Archives for May 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #172)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: A new video apologetical series from a young person’s perspective. The USCCB’s video call to prayer. The crazy, surreal world of those choosing separation from God. Setting the middle east toward nuclear destruction – our biggest policy blunder ever. Lumen Entertainment presents Skiff and AJ’s latest video. From the CJ automotive desk – the making of the Tesla Model S. Lying to achieve political ends.

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Ali-Marie Thompson is a young Catholic apologist who is building an impressive collection of videos explaining topics of our faith. She has recorded over 50 My Catholic Perspective segments over the last year. See her YouTube channel for more.

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) published this video 2 years ago, but I just came across it. The description says the USCCB calls “for a nationwide effort to advance a movement for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty through prayer, penance, and sacrifice.” What was on their mind then has not gotten any better.

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A world without God seems to be the goal of many these days. By His love, every person has the free will to make that choice for themselves. Their goal will be their eternal reality.

Spotted by Msgr. Pope

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Nuclear Bomb

Israel has long had the atomic bomb. Count on them having very capable delivery systems and high-yield warheads. It was a hedge for them against an uncertain future where their enemies might get “the bomb.” That has not happened so nuclear Armageddon in the middle east has not happend.

That is about to change in a big, big way due to our president’s “negotiations” with Iran. You are free to interpret it as you wish. Iran’s neighbors interpret it as giving them the green light and are extremely alarmed. They have the means to similarly arm themselves in their own self-defense and now feel forced to take that path. This may go down as the biggest foreign policy blunder in our history.

The Jerusalem Post has this report: Saudi Arabia in talks to purchase Pakistani nuclear weapons.

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Skiff and AJ continue to explore the interior of a church. In their latest episode (#6), the look at the confessional.

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I can’t afford a Tesla Model S. My 2001 vehicle is nice and doing just fine anyway. The Tesla however, is a really cool car (does “cool” date me?). Anyway, I came across this video on how they are made. Spoiler: mostly by robots.

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Lying to achieve a worthy end is a valid tactical decision, according to Muslim scholars (known as taqiyya and kitman). This tactic has been embraced beyond the Muslim world and is now routinely injected into American politics, again and again and again.

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!

Memorial Day

Memorial Day 2015

Heavenly Father,

On this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. May the examples of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace.

In union with people of goodwill of every nation, embolden us to answer the call to work for peace and justice, and thus, seek an end to violence and conflict around the globe.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Elsewhere: Catholic charities


People are overwhelmed by the number of worthy, charitable causes in the world. Researching, selecting, contacting and donating can be time consuming. This is one big reason why charities like the United Way are successful.

Here in the United States, two big efforts operated by the bishops’ conference (USCCB) are Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. On paper, they both look good. It does not take much investigation however, to uncover a long history of problems in the CCHD. They continue supporting causes which are directly opposed to Catholic teaching in abortion, sexuality and other areas. As a result of increased public awareness, some improvement has been made but very serious problems remain with little apparent effort other than PR to address them. Many, including myself, have urged folks not to support the CCHD during the annual appeals.

The argument is made that recipients of CCHD funds do much good, in addition to some immoral acts. Further, CCHD funds can be given with stipulations that they not support those immoral acts. This is naive and more than a bit disingenuous. Firstly, money is fungible. Secondly, it builds and strengthens immoral organizations. Thirdly, it is cause for scandal.

“An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention” (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means.

So that is a BIG “NO” to material cooperation with evil (even if it is remote) through the CCHD (Catholic Campaign for Human Development).

The CRS (Catholic Relief Services) has not had the historically terrible track-record of the CCHD. In my mind, they had done a lot of good and I have donated. Unfortunately, it now appears that CRS is following in the footsteps of the CCHD and can no longer be blindly trusted by faithful Catholics.

Michael Hichborn has an excellent, well researched piece at the Lepanto Institute:

Here are just a few of the recent findings against CRS:

In each of these cases, CRS was provided with grant money for the implementation of each of these programs and documents.

The last point Dr. Woo makes in response to concerned Catholics gives the appearance that CRS is going to retain the employment of a same-sex “married” vice president:

“Number three, …CRS has a senior person who is in a civil gay marriage, and the question is, “Is that a violation of Church teaching?” I just want to say we are working through this. Gay marriage, of course, is a very complex issue. The Church is very clear that marriage as a sacrament is a between a man and a woman open to procreation. There’s also the Church teaching on natural law. Those are the teachings. – Does it mean that the Church should not employ anyone who is in a gay marriage? Are we giving a blanket No?…   If it’s not a blanket No, are there particular positions, such as positions that are ministerial in nature, positions which relate to the formation of the faith of young children at school? …   While the teaching is clear, as it translates into practice there has not been defined a common approach for dealing with employment, particularly when the position is non-ministerial, when the person is not a Catholic, when the agency is not a school. So we’re in that area when there have been various steps forward, but not a clear path.

Civil marriage is protected by the State of Maryland and 36 other states, as well as DC, so we’re also dealing with a new intersection between in this case state law and Church teaching where the practice is being defined.

For one thing, “gay marriage” is not a complex issue when it comes to the Church. It is an abomination before the eyes of the Lord. No matter which governments pretend to enact such a thing as law, what legal frameworks are erected around it, or what material consequences may arise from standing against it, the fact remains that Truth is Truth and evil must be opposed by the Catholic Church both in Her members and in Her institutions. There are plenty of other secular organizations that would be more than happy to employ a same-sex “married” executive, but such does not belong in Catholic institutions. Catholic Relief Services must remember that it is Catholic above all else, and that its first duty is to maintain the integrity of the faith. However, given its history of compromise by funding organizations that commit abortions, perform sterilizations, and distribute contraception, it’s willingness to help create policy papers that spread abortion without raising a hand in protest, its creation of documents that promote condoms, and its facilitation of contraception-promoting programs, it should come as no surprise that CRS would compromise its Catholic faith in favor of a more secular approach to aid and development with regard to a same-sex “married” vice president, either. So, perhaps it’s time for CRS to drop the charade and remove the word “Catholic” from its name. If obtaining government and foundation money is more important to CRS than bringing souls to Christ, or at the very least, not opening doors to wolves seeking to devour the faith of those CRS claims to serve, then it should continue its work as merely “Relief Services.”

Please read the whole piece: CRS President Doubles-Down on Funding Contraception Providers, Employing Same-Sex “Married” Executives.

There is no hope that the CCHD and CRS will amend their ways as long as faithful Catholics continue to contribute. There are many smaller, but clearly faithful, groups to which your charity could be directed.

Understanding mercy

Understanding Mercy

Pope Francis has declared next year (from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 2015 through the feast of Christ the King on November 20, 2016) to be an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Holy Father said “I am convinced that the whole church – that has much need to receive mercy because we are sinners – will find in this jubilee the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.”

Mercy is absolutely central to who we are as Christians. It is what Jesus merited for us upon the cross. It is also commanded of us. That second sense of mercy is often poorly understood. I will get to that, but first let’s review God’s mercy.

We have all sinned against God and the Body of Christ, the Church.

all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.

If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

This is gravely serious and in justice, our rebellion deserves eternal separation from God for it.

For the wages of sin is death

It is through God’s superabundant mercy that we live. Through that same mercy, we may remain in His fellowship by repentance. The judgment that we deserve for our sins is set aside if we, with contrite hearts and will to amend our lives, only ask for His forgiveness. That is God’s amazing mercy.

As God shows us mercy through His love for us, we too are called to do likewise with others. It is compassion for others motivated by love. Saint Pope John Paul II wrote in his Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy) encyclical that “Mercy is love’s second name” and is “the greatest attribute of God.”

Such love demands action. Let me offer an example. Imagine that we are on a bridge, near a person preparing to jump over the rail and end his life. What do we do?

We might back away, fearful that we could be accused of pushing him. It might occur to us that he has his reasons and after all, who are we to judge? We don’t want to be intolerant or force our religious views (about suicide) on someone else. Then there is the risk to our own safety should we get too close and get pulled along. If we are able to pull him to safety, he may hate us for our unwelcomed interference. Maybe it is best to “not get involved.”

None of that reflects compassion and true love for this person. If we love him as we are called to, we do get involved as best we are able even if it might not turn out so well for us.

While we may not witness a situation like this, we are called to action in helping those who suffer including the poor, the oppressed, the imprisoned. We are also called to instruct and advise (CCC 2447) those committing spiritual suicide. Those who denounce God, have sex outside marriage (including adultery and all same sex physical relationships), support abortion and all other sinful acts as they are grave, self-inflicted harm.

Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

If we act out of love to help our brothers and sisters in these circumstances then we are showing them mercy. Such actions may never be self-righteous, preachy or condemning but show the love of Christ through us reflecting only what is best for the other – even when they themselves think otherwise and may condemn us for it.

Sometimes we see people throw our Lord’s commandments “out the window.” They rationalize and refuse to get involved. Worse, they may invent convenient and comfortable theology on the spot (“if there is a truly loving God…”). Often their idea of “mercy” is simply unbridled tolerance. That is no virtue, far from it.

To be clear: “accepting” / “tolerating” sinful action in the name of “mercy” is exactly the opposite of love and actual mercy. Actual mercy leads others to truth, to God and to salvation. It builds the kingdom of heaven, not reinforces the “wisdom” of the world.

Not every situation that presents itself is open to our help. Indeed, sometimes even planting a small mustard seed can not be reasonably achieved. We must use good judgment, wisely choosing where and how to help. If however we find our good judgment always leads to never getting involved, we may wish to reconsider our motivations.

“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.

But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.

When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.

The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #171)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: How exactly DO WE go to heaven? Huggies produces a surprisingly good, pro-life (although probably not intended as such) commercial. Racists come in two forms, one you know, one you may not. A car that squeezes into the tiniest parking spaces. A self-driving concept at the other end of the automotive spectrum. The Jihad Tango. Our Middle East foreign policy, leading the world to the brink (in a decade or so, some future president can take the blame).

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Jimmy Akin has a new book called The Drama of Salvation which will provide a good explanation of salvation to folks who just don’t feel confident in their understanding of salvation. Here, Jimmy provides the brief answer:

Other related videos include Have You Been Saved? , Are We Saved 'By Faith Alone?' , Is There Salvation Outside the Church? , What Are 'Works of the Law?' and Why Do Penance? .

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Huggies, at least for Brazil, has produced this wonderful, life affirming commercial:

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My favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quote (from his “I have a dream” speech) is “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Spot on and beautifully said.

Yet, that is not what we do. There still are racists. Some racists put people down simply because of the color of their skin. Others, for the same reason, elevate them. Both are racists. This young lady (Chloe Valdary) explains it well:

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This is bizarre. A German “micro-car” that literally scrunches-up and moves sideways to fit into tiny parking spots. Videos and the story is at the Daily Mail. Forget parallel parking.

Crab Car

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Also from the Convert Journal automotive technology desk is this “concept video” from Bosch on how a self-driving car might work:

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Certainly there are “moderate” Muslims, maybe even the majority. In the same vein, there are pro-abortion “Catholics”. Wishing Islam to be the religion of peace does not make it so. Jeff Harris at Sword of Peter illustrates the nature of true Islam:

Sword Of Peter Jihad Tango

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In the news this week, we learn how Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries are poised to abandon their non-nuclear status and seek to develop nuclear weapons as quickly as possible. This is in direct response to Obama’s foreign policy. All this time you thought he was at least good at that…

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!