Saturday, August 29, 2009

Officer Does Not Like Anti-Obama Poster: "It Ain't (America) No More."

This is an outrage.

I'm sorry to start off a lovely Saturday with such things as fascism, but there is no other word for what just happened this week at Rep. Jim Moran's (D-VA) Town Hall meeting, held at South Lakes High School in Reston, VA. I want this video to go viral. You have to watch and hear it, to believe it:

I'd like to point out something: School Security Officer, Wesley Cheeks, Jr., said something that stood out as the true reason this protester's sign was forbidden. It had an unflattering picture of President Barack Obama on it.

Now if this picture had been a flattering photo of Obama, or a positive sign in support of Obama-care with his photo on it, I have no doubt that Officer Cheeks, Jr. would not have made an issue of it.

Anymore, I feel as though I'm living in a surreal world. "Not America Anymore?" Since when? Since November when President Obama was elected? Or since more and more people are rising up to protest what is happening to their country and their non-support of this administration's policies?

How quickly they have forgotten. This is what our country had to deal with during the past eight years when President Bush was in office. (Warning: some of these photos are graphic and/or highly offensive. But somehow they were okay because it was Bush and he was obviously a war criminal, blah, blah, blah. Notice that all of these signs have photos of Bush in them.)

From the wonderfully, supportive A.N.S.W.E.R. site:

Ah. Bush being compared to Hitler. Funny how leftists are blind to what truly defines fascism, which is what we're now seeing in the Obama administration.

The Loft accurately points out the hypocrisy. Vanity Fair portrayed President Bush as The Joker long before someone did it to Obama. The Village Voice and L.A. Weekly liked to portray President Bush as a blood-sucking vampire.

And remember the "assassination chic" that showed President Bush with a gun to his head? Gosh. Remember the outrage from the mainstream media? How they condemned such things? Oh, wait... (Mantilla Nod to the ever-brilliant Michelle Malkin. Bookmark her post: Crush the Obamedia Narrative: Look Who's 'Gripped By Insane Rage' images below are from that post.)

Nice stamps.

Gosh. I wonder if any of these protesters were told they had to put their sign down?

And finally, props have to be given to the unhinged Left. You taught us well. Now it's our turn. Deal with it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

2009 Envoy of the Year Award - You're Invited!

Joan Bradley, Benefactor Relations Coordinator at Belmont College, sent me an invitation to attend the 2009 Envoy of the Year Award Dinner, honoring Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. (Author of the book, Render Unto Caesar) As if that's not enticing enough, also in attendance will be Patrick Madrid, Editor of Envoy Magazine (and accomplished Catholic apologist, author of many books and tapes), George Weigel (sigh, author of The Courage to Be Catholic), Joseph Bottom (publisher and editor of First Things Magazine), Fr. John Corapi (via video), Carl Anderson (Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, via video) and hundreds more.

Is that a stellar lineup, or what?!! It's being held at Belmont College, in Belmont, North Carolina. The address brought back memories because years ago, I lived in Mt. Holly, North Carolina. I would love to attend but because of distance and time, cannot. Maybe you can? It certainly will be a memorable event, full of encouragement and support for Catholicism. If you do attend, send photos! Here are the details:

Date: October 8, 2009
Location: Hilton Charlotte Center City
222 East Third Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 377-1500 Fax: (704) 377-4143

For personalized service or to reserve your table, please contact Joan Bradley at 704-461-6009 or email her at

Here's a PDF with more information.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What I Love About Catholicism: Church Structure

When I first left Catholicism in 1982, I took the emancipation from church structure in stages. I first joined a Presbyterian church, which had its own governing structure. Then I joined the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, which was, as far as I could tell, free from governing structure. It was all about "being led by the Spirit."

I remember feeling free during those days, as though I had been unfairly shackled by a tight and shriveled posse of clerics who were bent on making sure I wouldn't have any fun in my faith. Joyless and stingy, they were. Or so I thought.

Now, over twenty years later, I see a few things I hadn't noticed before. Do you realize how much time is devoted to "raising church leadership?" I'm not talking about the seminaries, but internal church training programs. There are some churches that have a formal Bible School program, others have leadership training that can last anywhere from one to three years. (I attended one myself.)

What is the fruit of this training? Some become small group leaders, some may leave and start a church plant. But it always seems to be planning, ad infinitum. There is an incredible amount of energy spent on church growth approaches and concepts. Visit any Christian bookstore and you will see quite a few books devoted to "growing" your church and various church models. Within the non-denominational churches, few governing bodies exist. As a result, many churches are in constant flux, forever spinning in the experimental mode.

Although I've come full circle regarding women's role in church government, (I can't see a Biblical justification for women pastors.) I've always been fascinated by it. Now it has taken me to a closer examination of the Roman Catholic Church and some unexpected bonuses of having a centralized governing body through the Vatican.

When a governing body does its job, it means there is a process that can be depended upon. On a national level, I'm for limited government. But on a religious level, I am appreciating our Catholic Church government in greater measure. When the priests are concerned with such things (and Canon lawyers), it frees the laity to focus on what we're really supposed to be doing - sharing the Gospel with our neighbors.

I think back on all the time I used to study church models and prepare myself for leadership. I realize not all of it was wasted, but yet if I had kept it simple what could I have done with the time saved? Non-Catholic churches seem to find an endless fascination with "experimenting" with different church models. This one is "seeker-sensitive," that one is an "emerging church" model.

There is such a relief I feel, now that I attend Mass. The liturgy is secure. (For the most part, aside from goofy weirdness such as priests dressed as Barney the Dinosaur and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion dressed up as witches and vampires for a Halloween Mass.) There is an ancient rhythm to the service that is precious, and many times, can provide the temptation to take it for granted. But there are few "experiments"with church models. And it would seem more people are finding that tradition has its blessings, after all.

I know there is a group of Catholics who see all this experimentation as "modern." They see it as a way to connect to the world and allow newcomers to feel engaged. All I can say is that constant change never makes anyone feel secure. Consider children and their upbringing. What is better for them - constant upheaval with different approaches toward life or instilling rituals and patterns so they may learn? (And perhaps more importantly, learn to stick with something instead of giving up so easily.)

The monasteries that have stood the test of time have endured for a reason. Study any one of them and I suspect you won't find a community that tries every new thing that comes down the pike. Yes, change can help streamline a process, but to me, it is the tried and true that builds inner strength. One of the many reasons I love the Catholic Church.

Friday, August 21, 2009

#FrFriday: Father Felix Leseur, An Unlikely Priest

Last year, Angela M. (Where Angels Blog) introduced me to Servant of God, Elisabeth Leseur. I had no idea who she was at the time, but I quickly became entranced by her story.

Elisabeth was a devout Catholic. She married a Catholic man, Felix Leseur, whom she discovered shortly before they married that he was no longer a practicing Catholic. Felix became a doctor, and eventually, an anti-clerical, atheist. Although he assured Elisabeth that he would not interfere with her faith, he ended up belittling it, even going so far as to try to destroy it.

Elisabeth was undaunted. She dutifully read a book he gave her, his intention being to draw her away from her faith. He was shocked to learn that she only found a lack of substance in the book and became even more devoted to Christianity. Their home soon had two libraries - his was full of book about atheism and hers was filled with the lives of the saints and the Catholic Church.

In 1912, at the age of 46, Elisabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer. During a conversation with Dr. Leseur about death, she said, "I am absolutely certain that when you return to God, you will not stop on the way because you never do things by halves.... You will some day become a priest." To this he responded: "Elizabeth, you know my sentiments. I've sworn hatred of God, I shall live in the hatred and I shall die in it."

After she died in 1914, Dr. Leseur discovered a note written to him in her papers. It said: "In 1905, I asked almighty God to send me sufficient sufferings to purchase your soul. On the day that I die, the price will have been paid. Greater love than this no woman has than she who lay down her life for her husband."

Dr. Leseur intended to visit Lourdes with the intention of writing a book to discredit it. But after he was there, he became deeply convicted by the sacrifices his wife had made on his behalf, and it led to contemplating what Jesus Christ had done for him. Not too long after, Dr. Leseur's resistance to God crumbled. In 1919, he became a Dominican novice and in 1923, at the age of 62, he was ordained. He became an inspiration to Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who frequently referenced the redemptive story of the Leseur's as an example of how marriage can sanctify a spouse.

Fr. Felix Leseur spent 27 years traveling and preaching about his wife's spiritual writings. What an amazing testimony of sacrificial love and grace; and how astounding to know that such a man eventually became a spiritual director for an Archbishop. God bless Fr. Leseur!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

AARP Loses 60,000 Members By Supporting Pro-Rationing Health Care Agenda

All I can say is "Good." (Full article)

And would you consider 60,000 people a small percentage? I wouldn't. I still am appalled that an organization that is to help an aging population would think that supporting rationed health care is beneficial to their members. Sometimes I think I've woken up in Upside-Down World. Where black is white and water runs uphill. What is wrong with these people? It's becoming increasingly clear that they are simply not operating on a sane plane. It's amazing on many, many levels.

This summed it up for me:

NRLC executive director David O'Steen says the section of the bill could unduly influence patients to make decisions that would result in revoking lifesaving medical treatment or something as basic as food and water.

"But we are concerned ... it doesn't take a lot to push a vulnerable person — perhaps unwittingly — to give up their right to life-sustaining treatment," he explained.

Jennifer Popik, a medical ethics attorney with National Right to Life, offers additional explanation of the concerns.

She says "the pro-life fear is that efforts to push patients and prospective patients to prepare advance directives may in practice become a means of persuading or pressuring them to agree to less treatment as a means of saving money."

Popik points to a 2008 JAMA study that concluded: "On the other hand, patients who reported having end-of-life discussions received less aggressive medical care."

That's exactly it. Once a doctor realizes a patient has had that "end-of-life" discussion, he or she will immediately be under pressure to glaze over their care, not going in-depth for treatment. Because there is no other option than rationing health care if the government completely runs it.

I can't help but think of my dear, departed mama during this debate. If the government was running the show when she was alive, she most likely would not have received her colostomy, reverse-colostomy, and other health care that she needed. We would not have had extra few years we had with her, which included many loving moments with her family.

God gave man the ability to analyze and bring medical remedies to people, to help heal them and bring forth new life. All it seems to me is that the government wants to kill. Either abortion or euthanasia, it's the same thing in my eyes. Murder.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fun Monday: What's Your Favorite Movie?

I happened to see this article on the Inside Catholic site, "The Fifty Best Catholic Movies of All Time." Really? So I checked them out.

Some surprised me. I guess I was expecting movies that were specifically reflecting the Catholic faith. A few do, but most don't. I still love "The Scarlet and The Black" with Gregory Peck playing the role of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty. It was a great movie and shed light on what the Vatican was doing during World War II.

Of course I love "Going My Way." Who can resist Barry Fitzgerald? We've watched "The Quiet Man" more than once or ten times, too.

Quality, modern entertainment is tougher to come by, which is why my husband and I often rent older movies, especially any with Jimmy Stewart in them. I'm saddened by how often faith gets bashed in films. You'd think with the box office smash of "The Passion of the Christ" (and the subsequent failures of anti-American, anti-Christian films) Hollywood would get a clue.

So what are some of your favorites? We can share and perhaps get something better on our movie night list than the latest lame offering from La-La Land.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In Praise of Tradition II

This morning, I drove by a Catholic parish and noticed there were kiddie rides set up in the parking lot, and big tents lining the edges. Ah, another Catholic summer festival. Instantly, memories filled my mind of being a teenager, visiting the many summer church festivals around town, eating lots of roasted chicken, corn-on-the-cob, and playing games.

I thought about those days and how they served as markers in my life, bringing joy and security at the same time. There is something very comforting about seasonal rituals and tradition.

I found my original non-denominational pastor online. He's now a pastor of another non-denominational church in Florida. He had a video that talked about his church's "differentiators." All churches, he assured the viewer, are good but they're all different in some way. Watching the video now from a Catholic perspective, I wondered to myself why - why are so many churches different? What makes them different and is this good?

I thought about the Catholic Mass and how it has endured throughout the centuries, despite mockery and persecution. How the Mass serves as an anchor for our faith. How there are few "differentiators" from one Catholic parish to another. Some may call that boring, but I call it something else. Encouraging. Comforting. Strong. I believe there is room for the church universal to consider tradition and how it binds us together. I believe other churches are starting to understand the importance of tradition.

Where are we going when we attend a church worship service? When I attended my brother's church a few weeks ago, it felt nebulous, as though I was plopped in the midst of a food court and told to just buy whatever I wanted. The worship team was technically great but overall, it was a performance. The congregation dutifully clapped once a real show-banger, was over. We celebrated communion (which was my favorite part), and then the pastor preached on homosexuality.

It made me think of the Catholic Mass, rich with meaning and tradition, and how I knew there was a direction to our worship. We are headed toward remembering. Remembering the cross, the sacrificial death, and the life Jesus brings to us through His Body and Blood.

I mentioned it to my husband this morning. I said "church" is mainly to help me remember each week, who I am in Christ and what He has done for me. It is by remembering that I am reminded to abide by His commands. And the traditions help me remember. Each week, they are the same. The traditions have helped me get back on track, straighten up and fly right.

When there are no traditions in a church, what is left? Doing "whatever" may have been fun at the time but was anything spiritually substantial being built? It's akin to a child growing up. A parent can allow the child to do whatever they want, as long as it's legal and doesn't hurt anyone. Does this build maturity? Or is maturity built by discipline, challenges, and rituals?

When I was in the non-denominational churches, I remember how often I was looking to be challenged. I wanted the hard teachings because I knew that was the only way to grow. Students rarely learn from the teacher who dotes on them but instead, grudgingly admit they learned the most from the tougher teacher who confronted them.

Tradition grabs self-absorption by the throat and says, "Too bad. We're staying on track, today." It knocks the stuffing out of "but-I-don't-wanna." It gets us out of our own navel-gazing and trains us to pay attention to what's going on around us. Tradition is beautiful, if we take some time to study it. I am so glad I've been given the opportunity to do just that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is It Apathy? Or Acceptance?

I'm going through a bit of a conundrum.

It has to do with our current state of affairs in the United States. We have a government that seems hell-bent upon initiating total control upon our society and an all-out war against the family that includes more access to abortion, justified euthanasia, and same-sex marriage. Jobs continue to go overseas and the opportunities for any kind of "blue-collar" work is dwindling, let alone decent "white-collar" jobs. Voices are becoming more shrill and town hall meetings more violent.

It's ugly and there are many Americans who are understandably frightened for the future. But according to this article, Christians should not be apathetic, but fight against what is happening.

I'm more of a fighter than I'd like to admit. I have always struggled with the "turn the other cheek" thing. I feel most protective of my family and friends. If anyone tries anything with them, I have plenty to say (and advice to give). But is this what Jesus has asked us to do? Are we to constantly battle corrupt government entities and injustice? Or are we to love, forgive, and focus on living our lives according to His purposes, sharing His message with those who have eyes to see and ears to hear?

I'm as angry as the next person about what is happening in our country, but there is a part of me that is also resigned to it. I'm not sure if anyone else feels this way, but it's as though the wheels have been set in motion to accomplish something that yes, is in God's plan. I feel as though to fight against that is to fight against the inevitable purposes of God. According to the Bible, we know the world will grow darker, rejecting God and His ways in greater measure. We understand persecution of His Church has never really stopped but in the United States, we've taken it for granted that it would never affect us.

But now we see that this isn't true. We are being affected and it seems as though daily we hear of yet another story of how a Christian was unjustly fired from a job or forced to act in a way that counters their beliefs. I believe it will get worse. I don't like bad news, really. I'm not a typical "doom-and-gloomer." But it's as though I can see the writing on the wall. Things, I'm afraid, will get worse.

So what is a Christian to do? I participated in the first Tea Party on April 15 in our city. I've not been to any others because I have reached the point of examining where my energies should be invested. Is participating in group demonstrations the best way? Or is it better to write? Or maybe just have conversations with others?

Like I said, I'm in a conundrum. My father said to just pray. Sometimes prayer feels like you're not doing much but maybe that is the best use of my energy. I'm still questioning.

Friday, August 7, 2009

#FrFriday: St. Jean-Marie Vianney, Patron Saint for Priests

I was delighted to discover that this humble priest was the patron saint for priests. Little Jean-Marie Vianney, born in 1786, did not immediately show promise. Born near Lyons, France, he became an average student but had difficulty with Latin. His teachers did not doubt his vocation but Jean-Marie would hit a slight snag on his way to becoming ordained.

In 1807, Napoleon needed more recruits to wage his war against Spain and lifted the exemption on drafting ecclesiastical students. Although young Vianney's father tried to find a substitute, he could not and Jean-Marie was conscripted for the military service. Through a series of mishaps, Jean-Marie ended up missing his departing comrades, was led to a group of deserters, and was pressed into service as a local schoolmaster. After fourteen months, Jean-Marie was able to communicate with his father, who was none too pleased that his son had not fulfilled his obligation. (He wanted his son to turn himself in but Jean-Marie's brother prevailed by convincing their father that he would take his place and was accepted to do so.)

After struggling through seminary, he was finally ordained at the age of 29 on August 13, 1815. In 1818, after the death of the parish priest in Ars, Fr. Vianney was sent to replace him. It was in this small French town that Fr. Vianney would become the "Curé d'Ars." Curé means "clean" in French.

During the 40 years of his service, Fr. Vianney lived an extremely spartan life. Only getting by with the bare minimum of sleep and food, Fr. Vianney transformed a small village with few attending church; to a vibrant Christian community that had people traveling from all over the world for him to hear their confession. How did he do it?

He first started visiting the parishioners, especially the sick and poor. He spent time praying before the Blessed Sacrament. He did penance and led his parish by example. It was the love of his heart, his humility, and his spiritual gifts which included the gift of discernment, prophecy, and miracles; that touched all around him and drew them to God.

During the last ten years of his life, he spent 16-18 hours in the confessional. His spiritual counsel was sought by bishops, priests, religious, among others. In 1855, the number of pilgrims to hear his instruction had reached to 20,000 a year. He helped guide the vocations of many, including Mother Marie de la Providence foundress of the Helpers of the Holy Souls.

Fr. Vianney's teachings were simple, filled with examples from the country life, but it was his love for his Creator that drew people by the thousands. Finally, on August 4, 1859, he passed away. He was 73.

St. John Mary Vianney was presented as the model for priests recently by Pope Benedict. After reading about his life, it is abundantly clear why our Holy Father, and many priests, love this saint so much.

Pray for our priests, St. Jean-Marie Vianney!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Catholic Sisters Queried About Doctrine, Fidelity

As you know, I've been keeping a close eye on the investigation of women's religious orders by the Vatican. A recent article stated that the investigation is focusing on how far have these orders strayed from Church doctrine.

The review "is intended as a constructive assessment and an expression of genuine concern for the quality of the life" of roughly 59,000 U.S. Catholic sisters, according to a Vatican working paper delivered in the past few days to leaders of 341 religious congregations that describes the scope in new detail.

But the nature of some questions in the document seems to validate concerns expressed privately by some sisters that they're about to be dressed down or accused of being unfaithful to the church.

The report, for example, asks communities of sisters to lay out "the process for responding to sisters who dissent publicly or privately from the authoritative teaching of the Church."

It also confirms suspicions that the Vatican is concerned over a drift to the left on doctrine, seeking answers about "the soundness of doctrine held and taught" by the women.

Still other questions explore whether sisters take part in Mass daily, or whether they follow the church's rules when they take part in liturgies. Church officials expect consistency in how rites and services are celebrated, with approved translations and Masses presided over by a priest.

The study, called an apostolic visitation, casts a net beyond fidelity to church teaching, with questions also covering efforts to promote vocations and management of finances.

I don't think it's a surprise to those of us who were taught by these sisters. Many of them became activists after Vatican II and promoted liberal thought such as women being ordained as priests, support for abortion, and gay rights.

Catholic Sisters Queried About Doctrine, Fidelity

However, some women want to continue to make it out about Big Bad Men:

Francine Cardman, associate professor of historical theology and church history at Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry, said it isn't clear why these questions are being asked now in the U.S.

But she said the focus on doctrine puts it in the context of establishing a "correct" and exclusive interpretation of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s and of women's religious communities.

She said the inquiry should be seen "as part of a much older tradition of misogyny in the church and especially distrust of women who are not directly and submissively under male, ecclesiastical control."

Misogyny? Are you kidding me? This said of a Church that has elevated a woman to such a high place in their doctrine that she is called Our Lady? Holy Mother? A woman who at the mention of her name in the liturgy, we either kneel or bow our head?

I'm still learning about our Blessed Virgin Mary and wrapping my mind around her identity, God's ordained plan for her, and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption. But I will happily say this: I challenge any, any - of these sourpuss, hippie throw-backs to find any other church on the planet that loves women the way the Catholic Church does. Look how we treat our saints - and there are plenty of women saints as there are men.

Women are revered for their calling as mothers and wives. Women saints are revered for their holiness. And if you look at those saints closely, not one (at least by my recollection) insisted upon being ordained as a priest or recognized as being "important." But lo and behold, God elevates the humble.

Which brings me to this point: anyone - either man or woman, who continues to push for their "rights" and their desire to be recognized; has not understood the Kingdom of God. They are clueless. The Kingdom of God is not partitioned into territories. It isn't a democracy. It isn't a "Boy's Club," either. It is a radical call to a life of self-denial, and that denial starts with our own desire to be somebody.

I wonder what sort of vows these sisters took, and if they included such thoughts.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Teachable Moments "Catholic-wise"

I spent some time this weekend with my brother and his family. He left the Catholic Church about five or six years ago and took his family with him to a Church of Christ that operates more like a non-denominational church. They meet in a huge auditorium and have a elaborate worship band, plus a large group of singers. Huge screen monitors flank the very large stage with state-of-the-art graphics for their songs and announcements.

I had the opportunity to spend some time alone with my 15-year old niece. My nephew, who just graduated from a Catholic all-boys high school, was working and I wasn't able to spend much time with him. But at least he completed his high school years in a Catholic environment, for what it's worth. My niece only spent one year in a Catholic all-girl's school before her parents changed their mind and decided to pull her out so she could attend a Christian school.

She was sharing with me a story about how she was a little confused about receiving the Eucharist. A classmate asked her why, and my niece said, "Well. I'm a Christian. I'm not Catholic."

Oy. What to say...

She went on to say that she didn't understand why little kids can't receive the Eucharist because in their church, everybody is allowed to receive communion. So, I took a deep breath and tried to explain a few things to her. First, I told her that when the Church that Jesus Christ founded began, everyone was together. There was only one church until Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg door of a church. She seemed to understand that slightly. Then I explained to her why the Catholic Church treats the receiving of the Eucharist so reverently; that preparation is needed to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. I asked her if she ever heard of the word "transubstantiation." She had not. (Again, I'm thinking, "What are they teaching the students in their first year of high school in religion class?")

I explained that other churches may celebrate communion but that it is symbolic for them. For Catholics, though, they believe that the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. I told her the Mass is designed to meet that pinnacle point, when the priest consecrates the bread and when he does that, this is when it becomes the Body and Blood of Christ. She listened, and I'm not sure how much penetrated, but she at least listened. Then she changed the subject since her attention span is usually the amount of gnat's. But I felt good that we at least talked about it.

It saddens me that too often, other Christians look at Catholics and think they're not Christian. I'm not sure how many studied church history and if they simply began with Martin Luther and the 1400's. How is it that Christians forget that the Early Church was comprised of those who were martyred for their faith - those who Catholics revere today as saints? There is so much confusion and false assumptions. It's one of the reasons why I'm studying Catholic apologetics.

I attended both Mass and my brother's church yesterday. What contrast. I asked my niece if she wanted to join me since my brother and sister-in-law were already at their church's first service. She politely declined. I told her how much the liturgy means to me and asked if she ever did like Mass. She said, "Sometimes, it's okay." Well, I know when I was her age, I pretty much felt the same.

I wish I could spend more time with her and my nephew and explain the joys and interesting things about the Mass. But I have a brother who unfortunately is vehemently anti-Catholic and would most likely bust a gasket if he thought I was trying to influence his kids. I will continue to pray, though. I can't help but feel they're missing out on so much.