It is often easy to wonder why God went through the trouble of making us and dying for us, and then you read about someone like Fang Mei Qiu’s grandmother:
The child Fang Mei Qiu can not stand for more than a few minutes without being in unbearable pain due to a condition she was born with that made her kneecaps weak. The girl’s father left when she was young and her mother remarried leaving Fang Mei in the care of her grandparents.
So each morning since she was nine, Fang Mei’s grandmother puts her granddaughter on her back and begins the long one and a half hour walk to school up a mountain on dirt roads. She stops when she gets too tired and resumes again. Her granddaughter has never once been late. At the end of the day she does it all over again.
A newspaper column about her plight appeared, local authorities arranged for the family to live closer to the school. They also obtained a wheelchair for the young girl. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Continuing on with our Lenten series in which Saint Augustine is our guide, go here , here ,here and here to read the first four posts in the series, we come to the whole purpose of Lent. We repent our sins and turn away from them, but these are not ends in themselves. We do them to help reawaken in our souls our love of God. God loves each of us with a love the intensity and magnitude of which we, in this life, cannot hope to fathom. It has been said that God loves each man as if he were the only one. He loves us enough to die for us, the creator of life suffering an ignominious human death to bring us to Him. Blinded by sin and the follies of this Vale of Tears we are often unable to see that the sweet loves we encounter in this life are but pale reflections of His love. Saint Augustine, after a wasted youth, did finally understand that love, and wrote about his discovery in imperishable words: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Hattip to Pat Archbold at Creative Minority Report. A very well meaning person once told my wife and I that she understood what a cross we had to bear due to the autism of our son Larry. I responded by stating the simple truth: that Larry had never been anything but a blessing from God for us. So he was, from his first day to his last, and continues to be as he went ahead of us to the next world. In this Vale of Tears many terrible things can happen to us, but the birth of a child, no matter what, is never among them.
Commenter Sywink sent me the above video. My response:
Well that brought tears to my eyes. My twins had a similar relationship. When my non-autistic son was praised for helping my autistic son, he would always respond: “He’s my brother.” He got back in time from college to act as a chaperone for his brother’s class to a zoo. When I asked him if he would do this he said, “I would be honored”. This was on the Tuesday before Larry’s death. Numerous photographs were taken of this outing. His class after my son’s death put together a collage of the pictures that have Larry in them. One shows his brother hugging him. Needless to say that these pictures are now priceless family heirlooms. Love conquers all, even death.
(I wrote this post back in 2009. I am republishing it now because it has always been one of my favorites and the blog readership is far higher now. Additionally it is one of several posts that I have written that I think, in retrospect, may have been God’s way of preparing me for the loss of my son Larry on May 19 of this year. )
Charles de Gaulle could be a very frustrating man. Churchill, in reference to de Gaulle, said that the heaviest cross he had to bear during the war was the Cross of Lorraine, the symbol of the Free French forces. Arrogant, autocratic, often completely unreasonable, de Gaulle was all of these. However, there is no denying that he was also a great man. Rallying the Free French forces after the Nazi conquest of France, he boldly proclaimed, “France has lost a battle, France has not lost the war.” For more than a few Frenchmen and women, de Gaulle became the embodiment of France. It is also hard to dispute that De Gaulle is the greatest Frenchman since Clemenceau, “The Tiger”, who led France to victory in World War I. However, de Gaulle was something more than a great man, he was also at bottom a good man, as demonstrated by his youngest daughter Anne de Gaulle.
Charles and Yvonne de Gaulle were both devout Catholics, so when their youngest daughter Anne was born on New Years Day in 1928, they had a strong faith to fall back on when they learned that Anne had Down Syndrome. She also had birth injuries that meant that she would never walk unaided. There was never any question about Anne being institutionalized. She was a member of their family, and she stayed with the family in all their travels. There was one sacred rule in the de Gaulle household: Anne was never to be made to feel different or less than anyone else. Charles de Gaulle was noted for his reserve and even with family members he was usually not very demonstrative. Not so with his daughter Anne, who received a warmth that he had seemed to be storing for his entire life just for her. “Papa” was the one word that Anne could say clearly. He would sing to her, read her stories and play with her. She was, he said simply, “My joy”. As de Gaulle said, “She helped me overcome the failures in all men, and to look beyond them.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Lauren Sandler, a proponent of having one child, writes a predictable piece in a predictable news magazine, Time, about he joys of stopping at one child.
She’s on to something. According to the USDA, a child born in 2011 will cost an average of $234,900 to raise to age 18. If your household income is over $100,000, you can raise that number to about $390,000. Yes, there are some savings after the first child — you don’t have to buy another high chair! — but it’s not as though you get a huge volume discount on subsequent offspring. There are also opportunity costs of a mother’s loss of income from parental leave, scaling back hours or dropping out of the workforce entirely. No wonder, according to the USDA, two-parent households with two children devote over one-third of their income to their kids. Add it all up and there’s a strong economic case for stopping at one child.
And yet the world will tell you — from grandmothers to sitcoms to strangers in the supermarket — that money shouldn’t be a factor in deciding to have more children. If you express concern about how much children cost, then you’ve clearly got your priorities wrong. You’ll make it work, they tell you. Don’t be selfish. (I wrote about this and other stereotypes of parents with singletons in a cover story for TIME.)
Having raised three children I can say that for my family the 234,900 per child figure was way off base, unless one adds into the mix the lost funds of my wife not having a job during much of the time that the kids were growing up. Of course that is the wrong way to look at it. My wife and I did not get married in order to see how much stuff we could accumulate during our lives. We got married because we loved each other and hoped that our love would be blessed with children. My wife worked harder than I had to in our efforts to raise our kids, and I often told her that she had the important job in our house and I worked merely to facilitate her efforts for the kids.
In this vale of tears we have no guarantees as to our economic success, no guarantees as to how many, if any, kids we will be blessed with and no guarantees as to how they will turn out. Every minute of our lives we are working without a net. I often plan and calculate various aspects of my life to ensure the best outcome that I can, but I realize that the most important parts of my life are often completely out of my control. It takes quite a bit of faith to endure the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that come our way in this world and to realize that we always and everywhere are dependent upon the mercy of God to see us through. Modern men and women mostly do not accept this. They think that they can eliminate risk and turn our journeys through this life into a cocoon where we will have endless fun, accumulate lots of material items and never hear of such things as pain and sacrifice. Such is not, and never will be, our mortal lives.
A much more accurate reflection of our lives is contained in the closing prayer of the Rosary: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”
Epitaph on the Memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Division at Kohima
War is a curious part of the human condition. It is a summary of the worst that Man is capable of: violence on a massive scale, cruelty, greed, hatred, and the magnification of every human vice. Few of us are more “anti-war” than those who have had the misfortune to fight in one and witnessed all the folly, loss and endless pain produced by the inability of men to frequently resolve their differences without resort to the sword. Yet, in war we also see men rise to the heights of what we are capable of at our best: self-sacrifice, courage, love and the magnification of every human virtue. War as the direst of human institutions is to be bitterly regretted, but we must ever pay homage to those who find themselves in this terrible maelstrom and acquit themselves with honor. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Advent might be summarized by John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
In daily life it is often easy to lose sight of the fact that we are always in the hands of an infinitely loving God who became one of us, His creatures, as a result of that love. Men often fear and deny God I think out of a profound belief that they are unworthy of this love. Peter, the prince of the apostles, after meeting Christ asked Him to leave him because Peter was a sinful man. In our times, drenched in cynicism and wallowing in sin, love is in short supply it seems, and the idea of a loving God is one that many of us flee from and attempt to futilely deny. This attitude calls to mind this passage from the Screwtape letters:
The truth is I slipped by mere carelessness into saying that the Enemy really loves the humans. That, of course, is an impossibility. He is one being, they are distinct from Him. Their good cannot be His. All His talk about Love must be a disguise for something else—He must have some real motive for creating them and taking so much trouble about them. The reason one comes to talk as if He really had this impossible Love is our utter failure to out that real motive. What does He stand to make out of them? That is the insoluble question. I do not see that it can do any harm to tell you that this very problem was a chief cause of Our Father’s quarrel with the Enemy. When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied “I wish with all my heart that you did”. It was, I imagine, at this stage in the interview that Our Father’s disgust at such an unprovoked lack of confidence caused him to remove himself an infinite distance from the Presence with a suddenness which has given rise to the ridiculous enemy story that he was forcibly thrown out of Heaven. Since then, we have begun to see why our Oppressor was so secretive. His throne depends on the secret. Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what He means by Love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. And there lies the great task. We know that He cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn’t make sense. If we could only find out what He is really up to! Hypothesis after hypothesis has been tried, and still we can’t find out. Yet we must never lose hope; more and more complicated theories, fuller and fuller collections of data, richer rewards for researchers who make progress, more and more terrible punishments for those who fail—all this, pursued and accelerated to the very end of time, cannot, surely, fail to succeed. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
“I think everyone has a secret resentment against God, against our very creation, against the fact of our being what we are. Freud called this the death wish, resentment against being born into this pain-full world.”
Peter Kreeft says something surprising in Back to Virtue: that we need to learn to forgive God. He is quite clear that this is not for any evil or debt he owes us, but for His goodness. As Kreeft says in his book, God loves us more than we would like, and we need to forgive him for interfering with our foolish will again and again”. We need to “forgive him for his blessed but painful surgery on our spirits.”
At first, I thought Kreeft was wrong. Forgive God? Why would we lowly creatures need to forgive God, who is infinite goodness? How absurd! Then, giving the great Peter Kreeft the benefit of the doubt, I thought it over and had a realization of sorts. We need to forgive God lest we hold a grudge against Him. God calls us out of ourselves. He asks us to give up ourselves and our particular desires, and this can be very difficult, even aggravating. Our broken nature rebels against God’s will. We must say with Jesus, “not my will Father, but yours be done,” but we do not want to. We often say, leave me alone to what I want! Christians say this even when they know this is foolishness. We are broken and part of our brokenness is a wrong-relationship with God: we blame him when he is not at fault. Our hearts must be at peace with God. And our hearts, misshapen as they are, cannot be at peace with God unless we forgive him. How ridiculous we are!
Jefferson Davis was always a friend to Catholics. In his youth as a boy he studied at the Saint Thomas School at the Saint Rose Dominican Priory in Washington County Kentucky. While there Davis, the only Protestant student, expressed a desire to convert. One of the priests there advised the boy to wait until he was older and then decide. Davis never converted, but his early exposure to Catholicism left him with a life long respect for the Faith.
When the aptly named anti-Catholic movement the Know-Nothings arose in the 1840s and 1850s, Davis fought against it, as did his great future adversary Abraham Lincoln.
During the Civil War, Pope Pius wrote to the archbishops of New Orleans and New York, praying that peace would be restored to America. Davis took this opportunity to write to the Pope:
All that is necessary for the triumph of the same sex agenda is that good men do nothing. The fear of reprisal, both materially and physically, can cause good men to do nothing.
Having not experienced this form of intimidation, I am still disturbed by the tactics that are utilized by the more militant arm of the same sex marriage agenda. This exposure to such violence is almost non-existent for me.
When I was growing up in the late Sixties and early Seventies the number one sex symbol going away was the actress Raquel Welch. What little I had heard of her opinions seemed to be those of a conventional Hollywood liberal. Therefore I was shocked by this column she wrote for CNN on the anniversary of the invention of the birth control pill:
Margaret Sanger opened the first American family-planning clinic in 1916, and nothing would be the same again. Since then the growing proliferation of birth control methods has had an awesome effect on both sexes and led to a sea change in moral values.
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Pope Benedict visits a local shelter in Rome and is moved to tears by woman who was once homeless and is now helping others with the same plight.
Here is the complete text of the above YouTube video:
Workers, volunteers and those who are served at homeless shelter in Rome, were filled with joy by Pope Benedict XVI’s visit.
But it was the pope who was moved to tears while listening to what this woman had to say about over coming homelessness.
“When I got to the hostel I was desperate, but now I’m a changed person.”
She got help and after being rehabilitated she wanted to help others in her shoes and is now a volunteer at the shelter.
During the pope’s visit to Don Luigi di Liegro shelter he affirmed the Church’s commitment to helping the poor.
“The Church loves you deeply and will not abandon you.”
“We should all pray … and often … to/through the intercession of Mother Teresa for the conversion of [Christopher] Hitchens.”
— A First Thoughts reader, in response to Hitchens’ latest pathetic diatribe against Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Today we celebrate all the saints who now dwell in perfect bliss before the Beatific Vision, seeing God face to face. All the saints love God and love their neighbor, but other than that they have little in common. We have saints who lived lives of quiet meditation, and there are saints who were ever in the midst of human tumult. Some saints have easy paths to God; others have gained their crowns at the last moment, an act of supreme love redeeming a wasted life. Many saints have been heroic, a few have been timid. We number among the saints some of the greatest intellects of mankind, while we also venerate saints who never learned to read. We have saints with sunny dispositions, and some who were usually grouchy. Saints who attained great renown in their lives and saints who were obscure in life and remain obscure after death, except to God. Among such a panoply of humanity we can draw endless inspiration for our own attempts to serve God and our neighbors. For me, one saint has always stood out as a man with a deep meaning for this period of history we inhabit: Saint Maximilian Kolbe. Why?