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The Only Answers Are at the Foot of the Cross

I believe without doubt that this nation, as well as the rest of the world, is under satanic assault. Time was, Old Scratch hid himself behind the lie that he didn’t exist, that the devil and all his works were dark fairy tells used to scare adult children. The devil hid and worked entirely through people to do his work.

But lately, he’s been stepping from behind the curtain and taking off his mask. Satan is appearing as himself and his followers are unashamed to say his name.

At the same time, more and more of Jesus’ “followers” avoid saying His name. They carefully edit their speech to avoid offending anyone who might not want to hear the name of Jesus spoken out loud.

I care about this. And I know the cure. We have to follow Christ.

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How far down do we have to go before Christians learn that the only answers are at the foot of the cross? What will it take to make them forsake the false idols of party politics?

I am trying, as hard as I can, to stand up again, to rejoin the fight. But I know that I will never again see things the way I did before. We must love one another. And we must forgive one another. And we must follow Jesus without any equivocation.

If you want to follow Him, go home. Go home to your family and your loved ones and take care of them. Cherish the people who cherish you. If He wants you to do more than that, He’ll tell you.

But rest assured, so long as your heart is full of hatred and you are placing your faith in partisan politics to convert the world, you are not following Jesus.

—from the blog post Cancer Has Taught Me the Cure: We Have to Follow Christ by Rebecca Hamilton

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The Right to Life Cannot Be Contextualized

For Catholics, no political or social issue stands in isolation.  But neither are all pressing issues equal in foundational importance or gravity.  The right to life undergirds all other rights and all genuine social progress.  It cannot be set aside or contextualized in the name of other “rights” or priorities without prostituting the whole idea of human dignity.

—Archbishop Charles Chaput, from Some personal thoughts on the months ahead

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There is no other book that allows this kind of communication with God.

In A Catholic Guide to the Bible, Father Oscar Lukefahr says, “Each time we open the Bible, we dial God’s number. When we pick up the Bible, God says, ‘Hello.’”

Let’s go deep:

“When we pick up the Bible, God, who is not limited by time or space, speaks to us through the same words as those addressed to Abraham, to Moses, or to the prophets. When we pick up the Bible, Jesus speaks to us here and now, just as truly as he spoke to the apostles two thousand years ago…

It invites us to to seek our further spiritual meanings that can allow God to speak to us personally…God’s words in the Bible invite a response. We respond in prayer. We read God’s words, then talk to God as we would to any friend…

We read until we come to a phrase that challenges us to a decision, then make a resolution based on what God has spoken to us. There is no other book that allows this kind of communication with God.”

—from the blog post What Mike Pence Missed: Jesus “Speaks” to Catholics, Too by Cynthia Dagnal-Myron

Also:

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, he said, “I began to meet young men and women who talked about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And while I cherish my Catholic upbringing and the foundation that it poured in my faith, that had not been a part of my experience.”

Really?

Who were all those saints talking to, then? The sacred stenographers, like St. Faustina, who took down every sacred word they heard and passed them all along to us? And St. Pio of Pietrelcina, our beloved “Padre Pio,” who was seeing and talking to Jesus before the age of five, according to his parents?

You want intimacy? St. Catherine of Siena experienced a “mystical marriage” to Jesus at 21, in which Jesus placed a bejeweled ring—invisible to all save his bride—on her finger. Her devotee, St. Rosa of Lima, would do nothing unless her holy “Husband” gave her permission.

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Community and Beauty

You are beautiful, says Katy Perry, without having seen you. I am beautiful, you must agree, without having seen yourself. But our insecurities cannot be healed by bursts of individuality when they are a direct result of the destruction of community. Our fashionable self-affirmations do not represent a greater awareness of our individual worth, a greater liberation, or a greater acceptance of “all kinds of bodies.” They represent the attempt to fill in the pit left by strong local communities. How can we know that we are beautiful when the only source of this knowledge — the eyes of other people who see us — is increasingly distant?

Divorce, absentee parenthood, the shrunken family size, the transition of all human beings into commuters who leave their homes for work, play, food, and religion; the constant advertisement of a global market, which offers us the posed and altered bodies of people we don’t know as our models of beauty in place of the mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers that we do — through all of this, the look of love grows rare.

When a husband tells his wife, “you are beautiful,” it is a perverse construction that has her think, “Yes, you think that, but the ‘real world’ may not.” When a father tells his daughter that she is beautiful, she must take his love for her as an insight born out of care-filled study — an insight that no pop-star, no matter how sincere his general affirmation to a faceless crowd, can make. We must trust our communities to tell us about ourselves with greater truth than a faceless public — with greater truth, even, than our own reflection. They alone keep our bodies in view. In turn, we must tell the truth about our neighbors. We are first of all responsible for keeping the body of our neighbors and only secondarily owed the same being-kept. 

—from the blog post How to Know That You are Beautiful by Marc Barnes who blogs at Bad Catholic

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Familiarity, Love, and Beauty

In every other field of knowing, familiarity and affection are seen as Rather Good Things. The marine biologist with an undying passion for plankton, the physicist who spends twenty years investigating a single theoretical particle — these are the people we trust to say true things about the objects given to their attention. Why is it, then, that when the object is one’s neighbor, and the proposition is “you are beautiful,” familiarity and affection are suddenly considered detriments to true insight? If a man spends several years gazing with fascination at a particular combination of pores and creases and comes to the conclusion that they make up a beautiful face, why is he checked by the possible-opinion of plebeians without the wherewithal to enter into such a study?

The assumption that love distorts our view of the truth of things assumes that the loveless begin with 20/20 vision. Au contraire, I say there is no gaze as susceptible to the cataracts of bias, prejudice, idiocy and bigotry as the general gaze of a public unfamiliar and loveless towards their object. This gaze made the sexless, air-brushed, photo-shopped, unsmiling, pre-pubescent super-model into a profitable standard of beauty. This general gaze has elevated the sneer of disgust into the supreme symbol of sexual attractiveness. This gaze sails the waves of fashion — first praising the plump, now boosting the bony; now powdering the skin, now the toasting it tan — all of it driven by the winds of novelty and corporate suggestion. Why do we trust this “real world” with greater accuracy than those who actually see our faces — our mothers, fathers, friends and lovers?

That a mother thinks her child’s squishy face is beautiful may not be a bias, but the destruction of a cultural bias for thin faces. That a man thinks his wife’s small breasts are beautiful does not make him small-minded — he may well be of larger mind than a culture prejudiced in favor of large breasts. It is not a prejudice of affection that has a wife think her husband handsome through weight gain, weight loss, wrinkling and all the rest. Rather, affection frees her from the idiotic prejudice that beauty is an attribute plastered to a single, youthful stage of life — her familiarity with her object lifts her from a cultural crust of unthought preferences and unchecked beliefs.

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I assert a truism no longer considered true: To be objective is to be concerned with an object. There is no absurdity waiting at the end of this line of thought. If it is true, then the most objective man in the universe would be the man so fascinated, so in love with the object of his study, that he pursues the truth of its being with devotion, refusing to allow any prejudice or bias to hide its true nature from sight. It is not a peak of detachment that makes a man objective, but a peak of interest.

—from the blog post Onward Affectionate Scientist by Marc Barnes who blogs at Bad Catholic

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Old Errors and New Labels

[W]hat is often called “modern” is only a new label for an old error, and what is called “behind the times” is really “beyond time” and outside of fashions…

—from Old Errors and New Labels by Fulton Sheen, in the Preface

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To some minds, of course, the startling will always appear to be the profound. It is easier to get the attention of the press when one says, as Ibsen did, that “two and two make five,” than to be orthodox and say that two and two make four.

—from Old Errors and New Labels by Fulton Sheen, in the chapter: The Decline of Controversy

old errors

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Faith, Science, and the Story of Creation in Genesis

However, the Pontifical Biblical Commission issued a decision more than a century ago that is helpful, titled “Concerning the Historical Nature of the First Three Chapters of Genesis” (1909). It is worth reading:

  • The first three chapters of Genesis contain narratives of real events, no myths, no mere allegories or symbols of religious truths and no legends.
  • In regard to those facts, which touch the foundations of the Christian religion, the literal historical sense is to be adhered to. Such facts are, inter alia [among other things], the creation of all things by God in the beginning of time and the special creation of humanity.
  • It is not necessary to understand all individual words and sentences, in the literal sense. Passages that are variously interpreted by the Fathers and by theologians may be interpreted according to one’s own judgment with the reservation, however, that one submits one’s judgment to the decision of the Church and to the dictates of the faith.
  • As the sacred writer had not the intention of representing with scientific accuracy the intrinsic constitution of things and the sequence of the works of creation, but of communicating knowledge in a popular way suitable to the idiom and to the pre-scientific development of his time, the account is not to be regarded or measured as if it were couched in language that is strictly scientific.
  • The word “day” need not be taken in the literal sense of a natural day of 24 hours, but can also be understood in the improper sense of a longer space of time.

So there it is: Genesis is real, but not a science text. God created all things, and humans special. We may judge carefully on our own, as long as we remain faithful to the magisterium, should a decree on evolution ever be issued — and there will no such decree as long as the answers are ambiguous.

Meanwhile, say something like this to your kids: “Dinosaurs lived before Adam and Eve. You have been taught about how God created plants and animals before he created man and woman. Well, there is much more to the story. Scientists have learned about fossils, taxonomy, anatomy and genetics, all subjects you will learn in time. Be excited; it is mind-blowing to explore how God designed nature!”

We cannot know all the ways that God creates — indeed, there is a hubris and an impropriety in declaring that we can know God’s every decree — but we can have fun learning science in the light of faith.

—from the blog post What Do You Say When Kids Ask About Dinosaurs? by Stacy Trasancos at the National Catholic Register

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