Saturday, June 30, 2012

An Amish Traffic Jam?

The incongruity of this Pennsylvania  Dutch traffic “pretzel” is certainly amusing.

Yet  it is also unintentionally iconoclastic, as it attacks Amish Grace, that laudable instinct of these deliberately simple people who have shown an enormous capacity for forgiveness.

The Amish demonstration of how forgiveness can transcend tragedy was strikingly evident in the Amish community’s reaction to the schoolhouse shooting in 2006 where five little girls were shot execution style and others critically wounded before the gunman turned the rifle on himself.  Fresh from burying their own children, the Amish  made up half of the 75 attendees at the SHOOTER’s funeral. They were present to give solace to the deranged gunman’s family as they too were victims of the tragedy. That outreach was only part of the story as the shooter’s mother cultivated relations with the injured victims’ families.  Most religions teach forgiveness but few put it into practice like the Amish.

So for all those who do not cherish a community that celebrates forgiveness and lives it even when it hurts–“Place that up thy butter churn!” ;-)

Bob Dylan on Character


Folk existentialism--the answer is blowin' in the wind

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Evolving Ideas?

 Considering the widespread prevalence of Homer-Sapien (sic) behavior in our society, perhaps we should be concerned about devolution.

G.K. Chesterton on Theology

Chesterton's words of warning is more than just theology, it is instructive to the polity during this Fortnight for Freedom

Saturday, June 23, 2012

SALT Talks

In his devotational book co-authored with Zig Zigler, pastor Ike Reighard proposes the S.A.L.T. principle:

See others as Jesus sees them.
Accept others as Jesus accepts them.
Love others as Jesus loves them.
Touch others as Jesus touches them.

This pithy acronym brings to mind the Messanic charge in Matthew 5:13-16 as enthusiastically espoused in the musical Godspell.

But Dostoyevsky’s views on love and even earlier St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer that “Christ has no body but yours” seem to have beat evangelist Reighard to the same point.

Dostoyevsky on Love

 As Steve Winwood put it, "Bring Me a Higher Love".


Friday, June 22, 2012

Preaching the Fortnight for Freedom from the Pulpit

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori commenced the Fortnight for Freedom with a Mass at the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Charm City. His remarks from the pulpit follow:

A few years ago, due to inclement weather that grounded many international flights, I found myself stranded in London during the week just before Christmas. Worse things than that can happen to a traveler, but the unexpected pleasure of a week in London enabled me to visit places I hadn’t seen for many years — not Harrod’s or even Windsor Castle, but places such as Tyburn Hill, where many English martyrs laid down their lives in witness to the faith, including St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher.

I was deeply moved to stand on the spot where, in 1535, Thomas More and John Fisher were beheaded because they refused to comply with the Act of Supremacy, a law that made King Henry VIII head of the church and that broke ties of communion with the Roman Pontiff. I also visited the parish church in the Tower of London, St. Peter in Chains, and prayed in the crypt where St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher are buried.

Tonight, we have gathered here in this historic national basilica, the first Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States of America and a monument to religious freedom. We have gathered on the eve of the feast of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, martyrs who laid down their lives rather than violate their consciences or their sacred principles. Their courageous witness of faith continues to stir the minds and hearts of people yearning for authentic freedom and, specifically, for religious freedom, just as it inspired those who came to Maryland a century later in 1634, seeking not only to worship God freely, but, indeed, to practice their faith publicly.

We do well to speak of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher in the same breath, because each in his own way symbolizes two aspects of religious freedom we are striving to protect and foster as we begin a two-week period of prayer and reflection known as the Fortnight for Freedom.

What does St. Thomas More teach us about protecting religious liberty? Thomas More was a devout Catholic, a husband and a father, a learned and accomplished man, a lawyer by profession; his conscience was formed by principle and virtue at a time when both were routinely sacrificed for political expediency. Thomas More was chosen to serve in Parliament and rose to become the chancellor of England in the days of King Henry VIII. When called upon by the king to betray his principles and his conscience, however, More chose instead to put everything at risk, including his own life. Throughout, he defended his cause brilliantly, but to no avail. He staved off martyrdom as long as he could, but when it came, More accepted it courageously.

Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote that "the life and martyrdom of St. Thomas More have been the source of a message which spans the centuries and which speaks to people everywhere of the inalienable dignity of the human conscience. … Whenever men or women heed the call of truth, their conscience then guides their actions reliably towards good. Precisely because of the witness which he bore, even at the price of his life, to the primacy of truth over power, St. Thomas More is an imperishable example of moral integrity" ("Proclamation of Thomas More as Patron of Statesman," Oct. 31, 2000, 1).

More’s witness enriches the Church’s teaching on the dignity of the human person. For as the Book of Genesis teaches, we are created in God’s image to be participants in his wisdom and love. Because we are created in love and for love, we are endowed by the Creator with inherent rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Though only a few could claim St. Thomas More’s influence and integrity, this great saint stands for the individual believer and citizen who seeks, in the words of the United States bishops, "[to] connect worship on Sunday to work on Monday … [to] carry the values of our faith into family life, the market place and the public square" (U.S. bishops, "Everyday Christianity: To Hunger and Thirst for Justice," Introduction, 1998).

St. Thomas More could be said to represent that conscientious private employer or employee who seeks to avoid doing or facilitating moral evil in course of daily work, while striving to live and work in accord with the demands of social justice. He stands for those who go about their daily work in accord with their faith (Dignitatis Humanae, 13) and those who understand how dangerous it is to the common good to separate faith from life, the Gospel from culture (Christifideles Laici, 212).

Until now, it has been entirely possible under federal law for conscientious owners to conduct private businesses in accord with one’s conscience and the teachings of one’s faith. Until now, federal law has also accommodated businesses that are not church organizations but that are related to the mission of the Church. Examples include Catholic publishing houses such as Our Sunday Visitor, Catholic insurers, Legatus, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic fraternal organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, just to name a few. The freedom of conscientious and like-minded individuals to conduct such businesses in accord with the teaching of the Church now hangs in the balance.

On Aug. 1, less than six weeks from now, the Health and Human Services mandate will go into effect. This will force conscientious private employers to violate their consciences by funding and facilitating through their employee health-insurance plans reproductive "services" that are morally objectionable. As the United States bishops recently indicated, the HHS mandate violates the personal civil rights of those who, "in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and values" ("United for Freedom," March 14, 2012).

St. John Fisher may be less well-known than St. Thomas More, but his witness of faith was no less courageous. Like St. Thomas More, he possessed great learning and virtue and was an able defender of the faith.

Both More and Fisher refused to sign the Act of Supremacy, and both of them paid for their principled stand with their lives. More, of course, was a layman, and Fisher was a bishop. Ordained a priest in 1491, Fisher would become the bishop of Rochester in Kent.

In the House of Lords, he strongly opposed state interference in Church affairs. At the same time, he led the Church in reforming itself first and foremost by his own spirit of learning and holiness in communion with the Holy Father, the Successor of Peter.

At length, St. John Fisher found himself at odds with King Henry VIII and with laws passed by the British Parliament, which required him to take an oath repudiating papal authority and acknowledging the king as head of the church. This pastor of souls and lover of the Church refused, saying: "I cannot in anywise possibly take [the oath], except I should make shipwreck of my conscience, and then were I fit to serve neither God nor man."

In the wake of St. John Fisher’s martyrdom, churches, monasteries and centers of learning were seized by royal power and were either destroyed or made to break their ties with the Roman Catholic Church. The government interfered in the internal life of the Church with a cruel thoroughness John Fisher could not have imagined even a few years earlier. He symbolizes for us our struggle to maintain religious freedom for Church institutions and ministries such as our schools and charities. We surely are not facing the dire brutality that confronted St. John Fisher, but our Church and her institutions do find themselves today in perilous waters. For embedded in the HHS mandate is a very narrow governmental definition of what constitutes a church. If it is not removed, it is likely to spread throughout federal law.

In the HHS mandate, the federal government now defines a church as a body that hires mostly its own members and serves mostly its own members and which exists primarily to advance its own teachings. In a word, so long as a church confines itself to the sacristy, then it is exempt from having to fund and facilitate in its health-insurance plans government mandated services which are contrary to its own teachings. But if a church steps beyond the narrow confines of this definition by hiring those of other faiths and by serving the common good, then the government is telling us that such institutions aren’t religious enough, that they don’t deserve an exemption from funding and facilitating those things which violate the very teachings which inspired churches to establish their institutions in the first place.

Friends, we must never allow the government — any government, at any time, or any party — to impose such a constrictive definition on our beloved Church or any church! Our Church was sent forth by the Lord to teach and baptize all the nations. It was commissioned by our Savior to announce that the Kingdom of God is at hand. It was sent into the world to do the corporal works of love and mercy. Don’t we see this all around us — in inner-city Catholic schools, in Catholic hospitals, in the work of Catholic Charities, so critical for the well-being of local communities?

"The word of God cannot be chained," St. Paul wrote to Timothy, and now it is up to us to defend the Church’s freedom to fulfill her mission to freely manifest the love of God by organized works of education and charity.

This is why the Church has engaged the administration so earnestly; this is why we are working for legislative protection from the Congress; this is why, thankfully, so many have filed lawsuits in various parts of the country. And this is why there is a Fortnight for Freedom — so that the Church would be free of that government interference which St. John Fisher warned against in the British Parliament in the 16th century.

As Americans, it comes naturally to us to defend the rights of individuals to follow their consciences, not only in their personal lives, but also in the course of their daily work. And I know how deeply you value and support Church institutions that do the corporal works of mercy on a grand scale.

Inspired by St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, how important for us to defend both the religious freedom of individuals and the religious freedom of Church institutions — for the two are inseparably linked. As the Second Vatican Council taught, "The right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person, as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself" (Dignitatis Humanae, 2).

In differing ways, both the Church’s teaching and our nation’s founding documents acknowledge that the Creator has endowed individuals with freedom of conscience. Such freedom goes to the heart of the dignity of the human person. Pope Benedict recently said that religious freedom is constitutive of human dignity because it pertains to the relationship of human beings to the God who created them. The Holy Father then reminds us of the grave consequences that follow when governments ignore this fundamental aspect of the human person:

"To deny or arbitrarily restrict [religious] freedom is to foster a reductive vision of the human person; to eclipse the public role of religion is to create a society which is unjust, inasmuch as it fails to take account of the true nature of the human person; it is to stifle the growth of the authentic and lasting peace of the whole human family" ("Message for the Celebration of World Day of Peace," 2010).

Our churches and their institutions have freedom not only because they are made up of individual persons endowed with freedom, but because our institutions are like persons. In fact, we call them "moral persons" because they truly do possess some of the characteristics of persons.

Like all of us, these institutions claim their identity and fulfill their mission based on the principles and convictions by which they are guided. Like individual persons, institutions also have rights and responsibilities which flow from their guiding principles and convictions, and, in the case of our institutions, these guiding principles and convictions are to be found in the teaching of Christ, as conveyed through the Church.

Religious freedom includes the freedom of individuals to act in accord with their faith, but also the freedom of church institutions to act in according with their teachings and to serve as a buffer between the power of the state and the freedom of the individual conscience. If we fail to defend the rights of individuals, the freedom of institutions will be at risk; and if we fail to defend the rights of our institutions, individual liberty will be at risk. More needs Fisher, and Fisher needs More.

And we need them both more than ever. Even if current threats like the HHS mandate were to be overcome, we would still have to face powerful forces which seek to prevent religious faith from exerting an appropriate and necessary influence within our culture. Some would even say that the Catholic Church is a primary obstacle that stands in the way of creating a completely secular culture in the United States.

Let us remain united with our ecumenical and interfaith partners in being that obstacle! For love of country, let us bear constant witness, individually and collectively, to those moral truths and values that are the foundation of democracy and the basis for building a society that is just, peaceful and charitable.

By prayer, education and by exercising our rights as citizens, let us never cease defending the only notion of freedom worthy of our dignity as persons and sturdy enough to support our democratic way of life. And it’s this: "Freedom is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought."

This is the flame of true freedom, which we should keep burning brightly, not only for our own sake, but also for the sake of many people in many countries who suffer terrible persecution and even death because of their religious beliefs.

As you may know, only one Catholic signed the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the cousin of Archbishop John Carroll, who laid the cornerstone of this basilica in 1806.

Like all Catholics, Charles Carroll was forbidden by Maryland colonial law from taking any part in political life, especially from holding office. Carroll risked his life, family and property by supporting the revolutionary cause, but he did so, and I quote, "to obtain religious as well as civil liberty." He added: "God grant that this religious liberty may be preserved in these states to the end of time and that all who believe in the religion of Christ may practice the leading principle of charity, the basis of every other virtue."

If freedom is a system based on courage, and if the motive of democracy is love, then let us strive in God’s grace, throughout this fortnight and beyond, to be men and women of courageous love for the glory of God, for the good of the Church and for love of country.

On the first full day of the Fortnight for Freedom New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan celebrated a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in mid-town Manhattan. Assuredly, the ever affable Cardinal Dolan did not wear the foam finger during the liturgy.

Video streaming by Ustream

For those who did not want to watch the whole mass,  fast forward to the 14:30 mark.  Dolan briefly spoke about the fragile first freedom of religion which is part of America’s national civic. But Dolan notes that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution does not grant that freedom of religion but recognizes the natural right coming from God. Cardinal Dolan reminds us that if that first fundamental freedom is taken away by a tyrannical government, then all of our civic liberties are in peril. He concluded that today we are lifting up our hands in praise of this first freedom yet we should be mindful that some have be called to take up arms to protect those God given human rights.

This prayer for protection of our religious freedom is echoed in the Vatican II document Dignitatus Humanae, which declares: “[I]n order for human beings to fulfill their obligation to seek the truth and live by it, they must be free to do so. No one or no authority is to force them into believing something to which they have not freely given their consent.” [Declaration of Religious Liberty, no. 2 (1965)].

Fulton Sheen on Faith

I never thought that I would want to be a criminal.  But considering the way the Obama Administration imposed Obamacare without regard to the First Amendment protection of freedom of religious expression, it may be the time to embrace a rebel yell.

But to be honest, a tune that is more my taste that embodies the same spirit is from Les Miserables.

Launching the Fortnight for Freedom

In January 2012, as the Obama Administration began to bureaucratically buckle down to implement Obamacare, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius imposed a Qualified Health Plan mandate which basically required all qualified plans to offer “free” contraception, sterilzations, and abortofacient drugs.  In addition, the clerical exception was so narrowly construed which does not extend beyond the Church’s sanctuary.  In response to the public outroar that accompanied this Obama ukase, the Obama Administration claimed that conscientious objectors would not have to pay for repugnant treatments but insurance companies would pick up the bill.  This laughable fudge was given the same day that the Federal Register published the original HHS mandate with no revisions.

Some polling indicates that Catholics do not appreciate that religious liberty is under assault.  So the US Council of Catholic Bishops launched a Fortnight of Freedom, a coordinated nationwide effort of prayer, fasting and instrution to educate the Catholic laity as well as the general public on the importance of preserving Americans’ First Amendment rights to the unfettered exercise of religious beliefs.

Liberal leaning Catholics launch into tirades against the UCCB efforts, accusing the Bishops of unfairly involving themselves in politics.  Such rantings about not mixing church and state are laughable as the LCRW inspired Nuns on the Bus Tour is out protesting the Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1st) budget proposal for suggesting changes to social service spending. Perhaps advocating for the Social Justice inspired acts of charity are not recognized as even being religious in nature but appeal to  Social Gospel believers who are strong on social but queasy about gospel.

George Soros is funding a “Catholic” shadow organization “Faith in Public Life” to be the devil’s advocate working behind the scenes against the UCCB Fortnight of Freedom efforts. Prominent dissonant Catholic voices, like the outsed America editor Fr. Tom Reece and prominent feminist theology professor Lisa Sowle Cahill, have associated themselves with the “Faith in Public Life” front group. Expect the media to be fed questions by Faith in Public Life  about conflating health policy quarrels with religious freedom, bluster about the fake HHS compromise and questioning if Catholics would stop social justice programs if they do not receive religious accommodation.

The Fortnight for Freedom kicked off with a mass at the America’s oldest Catholic Cathedral, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  Newly named Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, a staunch spokesman for the UCCB on religious freedom, presided and gave the homily.

St. Thomas More
Archbishop Lori noted that the Fortnight for Freedom was launched on the eve of the feast of St. Thomas More, a Catholic Lord Chancellor of England  who sacrificed everything, including his life, to keep faithful to communion with the Catholic Church in the face of King Henry VIII Act of Supremacy.  Lori also invoked the example of St. John Fisher, who also shares the feast day with St. Thomas More, as Fisher was Catholic Cardinal who was martyred by a tyrannical English crown anxious to control the practice of faith in the nation.   Archbishop Lori also noted that Charles Carroll (brother of first US Bishop John Carroll) the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, risked his life and thwarted unjust law which legally prevented Catholics from being Maryland office holders.

Archbishop Lori’s homily also touched upon Catholic organizations affected by the narrow HHS construing of a religious exemption. Lori declares that organizations can have moral character and should not be forced to participate in practices that are repugnant to the group’s founding principles. Liberals have invoked the argument that it is all well and good for individuals to have moral positions, corporations can not take moral stands.  This strain of thought posits that organizations like the Knights of Columbus must participate in what they believe is evil.  Or Catholic Insurers need to offer coverage for contraception abortions and sterlizations because institutions can not have religion.  This flight of fancy leads liberals to argue that Georgetown Law must offer contraceptives because most of their students and faculty are not Catholic, so damn the Catholic connections.
 But this Fortnight for Freedom raising of consciences is not just coming from the clergy.  Embodying the New Evangelizaton, the Catholic Association made a media buy to dispel the secular myth that one should confine their expressions of faith to the pews in church or cowering at home.

New York’s Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan will offer a Mass for the Fortnight of Freedom at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.   The Archdiocese of Washington is sponsoring a rally amongst other activities throughout the country.   The Fortnight of Freedom will conclude with a noon Mass at the Basilica National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC on Independence Day celebrated by Philadelpia’s new archbishop Charles Chaput.

During this Fortnight of Freedom, the faithful are offered an appropriate prayer:

Almighty God, Father of all nations, For freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus.We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty,the foundation of human rights, justice and the common good.Grant to the leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties;By your grace, may we have the courage to defend them,for ourselves and for all who live in this blessed land.We ask through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness,and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,in the unity of the Holy Spirit,One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pickled in Translation

Episodes, the joint BBC/Showtime sitcom, recently aired an episode featuring a scene at a Jewish grave. The tombstone reads in English “Beloved husband and father dearly missed”. But the Hebrew engraving tells a different story.

Firstly it is not readable Hebrew, as the Semitic language is read from right to left. But for some strange reason, Google Translate changes what is purported to be “Dearly Missed” into a phrase that kind of means “Pickled with great expense”.

This Hollywood faux pax has gone viral in Israel. Shalar Golar quips that this mistranslation proves that Jews do not run Hollywood.

It would not be surprising if this intentionally was not a faithful translation. While this smarmy secularism is expected with Showtime, it blows the high-brow quality aura of the BBC.

Noah in America

In the year 2012, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now
living in the United States, and said, "Once again the
earth has become wicked and overpopulated, and I see
the end of all flesh before me. Build another Ark and
save 2 of every living thing along with a few good
humans, thy sons and their wives."

He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, "You have 6
months to build the Ark before I will start the
unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights."

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah
weeping in his yard -- but no Ark.

"Noah!" He roared, "I'm about to start the rain! Where
is the Ark?"

"Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah, "but things have

"I needed a building permit. I've been arguing with
the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system.
My neighbors claim that I've violated the neighborhood
zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and
exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the
Development Appeal Board for a decision.

"Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond
be posted for the future costs of moving power lines
and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage
for the Ark's move to the sea. I told them that the
sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing
of it.

"Getting the wood was another problem. There's a ban
on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted
owl. I tried to convince the environmentaliststhat I
needed the wood to save the owls -- but no go!

"When I started gathering the animals, I got sued by
an animal rights group. They insisted that I was
confining wild animals against their will. They argued
the accommodation was too restrictive, and it was
cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a
confined space. I am required to apply for 834
different licenses to keep wild beasts on private

"Then the EPA ruled that I couldn't build the Ark
until they'd conducted an environmental impact study
on Your proposed flood. Further, the pitch to
water-poof the ark has been banned by the EPA as
inimical to the environment.

"I'm still trying to resolve a complaint with the
Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I'm
supposed to hire for my building crew.

"Immigration and Naturalization is checking the
green-card status of most of the people who want to
work. The scaffolding to build  the superstructure is
not OSHA-approved and is forbidden to use except for
private structures less than 5 cubits..

"The trades unions say I can't use my sons. They
insist I have to hire only Union workers with
Ark-building experience.

"To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets,
claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally
with endangered species.

"So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least 100
years for me to finish this Ark."

Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine,
and a rainbow stretched across the sky. Noah looked up
in wonder and asked, "You mean You're not going to
destroy the world?".

"No," said the Lord. "The government beat me to it."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rudyard Kipling on Character

My father was not a very arty type of guy. But he would often echo these verses, which he probably learned in high school, as it epitomised the ideal for being a man and a father.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Texting on Calvary?

Thankfully, cellphones were not around two millennia ago so we have the a fuller account through the Gospels for the Passion on the Christ. 

But this puerile parody is missing one essential theological point-- it lacks a bubble indicating POS (parent over shoulder). That makes the BRB make sense.

Leo Buscaglia on Life

Sunday, June 10, 2012

St. Teresa of Avila on Faith

It is worth contemplating the divine mystery in St. Teresa's mystical prayer that in some senses the Corpus Christi becomes you and me acting in persona Christi.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Calling on Scripture

I wonder if He/She/It will accept a Collect Call?  The local plan has lots of pockets that are off network.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pelosi’s Bull on Authentic Catholicism

Pope Benedict XVI (vested in white) greets then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (ironically dressed in purple), on the Papal pilgrimage to Washington, DC in 2008

House Minority Leader (and former Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 8th) prides herself on being an ardent Catholic but she seems quite confused about her faith, yet she continues to foist her heresy in the realm of politics.

A couple of years ago, at a Capitol Hill conference, Rep. Pelosi offered that her favorite word was “The Word” and stressed how it was crucial to give voice to that scriptural word when conducting public policy. However, when a reporter during the former Speaker’s weekly press gaggle followed up on when the Word became flesh, suddenly the concept was only fit for church. Perhaps Pelosi did not want to reconcile her beliefs with the inconvenient truth that her faith teaches about human life beginning at the moment of conception.

After then Senator Obama’s (D-IL) appearance at the Saddleback Civil Forum where the successful Presidential candidate deflected a question about abortion as being “above my pay grade”, Pelosi was pressed about abortion, she insisted that the doctors of the Church had been unable to make that definition.

Maybe Nancy was relying too much on Senator Augustine, uh Saint Augustine's, 4th Century notion of quickening instead of acknowleding Pope Paul VI's Encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968 which makes it quite clear that the Catholic Church believes that life begins at the moment of conception. It might give context as to why the American Catholic Sees are seething about the contraception mandate embedded in Obamacare.

Minority Leader Pelosi dismissed American Bishops objecting to the HHS mandate as imposing on religious freedom, noting that she respects her pastor not when these Shepherds of the Faith act as lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Instead of confining herself to be a hypocritical politico, Pelosi has annointed herself as a theologian. Pelosi pontificated that it was not entire Catholic Church was against the HHS mandate, just 43 Catholic organizations, such as the Archdiocese of Washington. Pelosi embellishes her bull by noting that they had not spoken ex cathedra.


So by Pelosi's train of thought, the Cardinal Bishop in her Archdiocese between the beltways is not speaking authoritatively on matters of faith for Catholic Church or she bears false witness about respecting her pastor.

But to correct the record as either Pelosi's religious education at Trinity College was inadequate or it was an instance of invincible ignorance, ex cathedra statements are solemn and formal papal pronouncements on matters of faith and morals. Before the Congresswoman from California takes solace that the Humanae Vitae encyclical was only a papal teaching, she should consider what Pope Blessed John Paul II stated in a 1993 papal audience:

When the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in exercising his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians he defines with his supreme apostolic authority that a doctrine on faith and morals is to be held by the whole Church, through the divine assistance promised him in the person of St. Peter, he enjoys that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished to endow his Church in defining a doctrine on faith and morals.
But the lawsuits from 43 Catholic institutions protesting forced participation in contraception, sterlizations and abortion are rooted in natural law hence it is part of the unaltered Magesterium (teaching) of the Catholic Church. The same is true for the Catholic Church's opposing same sex so called "marriage".

The same is true of opposition to homosexual "marriage", which trumps Pelosi's puerile justification supporting same sex marriage as her Catholic faith (allegedly) teacher her that that she must oppose all forms of discrimination. Faithful critics both instead and out of the Catholic Church grumble that former Speaker Pelosi should be excommunicated for her beliefs. Excommunication should never be used in a punitive secular sense, as it is intended to save the soul from eternal damnation. However, excommunication proclamation need not be issued by an ecclesial court under canon law ( ferendae sententiae). A Catholic's very actions may ipso facto result in a latae sententiae excommunication, which can include an apostate, a heritic or a schismatic. Often a bishop will convey this warning in private. For all we know, this may have already happened.

When former Speaker Pelosi visited the Vatican in 2009, she was granted a fifteen minute meeting with the His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, with no press or photographers present. Pelosi issued a press release which complimented the Roman pontiff for standing for religious freedom and praised the Church's leadership for fighting poverty, hunger and global warming. The Vatican press office had a chillier characterization of the brief greeting. The papal statement indicated:

His Holiness took the opportunity [of the brief greeting with Mrs. Pelosi -ed] to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoins all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

It sounds like the Supreme Pastor of the Catholic flock was pretty clear about when life begins. This comes on top of the 2002 doctrinal note "The Participation of Catholics in Political Life," which states rather succinctly that politicians who profess to be Catholic have a "grave and clear obligation" to oppose any law that attacks human life. The brief greeting might have sotto voce also been a word to the wise.

Well, Mrs. Pelosi persists in purusing a public policies that is anathamatic to Catholics. Worse, the House Minority Leader justifies her progressive political positions in faith while misrepresenting the Magesterium. In this environment, Canon 915 seems applicable to this layman which denies the Eucharist to someone who obstinantly persists in grave sin. Even though Washington's Archbishop Donald John Cardinal Wuerl has recently been appointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Wuerl seems chary about keeping pro-abortion Catholic politicians from participating in Communion. Based on Monsignor Charles Pope's recent reflection, it is dubious that such action would be applied.

It is galling that a Cafeteria Catholic extols spiritual junk food for mass consumption instead of the Divine Feast under the illusion of obeying "The Word". In a pluralistic representative Republic, it is not uncommon for a politician to promote positions which an individual finds repugnant. What seems unjust is that leader lying about the moral underpinnings of these positions when it directly contradicts clear tenants of Catholic faith. If she wants to rationalize her positions on abortion, contraception and same sex "marriage" through a veneer of  religiosity, she would do well to swim the Tiber in reverse, as her seuclar humanist progressive political  positions would be welcomed with open arms among most Episcopalians  or even Unitarians. But such a principled act would fail to pander to a large voting bloc of Catholics.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Bible Translation is Just a Muted Voice

In an officious effort to make the Bible  more “attune to our times”, the Ecclesia Bible Society and Thomas Nelson released “The Voice”.  The Voice proclaims itself as “a faithful dynamic translation done as a collage of collaborative narratives, poetry, song truth and wisdom”. 

Professor David Capes of Houston Baptist University, spent seven years helping translate “The Voice.”  Capes reveals that the methodology for translating “The Voice” was to prepare a Bible that Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards would read instead of considering it deadly boring.


What this means for practical purposes is that “The Voice” is a paraphrase of sacred scripture which incorporates scholarly slants within the text of the verses. When the translation uses language which does not correspond to Hebrew or Greek origins, the word is placed in italics and the translators choose not to transliterate anything aside from proper names. 

While many Christians recently celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, some readers can be put off by the sonorous archaic sentence structure and lexicon.  Thomas Nelson sought to keep the Word of God real in part by eschewing traditional terms for the Divine.  The Lord is referred to as “the Eternal One”, Jesus is also called “The Anointed One” and angels as “Messenger of God”.

This scriptural paraphrase sounds awkward, especially for a familiar passage like Psalm 23.

Calling the Lord “Eternal” in this instance sounds flip, mistakes the paternally oriented God of creation as just being an eternal being and circumvents the relational subservience and dependence implicit in the label “Lord”. Words do matter.  Perhaps it is educational and accessible to call Christ “the Annointed One”, as that is from the Greek.  However, this hardly touches the significance of Jesus which is “Yaweh Saves”.  So Jesus Christ is actually a two millennia prayer just by uttering His holy name.  But the power of that prayerful moniker has nominal impact when the Lord God is relegated to being “The Eternal One”.

Admittedly, translating sacred texts can be hard.  It took 39 years for English speaking Roman Catholics to faithfully develop a new translation of the liturgy.  Some of the faithful chaffed at changes in the Words of Consecration in the Roman Rite English liturgy. The new translation of the Roman Missal uses a more static translation instead of using a dynamic translation methodology.  For the Anaphora, the term chalice is used for the vessel which contains His Precious Blood  instead of “cup”  because it was in the original translation.  But the Last Supper was no ordinary meal, it was part of the Passover, and it makes sense that the Elijah Cup was used.  The linguistic change “for many” instead of the familiar Vatican II verbiage is keeping with the Hebrew original which does not have any expression “for all”.  

In this age when the Western world has lost its moral moorings and secular society scorns scripture, it is admirable to encourage individuals to read the Bible.  But the Word of God should not be a muted Voice to make it more accessible.  This populist paraphrase of scripture calls to mind the quip by C.S. Lewis: “Odd, the way the less the Bible is read, the more it is translated”.