Civic Responsibility

Freedom (in temporal affairs)

Truth (Holy Intransigence) and Charity (Holy Tolerance)

Pursuing the Political Common Good

Our Civic and Political Obligation

One Party Politics

A Voter’s Guide: Do We Need One?

Choose a Spouse… a Parent

Voter’s Guide: How NOT to Go About Voting

How NOT to Choose a Candidate for Public Office

Unity of Life in the Catholic Voter

Religious Freedom

America’s Most Cherished Freedom

Freedom of Conscience and Religion

The Ongoing Fight for Religious Freedom

Why are Catholics opposed to the HHS mandate? Some questions and answers:

Abortion

The Annunciation and Abortion

Battling for Life: It’s Only Just Begun

Marriage

Marriage Witnesses to God’s Own Love

Contraceptive and Gay “Love”

Marriage: An Image of God

Is Marriage Unfair and Unjust?

Giving Them What They Want: “Same Sex Marriage”

“Children have a right to a father and a mother”

Marriage and the Holy Family

Invited to a “Wedding”… Should I Go?

Pope Francis: Peace

Fraternal Unity Founded on God’s Fatherhood

Civic Responsibility

Freedom (in temporal affairs)

St. Josemaría, in his recently translated, Collected Letters, vol. 1, makes some important points that can benefit us as we approach another election cycle.

A key point he makes is the freedom and independence that Christians in the middle of the world have in the public sphere. This freedom is essential for our mission to sanctify the world. As his January 9, 1932 letter says:

To be the best sons and daughters of the Church and the Pope… we have to love freedom. You must avoid an abuse that seems to be aggravated in our time: to create dogmas out of temporal doctrines. This abuse is evident and appears in countries all over the world. It reveals a desire contrary to the lawful independence of men, to force everyone to form a single group in matters open to debate…

We have come to sanctify all noble human tasks, that is, ordinary human work, and we do this right in the middle of the world in a lay and secular manner, as a service to the Holy Church, to the Roman Pontiff and to all souls.

To achieve this, we have to defend freedom.

Collected Letters, 3/1-2

It is important that the Faith not be tied to any political party or position in matters open to debate. Positions on global warming and the causes of climate change are debatable, while the need for us to care for the gift of creation and our global home is not. Another position not open to debate is the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death.

Our Lord has fished us with the net of his love, amid the waves of this unsettled world. He has done so, not to take us out of the world, out of our ordinary surroundings and work, but so that we remain in the world while being at the same time totally his… “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).

This net, which unites us to Christ and keeps us united to one another is very roomy and it leaves us free and personally responsible… as Christians who want to serve God… to follow the Church’s Magisterium with the utmost fidelity.

Because we are as free as fish in water, and because we are in Christ’s net, we don’t confuse the Church with the errors of any individual. Nor are we prepared to let anybody confuse our own personal errors with the Church. No one has a right to drag the Church into politics, into their own political activity that, no matter how successful it may be, is always a matter of their personal opinion. It is a very easy approach to take—and very unfair.

Collected Letters, 3/47

Respecting the freedom of all, and defending our own freedom, means not coercing others by saying that our position is “Catholic” when it is not. If a Catholic priest were to call “sinful” a Catholic voting for or against a debatable position, that priest would be abusing his position to influence politics. Likewise, for a politician to say, “I’m a good, practicing Catholic…” while promoting abortion, he/she would be abusing his/her connection to the Church to promote error, something contrary to clear Catholic teaching. Good Catholics should oppose both.

Let’s learn to respect the freedom of each person in all debatable matters. This was so dear to St. Josemaría that he always refrained from asking others about their political opinions:

I have never asked you what you think in political matters and I never will, because I respect your rightful freedom… I know that among you, my daughters and sons, there is great variety of opinions, and I am happy with that. I respect all these opinions, and indeed I will respect any temporal option of any one of my children, provided it is within the Law of Christ.

You don’t know my personal opinion on particular political matters, because I do not speak about them. And… priests in the Work… should follow the same rule of conduct, since their mission will be, like mine, exclusively spiritual. Besides, even if you did know my personal political opinions, you would be under no obligation to follow them. My opinion is not dogma nor is yours. Dogmas are established only by the Magisterium of the Church in matters referring to the deposit of faith.

Collected Letters, 3/48-49

So it is important to respect any position truly open to debate—and the people who hold those positions—even if we strongly take the opposite position.

We would not be consistent if we did not respect the opinions of others different from our own, just as my [lay] children would not be consistent if they failed to exercise their right to make know their political views in matters of free debate.

Collected Letters, 3/49

In this way we will foster healthy debate that leads to solutions to problems in the world that truly promote the common good for all.

Truth (Holy Intransigence) and Charity (Holy Tolerance)

The freedom that Christians in the public realm doesn’t mean we can “check out” or be indifferent to what happens in politics. We need to be involved to have a positive influence on our world. As St. Josemaría writes:

In all fields where men and women work, I insist, you also have to be present with the wonderful spirit of service of the followers of Jesus Christ, who cam not to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28). It would be a very grave error to abandon imprudently the public life of nations, where you will act as the ordinary citizens that you are and with personal freedom and personal responsibility.

Our loyal and disinterested presence in public life offers immense opportunities to do good and to serve. Catholics cannot—nor can you, my children—abandon this field and leave politics in the hands of people who do not know or observe God’s law or who are clearly hostile to his holy Church.

Human affairs, private as well as social, are inescapably bound up with the law and spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. Consequently, Christians can easily see that there is a mutual influence between the apostolate and the regulation of society by the State, that is, political activity. As Christ said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

Collected Letters, 3/40-41

Let us embrace our freedom and independence as we take personal responsibility in exercising our civic duty to vote and so positively influence the home in which our young people are developing the virtues and talents they need. We don’t want to be responsible for the ongoing decline of our society: for evil to triumph it is only necessary that good men do nothing.

In short, you need to be actively, freely, and responsibly present in public life. I am speaking about our obligation to work in this area… I do so as a priest of Jesus Christ and as your Father, knowing that my place is to be above any factions and group interests…

If responsible Catholics… are not involved in temporal questions, this field will easily fall into the hands of those who do not consider the principles of the natural law, society’s true common good, or the rights of the Church. These people, moreover, don’t generally respect opinions contrary to their own. That is to say, without the Christian spirit of respecting certain untouchable principles and respecting the legitimate freedom of choice in debatable matters, there can be no peace, or freedom, or justice in society.

Collected Letters, 3/48-49

Freedom in public life and politics can be scary because we know some err and can lead others into error. This is why St. Josemaría says:

But Christ did not only give us an example of holy tolerance. He also gave us a very clear example of holy intransigence, when it comes to the things of God. Jesus does not give way in the face of error (remember his terrible rebukes to the Pharisees!) nor does he tolerate the Creator being offended with impunity in his presence. Consider Christ’s holy indignation when faced with the abuse of the merchants in the Temple: He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers” (Luke 19:45-46).

So too, we cannot tolerate that God be offended in our presence, if we can prevent it. If necessary, we too will employ a holy coercion—exercised with all possible gentleness, and always respecting the legitimate freedom of consciences. In other words, we will so act that it is clear that we are not motivated by any personal interests, but only by God’s glory.

                                                                                      Collected Letters, 3/72

So, we look for ways to correct any error or offense to God, but always acting with great charity so that we don’t commit a greater offense. As St. Josemaría goes on to write:

You also know my rule for putting this spirit into practice: holy intransigence for error, and holy tolerance for the individuals who are in error. You need, however, to teach many people how to act this way, because it is not hard to find those who confuse intransigence with bullheadedness, and tolerance with abdicating rights or compromising on the truth…

By God’s grace, by which we were born into his Church at Baptism, we know that there is only one true religion, and on this point we are unyielding, intransigent, with holy intransigence. As I often say to you, is there anyone with common sense who is prepared to yield in something as simple as the sum of two plus two? Would they accept that two plus two is three and a half? Compromise in matters of faith is a sure sign that someone does not possess the truth, or is unaware that they possess it… just to make concessions one aspect of faith or morals…

And so you will defend whatever the Church says, for when it comes to divine truths, she is the sole Teacher. And you will do so with your example, with your words, with your writings: with all the honest means at your disposal.

                                                                                      Collected Letters, 4/6-8

Yet we still need to respect the freedom of others, as St. Josemaría goes on to say:

At the same time, inspired by love for everyone’s freedom, you will respect the views of others in matters of opinion or schools of thought. In such matters, as in all other temporal affairs, the Work [Opus Dei] will never have any collective opinion, unless the Church, as part of her teaching role, has defined one for all the faithful.

[So…] together with holy intransigence, the spirit of the Work of God requires you to be always tolerant, also in a holy way. Being faithful to the truth, safeguarding doctrinal integrity and defending the faith does not mean being sad or dour, nor should it be animated by a desire to destroy those who are mistaken.

                                                                                      Collected Letters, 4/8

Think of how our Lord dealt with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, when she claimed that Samaritan worship is better than Jewish. Jesus clarifies the truth with great gentleness:

“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he” (John 4:20-26).

May we deal with our family and friends in the same way, and see whole towns convert with the holy intransigence and holy tolerance that our Lord exemplifies.

Pursuing the Political Common Good

Continuing St. Josemaría’s letter on freedom and public life, the saint addresses politics as something good and noble, serving the common good of society. Because of that, we are all called to chip in with our vote and our support. As St. Josemaría writes:

Politics, in the noble sense of the word, is fundamentally a service aimed at achieving the common good of the earthly City. But this good extends to a very wide sphere, and consequently it is in the political arena that the most important laws are debated and passed: those affecting marriage, the family, education, private property, and the dignity (the rights and duties) of the human person. All these matters and others too pertain in the first instance to religion, and they cannot leave a [Catholic] apostle indifferent or uninterested.

The Work [Opus Dei] has no political agenda whatsoever. That is not its goal. Our only aim is spiritual and apostolic… For this reason the Work of God has never entered nor will it ever enter into the struggle between political parties…

But you, my children (each one personally), would not only commit an error, as I said, but you also betray our Lord’s cause if you were to allow those who are unworthy, incompetent or enemies of Christ and his Church to direct the affairs of the state.

Collected Letters, 3/42

While Opus Dei and the Church doesn’t have a political agenda, it does have an interest, especially in matters that impact the dignity of the human person and his rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as well as issues affecting marriage, the family, and education. This is why the Church speaks up regarding the unborn child’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and euthanizing the sick and dying. Issues can be so fundamental to the human person that they become religious.

There are people in public life who are enemies of the Church—at the time of St. Josemaría these included communists, anarchists, secularists… Today in this country there are many other groups of individuals who are—some even claim to be Catholic.

Politics ought to be a noble service to the common good, so those so inclined to the “vocation” for politics need to exercise it with personal sacrifice and a detachment for their personal success:

Some, on the other hand, will have a natural inclination to dedicate themselves to politics. But they will not do so like those careerist politicians, who pursue expediency and compromise just to hold an office and be able to live off the public life of their country, ready to sell their first-born rights for a bowl of lentils. Far from being eager to dominate, they will unite to their professional life a desire to serve their fellow citizens in politics or in trade unions.

… those of you with a vocation for politics, act freely in this area, without giving up the rights you have as citizens. Seek your sanctification there, while serving the Church and your country. Pursue the common good of all in whatever way you think best, because in temporal matters there are no dogmas.

Collected Letters, 3/43

One doesn’t have to be Catholic to view politics as a noble, disinterested service to others, nor is everyone called to this particular kind of service. As St. Josemaría says:

Obviously it would be unreasonable to expect ever citizen to be professionally involved in politics. This is materially impossible… if for no other reason because of the great amount of specialization and full-time dedication that all work requires nowadays, politics included.

Collected Letters, 3/46

[Not all of you need to] take part every day in the political debates. For many people—the majority—it will suffice that they have clear criteria on all issues that affect the Church, that they can give healthy doctrine (which is not political but religious) to their friends and companions, and finally, that they carry out their civic duties in an upright fashion whenever the government of the country asks it… always fulfill your duties faithfully and demand that your rights be respected. Everyone should act freely, because it belongs to our particular divine calling to sanctify ourselves while working in our ordinary tasks according to the dictates of each individual’s conscience; we feel that we are personally responsible for our activities, which we have freely decided upon with the boundaries of the faith and morals of Jesus Christ.

Collected Letters, 3/43

So we are called to freely exercise our rights and duties for the service of the common good, and to demand the same from our politicians. Let’s pray for our leaders and for the electorate, that our society pursue what is good for all.

Our Civic and Political Obligation

It is lamentable that many good Catholics have withdrawn from politics—even from voting —so as to avoid all the mudslinging and false accusations different parties and candidates use in order to get their results. Yet we can’t abandon the political sphere to the devil and his minions.

Actually, even among apparently responsible and upright Catholics, the error of thinking that they are obliged only to fulfill their family and religious duties is quite common. Often they hardly want to hear about civic duties. This is not a question of selfishness, but simply a lack of formation. No one has ever told them clearly that the virtue of piety (part of the cardinal virtue of justice) and their feeling of Christian solidarity are also exercised by their taking part in the life of society, and by their being aware of and helping to solve the problems that affect the whole community.

Collected Letters, 3/46

St. Josemaría really wanted to have us formed in our civic duties from our youth so that each us can help achieve the common good:

I will tell you, in this regard, what is my great desire. I would like to see children’s catechisms spell out clearly those basic points where we cannot yield when we act one way or another in public life. And at the same time I would also want them to affirm our obligation to act and not abstain, to lend our own collaboration in serving the common good with loyalty and with personal freedom. This is a great desire of mine, because I see that in this way Catholics would learn these truths from their childhood and would know how to practice them later as adults…

But it would also be good in the field of pedagogy and human formation, if teachers, without imposing personal opinions in what is open to debate, were to teach the duty of acting freely and responsibly in the field of civic activity.

Collected Letters, 3/45-46

What is important is learning to faithful to Catholic dogma while respecting the freedom of others. As St. Josemaría write:

This commitment to doctrine and life that the Catholic Church gives us, which impels you, my children, to serve God while you are serving you country, is made specific in some firm, unshakeable truths. These are unquestioned principles that make up the common denominator, the vinculum fidei, not just for you, my children [in Opus Dei] but for all Catholics, for all the faithful children of Holy Mother Church.

Collected Letters, 3/45

One Party Politics

St. Josemaría really despised was to see people, especially Catholics, absolutize non-absolutes, that is, matters open to legitimate freedom of opinion.

You see, dearly beloved children, how great is the need to form Catholics with a very specific aim: to lead them to unity regarding essentials while at the same time leaving them to use their legitimate freedom in temporal affairs, with charity and understanding toward everyone. Freedom: no more dogmas in debatable matters.

It is contrary to human dignity… to arbitrarily establish certain absolutes truths in matter where every individual necessarily looks at them from their own viewpoint… Besides, a one-party system, the necessary consequence of introducing only one possible option, is unable to direct a country’s public life over a long period.

Collected Letters, 3/51

St. Josemaría avoided every effort to coerce people into one party or people who claimed to be Catholic in politics:

I have another piece of advice, my children, about public affairs… never be official Catholics. Catholics who use religion as a springboard, not to leap towards God but to rise to position of importance and obtain things they covet like honors, wealth and power. Speaking of people like this, a levelheaded person used to say with good humor, perhaps exaggerating, that they set their eyes on heaven, and their hands on anything they can find.

Such Catholics make a profession of calling themselves Catholics… They deny the principle of personal responsibility, and they expect all the Catholics of a country to form a solid bloc and relinquish all their free opinions in temporal matters in order to support en masse a single party, a single political group, of which they—the official Catholics—are masters, with the consequence that the party is also officially Catholic.

Collected Letters, 3/51

Let’s respect the freedom of others and use our own freedom to draw them toward the truth: toward the truth of the dignity of the human person and life from conception to natural death, the sacredness of human love and marriage, and the right of parents to educate their children according to the dictates of their conscience. May the Holy Spirit guide each of us in fulfilling our Christian duty in the approaching election.

A Voter’s Guide: Do We Need One?[1]

The elections are days away, and we will be going to the polls to choose those men and women we want to lead our country, state, and city in the coming years. As Catholics, we view this as a serious responsibility, since our Church teaches that it is “morally obligatory [for a Catholic] to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2240).

But who is the right candidate? How do we go about choosing the right person to lead us and to make the laws for our country, state, county, and city? These are tough decisions!

Choose a Spouse… a Parent

A general rule I recommend and use—without going into specifics, which is your job—is to choose the candidate that you want to make intimate and important decisions for you and your family. In other words, choose the candidate that would make the better spouse and parent. Ask: would I want this person to be my husband (or wife), or the spouse of my brother or sister, son or daughter? If I had to choose, which one would I have as the father (or mother) of my children, grandchildren, etc.?

When I talk to young people wrestling with the decision regarding whether they should consider marrying a particular person, I often ask them: “Would you choose this individual to be your father (or mother)?” If they answer “Yes” then I encourage them to move forward; if they say “No,” I then ask them: “Then why would you choose them to be the father (mother) of your children?”

I think the same reasoning applies to voting. We are not just choosing a charming lover, we are choosing a father-leader (mother-leader) who will parent the children of this large family of ours. When we vote, we should remember that we are choosing a leader not just for ourselves but for our family and for our whole country. If we wouldn’t choose this person to be our own father (mother), then why would we choose him or her to parent other children? We should especially keep in mind which candidate would be the best leader-parent for those children who cannot vote (such as children threatened by abortion), who will be affected by the decisions and example of their leader-parent.

A husband-father—a leader-parent—should indeed be a provider, one who could give economic stability to this country (state or city). Yet, we need more than that. Being a man (woman) of character is even more important. If a woman found a man who earned a good income and could make the family well-off financially, but was a heavy drinker, did pornography, flirted with other women, etc. that would not be good for the family.

When choosing a leader, the candidate’s position on abortion, pornography, “gay-marriage,” and other fundamental moral issues become crucial. Would you choose the father (mother) of your children (grandchildren) who encouraged homosexual relationships and marriage to your kids? Would you want the father (mother) of your children (grandchildren) to use abortion for sex-selection of his child, guaranteeing that he got the son he wanted? Would you choose a father (mother) who would force your teenage daughter to use birth control and encourage your children to be active sexually as long as they use “safe-sex”?

Voter’s Guide: How NOT to Go About Voting[2]

Last week, we considered some ideas regarding how to make good choices when voting for electing officials. I used the analogy of choosing a spouse, a person who will make intimate and important decisions for you and your family. Let’s see now:

How NOT to Choose a Candidate for Public Office

We would not want one of our children to choose a spouse based on something superficial, such as his or her good looks, or the way he/she talks. We know that marriage and raising a family takes more than good looks. It takes hard work, good communication between spouses, wherein each listens to the needs and ideas of the other, in order to come to a decision that really meets the common good of the family. The same is true with choosing a leader.

We should be concerned about what people consider “hot-button” issues. “Hot-button” issues are those that push our emotional buttons, arousing our fear, anger, false compassion, etc., or stirring up false hope in promises that are next to impossible to deliver. Often the media or the candidates push our emotional “buttons” by raising one of these issues, hoping that the emotions they stir up will cloud our good judgment and concern what is good for the family of our nation, state, etc. “Hot-button” issues are different from those key, “non-negotiable,” moral issues that one must take into consideration when making a moral decision.

For many people, one such “hot-button” issue is immigration. Those who are recent immigrants or who are children of recent immigrants may react with strong emotions to the portrayal that one candidate will use drastic inhuman measures to curtail immigration, stirring up the flame of racism. The candidate may not be racist at all, but the emotions may blind us to the truth and to ignore other key issues. Likewise, others consider immigration from the opposite side, and the suggestion that the other candidate supports illegal immigration, thinking that this means taking our jobs and social services without paying into the system. This seems unjust to them and arouses irrational xenophobic anger. A responsible voter will not let the emotions dominate the decision.

Something similar could happen with two people are dating. If an American boy is dating a beautiful immigrant girl, and he let’s slip some negative comment that his father shared with him about immigration, the young woman have a hurtful reaction even though the young man never intended the hurt or make any racial implications. Thus the emotions can cloud the real intention and cause the breakup of a very promising relationship. We need to look at all the qualities that the candidate has and calmly seek to understand their positions on these “hot-button” issues.

Certainly our bishops consider resolving our economic crisis and broken immigration system, which hurt so many people, as important issues to consider. But our bishops are encouraging us to give priorities to issues such as protecting unborn children from abortion, the ill and dying from euthanasia, protecting and strengthening the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman for life. The bishops also see the urgent need to protect both individuals and institutions from being force against their conscience to employ adoption and educational practices that are detrimental to children, or to support immoral healthcare. To support a candidate because he/she endorses an intrinsically immoral practice means we are formally cooperating in evil and thus commit a serious sin. That is why many of our “Catholic” politicians cannot receive Communion at Mass, as they support for intrinsically immoral laws.

Let’s make sure we choose a candidate for political office with eyes turned to God and to the Church. This means that we should pray to the Holy Spirit to guide our electorate to entrust our Nation-Family to those who will please God and safeguard his children.

Unity of Life in the Catholic Voter[3]

“But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Living by faith isn’t easy, most especially in the toxic atmosphere of today’s politics. So, with the 2016 elections approaching, Bishop Rojas has asked pastors in Vicariate III to prepare Catholic faithful to vote with consciences well-formed in the teachings of our Mother, the Church. Like St. Paul, Bishop Rojas is telling pastors: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus… proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage, through all patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:1-2).

We must avoid separating our politics from our Catholic faith, as St. Josemaría warned:

“Avoid the temptation, common then and now, to lead a kind of double life: on one hand, an interior life in relation with God; and, on the other, a separate and distinct professional, social and family life, full of small earthly realities. No, my children! If we want to be Christians we can’t live a double life… Our life is only one, of flesh and spirit, body and soul, which must become holy and full of God” (“Passionately Loving the World,” 52).

We cannot leave our faith at home as we go to the polls and vote. “No, my children! … we can’t live a double life:” not as Christian politicians; not as Christian voters.

The Church preaches on the morality of voting for candidates and parties that promote policies contrary to Christ’s Gospel which the Church safeguards (cf. 2 Timothy 1:13). As Catholics, we respect differences of opinion on how to approach the environment, economy, healthcare, etc. Many political positions are opinionable; but some are not, especially regarding human life. As Pope Francis reminds us:

“Concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings… if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?” (Laudato si, 120).

We can differ in opinion about how to protect the environment, but it would be totally depraved to promote killing certain people to reduce the world’s population so as to relieve stress on the earth. Yet some candidates do promote abortion under the guise of “reproductive freedom.”

We can differ on approaches to the economy, yet nobody could ever morally support or vote for those advocating killing a class of people to improve the nation’s economic situation. That is morally irreprehensible. Yet some candidates do say a woman has a right to kill a baby boy or girl for economic reasons as long as it is still in its mother’s womb.

Certainly it is morally wrong to treat women as objects to be used—is that not why we have abortion in the first place? Yet this exploitation is only heightened when the woman’s vocation of being a mother is denied and devalued through policies that promote the disposal of children in their mother’s womb, and then insists that our tax dollars pay for it.

Special compassion must be directed toward women who have had an abortion—how much they have suffered!—as St. John Paul II told us:

“The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision [to have an abortion], and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life” (Evangelium Vitae, 99).

Compassion must also be directed toward the men who have sinfully exploited women for pleasure only to conceive a child, and then have no say in the woman’s decision to end their child’s life. Men suffer from abortion too!

Christ loves us sinners: “more rejoicing goes on in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine who never went astray” (Luke 15:7). God’s mercy is greater than all our sins together. This is great news! And often it is the repentant sinner who is the greatest proclaimer of this great news.

There are many important issues in the current political realm, such as religious freedom, immigration, racial inequality, respect for women, legal definition of marriage, etc. Often we are left with real dilemmas: how can a candidate respect human life when women are disrespected as sex-objects? How can a candidate be welcoming to the immigrant only to sacrifice their children in the halls of Planned Parenthood who then sells the baby’s body parts? How can a candidate promote religious freedom by categorizing everyone of one religion as terrorists? How can one seek racial balance and respect for women by promoting the “right” of race- and sex-selection abortion up to the day the child is born?

“But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Faith doesn’t take us away from this ugly mess of politics but calls us to influence the world through our well-formed voice, action, and vote. We cannot run away from it, as St. Josemaría reminds us:

“Have no doubt: it goes against God’s will for men and women of the world to evade the honest realities of daily life. On the contrary, we must understand with newer clarity that God is calling us to serve Him in and from the ordinary material and secular tasks of human life” (ibid.).

St. John Paul II encourages women to take the lead in this, in transforming world, and the world of politics, with “a ‘new feminism’ which rejects the temptation of imitating models of ‘male domination’… [to influence] every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation… [so as to] ‘Reconcile people with life’” (Evangelium Vitae, 99).

We must be thoroughly Catholic to protect and respect every human person as made in the image of God. Besides the presidential election there are other important political races on the ballot. Let’s form our consciences in Catholic teaching[4] and our hearts in God’s mercy so that, in the election booth, we find Christ who says: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40,45). We will have to answer to God for: “as you voted to try, or not, to protect ‘the littlest’ of human life—whether of the immigrant, African-American, man or woman, or child in her womb—you did it to me.”

Religious Freedom

America’s Most Cherished Freedom[5]

Two weeks ago, the U.S. bishops released a statement on religious liberty called, Our First, Most Cherished Liberty, where they say:

We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith… and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens… [We are obliged] to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.

The bishops point out how the first Catholics in America were “advocates for religious liberty,” establishing the colony of Maryland in 1634, where with Protestants they peacefully worked together, whereas they were killing each other in Europe. “This vision was soon codified in Maryland’s 1649 Act Concerning Religion (also called the ‘Toleration Act’), which was the first law in our nation’s history to protect an individual’s right to freedom of conscience… our most cherished freedom.”

They detail other Catholic contributions to religious freedom, including how Rev. Martin Luther King used Ss. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” condemning laws discriminating against African-Americans as unjust. American Catholics even influenced “the landmark teaching of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty.” But the bishops ask: “Is our most cherished freedom truly under threat? Sadly, it is,” they conclude:

It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them. No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.

Examples of unjust laws recently enacted include the HHS mandate for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs and immigration laws that force the Church to deny pastoral care to immigrants. Particularly, a “new Alabama law makes it illegal for a Catholic priest to baptize, hear the confession of, celebrate the anointing of the sick with, or preach the word of God to, an undocumented immigrant.”

Other laws attempts to control Catholic parish operations and prevent Christians to organize student groups, worship in public buildings, administer foster care, adoption and humanitarian services due to beliefs on contraception, abortion, and the right of children to have a mother and a father who are married to each other. “Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans.” As Christians, we do “not ask for special treatment, simply the rights of religious freedom for all citizens… the church is neither the master nor the servant of the state, but its conscience, guide, and critic.”

No person and human institution can force another to act contrary to his conscience and religious beliefs. “As Catholics, we are obliged to defend the right to religious liberty for ourselves and for others… We ask nothing less than that the Constitution and laws of the United States, which recognize that right, be respected.” All—and principally the laity—are called to work to defend these rights.

The bishops suggest we observe “A Fortnight for Freedom,” from June 21—the vigil of Ss. John Fisher and Thomas More, the martyrs of conscience we featured in March—to July 4, as a “special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action.” To prepare for that, I encourage you all to read the full document, which you can get at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/our-first-most-cherished-liberty.cfm, or at our parish office.

Freedom of Conscience and Religion[6]

Celebrating July 4th—Independence Day—let’s pray for religious freedom and freedom of conscience for all Americans.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers of this great nation, revealed how important freedom of conscience was: “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority” (Letter to New London Methodist, 1809). He clearly saw how former British rulers trampled these rights, which is why he wanted our Constitution to guarantee that the U.S. Government would never perpetrate such abuses.

George Washington also saw the need for a Constitutional guarantee protecting the freedom of conscience, stating that “if I could now conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure… [no one] would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution” (Letter to the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, 1789). Our first President led us in a lengthy, bloody war against British tyranny in the colonies; he was ready to fight again the very government he helped established for the sake of freedom of conscience and of religion.

For him, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion are essential to the U.S. Constitution: “If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that [the Constitution] framed in the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it” (Letter to the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, 1789). Colonists had fled the religious factions and battles found in Europe so as to practice their faith and live freely according to their conscience.

James Madison points out that, in the United States, every citizen has an equal right “to the free exercise of his Religion according to the dictates of conscience,” because “we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth that religion, or the duty which we owe our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate” (Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessment, 1785). So, without freedom of conscience there is no freedom of religion, and vice-versa. If the government were to force anyone to act against his moral conscience, then there is no freedom to fulfill one’s duty toward our Creator.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church also insists on the inalienable right to freedom of religion and conscience:

The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in religious and moral matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of man. But the exercise of freedom does not entail the putative right to say or do anything (CCC 1747).

The Catholic Church insists that government respects the freedom of conscience, condemning the use of violence and force as contrary to the dignity of every human person:

“Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public.” This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order (CCC 2106).

The right to religious liberty is… a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right (CCC 2108).

These are trying times for all peoples of faith in this country, but let us thank God for our bishops, as well as those Jewish and Christian leaders, who have been so insistent on defending the Constitution of this great nation against the tyranny.

The Ongoing Fight for Religious Freedom[7]

The battle continues for the heart of the American people, especially regarding religious freedom.

It is true, we are all free to believe what we choose to believe—nobody can force us to believe or not to believe anything. But this is also true in Communist China, Islamic Iran or Indonesia—which imprison, harass, and discriminate against other religious beliefs, and which imposes the death penalty for all who convert from Islam. What makes the United States stand out is the First Amendment which guarantees the free exercise of religion, protecting each person’s right to practice his religion in public, free from the coercion that would force a person to act contrary to his religious beliefs or conscience.

In 1887, Cardinal James Gibbons, one of the first American cardinals, saw religious freedom in the U.S. as a model for the Catholic world, saying: “For myself, as a citizen of the United States, without closing my eyes to our defects as a nation, I proclaim, with a deep sense of pride and gratitude… that I belong to a country where the civil government holds over us the aegis of its protection without interfering in the legitimate exercise of our sublime mission as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Would Archbishop Gibbons say this today? Will the United States remain one of greatest countries of religious liberty and free exercise, or will we become a nation of religious discrimination, coercion, and control? This has been the crux of the Catholic Church’s opposition to the HHS mandate, which forces all citizens to support and participate in the use of abortifacient contraceptives and other objectionable medical procedures. The HHS mandate would effectively harass and discriminate against Catholics who wish to follow their religious beliefs by imposing financial penalties those who failing to follow government mandates.

Some hopeful news came out of Colorado, where the Newland family—who own a private manufacturing company of heating and air conditioning equipment—asked the Federal Court to allow them to follow their conscience. Currently, the Newland family provides a self-insured group plan for its 265 full-time employees; the plan does not cover birth control, sterilization, or abortion as required by the HHS mandate. On Friday, July 27, the U.S. District Judge John Kane recognized the First Amendment when he temporarily blocked the government from forcing its contraception requirement against these religious owners. He said that “the possible infringement upon [the Newland family’s] constitutional and statutory rights” outweighs the interests of the government. The HHS mandate poses an imminent harm to the company’s owners by forcing them to support contraception, sterilization and abortion in violation of their religious beliefs or face steep fines. The federal judge agreed with the Newland family that “every American, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith.”

Abraham Lincoln voiced similar concerns in the 1840’s:  “The guarantee of the rights of conscience, as found in our Constitution, is most sacred and inviolable, and one that belongs no less to the Catholic, than to the Protestant, and …all attempts to abridge or interfere with these rights, either of Catholic or Protestant, directly or indirectly, have our decided disapprobation, and shall ever have our most effective opposition.”

Are we willing to continue to fight this battle? Will we embrace our faith like the first Christians, willing to die rather than deny Christ and our faith? Or are we satisfied with our social and economic comfort, ready to push the faith aside so as to avoid conflict and controversy. Early Christians may have had a shorter life, and certainly a less comfortable one. But in the end, they transformed the culture and influenced all of society from within.

The battle is not over. Let us pray for and support those Catholics fighting the good fight to make permanent this right to follow our conscience and to exercise our religion.

Why are Catholics opposed to the HHS mandate? Some questions and answers:[8]

What is the HHS mandate? The “HHS mandate” is a new government rule of the universal health care law that requires all private businesses, religious insurers and non-profit organizations to provide medical coverage for the full costs of certain medical drugs and procedures, which include contraception, abortifacient drugs, and sterilization. An organization’s only other option is to provide no medical coverage and pay harsh penalties to the government to provide for those free services. There is no provision for individuals or organizations that find those procedures objectionable in conscience.

Why is the Catholic Church making such a big deal over this? The HHS mandate requires Catholic chanceries, grade schools, high schools, colleges, charitable organizations, hospitals, etc. to provide coverage for procedures that directly contradict Catholic teaching and the consciences of those responsible for those organizations. It also does not provide any means for those in small or large private enterprises to follow their own consciences in this matter.

This could be liken to a government mandate to prevent teen pregnancy, requiring all 11- to 21-year-old girls to receive a contraceptive implant or monthly injections and require all 11- to 21-year-old boys carry a condom and be certified yearly on their ability to use it safely. Abortion would be required for any accidental pregnancy.

Any parents who objected to this program in conscience would pay a hefty fine and have their children become wards of the state, who would then administer the program to them.

Isn’t the Church imposing Catholic beliefs and requirements on non-Catholics? The Catholic Church is not imposing anything on anyone. It is just insisting that it be allowed to exercise its First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, to not be told by the state what it must belief or how it must practice this belief.

Going back to our example, we don’t prevent other parents from allowing their children to participate in the governmental program of forced contraception and sexualization by saying that Catholic parents—and all parents—have the right and duty to follow their conscience by avoiding putting their children at risk. Everyone must be free to follow their conscience.

So, this is not a Catholic issue: freedom of conscience and freedom of religious practice is a right for everyone. Tyranny over Catholics is a tyranny over all.

Are only Catholics and their bishops opposed to the HHS mandate? In one poll, more than 40 percent of all American opposed a government requirement that employers provide no-cost contraceptive plans. If 25 percent of Americans are Catholics and all Catholics opposed the HHS mandate, then obviously this is more than a Catholic issue.

Were the poll to ask whether plans should include abortion, abortifacient drugs, and sterilizations the numbers opposing the plan would greatly increase. Also, were the poll to ask whether religious affiliated organizations be forced by the government to offer such plans to its workers, the opposition would be overwhelming; yet the pollsters avoided those questions.

Quite a number of prominent Jewish and Christian groups—such as the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, Colorado Christian University, the Orthodox bishops of North and Central America—have come out against the mandate and have sued the government to protect their rights. Jewish groups in particular fear that this could lead to further governmental control and persecution, which they do not wish to face again.

Why are some Catholics supportive of the governmental mandate of contraceptives and abortifacient drugs? Every Catholic has some family member or friend who claims to be Catholic but who does not go to Mass on Sunday or who disagrees with Catholic teaching on abortion and sacredness of sexuality. Many are quite vocal about their “independent” opinion. The same is true for the Catholic family at large: there are Catholic politicians, and other figures in the public eye, who voice bold opinions about what Christ and his Church ought to believe. They claim to be Catholic yet contradict true Catholic teaching. This is why the Holy Spirit led the early Church to select and ordain bishops who could teach with the authority of Christ.

To say one is a “good Catholic” while supporting abortion, contraception, and sterilization in the HHS mandate is like saying one is a “good spouse” while cheating on his or her spouse; or like saying one is a “good parent” while allowing his or her children to use contraception and to abort their child. By definition, a good spouse is faithful; a good parent defends his or her children’s innocence and moral integrity; a good Catholic embraces all that Christ teaches through his Church (since “catholic” means “all” or “universal”). So, a “cafeteria Catholic” is an oxymoron.

Where can I get more information on the Church’s position? The bishops’ web site: www.usccb.org/conscience; the USCCB blogs for January and February 2012: usccbmedia.blogspot.com; the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty lawsuits: becketfund.org.

I encourage everyone to pray for our Church, bishops, and for all Christians, as well as to exercise your right and duty to defend the Constitution upon which our great nation is founded, defending the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death.

Abortion

The Annunciation and Abortion[9]

In the recent debates over new governmental rules mandating that Catholics—and other Christians, Christian owned businesses, and even Catholic and Christian non-profit schools and organizations—to pay for contraception, especially those causing abortion: many are asking: What’s Christians make such a big deal about abortion? Doesn’t a woman have the legal right to do whatever she wants with her body?

Tomorrow’s feast of the Annunciation, March 25, helps shed light on why Christians do not want to pay, or participate in any way, in an act that may end an innocent human being’s life in his or her mother’s womb. At the Annunciation—when the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is to be the mother of the Messiah—tells us that the moment Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb, the eternal Word of God—the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity—he is a man, a human being. This gives us great insights: all human life begins at conception.

Already in the Old Testament, God revealed that he calls and consecrates great prophetic figures in their mother’s womb, such as Samson (Judges 16:17) and Jeremiah (Sirach 49:7). As God told Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). The same was true in the New Testament with John the Baptist who was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15).

Scripture also tells us how God is active in making and fashioning each child, then guiding him according to his eternal plan (Job 31:15; Wisdom 7:1). There in the womb he gives us the spiritual soul that makes each of us a unique human person (Ecclesiastes 11:5). Thus we pray: “For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).

So, Scripture tells all of us, religious Jews and Christians alike, that human life is sacred, that it is consecrated by God in the womb at conception. In the moment that a child is conceived, he or she belongs to God alone. No one has a right over something that is not his. A woman should have dominion over her body—indeed we are all call to respect that dominion since she too is a child of God. However, when a woman conceives a child she does not own that child, even though he dwells in her body, just as Mary did not own Jesus when he took flesh and dwelt in her body for those nine months. Each child is God’s and God’s alone.

So why do Christians make such a big deal about abortion? If we consider what Jesus says regarding the last judgment: “Everything you do to the least of my little ones you do to me” (Matthew 25:31-46, especially verses 40 and 45). We see Christ in each child, in that little embryo, that fetus, that baby in mommy’s tummy. Thus Christ is telling us that to abort a child is to kill him, and to participate in a government mandated program that requires us to pay for immoral procedures, including drugs that cause the abortion of a child, is to require us nail Jesus Christ to the Cross… again!

As sinners, our hearts goes out to those women who have used abortifacient contraception or who had an abortion. The sins of all of us—however we may rationalize them—sent Jesus to Golgotha. Yet Jesus says: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Let’s pray that these women find the same healing and peace through conversion that we have. May God strengthen women who may be contemplating abortion to recognize and welcome Christ whom they carry within them.

Battling for Life: It’s Only Just Begun

The recent Supreme Court act to overturn their 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is the answer to years of prayer and hard work. While the recent Supreme Court action still allows for abortion, it is just not a right protected by the Constitution. Now it will be up to each state to decide whether and how a person can abort their fetal child. There is still no Constitutional protection for the unborn or what constitutes a human person.

So, the legal and political battle has only just begun. It is really up to lay men and women to engage the political realm so as to fully recognize the personhood and dignity of every human being from conception to natural death.

Overturning of Roe v. Wade has also exposed a great wound that abortion has caused in the social fabric of our society that has produced division, anger, and even hatred. It is hard to rejoice over a legal victory when it has unleashed so much animosity in our fellow citizens, in our coworkers, in our neighbors, and even in our families. This poses a very difficult challenge as we hear God calling us to dialogue with those who angrily blame religion for their pain.

Let’s start by continuing to pray for healing, especially in reconciliation with God for our sins. Perhaps we haven’t directly had an abortion, but only if we are “without sin” can we “be the first to throw a stone” at anyone who has (see John 8:8). In his encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope St. Paul VI prophetically connected the sin of abortion with birth control, sexual promiscuity, infidelity, pornography, immodesty, provocative sex education, “recreational sex,” homosexual behavior, bestiality, etc., etc. We can easily see how these sins are complicit with the sin of abortion, yet all sin is a rejection of God’s law and his gift of life. So, battling for life means battling against all sin.

Battling for life means particularly battling to recognize that not only is human life sacred but that human sexuality—the transmission of that life—is also sacred. If the acknowledgement that abortion is not a constitutionally protected right has brought out such division and hatred, what kind of opposition will arise were we to protect the sacredness of the sexual exchange in marriage between a man and a woman—what kind of reaction will this provoke?

So, battling for life and battling the sacredness of human sexuality has only just begun.

Battling for life means fostering a greater love and respect for the dignity of every human person at all stages of life. It will mean a great love for the poor, for the aged and dying who often are ignored and forgotten. It will mean reaching out to assist women with unplanned and difficult pregnancies, who are in abusive relationships, or who feel that no other option exists. If we can show true Christian love and charity we can reshape the public conversation about life. This is battling for life.

Battling for life means battling for souls. It means meeting each soul where he or she is at, accompanying and leading him or her to Christ one-by-one. Experience shows that this occurs by a true conversion of heart, one person at a time. If someone like Dr. Bernard Nathanson—who helped create the abortion industry that exploded in the early 1970’s and who was responsible for over 75,000 abortions—can convert and acknowledge his sinfulness and become Catholic, then our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family can too. As Jesus reminds us, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). So let’s fill heaven with lots of joy!

 It will take prayer and one-on-one friendship. This takes time; this is our battle. Battling for life is battling for love… it’s only just begun!

Marriage

Marriage Witnesses to God’s Own Love[10]

Pope Francis, in his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, tells us: “The stable union of man and woman in marriage… is born of their love, as sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Genesis 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life” (n. 52).

What makes the love between a man and woman in marriage so special, especially as opposed to same-sex unions? Marriage between a man and a woman is complementary: man loves woman (and woman loves man) as different, as distinct, and as other. Men and women have different physical and emotional constitutions and temperaments. God’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself means each man (and woman) must learn to love not himself—his own physical and emotional traits—but his opposite, which isn’t always easy.

This bodily and spiritual union of sexually different persons is open to life, that is, it is a union that can be personified in conceiving new life. We are not saying that every bodily and spiritual union of husband and wife leads to the conception of new life. No.

What we are saying is that only the union of a total and unconditional gift-of-self between a man and a woman in marital intimacy—with the mutual and complete acceptance of the other as other—is the suitable place for the conception of a human person. Each and every act of marital intimacy is meant to recall the pro-creative love that personifies every human being as the image and likeness of God; each and every act of marital intimacy re-presents to us the eternal, total, mutual, and complementary self-giving between the Father and the Son that is personified in the Holy Spirit. This is the foundation of human dignity.

Contraceptive and Gay “Love”

Some people claim that “gay” sex or sex outside of marriage or contraceptive sex has the same meaning and value as sincere marital love. But does it?

Contraception changes the nature of love. In the sexual act in which contraception is used, the individuals put a condition on their total and unconditional expression of love for each other:

“I’ll love you unconditionally, with one condition… that we don’t get pregnant.” That one condition destroys unconditional self-giving, making their sexual union a contradiction. In addition, one accepts the other person completely, totally, except for his or her fertility. So, contraception destroys the totality expressed in the acceptance of the other person’s body and spirit.

Gay “love” is similar. Here a male (or female) accepts the other as same, not as different from himself or herself. It is saying: “I’ll ‘love’ you only if you are the same (Greek: “homo”) as I am. You have to be like me physically so I can do unto you as I would do unto myself. I want to ‘love’ myself in ‘loving’ you.” Gay sex fails to express a love for and acceptance of another as other; it fails to express the simultaneous, total, mutual self-giving that can be personified in new life.

Contraceptive and gay sex lack the total and unconditional self-giving, the complete acceptance of the other, and the differentiated complementarity in the second one, that we find in the intimacy of a man and a woman in marriage. Both forms of so-called “love” fail to represent the personification of the mutual, total, and unconditional self-giving and acceptance that we find in the Blessed Trinity, or that we find in marital love. Every child has a right to come into this world as a fruit of this true kind of love, and to be raised in a family environment where such love is represented to them by a mother AND a father.

This is the reason why gay “marriage” and gay adoption (which we will save for another Weekly Note) are so dangerous for our society.

Marriage: An Image of God[11]

Images are very important, especially when they represent a person or a family. If you spit on a photo of a man’s wife or family, or tear it up in front of him, it would not only show despising hate it would be a hostile provocation. In contrast, if you take a picture or statue of a person or his family and hold it to your heart, or give it a kiss, it would be an enduring sign of love and friendship.

Now consider God’s own created image of himself: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion… over every living thing’” (Genesis 1:27-28).

God creates an image of himself in man—as male and female called to a communion of fruitful love. This fruitful communion images God as a Trinity of persons: the Son totally welcomes the Father’s eternal and complete gift of himself; the Son imitates the Father by his total gift of himself, which is welcomed by the Father; their mutual self-gift is personified in the Holy Spirit, the fruitful New Life that bonds the three persons into a Family of eternal Love. God created the marriage of a man and woman to reflect this.

If one really hated God—as Satan does—then wouldn’t he wish to tear up God’s image, spit upon it and try to destroy it in the most despicable way possible? Certainly divorce attempts to do this by taking the image of God’s eternal communion in the marital union—“until death do us part”—and turn it into a temporal union of compatibility—“until we no longer feel like being one.” This is why divorce really pains God, who witnesses the covenant between husband and wife: “you have been faithless [to her] though she is your companion and your wife by covenant… For I hate divorce, says the LORD… [So] do not be faithless” (Malachi 2:14,16).

Yet Satan is not satisfied with just tearing up God’s image in marriage, he wants to distort it even more and to spit upon it. So he introduces so-called “same-sex marriage.” Male embraces male and female embraces female—not in an unbreakable one-body, one-spirit union through the mutual gift-of-self—but in a partnership for mutual gratification for emotional satisfaction. Although the marriage between a man and a woman may bring great gratification and emotional fulfillment, but this is a consequence not the goal of marriage. The goal of marriage is to fulfill a call from God to reflect his image through the gift of oneself.

For Satan, marriage should be about the individual—about what I want—so as to be a reflection of himself—the male of his maleness in the so-called “gay marriage;” the female of her femaleness in the so-called “lesbian marriage.” A “marriage” between same-sex partners excludes the total, mutual, and reciprocal self-gift wherein the man’s masculinity complements the woman’s femininity out of which flows new life that reflects that complementary self-giving. This reflect Trinitarian Love and Life.

It is understandable that someone with same-sex attraction would feel drawn toward marriage. S/he may see a loving, newly married couple and long to have the same kind of joy, happiness, sense of fulfillment and permanent love he senses in them. But playing with and distorting God’s image is not the way to achieve that longing. A better plan is build up good healthy fraternal friendships that will help us be good children of God and better prepared to answer his call, no matter what it may be. Those with same-sex attraction who learn to give of themselves in a chaste and disinterested manner can give a wonderful witness to Christ’s love, especially his sacrificial love on the Cross.

Is Marriage Unfair and Unjust?[12]

Some consider that Catholic Church’s recognition of marriage as only between a man and a woman is both unfair and unjust. They think that the Catholic Church requires a person who is sexually attracted to those of the same sex to either change or remain celibate.

In reality, the Church requires the same of all—whether same-sex or opposite-sex attracted, or those sexually attracted to children, animals, or to themselves: God wants all to live chaste lives:

“Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2359)

God calls all unmarried persons to live celibacy until he calls them to marriage and has ratified that call in a wedding ceremony. This form of chastity preserves the body and soul as a wonderful gift for Christ, and as a gift for the person one is to wed. Unmarried persons live chastity by avoiding all deliberate thoughts and actions that arouse venereal passions or produce venereal pleasure: to willfully and knowingly seek sexual pleasure, such as through pornography, is a mortal sin. Also those who are dating are called to celibate chastity, which means they must avoid passionate touching and kissing—kissing that arouses the passions for marital intimacy—as these venereal acts provoke desires for acts belonging to marriage and to marriage alone. If a woman caught her man passionately kissing and touching another woman he would be “history,” as it would kill their relationship. Such acts also “kill” our relationship with Christ, i.e., they are mortal sins.

So, persons same-sex attracted are called to holiness and to live celibate chastity with both same-sex and opposite-sex friends. The Church challenges them and the rest of us to the same high calling.

Married persons are also called to live chastity, but in a marital way. Marital chastity means that all acts of affection must affirm their total, unconditional self-giving; one must never treat a spouse as an object of selfish sexual gratification. Venereal acts ought to culminate in the bodily union that naturally leads to conceiving a child. To deliberately alter that union so that a child is not conceived, or to deliberately stimulate each other without the bodily union (as in homosexual acts), or to seek bodily union while using artificial contraception, etc. would be a mortal sin against marital chastity. Often married persons must live celibate chastity for extended periods, as when an ill spouse cannot have sex. In such cases, married couples find other pure ways to affirm their unconditional love and affection—one cannot gratify him-/herself, with another person or through pornography, as it would violate his marriage vows as well as his relationship with God.

The Church doesn’t require anyone to change his/her identity or emotional dispositions, she simply urges her children to live chaste lives. If a person is emotionally attracted to children, we don’t propose legalizing marriage to children so that an adult can get societal approval to gratify his sexual urges with kids. No, rather we call him or her to live a chaste life in the state to which s/he is called.

Choosing to abandon chastity doesn’t give one the right to change the definition of marriage so as to overcome the stigma of unchaste acts, forcing everyone else to give approval of one’s sexual preferences: we cannot call something wrong, right, but must preserve the institution of marriage as God created it: “What God has joined let no man rent asunder” (Matthew 19:6).

Let us continue to treat those having “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” as this inclination “constitutes for most of them a trial… These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358). All those who are struggling to live chastity need our prayer and our upmost respect and support as they witness to Christ by their pure, chaste love.

Giving Them What They Want: “Same Sex Marriage”[13]

On June 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings: one, on the permissibility of judges to knock down state constitutions that only recognized marriage between a man and a woman; and second, making DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), provisions that made any federal benefit to married couples exclusive to marriage between a man and a woman, unconstitutional. Although it didn’t endorse so-called “gay marriage” as such, it certainly was a blow to marriage and to the protection of the rights of children to have a mother and a father.

The logic of the court seemed to be based on a notion of freedom articulated by Thomas Jefferson: “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg” (Notes on Virginia, 1782). In other words, if it doesn’t hurt anyone, let people do what they please.

But giving people what they want is not always a Christian thing to do. Parents don’t give their children whatever they want—if they did, they wouldn’t be good parents.

Suppose the Mayor—in order to reduce panhandling in Chicago that was negatively affecting tourism—proposed that the city build a large residence in the country region far from the city to house the panhandlers. As many people think that the panhandling homeless just want to spend the alms they collect on drugs and alcohol, the proposed residence would offer the homeless all the drugs and alcohol they want, as long as they stay in the residence. The Mayor’s thought is that the additional revenue from taxes from an increase of tourism would more than compensate building and operating the residence.

Although this proposal “neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg,” it doesn’t treat the homeless individuals as human persons. Just giving a group of individuals what they want is not right, not Christian, and not a loving thing to do at all. True love looks at the inherent dignity of the person and his or her needs, as well as seeks to protect the common good. So-called “gay marriage” does neither.

Our love for those with same-sex attraction means we look at their real needs. Each one is different with a unique background and unique needs. To lump them all into a group and just giving them the “right” to call their union marriage doesn’t help them at all. Just like endorsing free use of drugs and alcohol often leads to unhealthy behavior and medical problems, homosexual activity does too. Although the press doesn’t like to mention this, sexually transmitted diseases, drug and tobacco use, and suicide are a number of factors that lead to a shorter life-span among actively gay men and lesbians, even in countries where it is widely accepted as normal. My book, Born to Love, details the research on this.

The Christian approach is to get to know each individual as a person, to befriend each one as s/he is, to get to know each one’s “story”, and become part of each one’s life. As good friends don’t let friends drink and drive, we cannot endorse any activity that we know is not physically and spiritually healthy for our friends.

In addition, we need to think about the impact that so-called “same-sex marriage” would have on children adopted into a home with only feminine or only masculine bonding and influence. Children need both a mother and a father. Although it is true that sometimes a mother or father is lost—due to death, divorce, or abandonment, etc.—the one-parent home is not the ideal, much less one that brings in an unrelated sex-partner (just read Dawn Stefanowicz’s book: Out from Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting).

So let us continue to pray and to work toward the good of all. This means loving each person as Christ did—ready to die for him or her. But let’s not just give individuals what they want while brushing off their real needs and desires. This is not Christian… This is not what Christ would do.

“Children have a right to a father and a mother”[14]

Recent reports from the Synod on the Family have disturbed some people into thinking that Pope Francis’s approach to the family is confused. “Do not be afraid!” The Pope is faithful to the Catholic teaching. Here are some excerpts from a discourse at the Complementarity Colloquium he gave just six weeks after the Synod’s first session ended:

“Dear sisters and brothers… I would like to begin by sharing with you a reflection on the title of your colloquium. ‘Complementarity’: it is a precious word, with multiple meanings. It can refer to situations where one of two things adds to, completes, or fulfills a lack in the other. But complementarity is much more than that. Christians find its deepest meaning in the first Letter to the Corinthians where Saint Paul tells us that the Spirit has endowed each of us with different gifts so that—just as the human body’s members work together for the good of the whole—everyone’s gifts can work together for the benefit of each (cf. 1 Cor. 12). To reflect upon ‘complementarity’ is nothing less than to ponder the dynamic harmonies at the heart of all Creation. This is the key word, harmony. All complementarities were made by our Creator, because the Holy Spirit, who is the Author of harmony, achieves this harmony.

“It is fitting that you have gathered here in this international colloquium to explore the complementarity of man and woman. This complementarity is at the root of marriage and family, which is the first school where we learn to appreciate our own and others’ gifts, and where we begin to acquire the arts of living together. For most of us, the family provides the principal place where we can begin to ‘breathe’ values and ideals, as well to realize our full capacity for virtue and charity. At the same time, as we know, families are places of tensions: between egoism and altruism, reason and passion, immediate desires and long-range goals. But families also provide frameworks for resolving such tensions. This is important. When we speak of complementarity between man and woman in this context, let us not confuse that term with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern. Complementarity will take many forms as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the formation of their children—his or her personal richness, personal charisma. Complementarity becomes a great wealth. It is not just a good thing but it is also beautiful.

“In our day, marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. Evidence is mounting that the decline of the marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of other social ills, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly. It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis…

“It is necessary first to promote the fundamental pillars that govern a nation: its non-material goods. The family is the foundation of co-existence and a guarantee against social fragmentation. Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity. That is why I stressed in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium that the contribution of marriage to society is ‘indispensable’; that it ‘transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple’ (n. 66).

“In these days, as you embark on a reflection on the beauty of complementarity between man and woman in marriage, I urge you to lift up yet another truth about marriage: that permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity, and fruitful love responds to the deepest longings of the human heart. Let us bear in mind especially the young people, who represent our future. It is important that they do not give themselves over to the poisonous mentality of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern: this must be done” (Pope Francis, November 17, 2014).

Thank you, Pope Francis for your clear teaching on marriage and family!

Marriage and the Holy Family[15]

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family and Tuesday the feast of Mary’s divine maternity. We pray to the Virgin Mother of God, and to the Holy Family as a whole, that all families may have a firm foundation in a lasting and holy marriage.

Marriage is under attack. The first attack against marriage was when civil laws started granting easy divorce, which went directly against God’s law as Jesus taught:

“And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife? … Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.’ … And he said to them: ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery’” (Mark 10:2-12).

The Church allows a person to legally separate from a spouse due to infidelity, or due to violence or seriously harm to the innocent spouse or children. In permitting this, however, the marriage remains intact and neither one are allow to remarry. One may even obtain a civil divorce to protect the innocent spouse and the children from financial or other harm. Through all this, the marriage remains and the truth of the vows before God—“until death do we part”—must be fulfilled.

Let’s pray for all married couples so that they will have the courage to fulfill the vows they have made before God—“in good times and in bad”—knowing that it will not always be easy.

The latest attack against marriage is the efforts to eliminate the feminine or the masculine element from marriage and from the family, through so-called “gay-marriage.” We must love everyone as God taught us. We love the sinner but not the sin. We must love those who have same-sex attraction or who’s “identity” is different than our own. But if “from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female” then who are we to change that? Just because two people want something different, do we pretend to be God?

Children suffer the most from seeing “same-sex” partnerships. A child needs a father and a mother. Although the mother-child and father-child relationships have similarities, they are not identical. A child needs both. Having two “mothers” or two “fathers” is not the same as having a mother and father with complimentary masculine and feminine elements. This gives the child a whole identity. “Same-sex” partnerships expose children to a masculine- or feminine-dominant environment that excludes the opposite, often with a prejudicial attitude: such as a lesbian environment that despises the masculine as abusive or weak. These partnerships also tends to view the body (one’s own as well as another person’s) as an object to be used for selfish gratification, not as the embodiment (incarnation) of a human person who is capable of making a whole gift of him- or herself to another for life.

Our children deserve more than this. Even the person who has same-sex attraction or who is living a gay or lesbian lifestyle deserves more than this, as they deserve to be treated as a person, not as a body; as a free human being called to holiness.

May Our Blessed Mother help us all to live the virtue of chastity as we   strive to fulfill God’s call to protect marriage and the family as he made them.

Invited to a “Wedding”… Should I Go?[16]

We are often put in conflicted situations by loved-ones or by people for whom or with whom we work. What should we do when they put us in these difficult situations? For example, what do you do when a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a cousin, friend, or co-worker asks you to attend their same-sex “wedding”? Do you go so as to keep the peace? Do you go so as to maintain the relationship with the hope that you may have a chance to help fix things later? These questions also apply to a relative or friend who is marrying a divorcee—no difference—as both are pretending to be true marriages and both distort God’s image and likeness that marriage is meant to reflect (see the last few weeks’ Weekly Notes).

I find it helpful to ask the question: would you attend a wedding of a son or daughter who invited you but insisted that your spouse not come? Would you attend a wedding where a brother or sister invited your father but insisted that your mother not come? I hope your answer would be “no,” that you wouldn’t go either.

Ultimately, those inviting you to their same-sex “wedding,” or to their “wedding” to a divorcee, are inviting you but not Christ. They are refusing to let Christ and his bride the Church be a part of their ceremony, as it opposes what God has created from the beginning: marriage is for life and is between one man and one woman. How would Christ feel if you go while knowing that he is not welcomed at the wedding? Would he not feel betrayed? As he said: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).

We still need to be sensitive to the feelings and dispositions of the person attempting marriage. We should not insult the person nor make him or her feel like we are judging them—only God can judge the heart. Yet we need to follow what we know is true and we cannot participate in anything that opposes the Truth—Jesus Himself is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

The best thing is to anticipate the possible invitation. When you first discover that a person you know (whether family member, co-worker, boss, etc.) is in a relationship with someone of the same-sex or with a divorcee, take them aside and talk to them directly and amicably. Ask them if they respect you. Ask them whether they would ever force you to change your beliefs or put you in a position in which you would be forced to choose between them and your faith; between them and Jesus Christ. If you do this long before they plan their “big day” and begin inviting people, they will less likely put you on the spot. Also, it will make it easier for them to accept others who choose to decline the invitation.

Parents do well to let their children know their parameters. When they are young (early teens), let them know you will not attend their wedding if they get married outside the Church, or if they get married to a divorcee (unless his or her marriage was declared null), or if they were ever to try to marry someone of the same sex. If you bring this up before it becomes an issue, your stand will not provoke an emotionally violent reaction. Perhaps your children will ask whether you truly love them, and you will explain to them that you will always love them, no matter what they do: if they become a drug addict, an alcoholic, a male or female prostitute… but that doesn’t mean you will buy them drugs, alcohol, or approve their behavior. Your love means that you will always be there should they return from their waywardness, just like the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).

Although we will always love those who make what we know to be immoral choices, we ask God to forgive them for they may “know not what they do” (Luke 22:34).

Pope Francis: Peace[17]

Pope Francis sets before us a great plan for peace in the world and it begins with the family. Until we can view others—of whatever religion, race, or nation—as brothers or sisters we will not find peace, as the Pope says in his Message for the World Day of Peace:

“In the heart of every man and woman is the desire for a full life, including that irrepressible longing for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced.”

This is where the family comes in: where else do we learn how to see others as brothers and sisters? Where else will we learn to accept and embrace our enemies and rivals as brothers and sisters? It is in the family, where we build up human bonds of love—relationships—that transcend hurts, rivalries, and neediness. As Pope Francis states:

“Fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace. We should remember that fraternity is generally first learned in the family, thanks above all to the responsible and complementary roles of each of its members, particularly the father and the mother. The family is the wellspring of all fraternity, and as such it is the foundation and the first pathway to peace, since, by its vocation, it is meant to spread its love to the world around it.”

In the family we learn to love each person just as s/he is, with all her/his defects and needs. If we learn this well then we will communicate that love and peace to the world; if not—if we don’t overcome our selfishness and indifference toward the needs of our brothers and sisters in the family—then we will find it hard to overcome our selfishness and indifference toward the needs of those to whom we feel less directly connected or from whom we feel a natural or knee-jerk repulsion. This is what leads to violence, war, and exploitation, as the Pope points out:

“The ever-increasing number of interconnections and communications in today’s world makes us powerfully aware of the unity and common destiny of the nations… we see the seeds of a vocation to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another. But this vocation is still frequently denied and ignored in a world marked by a ‘globalization of indifference’ which makes us slowly inured to the suffering of others and closed in on ourselves.

“In many parts of the world, there seems to be no end to grave offenses against fundamental human rights, especially the right to life and the right to religious freedom. The tragic phenomenon of human trafficking, in which the unscrupulous prey on the lives and the desperation of others, is but one unsettling example of this. Alongside overt armed conflicts are the less visible but no less cruel wars fought in the economic and financial sectors with means which are equally destructive of lives, families and businesses… The many situations of inequality, poverty and injustice, are signs not only of a profound lack of fraternity, but also of the absence of a culture of solidarity. New ideologies, characterized by rampant individualism, egocentrism and materialistic consumerism, weaken social bonds, fuelling that ‘throw away’ mentality which leads to contempt for, and the abandonment of, the weakest and those considered ‘useless.’ In this way human coexistence increasingly tends to resemble a mere do ut des which is both pragmatic and selfish.”

We need to renew our fraternity with all human beings, basing it on a strong relationship to our common Father, God:

“True brotherhood among people presupposes and demands a transcendent Fatherhood. Based on the recognition of this fatherhood, human fraternity is consolidated: each person becomes a ‘neighbor’ who cares for others.”

This, the Pope notes, will bring us the peace for which we long. Let it begin with you and me. May you have a Happy and Peace-Filled New Year!

Fraternal Unity Founded on God’s Fatherhood[18]

In his Message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis calls all of us to a great family unity. How appropriate is this message as we draw near to the Christian Unity Octave, January 18-25:

“Can the men and women of this world ever fully respond to the longing for fraternity placed within them by God the Father? Will they ever manage by their power alone to overcome indifference, egoism and hatred, and to accept the legitimate differences typical of brothers and sisters?

“By paraphrasing his words, we can summarize the answer given by the Lord Jesus: ‘For you have only one Father, who is God, and you are all brothers and sisters’ (cf. Mt 23:8-9). The basis of fraternity is found in God’s fatherhood. We are not speaking of a generic fatherhood, indistinct and historically ineffectual, but rather of the specific and extraordinarily concrete personal love of God for each man and woman (cf. Mt 6:25-30). It is a fatherhood, then, which effectively generates fraternity, because the love of God, once welcomed, becomes the most formidable means of transforming our lives and relationships with others, opening us to solidarity and to genuine sharing.”

We all long for world peace; the hope that we can achieve it is founded on the Father’s love for each person, making us his sons and daughters. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). God the Son became a little child so as to reveal the Father’s love for each one of us. Loving one another as brothers and sisters transforms all relationships.

“All who accept the life of Christ and live in him acknowledge God as Father… The reconciled person sees in God the Father of all, and, as a consequence, is spurred on to live a life of fraternity open to all. In Christ, the other is welcomed and loved as a son or daughter of God, as a brother or sister, not as a stranger, much less as a rival or even an enemy. In God’s family… all are sons and daughters of the same Father, and… [so] there are no ‘disposable lives.’ All men and women enjoy an equal and inviolable dignity. All are loved by God. All have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, who died on the Cross and rose for all. This is the reason why no one can remain indifferent before the lot of our brothers and sisters.”

Aware of the Father’s great love for us we will naturally love our brothers and sisters so as to please our Father God, corresponding to his love. We will respect each person’s inherent dignity, loving each to the end as Jesus did:

“The Cross is the definitive foundational locus of that fraternity… Jesus Christ, who assumed human nature in order to redeem it, loving the Father unto death on the Cross… Christ, with his abandonment to death for love of the Father, becomes the definitive and new principle of us all; we are called to regard ourselves in him as brothers and sisters, inasmuch as we are children of the same Father… in his person we are reconciled with God and with one another as brothers and sisters. Jesus’ death on the Cross also brings an end to the separation between peoples… [as] Jesus Christ is the one who reconciles all people in himself.”

This shows us what it means to be a good Son of the Father, and a good brother to all those born into the human family and called into the family of God, the Church. To bring about peace and unity by “breaking down the wall of separation… [and] hostility,” we must follow the example of Christ, who generously gave everything for love of us to make of us “in himself one people, one new man, one new humanity.” May we love one another as he as loved us (cf. John 13:34), imitating the Pope’s own example of embracing all—especially the poor—as true brothers and sisters in Christ. Living this out in our daily life will bring about true world peace.

 

[1] Saturday, September 29, 2012

[2] October 6, 2012; November 6, 2022

[3] October 15, 2016

[4] A great resource: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: The US Bishops’ Reflection on Catholic Teaching and Political Life, available at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/upload/forming-consciences-for-faithful-citizenship.pdf.

[5] Sunday, April 29, 2012.

[6] Sunday, July 1, 2012, July 4, 2021

[7] August 5, 2012.

[8] Saturday, March 3, 2012

[9] Saturday, March 24, 2012

[10] Sunday, July 28, 2013

[11] Sunday, July 21, 2013

[12] Sunday, July 14, 2013.

[13] Sunday, July 7, 2013

[14] December 7, 2014

[15] Saturday, December 29, 2012.

[16] Wednesday, August 7, 2013

[17] Saturday, January 4, 2014

[18] Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Blessings,

Fr. John R. Waiss            
Pastor