Archives for 2015

Shame on you EWTN

Shame On You Ewtn

EWTN is the worldwide voice of true, orthodox Catholicism. It is a role it sought and a role it usually fulfills superbly. It operates at a high standard when it speaks, carefully presenting what the Magisterium has taught through the ages, no more and no less. Generally, its representatives model Christian behavior well. EWTN is a jewel of the Church.

It was sad then to see the on-air performance of newly hired EWTN “Chief White House Correspondent” Lauren Ashburn last Tuesday (December 22nd). She appeared on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor as a commentator on the question of Donald Trump’s treatment by the press.

Right out of the starting gate she equated Trump’s behavior to ISIS. Ashburn called him “a bully, a bombastic flame-thrower” which – ironically – is exactly what she herself was demonstrating.

She accused Trump of manipulating the media in a particularly condemning tone, as if manipulating the press isn’t the goal of every politician. The “Trump manipulates the media” attack seems to be a Democratic Party talking point (e.g. 2 days later: Bernie Sanders: ‘Trump is very smart’ for manipulating the media). Ashburn seems to be on board and her performance came-off as highly partisan.

This was followed by the views of another person representing the secular Media Research Center who was more charitable and balanced. It was a good contrast. Until Ashburn interrupted him and jumped back in so that she could use that tone again to call Trump a “MASTER MANIPULATOR !!!”

The moderator, apparently looking for some balance, asked where was the news media in not calling-out Hillary Clinton on her false claims and typically being overtly sympathetic to her. Ashburn defended them noting “that is how they make their money.” This was followed by that tone again saying (slowly) “Donald Trump is a bully.” Here is the clip:

To be rhetorical, is it just me or did other people see this too? Here are the headlines:

Naturally, Ashburn’s comments delighted liberal voices. Trump, or whoever the GOP selects, will look to spoil the coronation of Hillary and her unwavering support for abortion, gay “marriage,” all-powerful central government, diminished freedoms and other liberal priorities diametrically opposed to the teaching of the Church.

I can see how Ashburn’s comments help the Democratic party, but how in the world are they supposed to further our mission? EWTN, you are better than this. This embarrassing episode tarnishes your reputation and the high respect we hold for you. It must not be repeated. You need to fix this.

Merry Christmas

Christmas 2015

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Elsewhere: welcome CEO Catholics

Elsewhere

This year, like every year, we will see strange faces on Christmas. Some of those folks will be from far away, visiting friends and family. Others live nearby, maybe living closer to the church than we do, but strangers to us. They are the Christmas and Easter Only (CEO) subset of fallen-away Catholics.

While we don’t see them often, they are our brothers and sisters. They are members of our Catholic family who are drawn to the Church yet often harbor “issues.” They are like the brother who only comes home for Thanksgiving but avoids us the rest of the year. We care about them and we miss them.

Then too, we will also come across others who have fallen-away and will not even step foot into the church on Christmas. We love them all and want what’s best for them. Their boycott of the Church is harmful to them and we hate to see this self-destructive pride that has taken hold.

This is a wonderful time to engage our family and neighbors, to invite them back, to tell them they are important to God and to us. If someone pushed them away doing or failing to do something in the name of the Church, we should apologize for it (even if that person was right, pastorally they failed). Flawed as it is, the Church is their surest path.

Katie Warner offers some helpful perspective in her recent piece for the National Catholic Register:

But perhaps the most-shared feeling or expression in the many correspondences I have fielded over the years is this: Almost all of these fallen-away Catholics want to know that someone cares.

They want to know that someone cares that they left. They want to know that someone not only notices their absence, but also is actually saddened, or at least affected by it. Sadly, many, if not most, of these inactive Catholics have never found anyone to express this concern to them.

So I make an effort to tell fallen-away Catholics who reach out to Catholics Come Home that they are missed, and their brothers and sisters in Christ – including me – want them home and that their Heavenly Father in particular wants them to again be a part of the Catholic Church that Jesus Christ founded.

As a unity in the Body of Christ, a living organism, we aren’t the same without them, and we care that they are away.

It never ceases to amaze me how even the seemingly hardest of hearts in an initial correspondence can be turned around after hearing that someone, anyone, cares about them and about their leaving the barque of St. Peter.

I’ve been moved to tears more times than I can count by people who seemed bent on spewing their rage toward the Church and have then responded to my reply with words like, “Thank you for answering. You are the first person to respond to me – and to care.” Some of these people have admitted attempting to reach out to other people or organizations, seeking a listening ear or an extended hand of welcome, only to be further disappointed by the fact that not only did they exit the Church without a single person knowing that they had gone, but they also couldn’t find anyone to help them explore the possibility of returning.

So many of our fallen-away family, friends, co-workers, relatives, neighbors and even strangers whom God puts in our path are desperately wanting to know that they are missed. Many just need to hear it from one person — and that one person can be you.

Read the whole piece: The No. 1 Thing I’ve Learned From Talking With Fallen-Away Catholics.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #190)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: Ken Yasinski reflects on the nature of Christmas Peace. The Vatican Christmas tree is in St. Peter’s Square for the 33rd year. Nativity scenes from around the world are displayed in Rome. A school district edits the heart out of A Charlie Brown Christmas. A New South Wales Catholic Education office performs a rendition of the Little Drummer Boy. The Piano Guys are accompanied by a cast of 1,000 in their performace of Angels We Have Heard On High. LifeSiteNews reminds us what true freedom is this Christmas.

— 1 —

Christmas peace, not sales, not parties, not Santa, certainly not carbon credits. Christ! That is where our focus should be, in this Advent short-stretch before Him.

— 2 —

The Vatican Christmas tree again appears in St. Peter’s Square. This tradition dates back only to 1982 during the reign of Pope St. John Paul II. Always included with the tree is a life-sized Nativity scene.

— 3 —

Nativity scenes from around the world are on display in Rome. This annual tradition is celebrating its 40th anniversary, featuring 167 Nativity scenes from 33 countries.

— 4 —

A Kentucky school district is performing A Charlie Brown Christmas (yea) with the apparently objectionable “religious part” ripped-out on the advice of their attorneys (boo). Here is what they will miss (i.e. the whole point):

— 5 —

The Catholic Education Office of the Diocese of Parramatta (Australia) offers this just released a cappella version of the Little Drummer Boy:

— 6 —

The Piano Guys, along with over 1,000 friends, perform a mix of Angels We Have Heard On High:

— 7 —

True freedom. Government can persecute us for not worshiping them, but can never take our true freedom away as it does not come from them. Never did, never will.


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was begun by Jennifer Fulwiler and is now continued by Kelly Mantoan. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Kelly for hosting this project!

Elsewhere: quoting St. Francis

Elsewhere

We have all heard the famous quote from St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel always. When necessary, use words.” It seems that a month does not go by that I do not hear or read it somewhere from a well intentioned source. It drives me nuts.

St. Francis never said this. St. Francis never would say it.

Certainly, there is an important point to be made about living the Gospel through our actions as well as words. No quibble there. However, this (misleading) saying, taken at face value, tells us to evangelize by being “good people.” Many atheists, agnostics and those of other religions are that too, so how would that alone lead people to Christ? Worse, it implies we should NOT say anything (unless perhaps absolutely necessary). Brothers and sisters, the notion of leading only by example is NOT ENOUGH to communicate the fullness of Christian life.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

How could we communicate this to the world if we evangelize through even exemplary lives, but are otherwise generally silent? St. Paul:

But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring [the] good news!”

Through our baptisms and confirmations we were sent and given the office of priests, prophets and kings. The Great Commission applies especially to the Apostles and their successors in the ministerial priesthood, but also applies to us laity in the common priesthood too. Our Lord commanded at His Ascension:

He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.

Marcel LeJeune (Aggie Catholics) has also commented on all of this in his recent blog piece:

St. Francis would have agreed, we all need this personal change and transformation of life through a conversion to Jesus. Francis decided he wanted to live a radical life of poverty and service to Jesus Christ. He started to cast off all the trappings of the world and lived for God alone. In the poverty of spirit, which he formed, he found a great call to help others grow closer to the love of Christ.

This love propelled him out into the world to preach Good News to others, while loving them with acts of service. His preaching was powerful, not only because he was a good orator, but because his love for God was reflected in his deeds.

Both his life and his words were a critical part of his mission as an evangelist.

St. Francis never said the phrase above and I don’t believe he ever would have, because it leaves out the heart of evangelization — helping others come to know Jesus — by proclaiming His name! Imagine if St. Francis never spoke about Jesus. Imagine if the 12 Apostles never spoke about Jesus. We wouldn’t be Christians today.

Others cannot know Jesus unless we talk about Him!

St. Francis knew (and so does the Church) that evangelization is NEVER complete, until the saving message of the Gospel is proclaimed. The Church repeats this over and over.

Marcel’s full post is St Francis Never Said “Preach The Gospel Always. When Necessary Use Words.”

Glenn Stanton also wrote on this topic for the National Catholic Register in his piece What St. Francis of Assisi Didn’t Actually Say.

If you want to follow St. Francis’ example – preach the Gospel with words and live a life consistent with them.

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