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Current Events Ink Slingers Prayer Respect Life Month Rita

America the Divisive

 

America the Divisive

The past week or so has been hard for Americans. It’s been divisive. It’s dredged up difficult memories for some. It’s made many of us question our ability to determine who is telling truth, and really, what is truth? It’s made us think of justice and the American legal system of due process and burden of proof. It’s made us worry for our daughters, and for our sons. It’s brought about name-calling, gender-shaming, bullying and stalking; and it’s brought out the worst in some people.

In a country increasingly less and less faithfully Christian, politics has become a religion for some. Proclamations denouncing those who do not fall in-line with the representatives of their political parties. Prophesies of what will come to pass if the other political party gets their way.

Less than a week ago, on September 29, the Universal Church celebrated the Feast of the Archangels, Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Let us pray and ask the Archangels to care for our country during this difficult political time. For St. Michael to defend our nation against the wickedness of the devil, for St. Raphael to heal the hearts, minds, and souls of all our fellow Americans, and for St. Gabriel to deliver the message of God to all Americans, especially our leaders.

Prayer

O God, who dispose in marvelous order ministries both angelic and human, graciously grant that our life on earth may be defended by those who watch over us as they minister perpetually to you in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Collect Prayer from The Roman Missal, Third Edition, Mass for the Holy Angels)

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Ink Slingers

Faithful Citizenship Decision 2016

American Flag idea

We are approximately 3 weeks away from what is arguably the most intense election cycle our country has ever dealt with. The intensity has cause divisions for some within their families, amongst their friends and within the workplace. I have seen social media bullying and name-calling over candidates and election issues. Many people I know, including many Catholics, and including myself, feel an internal, anxious struggle as we form our conscience surrounding the issues and the candidates. And so before I even touch the subject of faithful citizenship and politics, I ask you to take a moment to quiet your mind, take a deep breath, and pray:

Lord God, as the election approaches,
we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city, state, and country,
and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.
We ask for eyes that are free from blindness
so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters,
one and equal in dignity,
especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.
We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned,
Men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.
We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.
We pray for discernment
so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word,
live your love,
and keep in the ways of your truth
as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles
and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.
Prayer Before An Election, US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sent Into the World

As Jesus Christ the Son was sent into the world by God the Father, so Christ sends us into the world (John 17:18). Christ has sent us to share God and to love and care for our neighbor. And so in a nation such as the United States, where we are blessed with the opportunity to have a voice in politics, we have a responsibility to live our Catholic faith at all times, including politics.

Living our faith is difficult in many circumstances and situations in our lives, as our sinful human nature causes us to struggle. Yet we find our strength in Christ. We find ourselves nourished by His Church and we become empowered by the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation to form our consciences to be strong Catholics living in the world.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that: [The] conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings” (CCC #1783).

And it is with these well-formed consciences that we are called to make decisions in the world, including in politics. Because when “Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them” (CCC #1786).

To help us form our consciences, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops revised their 2007 document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States, in November 2015. This 37-page document is meant to assist us in discerning our political decisions as a teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics in the United States. It is meant not to tell us who to vote for. It is meant to aid us in forming our consciences in accordance with God’s Truth. This document has been updated to include Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, and Pope Francis’ encyclicals, Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’, as well as to address recent domestic and foreign policies such as abortion, physician assisted suicide, the redefinition of marriage, ecological and environmental concerns, deadly attacks on Christians and religious minorities, religious freedom, economic policies, immigration and the refugee crisis and wars, terror and violence.

Sometimes people question if it’s appropriate for the Church to play a role in politics. However, because the Church is obligated to care for Her people, She has an obligation to teach and share moral truths that shape us in our entirety, not just the life we live when we are on parish property. Our entire selves, and at all times.

 

Political Relativism vs. Faithful Citizenship

We live in a relativistic society that tells us that ‘what is right for you is right for you and what is right for me is right for me, and that’s all okay because there’s nothing that’s absolutely right.’ 

This mindset carries over into specific political issues, even for Catholics, leading us to give more weight to some political issues over others. Except that as Catholics, we know that this mindset often causes the replacement of Truth with opinion. It becomes personal preferences swayed by our sinful nature instead of allowing ourselves to make morally conscious decisions in accordance with our faith. And as People of God we have “…the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. ‘He [man] must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters’ ” (CCC #1782).

Politically, we are sometimes confronted with situations in which making a moral decision is difficult, even with a well-formed conscience. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has guidelines to help us in these situations too:

      Man is sometimes confronted by situations that make moral judgments less assured and decision       
      difficult. But he must always seriously seek what is right and good and discern the will of God
      expressed in divine law. To this purpose, man strives to interpret the data of experience and the
      signs of the times assisted by the virtue of prudence, by the advice of competent people, and by the
      help of the Holy Spirit and his gifts. Some rules apply in every case:
            —One may never do evil so that good may result from it;
            —the Golden Rule: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.”
            —charity always proceeds by way of respect for one’s neighbor and his conscience: “Thus             
                  sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ.”
      Therefore “it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble.”
      #1787-1789

And from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States:

      Aided by the virtue of prudence in the exercise of well-formed consciences, Catholics are called to             
      make practical judgments regarding good and evil choices in the political arena. There are some
      things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible
      with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to
      the authentic good of persons. These are called “intrinsically evil” actions. They must always be
      rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned… It is a mistake with grave
      moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of
      individual choice… The right to life implies and is linked to other human rights—to the basic goods
      that every human person needs to live and thrive. All the life issues are connected… St. Pope John             
      Paul II explained the importance of being true to fundamental Church teachings: ‘Above all, the
      common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights— for example, the right to health,
      to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and
      fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum
      determination’ (Christifideles Laici, no. 38).

      #21, 22, 25, 26

Living our faith as Catholics and living in the world are not easy. And as we make our decisions for the November 2016 election, as we are called to do for all things, we must prayerfully discern our voting decisions. And so to close, I ask you to pray daily with me and many others, for all our currently elected officials, candidates for office in November and ballot issues to be voted on.

 

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Interested in videos or audio on Faithful Citizenship? Looking for a novena for the election? Need materials to discuss the election and Faithful Citizenship with children, teens or other adults? Visit the USCCB Faithful Citizenship website.

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Current Events Deirdre Ink Slingers

The Real War on Women: ISIS’s Slaves

The Real War on Women: ISIS's Slaves

The Catholic Church teaches us that the highest expression of love is self-gift.  This teaching flows from Christ’s gift of himself on the Cross.  This is the ideal that should guide our understanding of sex and marriage, in which husband and wife give the gift of self to the other and cooperate with God to generate and rear new life.

We are familiar with how this understanding is rejected in the modern West.  Less familiar is how this ideal is being radically rejected by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

According to ISIS, unbelieving women in conquered territories are the rightful spoils of war, given to the conquerors by God.  ISIS argues in its propaganda magazine Dabiq, the practice of saby or taking slaves, including sex slaves, in war is sanctioned by the Sunnah, the verbally transmitted teachings and sayings of the prophet Mohammed.  ISIS laments the many Muslim leaders who reject this teaching, and accuses them of burying the teaching and being enemies of Allah.  Notably, ISIS denies that the purpose of sex slavery is pleasure.  One Dabiq author, apparently a woman, argues that anyone who makes that claim is a “mistaken ignoramus.”  The purpose, rather, is liberation:  the sex slaves are freed from their unbelieving communities and given the opportunity to believe in Allah.

According to ISIS’ interpretation of Islamic law, a man must make sure his sex slave is not pregnant before he has sex with her. The rule, supposedly, is to protect against confusion over the child’s paternity. This has led to ISIS forcing their sex slaves to take contraceptives, and even forced abortions in some cases. Many of the women who have been freed from slavery and shared their stories did not even know they were being forced to take birth control every day. They shared their accounts of being forced to take a pill each day in front of their captor, of being injected in the thigh with what they later found out was the contraceptive Depo-Provera, forced or pressured into taking abortion pills, and required to pass urine tests to prove they weren’t pregnant before being purchased by a new fighter. Some women were even forced to take two or three different types of contraception at the same time just to be sure they did not become pregnant.

Surely these facts belie ISIS’s assertion that sex slavery is really a tool of evangelization in the minds of its practitioners.  ISIS fighters are taking every measure to keep the wombs of their captives barren not for the sake of their conversion, but to maintain them as perpetual sex objects.

But suppose there are some who sincerely understand their rapes to be evangelistic.  Would this not demonstrate the deep bankruptcy of ISIS’s rape theology?  The Apostle John teaches that he who does not love does not know God, for God is Love.  Indeed, Love is a Person, eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son, the Logos.  God is Love and Reason, not Arbitrary Will.  This is why it cannot be true that God desires conversions by rape.  Such is the theology of darkness, of those who wrap their hatred of non-believers in the clothing of light.   But, we know that “He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still” (1 John 2:9). 

How to deal with ISIS is of course a massive geopolitical question that cannot be adequately addressed here.  But there are things we can do.  Let us pray for these victims and their persecutors.  And let us reject the theology of darkness by how we live.  In our workplaces and homes and ball fields, let us give witness to Love by allowing God to love through us.

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Abortion Current Events Erika HHS mandate I have a say campaign Ink Slingers NFP and contraceptives Respect Life

A War of Words: the HHS Mandate

 

 

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard about the controversy with the HHS Mandate and the Catholic Church. However, the mainstream media portrays the controversy as the Catholic Church against women. The secularist media declares that the Church refuses to let women use contraceptive drugs period. The error in these statements is obvious to anyone with a working knowledge of the Catholic Catechism. Sadly, many Catholics and most of the US (world?) population refuses to acknowledge this truth.

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First, start with the teaching of the Catholic Church. Direct from the Catechism: (emphasis mine)
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2370 … In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:159
Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality… The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle … involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.160
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The key point in the above passage is that contraception, when used as “family planning”, is against the Catholic Church’s teaching. Not even just a vaguely, a slap-on-the-wrist offense, but “intrinsically evil”. There is some controversy within the Faithful about the use of contraceptive drugs within marriage (or a sexually active relationship, which is a whole other article) as “treatment” for various gynecological ills. However, when the woman using a contraceptive drug is unmarried (and sexually inactive), there is no controversy–the drugs can be used as “treatment”. In a perfect world, all Catholics would learn about Fertility Awareness methods (popularly called NFP) that treat the same gynecological ills without contraception, AND with better, healthier results (again, that’s a whole ‘nother article). Currently, (that is without the HHS Mandate in effect) the Catholic Church likely covers contraceptive drugs for a medical treatment, but not for “family planning”, under the protection of a “Conscience clause“.
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Next, let me discuss the actual controversy the Church has with the HHS Mandate. The “conscience clause” that allows coverage for medicinal use of contraceptive drugs, but does not allow sterilizations, abortions, or “emergency” contraception, is being disposed of with the HHS Mandate. In other words, the HHS Mandate forces Catholic institutions, charities, etc. to fund (through insurance coverage) and provide services that are “intrinsically evil” according to the Catholic Catechism. This would be akin to the government forcing strict vegans to pay for and provide meat products. Unlike the vegans though, religious (moral) ideations are protected by the First Amendment: (emphasis mine)
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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

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“Free exercise” of Catholic moral code prohibits abortions, sterilizations, and contraception. Therefore, the HHS Mandate violates the Faithful’s ability to freely exercise their religious beliefs. In effect, this would be similar to legislation requiring Jehovah’s Witness institutions to provide and cover blood transfusions for their members and employees (I have no idea if they do currently or not). The enactment of this law would be tantamount to legislation forcing an orthodox Jewish deli to provide ham and other pork products to their customers. There are probably countless examples a fertile imagination could create, but suffice it to say that Catholics and non-Catholics alike are recognizing that Obama and his administration has overstepped their bounds. At our local “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rallies on March 23 and June 8, Catholics were well represented, but our Protestant friends were also present and on the program. If you value your constitutional rights, stand up and say “we are all Catholic now“.
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Another event begins today, “A Fortnight for Freedom”. This is an effort led by The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), but like all other religious freedom rallies, is open and welcoming to all denominations. A cyber event, the only request is that for the two weeks, starting with the vigil for Sts. John Fisher and St. Thomas Moore and ending with July 4, our nation’s Independence day, is that you pray daily for a resolution to this intense threat to religious freedom. More information about the event can be found on the Facebook page and the USCCB website devoted to this event. Here is a summary of what this event entails:
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This is a cyber event – held in your own home, church or parish by way of your prayers. It is open and depends on all people of all walks of faith to come together and petition God our Father to save our nation in its struggle for Religious Freedom for all!

 ‘

The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty. 

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THIS IS NOT JUST FOR CATHOLICS…THIS IS FOR ALL CHRISTIANS AND NON CHRISTIANS UNITED IN PRAYER. That means Jewish, Muslim, atheist as well. This is about our First Amendment. We may well have non-Christians here and we welcome ALL as Christ would. ** THIS IS NOT A FORUM FOR DEBATE. **

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Current Events Ink Slingers Jaclyn

The R-word and the D-word

University of Miami Hurricanes

I can’t help putting my two cents in response to Longhorns and Aggies can get along.  I also went to a very liberal school, the University of Miami.  I also disagree about the comments that Catholics are somehow conflicted on politics.

Ever since the shooting in Sweden I have tried to avoid violence and hate in my heart by keeping in mind what we generally have in common.  Most of the time we both want the same thing, we just have very different ways of going about it.  In order to avoid anger I remember that, for example, pro-abortion and anti-abortion both want the same thing.  They both want to protect women and children from abuse, suffering, and being controlled.  They just have different opinions about the best way to go about that.

I’m assuming the other primary issue which divides Catholics politically would be “social justice.”  Again I believe that both Republicans and Democrats (at least according to their platforms) want to help the needy and protect individual rights.  We just have very different ways of doing that.  Democrats want to redistribute wealth and promote alternative lifestyles.  Republicans want to create economic stability by cutting taxes and allowing a free market where people have freedom of opportunity.

I realize that since I am a Republican, this will be biased but I hope I have accomplished my goal of showing that I respect what Democrats are trying to accomplish.  I try to love them by seeing them as individuals with different ideas from mine rather than evil-doers (even if I really do believe they are doing evil).  However as far as I can see none of the platforms of the Republican Party conflict with Catholic values.  There is a major problem with the Democrat platform which is at the core of our belief as Catholics in the dignity of the human person.

I was really shocked to read some of the responses to Pope Benedict at World Youth Day offering forgiveness to those who have committed abortions.  Offering forgiveness is offensive now?  This article in the Slate and the comments to Jen Fulwilers article in response where so full of hate and disrespect.  I certainly can understand being furious when someone is keeping you from accomplishing what you think is right.  It is such a struggle to show kindness and generosity to those who are doing something you find repulsive.  I don’t think that offering confession at WYD is inhibiting anyone’s choice.  Do you?

When I was a student at UM, for the first time I encountered the creature I have come to know as the “liberal Catholic.”  I’ll be honest, I had never met one and never knew they existed.  I had two friends in particular who were a lawyer and a political science professor.  When the 2004 elections took place I put a Bush/Cheney poster in my window because the people I was living with had a big Kerry/Edwards sign in their yard.  My friends who were Catholics in their mid-thirties turned out to be Democrats!  I asked them “How can you be Catholic and Democrat?”  They were also confused “How can you be Catholic and Republican?”  I will admit I was, and for the most part am still, a non confrontational type so I avoid head on argument and never really engaged my friends in a debate.  However I feel I am now ready to engage in a challenging conversation that will hopefully challenge my way of thinking or at least help me to understand my fellow Catholics on the other side of the isle better.

I look forward to being educated if my understanding of these issues needs some supplementation.  I hope I have been charitable and I would invite others to do the same for me.

Go ‘Canes!!!