Monday, November 19, 2012

We Choose to Follow

We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church… must take up” (Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (Bl. JOHN PAUL II) to the American bishops in 1976, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Nov. 9, 1978).

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Best of Times

The last couple of days have been full of blessings.
On Friday we had Liam Watkins overnight because we were going to the Fan the Fire Conference up in York, PA, and wanted to get an early start.
We left at 7:30 a.m. and arrived at the church at around 9:00. A few glitches with the GPS notwithstanding it was an easy drive.
We spent the day listening to some great talks, good music, and had a wonderful time of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confession, with a very special Mass as the pinnacle of the day.

Speaker and Rapper "Righteous B"
Father explaining the wonder of the Blessed Sacrament before Adoration
Eucharistic Procession
Statue of St Francis and Jesus in the Church

A moment of reflection before Mass...

And this afternoon, we were blest to spend the afternoon celebrating Maria Hoppel's Sweet Sixteen!

Waiting for the guest of honor...

What girls do at a party....

What boys do at a party....

And then there are the parents!


This is not your average musical chairs. Don't they all look well-behaved? This turned into full-contact Musical Chairs! Flying bodies, bruises, flipping chairs. The Ravens probably had fewer injuries tonight.

A few of the survivors

Of course there was swing dancing....

And Birthday Cake!

What a blessing to have so many special families to share special times with!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Recent Unpleasantness

On November 6, the citizens of the United States re-elected perhaps the most anti-Catholic president in its history to a second term.
Even sadder, according to exit polls a majority of Catholics voted in his favor, even after they theoretically had imbibed the bishops’ message, conveyed from the pulpit and in various other media, that no Catholic should vote for a candidate who favors abortion rights and single sex marriage and does not support religious liberty.
What is going on here? Clearly, to borrow a line from the film “Cool Hand Luke,” “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
Simply put, the U.S. is no longer “exceptional.”
In fact, the U.S. is no longer a Christian country. Our nation is in a spiraling decline, and the cause is neither politics nor economics but moral breakdown.
For the first time in human history the greatest health problem is obesity—read gluttony. Millions of men and even (believe it or not) women are addicted to pornography, and our birthrate is at its lowest in history. Cohabitation before marriage and multiple divorces are not unusual. Out-of-wedlock births are at an all-time high. And the holocaust of unborn babies by the millions continues.
Our country is morally as well as fiscally broke. Of course, these signs of decline are all interconnected. This is not the time to go into how all this came about, but to my mind the individual states have become too dependent on our central government for matters that should fall in their own purview, clearly and seriously violating and abusing the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.
The former freedom of action of individuals and families has been restricted by and over-regulated by Washington, DC. Remember, whatever the government can do for you, it can do to you.
In short, after witnessing the transformation of the American Republic into an Empire, we are witnessing that Empire’s fall. And as a Church historian, I do not know of any empire that ever collapsed and then revived.
I hope all this does not leave you too depressed: For my part, I am exhilarated.
To paraphrase a great American Revolutionary War hero, John Paul Jones, “We have not yet begun to fight.” Or as legendary Marine Chesty Puller put it: “They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemy that outnumbers us 29:1. They can’t get away from us now.”
This is the true “Catholic Moment” for our country, with apologies to my deceased friend Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Catholic convert and founder of First Things. Simply said, only raw, unadulterated, lived-out-in-the-middle-of-the-world Catholicism can save the United States and perhaps bring us back to a country that acknowledges the natural law, truly takes as its guide the American Constitution, and renounces the allure of empire, returning to its conception as the humble Republic our forefathers founded.
Our role models are the first Christians who suffered and flourished and grew under at least 25O years of persecution, in some cases bloody, in other cases consisting of ostracism and second-class citizenship, until the Edict of Milan under the Emperor Constantine. Less than 70 years later, Catholicism had become the official religion of the Empire. We know the rest of the story: the conversions of the barbarians to the Faith over seven centuries and the flowering of what became Christendom or the West.
But I must stress that, as mainstream Protestantism for all practical purposes is dead in the United States. It is up to lay Catholics to build a healthy Catholic culture here worthy of the nation’s founding. The means will be their commitment to the Sacraments, life of prayer, and meditation on Sacred Scripture, and their bringing the fruits of these to their work, family life, and fellow citizens.
The Second Vatican Council, whose fiftieth anniversary we are celebrating in this special “Year of Faith,” was quite clear that its main message for us Catholics was the “universal call to holiness.”
If we take that call seriously and we live it like the first Christians did, well, we may make America again merit the title of “exceptional,” not only in emphasizing freedom for its people but in showing charity and respect for the dignity of all human persons, born and unborn, from conception until natural death.
Perhaps our rejection of the Culture of Death in the United States will bring about what the Lord wanted and wants: “That all may be one.” Indeed this is the Catholic moment when we can   anticipate many conversions to the Faith from evangelical Christians and other truth seekers.
Consider what our most insightful observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, had to say in the early 19th century when he traveled extensively through the U.S.:
At the present time, more than in any preceding age, Roman Catholics are seen to lapse into infidelity, and Protestants to be converted to Roman Catholicism. If you consider Catholicism within its own organization, it seems to be losing; if you consider it from outside, it seems to be gaining. Nor is this difficult to explain. The men of our days are naturally little disposed to believe; but as soon as they have any religion, they immediately find in themselves a latent instinct that urges them unconsciously towards Catholicism. Many of the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church astonish them, but they feel a secret admiration for its discipline, and its great unity attracts them. If Catholicism could at length withdraw itself from the political animosities to which it has given rise, I have hardly any doubt but that the same spirit of the age which appears to be so opposed to it would become so favorable as to admit of its great and sudden advancement.
The future is ours! We can and must believe what Pope Benedict XVI told Americans in 2008 re-echoing the vision of the late Blessed Pope John Paul II: “God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity.”
Meanwhile, let’s get to work and remember to pray for the conversion of our newly re-elected president and vice president! Miracles happen!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Wisdom of the Catechism


222     Believing in God, the only One, and loving him with all our being has enormous consequences for our whole life.
223     It means coming to know God's greatness and majesty: "Behold, God is great, and we know him not." Therefore, we must "serve God first".
224     It means living in thanksgiving: if God is the only One, everything we are and have comes from him: "What have you that you did not receive?" "What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me?"
225     It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men: everyone is made in the image and likeness of God.
226     It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.
227     It means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. A prayer of St. Teresa of Jesus wonderfully expresses this trust:
Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes / God never changes
Patience / Obtains all
Whoever has God / Wants for nothing
God alone is enough.

Just Makes Me Smile!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

October Photos

Early Color on the Elm
Maggie 2.7 years
Barn Dance!
Let's Hear it for GOD!
Lilly the Cheerleader!
Pre-Hurricane flowers
Morning Colors
Lilly's last game
Sparkle and Crispy!
Sunday Afternoon
Boys in the Leaves
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Post-Election Thoughts...

Well, here we are on the other side of November 6th, 2012, and it seems that the best way that I can describe where we are is that nothing has changed, but everything is very different.

Before the election, it seemed like there was an energy, a restlessness to get our country moving on the path to recovery.
Before the election, I saw so much optimism for a swing back to the solid, hard-working attitudes that made this a place that provided opportunity, not just for the people that were born here, but for those that come here from other places.
Now I feel that much of that momentum was wishful thinking.
As Rush Limbaugh said yesterday, "In a nation of children, you can't beat Santa Claus."
It's true.

What the people want is Santa and his credit card. Unlimited borrowing and a refi when the bills come due. 0% interest on all the goodies life has to offer.
Why not? The last two generations have grown up with "No interest or payments for 12 months!" as their mantra.
Got in a bit over your head? Well, no problem! We'll just sit you down and you can sign those Chapter 11 papers and start over!
Well, folks, we are in for a bit of a nasty shock.
I'll bet there is no word for Chapter 11 in Chinese.
When those bills come due they are just going to be due. You think our addiction to stuff and nonsense hasn't been targeted by the folks who are buying us out?
It's gonna hit the fan, and the kiddies are going to start wailing for a second chance, and those guys in the  big bank on the other continent are going to smack us down and put us in the international time-out chair.
History hasn't been as good to them, and they aren't spoiled. They don't have a sugar-daddy.

The next person that says that Obama is some kind of evil-genius-anti-Christ that has mesmerized the callow population and stolen the presidency, is going to get an earful from me.
The presidency was not stolen. It was gift wrapped and delivered.
The electorate, minus the military, was given the chance to choose self-determination over big government, and they chose to stick with the European model. There was very little fraud, and a huge voter turnout. Catholics voted for Obama 50/48%. Terrifying.
Obama is not a thief, he is a symptom.
I heard one of the commentators on election night say that the abortion/contraception debate played very heavily in this election.
That is one of the saddest things that I have ever heard. To think that the people in our nation value the right to choose to kill a child over the possibility of a strong economic recovery is chilling, but that was what she said.

I have no idea how many years we have to live in this happy cloud of self-delusion.
Mark Steyn says that the most comfortable place to live is in a country in the early stages of decline.
Europe is in the middle stages, with Greece leading the pack.
Greece is a small country with a European Union attached to it. It will go down with a thud.
The United States is a giant with nothing propping it up. It is tilting dangerously over the "fiscal cliff" and when it falls, the Richter scale is going to read about 9.5.
God is good, and He is forgiving, but He is also just.
I just pray for the courage and fortitude to be a witness to the Truth, when justice is served.