Lady Justice Unmasked

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  – Matthew 18: 15-17

Here Christ gives us a process to justice. An orderly method to reveal truth. He does not say to shun the accused upon accusation, but only after completing an orderly process. A process that is fair to all, not playing favorites, and not drawn out. Above all it holds to evidence. As we can see, the burden of proof is on the accuser and not the accused. As is true of our own justice system. The accuser is he who approaches the accused, brings forth witnesses, and seeks the Church-which is like the courts; the authority-to render judgment. Yet in the end, and only the end of the process is the accuser left to shun the accused. Thereby, labeling him as the most unsavory of that time and most likely will be shunned by many.

For those who are of my age may remember a TV series titled “Dragnet.” The series centered around two Los Angeles, Ca. detectives. One particular case they investigated on Christmas day. A parish priest had reported that the figurine of the baby Jesus was missing from the Nativity display. The parishioners were deeply saddened for it was a poor community and they had dug deep to finance the display which represented their common sacrifice, which as on Good Friday would be made manifest in the adult Jesus. The detectives, Friday and Gannon, took this investigation as seriously as they would any other. They combed the neighborhood, going door to door, questioning residents and business owners alike. Their questioning process was always the same; to the point. When a person being questioned for information on new leads began to veer off by offering a spinning opinion Detective Friday would abruptly interrupt with the famous line: “The facts lady, just the facts.” The case ends successfully by the thief turning himself in…or somewhat so. The priest called the detectives back to the church, where the baby Jesus had gone missing, after days of investigation. When they arrived, there in the manger was the missing baby Jesus. Their perturbed dispositions changed when the priest brought out the thief. It was a little boy who apologized to the detectives. Behind him he pulled a little red wagon. When asked why he did this, the little boy answered: “I promised the baby Jesus that if I got a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride.” I’m sorry, he said, I was only keeping my promise. The detectives both smiled and said there would be no arrest today. Because there was no abduction, just a promise kept. That is why we presume innocence before guilt. We have come to find that too many are imprisoned or ostracized unnecessarily on knee-jerk reaction. Or as Friday and Gannon would say of many of their questionable witnesses: “Too quick to judge.”

While playing golf, a friend of mine was lining up an impossible putt, I thought, based upon a pin placement. So I offered: “If you make that putt I will buy you dinner.” And we were about to dine at an expensive restaurant. As he let the putt go I was sure I could leave my wallet at  home. Then, as is usually the case with a sure thing, the ball made its target. The impossible happened. There justice had taken place on the golf course. I, in my bet, in reality, accused my friend of failure before the facts were in. Rather than me fulfilling my burden of proof, my failure to collect on the bet proved his innocence of a non-missed putt. Case closed. I learned my lesson; no sure thing is a sure thing. This is what is missing from our justice system to insure its honesty; “the loser buys.” No better deterrent is there to frivolous law suits or vague accusations than the thought that if one loses the case one would then be responsible for paying both sides of the legal fees. Then only those with factual veracity would bring suit. My friend, however, showed the better part of justice. For only after judgment is rendered can mercy be shown. And his mercy to me was pardon from the cost of the two dinners.

In every courtroom stands Lady Justice who is blindfolded. In her hand is held the scales of justice symbolizing the idea of the fair distribution of law, with no influence of bias, privilege or corruption. She sees not gender, race, ethnicity, politics nor religious preference. Here is her fairness, in that her judgment will be based only on the facts brought before her. The blindfold over her eyes allows perfect vision in judgment not distorted by bias toward nor against any. Thereby, fulfilling the promise for a fair and speedy legal process. However, today, this is not so in most cases. For the double standard  has been allowed to permeate our justice system through the poison of politics. Lust for power perpetuated by a self-oriented society has sown discord among it citizens and nurtured corruption for those whose creed is any means necessary to achieve the end desired. G.K. Chesterton tells us: “When man no longer cares for God he no longer cares for those who are made in His image.” Free then is man or woman to submit a neighbor to any undeserved and unfounded slander.

The blindfold has been removed from Lady Justice tipping the scales in one direction over the other. Fairness has irreparably been damaged. Facts are of little matter when public opinion is earmarked to determine guilt or innocence. The fear created from the struggle for control of one ideology over another now is the force that governs where a stand is taken. Not on what is right but rather what wins. This is not the justice system of democracy. It is the injustice of tyranny. Facts no longer determine the outcome of a trial but rather the mightier will prevail. In this environment the constitution that protects the rights of all citizens is under attack. And unless righteous men and women stand firm against it, democracy will be thrust off the cliff of indifference by its contrary; Marxism. Nikita Khrushchev will have made good on his promise: “We will bury you.” And, sadly, not by another’s hand, but by our own. This madness we see about us whenever there is a change in governance is due to a turning away from a process that has served this country well for over two centuries. Those who seek to alter this process for their own selfish agenda show no prudent forethought. For the seed that is being sown can harvest only chaos. Injustice we see enacted upon one, we must understand, is injustice enacted upon us all. Democracy is a danger unto itself. For in being free, we are free to act against that which protects that freedom. The United States is unique in that it lives by a creed. A creed – of, by and for the people – that is secure in the Constitution. Should that static constitution become irreparably eroded by the double standard then no one’s freedom can ever again be guaranteed.

As the Pope is fallible, as a man, in all things except the doctrine of the church, so, too, are those who are elected to govern and serve on the courts fallible except in applying our Constitution. In the hands of Machiavellian political activists, who see that Constitution as a living document made for manipulation, freedom is forever lost. For freedom reigns only in the hands of the people. When the blindfold is lifted from Lady Justice’s eyes she become blind to the truth. And the truth is what truly makes us free.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.  – James 3:16

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Infiltrated

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! – Luke 17:1

Throughout the Church’s history, since Her founding in Christ, scandals have come and gone. Christ warned that “Scandals you will always have.” Who could refute such a warning, for the Church’s custodians are comprised of fallible men. Yet each time Holy Mother Church was in need of repair through reform God has sent such a reformer – the likes of Saint Francis of Assisi – willing to sacrifice all to realign Her with the intent of the Divine Founder.

In the 1990s reported cases of sexual abuse by Catholic Clergy began receiving significant media and public attention. In 2002 most noted accusations came from the victims out of the Boston Diocese, where Rev. John J. Geoghan had been accused of sexually abusing them as alter boys. These and other allegations were dealt with in secret by bishops, and often the accused priests were assigned to parishes outside the dioceses in question or other non-parish related duties.

The office of state Attorney General Josh Shapiro impaneled the grand jury in 2016 to investigate allegations of child sex crimes across six of the Pennsylvania’s eight Catholic dioceses: Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg.

On August 15, 2018 the grand jury in Pittsburgh Pa., which completed its investigation in April, produced a 900-plus page report that names more than 300 members of the clergy by name in connection to sex crimes against children. More than 1,000 children were found to have been abused.

According to a 2004 research study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 4,392 Catholic priests and deacons in active ministry between 1950 and 2002 have been plausibly (neither withdrawn nor disproven) accused by 10,667 individuals of the sexual abuse of a youth under the age of 18. Estimating the number of priests and deacons active in the same period at 110,000, the report concluded that approximately 4% have faced these allegations. The report noted that “It is impossible to determine from our surveys what percent of all actual cases of abuse that occurred between 1950 and 2002 have been reported to the Church and are therefore in our dataset.” The Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J. specializes in abuse counseling and is considered an expert on clerical abuse; he states “approximately 4% of priests during the past half century (and mostly in the 1960s and 1970s) have had a sexual experience with a minor.” According to Newsweek magazine, this figure is similar to the rate of frequency in the rest of the adult population.

Allegations of and convictions for sexual abuse by clergy have occurred in many countries. There are no accurate figures available on the number of sexual abuse cases in different regions. But, in 2002 The Boston Globe reported, “clearly the issue has been most prominent in the United States.” The US is the country with the highest number of reported Catholic sex abuse cases.

After the United States, the country with the next highest number of reported cases is Ireland. A significant number of cases have also been reported in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. All between the dates of 1950-2010 BBC news release dated 2010.

As regards the reported abuse cases by Catholic clergy, 1950, seems to be the beginning of the saddest and most disconcerting period in the Catholic Church. Not only in the United States, but in other countries around the world, as well.

Bella Dodd was a Catholic girl – born in Italy – who, because of certain events and influences in her life, became one of the most powerful figures of the American Communist Party at the height of its power during the late 1930’s and 1940’s? The story of Maria Assunta Isabella Visono’s journey from a poor southern Italian village to the intrigues of Soviet Communist penetration of America is fascinating and frightening. It should be better known than it is. – Aug. 31st -Catholicism.org

In the early 1950s, Mrs. Bella Dodd provided detailed explanations of the Communist subversion of the Church. Speaking as a former high-ranking official of the American Communist Party, Mrs. Dodd said: “In the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.” The idea was for these men to be ordained and progress to positions of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops. She stated that: “Right now they are in the highest places in the Church” — where they were working to bring about change in order to weaken the Church’s effectiveness against Communism. She also said that these changes would be so [drastic] that “you will not recognise the Catholic Church.” Dodd gave testimony on communist infiltration of Church and state before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in the 1950s.

On Tuesday, August 5, 1952 she publicly announced that on April 7th of the same year, she was received back into the Roman Catholic Church. Not being able to secure her baptismal certificate from Italy after inquiry, she was therefore conditionally baptized by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York. Sheen was instrumental in opening Dodd’s eyes to the flawed philosophy of Communism and its lies thereby leading to a change of heart and her eventual return to the church. Only when she became clearly aware of what she had done and her part in this subversion of the church did she want to dedicate the rest of her life praying for forgiveness and reparation for the harm that she had helped inflict upon the church.  However, Sheen convinced her that it would be more important that she tell her story. Which led to her testimony as noted above.

“Becoming a priest and Bishop”

It takes 5 years of study before a seminarian can be ordained a priest.

Bishops are always men. In addition, Canon Law 378 § 1 requires that a candidate for the Latin episcopacy should be:

  1. outstanding in solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence, and human virtues, and endowed with other qualities which make him suitable to fulfill the office in question;
  2. of good reputation;
  3. at least thirty-five years old;
  4. ordained to the preliterate for at least five years;
  5. in possession of a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred scripture, theology, or canon law from an institute of higher studies approved by the Apostolic See, or at least truly expert in the same disciplines. – Wikipedia

Dependent on the above criteria, it could take as many as fifteen years or more to achieve the status of bishop. This information will have more than passing meaning in how it and the aforementioned data may relate to the main subject of this post.

Bishops are those who have the authority to assign selected priests to head and organize the running of seminaries. The seminaries provide the necessary education and training to fulfill the requirements for ordination. These seminarian head masters are responsible for the design of the programs in which the seminarian will partake.

Beyond the outrageous atrocities perpetrated by the guilty priests, I, as a Catholic, am deeply saddened that such as this could have taken place in the Church for decades without being stopped in its tracks. I am also perplexed. In that how could such a continual wave of sin come upon the Church, seemingly, as a sudden tsunami. I refer to the data that I have collected above. Not only in the U.S.A, but around the world clergy abuses seem centered in a time period between 1950 to 2002, when the first study was made as victims came forward. The Bella Dodd testimony raises a red flag. The time at which these 1,100 communist infiltrators entered the church and had followed the process to achieve the ranks needed to be in authority to implement subversion tactics coincides quite timely with the sad events of clergy child abuses. If one would wish to weaken and damage the Church, what better evil strategy could be chosen than a [drastic] one that would shatter the trust of its parishioners and provide fodder for Her outside secular enemies. Whether this is the lit fuse for the present explosive circumstances or a part, will not be known unless an in-depth investigation is pursued.  Any means necessary to achieve the desired end is acceptable for those who believe that man, himself, is God .

The Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen tells us that: “A priest in not his own.” This is true, as well, for a woman who decides to become a nun. But, for the purpose here I will keep my focus on the priest. A man does not seek the priesthood, or should not, based upon some a fad or emotion. It is the ultimate sacrifice. The five years spent as a seminarian is not like pursuing a college degree in physics. It is a five-year development of a relationship between the seminarian and Christ. During that time one must have determined that his life is no longer his but Christ’s. If any doubt remains he must not accept ordination. That is how serious this commitment should be taken. This is the ultimate human expression of love. Once he lies prostrate before the altar at his ordination he will from that day forward have the authority to consecrate the Holy Eucharist; the Blessed Sacrament of the sacred Body and Blood of Christ. He is then and for always a conduit of Christ on earth. In every execution of the Sacraments it is not he but Christ who touches and heals our souls. We look to the priests and bishops to guide us in the will of Christ as Christ has so willed it since the apostles. It would be impossible to betray Christ if not for free will. But, the priest is not his own. He joins his will to that of Christ, if he truly is a priest. Only those who possess ulterior motives can be capable of such an affront to God as to harm the innocent. Fr. James Schall says: “We decide on our chosen ends when we decide upon the actions that lead to those ends.” One leads to the city of the man and one leads to the city of God. The former is the end result of evolution and the latter of revelation. As the priest chooses so too is influenced his flock.

The potential for vice or virtue is in us all. No matter the outside influence, it is the individual who decides to give in or to turn away from sin. These priests, not the infiltrators, came to the church because of love and a willingness of that love to do His will and sacrifice all for their role in the salvation of souls. The causes of social justice can be an enticing endeavor to the religious. To help their neighbor as Christ urges us too. But, in their zeal to help the poor, disenfranchised, and downtrodden the priest sometimes loses sight of his first commitment; saving souls not ruining lives. Well meaning clergy falsely believe the secular thought that in order to change the individual for the better, that, first, society had to change for the better. However, social fixes are accomplished by first fixing the individual. It took but One solitary figure to change the world. He turned it upside down so that it may be turned right side up. To make the Church right again it must first make itself right with God. Confess to its sins, seek absolution and make amends. Conform its will completely once again with its founder, Christ. It starts here and now. Including the Pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity. Those who were guilty of abuse and those who covered it up. We will know we are right again when the world hates us for the right reason, the only reason; that we are one with  Christ.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6

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Ideas

“Ideas are the main forces in the world for stability or change,  for good or bad. Ideas only indicate the what of things. They have no effect on the outside world unless someone decides to put them into operation.” – Fr. James Schall (“The Universe We Think In”)  

In a Scholastic County Volleyball Semi-Final tournament our team was down 2 games to one. And we were not faring too well in the third and deciding game. On the successful serves of one of my junior players we were able to win that third game, keeping us alive. Before the fourth game began I called to my scorekeeper, who was also our team manager, and told her to wait for our opponent to enter their team’s lineup in the official score book before we entered ours. I then gave her our adjusted lineup to be entered. We went on to win the fourth and fifth games of the match convincingly and secured our place in the County finals.

We had previously defeated this opponent two weeks prior to the semi-final in a regular season match. After that match I reviewed the videos and noticed that they pushed back on us pretty well when they double blocked our top hitters. So I had the idea to rotate our lineup giving us a one-on-one block situation to free our top hitters. That is why I had my scorekeeper wait for their lineup to be entered before ours. In this way they would have no warning of the strategy change. Fortunately it worked and saved the day. Otherwise we would not have moved on to the finals and, eventually, as we did, become County Champions.

The point here is this, that I had an idea which I decided to act upon. If I had not pulled the note from my pocket containing the lineup change and pass it on to my scorekeeper, I dare say, the results would have not been favorable to us. The success of the implemented idea was evident in a restored confidence among the players which spurred them on to the win. As a teacher I had displayed on my classroom wall a poster that read: “Actions have consequences.” However, ideas possess an innate consequence, as well. And that           consequence becomes reality when an idea is given birth through action.

Throughout history ideas have been unleashed on the world. Some which benefitted humanity, others being detrimental. Below I highlight a few.

Adolf Hitler – In 1923, he attempted to seize power in a failed coup in Munich and was imprisoned. While in jail he dictated the first volume of his autobiography and political manifesto Mein Kampf  (“My Struggle”). After his release from prison in 1924, Hitler gained popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting Pan-Germanism, anti-Semitism and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. He frequently denounced international capitalism and communism as being part of a Jewish conspiracy. The Nazi Party before the end of WWII had exterminated nearly 6 million Jews.

Margaret Sanger – a pro-abortionist and  advocate of American Eugenics. She is the founder of Planned Parenthood, and the one who inspired Adolf Hitler in his views of eugenics and murdering socially undesirable people. Margaret was one of eleven children. Her mother, whom she dearly loved, died at an early age. Margaret attributed her mother’s death to the burden of so many children to care for. Margaret became a nurse and from her professional experience with expectant mothers concerned with the care of “another mouth to feed” became an advocate for and popularized the term “Birth Control.” The term birth control is in reality birth prevention. To date over 60 million births, and counting, in the United States, alone, have been aborted since the Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision.

Marie Curie – The physical and societal aspects of the Curie’ work contributed substantially to shaping the world of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. “The result of the Curie’s work was epoch-making. Radium’s radioactivity was so great that it could not be ignored. It seemed to contradict the principle of the conservation of energy and therefore forced a reconsideration of the foundations of physics. On the experimental level the discovery of radium provided men like Ernest Rutherford with sources of radioactivity with which they could probe the structure of the atom. As a result of Rutherford’s experiments with alpha radiation, the nuclear atom was first postulated. In medicine, the radioactivity of radium appeared to offer a means by which cancer could be successfully attacked.” – L. Pearse Williams; Cornell University

Reverend Martin Luther King – King’s main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the U.S. Just days after King’s assassination, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.  Title VIII of the Act, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibited discrimination in housing and housing-related transactions on the basis of race, religion, or national origin (later expanded to include sex, familial status, and disability). This legislation was seen as a tribute to King’s struggle in his final years to combat residential discrimination in the U.S.

It is clear to see which of these people has advanced the welfare and freedom of mankind and which has wrought degeneration and tyranny. There have been countless individuals    throughout history who have had a hand in advancement or decline. Each one having a selfless or selfish prelude.

We, too, can be counted among the above in one form or another. Our ideas, if locked away in our souls, will but stay there never to be unleashed on the world. Yet there are those of us who will act on our ideas. Whether we are of elevated status or not, those acted upon ideas can have long-lasting effects, generation after generation worldwide. For the great and the small alike all have a say, a hand in, and an effect on this world. The trends we experience today are a direct consequence of unleashed ideas of both the nobleman and the commoner. We all are responsible in some measure for the condition of the future world as did those who were responsible for its condition today. That includes the Jean Jacques Rousseas and the Saint Augustines, and those who choose to follow one over the other, thereby, spreading each contrasting philosophy and theology. One either sees the truth of things as they are, or as one would have them be. Fr. Schall tells us that “Charity is directed to reason, to the love of truth. Reason in its turn is directed to the reality that is.” 

Any idea that is neither preceded by prudent examination nor intended for the common good of all entities should be kept to oneself. The consequence of an unleashed idea not conceived in the light of the truth of  “What is” will likely be dire.

 

 

 

 

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On Common Sense And Folly

“The only thing surprising about common sense is how uncommon it has become.”  And common things are the basis of common sense even though common things are not commonplace; they are terrible and startling, death for instance and first love.” -G.K. Chesterton

Common Sense is good sense and sound judgment in practical matters. Let’s break this down a bit for a clearer understanding. Practical is of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas. Good describes that which is morally right. Common Sense is the prudent practice of man to maintain societal order and peace of mind and soul.  The word Common is synonymous with the following: universal, established, traditional and orthodox. Sense is a feeling that something is the case. Each of the aforementioned synonyms clarifies the term common sense. Through them common sense is applicable to all cases and issues. We know it is traditional by the very fact that modern man expends so much energy in trying to vanquish it from any conversation on issues of the day. Common Sense is of the ordinary; the greater part that makes up the reason in the common man. It is normal in that it recognizes the obvious. Proof of the longtime existence and generally prudent acceptance of common sense is in that mankind has been kept from extinction.

Folly is the lack of good sense. And therefore is contrary to common sense. One who lacks good sense and acts so is oft-times referred to as the fool, for those acts are seen as being foolish. Synonyms for this term are many and revealing. Among them are foolhardiness, stupidity, idiocy, lunacy, imbecility, rashness, recklessness, injudiciousness (showing very poor judgment), and imprudence. This last synonym for folly is quite the antonym of the term considered so integral a part of common sense. Prudence being the term that often reminds one “to look before you leap!” If all mankind was instilled with folly rather than common sense I dare say I would not be here to write this essay, nor would you likely be here to read it.

Given a can opener and a pen, which would best be used in writing a letter? Which would best be used to open a can of soup? A bath tub is found to be overflowing. Is it better to immediately turn off the faucet and drain the tub or first run for towels and a mop? When approaching a red light while driving is it better to slow to a stop or throw caution to the wind and drive on through? I believe each of us knows how most, if not all, would answer these questions. For each choice has its own reward. Only the prudent use of common sense in each instance here would yield a favorable outcome. But why do we not do so with the bigger issues of our day? If we have common sense in the small things why not the big things? One might view small issues as the ordinary and big issues as the extraordinary and therefore would require a separate approach. But is that thinking valid? The model airplane and the full-scale airplane each adhere to the same principles of aerodynamics.

Man’s common sense is predicated on objective truth. That truth is simply “WHAT IS.” The apple grows on, is nurtured by, falls from and is found under an apple tree when it reaches maturity. The apple does not do so from a pear tree, no matter how much one may so choose to argue. We have a free will which impels us to either use common sense or to play the fool. That which we choose opens the door to order and peace or chaos and conflict. Chaos and conflict occurs when we are not all on the same page. No one thing necessarily requires a contrary view or action. It is only one’s subjective perception that compels such. If in using our free will we were to yield to our instilled common sense in all matters, then we would be in common in those matters whether small or big, and, therefore, enjoy peace in order. But, contrary views and actions are acted upon because there are those who believe by free will that there must be alternatives. And it is only prudence that can keep us from choosing so. We can do what we want or what we should. There may be times when our want is seen as our should. But, want is self-oriented and in that someone must have not for us to have. By freely choosing what we should we need not suffer conflict in chaos.

Common Sense and Folly can be applied to our societies; in our politics, philosophy, religious beliefs, relationships, attitudes and views toward life and death, our desire for objective truth and our respect for our neighbor, etc. In each, are we using our common sense or exercising folly? Just look around us; in our communities, country and world. It becomes quite evident that Folly has a strong foothold. Mankind finds itself at a precipice. However, the still existing conflict and divisiveness holds the promise that common sense is yet somewhat prevalent. And with it we may still pull back from the edge.

Without common sense we will perpetuate a world where free will is no longer freeing. All will be subject to the strongest of ill wills. The folly of man will topple him from his lofty status of objective truth, justice, reason, logic, love and mercy to the depth of the instinctual beast, where all are ruled by survival of the fittest.

“Lord, what fools these mortals be.” – (Puk: A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

 

 

 

 

 

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God’s Gamble?

 “God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. “God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.” – CCC 1730

At the writing of this article President Trump has yet to decide on a replacement for retiring Justice of the Supreme Court Anthony Kennedy. One of the candidates, who is Catholic, has raised the concerns of some in the Senate that that candidate’s adherence to Catholic doctrine may lead to the overturn of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe vs Wade, which legalized abortion some forty-five years ago. The above reference is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It should allay any concerns that any Catholic candidate for the Supreme Court would be compelled by doctrine to seek to overturn any Supreme Court’s decision unless it were found to be unconstitutional. Further, it should bring clarity to the meaning of free will for Catholics.

God is love itself and through it created man. This is so because love by its nature must be given away. Yet, we know by experience that love can be  accepted or rejected. God could have made man as an automaton who would simply do His will without question. But, love requires a decision. And a decision often requires a sacrifice. For a “yes” to something means a “no” to something else. Without sacrifice love is meaningless. When a man buys an engagement ring for the woman he loves he chooses gold not tin. For gold is expensive and signifies sacrifice which shows the depth of his love for her. God expressed His love in fulfilling His promise to reconcile Himself to man. He did so through the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection. If not for Mary’s acceptance of God’s will, there would be no Incarnation. If not for the rejection of Christ, there would be no Crucifixion. And without each exercise here of free will, one consent and one dissent, the Resurrection would not have happened nor the forgiveness of sins be accomplished.

Man possesses free will because God allowed it. Jesus often had disciples turn away from Him because they found some of what He said unpalatable. Yet, although what He proclaimed was for their own good, He never forced anyone to obey against their will. He did not chase after them nor alter His message to win anyone over. For that is the way God had intended. That is the way of truth. One is free to take it or leave it. Each one of us is free to do God’s will or our own. We can either stop at a red traffic light or not. Each has its own reward.

As a Catholic I understand that I can no more stand in the way of what I believe to be evil than I can in what I know to be good. For if a Catholic were to do so he then would not be in compliance with God’s will as documented in the Catechism; to allow all persons the freedom to choose. However, as a practicing Catholic, I can enlighten others to choose wisely according to God’s will in which they will find true peace. This is accomplished by how I think, what I say, how I act, and how I live. If I think, speak, act and live my faith virtuously then others may be encouraged to take up their cross and follow Him.

So, did God then gamble in giving man free will? No, of course not. He could have created us strictly instinctual as the other creatures whose actions are so governed. However, no love is valid unless it comes by way of prudent reason, sacrifice and one’s own accord. For no one is more charming to God than when he says yes to His will, while having the option to say no. God made us captains of our own souls and therefore of our own destinies. We can share that destiny with Him or apart from Him. In the end God simply verifies our use of free will through the second person of the Holy Trinity, Christ, in His saying: “I know you or I know you not.” Free will places neither praise nor blame on God. Either one falls squarely on our own shoulders.

 

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Old Glory

During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key, from a ship off shore, witnessed the endless horrific night-long bombing on Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy. From his position he had no way to know what the outcome had been. As he woke up in the morning and his eyes witnessed the American flag soaring high in the air on top of the fort, he could not contain his happiness at the sight of American triumph and wrote, originally as a poem, The Star Spangled Banner – referring to the American flag he saw – on the back side of a letter he found in his pocket.

No institution by man is infallible. As any structure with age and lack of restorative attention loses its integrity, so too does a country. A house in time needs replacement of its roof, repair of worn walls and added support to its foundation. One may not relish the run-down condition of one’s home; yet one loves it enough to repair it. Defects in a home do not warrant its destruction. Nor should the fate of a country so be determined.

The Flag is not a symbol of what is wrong with our country, but rather is a symbol of what is right with it. What was witnessed at the Battle of Fort McHenry, can also be witnessed in any disaster, great challenge or atrocity that has and can befall our nation. At these times we see Americans stand up and step forward. For when things are at their worst we are at our best. Throughout past and recent events in history we have become accustomed to the courage and sacrifice that is the American spirit; those members of the police and fire departments who rush at the threat rather than from it; from military who risk life and limb to preserve the security, integrity and identity that is America, whether at home or abroad; and individual citizens who do not hesitate to come to the aid of a fellow countryman, despite the inherent danger to self. For this the Flag stands. Despite our differences-and they are deep and many-when the chips are down we come together, no matter what the cost may be.

As history has shown, no country lasts, nor Flag waves, forever. It will not be the aggression alone of some foreign enemy that brings about the downfall of a country but instead the indifference of countrymen and corruption of its leaders. For power, not respected and left unbridled, corrupts the best of altruistic intentions. That sad day of reckoning will be realized when the flag lowered at dusk does not rise with the next dawn. May we pray that “Old Glory” will be the exception and not the rule to such a tragic end as history pens its final page.

Love is made manifest in many ways. Love of country is but one, which is only preceded by love of neighbor and that of God; Who is love itself. Yet love of country is an important one, for a nation fashioned on a foundation of love secures the way for other phases of love. No one truly understands the importance of country except in the context of love. For country, as love itself, is never more appreciated than when it has been lost.

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Measuring Up

The following bible passage by the Apostle Paul regarding love is from 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. We will consider it from two perspectives.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The first perspective in Christ:

Christ is patient; Christ is kind; Christ is not envious or boastful or arrogant  or rude. Christ does not insist on His own way; Christ is not irritable or resentful; Christ does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Christ bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The second perspective in you:

 “I” am patient; “I” am kind; “I” am not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. “I” do not insist on my own way; “I” am not irritable or resentful; “I” do not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoice in the truth. “I” bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things.

One season the high school volleyball team that I coached failed for the first time in 17 years to qualify for the state tournament. We were quite capable of doing so. However, as we progressed through the season we had taken losses we should not have. As we were nearing the likelihood that mathematically we would be eliminated from post season play a few colleagues asked me why I did not pick up a game or two with teams that we could defeat so as to gain the number of wins needed to qualify. My response was that if we played to our potential we would have qualified on that merit. We either measure up or we do not.

From the first perspective Love and Christ, as we can see, are synonymous. Love and Christ are one in the same. But, what of us? I can honestly say that throughout my life and as well today; Love, Christ and I have not been consistently synonymous. And only by love will He know us. We must ask ourselves: Are we in His likeness in love? Do we measure up? In all truth, by our human nature, we can never measure up completely. But we surly can get as near as any human can by striving to implement those attributes of love as is depicted in the passage above.

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