Tuesday, December 27, 2005

True, True, True #5

[Source below...]

Tonight let us look at the shepherds. What kind of people were they? In the world of their time, shepherds were looked down upon; they were considered untrustworthy and not admitted as witnesses in court. But really, who were they? To be sure, they were not great saints, if by that word we mean people of heroic virtue. They were simple souls. The Gospel sheds light on one feature which later on, in the words of Jesus, would take on particular importance: they were people who were watchful. This was chiefly true in a superficial way: they kept watch over their flocks by night. But it was also true in a deeper way: they were ready to receive God'’s word. Their life was not closed in on itself; their hearts were open. In some way, deep down, they were waiting for him. Their watchfulness was a kind of readiness -– a readiness to listen and to set out. They were waiting for a light which would show them the way. That is what is important for God.

From a humble Christmas homily. God, I love this guy!

Friday, December 23, 2005

True, True, True #4

From today's saint: John of Kanty, Poland:

"Fight all error, but do it with good humor, patience, kindness, and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause. "

Good advise for an angry ex-Protestant like me.

Thank God for mercy!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Not-So-Sudden Scandal

News reports this morning indicate that some scholars of religion are suddenly having doubts about the virgin conception & birth of Jesus.

Um, wait... isn't that lack of belief as old as this (v.19)?

We are, indeed, under constant attack by the doubters. Really, the question about Mary's perpetual virginity comes down to this: either you believe, or you don't. Either the Church is right, or it's wrong. You either accept it, or you reject it.

Stop trying to convince me to reject what I've accepted!

There are many, many reasons to believe it. One could quote the early Christians Bartholomew (circa 71 AD), or Zeno of Verona (died c. 372 AD), or St. Ambrose (c. 390 AD). We have to advance forward in history another 1200 years before the Protestant Reformation began to suggest that Mary wasn't a virgin. Also worth pointing out is another quote from cpats.org:

The early Fathers all argue:
  • Her virginity was implied by her answer to the Angel Gabriel ' how can this be since I know not a man (Luke 1:34).
  • If Mary had other children why is Jesus emphatically called 'son of Mary (Mark 6:3) noting especially there is no mention of Joseph. In the same manner, Mary is NEVER referred to as Mother of the mother of the brethren of Jesus.
  • The Gospel texts imply the 'brethren' were all older than Jesus since they tried to give him advice, they were jealous of his popularity and they tried to 'hold ' him suggesting he was mad.
  • If Mary had other children, then Jesus when he was dying on the Cross would not have entrusted Mary to the care of St John.
And aside from all the apologetics, all of Church teaching should be accepted by the faithful on the mere fact of the Church's sole teaching authority.

With all these reasons to believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary, why would someone actively try not to believe it?

The only reason to reject anything the Church proclaims as truth is plain: one is hardened to the full acceptance of truth. The hardest thing (and yet the simplest) I had to do as a converting Protestant was allow my mind to submit to Rome's authority.

No regrets, by the way.

I recently read this, written by Blessed Isaac of Stella, who wrote in the 12th century (I recommend checking out the whole text):

In the inspired Scriptures, what is said in a universal sense of the virgin mother, the Church, is understood in an individual sense of the Virgin Mary, and what is said in a particular sense of the virgin mother Mary is rightly understood in a general sense of the virgin mother, the Church. When either is spoken of, the meaning can be understood of both, almost without qualification.

That one simple paragraph gave me a whole new respect for Our Lady. If indeed she is analogous to the Church, which was elevated to a whole new level of authority for me when I journeyed to Rome, then should she not be thusly elevated as well? There is no idolatry in that; the whole point of her life can be summed up from John 2:5: ""Do whatever he tells you."

Not only does she issue the order, but she also supplies the response (v.38): "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Critical Demographics

I read recently in Discover Magazine that societies under intense persecution or threat of extinction have been shown to produce more female offspring. They suggested it was some sort of evolutionary effect that kicks in to ensure the long-term survival of the group.

My wife and I, as Catholics, are part of a societal group that is constantly subjected (praise God!) to quiet scorn, subtle disdain, and occasional outright contempt.

We have three children so far, all girls.

I foresee at least one of them becoming a nun. We definitely want to encourage any sort of inquiry to religious life that they manifest. I'm reminded of St. Lucy of Syracuse, who dearly wanted to take religious vows, so much so that she actively delayed her arranged marriage. She also prayed that her mother would accept her desire, and as a sign from God, her mother was cured of a chronic hemorrhaging. She then consented.

Her scorned fiance ratted her out as a Christian, and St. Lucy went on to die a horrible death at the hands of the governor of Sicily in the year 283.

That, odd as it may sound, is what I would love one (or more!) of my daughters to experience. For when we think of St. Lucy, we do not think of a murder victim, but rather of a cohort in the great cloud of witnesses who cheer us on in our race (Heb. 12:1). We think instead of the saint who could not be dragged to her sentence in the red-light district even by a team of oxen; we think of the saint whose faith prevented the wood around her stake from burning; we think of the saint whose eyesight was restored after her eyes were gouged out.

But why would any father want his little girl put through such torture? The forge of martyrdom is a fierce one, true, but Pope John Paul II knew that we need saints more than ever in this era of impending doom - that's why he recognized the holiness of more than 500 saints by canonizing them.

The Communion of Saints is one of my favorite themes in the Church. You'll note I link to an "Exhaustive Calendar of Saints" on the sidebar of my blog. Every day I look at the saints associated with that day to see who is there and why.

These are the type of people we need to breed nowadays. To think that my daughter(s) could someday be on a similar list is quite a joyful prospect for me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Good Example of a Bad Candidate

This morning on the radio I overheard a brief speech by a Liberal candidate in our federal election campaign talking about the "democratic deficit" in the House of Commons.

He said that in his utopian parliament, we would follow the model he used in his private boys' school (ah, so nice to know he's a sample of the general public).

In that school, they had a student parliament, with a government side and an opposition side. If any opposition member proposed something that was a universally good idea, the rule was that it would be accepted by all parliamentarians. If a member of the government side rejected the proposal for partisan reasons, the other government members would beat him. Yes, I'll repeat that - he said they would beat him.

Then he said, "That's what I'd like to see in the House of Commons."

You know what... me too. I'd love to see the CPAC coverage of that.
They DO Exist!

Just when it seems all we hear about is bishops who seem way out of touch with true orthodoxy, comes this interview with Canada's own Bishop Frederick Henry of Alberta. I've waited for years to hear these kind of comments come out of any see in the western world. Delight in select snippets of this rich fare below:

A constant challenge is to determine whether our faith shapes our culture and our politics, or is it the other way around? I'm afraid that too many Catholics have become too complacent and too tolerant. We are not nearly countercultural enough or prophetic enough.

...taking our inspiration from the pedagogy of the Incarnation, we will have to walk with Christ beside men and women of today, supporting them in their difficult search for the truth and making them in some way feel the presence of the Redeemer in everyday life.

We do not have to fear or shield ourselves against others who have different views and beliefs. As we walk, we have the opportunity to tell who we are, what we support, what we believe in and what we oppose.

Within the Catholic community we have to do even more to strengthen our marriage preparation and marriage enrichment courses, our accompaniment of the separated and divorced and the bereaved who have lost spouses, and our celebration of marriage and the beauty of human sexuality in God's plan.

The truth regarding the human person and obligations to uphold this truth do not change when a politician leaves the security of the home and ventures into the secular or political sphere.

All Catholic politicians would do well to imitate the example of St. Thomas More, who by his life and death taught that man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality. In him, there was no sign of a split between faith and culture, between timeless principles and daily life, but rather a convergence of political commitment. While serving all, More knew well how to serve his king, that is the state, but above all wanted to serve God: "The king's good servant, but God's first."

Wow. That's the kind of Truth that goes well with A1 sauce. I encourage all my readers to send that interview link to their bishops.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Idiot's Un-suffrage

Those of you attuned to Canadianica will know that we're in the process of selecting a new government.

I love political campaigns: it's absolutely amazing to watch how the different parties unfold their strategies and bounce off each other like a bunch of Superballs in a washing machine set to spin. Pun intended.

I also love listening to talk radio during campaigns, and it was on a CBC call-in show that I heard a guy opine with disdain, "Why should I vote?"

I'll tell you why. I'll give you just one reason, although there are hundreds of thousands.

You should vote because 61 years and 6 months ago today, a soldier stormed France's Juno Beach in the wee hours of the morning and was promptly thanked for his efforts with a random bullet to the gut. He collapsed on the sand and waited for a medic, but eventually bled out and died.

During his painful, prolonged journey away from life, his thoughts were trained on his newly pregnant wife who he had left home in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and on the fact that his son or daughter would never know him. He prayed to God for his wife and child, which was a remarkable thing for him, as he never really considered himself a devout man.

The pain was unbearable, and it seemed to go on forever. "Hurry up and die," he ordered his uncooperative body, but it still dragged on. The assault was still raging around him; nobody had noticed his fallen form among the thousands on the beach.

It did not occur to him that he was dying for a greater good; the last thoughts on his mind were not focused on the ethics of his sacrifice, but on his wife. He imagined her soft hand caressing his cheek. He recalled their rushed wedding with warmth. He thought of the cognac he had sipped with her father when he asked permission to take her hand before he shipped out.

I don't know this man's name. I don't even know if the details I describe here are accurate. Frankly, aside from the D-Day reference, I made the whole thing up. Odds are, though, that I hit pretty close to the mark. We lost a lot of soldiers over there. And they fought to defend freedom, even if they didn't acknowledge it. Such things are often only obvious in retrospect. There is no doubt that Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito wanted to keep going. North America was the only intact place left in their tightening vice. We can say their defeat was inevitable, but only fools say that events already cemented in time were going to happen anyway.

This man's sacrifice meant something. It helped. It worked.

That, you idiot, is why you should vote. Because a dead man says so.

If you don't like that, I hear China's a nice place to live.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Locally, our transit authority has been pushing to increase bus fares from $1.85 to $2.00. This would be the price riders pay in cash and would apply to all riders: young, old, healthy, frail.

Currently senior citizens get a discounted cash fare. Under the proposed increase, if they purchase bus tickets at the local 7-11 or lottery booth, they will still get a discounted rate. Only cash fares have to pay the toonie.

I'm not commenting so much on whether or not this is a good idea - I'm rather indifferent, as I'm a driver, having put my time in as a bus rider.

What irked me about this whole issue was a line uttered by one of its opponents, speaking out on behalf of disabled people who will also have to pay the full $2.00 cash. She said, "This discriminates against disabled people."

I'm no proponent of making the disabled pay full fare; don't mistake my criticism of her comment.

What bothers me is that confounded word "discriminate." If a group of people is treated the same as all other groups, how is that group discriminated against? Especially when you consider that "discriminate" is a synonym of "choose." You can say that the policy is biased against somebody, or that it exposes a lack of sympathy, and I won't disagree. But "discriminate" is such a freakin' buzzword these days that it drives me wonky. It implies hate, disdain, ignorance, and a sunburned neck.

This is just one example of a word that is mis-defined in the modern lexicon. The rabid anti-discrimination mantra reveals a subculture of idiocy in society, and not just for those who misuse it, but for those who buy into it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Marriage Is Easy

You may balk at that comment. I stand by it - because by saying it, I don't mean that being married is easy - it's clearly not - I mean that getting married is easy.

I really like what the state of Louisiana did a few years back when they implemented Covenant Marriage. They were followed by Arizona and Arkansas, and a lot of other states are exploring it as well.

Legally, it means that the couple getting married waives the "right" to no-fault divorce.

Socially, it means that the couple has consciously recognized that giving up in marriage because the romance dies or they lose interest in each other is not allowed.

Morally, it means that the couple is committed to embark on the marriage journey to its full potential as a mystical symbol of the fruitful union between Christ and his Church - even if they don't actively acknowledge that they're doing so.

This can only be a good thing. Marriage, because of its ease of entry and exit (and thus its abuse), has become scorned in our civilized society - much like a public washroom. "I'll use it if I have to, but ewwwww!"

So what does Canada do? Offers to extend "marriage" with the state's blessing to couples that... how can I put this... don't have the intrinsic ability to serve as a mystical symbol of the fruitful union between Christ and his Church. Congratulations Canada! You've moved the public washroom out onto the street, and forgotten some of the walls in the process.

That's how society is harmed - when marriage is redefined to make it looser, sacramental marriage is less present in society, and the grace obtained in the unseen realms by the daily struggles of those who do view their marriages as covenants is diluted.

Grace matters. Grace saves us; it fills us with faith, hope, and love. We get grace through the sacraments. It's simple math folks, there's no paradox here: more grace is better than less. Thus more sacramental marriages have a positive impact on society as a whole.

Some may reject the basic premise I base this argument on. Ok. Still doesn't mean it's untrue. Like Chesterton said, "If there were no God, there would be no atheists."