Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Letter to President Barack Obama

Dear President Obama,

I, like millions of other Americans and people around the world, was completely horrified at the mass murder that took place in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  It is hard to fathom the depth of evil that it takes to ruthlessly gun down a group of young, innocent children whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  My heart absolutely breaks for the parents, family and friends of these children, as well as for the other victims of these evil acts.  I can't even begin to know how to deal with something as tragic as this.

I watched the short speech you gave in reaction to this terrible shooting, and you did seem to be genuinely moved by the horror of this situation.  Your comment - "The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own" - was especially poignant.   

We all mourn the evil, tragic way in which these children died.   As you said, Mr. President, they had their entire lives ahead of them and it is a terrible thing that it was all taken away from them in such a gruesome manner.  But there are thousands of other children who are killed in our nation every day in even more gruesome, almost unimaginable ways.  And not only has our government legally sanctioned the murder of these most vulnerable, innocent lives, but you, Mr. Obama, have personally promoted this as a fundamental right, as you said on January 22, 2012:
As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.
Mr. Obama, here is a picture of what you say is a "fundamental constitutional right":


You called the murder of the innocent children in Connecticut a "heinous crime," and said you felt "overwhelming grief" at this horrible loss of life.  But if any of these children in Connecticut had been killed while they were still in their mothers' wombs, you would have applauded their murders as a "fundamental constitutional right."

You deplore the killing of these children by gunfire and said your heart was "broken", but you would have completely condoned their murder in the womb by being burned alive with saline solution or being torn apart limb by limb.  At the time of their births, you would have condoned a doctor delivering alive all but their heads from their mother's wombs and then murdering them by puncturing the base of their skull and crushing their heads.  And if somehow these children would have survived their attempted murder while in the womb, you would have insisted that they be given no medical care and left to die.  Knowing this makes it somewhat difficult to accept your statement that you and Michelle would "hug our children a little tighter and we’ll tell them that we love them, and we’ll remind each other how deeply we love one another."   

Mr. Obama, you also said in your statement, "These children are our children."  But you are the one who told us that you would fully support the deliberate murder of your own grandchildren because you would not want your daughters to be "punished with a baby" if they "made a mistake":



I'm sorry, Mr. Obama, but the words in your statement regarding the murders in Connecticut rang hollow and hypocritical.  You have never met an abortion you didn't like.  You have promoted the intentional killing of innocent life in the womb in every way possible.  You want young girls to have abortions without even notifying their parents.  You support paying for our military personnel to have abortions.  You have promoted and paid for abortions around the world.  You are persecuting the Catholic Church for their stand against abortion-inducing birth control.  As your own words tell us, you even support the killing of your potential grandchildren.

Mr. Obama, you told us that you don't even know when we "get human rights", as asked by Rick Warren:


Mr. Obama, as you said in your statement, the children murdered in Connecticut "had their entire lives ahead of them."  But so do the children in their mothers' wombs.  They, too, have "birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own" to look forward to.  Yet you and all who think like you feel it is a fundamental constitutional right to take all of that away from the most vulnerable of our citizens.  You said "our hearts are broken today--for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children" in Connecticut.  Well, my heart breaks every time I pray in front of one of those killing fields called abortion centers, and I see young women going in, with your full support, to have their babies murdered.

I will hold the murder victims in Connecticut and their families and friends in my prayers.  But I also pray for the victims of abortion and their families and friends.  I will pray that somehow, someway, you, Mr. President, will see that there is no difference between killing a child while he lies peacefully in his mother's womb or killing him several years later while he sits in a classroom.  I will pray that you will see that  there is no difference between killing a child by using a gun or by using an abortionist's tools.  A six year old child is the same child who grew in his mother's womb from the time of his conception.  Murder is murder, it is the taking of innocent life, no matter how or when it takes place.

Mr. Obama, let us mourn the loss of these innocent young children and the adult victims as well in Connecticut, but let us also mourn the "heinous murder" of the 60 million American children who have been legally killed in their mothers' wombs since 1973.





Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI: Man loses himself without God


Let us pray that all find in Christ the meaning of life and the foundation of true freedom: without God, in fact, man loses himself. The testimonies of those who have gone before us and have dedicated their lives to the Gospel confirm it forever. It is reasonable to believe our existence is at stake. It is worth spending oneself for Christ, He alone satisfies the desires of truth and of goodness rooted in the soul of every man: now, in the time that passes, and in the endless day of blessed Eternity.
Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI has continued his series of Wednesday audiences regarding The Year of Faith and continues to give great insight into what faith is and what it means in our lives. In a talk given on November 21, the theme of his address was that it is through faith we come to knowledge not only of God but also of ourselves.

The Holy Father also made a rather startling statement: "It is reasonable to believe our existence is at stake." This should cause us all to truly listen to His Holiness' words and take them to heart. Faith is about our very existence.

There is an Aesop Fable entitled the "The Crow and the Serpent" which I believe illustrates the statement made by His Holiness:  A crow in great want of food saw a Serpent asleep in a sunny nook, and flying down, greedily seized him. The Serpent, turning about, bit the Crow with a mortal wound. In the agony of death, the bird exclaimed: “O unhappy me! who have found in that which I deemed a happy windfall the source of my destruction.”

'I have found in that which I deemed a happy windfall the source of my destruction."  How often has this been true for us individually and for the entire world?  How often have we told ourselves if I can just get that particular job, buy that house or car, marry that person, make this amount of money, then I will be fulfilled and happy.  But when we actually achieve these goals, we far too often find that not only are we not fulfilled, but these very things we worked so hard to achieve are destroying our lives.   How many times have political leaders, and most certainly all dictators, come into power promising to be our saviors and in reality turned out to be the ones who cause misery and suffering?  All addictions - from drugs and alcohol to work or even a personal relationship - start out as pleasurable and something that will bring deep joy and meaning to our lives, and end up instead wreaking great havoc.

So is there anything in this world that will not become the "source of our destruction"?  This is in essence the theme of Pope Benedict's talk on November 21 in Rome when he continued in his series regarding the Year of Faith.  Pope Benedict explains to us that "without God, in fact, man loses himself."  The Holy Father shows that in order for anything in this life to be successful, it must be centered around faith, which is our relationship with God.  Anytime our lives are not centered on our Creator, we are walking a destructive path.  As the Pope has explained in earlier talks, it is through faith that we have a relationship with God, but it is a relationship that can only be initiated by God.  Faith is a gift we receive from our Creator and not something we can manufacture on our own.  This makes us completely dependent upon our merciful God, who always stands ready to pour His Love out upon us.  Our Lord told us, as recorded in Matthew 11:28-30:
Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.
The Holy Father began his November 21 talk by describing the joy, liberation and peace that comes from believing in and communicating our faith.  Is is faith that "enhances, refines and elevates what is true, good and beautiful in man."  It is only through faith - an encounter with the Great God - that "man comes to know who God is and, in knowing him, discovers himself, his origin, his destiny, the greatness and dignity of human life".  Rodney King gave us the famous question, "Why can't we all just get along?"  The simple answer is that unless God is at the central core of our lives, nothing will work:
We go forward in this Year of Faith, bearing in our hearts the hope of rediscovering how much joy there is in believing and of finding the enthusiasm to communicate to all the truths of the faith. These truths are not a simple message about God, a piece of information about Him. Instead, they express the event of God's encounter with men, a salvific and liberating event, that fulfills the most profound aspirations of man, his desires for peace, brotherhood and love. Faith leads to discover that the encounter with God enhances, refines and elevates what is true, good and beautiful in man. It thus happens that, while God reveals himself and lets himself be known, man comes to know who God is and, in knowing him, discovers himself, his origin, his destiny, the greatness and dignity of human life.


The Vicar of Christ explains to us that Faith is not just a detached part of our lives but "an authentic knowledge of God involving the whole human person".  Faith is "the knowledge of God-Love", and it is through the love of God that "we overcome the horizons of our selfishness and open ourselves to the true values of life." Pope Benedict XVI also tells us that knowledge of God through faith is not just an intellectual exercise, not just another philosophy to explore, but faith is vital in our lives, as vital to our spiritual lives as air is to sustaining us physically. Faith "makes one see, it opens the eyes, allowing one to know all of reality, beyond the narrow perspectives of individualism and subjectivism that disorient consciences."  Faith is not just an exercise in intellectual gymnastics, but the very basis of our existence:
Faith allows an authentic knowledge of God involving the whole human person: it is a "knowing", a knowledge that gives flavor to life, a new taste to existence, a joyful way of being to the world. Faith is expressed in the gift of self to others, in the fraternity that creates solidarity, capable of loving, defeating the loneliness that makes us sad. This knowledge of God through faith is therefore not only intellectual, but vital. It is the knowledge of God-Love, thanks to his own love. The love of God thus makes one see, it opens the eyes, allowing one to know all of reality, beyond the narrow perspectives of individualism and subjectivism that disorient consciences. The knowledge of God is, therefore, an experience of faith and implies, at the same time, an intellectual and moral way: deeply touched by the presence of the Spirit of Jesus in us, we overcome the horizons of our selfishness and open ourselves to the true values ​​of life.
One of the great mysteries of life is bird migration
The Pope now explains what he calls the "reasonableness" of faith.  As the Holy Father explains, faith is never "against reason."  Faith is never about believing in absurdity.  "God, in fact, is not absurd; if anything He is a mystery."  There are many things in life that are a mystery.  Life itself is a mystery.  How does a human being start as a tiny egg the size of the period at the end of a sentence and grow to be a living, breathing human being?  How does a bird travel thousands of miles to a place he has never been before? We are surrounded by mysteries that we cannot explain.  The greatest mystery of all is how God can change a sinful human being completely cut off from Him into a perfect, sinless saint.  Pope Benedict also explains, as St. John of the Cross did in "Dark Night of the Soul" that often it seems that the closer we become to God, the more darkness we are in, which both St. John of the Cross and Pope Benedict XVI compare to looking directly at the bright sun and being blinded by it.  It may seem like we are in darkness but in truth we are in the brilliant light of God:
Today I want to focus on the reasonableness of faith in God. The Catholic tradition has from the beginning rejected fideism, which is the will to believe against reason. Credo quia absurdum (I believe because it is absurd) is not a formula that interprets the Catholic faith. God, in fact, is not absurd; if anything, He is mystery. Mystery, in turn, is not irrational, but the overabundance of sense, of meaning, of truth. If, when looking at the Mystery, one's reason sees darkness, it is not because there is no light in the mystery, but rather because there is too much of it. Just as when a man turns his eyes to look directly at the sun, he sees only darkness; but who would say that the sun is not bright? On the contrary, it is the source of light. Faith allows us to look upon the "sun" that is God, because it is a welcoming of his revelation in history and, so to speak, truly receives all the brightness of the mystery of God, recognizing the great miracle: God has approached man and has offered himself to be known by man, deigning to stoop the creaturely limits of his reason (cf. Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 13).
Just as the brilliance of the sun can physically blind us,
so the brilliance of God can seem to spiritually blind us
Pope Benedict XVI goes on to explain that not only does faith never go against reason, faith actually "opens new horizons for [reason], immeasurable and infinite."  Many accuse those with strong faith of being closed to learning and growing.  As Pope Benedict XVI says, "The exact opposite is true, as the great masters of the Catholic tradition have shown."  Faith does not mean turning our brain off.  In fact, Pope Benedict tells us that "Intellect and faith are not strangers or antagonists before divine Revelation; rather, both are conditions for understanding its meaning, to receive its authentic message, approaching the threshold of the mystery."  In fact, "new fruitful vitality comes to rational human thought from the ingrafting of the principles and truths of the Christian faith."  Faith is about constantly learning and growing and expanding ourselves, never being content with our spiritual state in life:
At the same time, God, with his grace, enlightens reason, opens new horizons for it, immeasurable and infinite. For this reason, faith is a strong incentive to seek always, to never stop and never grow quiet in the inexhaustible discovery of the truth and of reality. The prejudice of some modern thinkers is false, according to which human reason would be as if blocked by the dogmas of faith. The exact opposite is true, as the great masters of the Catholic tradition have shown. St. Augustine, before his conversion, sought the truth restlessly in all the available philosophies, finding them all unsatisfactory. His painstaking rational search was for him a significant pedagogy for the encounter with the Truth of Christ. When he says, "believe, in order to understand, and understand, the better to believe" (Sermons, 43, 9: PL 38, 258), it is as if he were recounting his own life experience. Intellect and faith are not strangers or antagonists before divine Revelation; rather, both are conditions for understanding its meaning, to receive its authentic message, approaching the threshold of the mystery.
St. Augustine, along with many other Christian authors, witnesses to a faith exercised through the use of reason; he thinks and invites us to think. Following in his wake, St. Anselm will say in his Proslogion that the Catholic faith is fides quaerensintellectum [rough translation:  to seek to understand], where the search for understanding is an act within belief itself. It will be especially St. Thomas Aquinas - thanks to this tradition - who will confront the reason of the philosophers, showing how much new fruitful vitality comes to rational human thought from the ingrafting of the principles and truths of the Christian faith.
Isaiah 1:18
The Holy Father flatly states:  "The Catholic faith is therefore reasonable and also nourishes confidence in human reason."  In fact, we cannot know truth without faith and reason together:  "In the irresistible desire for truth, only a harmonious relationship between faith and reason is the right path that leads to God and the fulfillment of self."  In fact, faith must be combined with reason to bring us to God.  It is never a matter of faith or reason but faith and reason:   "In the irresistible desire for truth, only a harmonious relationship between faith and reason is the right path that leads to God and the fulfillment of self."
The Catholic faith is therefore reasonable and also nourishes confidence in human reason. The First Vatican Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, affirmed that reason is able to know God’s existence with certainty through the way of creation, while there belongs to faith alone the possibility of knowing "easily, with absolute certainty and without error "(DS 3005) the truths concerning God, in the light of grace. The knowledge of the faith, furthermore, is not opposed to right reason. Blessed Pope John Paul II, in fact, in the Encyclical Fides et ratio, summed it up thus: "human reason is neither annulled nor debased in assenting to the contents of faith, which are in any case attained by way of free and informed choice"(no. 43). In the irresistible desire for truth, only a harmonious relationship between faith and reason is the right path that leads to God and the fulfillment of self.
Alexander the Great who conquered many nations
The images of heroes in our world are those who are strong and mighty, able to vanquish all of their enemies with their cunning, skill and strength.  Yet, when the God who created the universe came to this earth as a man to die for our sins and to vanquish the Enemy, he did so not with mighty armies or cunning strength, but with love and humility, dying the disgraceful death of a criminal on a cross, so tortured and beaten that he barely looked human.  In this physically wretched state, there was not up to that time and has not since been a more resounding victory than this - the victory over sin and death.  This goes against all human reason and wisdom.  As the Holy Father says:  "God saved the world not with an act of power, but through the humiliation of his only Son: according to human standards, the unusual manner used by God clashes with the demands of Greek wisdom. Yet, the cross of Christ has its logic, which St. Paul calls: ho logos toustaurou, "the word of the cross" (1 Cor 1:18)."
The saving power of Jesus Christ
This doctrine can be easily recognized throughout the New Testament. St. Paul, writing to the Christians of Corinth, says: "For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles" (1 Cor 1:22-23). In fact, God saved the world not with an act of power, but through the humiliation of his only Son: according to human standards, the unusual manner used by God clashes with the demands of Greek wisdom. Yet, the cross of Christ has its logic, which St. Paul calls: ho logos toustaurou, "the word of the cross" (1 Cor 1:18). The term 'logos' means both reason and word and, if it alludes to the word, it is because it expresses verbally what reason elaborates. Thus, Paul sees in the cross not an irrational event, but a salvific fact that has its own reasonableness, which can be recognized in the light of faith.
The Holy Father reminds us that we have no excuse to deny God as He has made Himself known through His creation. "Since the creation of the world, God's invisible perfections - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from the things he has made."
At the same time, he has such confidence in human reason that he wonders at the fact that many, while seeing the beauty of the works wrought by God, are determined not to believe in Him: "In fact", he writes in his Letter to the Romans, "since the creation of the world, God's invisible perfections - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from the things he has made "(1:20). In this way, St. Peter, too, exhorts Christians in the Diaspora to worship "the Lord Christ in your hearts, always ready to respond to anyone who asks you for an account of the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). In a climate of persecution and of a strong need to witness to the faith, believers are asked to justify their adherence to the word of the Gospel with well-grounded reasons; to give the reasons for our hope.
Pope Benedict now speaks of the "virtuous relationship between science and faith."  This goes against the beliefs of most people who feel that science is all about facts and faith is based on emotions.  The Holy Father tells us that not only can faith and science come together, but it can be a "virtuous relationship".  He encourages studies that will improve man's life and bring him to a greater knowledge of the creation "not to exploit it foolishly, but to guard it and make it inhabitable."  Rather than condemning true science, the Pope encourages it:  "If science is a valuable ally of the faith for understanding God's plan in the universe, faith permits scientific progress to occur always for the good and the truth of man, while staying true to this same plan."
On these premises regarding the fruitful link between understanding and believing, rests the virtuous relationship between science and faith. Scientific research always leads to the knowledge of new truths about man and the cosmos. We see this. The true good of humanity, accessible in faith, opens the horizon in which its journey of discovery must move. Those studies, for instance, should therefore be encouraged, which are placed at the service of life and which aim to eradicate disease. Also important are the investigations to discover the secrets of our planet and the universe, in the knowledge that man is at the summit of creation not to exploit it foolishly, but to guard it and make it inhabitable. So faith, truly lived, is not in conflict with science; rather, it cooperates with it, offering basic criteria that promote the good of all, asking science to give up only those attempts which - in opposition to God's original plan - can produce effects that turn against man himself. For this reason, too, it is reasonable to believe: if science is a valuable ally of the faith for understanding God's plan in the universe, faith permits scientific progress to occur always for the good and the truth of man, while staying true to this same plan.
The Holy Father reminds us of this statement of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:  "God, who alone 'made heaven and earth' (Ps 115:15), can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in a relation to himself (no. 216)."  We can never have complete knowledge of anything without faith, which is a living relationship with our Creator.  To search for any truth without the revelation of God is the source of destruction.
That is why it is crucial for people to open themselves to faith and to know God and his plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. In the Gospel, a new humanism is inaugurated, an authentic "grammar" of man and of all reality. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms: "God's truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world. God, who alone "made heaven and earth" (Ps 115:15), can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in a relation to himself"(no. 216).
As  Hosea 4:6 tells us, we are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Certainly we have much scientific and technical knowledge, but without a relationship with our Creator, that knowledge actually becomes the source of our destruction, just as in the fable of the crow and Serpent.  This is why the Pope says in this talk that our very existence is at stake.  This is why evangelization is so important.  We who have the knowledge of life are obligated to bring that knowledge to the world:
We are confident then that our commitment to the evangelization will help give new centrality to the Gospel in the lives of many men and women of our time. Let us pray that all find in Christ the meaning of life and the foundation of true freedom: without God, in fact, man loses himself. The testimonies of those who have gone before us and have dedicated their lives to the Gospel confirm it forever. It is reasonable to believe, our existence is at stake. It is worth spending oneself for Christ, He alone satisfies the desires of truth and of goodness rooted in the soul of every man: now, in the time that passes, and in the endless day of blessed Eternity. Thank you.
These talks by the Holy Father are a great source of light in our increasingly dark and dying world.  The world is daily distancing itself more and more from our Creator and cutting itself off from the only true source of Life.  The Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, the only Church founded by Jesus Christ who died and rose to save the world from darkness and death, must not shrink from bringing this saving message to suffering mankind, or their blood will be on our hands.
It is worth spending oneself for Christ, He alone satisfies the desires of truth and of goodness rooted in the soul of every man: now, in the time that passes, and in the endless day of blessed Eternity.


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