David Ancell's Virtual Home

What About the Other Side of This

  /   Wednesday, March 01, 2017   /   Comments(0)

I have heard over the years about different politicians and groups insisting on protecting “access” to contraception as though it were something necessary and hard to obtain. I have also heard all I can stand from people who insist that the new version of “nondiscrimination” is more important than the faith of people who run businesses and provide services. I’ve often thought about how such policies, and especially the actions of our previous administration, would end up limiting the medical profession to people who will essentially follow our culture, preventing people of faith from being able to practice both their faith and a healing profession. I’m glad to see that there still are some people still trying to stand up for the rights of faithful health care professionals.

However, there is another aspect of this that needs to be considered. I have had my fill of media describing women seeking abortion, contraception, or a morning-after pill being made to feel guilty about their “reproductive choices,” but very few in the major media are willing to apply that to faithful Catholic women who wish to embrace the Church’s teaching about openness to life. Where is their “access” to faithful physicians who have a mindset other than the prevailing cultural mindset about families and children? Where is their “access” to an OB / GYN who understands natural family planning? If you want to talk about discrimination, then you should hear the comments these women (including my wife) get when they try to explain that they don’t want contraception.

However, for all the grief they get, at least there is not yet legislation pending to make the teaching of natural family planning illegal or to saddle it with ridiculous requirements. For another group, such laws are in place in some form in a number of states and cities. They city of Toledo, Ohio is the most recent I have seen to ban any form of “conversion therapy” for people with same-sex attraction. Claims you hear are that it protects people, presumably minors, from being forced to undergo supposedly harmful therapy for something that supposedly isn’t a problem. The Toledo version doesn’t appear to be limited to minors, though, as some are.

Well, I really don’t know how well current methods of therapy work for same-sex attraction. Even the NARTH institute is not suggesting that everyone (or even most people) with same sex attraction can completely reorient themselves. Therapy certainly will have no helpful effect on anyone who does not want to change. However, banning all therapy with such a goal sets a dangerous precedent.

What about those people who do want to try and change or reduce unwanted same sex attractions? What option are we leaving them? Some people may be able to do so if they get help before the feelings become deep rooted. Instead, the only “support” option available to them in these jurisdictions is someone who tells them to accept this as who they are and get on with it. The same can also happen to someone who experience discomfort about their gender. They may not have anyone to turn to except people who insist that they believe that they are really a woman in a man’s body or vice versa, and this is who they are.

For their own ideology, the activists are shutting down the scientific inquiry and the treatment choices for people. By doing this, the only freedom or choice they support is for people who fit their ideas. Those of us who want treatments in conformity with our faith may find ourselves out of luck if we don’t do something about it.

Category: Catholic, Response


They Knew Him Not

  /   Saturday, December 31, 2016   /   Comments(0)

We are nearing the end of the Octave of Christmas, and on January 1st we will celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Church gives us the reading of the first chapter of the Gospel of John for the day. What struck me was something that I see as a reflection of the saddest aspect of human society. The Gospel mentions that the world was made through the Word who is Jesus Christ, but despite this, the world did not know him. He even came among his own people, but they did not receive him.

If anyone is considering what is the greatest problem facing our society today, I think the root of it is simple. Today, we live in a secular society. That is nothing really new. As far as I know, as long as the Church has existed, there have been both the temporal rulers of society, and the bishops in the Church. The problem today is actually called secularism. It’s the running of our society and the going about of our lives as though God did not exist or, if he does, as though he doesn’t really have any effect on our lives.

Some people treat the very thought of God with contempt. You can see this is the angry atheists of our day who have bought into the absurd notion that this entire universe came about by itself. It’s also visible among the media people who mock Christians. Others just don’t give God the time of day. They just go about their business every day without it ever having seemed to occur to them that there is a greater purpose beyond what they are doing every day. Concerns about what would be the will of God or whether a certain act is sinful give way to a supposed “real life.” Some such people have really never thought about the matter. Others assume that we really can’t know the truth, but somehow they insist that they know we cannot know the truth. They never bother to try and find out. Still others are actually people who say they believe, and even go to church, but their belief is superficial at best because it hardly weighs in on the decisions they make on a daily basis.

It has always seemed strange to me how someone can really say that they believe in God, but not be ready to base every aspect of their lives on what he has to say to us. This ain’t small potatoes! I also cannot fathom how anyone can just ignore the question of God entirely as it were of little matter. Don’t they need to find out the truth? The fact is that we are all going to die one day, and we will leave behind whatever we had on this earth. One may wish to spend life doing good for others, and indeed we should. However, everyone whom we have helped will die one day no matter how much good we have done for them. Then, how will we have helped them? The good we do must have behind it a greater purpose.

In society today, we as Christians, and especially Catholics (as we have the fullness of truth), have a mission. We must evangelize. The atheist, of course, needs to be evangelized, but he may actually be better off than the sleepers who don’t seem to think it matters. The atheists, at least, are actively arguing and perhaps could be convinced. However, many times the problem that causes unbelief is a moral problem. There is some sinful behavior that they aren’t willing to give up that is at the root of their unbelief, whether they understand it or not. Still, if it becomes know to us, helping them to see another way to live may be what is needed.

The people whom I really think will be harder to believe are what we may call the “sleepers.” They are the people who go through life without much thought of God, as though the question were a topic of interest to some like science fiction. Unlike the atheists, they have to be convinced that they need an answer in the first place. Such people may see very little wrong with their lives. Yet, God wants to call these people to himself as well. We must pray that they come to know him before it is too late.

I’ve never liked the saying that we should “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Contrary to popular belief, St. Francis of Assisi did not say it. The saying can easily become an excuse not to preach the Gospel and not to use words when needed. However, we who follow Christ really do need to examine our lives. In a secularized society, we can easily fall into the trap of living at least some aspect of our lives as though God didn’t exist. Does Christ rule over everything . . . how we act, how we dress, how we run our businesses, how we raise and educate our kids, how we choose entertainment? We’ll never convince the world if we appear to be unconvinced. This doesn’t mean we wait until we are perfect to preach the Gospel or that we should appear perfect. This might actually discourage people who live troubled lives. Rather, we need to give God everything, and this also means that we need to learn to tell people about Christ, his Church, and his love for us.

Our societal problems won’t ultimately be solved by government leaders, though we do need good ones in office. They won’t be solved by some new product developed by a corporation, though they can be of assistance to us. They won’t be solved by education, though we need to be educated. They won’t even be solved by social justice and welfare programs, though we are obligated as Christians to help those in need. We must get to the root of everything, and to do so, we need to put everything under the reign of the King whose birth we celebrated almost a week ago.

Category: Catholic, Response, Spirituality


Just Say Merry Christmas

  /   Friday, December 23, 2016   /   Comments(0)

When I was in kindergarten, way back in 1980, our teacher had us all make a Christmas card for a craft. She told us that we could choose to write either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” on the card. That was probably the first time I had heard the phrase “Happy Holidays.” It seemed strange to me then as a young child who hadn’t even been baptized at the time. It still seems strange to me now.

I don’t want to make some huge drama of it every time someone says “Happy Holidays.” I’ll have nothing to do with the ridiculous Starbucks cup controversy from last year. However, I am aware that many people, including devout Christians, don’t seem to think it matters at all. Truthfully, many people may just be saying what rolls off their tongue and not really thinking about it. The thing is that we really do need to think about it.

I’d go so far to say that anyone who is really offended by being wished a “Merry Christmas” is probably someone whom I would term a “professional offendee.” That’s the term I use to describe anyone who finds offensiveness to some group in way too many aspects of human speech (or in things like naming a sports team the “Braves”). Really, how I am going to react if someone tells me to have a Happy Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? I celebrate neither, but I think getting upset about it would be a waste of my energy. It wouldn’t do me much good anyway. It seems that the move towards “inclusiveness” really means anything but Christianity. Did anyone hear about the suggestion from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville last year to make sure that holiday parties are not “Christmas parties but in disguise?”. I dare them to say that about a Hindu festival!

With that, I get into the precise problem. The “War on Christmas,” isn’t about people saying Happy Holidays. It’s rather more concerned with the ridiculous aversion that some have to mentioning Christmas or of specifically celebrating Christmas. A number of businesses who darn well know they are making great profits from the sales of Christmas gifts act as though they think we are just celebrating Generic Winter Holiday. You can see this list from the American Family Association. One street that I drive by frequently advertises “Holiday Trees.” What else are those being used for at this time of year? In a job I held, part of our orientation was a diversity class where we were to discuss how to plan an inoffensive “holiday” party. We had to have it in November so that it wouldn’t look like a Christmas party. Oh, the horrors of our party looking like a named holiday that even many non-Christians celebrate!

We who are Christians should not be ashamed to mention that we are celebrating the birth of Christ. Just as the winter solstice has passed and days are just starting to get longer, we celebrate the Light of the World coming to us. We need not be afraid to simple say “Merry Christmas” to those whom we see. We have something known and very real to celebrate.

So, to all who are reading, I wish you a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Category: Catholic, Response, Uncategorized


Just What is Education About

  /   Sunday, September 21, 2014   /   Comments(0)

My first born son is in pre-school now.  We found a great Catholic pre-school that operates a modified Montessori program.  From around the time we moved to the Nashville area, I’ve been thinking about what kind of school we will send our children to.  My understanding of education has changed a lot since I was a student.  Some of what I’m going to write about here is years away, but I think it’s good for me to think about it now.

When I was getting ready to go to school, my marching order was “You will major in something in which you can get a job.”  I had no argument here.  I wanted to have a job and be independent, and I didn’t want to “waste” time on anything that I wasn’t going to use.  In high school, I even wrote an essay against have a liberal arts curriculum.  I balked at any kind of philosophy or intellectual tradition.  I figured that there were too many crazy people involved in that for it to be anything worthwhile anyway.  I had a roommate taking a course in logic, and I wondered why he bothered.  Before entering pharmacy school, I even asked a philosophy professor what people did with a degree in philosophy.

Then, I graduated and entered residency.  Some challenges to my faith caused me to do some searching for whether it were possible for someone to know the truth.  The intellectual tradition didn’t seem so silly anymore and neither did all that philosophy stuff.  Although I didn’t have a total picture, I realized that the Catholic Church had an intellectual tradition, and having at least some understanding of it was a major key to knowing the truth of the Catholic faith.  At least, at that time, I began to understand that the thinking skills taught by a philosophy course would help me to explain to people why faith in God and Christian morality are not just arbitrary things.

This, along with what I have discovered since, led me to have a completely different idea of the education that I want my children to have.  The very first thing that we need to be concerned about for them is their eternal salvation.  Ultimately, everything in their education should be leading them to God.  All of the stuff about going to college and getting a job is secondary and should be pointed towards this end.  This doesn’t mean that they can’t study subjects like math and science.  All true knowledge leads to God.  However, math and science cannot be the only thing they know well, as it was for me.

The National Catholic Register published a recent article about new interest being shown in a classical education.  It is described as focusing on the “trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric” and the “quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.”  The result will be students with better thinking and reasoning skills.  Most importantly, it is leading the students to an encounter with Christ.

This is in contrast to the Common Core.  From what I understand of it, which isn’t much, it is a utilitarian type of education.  In the Common Core, literature is largely replaced by informational texts.  The emphasis is on college and career preparation.  The administrator of one classical education school, on the other hand, stated that, “We don’t want our children to aim for college and a career.  We want them to aim for the good life.”  Another article that I’ve read even suggests that, in college, we should “resist the temptation to pursue degrees aimed at finding a job.”

This is an area where I do have some concern.  I do want my children, as well as other faithful Catholics, to be able to train to get a good job.  The fact is that our children will someday have to have the ability to do a job and pay our bills.  We can’t just toss this aside because it is quite simply reality.  I would not want to suggest that godly people avoid professional schools where they learn to be doctors, pharmacists, engineers, and other professions.  Otherwise, the only people who will be left in those professions are people who are not believers and whose moral compass will not lead us in the right direction.

However, I’m even more concerned about things like Common Core, education solely for the purpose of obtaining a job, and education that concentrates solely on math and science.   After all, I do not want my children formed for corporate America.  I don’t want my children to learn to, as a pharmacy preceptor during my residency would say, learn to do things “right” and not be able to reflect on whether they are doing the right things.  I’ve seen too many things about how we seek fulfillment in our careers, and yet, there is far more to life than our career.

When I went to college and later pharmacy school, I encountered a lot that I was not intellectually prepared to answer.  Some of it was pretty subtle.  I want to see my kids have the ability to critically think about what is being presented to them and not simply be ruled by sentiments or the lines of secular society.  They need to have an understanding of the philosophical history and thinking of our civilization as well as where it went wrong.  When they go to college, I want them not to fall for any of the “isms” that will be presented (The book Disorientation is an excellent read about this.).

The best way to get them ready to think is through a more classical education.  I’d like to think that I can find some kind of Great Books program or liberal studies program that will form them as people.  They especially need a solid formation in the Catholic Faith so that they know it and can explain it to others.  The problem that I’m going to have is that I never had this kind of education, and my understanding of why I needed it came later in life.  Somehow, I need to make sure my kids get what they need to be real thinkers, not people who simply swallow society’s lines in the name of “thinking for themselves.”  They need job training, but they need more than job training.  They need formation for all of life, both in this life and in eternity.

Category: Catholic, Response


The Respect Due People with Same-Sex Attraction vs Gay Rights

  /   Sunday, July 13, 2014   /   Comments(0)

A few weeks ago, President Obama has promised to sign an executive order prohibiting companies who do business with the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  This order is likely his attempt to implement, as much as possible, the Employee Non-Discrimination Act that failed to pass the House of Representatives last November.  The order hasn’t been made public yet, but it is expected soon. Needless to say, this could create a myriad of issues depending on how broadly  “discrimination” and “doing business with the federal government” are defined.

Believe it or not, the Catechism of the Catholic Church does mention, in paragraph 2358 (scroll down near the bottom), that people with same-sex attraction are to be treated with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” We are to avoid “every sign of unjust discrimination” against them.  If I were a business owner, I could not in good conscience arbitrarily refuse to hire someone simply for having this inclination.  However, does this mean that there should be anti-discrimination laws in place?  Let me explain some things here.

If you haven’t noticed, in the paragraph above, I used the term “people with same-sex attraction” rather than describing such people as gay, lesbian, or homosexual.  I referred to them as “having this inclination.”  For some reason that I can’t understand, people with same-sex attraction often bind their identity up with their inclination and say that it is “who they are.”  However, people, regardless of their condition, are far more than their inclinations.

People who have such an inclination probably didn’t actively choose it.  There may be some responsibility for strengthening the inclination in one’s mind once it is noticed, but even then there may be reasons why a person isn’t fully morally responsible for this.  There is debate as to whether the inclination can be eradicated, and my own opinion is that it depends on how deep-rooted it has become.  Some may be able to eradicate the inclination, reduce it, or at least have a somewhat normal relationship with a person of the opposite sex.  Others may not be able to do any of that.  However, regardless of the above, having such an inclination doesn’t destroy a person’s worth and dignity in the eyes of God.  People with same-sex attraction still have a need to make a living and be able to function as they can in society.  This shouldn’t be denied arbitrarily.  However, it does not follow that there aren’t cases of just discrimination against them.

Notice that, up until now, I’ve been talking about having an inclination towards the same gender.  There’s a difference between having the inclination and acting upon it.  The inclination isn’t in and of itself sinful.  However, like I said, despite what the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association now say, it is a disorder, just like anxiety, depression, anorexia.  How do I know (apart from Church teaching, of course)?  The desire to have a sexual union with someone of the same gender has no natural means available to accomplish it.  Two men or two women cannot unite their bodies anatomically in the same way that a man and a woman can.  Our bodies just weren’t made for it.  It’s also completely impossible for it to accomplish the biological end of sexual relations – the generation of offspring.  Having the disordered desire is not in and of itself sinful, but acting on it is seriously sinful.

In fact, a case of discrimination is most likely to occur is if a person is, in fact, openly acting on it. Even then, there are a lot of situations when someone’s conduct can be tolerated.  If I were a restaurant  or store owner, an argument can be made that someone’s homosexual activity is not directly contrary to the mission of that particular business.  This is true even though I would run my business according to my Catholic faith.

However, it’s another story if we are talking about a Catholic school or university, charity organization, or even a for-profit whose purpose is to, for example, publish Catholic books.  Someone known to be deliberately acting directly contrary to the teaching of the Church in such a serious matter, with no known intention of changing the situation, would be acting directly contrary to the mission of such an organization.  Requiring that organization to employ such a person makes a mockery of its mission.  Would PETA be required to employ someone in a key position who ate bacon off the clock?

One major threat that an anti-discrimination law could pose would be to require Catholic employers or even institutions of the Church to recognize homosexual unions and provide spousal benefits to homosexual couples.  It’s one thing to tolerate such activity; it’s quite another to give official recognition or even the giving of benefits.  It’s still another to force the granting of recognition upon people whose long-standing religious beliefs would be violated in doing so.  Let’s not forget that we’ve already had a lawsuit against a Christian baker who did not want to make a wedding cake for a homosexual wedding.  The court ruled against him despite the fact that homosexual marriage isn’t legal in that state.  This is a real threat against religious freedom.

Even someone who is not acting on the inclination may not be suited for certain occupations, possibly depending on the severity of the inclination.  A Vatican document came out several years ago stating that men who practice homosexuality or have deep-seated tendencies cannot be ordained as clergy.  There may be some other situations in which such an inclination would affect how well they could do the job, and employers faced with such situations need to retain their right to make a reasonable judgment unhindered by political correctness.

The bottom line is that people who have an inclination towards people of the same sex are still loved by God, and they need our care and compassion.  Treating them with contempt is simply wrong.  However, allowing them to act upon the desire and pretending it is normal is doing them a great disservice, just like enabling an alcoholic would be.  People with such inclinations, even those acting on them, should be able to obtain what they need to live just like anyone else.  However, making them a protected class, especially in today’s society, is a dangerous move and needs to be stopped.

Category: Catholic, Morality, Response


Will Religious Freedom Create Corporate Anarchy?

  /   Tuesday, July 01, 2014   /   Comments(0)

It’s all over the news now. It’s on the Internet, so it must be true. Pfizer, Wal-Mart, and Apple are raising religious objections to paying taxes (warning: link contains vitriol). GM now has religious objections to paying employees, so they are going to stop. Rite Aid has religious objections to laws requiring a prescription in order to dispense medication, so now everyone can go there and get the “good stuff” any time. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that Hobby Lobby can’t be forced to provide insurance coverage for abortifacients contraceptives, they can all get away with this stuff, right? If not, maybe they could at least become Jehovah’s Witnesses and stop covering blood transfusions or something like that.

That’s what you might be led to believe if you listen to all the nonsense that is out there in the media about this, including the dissent from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg wrote that the ruling was of “startling breadth” and would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law to which they raised a religious objection. Well, now, according to her, corporations that don’t want to follow the law now need only make up a religion and decide that following the law will be against their beliefs. Surely they will get away with it even if there is zero evidence of any such beliefs (or any beliefs at all) predating this ruling.

Well, actually, the more “startling breadth” is really in Ginsburg’s dissent. Indeed, I’ve read similar stuff from some columnist who spouted out that he was “in favor of religious freedom” as long as they “obey the law.”  If so, this logic could be applied against any challenge to any law based on religious freedom. They seem to forget that we have a Constitution that dictates that certain laws can’t be made in this country. This is the issue that was at stake. Does the Department of Health and Human Services have the right to issue this mandate? If a law can’t be challenged because it’s an unnecessary infringement on one’s Constitutional rights, then the Constitution isn’t worth squat. Further, if protecting a company’s rights has broad implications, then so does not doing so. Are we going to give the government the power to require companies to pay for cosmetic surgery, tanning sessions, or Botox to remove wrinkles?

A compelling interest must exist in order to limit religious Freedom, and it has to be done in the least restrictive manner necessary. Sadly, the issue of a compelling interest was basically sidestepped even in the majority ruling. You could find compelling reasons to require coverage of vaccinations, blood transfusions, and psychiatry, but contraception is not essential health care despite what the left wants it to be. It is a lifestyle choice. The “need” for it can be eliminated by simple self control.

It also defies logic to say that for-profit businesses do not have rights. Businesses in this country tend to be owned by human beings. If a business doesn’t exist to serve customers and make a living for its owners, all of whom happen to be people, then why does it exist? No business is an impersonal entity, even though some corporations may seem that way. Owners have rights, too.

Are we to say that, the moment you are out in society to make a living, you have to leave your very mission and purpose in life behind? Can someone not start a business to further his/her mission and make a living doing it? This would basically reduces one’s faith to a random, arbitrary thought or personality quirk that has no place in the “real” world. It would be fine to have those beliefs, as long as you don’t actually take them seriously when running a business. I’m always amazed at how people who accuse others of blindly following a religion will blindly assume that religious beliefs are all arbitrary and cannot be substantiated.

The way some of those protest signs read (eg “Keep my boss out of my bedroom.”), you’d be forgiven for thinking that his case was about whether your boss could search your house for condoms and packs of Ortho Tri-Cyclen. It isn’t. It’s about whether your boss can be forced to pay for your contraception (or at least the premiums to cover it). Your boss shouldn’t be able to control what you do outside of work that closely. However, not being required to pay for something does not give that person control over someone’s life. No one is trampling any rights here, as though there were a right to contraception. The mandate to cover contraception was going to do little more than ensure that only people without morals (or at least without any that they take seriously) can run a business. We have seen enough problems in our nation without barring people of real faith from leadership in the business world.

Category: Catholic, Response


Where Are We?

  /   Thursday, June 19, 2014   /   Comments(0)

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I were on vacation visiting family.  As we always like to do when we visit this city, we took a walk through the attractive/upscale shopping and dining area.  It’s just a beautiful place to take a walk.  This time, I noticed something I didn’t remember seeing before.

Down one street I found the Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist.  Across the street from there was a Unity Temple.  The Christian Scientists were a sect founded by a woman named Mary Baker Eddy based on some supposed insight on healing.  They are the ones who don’t believe in the use of medicine.  The Unity Temple is some kind of church that seeks a “unity” and “peace and harmony” that doesn’t appear to be based on anything but just letting people believe whatever they believe.  Their web site, which I won’t link to here, has as a principle that we create our life experience through our own thoughts.

From that location, I decided to search for the nearest Catholic Church.  This would be a place that could really use a place to encounter our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.  To my dismay, I found that the nearest Catholic Church was the Cathedral four miles away.  It’s not too far, but it’s not too close either.  So, I had to ask, where are we?

Why aren’t we there?  It just reminded me more that we need to be where the people are, trying in whatever way we can to bring people to an encounter with Our Lord.  If someone doesn’t help feed the hungry, they will seek whatever food they can find.  Sadly, that food will never satisfy like the fullness of truth.  Just imagine if there were a church or chapel there where people could stop and pray in the presence of the Eucharist.  Maybe they could go to Confession and be reconciled with God.  We could even leave some materials where interested people could discover the Catholic faith.

One place where evangelization is badly needed is simply among where ordinary activity of people takes place.  We should be there, not to try to shove something down their throats, but to engage them, inform them, and ultimately challenge them to explore the truth.  If other groups are there, why aren’t we?

Category: Catholic, Response


How Can a Good God Permit Evil?

  /   Saturday, May 11, 2013   /   Comments(0)

In my last post, I wrote about why I was going to raise my children to know God. However, there is one thing that deserves special attention, especially in the light of the recent shooting at the school in Newtown, Connecticut and the Boston Marathon bombing. The author to whom I was responding stated that God does not protect the innocent, and this was a reason why she didn’t believe in him. Back when the Newtown school shooting was news, I saw some Facebook postings about how the existence of such an evil was the “most deadly argument” against the existence of God. While there is no way I can make definitive statement on why God allowed any specific thing to happen, I can offer some reflections that I hope will be helpful.

First, let’s keep in mind that God created the world and everything in it. In other words, God made all of those scientific laws that it has taken man thousands of years to discover. What does this mean? It means that God is far, far, more intelligent than we are. He is infinite. We are finite. This also means that God can and will do or allow things that we won’t be able to understand. We need to be careful not to make the mistake of not believing just because our human minds cannot understand something.

Now, the world God chose to create is a real world. We are not puppets in the divine puppet show. We have the real ability to choose, and the choices have real consequences. Ultimately, God gives us the ability to choose to love him or reject him, and he will allow us to get what we choose. If we choose the good, the true, and the beautiful, we will possess it forever in his presence in Heaven. If we choose something less, then we end up separated from him in Hell. God’s judgment is nothing other than the choice we made in this life. This applies to other choices as well. If a husband and wife do not cooperate in helping him bring new life into being, it won’t happen. If we don’t do our job at work, either it won’t be done, or someone else will have to do it. The work God gave us to do in this world is real, and we have the freedom to choose to do it or not. This is also how we have the capacity to really love. We could only have this if we had the ability to choose not to do so.

God’s gift of free will does also mean that our choices can affect others. Let me explain that I firmly believe that God is infinite goodness. He never does evil, but he does allow it. He allows it only to because he can bring some greater good out of it. How can that be? Well, God’s perspective is eternity. He is looking for what can bring about our eternal salvation in the end. In the end, his justice will win. In the end, good will win because God, who is infinitely good, will win.

Let me give an example, but, before I do, let me qualify this by saying that this is only speculation. We cannot know for sure in this life what God has brought out of any event unless he definitively reveals it to us. In 2007, I was in a serious car wreck that could have killed me. The other driver (who slid across the median of an interstate in front of me) was killed. A priest whom I knew told me that it was possible that he was allowed to die because, if he died now, he would go to Heaven. God may have known that, if he had lived on, he would have rejected God and gone to Hell. Remember, we don’t know this for sure, but it is a possibility. Of course, there’s the humbling possibility for me that I might not have made it to Heaven if I had died then. God may have spared me only because I wasn’t ready for Heaven. It’s equally possible that God left me on this earth for some other mission. After all, the circumstances of that wreck also led to my vocation of marriage and family. So, does this mean that God caused the wreck that I was in? No, but he did allow it to happen. Then, he took it and brought good out of it.

We have to remember that this world is passing away and that our true home is with God in Heaven. God’s ultimate desire is for us all to get there. There is no suffering in this life that can be greater than the joy we will experience of seeing him face to face in Heaven.

Category: Catholic, Response, Spirituality


Why I Will Raise My Son (and any other children we have) With God

  /   Friday, April 19, 2013   /   Comment(1)

A mother of two teenagers posted this article on CNN on why she wants to raise her children without God. I read some time ago and felt that God was asking me to respond. Yeah, I’m really late with this one, but here we go. In a nutshell, this is why my wife and I will raise our son, and any future children, to know God.

The reason why I want our kids to know God can be summed up very succinctly – because he exists and is deserving of all of our love. As philosopher Peter Kreeft has said, “There is only one reason to believe anything – because it is true.” I’ve never understood why some atheists call themselves “freethinkers.” When I hear that old “think for yourself” line, it seems to me that the person is saying that “It doesn’t matter if what you think about is true or not as long as you came up with it yourself.” As for me, give me the truth.

The mother who wrote the article calls God an “inconsistent and illogical legend.” Well, imagine if I told you that this article was the result of a power surge at the data center where my site was hosted. No one would take me seriously. However, some people will take seriously anyone who thinks that the universe, with all its order and complexity, was the result of random explosions and chemical reactions. One might argue that the randomness took place over billions of years, but even then, there are way too many “chance” events that needed to happen for the universe to be a random series of events.

Even if one won’t be easily convinced that there is a God, one might consider that there is really nothing to gain by not believing. This is also known as Pascal’s Wager. If I die believing in God when he doesn’t exist, I’m never going to know. If I die refusing to accept a God who does exist, I’ve got major problems. Atheism is simply a losing proposition. Knowing God allows us to know that we are here for a purpose, and that we have hope that we are not just here for a while, for no reason, only to cease to exist.

Now, the mother I’m responding to has also made some arguments from the problem of evil (and why the innocent suffer). I’ll address those in another post.

Category: Catholic, Response


Hey, Why Are They Bothering Us

  /   Friday, July 06, 2012   /   Comments(0)

Whenever we hear of a bishop or pastor in the Church taking action on some doctrinal or liturgical problem, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say “why are they bothering with x when we have clergy who are abusing minors?” I’ve seen such comments attached to anything from a bishop who is addressing abnormalities in the way Mass is celebrated in some parishes to, most recently, the Vatican call for reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. With this comes the charge that the Church is more concerned about something the author wrongly believes to be trivial than about the clergy abusing young children. At best, such comments are lacking in perspective.

I do remember the scandal becoming big news in 2002. About three years prior, I was just beginning to really learn the Catholic faith. One of the things that became clear to me with the scandal was that sexual abuse committed by clergy, while indeed a serious problem, was only one aspect of a larger problem in the Church. Simply put, there was a scarcity of enforcement of almost anything. Sometimes, we just saw more norms issued when norms were being violated. For example, on the liturgy, we’ve seen Inaestimabile Donum, Redemptionis Sacramentum, and numerous other clarifications written.

The American bishops did meet and propose norms for taking care of sexual abuse by clergy, some of which were ratified by the Vatican as particular law in the US. Even before then, in 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) took on the investigation in his own office of clergy sex abuse cases (Congregation of the Doctorine of the Faith). It might be worth knowing that many of the bishops in office at the time are no longer in office today. They have been replaced by Pope Benedict XVI appointees.

Fortunately, we are seeing more bishops who are not afraid to preach the Gospel and even take action. This may take the form of anything from calling out names to actual disciplinary removal from a position. We’ve recently seen the USCCB committee on doctrine issue a statement on Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s theology text that contains much false teaching. Archbishop Naumann has asked Kathleen Sebelius not to present herself for Communion. Bishop Braxton of Belleville, IL, has accepted the retirement of a priest who refused to say Mass according to the rubrics. Pope Benedict has even gone so far as to remove Bishop William Morris from the Diocese of Toowoomba for spreading false teaching (and later, he removed others). Of course, we are also seeing both an apostolic visitation of the women’s religious orders in this country, as well as the Vatican-ordered reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

The sex abuse scandal is a very serious problem that is not to be taken lightly in any way. While one can argue that more needs to be done, it is being addressed. It would be just as wrong for a bishop to address doctrinal or liturgical issues while ignoring sexual abuse by clergy as it would be to promote social justice issues while being silent on abortion or even pro-abortion.  Expecting the bishops not to handle other problems because of the scandal would be like asking a school to stop worrying about what the students are being taught because they found out that some of the teachers are criminals.  The Church still needs to carry on her true mission.  Fortunately, we have bishops who realize the full problem and aim to resolve it.

Category: Catholic, Response


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