The Anxiety of Mammon and Peace of Soul - Seeking First the Kingdom of God
Homily (8th Sun) Jesus teaches us: “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and mammon.” Those who attempt to serve both are consumed by worry and anxiety about their lives.
What is “mammon” – it represents material wealth or possessions … but really is anything that occupies our appetites, desires … our wills.
So today the question Jesus puts to us is: “who is the master of your life”? God or mammon? Perhaps you are not sure? Jesus strongly and clearly teaches today that the test for whether our attachment to mammon is too great is whether we find ourselves anxious and worried, all too often consumed with preoccupation with the world, harmful desires, addictions, compulsions we cannot do without, comforts and distractions which take our minds off God, neighbor and even the state of our own soul and relationship with God.
Even the origins and root of the word “anxious” means literally to “be of two minds.” No wonder Jesus puts his finger on anxiety and worry when he lays down the ultimatum that we cannot serve two masters – God and worldliness.
One who is anxious is seized and tossed about, back and forth by indecision, uncertainty, doubt. This is caused by the war (spiritual warfare) inside each of us between God and mammon… God and the world… God’s will and our self-interested will… which master will we serve?
This is really what our Christian spiritual life is all about working through. The sooner we can give ourselves completely to God, the true master of the universe and our souls … the sooner we experience the hallmarks of one in union with God… who serves only Him: PEACE of soul, JOY, HAPPINESS, CONFIDENCE in God.
Compare those fruits of the Holy Spirit to the fruits of anxiety and worry – which is to sap the soul of the desire and strength required for virtue, to resist sinful attachments. The soul that is not experiencing an abiding peace of soul is one that does not pray or at least not regularly enough to develop and grow in union with God. One who is anxious and worried, divided in mind and heart between God and mammon… is not attentive to the needs of others, but rather turned inward in a negative way, engaging in a wretched self-introspection, which only results in discouragement and opens one up to the tragedy of despair.
When we are anxious and worried about worldly things – which includes our own preoccupation with what others think of us, how others perceive us and the desire for human praise and acceptance, this prevents us from witnessing to Christ in a culture that is consumed by impurity, greed and narcissim. We become fearful and timid, weak in our resolve to witness our Christian beliefs and stand up for injustice and reject immorality. (Have we spoken out in our family and friendly circles about the meaning of Christ’s love? The meaning of marriage? Why abortion, contraception, euthanasia are evil? The importance of liberty, especially religious liberty and individual responsibility? That it is our obligation, not the government or anyone else to care for those in need aroud us?) Are we afraid to pray together, to speak of Christ and the truth in love? Let us turn to the true Master – Jesus Christ for the grace to give ourselves completely to Him.
What is the answer? What must we do? Jesus tells us plainly today: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” God will provide. Trustful surrender to His providential care is our calling.
We crowd out our attachment to mammon by turning away from attachments and filling our souls with God – His Word, Sacraments (Euch/Conf), obedience in humility to His commandments handed down through His Church, spiritual reading, prayer, penance/ detachment from the world and service in love of neighbor will spontaneously flow from you because your eyes will be off yourself and you will see God and neighbor in a new and wonderful way.
This is the action of grace on the soul, which God offers every moment and in the sacraments… by living in the present moment, without anxiety and worry about our worldly attachments. The Kingdom of God means to seek His Will in the present moment. Do not worry about tomorrow … the Lord’s grace is offered now … today. Peace+ DDG
Obama Administration Ends Ban on Asylum Seekers Who Have "Limited" Terror Ties … Yet Denies Asylum to German Persecuted Homeschool Family
The Obama administration has unilaterally eased restrictions on asylum seekers with loose or incidental ties to terror and insurgent groups, in a move one senator called "deeply alarming."
The change, approved by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry, was announced Wednesday in the Federal Register. It would allow some individuals who provided "limited material support" to terror groups to be considered for entry into the U.S. More > DD's Dicta ;- )\\This proves again that reality is stranger than fiction. What possible motive or benefit could there be in lifting a ban on granting asylum for those with ties to terrorists?? What has happened to common sense and also … what has happened to accountability? Recall how the Obama administration mercilessly, eagerly and promptly dispatched and deported the Uwe and Hannelore Romeike family from Germany, who came to the United States under the delusion that America had some tradition of welcoming those denied human rights, such as the right to raise your family and teach your children as you see fit. See that story here. Peace + DDG
"Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand" - Repentance and Peace of Soul
(DDG Homily - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time)“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” – The fruit of repentance is peace of soul. The prerequisite / requirement for repentance is peace of soul.
The Apostles’ response to Christ’s call in the land of gloom … was “immediately” to leave behind their former way of life and “followed him”. This is the essence of REPENTENCE – to turn away from our attachments (NOW- immediately) and all that distracts us from doing God’s will and to “follow Jesus” in complete faith. This is the way of CONVERSION, which is a complete self-abandonment to Divine Providence. This leads to peace of soul, because we cast our worries and needs upon God.
The Apostles had no idea what they were in for, but they trusted in the person of Jesus and gave their lives over to him. This is a model of discipleship for us! Ordinary fishermen of ordinary intelligence and immersed in the world and providing for their families (like us) … were called to holiness and conversion personally first, and by so doing become “fishers of souls” – to bring others in the land of shadows into the light of God’s love/union.
How can we make our repentance and conversion more complete? Firstly, it is a daily commitment to renouncing sin and requires the grace of the sacraments (Euch/Recon) and of prayer and penance to detach our wills from sins that hinder our complete gift of self to God and others. A pure and clean conscience is indispensable to true peace of soul. Obeying the precepts of the Church and Commandments. It also requires some time spent reading – scriptures, catechism, writings of the saints or good books regularly confessing our sins in sacramental confession. Then we can cast ourselves completely into the arms of God as a trusting child and experience the “joy and rejoicing” promised by God.
Secondly, we must practice some spiritual shrewdness … recognizing an insidious stumbling block to actually advancing in holiness and the spiritual life. I’ll tell you what it is … is allowing anxiety and discouragement to ensnare us by disturbing our inner peace of soul, which consists in allowing God’s providence to be our core comfort and source of our joy. Fear, worries, musing about the future or past … prevents growth in union with God and inhibits repentance and conversion. Why? Because it distracts us from turning to God and allowing grace to work in our souls. As a result, we move like a snail in overcoming our faults and sins because we’re turned inward on our desire to control and know how everything has to go according to our own design/plan, rather than, as Teresa of Calcutta says – to just pray not even to know God’s will but more importantly to be faithful.
What is the source of discouragement, worry, fear, anxiety? Pride, attachment to our own plans and will … a lack of faith. When we give in to these temptations, we cut ourselves off from others and God and His grace. (This is the definition of Hell by the way!) Many well-developed souls are held back from progress because they believe hand-wringing and worrying and being somber are traits of holiness!
Such persons become a burden to themselves and others. The devil continually tempts our souls into a state of uneasiness, perplexity, and anxiety, which makes us incapable of applying ourselves seriously, quietly, and with constancy to the practice of virtue. This does not mean we ignore our problems or challenges, but that we approach them in light of God’s perspective and trust in His grace. The great principle of the interior life and the road to repentance and conversion Christ calls us to … is the peace of the soul. Jesus said to Mary’s sister Martha “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” That “one thing” is faith and abandonment to God. “Peace I give you, not as the world gives”. “I came so that they may have life abundantly”. “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.” “Take courage, I have conquered the world”. 1 John – “perfect love casts out all fear”.
This isn’t rocket science. We know we can’t focus when we are distracted. We cannot love and grow in service of others when we allow discouragement, self-contempt, self-pity, wallowing in disappointments and so many things out of our direct control – to weigh us down. They distract us from a confident focus on God and putting faith in His love for us –proven definitively with his WOUNDS on the cross.
Spiritual masters say that peace and tranquility of mind alone give great strength to the soul, to enable it to do all that God wishes, while, on the other hand, anxiety and uneasiness make the soul feeble and languid, and as though sick. Then one feels neither taste for, nor attraction to virtue, but, on the contrary, disgust and discouragement, which only leads us to division within ourselves our communities and causes isolation. St. Paul exhorts us against such division as not being of God. When you feel anxious or fearful about things, immediately commend them to the Lord and let them go… seek to recover and carefully guard the trustful peace and confidence that comes from the Lord – especially in prayer and the Holy Eucharist, trusting our Lord’s word: “Come to me all you who labor and find life burdensome and I will give you rest”. Only then can we truly be instruments of God.
St. Teresa of Avila once prayed: “God save us from sour-faced saints” … we are called to confidence and love. Do we behave like the Gospel is “good news”? These are the fruits of repentance Jesus calls us to today – joy and peace of soul. A better, blessed life! This joy and confidence should shine forth so we, like the Apostles, can abandon our former lives to become “fishers of souls” by attracting others by the way we live, how we treat others. We “fish” by loving our neighbor, not arguing with them. We attract them with the love and truth of Christ.
Let us heed our blessed Lord’s command: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” By recalling that Christ told St. Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul didn’t worry or grow discouraged. He had all kinds of hardships and said, “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul’s focus was on Christ, not on his weaknesses, failures, anxieties and fears. Let us also cultivate peace of soul by trusting in the grace and love of Christ as Paul and the Apostles did. Then we too will advance quickly in holiness, peace and joy and become powerful “fishers of souls”.
How Does Planned Parenthood Get Over A Half Billion From Taxpayers?!!
(CNSNews.com) – Planned Parenthood’s net revenue increased 5% to total of $1.21 billion in its organizational fiscal year ending on June 30, 2013, according to its new Annual Report 2012-2013, and about 45% of that revenue--$540.6 million--was provided by taxpayer-funded government health services grants. In the same report, Planned Parenthood said that in the year that ended on Sept. 30, 2012 it did 327,166 abortions. More >
DD's Dicta :- ( \\I continue to be shocked, enraged and bewildered as to how the private abortion mill industry known as Planned Parenthood (what an absurd euphemism - secular relativists can never use the real terms for their behaviors) … obtains taxpayer dollars "health services" (another euphemism for murder). This is your money and my money being used to KILL innocent human beings. The MOST innocent and vulnerable human beings of all. How would people react if their taxes were being diverted to fund the gas chambers at Auschwitz? How is abortion any different than the holocaust of World War II? The slaughter of citizens by Lenin and Stalin? How can our country continue down the path of this bloody slaughter of the innocent, all for the sake of convenience and pleasure?
It is clear that this heinous crime of mind-boggling proportion (over 1 million killed every year in our country) receives much of its support from "our" government. How can this be? It is bad enough to have private organizations offer abortions, but why are they entitled to taxpayer funds?? The procedure is entirely elective. Abortion is devastating what is otherwise a perfectly natural and healthy condition of a woman -- how can this be "medicine" or "health services"?
The scourge of political correctness and relativism … the notion that there is no objective truth in moral conduct that all are bound to … and that no one who believes in absolute moral norms should dare to point out to someone else that their actions are reprehensible, has prevailed in our culture and continues to increase as we hand over our rights and dignity on a daily basis to a secular, "golden calf" government that will solve all our problems and anesthetize our consciences. In addition, as a culture we are awash in hedonism -- the seeking of pleasure as an end in itself … or in other words, making ourselves "god". Such a pleasure-seeking philosophy of life ends eventually in monstrosities like abortion, beginning with contraception, which is the fundamental contributor to this decline, because the use of contraception begins the pivotal shift from making a gift of self to another in the embrace of marriage while accepting the responsibility of children and raising a family … to reducing the marital act of love to an act of selfish mutual pleasure that rejects God's plan of creating new life. This is the fundamental distortion of conjugal love, marriage and the dignity and distinction between man and woman. As a result, the family splits up with the scourge of divorce, abortion becomes the ultimate contraception and "no" to life and suddenly the meaning of marriage and family are lost and with it our culture's own authentic identity. A culture where only half are raised in a family with mother and father and who murders about one million unborn children every year … reaches a point where it has no sense of direction, no moral compass. This is where we are now. Many understand this but I wonder if we are slipping into the minority for the first time in our history. No wonder then that marriage is being completely "redefined" in man's own image and we continue to destroy the unborn who hinder our hedonistic and utilitarian ways of living. Ironically, this is not to live but to be walking dead … alive physically but spiritually dead. God loving, God fearing citizens … must take action against … the murderous immorality, which continues in our civilization, even in our very neighborhoods. I don't think the intrinsic evils of abortion, contraception, euthanasia, homosexuality … are preached or explained enough by the Church and by the laity. Much more needs to be done. I believe that Christ would agree that these evils far outstrip relative disparities between peoples. How can a society that murders its children even begin to consider "social justice" until it repents of the evil of abortion? Peace+ DDG
Jahi's "Brain Death" Case: What Do We Know and What Does the Church Teach?
DD's Dicta :- ) \\
I've observed with great interest and prayerful intention, the case of Jahi McMath, who suffered complications in a surgery related to a tonsillectomy, resulting in a condition of brain death. On December 12 she was declared dead by doctors at the Children’s Hospital Oakland. There was an article published by bishop Robert Finn, who essentially opined that, "the brain death criteria were developed primarily because of the desire to transplant non-paired vital organs". Now, this may or may not be the case, but there is a fact question here … a medical question … as to whether the brain is indeed completely dead and not evincing any neurological activity, even in the brain stem, the lowest functioning part of the brain. The reason this is an important question is because the Church does, in fact, teach that TOTAL brain death is an acceptable indication that death has occurred. In fact, once the brain is dead (unlike the heart) it does not "restart". Once the brain has died there is no integrating principle of the body and we have disintegration … death. The significance even of cardio-pulmonary arrest and cessation is not so much that they have stopped but that the brain is not receiving oxygenated blood and will, within a certain limited time frame, die. One can have their bodily organs kept functioning for a certain period of time artificially (as in Jahi's case) even after brain death but eventually they will disintegrate.
Blessed John Paul II told a congress on organ transplants that death is “a single event consisting in the total disintegration of that unity and integrated whole that is the personal self.” The National Catholic Bioethics Center notes,
"The use of neurological criteria for the determination of death is legitimate according to the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II approved this approach in an address he gave to the 18th International Conference of Organ Transplant Specialists in August 2000. Neurological criteria consist of four key signs: coma or unresponsiveness, absence of cerebral motor responses to pain in all extremities, absence of brain stem reflexes, and apnea."
They further note that, "The use of brain death criteria does not cause the death of the patient, but only assesses whether that death has already occurred."In the several articles I have read, I have not found sufficient detailed information about Jahi's actual medical condition to determine ethically with moral certitude… whether she is dead or not. Did her brain evidence neurological activity after the surgery and as of December 12th? When the doctors declared her dead on that date was it based on TOTAL brain death or only partial? The latter would be unacceptable to the Church's moral teaching. So, this is a case that is still in obscurity, at least from my vantage point. More recently, I have seen an article indicating that at least three neurologists confirmed Jahi was unable to breathe on her own, had no blood flow to her brain and had no sign of electrical activity. If that is true, the parents would be morally justified in discontinuing mechanical support because they would be reasonably regarded as disproportionate treatments. The Church teaches:"A person may forgo extraordinary or disproportionate means of preserving life. Disproportionate means are those that in the patient’s judgment do not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or entail an excessive burden." (Ethical & Religious Directives, n. 57)
But, this is an occasion for us to pray for her and her family and all of those charged with the responsibility to take care of her. It does, however, give us occasion as well to reflect on the Church's teaching on the determination of death. The absence of neurological activity in the brain is sufficient and appropriate evidence that the soul has left the body. Peace + DDG
Vatican Clarifications Stem From Imprecision… Not Just Media Manipulation
Vatican City, Jan 7, 2014 / 02:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican's spokesman says some coverage of Pope Francis’ comment about a child of a same-sex couple is “forced” and a “manipulation” of his primary concern about evangelizing in new cultural environments. More >
DD's Dicta :-) \\
When our beloved Holy Father makes statements that are quite incomplete … it is less "manipulation" or "mischaracterization" by the media than it is "filling in the blanks" as they see fit. As incorrect and opposed to Church teaching most in the media may be … they cannot be expected to interpret or "fill in the blanks" in accord with Church teaching. Hence, the Pope, the Vatican should not be surprised that they are going to be increasingly in the business of re-explaining or clarifying many things that have been said. This simply was not an issue with JPII or Benedict XVI. Eventually, evangelization and witnessing must include the truth … which is not what people want to hear. As I have blogged and preached many times … love (pastoral) and truth (doctrine) must always animate one another in our words and deeds. Intentionally or not … minimizing or omitting one in favor of the other leads to misinterpretation, obscurity and eventually error. Even if the Holy Father (or anyone teaching or preaching in the Church) does not intend, as I'm sure he doesn't, to take away anything from Church teaching or doctrine… a lopsided emphasis and/or incompleteness in statements is leading to division and confusion, along with the many good words and deeds he has demonstrated. As our Lord promised, the world will hate us as it hated Him... EVEN IF we love the poor, our neighbor with the ultimate selflessness … because Christ also spoke the truth. He is Truth and He is Love! Hence, if they cannot be separated in God, they should never be separated in our words and deeds. The sign of the authentic prophetic voice is being persecuted, not praised. Peace + DD
CHRISTMAS CONVERSION - "Called To Be Holy"
(DDG Homily - 4th Sunday of Advent)
Christmas, the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word … is imminent! Our readings today exhort us to the meaning and purpose of the Incarnation, of Christmas:
Isaiah prophesies: “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son”: Emmanuel, the Holy One born of the virgin Mary, is divine and human … truly “God with us”, named “Jesus” because his purpose is, as the angel Gabriel says, to “save his people from their sins”. This means, as St. Paul says, we are “beloved of God … called to be holy”. Holiness is exemplified in Joseph’s response to the angel: “He did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” He conformed his will to the will of God.
The meaning and purpose of the Christmas Incarnation must not be a fleeting celebration and remembrance. It must become for us a permanent, life-transforming experience, driven by the awesome LOVE of God. For us, this means we are called to CONVERSION of our lives.
First, especially in these last hours of advent, we must, in silence, ponder the great mystery of the virgin birth of Emmanuel. “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son”. No one anticipated the long prophesied Messiah would be truly divine, the Son of God, born miraculously… as the Church teaches. St. Augustine explains: “That same power which brought the body of the risen Jesus through closed doors brought the body of the Infant forth from the inviolated womb of the Mother.” Pope St. Gregory the Great taught, “the virgin birth is not a natural but a miraculous birth, matched only by the escape of Jesus from a sealed tomb…” The CCC teaches Christ's birth "did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it.” The birth of Jesus was as light passing through a pane of glass, experienced by Mary, free from original sin, as an ecstatic experience of love, yet in the midst of the cold, dark and humiliating surroundings of a cave.
“God is with us” – the infinite God, pure spirit, a Trinity of divine Persons – sends the Word to become flesh. What an astonishing mission! With what urgency God assumes our human nature – true man, true God. Jesus, which means savior … is a Divine Person, come to “save His people from their sins”! Think about it: What would the world be, what would we be, if Christ were not “with us”?? What if we were not saved from our sins?
This leads us to the crux of the Christmas question. Not just abstractly, “what’s the meaning of Christmas”… but to paraphrase our Lord’s question to His Apostles: “Who do you say the child born of Mary is… to YOU?” For Christmas to have any meaning for us individually, we must examine ourselves honestly and ask, how has Emmanuel changed my life in concrete, observable ways?
“Jesus” means SAVIOR. The Christmas Incarnation happened for one reason only: to SAVE US FROM OUR SINS. Hence, if we do not humbly acknowledge our NEED, our SINS … the Christ child of Bethlehem can never be born in our hearts. When we do recognize and confess our sins, we become “holy” and “beloved of God”.
St. Paul reflects today that we are “beloved of God … called to be holy”. Holiness consists not in being perfect but as St Therese said: “It is sufficient to humble ourselves, to endure our own faults with meekness. That is true sanctity. And again she says: “Sanctity does not consist in these or those exercises and achievements; it consists in a disposition of the heart which allows us to remain small and humble in the arms of God, knowing our weakness and trusting to the point of rashness in His fatherly goodness.” This is the smallness and humility of the Word emptying himself, taking on our human nature from Mary, born in humiliation.
Simply put, Holiness consists in obedience to God’s will as St. Joseph “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” His will is for us to love – to will the good of our neighbor, to be sacrificial in our love, empowered through the love of God poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Why? Because this is the life of the Holy Trinity – the love of the 3 Persons in one God!
Has the Christ born in Bethlehem been born in your heart? This is the only way we can become holy, which means to be set apart by God, predestined for eternal life in communion with the Holy Trinity. It is this communion Christ was born into the world to reconcile. It was this communion with the Trinity Christ lived, taught, healed, loved and died for. Christ lived and died for love because he is God and God is love.
So the Incarnation of Christ and the birth of His presence in our souls through baptism and our ongoing engagement of our Lord, growing in union with Him and responding to His love – is what we call conversion. It is the Christmas conversion. It is resolving to dispose ourselves, our very lives, for Christ’s ongoing birth in our hearts so that He is the “gift that keeps on giving,” and not just another holiday.
We take Mary’s “yes” and Joseph’s obedience as models for our humble obedience to God’s will – but their “yes” was not just an isolated event, but a fundamental commitment of their lives, every day, to be wholly dedicated to God. This is what Christmas Incarnation desires to effect in us… it is the purpose of His coming. This is ongoing conversion and commitment of our lives to God, which must be renewed in concrete ways every single day!
It means keeping His commandments as passed on through the Apostles to the Church and all her moral teachings. “If you love me you will keep my commandments”, says the Lord. Concretely, it means encountering the Lord in Eucharist every Sunday and as often as possible. Frequent confession – realizing our need for healing and the grace to overcome sin. Daily prayer – dialogue of love with our Lord within us. Acts of self-denial – fasting, refraining from harsh words, impatience, judgmentalness. Family prayer – fosters unity and conversation, heals wounds. Spiritual reading – lives of the saints. Service to the poor and those in need around us in mind body or spirit, almsgiving. Seeing God’s will with the eyes of faith …. in the little things and duties of life and doing them with great love. There is a direct and absolutely necessary connection between Christmas and our daily life – concrete action. Let us make straight the path of the Lord’s coming into our hearts …for us a permanent, life-transforming experience, driven by the awesome LOVE of God. For us, this means we are called to CONVERSION of our lives totally to Christ.
Christmas calls us beyond minimalism, to reach out to a deeper realization of happiness and the experience of a love, which does not disappoint. A love stronger than death itself. A love that is eternal, a Trinitarian love we are made for, revealed this Christmas in the Incarnate Christ, Son of Mary, Son of God.
Click HERE to view Michael Voris' commentary on Bishop Conley's interpretation of Pope Francis' comments about free markets. DD's Dicta:Michael Voris quotes Bishop Conley in attempt to explain and interpret Pope Francis' comments in Evangelii Gaudium. However, the plain meaning of the pope's statements about free market economies not being good for the poor is simply not accurate. "In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system." (n.54) To the contrary, the free market is the most successful economic structure to bring greater inclusiveness and justice in the world. It HAS and IS confirmed by the facts. Americans in the private sector gave about $300 Billion in charity last year. 88% of households give to charity. No country comes close to the U.S. in the resources, technology and aid sent to those in need in the world. That is fruit of free market economics - regular individuals inventing new goods and services, employing people and supporting families. Those are the vast majority of people who make our country and the free markets … work. They are the "those wielding economic power". Who else should wield it? The government? I will choose private citizens with economic power before government control (the latter being the true "trickle down" structure … based on political expediency, power retention and control of ideologies, including religion). I am not defending an "ideology" as Voris characterizes critics, but rather the natural law and teachings of Rerum Novarum and the declarations of Pius XI regarding private property, subsidiarity and the common good, as well as the problems with socialism and communism. I commend Voris and Bishop Conley for interpreting Francis' statements in line with the Church's social teaching, but we really didn't need this kind of recharacterization and qualification every day for JPII or Benedict. I am not even disagreeing with Michael Voris and Bishop Conley. I deeply respect both of them. I even post a persistent link to Voris' site on my blog. If anything, I'm probably just taking the pope's comments more at face value and frankly I'm not overly concerned or scandalized that we may have a pope who is not quite on the mark when it comes to economic theory and its impact on the poor, its relationship to natural law principles, etc. This is not a matter of faith and morals so we are allowed to clarify and disagree with something like this, for the good of the church and in respectfulness.
I personally believe economics and government are some of the most misunderstood issues in the Church today. The USCCB as a body, tends to advocate for things that seem to encourage and exacerbate the problems we are encountering with a sprawling, irresponsibly spending government and the movement towards a government run economy and health care system rather than by the people… by families. If families are the nucleus and building block of civilized society, then the work and businesses that families start should be encouraged and this only happens in free markets. The government doesn't bestow jobs or create goods and services. People do. Families do. This is the free market. Yes, businesses grow and become powerful. They create thousands and millions of jobs. Is this "trickle down"? No, it is called employment. I can't recall anyone being employed by someone who is poorer than them or who has not built a product and business. Are there abuses of greed? Of course. But such abuses should be addressed by evangelization, as Francis advocates. That is our duty as fellow citizens. If resources all go to government to run major aspects of our economy, it is much more difficult to influence or evangelize a bureaucratic agency -- this has indeed been "confirmed by the facts" in the miserable economies of socialism and communism, where government controls - not only businesses, but eventually behavior and the practice of religion. We see this already in the HHS mandate, do we not? Yet, we have free markets under the microscope in Evangelii Gaudium and being characterized as somehow antithetical to human dignity. Anything taken to the extreme becomes inimical to human dignity.The problem we have now is that Pope Francis is communicating in a way that apparently allows a hermeneutic of whatever the one quoting desires. Voris is right in pointing out how the left uses Francis' words in ways he did not intend. Perhaps I too am not interpreting Francis' intended meaning, but even in such a case, I am merely clarifying and encouraging further elucidation and elaboration of the Church's teaching on free markets, which have come under attack since the pope's exhortation. As a result of these rather obscure comments which are not supportive of free markets, in our country's culture war, the left is emboldened, the big government advocates and progressives assume the moral authority of the Church in advancing their anti-life, anti-freedom agendas. That is why conservatives are coming out with questions and clarifications of the pope's comments. Hence, the unprecedented storm of mis or re-interpretations, clarifications and division. Be sure to sound off with your comments. Peace+ DDG
(CNS)Before the Angelus, the pope said that no matter how big people's sins and limits, Christians are not allowed "to be weak and waver before difficulties and our own flaws."
"On the contrary, we are invited to toughen our hands, steady our knees and have courage and not be afraid because God always shows the greatness of his mercy."
Perhaps people may think their sins are so great that it is impossible to start over, he said. "You're wrong. You can. Why? Because God is waiting for you, he loves you," is merciful and will give the strength needed for a fresh start and to overcome all pain and sorrow, the pope said.
"This true joy even remains during times of trial, suffering, too, because it is not superficial, but lies deep in the person who trusts in God and confides in him." Read More > DD's Dicta: Pope Francis gives us an important insight regarding our own weaknesses and sins sometimes getting in the way and becoming an occasion for discouragement. This only makes things worse, when we get discouraged in the spiritual life. It causes us to close in on ourselves and be useless to both God and neighbor, spiraling into a sort of wretched self-pity, which is really an insidious form of pride.
Instead, we need to cast our selves headlong into a loving trust and abandonment to God's providential love. God uses us in our weakness as instruments of His grace if we but take our eyes off ourselves and keep them riveted … on Christ. How can we doubt His love when we see Him on the cross? Let us instead fly on the "wings of confidence and love", as St. Therese said. Peace+ DDG
The "Government Shutdown" Reveals a Government Out of Control:
Priests Risk Arrest for Offering Sacraments to Catholic Troops During Shutdown
(CNSNews.com) – Some Catholic priests under contract or GS (general schedule) to the military are not allowed to offer the Catholic sacraments--including saying Mass, consecrating marriages, or performing baptisms--on military property during the government shutdown, and if they do, even on a volunteer basis, they risk being arrested, according to the general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. More > DD Dicta :- ) \\The so-called "government shutdown"... first of all, is a shutdown of only about 15% of the government. Yet, it is almost never referred to as a "partial" shutdown. People are under the impression that government is basically closed (oh, but I could only wish!!) What I don't understand is why the military and fractional cost services like national parks and WWII memorials are being shut down, while apparently EPA, Dept. of Energy and Dept. of Education and other non-essential agencies remain partially open.
Meanwhile, we see stories of Catholic priests who contract to provide services on military bases being forbidden to even volunteer to come and baptize babies of military families, say Mass for military personnel or provide anointing of the sick. What kind of totalitarian mentality would impose such restrictions? Are we Americans really at the point where our government would arrest Catholic priests who would come provide time-sensitive sacramental care? Such restrictions and persecution clearly violates the Free Exercise of religion, protected by our Constitution. But what is so disturbing is that there are apparently so many in the administration and government service that will actually obey and enforce such directives from their superiors in government. This marks the increased hostility to religion in our country and also the primacy and absolute power our government continues to assert and exercise... seeing individual rights and religious rights (which imply free thinking, not beholden to unjust dictates of a socialist regime) as a threat.
In addition, you will find stories of how the WWII memorial in Washington, DC is closed for viewing. Yes ... people are not allowed to walk up to the memorials and pay their respects... even war veterans who are on trips which may be their last to DC in order to pay their respects at the relatively new WWII memorial. In South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is not only closed but even roads near Rushmore have orange cones placed to prevent drivers from pulling over to even view or take pictures of the monument. This reveals the irrationality and chaos of a government out of control. We need to wake up - as Catholic and as Americans. Our dignity, liberty and religious practice continue to evaporate before our eyes ... to what end? Universal health care? A welfare state? Green energy? Indoctrination in public schools? Homosexual behavior equated as a civic good and recognized as "marriage"? The administration admits over 13 million will remain uninsured and without health care. So much for taking care of everyone's health care needs. We have more poor and unemployment in our country than ever, yet we have never dumped more money into welfare than today. Our government does not care about the needs of the poor, but securing as many dependent voters as possible for their own power. The HHS mandate forces Catholics to violate their consciences and support intrinsic evils, threatening the existence of Catholic health care (who are the ones who invented hospitals). Common Core is pushed in our public schools, along with immoral lifestyles and perversion of history. So-called alternative lifestyles are extolled as "normal" and others are increasingly coerced to accept and affirm such lifestyles or face penalties. Religious symbols and expressions of faith in public are torn down and restricted on a daily basis, thanks to bogus law suits and legislation asserting "separation of church and state", when in reality, such actions are a violation of the Free Exercise of religion.
All of these things... while political and civil in nature ... affect our lives profoundly. As Catholics, our faith must show in our actions and our understanding of basic human dignity and rights that the natural law expounds and our Declaration of Independence extols: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. If we allow our natural law rights to be trampled, our ability to worship God and live as we will ... shall soon be obliterated. As Catholics, we as a Church must wake up from this comfortable slumber we've slipped into since the 1960's, and more strongly assert Catholic social and moral teaching in our families, workplaces and civic duties - voting and speaking out for our beliefs and rights. In addition, let us pray for the grace and mercy of God to be upon us and our country. Peace+ DDG