended and changed, though I suspect permitting the president of the United States to do whatever he likes whenever he likes would not be an advisable change.

This president has absolutely no regard for the Constitution, and this action only helps underscore this undeniable fact.

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