Category Archives: war

Ornan’s Threshing Floor and the Baptism of the Lord

Ornan the Jebusite offers his threshing room floor for sacrifice

Ornan the Jebusite offers David his threshing room floor for the sacrifice

In Acts 2, the early Church shared everything, even though they were being taxed by the pagan government.  In Second Kings and First Chronicles , David and his people suffered horribly because he took a census, described as “A satan–rose up against Israel, and he incited David to take a census of Israel.” In other words, the devil cajoled David such that trusted his own wisdom over that of God’s and doubted His Providence.  Given 3 choices, he chose to be punished by God for 3 days until he made the atonement.  Because of the generosity of a stranger, Ornan the Jebusite, who gave him the land, including his threshing room, and freely offered to pay the entire atonement, at the very spot that would house the Temple in Jerusalem, David and his sins for presuming God had not granted enough for the people, were atoned.  Interestingly, David turned down Ornan’s offer for it to be free, wanting to pay from his own stores.

Consider Matthew 3: 7-12:

7 But when John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his place of baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit worthy of repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax lies ready at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 I baptize you with water for repentance, but after me will come One more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and to gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Jesus came when a “census of the whole world” was being done by the secular, pagan government and offered His Life, once and for all, in atonement for our sins and for the whole world, essentially paying the price for our taking a census, of saying, no God, there isn’t enough, we can’t provide for all, which is blasphemy, as He does indeed provide for all. That pride and greed is essentially where all the other sins come from.

It’s Caesar we worship when we refuse to help each other, saying it’s the government’s job or those in need should have planned better (taken a census) instead of our very duty as followers of Christ is to trust Him and do whatever *He* tells us. Read Matthew 25 for those responsibilities. No, I am not even talking about immigration matters, though that certainly is part of it. Asking myself how many times I have “taken a census” to avoid helping someone or put someone down, period, is a good examination of conscience.

Remembering 9/10/2001

Yes, you read that right.

Last night, I was in the ER.  I was in what I call “Marfan limbo”: I felt kind of like I did before my aortic dissection: I’ve been very active lately, I’ve had a lot of stress, my blood pressure has been erratic, and I feel a lot of pressure and pain in my arteries (a concept which many doctors claim is “Impossible,” even though it’s the experience of many people I’ve talked to either with Marfan syndrome or atherosclerosis).  Before I digress into a complaint about ERs, the point is I came to the hospital around 7 PM and got into a room at 11.   I went to CT at 12:15 AM and noticed that the clock in my room said 2:15, so I wondered if it was broken or just off by 2 hours.  It still said 2:15 when I left the hospital at 1:45.  So it wasn’t “off by two hours”; it was “off, period,” thus illustrating the adage that a “stopped clock is right twice a day.”

An illustration of the adage in application happened 17 years ago.
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh, a disgruntled Gulf War veteran and atheist, used a truck full of fertilizer to commit what at the time was the deadliest and most destructive act of terrorism on US soil in history.
On June 11, 2001, McVeigh was executed, and given St. John Paul II’s guidelines for the proper use of the death penalty, his execution could have been considered justified.  At that point in my life, I was a young husband with a wife and unborn daughter, trying to work on my MA thesis and trying desperately to find a full time job so my wife could be a stay at home mother as she wanted.
We had a stack of Catholic periodicals I hadn’t had time to read yet.

On September 10, 2001, I was doing both–working on my thesis and catching up on my periodicals.  I read two things which a day later had great significance and showed me as always that God tends to guide my reading where He wants and when He wants me to know things.

C. S. Lewis’s fictional and allegorical books are sometimes considered novelizations of his nonfiction-he himself makes that point specifically in some cases, such as his association of That Hideous Strength with The Abolition of Man.

So in preparation for my thesis on Till We Have Faces, I was rereading The Four Loves and happened to be reading the part about patriotism.  Therein, Lewis (who was ironically pro-death penalty and one of the few pro-death penalty Christian writers that influenced me in my early reading) talks about how “Just War Theory” and Self-defense follow parallel principles.   He says that if someone invades your home and threatens you, robs you or assaults you, you have the right to fight back, but you do not have the right to chase the invader back to his home and kill him.  That’s vigilantism, not self-defense.  Thus, Lewis says, just war has to be defensive, not retaliatory.

Then I picked up a stack of slightly old diocesan newspapers and scanned for articles that might still have relevance.  I hit upon the USCCB’s statement about the then-upcoming execution of McVeigh.  I thought of the broken clock metaphor when I read the statement, presented by Roger Mahony, who argued that violence only perpetuates violence.  They warned that worse terrorism might result from McVeigh’s execution.

Three months to the day after McVeigh was executed, those words proved prophetic, as an even deadlier and more destructive act of terrorism was perpetrated by men with utility knives on commercial airlines.

These men had come into the country “legally” on student visas but stayed after those visas were expired.  Like McVeigh, the disgruntled Gulf War veteran, they were supposedly motivated by their anger at the United States’ imperialism in the Middle East.  I thought at the time how this event not only fulfilled that warning by the Catholic bishops–it also validated every warning that Patrick “I like what he has to say but I don’t think he can win so I’m not voting for him” Buchanan had made during his bids for the presidency, how if Republicans had nominated Buchanan instead of “likely to win” incumbent Bush in 1992, or possibly even in 2000, that 9/11 might not have happened because Buchanan would have tightened immigration policy, and brought our troops back to guard our own country instead of oil companies’ interests.

A week or two before, we went to a Sunday Mass where the priest quoted the famous Billy Graham quip that if God didn’t punish America, He owed an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Yet know this, that the kingdom of God is at hand. [12] I say to you, it shall be more tolerable at that day for Sodom, than for that city. [13] Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida. For if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the mighty works that have been wrought in you, they would have done penance long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. [14] But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgement, than for you. [15] And thou, Capharnaum, which art exalted unto heaven, thou shalt be thrust down to hell.” (Luke 10:11-15, Douay).

For about a week, people flooded into churches.  People prayed.  It seemed like America was having its Ninevah moment.  Then, suddenly, it became “They hate us because of our freedom.”
Suddenly, we were being told, “Islam means ‘peace,'” even though I was always taught before that–by Muslims–that “Islam means ‘submission.'”  We were being told that it was wrong to see God’s justice in the “tragedy,” that the victims were “innocent” (even though there has only been one innocent victim in history).  Rather than doing things that might have actually prevented something like 9/11 from happening again, like tightening our immigration policies and bringing our troops back to our country to defend our own borders, we got involved in a perpetual “War on Terror” that has just perpetuated the cycle of violence even further, and we’re told that if one criticizes this cycle of violence, if one criticizes the imperialism of it, one is “dishonoring the Troops.”

Socrates said it is better to suffer wrong than to do it.

A common theme of many Marian apparitions–which have very accurately warned of the times in which we live–is that our only weapons should be the Rosary and the Cross.

Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

“Don’t show me those graphic pictures!”

There is a common complaint, with which I tend to sympathize, that we shouldn’t focus so much on the graphic images of abortion or of victims of terrorism and persecution. On the other hand, as Fr. Frank Pavone says, “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.”
However again, people rightly point out that images of violence can desensitize us to violence and/or inspire us to violence. Particularly when it comes to seeing the images of those being martyred by radical Muslims, we’re warned that promotion of such images might promote further violence or allow to the terrorists to get exactly what they want by allowing them to get credit for their misdeeds.
As far as that goes, as Thomas Merton points out in Bread in the Wilderness, would anyone know of Sihon, king of the Amorites or Og, the king of Bashan were it not for the Sacred Scriptures recounting how Israel triumphed over them?

Then it occurred to me, reflecting on the recent 21 Coptic Christians whose status as martyrs was affirmed by ISIS recording them professing Christ as they died, how Christian devotion is fundamentally based upon “graphic images” like these:

Hour of Mercy: Psalm 51 (New American Bible)

Hour of Mercy: Psalm 102 (New American Bible)

Hour of Mercy: Psalm 130 (New American Bible)



So, yes, please don’t glorify evil by showing graphic images of evils being committed today.

Pray for Peace and Reparation!

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. And by the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins , save us from the fire of hell. Take all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.
O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Pray the Rosary for Peace! Please!

IMG_1666

Pray for Peace in the Ukraine and in the World


If you’re reading this, and you’re not doing something that absolutely prevents it (which you likely aren’t if you’re reading Facebook or blogs; if so, do it when you’re free), drop everything else and take 15 minutes, at least, to pray together for the Ukraine. Preferably say the Rosary, or the Jesus Rosary, and/or the following Psalms (first number is Septuagint/Second is the Masoretic/common English numbering): 29/30, 111/112, 131/132, 132/133, 140/141, 143/144

Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom the winning fleet at Lepanto was dedicated.

“Imagine” there were no “COEXIST”-ers

“Imagine” if there were no people with “COEXIST” bumper stickers, listening to John Lennon and insisting that everyone had to think and act alike so there’d be “peace.”
I was thinking this weekend of the following rather short Socratic dialogue.
Liberal: “Religious people frighten me; spiritual people inspire me.”
Me: “Why is that?”
Liberal: “Because religion is the cause of all the wars. Spirituality is about peace.”
Me: “Oh, so who would you consider an example of a ‘spiritual’ figure?”
Liberal: “The Dalai Lama.”
Me: “Oh, and what about a ‘religious’ leader?”
Liberal: “The Pope.”
Me: “OK, and do you have a specific war in mind? Maybe like Iraq?”
Liberal: “Of course.”
Me: “So, what would you say to the fact that the Dalai Lama supported the war in Iraq, but Popes John Paul II, Benedict and Francis have all spoken against it?”

Are “We the People” the “Enemies” of “the United States of America”?


A few days ago, some former private named Bradley Manning was sentenced for 35 years in prison for selling military “secrets” to Wikileaks. Now, this case raises many questions/issues. One is the problem of whether it’s possible to 99% disagree with someone and then use the person as an example in the 1% where you agree, just as it’s possible to agree with 99% of someone yet disagree with 1%.
So, in this case, I shared he above “meme” the other day, which happens to use Manning’s picture to illustrate a point I happen to agree with. It got several “likes,” mostly from people whom I would expect to give such a response, and angry comments (including one de-friending) from two people I’d have expected to respond angrily. One provided a few facts about the case with which I was admittedly unfamiliar. Earlier that day, when I had replied to one friend’s post on the verdict, I asked who Manning was, and said I couldn’t keep all these Obama scandals straight.
Now, one detail which Angry Commentor #2 pointed out was that Manning *sold* the documents to Wikileaks: this is certainly problematic on multiple levels, including the “principles” to which Wiki/Open Source sites are supposed to adhere. Also, around the time that I had tentatively shown Manning some modicum of support, the “news” broke that “he” considers himself a “she,” and wants to be called Chelsea and given a “sex-change” operation at taxpayers’ expense. So, again, he obviously has some issues of his own. However, the Manning case, like the Edward Snowden case, raises an important Constitutional issue in our present media age, especially in the light of the recent revival of Jane Fonda’s controversial acts in Vietnam.
Once again, I was expecting to alienate a few people in Facebook last week when I questioned why people are protesting Fonda–a Communist pro-abortionist–portraying Nancy Reagan, an occultist pro-abortionist. I can understand and agree with people who protest Fonda in general, but I am a bit perplexed over taking issue with this particular role, as if Nancy Reagan is some sacred person who makes Fonda’s portrayal offensive–such as, for example, if she’d been portraying the *other* Mrs. Reagan, the late Jane Wyman, TOP. interestingly, I’ve seen articles about protests of “one actor” in the movie which show Oprah Winfrey and Michael Rainey in the accompanying picture, making it appear to a causal reader/clicker that the opposition is about one of them and, therefore, “racist.” Anyway, in one discussion of Fonda’s role in _The Butler_, someone claimed she was given a list of names and SSNs by POWs in Vietnam who hoped she’d let their families know they were still alive, but instead turned the information over to their captors, who killed them. This story has been proven a hoax, however. Fonda did actively support the Viet Cong, but she never acted in a way that directly killed POWs–especially since some of those allegedly dead POWs are alive.
Anyway, the allegations seemed to be an interesting parallel to the claims that Manning’s and Snowden’s actions have resulted in the deaths of US soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. At first, I was going to include it as a contrast: that if what Fonda is falsely accused of doing (and, as often gets pointed out, the 8th Commandment still applies to celebrities) is true, it would certainly constitute treason. However, that allegation is of secretly leaking secret information directly to an enemy (in which case, since all the alleged “witnesses” were killed, how would anyone know of it?). Is it really the same thing to release “secrets” to the public?
Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution states:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

In the cases of Snowden and Manning, they were revealing information to “We the people” via “the Press.” As various commentators and memes have pointed out, if they are giving “aid and comfort” to the “Enemies” of the “United States,” then the conclusion must be that the government considers “The People” to be “Enemies.”
My angry interlocutors insisted that Manning deserves the death penalty. While capital punishment was the standard penalty for treason at the time of the Founding Fathers, Article 3, Section 3, Clause 2 clearly modifies the English Common Law practice (“Corruption of Blood” meant that the penalties could be extended to the traitor’s family), and some of the most notorious traitors in US history, such as Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen, were sentenced to life in prison. In any case, this creates a dilemma for Catholics that my interlocutors were not willing to address (particularly the one who left one comment then defriended me without opportunity to respond): Manning or Snowden may meet the standard for capital punishment under US Law (obviously, the courts decided Manning’s actions did not meet that standard), but do they meet the standards of the Catholic Church?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church was famously revised to reflect adjustments to Church teaching in Bl. John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae</em?. Paragraph 2267 of the Second Edition states:

Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”68

Assuming that it was Manning or Snowden’s intention to cause the deaths of soldiers or spies, and assuming it could be proven with certainty that their actions directly resulted in actual deaths, the death penalty could only be justly used if that was the only way of protecting people against further deaths. Since their alleged crimes involved “theft” of information, it is hard to see how either case meets that standard.

That gets us to the second question: is what they did actually *theft*?

Have a Heart: Rabbi Gellman, a Marfan, talks about War on Terror (only YouTube video I could find with him)

The Pope’s Resignation: is it the End of the World?

Who knows? It’s certainly a time to pray and fast for the good of the Church and the World.

Here’s what I don’t understand: Jesus specifically warned against the equivalent of “stocking up canned goods” in Luke 12, saying to store up treasure in Heaven. Paul, in 2 Thessalonians, is writing all about what *not* to do, and the oft-quoted “anyone who would not work should not eat” was referring to those who were doing the equivalent of “hiding out in a bunker” and waiting for the world to end. He who clings to his life will lose it; he who loses his life will find it forever.

In the Twilight Zone episode “The Shelter,” Larry Gates (later Guiding Light/s HB Lewis) plays Dr. Bill Stockton, a beloved family doctor who’s quite proud of the bomb shelter he’s built in his basement–with *just* enough room for him, his wife and his son, and stocked with just enough food (it is unclear whether he packed “just enough food” to last not only until *after* the fall-out of nuclear war but till after it was possible to *regrow* food). His friends and neighbors, gathered for his birthday, mock his paranoia–until reports come in that an actual nuclear war is on the verge of starting. Stockton hurries his family to the shelter, leaving the friends & neighbors behind. He locks them out. They come begging to be included. He says he doesn’t have any room–*maybe* one person if they insist. But he keeps screaming at them to leave and threatening to shoot them if they don’t. They fight among themselves viciously about who should be the one to survive with the Stockton family, and condemning each other’s real or perceived faults.

Then war *doesn’t* happen, and they’re all left with their relationships shattered by their selfishness.

When Jesus comes again, you’re not going to avoid that by hiding out in a bunker, and we have the assurance the world will not end until then. If it’s nuclear war, you’re not going to avoid that by hiding out in a bunker (interestingly, at Nagasaki, a Catholic Church was preserved from the destruction). If we’re going to experience a little turmoil that leads to the Era of Peace, then why fight it or fear it? If society collapses, stored goods will only last so long before you need more food, and refusing to share what you’ve stored with those in need will not win you points in Heaven.

And, if none of that stuff happens, and you wake up just as you did on December 22, 2012, or you come out of your bomb shelter like the Stocktons, and the world is still here, you look pretty silly. You might even, like the Stocktons, find yourself with shattered friendships.

And if you go to bed expecting the world doesn’t end, and your *life* ends, whether the world does or does not, you still make yourself liable to die and have the Lord say, “You fool! Did you not know that this very night your life would be demanded of you?! For I come like a thief in the night!”

What do I think of Guns and Gun Control?

1) I HATE THE ISSUE. It is such a non-issue, on both sides. It’s absurd. Yes, the Demonocrats want gun control so they can establish a grand Communist tyranny. Yes, Republicans oppose gun control because they want a grand Libertarian anarchy. It’s a complex issue, with various complex moral layers, and each side tries to drastically oversimplify it, stating the problems in the other side’s position without seeing the problems in its own.

2) As far as the Second Amendment goes:
a) It says “well-regulated Militia” Much has been made of how people in Switzerland have lots of guns and very low violent crime in recent weeks, but it was pointed out to me the other day by a FB friend who lives in France, the people in Switzerland have to undergo yearly tests to retain their gun ownership rights.
b) It can be amended.
c) If we are to take the Founding Fathers’ word that it is to protect the people *against* the government, we must also remember that they were Masons, with an attitude of opposition to traditional forms of government.

3) Catholics like to quote Catechism 2265:

Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.[66]

Without including its qualification in 2264:

Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
“If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful…. Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.[65]” (emphasis added)

So when someone says, “I wish they’d have shot that guy dead before he even got into the school, they are not following Church teaching regarding legitimate self-defense. The Mississippi shooter who has been discussed as a parallel case–who killed his own mother before coming to a school but was stopped in progress and later said he did it as part of a Satanic cult–was stopped by an assistant principal using a private handgun. And that assistant principal never fired a bullet. Indeed, in many of these mass shootings, the shooters stopped when confronted by either a private citizen, security guard or police officer with a gun–and either surrendered or killed themselves.

It may not even be necessary to fire a gun to stop an assailant. More on this later.

Here are some other passages from the Catechism that gun fanatics ought to consider. First, the passage from _EvangeliumVitae_ which led to the _Catechism_ being almost immediately revised:

2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.
“If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
“Today, in fact, given the means at the State’s disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender ‘today … are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’ [68]

While 2265 is taken by some as saying there’s a moral obligation to use violence, 2306 offers a different perspective:

Those who renounce violence and bloodshed and, in order to safeguard human rights, make use of those means of defense available to the weakest, bear witness to evangelical charity, provided they do so without harming the rights and obligations of other men and societies. They bear legitimate witness to the gravity of the physical and moral risks of recourse to violence, with all its destruction and death.[103]

Again, when “pro-gun” people speak with glee about the notion of killing a would be assailant, they’d do well to remember these passages:

2302 By recalling the commandment, “You shall not kill,”[93] our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral.
Anger is a desire for revenge. “To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,” but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution “to correct vices and maintain justice.”[94] If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”[95]

2303 Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

And the following passages, while specifically applying to war, should be taken into consideration by those who “stockpile” weapons, especially in “preparation” for a hypothetical societal collapse or government oppression:

2315 The accumulation of arms strikes many as a paradoxically suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations. This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations. The arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations;[110] it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation.

2316 The production and the sale of arms affect the common good of nations and of the international community. Hence public authorities have the right and duty to regulate them. The short-term pursuit of private or collective interests cannot legitimate undertakings that promote violence and conflict among nations and compromise the international juridical order.

4) I never understand what a gun can do that a knife, a sword, an arrow, a spear or a throwing star cannot. Indeed, in terms of the Church’s teaching on disabling rather than killing an opponent whenever possible, these weapons would be far more effective.

5) I also do not understand why Christians are not more eager for the opportunity to try and convert a would-be assailant, to confront someone obviously in the grip of the Devil with holy water, prayer and preaching, and the power of Sacramentals, and not with violence.

6) The situations in my life where I’ve been most afraid for my life, having a gun in the house wouldn’t have helped, and may have actually allowed the individuals the opportunity to kill someone.

7) I know a lady who has lived for many decades in an older neighborhood where because of trees, sidewalks, etc., there are a lot of prowlers. On several occasions, she has protected her house merely by the threat of having a gun (yelling, “I have a gun, and I’m going to shoot you” at prowlers whom she could see but could not see her). This on the one hand shows how actually having a gun is not necessary and, again, killing the criminal is not necessary. It also shows how having the *ability* to own guns protects people.

8) Criminals by definition don’t follow laws: if they want guns or any other weapons, they’ll get them.

9) There are several websites that discuss the Texas “concealed carry” law and how many crimes have been committed by people with concealed carry permits, how many crimes have been committed by people *without* concealed carry permits, and how many crimes have been prevented by people with concealed carry permits:

http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba324
http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/rsd/chl/index.htm

Note, however, that by definition “concealed carry” is a form of “gun control”: requiring licenses to own weapons is a form of gun control, and is the form of gun control I support.

10) I think gun control has been a contributing factor to the mass murders of the past 20+ years, because gun control advocates have convinced families to keep guns away from their children. So children in households *with* guns, who used to be raised to hunt and to know how to use a gun and how to respect it, have been taught that their parents’ guns are a mysterious taboo waiting to be explored. On the other hand, they watch violent movies, and mommy says, when the person dies on the screen, “You know that’s just pretend, right? And he’s coming back. He’s not really dead.” They play video games and get to “kill” people and monsters, and have them “come back,” and if they get “killed” in the video games, they get to “start over,” and for certain kinds of personality types, this can be very damaging.

11) Just as with guns as such, blanket suppression/condemnation and blanket permissiveness of TV/movies/video games are equally to blame. Instead of parents telling their kids “this is OK to watch/play, but this isn’t,” and explaining *why* the “not OK” is “not OK,” parents either ban everything or permit everything. A while back, a nice lady on Facebook was concerned that her kids were invited over to a friend’s house to play _Super Smash Bros_. “It sounds horrible” she said. I explained that, while I’ve never seen or played it directly, the game is really no more harmful than _Wii Boxing_: it’s just basically a boxing game featuring a mix-up of classic video game characters, particularly from the Mario franchises. Parents ought to have such basic, minimal knowledge about TV, movies and video games, especially when it’s as simple as looking something up online. If they really don’t know this stuff, then they’re not participating in their kids’ lives. And THAT is the thing to be concerned about in terms of societal causes.

12) People who want to do evil will do evil. As several Facebook memes are pointing out, Timothy McVeigh did it with fertilizer. The guy in China stabbed a classroom full of kids with a knife. The 9/11 terrorists used plastic knives. As my wife pointed out this evening, in the past few days, while she was driving the kids to school, two different idiots tried to kill her and them with automobiles. What ultimately infuriates me about the gun control “debate” is that it’s about epiphenomena.

You can ban and round up every legally owned assault rifle, and criminals who want assault rifles will get them (and apparently with the help of the Obama Administration). You can put TSA agents at every public venue, and strip search everyone, and those with wicked designs will find ways to get around it.

Unless you directly take on evil, all the rest of it is useless. More on that later.

How “Arrest Bush” People Promote a Catholic State

I think everyone in our culture, if they know anything about Catholicism, know that the Catholic Church used to have an Inquisition. Now, much like Bishop Sheen’s statement about people hating not the Catholic Church but what they *think* that Catholic Church is, those people often think they know what the Inquisition was but know little about it.
First, there were technically two sets of entities known as the “Inquisition.” On the one hand, there was/is the entity that worked within the Church to enforce orthodoxy and investigate heresy and other issues. It still exists, though some of its methods and organizations have changed with its name. Its name was later changed to the Holy Office, and it is now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
The other side or form of the “Inquisition” was the internal agencies of local countries where Catholicism was the state religion, which enforced violations of Catholic teaching as criminal offenses. Sometimes, quite rarely, that meant “witchcraft” or “heresy,” but it also included moral offenses. The different state Inquisitions would use different methods, and the exact methods of the Inquisition would vary with different officials like any organization. Sometimes, it used torture. In some cases, it was actually closer to modern notions of justice than the criminal and civil courts of those times.

Sometimes, it would be over-zealous.

When Joan of Arc was sentenced to death by the Inquisition, her trial was overseen by substitute officials because the Grand Inquisitor was in Rome during the whole affair, and as soon as he came back, he reviewed the trial and found it to be unjust, though it took another 50 years to fully reverse the verdict and 500 years for Joan to be canonized.

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who united Spain after centuries of wars between Christians and Muslims, instituted the Spanish Inquisition, which was notoriously harsh and overzealous in trying to keep the Muslims from retaking the country, and trying to keep Protestantism from overtaking Spain as it had so many countries in Northern Europe. The Spanish Inquisition was overzealous to the point that Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, two of the greatest saints of all time and both later deemed Doctors of the Church, lived in fear of the Inquisition, and at least one of Teresa’s books was “lost in the shuffle” as the Inquisition investigated it.

Yet in spite of these offenses that everyone knows about, the Inquisition did a lot of good. Back in those days, there were priests who committed sexual abuse (Holy Mother Teresa writes about one in her _Life_), but the Inquisition punished them. In World War II, the Holy Office used its network to assist Allied spies and as an “underground railroad” to help Jews and Allied POWs escape the Nazis.

The abuses had more to do with the local state-affiliated Inquisitions than the overall Inquisition of the Church, which is why the Church changed the name and reorganized it. On the other hand, a lot of what is “commonly known” comes from anti-Catholic propaganda and is actually historically inaccurate.

Thus, I find it ironic that, on the one hand, the Church is criticized for having the Inquisition. On the other hand, the *contemporary* Church is often criticized for things that the Inquisition used to handle. The extensive problem of sexual abuse by priests in this century could be blamed, in part, on the absence of an Inquisition. The insistence of bishops on emphasizing reform and forgiveness in dealing with sexual abuser priests was due, in part, to a mentality of “We don’t want to be like the Inquisition.” If the Inquisition was still active, and was a government agency, there would have been a clear avenue for punishing priests who engaged in sexual abuse or embezzlement or other offenses. But since the US insists on separation of Church and State, and the Church says, “fine; we’re separate, so stay out of our business,” the problem arose that we are all aware of.

Dr. Charles Rice points out that people are opposed to the notion of Natural Law until it’s convenient. Suddenly, at the Nuremberg Trials, people were talking about Natural Law. Then it was moral relativism all over again. People will tell me that they don’t believe in Natural Law, then say that BP needs to be punished for the oil leak in the Gulf–a form of Natural Law.

Earlier, I posted about uncivil political rhetoric and noted that I believe Barack Obama should be impeached and prosecuted for a number of things, including war crimes, violations of the Constitution and defrauding the people.

I figured an automatic reply from some would be, “Prosecute Bush,” and in one sense, I agree. Anticipating that response inspired *this* post.

Morally, Bush is responsible for a lot of offenses. I don’t think he’s responsible for everything that the Left claims. The assertions of WMDs in Iraq, for example, were made under the Clinton Administration, and again, proving a negative is impossible. We’ll probably never know for certain whether the WMDs were there or not. There are Iraq veterans who claim they found WMDs but the media didn’t report it. There are various conspiracy theories about the WMDs being sent off to other countries before the invasion. Who knows? I think that Bush was sincere, though, in acting on the intelligence he was given. I suspect something like what happens in the movie _Wag the Dog_, however.

I still think Bush also did a lot to violate the Constitution, and to violate human rights, but he did it with the support of Congress, and there is nothing in US law that would directly impeach him. Even if the Supreme Court were to rule the Patriot Act, or NCLB, unconstitutional (it already ruled McCain-Feingold unconstitutional), that still wouldn’t be grounds for prosecution. You can’t prosecute someone for passing a law that’s later overturned.

Of course, the Left would argue that he should be arrested by some UN agency, but of course that’s not an option I would support. The UN goes against everything I believe in, starting with the principle of subsidiarity, and including the fact that it’s basically a Masonic entity.

To this, I note how many Papal documents, such as Caritas et Veritate, that seem to support the UN are actually undermining it. When the Vatican says something like, “There needs to be a global entity overseeing the morality of the banking industry,” the Church is saying, “Wink, wink, nudge, nudge”; “There needs to be an entity to oversee global morality. By the way, we’re a global entity that God established to oversee morality.” It’s saying basically that the Church should be running the UN.

That gets us back to the Inquisition. Just as a modern day Inquisition would have stopped the sex abuse crisis in its tracks, so too would it give us something to do with Bush.

Obama is clearly guilty of constitutional crimes. Bush is guilty of grave moral offenses, many of which he shares with Obama, but he did them all with the protection of the institutions we have in this country. We don’t have an entity that punishes violations of Natural Law that are not also part of the criminal code. That’s what an Inquisition is for.

So, that’s how the Occupy Wall Street Left, which would reflexively say “Inquisition” as a response to any pro-Catholic statement, is actually arguing *for* an Inquisition.

Why This Paleocon Solidly Supports Rick Santorum

Let me start this very clearly: anyone reading this blog should realize I’m a solid paleoconservative, and I’ve been very critical of both neoconservatism as a philosophy and Rick Santorum insofar as he exemplifies it. That said, with all things put together, I have decided that Santorum is not only the best candidate among the standing Republicans but the only possible candidate to face the crisis our country is in.

Will he win? Well, polls are indicating he’s the only Republican who has a chance of beating Obama, and it’s really a question of whether he has a chance of beating Romney. At this point, since I’ve argued for years that a repeat of 1860 is the only way to end abortion, I’m counting on the GOP to split at the convention the way the Democrats did in 1860. In a three way race between Obama, Romney and Santorum (or Paul, but he hasn’t got a shot at this point), I’m sure Santorum would be the spoiler the way Lincoln was in 1860, because Santorum appeals to the same voters Lincoln did, and they’re still roughly the same percentage of the population.

A. Constistently Pro-Life?

Again, I disagree strongly with some of Santorum’s foreign policy positions. I agree with those who say that his positions on “enhanced interrogation,” assassination of civilians, and foreign interventionism belie his pro-life convictions and do not reflect a consistent pro-life philosophy. However, I always recognize, with the Church, that there is a hierarchy to pro-life issues.

1. Abortion and contraception are absolutes. I’ve always argued that given the choice between two anti-abortion candidates, the next issue to consider is contraception, and Santorum is better than the other candidates on that. Indeed, my otherwise favorite Ron Paul and his non-Catholic supporters have specifically criticized Santorum’s position on contraception. This was why, literally at the last minute, I decided to vote for Rick in the SC primary.

2. War is not an absolute, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in his infamous “secret letter” to Cardinal McCarrick. Since the state has the right to wage war when necessary, and since the judgement of whether a war is just or unjust is prudential, even though I disagree with Santorum’s positions on war-related issues, he seems to be exercising his prudential judgement and taking Church teaching, as he understands it, into consideration.

3. Santorum has shown himself willing to adjust his own beliefs to the Church’s teachings, more than any other politician I’ve seen. Since being voted out of office, from what I’ve heard from him on EWTN, he seems to have repented of his support of Specter, for example. If any politician is willing to change to be more in accord with the Church, he’s it. So I pray he’ll alter his foreign policy views as time goes on.

4. While I disagree with his views, again, I think he’s sincere in them. I’ve always pointed to Pat Buchanan as the ideal Catholic paleocon and the late Bob Casey, Sr., as the ideal Catholic liberal–both argue sincerely from their Catholic principles to their political conclusions. I happen to agree more with Buchanan, but respect Casey’s reasoning. I say the same thing about Santorum: I respect his reasoning, even though I disagree with some of his conclusions and his view on the function of government.

B. Paleocon versus Neocon view of Government

As a paleocon, I’d prefer small-government solutions to problems. I’d rather we outlaw abortion the Ron Paul way than by passing yet another federal law.

However, I have to recognize the signs of the times. If Ron Paul had done better so far, it would be one thing, but he’s hardly gotten any votes at all. Paleoconservatism is a dying position. In Canada, neither dominant coalition is officially pro-life anymore, and the “Religious Right” is suffering as a minority. That will happen in the US if Romney gets the GOP nomination. Rush Limbaugh said last year how the GOP leadership wants to the Christians to shut up about abortion. For the most part, paleocons and neocons agree about issues; we just disagree about the best way to tackle them. Even though I disagree with Santorum about *how* to tackle them, I also acknowledge that, at this point, his methods may be the only way to win on certain issues. Having seen Buchanan, Dornan, Keyes and now Paul get rejected time and again, I have to admit that paleoconservatism is a losing viewpoint, and if we don’t find a way of working with the neocons, we face the fate of not just paleocons but all pro-lifers in Canada.

C. Catholicism

Right before I went to the polls in the South Carolina primary, I went across the border to a pro-life rally in Augusta for the Anniversary of _Roe v. Wade_. It was sponsored by the interfaith “Alleliua” community. It was raining, and crowded, so I sat in my van and listened to some of the talks. I heard some speaker–don’t know if he was Catholic or Protestant–saying how we’re all “flavors of the same Christianity,” and that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church is subordinate to the Bible. Heresy trumps abortion, and I high-tailed it out of there. Then I went to the polls, and thought how I could not stomach voting for a non-Catholic when I had two acceptable Catholic candidates to choose from. Then I thought about the fact that Paul’s people were criticizing Santorum’s position on contraception, and voted for him.

That same weekend, this stuff about the HHS mandate came out. We are faced with a true culture war, where everything is pointed against the Catholic Church. Even ex-Catholic Glenn Beck, who was criticized here and elsewhere for seeming to tell Catholics to leave their Church a few years ago when he told people to leave any churches that talk of social justice, is praising the Church for taking a stand, and saying that the Obama administration is at war with the Catholic Church. Glenn Beck and the Limbaugh brothers have recently been speaking out in support of the Catholic Church, Rick Santorum, Pope Benedict XVI and Timothy Cardinal Dolan, saying how they’re taking a firm stand against Obama and for Christian values.

We’re at a watershed moment in our culture, and the Church Herself is under attack. I have no doubt that Romney, if elected, will just continue the work that Bush and Obama have started. The only one who can stem this tide against the Church in America is Rick Santorum.

D. Santorum shows signs of being the next “Reagan.”

It was under Ronald Reagan that Pat Buchanan coined the term “Paleocon” to distinguish from the former liberals who had joined the GOP over abortion and other social issues. Reagan breaking his promises to shut down the then relatively new EPA and Department of Education in favor of using them to promote a conservative agenda was one of the tell-tale signs of the so-called “neo-conservatism.”

The last GOP primary to last this long was 1976, when Reagan won 10 states against Ford. Obviously, Ford lost the election to Carter, but Reagan won four years later. If Santorum *doesn’t* win this nomination, he’s a shoe-in for 2016 (assuming there *is* a 2016 to look forward to). If the delegates are tied or close to it going into the Convention, we may see what I’ve been predicting: a party split where the GOP divides along its social conservative and economic conservative lines the way the Whigs did in the 1850s and the Democrats did in 1860. If Obama and Romney split the secularists, and Santorum wins the religious voters, Santorum could win.

E. Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony “Swing Vote” Kennedy

Those three are now the longest-serving members of the Supreme Court, if not the oldest. At least one of them is most likely to die, retire or get sick in the next 5 years. If Obama has a chance to nominate another justice, it will most likely be to replace a conservative or moderate. We’re not only dealing with overturning Roe v. Wade now, but “gay marriage” in numerous states, as well as Obamacare (which may hopefully be overturned in a few weeks), and several other unconstitutional laws passed under Obama (and Bush).

In 8 Years, George W. Bush nominated 2 justices to replace a couple “moderate” Republican justices. Obama’s replaced a liberal with a liberal. If he can replace a moderate or a solid conservative with a liberal, then liberals will have the majority on the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future, and if any of these issues make it to the Court, they can solidify them into so-called “settled law.”

If Romney gets in, he’ll most likely appoint “moderate Republicans” who can go either way.

Only with Santorum do we have a chance of appointing conservative jutices and getting the solid conservative majority we need to get this country back on the right track.

That’s why paleocons need to hold their noses and vote for Rick.

The Iraq War In Perspective

Now, if a war is unjust, or the method used in a just cause is unjust, it doesn’t matter if one person dies.
However, I get sick of hearing about how the war in Iraq should have outweighed abortion as a respect life issue.

So, we all know that in America, abortion kills about 4,000 people daily, about 1.2 million per year. Worldwide, there are 42 million abortions a year, which works out to about 115,000 per day.
Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, between 70 and 125 Iraqis were killed per day.

While some sources claim the total deaths in Iraq from 2003-2011 number in the millions, there is no official statement to back that up. We know a total of 4408 US soldiers died, a total of 318 soldiers from other coalition countries, and a total of 1487 contractors.

187 reporters and media support staff were killed, and 94 Aid Workers.

Given that a certain number of soldiers die every day just due to accidents, given that the reporters and aid workers who died would have been in Iraq or some other troubled part of the world, I wonder how many of them would have died anyway.

The Iraqi government estimates that between 110,000 and 150,000 Iraqis died of violence between 2003-2011, including Iraqi security forces, “insurgents,” and, again, those who died from acts of terrorism and other violence that may have happened without the war. A little over 40,000 of those were Iraqi security and “insurgents.”

So if we go with the maximum figure of 150,000 Iraqis, as stated by the Iraqi government, and add the whopping total of 6,494 non-Iraqi deaths in the conflict, that’s an average of 17,389 deaths per year.

So if we are to accept the false dichotomy that a Catholic voting in 2004 or 2008 was choosing between the pro-life issue of Iraq, and the pro-life issue of abortion, and had to decide which was more pressing:
0,017,389 deaths per year (Iraq)
1,200,000 deaths per year (abortion).

Which looks more pressing to you?

110,000-150,000 total Iraqis killed from 2003-2011
115,000 abortions per day, worldwide

48 deaths per day in Iraq, versus 4,000 abortions per day in the US
48 deaths per day in the Iraq war (including people who probably would have been murdered, died from accidental causes in the military, or killed by terrorism or violence if the war wasn’t going on), versus as many as 125 Iraqis killed per day by Saddam Hussein during his regime (not to mention the people he killed in the wars he fought).

One of the arguments by the Vatican to say that the Iraq invasion was unjust was that the damage to potentially be done outweighed the damage to be rectified.

I don’t see how 48 deaths per day in the war is worse damage than 125 deaths per day before it.

America’s #1 Killer

Every year, it kills more people than cancer and heart disease put together.

It kills twice the number of people as the remaining 8 of the top ten “official” causes of death put together (AIDS doesn’t even chart).

Every year, it kills twice the total number of Americans who’ve died from AIDS in the 30+ year history of the epidemic (approx. 18,000 year year die of AIDS).

Every year, it kills twice as many Americans as all of our war casualties in the last 100 years put together.

Since 1972, it has killed more Americans than the total number of people killed by Hitler and Stalin combined.

Since 1976, there have been a total of approx. 1260 executions in the United States.  Since 1972, there have been 50,000,000 legal abortions and counting.

Yet people say that the death penalty is a more important issue.  They say that war is a more important issue.  They say that “health care reform” is a more important issue.

People parade for veterans and for war memorials.  They parade for cancer and heart disease.  They parade for AIDS.  Do they parade for the unborn?

People protest violently outside of military bases in the name of “peace.”

They protest violently on Wall Street to protest corporate greed.

They protest outside prisons to protest the death penalty.

Heck, they protest outside monasteries to promote the “rights” of chickens!

Yet a handful of pro-lifers gather in front of Planned Parenthood to silently protest, pray, and/or engage in sidewalk counseling, and they’re labelled freaks, terrorists, or extremists.  They’re hit with racketeering lawsuits.

A Refresher Course on my Dream Presidential Candidate

She would support:

1) Malta level laws on abortion and contraception, being passed NOW
2) End to “no fault” divorce.  Promotes covenant marriage and jail sentences for adulterers.  Supports abolishing the Dept. of Education and putting control of education and educational spending at the local level.
3) Favors maintaining and protecting but also reforming current welfare programs while eliminating “welfare for the rich,” NEA, NEH, PBS/NPR, and drastically reducing the “defense” budget to support a defensive, rather than invasive, military.  Use our troops to protect our borders and stop illegal immigration and smuggling.
4) Supports a Fair Tax, with no sales tax on food, medical expenses, rent, or second-hand items (including used cars and houses).  Contrary to claims that Sales Taxes unduly burden the poor, it would put the burden on those who engage in conspicuous consumption.
5) Favors  Supports a peace-oriented foreign policy, opposes intrinsically evil nuclear weapons, use of torture, and attacks on civilian targets.
6) Supports policies that encourage ownership of labor by the workers themselves: privatizing many functions currently performed by government workers (even if those functions are still paid for by the government through contracting), encouraging if not requiring corporations to have employee stock plans, encouraging actual home ownership as opposed to mortgages, encouraging degrees in education, medicine and practical trades.
7) Promotes alternative energy research and usage.  Promotes recycling and the use of land for actually growing food.  Eliminates federal, state and local zoning regulations and restrictive covenants that discourage gardening, alternative energy devices or hang drying clothes.
8) Promotes authentic healthcare reform, including tort reform on the one hand but also requiring loss of licenses if medical professionals reach a threshold of complaints.

Is Self-Defense about “Guilt”?

For years, I have struggled against a popular but erroneous notion–even spread among many pro-life leaders–that there is a difference between “killing the guilty” and “killing the innocent.” Yes, the Church often refers to “innocent victims,” but the Church *never* says that the guilty “forfeit their right to life” This is a common notion, selectively used by pro-life leaders regarding terrorists and US enemies and serial killers–yet they get all defensive when you ask, “So, is it OK to kill abortionists? Do they forfeit their right to life by their guilt?” Suddenly, the next inconsistency is, “Well, the state doesn’t consider what they do murder.”

Well, the problem is the Church never says you have a right to kill anyone. The idea is to do everything possible to protect against an agreessor, up to and including taking that person’s life if there is no other course of action.

However, the Church never says “guilt”, and the example that occurs to me is that a person does not have to be “guilty” of anything for one to engage in self-defense.

Let’s say, for example, that I’m out in my yard, and my next door neighbor comes running and screaming at me, wielding a butcher knife. I have a reasonable assumption that he attacking me with the butcher knife, and I grab the nearest weapon or potential weapon and, in the attempt to defend myself, kill my next door neighbor. Now, I had no right and no need to try and judge my neighbor. I just had to know he was coming at me with a butcher knife. He might not have been *guilty* of anything: he might have been chopping meat in his kitchen and found out he had a gas leak, and his kitchen was about to explode. He was “innocent,” but from my perspective, I had a reasonable view that he as attacking me.

Similarly, let’s say Tom is driving along, and Harry, coming down the side of the road, has some kind of medical event. Harry is not driving recklessly or drunkenly; through no fault of his own, he loses control of his vehicle, and he swerves out of his lane. Tom uses a defensive maneuver, and Harry is killed. Tom hasn’t intentionally killed Harry, and Harry hasn’t intentionally tried to kill Tom. Harry is, like the neighbor in the first scenario, objectively innocent. However, he was endangering Tom’s life, and Tom was justified in saving his own life, even at the cost of Harry’s.

“Guilt” and “innocence” doesn’t have anything to do with it, yet Bl. John Paul II did say that, even when the death penalty is justified, it must be carried out objectively and not with a desire for revenge or anger.

I can objectively admit that the killing of Osama bin Ladin was justified. What I will not do is rejoice over it.

The USCCB on Iraq and Libya: WHAT???

The USCCB Website has a whole directory of statements that the USCCB or its officers made regarding the Iraq War.  Most just state the moral considerations without issuing judgment, one way or the other.  In a February 2004 summary statement, “the bishops” state the following (quoting another document, but I clicked through the documents in the archive and couldn’t find this exact passage anywhere else):

Our bishops’ conference continues to question the moral legitimacy of any preemptive, unilateral use of military force to overthrow the government of Iraq. To permit preemptive or preventive uses of military force to overthrow threatening or hostile regimes would create deeply troubling moral and legal precedents. Based on the facts that are known, it is difficult to justify resort to war against Iraq, lacking clear and adequate evidence of an imminent attack of a grave nature or Iraq’s involvement in the terrorist attacks of September 11. With the Holy See and many religious leaders throughout the world, we believe that resort to war would not meet the strict conditions in Catholic teaching for the use of military force. These statements, along with educational and prayer resources, were disseminated widely and received considerable media attention. In addition, the leadership of the USCCB met with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Iraq in May and September 2002, and March 2003. The USCCB also assisted with special papal envoy Cardinal Pio Laghi’s visit to Washington to meet with President Bush on March 5, 2003.

So, the most they would say on Iraq is that they questioned the moral legitimacy of the conflict, and they note throughout these statements the criteria that need to be met. They echoed with John Paul II the call for Saddam Hussein to disarm and cooperate with the international community. They recognized the threat he posed. They insisted that a US invasion of Iraq needed to have significant international support. Fine and dandy.
I’m mostly anti-war; there’s no secret of that. I battled my conscience over Iraq for years and decided that, even while there was some warrant, the case made for the war was the wrong one, the Vatican was clearly displeased with the war, and many of the methods employed in the war have been unjust.
The USCCB is notoriously anti-war, so in some respects it’s surprising they reserved judgment and did not make an overt statement against the war in Iraq–at least not at that point (2004).
So, cut to 2011, when Barack Obama decides Kennedy/Vietnam-style that he can just send troops into another country’s civil war without congressional approval. Cut to 2011, when Barack Obama, the president of Peace, Hope and Change, goes to war with absolutely no deliberation (Bush very clearly deliberated) and with not clear threat to US security. And, while everyone insisted a war in Iraq would be “for oil,” there is no clear link between Iraq and US oil (most of the oil we import actually comes from Venezuela), but there is a link with Libya (most European oil comes from Libya).

Now, noting that it is not an absolute judgment, the current head of the USCCB’s office for “justice and Peace” says that the invasion of Libya “appears to meet” the standards for Just War!!!

He says that the attack of a dictator on his own civilians is the same as an invasion–a principle many of us can agree with–yet why was no similar statement made about Iraq???

What St. Francis has to teach us about the Jihad

One of the stories about Mohammed is that he challenged some Christian priests at some point to walk through fire to prove their faith in Christ. The priests refused, and Mohammed accused them of cowardice, winning converts and, IIRC, killing the priests.

St. Francis of Assisi, who had always wanted to go to the Crusades in his callow youth, changed that desire to one of pilgrimage. He and a companion made their humble, rag bearing way to the Holy Land and got arrested and brought before the Sultan.

St. Francis recalled to the Sultan that story about Mohammed. He said, “I come here today to present myself as a believer in Jesus Christ and answer Mohammed’s challenge. I will proudly walk through coals to prove my faith in Christ!”
The Sultan was so impressed by Francis’s faith–most accounts I’ve read say he didn’t even have to walk through the coals–that he gave Francis his badge to wear, providing him with the Sultan’s protection and basically a free pass to travel the Holy Land.

When Francis returned to Assisi, he was saddened to learn that some of his brothers who had been sent to do missionary work in Morrocco apparently took a more aggressive approach and had been killed by the Muslims.

A common “debate threat” one encounters these days, especially in regard to questioning our country’s role in this so-called “War on Terror,” is, “What would you do if the Jihadists were coming at you?”

I’ve always insisted I would announce my faith in Christ and welcome martyrdom.

Reflecting on St. Francis, let me be a bit more specific: I would do as St. Francis did. I would stop them and say, “You claim to have faith in your God, well, I have complete faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and in His only Son, Jesus Christ. My faith tells me that God will protect me from evil. My faith tells me that if I pray, the power of God can turn the hearts of infidels. Do you believe Allah has power? Why do you think you need those weapons? Is Allah not powerful enough to protect Himself? Does Allah not have power to change men’s hearts? Do you not have faith in the power of your own prayers? I challenge you to a duel of prayer. Prove your faith in Allah by putting down your weapons and praying instead!”

“Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die”

The most basic principle of Christianity is that Christ’s resurrection promises us eternal life. It gives us hope that, even though life stinks, there’s something better coming along. “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Cor 15:14). As VeggieTales puts it, “the Hope of Easter” gives people the courage to put their lives on the line, to give up everything for Christ. Why?
Because Jesus Himself said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37) and “And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.” (Matthew 19:29).

Even more, Jesus said, “For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.” (Matthew 16:25).

This is the constant theme of the Gospel. We see in the famous community described in Acts 2 that the earliest Christians lived in complete community. We see in Paul’s letters that many of the early Christians lived in constant expectation of Christ’s second coming: most trying to be the best people they could be so they could be “watchful and ready,” but others who were already forming little end of the world cults or otherwise focusing too much on the event and not what it signifies. We also see in Paul’s letters that even those early Christians began to fall astray–and we certainly see that in the letters to the churches in Revelation.

Saints are people who have their eyes set on Heaven, and they live their entire lives according to that view.
Christ warns the person who would save for the future, “You fool! This very night, your life will be demanded from you!” (Luke 12:20).

God and I have a kind of working agreement. I know that as long as I’m not too attached to this life that I’ll be around for a while. As soon as I started getting too attached, He knocks me down a peg.

These passages–and about half of Jesus’ actual preaching is along these lines (you know, “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me”; “consider the lilies of the field”; “if you deny Me before men, I will deny you before My Father”)–seem abundantly clear, yet somehow they’re commonly ignored.

It is these teachings which led Stephen to be stoned.

It is these teachings which led the Apostles to give up everything and go around the world spreading the Gospel, at the cost of their lives.

It is these teachings which led Agnes and Cecilia and other virgin martyrs to not only offer up their virginity to Christ but to offer up their lives rather than lose that virginity. It led Maria Goretti a hundred years ago to not only give up her life for her virginity but to *forgive* her would-be rapist before she died (but it’s not politically correct to talk about Maria Goretti because her story is offensive to rape victims).

It is these teachings which have led so many to give up worldly things entirely as hermits, stylites, monks, nuns, friars and religious sisters.

It is these teachings which lead men to give it all as priests.

Some would cite Opus Dei as an example that these teachings are not absolute, yet even Opus Dei requires great sacrifices of its members, and whatever the Order he started may do, St. Josemaria Escriva certainly lived according to and promoted these teachings. In fact, Josemaria Escriva and the authentic spirit of Opus Dei are the exception that proves the rule, since the point of Opus Dei is that these teachings can still be lived in the modern world.

Yet, it seems like almost every dispute I have in Catholic circles boils down to the fact that people are so attached to worldly things, so desperate to preserve their lives.

I’m not even talking about the basic run of the mill issues.

Yes, there are the constant debates about interest, greed, and all that.

Then there are the people who are so afraid of being killed by Muslims, thinking they can justify their support for torture and intrinsically evil weapons because of it, even though Jesus says, “Don’t fear those who kill the body, fear the one who can send both body and soul to Gehenna.”

Then there are the Charismatics with their obsession with faith healing rather than offering it up, and the people who go chasing around after alleged apparitions and miracles.

The pro-war people get to me of course (and, as always, I’m not talking about self-defense. I’m talking about the people who are rabidly pro-war, who support foreign policies that necessitate war, who think that a just cause can justify any action taken in support of that cause), but perhaps the group that are the most perplexing are the ones who should most know better.

One of the best homilies I’ve ever heard was given at St. William of York in Stafford, VA, several years ago (I forget the priest). He talked about what South America has to teach North America and vice versa. In South America, he said, you’ll find medical doctors who still smoke. They say, “This life is ending, and what’s the point of trying to preserve it? I’m going to Heaven.” Here in North America, of course, people do everything they can to squeeze every minute out of this life, and they aren’t willing to sacrifice at all or to consider how this is not our real home.

Again, the purpose of the letters to the Thessalonians was to criticize those who were so obsessed about the end of the world that they were shutting themselves away and trying to prepare for it in some material way rather than being busy about the kingdom.

Lately, it seems like all my conversations with my friends revolve around two topics: the fact that I’m dying, and the fact that they think they’re not.

Both among my homeschool friends and Carmelite friends, everyone is talked, reasonably so, about the situation our society is in. It is certainly a Gospel mandate to be aware of the “signs of the times”, but, again, it’s a question of why we’re looking at it and what we’re going to do about it.

EMPs; total economic collapse; Iran; North Korea; China; pollution; natural disasters; comets; nuclear war; hurricanes; tornadoes; riots; looters; earthquakes; civil wars; Canadians. . . .

Are we trying to work so that these horrible things won’t happen? Are we praying for God’s Mercy to avoid them? Are we praying for the conversion of those who might bring them to bear?

Or are we focusing merely on worldly means of protecting our worldly lives?

My Carmelite friends and my homeschooling friends alike talk about material plans for a socio-economic disaster. It’s one thing to talk about organic farming (and even that I think gets way too materialistic and “let’s stay alive as long as possible”-y). It’s one thing to talk about getting off grid so one isn’t dependent upon huge corporations.

But when I hear people obsessing about having food stored up (Luke 12), when there are so many people starving now, and when I hear people talking about having weapons to protect their food against looters, that’s just plain freaky. It doesn’t seem Christian at all, especially when most of the sources they cite are Protestants and Mormons.

So many people cite Glenn Beck about this kind of stuff when he’s a Mormon, and the Mormons are a branch of the Masons–he’s a part of it!

Then of course there is the influence in Catholic circles of the novels of Bud Macfarlane. Mary always said one of the things she didn’t like about Macfarlane’s books is they seemed a little too much like he was looking forward to these disasters happening to usher in some kind of worldly utopia (this is of course what the Church condemns as the heresy of millenarianism, seeking a worldly fulfillment of God’s kingdom).

And Macfarlane was discredited by how he left his wife. Indeed, his divorce became public in the spring of 2004, but he actually left his wife in July 2003–shortly after he’d been the keynote speaker at a major homeschooling conference (long time regular readers should know how Macfarlane sued his wife for neglect for homeschooling). So that guy should have been totally discredited as a source (also noteworthy that Macfarlane is a “fruit” of Medjugorje).

Then you’ve got anti-Catholic guys like Alex Jones (the conspiracy theorist, not the Pentecostal minister). It’s kind of like false apparitions. A very convincing case is built, based upon, “all these people saying the same thing”, yet when you start looking at “all the people”, it’s really about taking a few “big messages” (i.e., Medjugorje on the one hand or Alex Jones or Glenn Beck on the other), and then trying to make the smaller stuff fit them. And when the big guys start losing their credibility, the “lots of people saying the same thing” argument doesn’t hold water.

If people really believe all this stuff about the end of western civilization as we know it, they shouldn’t be worrying about preserves and weapons and bomb shelters and whatnot; they should be stripping themselves of all worldly belongings and preparing in case Christ should come like a thief in the night and ask what they did with His gifts.

[1] Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride. [2] And five of them were foolish, and five wise. [3] But the five foolish, having taken their lamps, did not take oil with them: [4] But the wise took oil in their vessels with the lamps. [5] And the bridegroom tarrying, they all slumbered and slept.

[6] And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him. [7] Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. [8] And the foolish said to the wise: Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out. [9] The wise answered, saying: Lest perhaps there be not enough for us and for you, go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. [10] Now whilst they went to buy, the bridegroom came: and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut.

[11] But at last come also the other virgins, saying: Lord, Lord, open to us. [12] But he answering said: Amen I say to you, I know you not. [13] Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour. [14] For even as a man going into a far country, called his servants, and delivered to them his goods; [15] And to one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one, to every one according to his proper ability: and immediately he took his journey.

[16] And he that had received the five talents, went his way, and traded with the same, and gained other five. [17] And in like manner he that had received the two, gained other two. [18] But he that had received the one, going his way digged into the earth, and hid his lord’s money. [19] But after a long time the lord of those servants came, and reckoned with them. [20] And he that had received the five talents coming, brought other five talents, saying: Lord, thou didst deliver to me five talents, behold I have gained other five over and above.

[21] His lord said to him: Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. [22] And he also that had received the two talents came and said: Lord, thou deliveredst two talents to me: behold I have gained other two. [23] His lord said to him: Well done, good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. [24] But he that had received the one talent, came and said: Lord, I know that thou art a hard man; thou reapest where thou hast not sown, and gatherest where thou hast not strewed. [25] And being afraid I went and hid thy talent in the earth: behold here thou hast that which is thine.

[26] And his lord answering, said to him: Wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sow not, and gather where I have not strewed: [27] Thou oughtest therefore to have committed my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received my own with usury. [28] Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents. [29] For to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound: but from him that hath not, that also which he seemeth to have shall be taken away. [30] And the unprofitable servant cast ye out into the exterior darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

[31] And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. [32] And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: [33] And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. [34] Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. [35] For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:

[36] Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. [37] Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? [38] And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? [39] Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? [40] And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

[41] Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. [42] For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. [43] I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. [44] Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? [45] Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.

[46] And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

(Matthew 25)

You’re an evil man, Sean Hannity

I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming:
Sean Hannity is using Fr. Thomas Euteneuer’s crisis to his own advantage, and making uncharitable insinuations about Fr. Euteneuer.

FOX News may be “conservtive,” but it is about as anti-Catholic as MTV or Comedy Central, though I doubt we’ll hear Bill Donohue saying anything about it. Let’s not forget Rod Dreher’s 2002 conversation with a FOX correspondent: Dreher had expected FOX to tell the truth about the priest scandal, yet the FOX correspondent told him they had it from the highest levels of NewsCorp not to say anything about the abusing priests being homosexual. Most recently, the broadcast FOX network gave a daytime talk show to “Fr.” Alberto Cutie.

Here’s my response:

Dear Mr. Hannity,
You are not just a bad Catholic and a heretic, you are a twisted little pervert. You promote contraception and fornication yet call yourself “pro-life.” You promote violence and yet call yourself “pro-life.” You call yourself a Catholic and a conservative yet work for a network that promotes anti-Catholcism left and right (just look at your anti-Catholic colleagues Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter, and FOX’s recent decision to give a talk show to “Father” Alberto Cutie).

How dare you use Fr. Euteneuer’s crisis to justify your own sick positions? Everyone with a brain should realize that contraception is the source of all our society’s problems, as both Popes John XXIII and Paul VI predicted it would be. Any Catholic who has read his Bible should know that contraception is an abomination unto God, and anyone who claims to be pro-life should realize that contraception and abortion are inextricably linked.

You should be ashamed of yourself. Fr. Euteneuer committed a sin. He repented of it, and he realized that his celebrity status was getting to his head, so he stepped down from his position at HLI and out of the public eye.

But rather than looking at his example of humility and repentance as one to follow, you’d rather gloat and celebrate your own heretical views.