++++++++++++++++++++God's timing is not our timing, but He is never late.++++++++++++++++++++

Layers - in the knowledge of God and the path to holiness

Learning about God is like unwrapping a head of lettuce, pealing back one leaf at a time. Always there is another leaf below. We will eventually reach the center of the head of lettuce; but we will never unwrap everthing there is to know about God.

The path to holiness is like pealing an onion. God shows us what is sinful and convicts us that we have sinned. No matter how sweet the onion, there are always tears in the peeling. No matter how sweet the grace of repentence, there are always the pain of letting go of the sin. As the peeling of the onion reveals another layer, so God shows us what we lack in holiness, drawing us ever closer to "be(ing) perfect even just as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48




What I Believe

Why I am and always will be a Catholic. "So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. Tthe living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever." John 6:53-58 The words and actions of man cannot sanctify. Only the priest, empowered by his ordination, can invoke the Holy Spirit to transform the bread and wine into Jesus so we can receive Him - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity into our bodies and souls. This is the core of the Catholic Church; without this there is no purpose or meaning to the Catholic Church. There are other ways to holiness, to grow in grace; there is no better way than union with Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Visitation Catholic Church

Visitation Catholic Church

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Returning

It is my thinking, without any scripture or theology to argue about, that when one dies it is one’s disposition towards God which determines judgment.  This thinking relies entirely upon God’s mercy.  I keep thinking of the story of the prodigal son (Luke 125:11-32).  He was for most of his life a recipient of his father’s love and his father’s gifts/possessions.  But, he rebelled, wanting to live his life his way, out from under his father’s love and roof/discipline/expectations.  Once away, all that he had received from his father wasted away.  Living life his way, away from his father’s love and guidance, the son ended up with nothing.  The son thought that if he went back as a servant at least he could have the benefits of living under his father’s roof, like food.  The father would have none of that, welcoming his son back completely. 

We have been baptized into God’s family.  We have all of the love and benefits of being in God’s family.  Yet, we still must try to live our lives our way - in rebellion to God’s will for our lives.  When we turn away from God, what happens to the love and other gifts God has given us?  They waste away in our sin.  We can become spiritually bankrupt; and like the prodigal son, we can realize that anything with God is better.  We may be sincere in our repentance of acts against God’s love and goodness; or, we may be sorry because of the bad consequence of our actions.  God in His mercy will meet us where we are at.  The parable does not say where the father met up with the son, only that he saw the son “a long way off” and ran to him.

What if we don’t make it back to God before we die?  What would have happened if the prodigal son didn’t make it home?  The son made the choice to return.  The father did the rest.  So, what if on our faith journey we die before we are home yet?  Are we crying out in our hearts, our souls, “Abba”?  I think that that soul will continue towards God and that God in His mercy will embrace the soul.

But, why wait?  Why continue to live outside the Father’s house, just because we have the freedom to live “our way”?  The father said to the son who never left, “Everything I have is yours.”  Why squander our lives living away from our Father when He has so much to give us?  The Father is waiting for us to cry, “Abba.”   It is so simple - take the first step and allow God to do the rest.

From Campus Bullies to Empty Churches

empty_church
This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of the Intercollegiate Review. Check out the rest of the issue here.
The question of secularization—or how it is that societies once markedly religious become less so, particularly the societies of what’s known as Western civilization—has been much studied in modern times. Urbanization, rationalism, higher education, industrialization, feminism: these are just some of the possible causal agents debated by sociologists when they try to figure out why some people stop going to church.
Yet one highly significant social fact that rather obviously bears on the question of secularization has gone unnoticed. That is the relationship between the well-documented decline in Western churchgoing, especially among Millennials, and the simultaneous rise of a toxic public force on campuses across the Western world: the new intolerance.

“The new intolerance” is shorthand for the chilled public atmosphere in which religious believers now operate. Many people of faith face unique burdens that would have been unthinkable even a couple of decades ago: burdens of ostracism, of losing the good opinion of their neighbors, of being trash-talked in the public square. Some even face the loss of livelihood or the constant threat and reality of litigation; for a primer, see the hounding last spring of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich for his donation years earlier on behalf of traditional marriage.

Although this new intolerance has begun to attract attention and debate, the connection between that phenomenon and the rise in unbelief among twenty-somethings remains to be explored. And the scrutiny is overdue. It is well known, and well documented by social science, that many students, not only in America but all over, lose their religion in college. The interesting question is why.

Atheist and Christians Hold Opposing Signs at the Bele Chere FesThe New Intolerance

An atheist or other nonbeliever might say students lose religion because college is where they learn higher reasoning, and higher reasoning drives out the superstition of faith. That kind of answer might seem to make perfect sense—except that it’s refuted by the facts. In fact, social science points to the opposite conclusion: better-educated people are actually more likely than those with less education to be found in church. (See my book How the West Really Lost God for a roundup of the empirical evidence demonstrating this pattern across a range of societies, from Victorian England to the modern-day United States.) So the answer from sophistication just doesn’t hold up as an explanation for what happens to religious commitment during the college years.

No, something else is going on in the numbers about faith and people in their teens and twenties. For starters, we might focus in on this fact: the campus these days is ground zero of the new intolerance.

Exhibit A, to start with an example from across the pond, is what happened at Christ Church College, Oxford, in November 2014—or more precisely, what didn’t happen. A scheduled debate on the subject of whether “abortion culture” hurts Britain, between two journalists who write for the Telegraph, was canceled for reasons that seemed to be read aloud from a totalitarian playbook: because of last-minute “concerns” on the part of the college.

Translation: a feminist group incited protest via social media aimed at disrupting the event, and did so in terms vehement enough to frighten the authorities. That this travesty of the principle of free speech played out in the college once attended by none other than John Locke is beyond ironic.

The Oxford shout-down is no isolated example, as everyone within reach of a computer already knows. So much could be written about the new intolerance on campus that it would fill not one essay but several books. In the United States, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) recently filed four free-speech lawsuits against four colleges in a single day. One suit defended the rights of a student whose university forbade him from wearing a T-shirt saying, “We get you off for free.” The shirt—­promoting a student group that provides free assistance to students accused of campus disciplinary offenses—was judged to run afoul of ever-­changing speech codes about women.

To mention just a few other examples of the punitive new code, columnist George Will—one of the most distinguished public intellectuals in the entire Anglosphere—was treated to protests in the fall upon speaking at Miami University, Ohio, again for the ostensible charge of violating what is allowed to be said of women. Last spring, a number of prominent speakers backed down from giving commencement addresses—or worse, had their invitations rescinded—when threatened with protests. (Ironically, several of them were female.)

It does not detract from the importance of free-speech cases in themselves to point out something new here: the same forces that are intimidating the intellectual expression of students can also be expected to intimidate their religious expression.

Rather obviously, it is not only the humanities, and not only intellectual life itself, that are threatened by the rise of Robespierrian speech codes. No, so too are actual students—in the sense that the intimidation of the new intolerance cannot help but envelope them in college, from that first good-bye at the hugging tree to that last party celebrating commencement.

The Gale Winds of Political Correctness

The intimidation varies from one campus to another, from one department to another, and from one protest to another. But while the decibels of ferocity may change, the negative posture toward religious believers ­themselves—or for that matter toward anyone who finds anything of value in the Judeo-Christian tradition and bothers to defend it—remains the same. And once more, Occam’s razor would suggest a causal connection here.
Students, like any other human beings, cannot help being sensitive to atmospherics. Let’s think again of the new force that drives a CEO out of his post for having donated to defend traditional marriage. If the new intolerance can penalize an “alpha” like him so dramatically, how much more menacing must it be to people just starting out, whose futures and livelihoods depend so heavily on the opinion of their peers?

 Sometimes, interestingly enough, the very incivility of the new intolerance backfires.

A friend with a son at an overwhelmingly progressive college said recently that the experience of sitting through one particular class had turned that student toward conservatism. Why? Because as a white male known also to be heterosexual, he was singled out repeatedly for second-class social treatment by the ­professor—no matter what his bona fides otherwise. He has become, in virtue of the new intolerance, what might be called a political counter-convert.

Other anecdotal cases like his come to mind. In a book I edited a few years ago called Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys, several authors traced their own conversions similarly, as reactions to the obnoxiousness of radicalism on campus. Another friend serves as inadvertent witness to the power of political correctness: he was so appalled by what he saw on his Ivy League campus that he abandoned his own secular background, converted to Catholicism, and eventually entered the priesthood.

Even so, contrarian-minded students like these, it seems safe to guess, are outliers possessed of unusual courage or cussedness (or both). Many others faced with the gale winds of political correctness, one guesses, succumb to the blast in one way or another, including by religious self-censorship.
It’s time to air the idea that college students do not stay out of church or synagogue because their education leads them to enlightened conclusions about the big questions. No, the more likely dynamic is that thanks to the new intolerance, the social and other costs of being a known believer in the public square mount by the year—and students take note. Hence intimidation on the quad, multiplied over many years and campuses, is an unseen engine of secularization.

Mary Eberstadt is a senior fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and author of several books, including, most recently, How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization.
http://www.intercollegiatereview.com/index.php/2015/02/09/from-campus-bullies-to-empty-churches/

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent

   

Take it from the adult child of a loving gay parent: redefining marriage promotes a family structure in which children suffer.
Dear Justice Kennedy,

June is nigh, and with it will come your ruling on the most contentious political issue of our time: marriage.

I write because I am one of many children with gay parents who believe we should protect marriage. I believe you were right when, during the Proposition 8 deliberations, you said “the voice of those children [of same-sex parents] is important.” I’d like to explain why I think redefining marriage would actually serve to strip these children of their most fundamental rights.

It’s very difficult to speak about this subject, because I love my mom. Most of us children with gay parents do. We also love their partner(s). You don’t hear much from us because, as far as the media are concerned, it’s impossible that we could both love our gay parent(s) and oppose gay marriage. Many are of the opinion I should not exist. But I do, and I’m not the only one.

This debate, at its core, is about one thing.
It’s about children.

The definition of marriage should have nothing to do with lessening emotional suffering within the homosexual community. If the Supreme Court were able to make rulings to affect feelings, racism would have ended fifty years ago. Nor is this issue primarily about the florist, the baker, or the candlestick-maker, though the very real impact on those private citizens is well-publicized. The Supreme Court has no business involving itself in romance or interpersonal relationships. I hope very much that your ruling in June will be devoid of any such consideration.

Government Should Promote the Well-being of Children

Children are the reason government has any stake in this discussion at all. Congress was spot on in 1996 when it passed the Defense of Marriage Act, stating:
At bottom, civil society has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage because it has a deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing. Simply put, government has an interest in marriage because it has an interest in children.
There is no difference between the value and worth of heterosexual and homosexual persons. We all deserve equal protection and opportunity in academe, housing, employment, and medical care, because we are all humans created in the image of God.

However, when it comes to procreation and child-rearing, same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are wholly unequal and should be treated differently for the sake of the children.

When two adults who cannot procreate want to raise children together, where do those babies come from? Each child is conceived by a mother and a father to whom that child has a natural right. When a child is placed in a same-sex-headed household, she will miss out on at least one critical parental relationship and a vital dual-gender influence. The nature of the adults’ union guarantees this. Whether by adoption, divorce, or third-party reproduction, the adults in this scenario satisfy their heart’s desires, while the child bears the most significant cost: missing out on one or more of her biological parents.

Making policy that intentionally deprives children of their fundamental rights is something that we should not endorse, incentivize, or promote.

The Voices of the Children

When you emphasized how important the voices of children with gay parents are, you probably anticipated a different response. You might have expected that the children of same-sex unions would have nothing but glowing things to say about how their family is “just like everyone else’s.” Perhaps you expected them to tell you that the only scar on their otherwise idyllic life is that their two moms or two dads could not be legally married. If the children of these unions were all happy and well-adjusted, it would make it easier for you to deliver the feel-good ruling that would be so popular.

I identify with the instinct of those children to be protective of their gay parent. In fact, I’ve done it myself. I remember how many times I repeated my speech: “I’m so happy that my parents got divorced so that I could know all of you wonderful women.” I quaffed the praise and savored the accolades. The women in my mother’s circle swooned at my maturity, my worldliness. I said it over and over, and with every refrain my performance improved. It was what all the adults in my life wanted to hear. I could have been the public service announcement for gay parenting.

I cringe when I think of it now, because it was a lie. My parents’ divorce has been the most traumatic event in my thirty-eight years of life. While I did love my mother’s partner and friends, I would have traded every one of them to have my mom and my dad loving me under the same roof. This should come as no surprise to anyone who is willing to remove the politically correct lens that we all seem to have over our eyes.

Kids want their mother and father to love them, and to love each other. I have no bitterness toward either of my parents. On the contrary, I am grateful for a close relationship with them both and for the role they play in my children’s lives. But loving my parents and looking critically at the impact of family breakdown are not mutually exclusive.

Now that I am a parent, I see clearly the beautiful differences my husband and I bring to our family. I see the wholeness and health that my children receive because they have both of their parents living with and loving them. I see how important the role of their father is and how irreplaceable I am as their mother. We play complementary roles in their lives, and neither of us is disposable. In fact, we are both critical. It’s almost as if Mother Nature got this whole reproduction thing exactly right.

The Missing Parent

I am not saying that being same-sex attracted makes one incapable of parenting. My mother was an exceptional parent, and much of what I do well as a mother is a reflection of how she loved and nurtured me. This is about the missing parent.

Talk to any child with gay parents, especially those old enough to reflect on their experiences. If you ask a child raised by a lesbian couple if they love their two moms, you’ll probably get a resounding “yes!” Ask about their father, and you are in for either painful silence, a confession of gut-wrenching longing, or the recognition that they have a father that they wish they could see more often. The one thing that you will not hear is indifference.

What is your experience with children who have divorced parents, or are the offspring of third-party reproduction, or the victims of abandonment? Do they not care about their missing parent? Do those children claim to have never had a sleepless night wondering why their parents left, what they look like, or if they love their child? Of course not. We are made to know, and be known by, both of our parents. When one is absent, that absence leaves a lifelong gaping wound.

The opposition will clamor on about studies where the researchers concluded that children in same-sex households allegedly fared “even better!” than those from intact biological homes. Leave aside the methodological problems with such studies and just think for a moment.
If it is undisputed social science that children suffer greatly when they are abandoned by their biological parents, when their parents divorce, when one parent dies, or when they are donor-conceived, then how can it be possible that they are miraculously turning out “even better!” when raised in same-sex-headed households? Every child raised by “two moms” or “two dads” came to that household via one of those four traumatic methods. Does being raised under the rainbow miraculously wipe away all the negative effects and pain surrounding the loss and daily deprivation of one or both parents? The more likely explanation is that researchers are feeling the same pressure as the rest of us feel to prove that they love their gay friends.

Children Have the Right to Be Loved by Their Mother and Father

Like most Americans, I am for adults having the freedom to live as they please. I unequivocally oppose criminalizing gay relationships. But defining marriage correctly criminalizes nothing. And the government’s interest in marriage is about the children that only male-female relationships can produce. Redefining marriage redefines parenthood. It moves us well beyond our “live and let live” philosophy into the land where our society promotes a family structure where children will always suffer loss. It will be our policy, stamped and sealed by the most powerful of governmental institutions, that these children will have their right to be known and loved by their mother and/or father stripped from them in every instance. In same-sex-headed households, the desires of the adults trump the rights of the child.

Have we really arrived at a time when we are considering institutionalizing the stripping of a child’s natural right to a mother and a father in order to validate the emotions of adults?

Justice Kennedy, I have long admired your consistency when ruling on the well-being of children, and I implore you to stay the course. I truly believe you are invested in the equal protection of all citizens, and it is your sworn duty to uphold that protection for the most vulnerable among us. The bonds with one’s natural parents deserve to be protected. Do not fall prey to the false narrative that adult feelings should trump children’s rights. The onus must be on adults to conform to the needs of children, not the other way around.

This is not about being against anyone. This is about what I am for. I am for children! I want all children to have the love of their mother and their father. Being for children also makes me for LGBT youth. They deserve all the physical, social, and emotional benefits of being raised by their mother and father as well. But I fear that, in the case before you, we are at the mercy of loud, organized, well-funded adults who have nearly everyone in this country running scared.

Six adult children of gay parents are willing to stand against the bluster of the gay lobby and submit amicus briefs for your consideration in this case. I ask that you please read them. We are just the tip of the iceberg of children currently being raised in gay households. When they come of age, many will wonder why the separation from one parent who desperately mattered to them was celebrated as a “triumph of civil rights,” and they will turn to this generation for an answer.

What should we tell them?

Katy Faust serves on the Academic and Testimonial Councils of the International Children’s Rights Institute and writes at asktheBigot.com. She is the mother of four, the youngest of whom was adopted from China. 

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/02/14370/