Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Top 25 Changes The Media Would Make To The Catholic Church

Go with me for a moment, deep into your imagination, and try to imagine what the Catholic Church would look like if the media was in charge of it...

Top 25 Changes The Media Would Make To The Catholic Church:
  • 25 - Women priests (but they must always wear approved vestments).
  • 24 - Same-sex Marriages are fine as long as only one bride's mother is involved at a time.
  • 23 - Abortions are only approved in cases of rape, incest, teenage pregnancy, and if you are a woman who is pregnant.
  • 22 - Contraception suggested for married couples (and required for non-married couples).
  • 21 - The Eucharist now comes in Honey Wheat, Whole Grain, Avocado and Rice flavors.
  • 20 - No more need to confess your sins just ask an advice columnist to solve your issues in order to overcome your guilt.
  • 19 - Pope is elected - never mind - no more Pope. But, Bishops are elected by popular vote after the final episode of "So You Think You Can Run An (Arch)Diocese?"
  • 18 - Simple majority decides doctrine and all doctrine is optional.
  • 17 - The Bible is now officially interpreted by the Magisterium of Me, Myself, and I.
  • 16 - No more talk of Hell or the Devil. As if they really exist.
  • 15 - The only sin is telling someone they have sinned (oops, I just sinned).
  • 14 - Bishops now dress in slacks (or pant-suits), priests in jeans (or skirts), and the congregation can "come as you are - on a beach after sweating all day"
  • 13 - Jesus was a super-nice guy, though he bought into some cultural lies of his times, but he ain't God.
  • 12 - Latin Schmatin.
  • 11 - Who needs tax exempt status? Not the Catholic Church.
  • 10 - All theologians are allowed to make it up as they go.
  • 9 - Justice, however the United Nations defines it, is now the main thrust of the Catholic Church.
  • 8 - Canon Law will now be called "Canon Advice".
  • 7 - In order to make Parishes more welcoming, we will call them "Centers of Loving Care and Hope".
  • 6 - The preferred music at "worship services" includes songs from U2 and Lady Gaga.
  • 5 - Church buildings will now resemble movie theaters and be called "Supplication Stations".
  • 4 - Religious Education is to focus on self-esteem, crafts, and the environment. It will now be called "The Art of Being Ready for Encountering That Which May or May Not Be".
  • 3 - The Roman Collar is to be replaced with the Butterfly Collar.
  • 2 - Father, Son, and Spirit are now Parent, Child, and Essence.
  • 1 - Catholic Schools will now be called "Inclusive Pods of Re-education". They will use the Pelosian-mandated Model of Edumacasion.
What others changes do you see?

Federal Judge Allows AZ Late-Term Abortion Ban to Stand

Good news on the pro-life front lines:
Arizona's ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy is poised to take effect this week as scheduled after a federal judge ruled Monday that the new law is constitutional.

U.S. District Judge James Teilborg said the statute may prompt a few pregnant women who are considering abortion to make the decision earlier. But he said the law is constitutional because it doesn't prohibit any women from making the decision to end their pregnancies.

The judge also wrote that the state provided "substantial and well-documented" evidence that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law in April, making Arizona one of 10 states to enact types of 20-week bans.

Arizona's ban, set to take effect Thursday, prohibits abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies. That is a change from the state's current ban at viability, which is the ability to survive outside the womb and which generally is considered to be about 24 weeks. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Seek Holiness Before Seeking Marriage

I have to echo Jackie's advice. There are too many distractions in the dating world to not have your feet firmly anchored before you dive into it.
Even though I would like to get married someday, God is the one who I want more than anything. If God called me to give up a husband or family for the sake of the Kingdom, I would.

When there are days that I begin to idolize marriage as the ultimate fulfillment of this life, I remind myself of my God-directed priorities.

If I died tomorrow, would I be happy? Of course! I would be so excited to be with the One whom my heart loves (especially after an excruciatingly purifying time in purgatory, I’m sure).

Obviously, I am not perfect and am still learning how to navigate my way through single life, figuring out how to date properly, wanting the best for others (even if it means being rejected), and practicing what I preach — all the while trying to draw closer to the heart of God in the busyness of everyday life.

My hope for single people who are discerning is that they seek holiness before seeking a spouse, knowing that Jesus the Bridegroom gives a peace and joy that no person on this earth could ever give.

Continue Reading.

Leading Fertility Doctor Renews His Faith and Leaves Behind Immoral Medical Techniques

A conversion worth reading about:
The first time Dr. Anthony Caruso saw life created in a petri dish, it brought tears to his eyes. Once one of Chicago's leading reproductive endocrinologists, he guesses that he helped more than 1,000 children come into the world.

But two years ago, he walked away from his practice and into a confessional at St. John Cantius Roman Catholic Church to repent. Reproductive technology had gone too far, he said, and he could not practice the same kind of medicine anymore.

"We see babies in our Catholic faith as children of God," said Caruso, 48, of Lombard. "What doesn't get thought about is the process that brought the babies to be."

Caruso, now a doctor at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, has proposed opening the St. Anne Center for Reproductive Health.

It would be one of a handful of clinics in the U.S. that helps couples struggling to have children within the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. It would not offer in vitro fertilization (IVF), artificial insemination or certain medicines often prescribed as a course of treatment. It also would be the only center in the nation run by a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist.

Caruso acknowledges that the success rates of measures compatible with church teachings are lower than what advanced reproductive technology can offer. Furthermore, doctors almost always try to accommodate a patient's religious convictions. But Caruso and other proponents of natural family planning say many fertility practices tend to treat infertility rather than treat the underlying condition of which infertility is a symptom.

Catholic hospitals so far have been reluctant to embrace Caruso's proposal for financial reasons. But as religious institutions feel the heat of the federal health care overhaul's contraceptive mandate, hospital and church leaders have started to recognize the power of promoting church teachings and incorporating them into care. In January, the Obama administration issued a mandate requiring that employers provide health plans that include contraception for women at no cost. Under the rules, religiously affiliated schools, charities and hospitals would not be exempt from providing care that includes contraception and sterilization procedures approved by theU.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"The HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) mandate is the best thing that happened to me," Caruso said. "What the HHS mandate potentially could do is reawaken the Catholic Church."

Caruso's awakening started more than three decades after the first IVF baby was born in 1978.

Continue Reading.
**In-Vitro Fertilization and Catholics
**Why In-Vitro Fertilization is Wrong.
**Social Science Proves Humae Vitae and NFP

English Medical Ethicist Says Death Is Good For Health

An English medical ethicist implies that death is better for your health than life is -  at least that is the implication in this quote (emphasis added):
"medical advances have led to a vastly increased capacity to keep people alive without, in many cases, providing any real benefit to their health."
This thought is rampant in the medical ethics community, where many have lost any anchor in morality. It is purely about situational ethics and relativism.

Here is more about what is going on in England:
Hydrating and feeding dementia patients is a waste of the National Health Service’s resources, a leading medical ethicist has said.

In an article for the British Medical Journal, the chairman of the Institute of Medical Ethics criticised a High Court judgment in September last year, which concluded that it would not be in the best interests of a brain-damaged woman to withdraw her artificial hydration and nutrition.

Writing under the heading “Sanctity of life has gone too far”, Professor Raanan Gillon, who is also an emeritus professor at Imperial College London, said: “The logical implications of this judgment threaten to skew the delivery of severely resource-limited healthcare services towards providing non-beneficial or minimally beneficial life-prolonging treatments including artificial nutrition and hydration to thousands of severely demented patients whose families and friends believe they would not have wanted such treatment.

“The opportunity cost will probably be reduced provision of indisputably beneficial treatments to people who do want them.”
Continue Reading.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Catholic Business Owners Score Win Against HHS Mandate in Federal Court

This is great news:
The Catholic family that owns a Colorado-based company won a court victory in their battle to stop the Obama administration from requiring them to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception, a mandate they say violates their religious beliefs and First Amendment rights.

Hercules Industries, a Denver-based heating ventilation and air conditioning manufacturer that employs nearly 300 full-time workers, got an injunction in federal court which stops enforcement of the controversial ObamaCare mandate. The company's lawyers said they needed the injunction immediately because if the mandate is enforced, it must begin immediately making changes to its health plan, which renews on Nov. 1.

The case is similar to ones brought by Catholic-based colleges that have refused to provide employee insurance with such coverage, except this time, it is a secular corporation.

In his order, Senior Judge John L. Kane of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado said that the government’s arguments “are countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion."

The case still must be aired out in court, but lawyers representing Hercules savored the temporary victory.

Continue Reading.

Turning Off The "Auto-Pilot" During Mass

Mark Hart has some great insights for us:

God's Perspective vs Our Own

Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was murdered in 1980 while saying Mass and is a martyr for the faith, gave this amazing reflection.

I hope you will pray this with me:
It helps now and then, to step back and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capability.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.


Burying St. Joseph Upside Down To Sell a House

Q - I've heard that if you bury a statue of St. Joseph upside-down in your yard it will help you sell your home. Can you tell me more about this?

A -
Thanks for the question. This is timely, because I am trying to sell my house currently. This is a wildly popular practice among those who are looking to sell their houses, whether they are Catholic or not. It was even written up in a USA Today article. In fact, there are several companies that survive by selling kits to use when you want to sell your home. They come with a cheap plastic St. Joseph statue and directions on how to do it just right in order to get what you want.

I believe this is a superstitious practice. That being said, asking for the intercession of St. Joseph in trying to sell your home is a good thing to do. I would recommend praying a novena to St. Joseph and asking for his help. If you buy a statue, why bury it? That is a way of disposing of blessed items.

Now, there is a story of Blessed Andre Bessette doing something similar, but it does not give rise to superstition:
For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother Andre and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of Saint Joseph on it, and soon after, the owners yielded, which incident helped the current devotion to Saint Joseph by those looking to buy or sell a home.
The difference is in Bl. Andre opening himself up, in faith, to whatever God's will is. So, I would recommend you stay far away from the practice of burying a St. Joseph statue upside-down. The prayer is the important part.

Here is what the Catechism says about superstitions:
2111 "Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition."
I hope this helps.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

10 Signs You Are a Normal Catholic

10 Signs You Are a Normal Catholic
  1. You are nice enough to save the pews in the front of church for the latecomers. (You also save the comfy middle part of the pew for others).
  2. You can follow every prayer in Mass, regardless of what language it is in.
  3. You have given up something sweet for Lent...at least a dozen times before.
  4. You dress a lot nicer when you know you might see the Bishop.
  5. You have genuflected (or started to) in a movie theater.
  6. You could be a professional weaver of palm crosses, though you do it only one day a year.
  7. You complain when the parish buys a new brand of Communion wine.
  8. You can say a family rosary on a trip in less than 15 minutes and know that God still heard it over the baby screaming.
  9. You remember more Latin than the foreign language you actually took classes for during high school.
  10. You played the "Mass game" when you were a kid.
What did I forget?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Social Science Proves Humanae Vitae and NFP

Today is the 44th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae and this week is NFP Awareness WeekIt is common to hear Humanae Vitae referred to as a "prophetic" document.  This is because Pope Paul VI made several predictions as to what would happen to our society if contraception became the norm. He hit each one spot on.

For a reminder of what Paul VI wrote, I will quote directly from Humanae Vitae, with emphasis added:
17. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.
Here is a summation of his predictions:
  1. Infidelity and moral decline
  2. Lost respect for women
  3. Abuse of power
  4. Unlimited dominion over our bodies and lives
All have happened. Why?  Because of the contraceptive mentality.

Now, social science is providing more proof that Pope Paul VI wrote the truth in Humanae Vitae. The following is from a study in The Bulletin on Aging and Health which is published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The title of the paper is "From Shame to Game in One Hundred Years: An Economic Model of the Rise in Premarital Sex and its De-Stigmatization". Here is the abstract, with emphasis added:
Societies socialize children about many things, including sex. Socialization is costly. It uses scarce resources, such as time and effort. Parents weigh the marginal gains from socialization against its costs. Those at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale indoctrinate their daughters less than others about the perils of premarital sex, because the latter will lose less from an out-of-wedlock birth. Modern contraceptives have profoundly affected the calculus for instilling sexual mores, leading to a de-stigmatization of sex. As contraception has become more effective there is less need for parents, churches and states to inculcate sexual mores. Technology affects culture.
Notice a few things. Science proves that Paul VI was right - contraception leads to a lessening of moral values.

The other points from Paul VI have already been proven, here are some sobering thoughts and stats:

1 - Infidelity continues to rise:
  • Percentage of marriages where one or both spouses admit to infidelity, either physical or emotional: 41%
  • Percentage of men who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught: 74%
  • Percentage of women who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught: 68%
2 - Porn is killing our culture and it is directly related to sex having nothing to do with babies, but being all about selfish pleasure:
  • Men who view pornography regularly have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexuality, including rape, sexual aggression, and sexual promiscuity.
  • Prolonged consumption of pornography by men produces stronger notions of women as commodities or as "sex objects."
3 - Governments continue to support and push abortion and contraception.
4 - Think of these issues (among many others), when you think of how we believe in "unlimited dominion":
We are a culture that has made Pope Paul VI not only into a prophet, but maybe one of the first who saw the end of our society coming fast.

For more on this issue, and related topics, I recommend the following:
**Mary Eberstadt's masterful article - The Vindication of Humanae Vitae
**Humanae Vitae and the Catholic Church
**Sex and The Contraceptive Mentality
**Sexually Transmitted Death
**Birth Control and College Students

Fr. Barron on The Devil

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Australia May Join Ireland In Trying To Force Priests to Break The Seal of the Confessional

Ireland already has a law that requires priests to break the seal of the Confessional if a confessor tells them about sexual abuse. Priests, of course, have vowed to break the law if need be.

Now, Australia is following suit:
Hundreds of years of Catholic tradition in the confessional could be overturned by Victoria's inquiry into child sex abuse. v Priests would be ordered to reveal crimes told to them in private confessions under one proposal before the inquiry.

But priests say they will resist being forced to reveal secrets of the confessional.

Priest and law professor Father Frank Brennan said the move would be a restriction on religious freedom.

“If a parliamentary inquiry were to recommend a law by parliament saying that priests were forced to disclose anything revealed to them in the sacrament of confession I think that would be a serious interference with the right of religious freedom,” Father Brennan said today.

“Indeed it would be a very sad day if we moved to a police state mentality, it’s almost of Russian dimensions to suggest Catholic priests would have to reveal to state authorities what went on under the seal of the confessional.

“I am one of the priests who, if such a law were enacted, would disobey it and if need be I would go to jail.”

Father Brennan said disclosures to priests in the confessional were different to those made to doctors or counsellors, or even when a priest was acting in a counsellor role.

“If it were in the sacred realm of the sacrament of confession which in Catholic theology is akin to the penitent being in conversation with God, where the priest is simply an agent, then definitely the state has no role of interference in that.”
Continue Reading.
Several other issues are pertinent here:

  • How would the authorities enforce this law?
  • Why are they targeting only Catholic clergy?
  • Is this a mere political tactic to jump on the anti-Catholic clergy bandwagon?

Sad day for all of us, but I don't see it changing anything nor making a positive impact in any way.

Pray for our priests, our Church, and our culture.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pope Addresses Colorado Shooting

The Pope said he was:
"deeply shocked by the senseless violence....I share the distress of the families and friends of the victims and the injured, especially the children....For those who were killed, our hope is the tender mercy of our God" 
Please pray with him for those impacted by this tragedy, for our culture, and for the shooter too.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Love of The Father Is Stronger Than Bullets

Please don't argue about why someone would kill innocents right now, we don't know and this isn't the time for such discussions.

Do one thing - pray.
Archbishop Aquila speaks to the issue: 
In his homily following a July 20 mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila reminded a crowd of faithful that though there is evil in the world, there is also mercy.

“Sin, evil and death do not have the last word,” he said, citing Jesus’ victory over death through his resurrection.

The Mass was held at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church – just blocks from Century 16 Theatre – where 12 people were killed and at least 59 were injured when a gunman opened fire at a midnight showing of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The newly-installed archbishop warned Catholics against responding to the violence with vengeance.

“That is not the way of Jesus Christ,” he said. “We must be peacemakers. We are called to love as Christ loved and commit ourselves to peace.”

Parishioner Juliet Younger said her daughter Jo Ann spent the hours leading up to the Mass at University Hospital in Denver where five of her friends are being treated for injuries. Jo Ann said one of them remains in critical condition.

They said they came to the Mass to find peace.

“And hopefully understand ‘why,’” Juliet said, with tears in her eyes. “I don’t understand this. Why go there and kill those people? Why?”

The archbishop said people like the Youngers can take hope from the fact that God is present in their suffering.

“What occurred … was an encounter with evil, and encounter with violence,” he said. “Certainly the love of the Father is stronger than the bullets that killed 12 and wounded (many more).”

Nearly two dozen priests concelebrated the Mass with the archbishop.

Learning to Walk

At the beginning of April I adopted a stray dog.  She showed up on my front lawn and just like that I decided to adopt her.  For those who know me (nary a spontaneous bone in my body), this was rather uncharacteristic.   But I was compelled.  When I looked at her, I could see how scared she was - of everything.  She had scars to prove she'd done her share of surviving in the wild.  Yet I could also see a sweetness underneath it all.  She wanted to trust me, but just couldn't.  I heard God say, "Sarah, I want to show you what healing looks like."  And so, she became mine.

Day one I took her to the vet; she was visibly shaking she was so scared.  Surprise!  I learned she was pregnant.  I believe the vets words during the physical exam were, "Well, I know she doesn't have more than one bladder so I think she is pregnant."  More on that adventure perhaps another time, but today's lesson is about learning to walk. 

The first few walks I took Gracie on involved very little walking.  She was petrified of the leash, of cars, of crossing streets, of drain hole covers . . . of everything.  We did more whining, cowering, and shaking than walking.  A friend who is experienced with dogs assured me that after a while Gracie would learn to trust me.  She'd learn to go where I led.  Her trust in me would help her overcome the fears.    

I was skeptical!  After the puppies were gone (there were 8 by the way!), the walks were actually worse.  Walk number one involved me coaxing her to the edge of my property with treats while she whined the whole time.  Just before we got to the curb she became frantic, cowered down on the ground, and wouldn't budge.  I decided to try again another day.

She's made great progress over the past few weeks.   On our walks I probably sounded like a lunatic to others passing by; I was making kissy noises and talking sweetly to her nearly the whole time for encouragement.   It worked so I kept at it.  Last week we went for over a mile.  It was our first night time walk which included a new fear hurdle - headlights.  At one point, scared by some oncoming headlights, Gracie cowered down to the ground.  No amount of calling or gently tugging on the leash was going to make her budge.   She wasn't moving until she was ready.  I squatted down beside her, stroked her head, and talked sweetly to her until she was able and willing to follow me home. 

That dark night as we headed home, stopping occasionally when headlights zoomed past, it hit me.  The times when I am most afraid - frozen in fear (or grief or shame or confusion), cowered down to the ground unable to move forward - God is with me.  He squats down, gently strokes my head, talks sweetly to me and waits until I'm ready to move.  When I am most afraid, wanting to trust but seemingly unable, he waits with me.      I don't ever want to forget this. 

I'm proud to report that tonight when I pulled out Gracie's leash she danced around the den, tail wagging, joyfully anticipating our walk.   She didn't cower down to the ground once.  We passed each street, vehicle, and drain hole cover without incident.  She is learning to trust her master.  I hope I can be as quick a learner!  Yet I know if I'm not - if I'm slow, frightened, hesitant or unable - God is patient.  He waits with me until I can follow Him home.  

He waits with you too.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Top 10 Ways To Not Evangelize

Top 10 - how NOT to evangelize:

10 - Post a sign outside your church that says "Eternity is a long time to be wrong" or on the flip side just make sure that everyone knows that God is love and nothing else.

9 - Argue with someone about being right.

8 - Use violence or manipulation.

7 - Mistake social justice as the whole of evangelization.

6 - Scream into a bullhorn and use "going to hell" often.

5 - Avoid all controversial subjects so that others will like you more.

4 - Expect everyone to be at the same place you are, to see the world as you do, and to speak the same language you do.

3 - Don't do or say anything that might challenge you.

2 - Preach a false gospel (e.g., the health and wealth gospel, all religions are the same, etc.)

1 - Live a life contrary to the Gospel. No need to live it out.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Does God Ignore Our Prayers?

Q - Does God ever ignore our prayers? I was at a conference this past weekend where one of the speakers noted that God doesn't listen to our prayers sometimes. He referenced Isaiah 58:4, Amos 5, and James 1:6-8. Those passages talk about how if we don't pray in sincerity and belief, it's not worth praying. IS that a correct interpretation?

A -
Thanks for the questions. Here are the passages you mentioned, some context:
""Why do we fast, and you do not see it? afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?" Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high! Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?" - Isaiah 58:3-5
"I hate, I spurn your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemnities; Your cereal offerings I will not accept, nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings. Away with your noisy songs! I will not listen to the melodies of your harps. But if you would offer me holocausts, then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream. Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings for forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? You will carry away Sakkuth, your king, and Kaiwan, your star god, the images that you have made for yourselves; For I will exile you beyond Damascus, say I, the LORD, the God of hosts by name." - Amos 5: 21-27
"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing  of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways." - James 1: 2-8
In the first two Old Testament verses the people of God are being warned to turn away from their sin. They are acting as hypocrites do by not allowing their prayers and fasting to change their hearts, thus they continue in their sinful ways.

James is telling the people to pray, but to make sure it is done in a faithful way. Without faith, prayer is neutered.

Certainly these verses warn against prayers that rely on our own strength or prayers that are faithless, which is why the Catechism echoes these sentiments:
2609 Once committed to conversion, the heart learns to pray in faith. Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand. It is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to "seek" and to "knock," since he himself is the door and the way
It then says:
2732 The most common yet most hidden temptation is our lack of faith. It expresses itself less by declared incredulity than by our actual preferences. When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? Sometimes we turn to the Lord as a last resort, but do we really believe he is? Sometimes we enlist the Lord as an ally, but our heart remains presumptuous. In each case, our lack of faith reveals that we do not yet share in the disposition of a humble heart: "Apart from me, you can do nothing."
So, the problem is never on God's end. He wants us to pray, but not just out of desperation, but out of faith and love - seeking His faith constantly.

You can rest assured that God does NOT ignore our prayers. In fact, He cannot do any such thing. He knows and desires a relationship with you through prayer. But, you must also do your part in building up your faith, hope, and love, which are gifts from Him. Without praying with these three virtues, our prayer will be of no use - because our hearts do not seek Him, but ourselves.

Sometimes it is for our own good that our prayers are not answered in the way we want. But, they are always answered - just sometimes with yes / sometimes with no / sometimes with not now.
The Catechism says:
2737 "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." If we ask with a divided heart, we are "adulterers"; God cannot answer us, for he desires our well-being, our life. "Or do you suppose that it is in vain that the scripture says, 'He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us?'" That our God is "jealous" for us is the sign of how true his love is. If we enter into the desire of his Spirit, we shall be heard.

Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer.

God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give.
I hope this helps.

Friday, July 13, 2012

How The Media Portrays Catholicism - What a Bunch O' Loons...

The point of the following story is to make Catholics look like crazies who worship phantoms and fairies. 

How many stories about the Catholic Church are there today? They could have covered the religious freedom issues, the Legion/Regnum Christi issues, etc. 

Instead the cover Katie Holmes and this:

BTW - I am NOT saying that Mary appearing in a tree is impossible. I am saying it is highly unlikely. If you want to know more about Marian apparition - here are 10 things you ought to know.

10 Reasons Why Being Catholic Is Crazy Cool

10 Reasons Why Being Catholic Is Crazy Cool
  1. Civil disobedience.  In refusing to obey laws that are unjust, we show the world that there are more important things in life than just getting along. When necessary we march, picket, and if it comes to it, we will even be thrown in jail or killed for our beliefs:
    "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square" -Cardinal George of Chicago
  2. Counter-cultural rebels. Who else is can be found protesting outside an abortion clinic, praying in an adoration chapel, listening to a theology presentation in a bar, hanging a pic or a Saint's card in a cubicle at work, confessing sins to a priest, and hanging out with nuns? Nobody. 
  3. Monks brew beer. It might sound silly, but the point is that we don't believe every good thing in the world which can be abused is bad. In fact a good thing can only be "abused" because it is good. Beer can be abused, like any good thing. But, monks brewing beer shows us just how good beer can be. 
  4. We have a sense of humor. We can even laugh at ourselves. Have you seen this? If not, you should:
  5. Natural Family Planning (NFP). We talk about sex as a natural and organic part of life and we work with our bodies to space births in marriage. The prevailing mentality is one that is pro-contraception. But, organic sex is now cool.
  6. We fight for the little guy, both literally and figuratively. We do more than the poor than any other non-governmental organization. Feed the poor, clothe the naked, etc. We also hold the right to life as a sacred duty. Babies 'R Us.
  7. We teach about what is really good, true, and beautiful. All three matter. Most modern education question if there really is goodness, truth, and beauty. We say "duh".
  8. Not afraid of culture, but not just a part of it either. Yes, we have to live in the world. But, we are called to change it, not let it change us. Hard to do, but awesome when we do it.
  9. We take the Devil seriously. Otherwise exorcism, confession, and crucifixes wouldn't make cool movies. The devil is real and is our real enemy. He bites and we help him bite the dust.
  10. Leaders that lead. No comment needed, because of men like Benedict XVI:


Cardinal Dolan:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Interview With Aggie Catholic Shawn Carney: Co-Founder of 40 Days for Life

Shawn Carney is a former student of Texas A&M and was an active member here at St. Mary's Catholic Center while he attended school. Prior to becoming 40 Days for Life campaign director, Shawn served as executive director of the Coalition for Life, a pro-life organization consisting of 60 churches and thousands of people in Bryan/College Station, Texas. His leadership contributed to a dramatic drop in abortions, and he is a regular media spokesperson on pro-life issues. Shawn is a popular speaker, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for pro-life work. He was also executive producer and host of the EWTN television series, being HUMAN. Shawn and his wife Marilisa have four children, Bridget, Bailey, Seamus and Bernadette. He is also a friend of mine.

MARCEL - Can you tell us how 40 Days for Life got started and what role St. Mary’s played in it?

SHAWN - 40 Days for Life began with one hour of prayer around an old wooden table at the old location of the Coalition for Life in Bryan. Around that table was David Bereit, the director of the Coalition for Life at the time, myself, my wife Marilisa, and Emily Smith. It was right after my junior year at A&M during the summer of 2004 and we began to see local abortion numbers increasing and so we spent one hour in prayer and 40 days is what came from that hour of prayer. It seemed obvious that if God uses that time frame throughout scripture to form, chastise, and strengthen his people then we should hand our efforts over to a 40 day time period.

We decided to do 40 days of prayer fasting with the intention to end abortion, 40 days of community outreach, and 40 days of a nonstop, peaceful 24-hour vigil outside the local Planned Parenthood on East 29th street in Bryan. That local campaign resulted in a 28% drop in abortions but we never expected 40 Days for Life to go beyond Bryan/College Station. However word began to spread and suddenly there were other cities calling us asking for guidance on how to do the campaign in their community.

In 2007 David and I decided to launch 40 Days for Life as a nationally coordinated effort. We expected 20 cities the first national campaign and were amazed when 89 cities in 33 states signed up to participate. Today there are two annual campaigns -- fall and spring -- and the 40 Days for Life campaign has been done 1,894 times in 440 cities in 14 countries since that first campaign in Bryan/College Station. Simply the work of the Holy Spirit.

St. Mary’s had a huge role in that first campaign and still does today as so many of our local 40 Days for Life leaders moved away from Aggieland and brought 40 Days for Life to places as close as San Antonio and as far away as Seattle, Washington. I even met a St. Mary’s Aggie who participated in 40 Days for Life in Calgary. The legacy to me that comes from St. Mary’s is the role and leadership that the Knights of Columbus made. I actually became a Knight during that first campaign in 2004 because of their example. They took the night shift from 11pm-7am. They of course renamed it the “Knight” shift and that has become a model for Knights of Columbus councils across the country and all of them recognize that came from St. Mary’s in College Station. Their dedication, prayer, and sacrifice started at the top with the Grand Knight, David Arabie all the way to freshman who had just joined the Knights.

The culture at St. Mary’s has such an impact on the world and 40 Days for Life is a great example of that. Encouraging and challenging young people to take their faith into our culture and live Christ as an invitation to those who do not know Him or His Church is transforming. This is so successful at St. Mary’s because of the deep involvement the students have in the sacramental life of the Church which gives us the strength to live our faith when it is both popular and unpopular.

MARCEL - How has your Catholic faith played a part in working in the pro-life field?

SHAWN - It has been and continues to be everything. My Catholic faith led me to this work. I wanted to be a priest all through high school, my spiritual directors told me to go to college for a year since I had never really considered marriage. Once in college one of my best friends set me up with his sister and we have now have been married for 8 years and have 4 children -- so much for plans. I was on my way to law school when David Bereit hired me at the Coalition for Life just “part-time” originally. None of my plans worked out. Without the Church I would have become frustrated but instead it was an amazing and roller coaster discernment process. Discerning your vocation and role in life is easy to do as a Catholic at St. Mary’s. It’s not easy to know where you will end up but the process is easy because of the healthy Catholic environment that exists as St. Mary's to serve Christ and His Church no matter what career path you're on.

Pro-life work is very rewarding and also difficult at times. There are victories and defeats, many Easter Sundays and many Good Fridays. The Church is the stabilizer. It was here long before our culture and will be here long after our culture. The Church is only thing you can trust in a very confused and hardened world. I’ve always felt that our generation has very little excuses for complaining about the culture because we have seen, literally through media, saints live in our times and impact millions of souls. Between John Paul II and Mother Teresa we know that living our Catholic faith bears much fruit in a world that often claims it wants nothing to do with religion.

There is not a stronger voice for God or truth right now in our world than Pope Benedict and we must humbly and courageously live our faith as he does.

MARCEL - What do you want others to know about the tactics of the abortion industry in opposing 40 Days for Life?

SHAWN - Really just two things – persecution or bewilderment. The abortion industry typically either just get mad -- like a knee jerk reaction or they don’t know what to do with 40 Days for Life it because it’s peaceful and prayerful. However both of these reactions create great opportunities for conversion. An angry clinic worker is at least passionate and they usually see power in the prayer and that fuels their frustration. We can do very little with the cold and lukewarm but passion can lead to conversion. In California Planned Parenthood did a mock 40 Days for Life campaign by holding “40 Days of Prayer” where they prayed for abortion rights and even had daily “devotionals like we have during 40 Days for Life. Their devotionals were disturbing to say the least but it did get national media attention and introduced 40 Days of Life to a lot of new people.

The bewildered reaction allows them to re-think what they are doing and this is a more common reaction. I’ve been to over 300 of the 40 Days for Life locations over the past 5 years and when I speak at a vigil the abortion advocates are usually expecting the vigil to be crazy zealots who are judging women and it’s just the opposite. The vigils consists of faithful Christians, moms praying rosaries, Knights of Columbus, nuns, priests – hardly the mob they were expecting. This takes them off guard and also turns the focus on the nature of their work. It’s is one of the reasons why we’ve had 69 abortion facility workers have conversions and leave their jobs during a 40 Days for Life campaign, including of course Abby Johnson who was the director of Planned Parenthood in Bryan/College Station. Her book Unplanned is a must read for every Aggie Catholic. I met Abby my freshman year through the fence at Planned Parenthood and had no idea what was ahead. As of this past Easter Abby herself is now an Aggie Catholic.

Persecution is not suggested by our Lord it is promised and while most of the vigils are very uneventful we do get out fair share of persecution. We’ve had nuns heckled and threatened in the South Bronx, I’ve had counter protesters including a group of anarchists in Napa, California. People drive by showing us 1 finger (so we know we are number 1) and have had volunteers berated by abortion doctors as they leave the facility. At the end of the day all of the comments or persecution I see is not because of our position on abortion but because of our faith in God.

Never before have we wanted Christianity so private as to make it insignificant than today in our culture. When you do something for your faith some will be upset. As the saying goes splinters fall from the Cross if you don’t have any then you’re not close to it. It doesn’t mean we declare ourselves martyrs or whine about it, we just have to expect it and embrace it like Christ did. The saints endured it and as a result were the happiest people to ever walk the earth.

MARCEL - What are the trends that are pushing the pro-life movement forward currently?

SHAWN - Victories at the local level and these make the abortion industry very nervous. The abortion lobby has a lot of power in Washington but the rapid spread of 40 Days for Life is merely a reflection of what is going on in local communities. After our faith in God, the pro-life movement has two big things going for it – youth and technology. Young people who are pro-life get involved but young people who are pro-choice are sitting on the sidelines because they’re uncomfortable with abortion as an issue even though they think it should be legal. This has resulted in pregnancy centers that can offer free alternatives to women now outnumbering abortion providers 3 to 1 in America.

A recent Gallup Poll show a record low for people who call themselves pro-choice at 41%. We’ve also seen Planned Parenthood defunded on the state level in many states. These are all trends that we can control at the local level and not wait for Washington to correct a moral crisis that happens in our backyard.

MARCEL - Can you tell us about your experience as a student at St. Mary’s?

SHAWN - I loved it and so did my wife. We were involved in everything and both served on Awakening Leadership. I was 4th day host and had fun, probably too much fun with it. Back then we had a budget for 4th Day I asked for and for some reason, it was granted permission to blow all of our budget on one great 4th Day meeting and skimp by for all the other meetings. At the first meeting I asked the attendees to vote and they went for it. The result was a long semester of 4th Days with Raman noodle soup followed by a fajita feast 4th Day at the end of the semester. In the end it was worth it but there are few thing nastier than seeing the St. Mary’s kitchen covered in pots cooking Ramen Noodle soup for 150 people. Again it was still worth it, the fajitas were awesome and you only live once.

My experience was great and all started and ended with great priests. I was blessed to have wonderful priests in my home diocese of Tyler and that continued with Fr. Mike Sis and Fr. David Konderla during my time at St. Mary’s. Looking back it was access to the sacraments that the priests made to the thousands of students as being the biggest blessing. Of course Aggie Awakening and all of the great catechesis available are wonderful and rare at most places where you can go to college, but above all is it was the emphasis on attending daily Mass, going to Adoration, going to Confession and it was all because of the dedication of the priests there. I’m convinced that Fr. Mike or Fr. David never slept and yet neither of them have aged – they’ve look the same for the past 15 years so there must be something special about St. Mary’s. Both were gifted preachers and even better confessors and that has made a lasting impact on many souls and continues to bear fruit.

MARCEL - What is your favorite Aggie tradition?

SHAWN - Muster as the official tradition, Freebird’s monster with BBQ sauce as the unofficial tradition.

What About Bad Popes?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How Do I Help Someone Get Involved at Church?

Q - I discovered today that a friend of mine is Catholic and has been going to Mass, but hasn't gotten involved in any way. We talked about it for a while and he said he's never been involved in a youth group or Church activities of any sort. When I suggested he try to come to events or other activities at church, he said he'd feel uncomfortable because he's not a "die-hard" and would feel out of place with people that were. He thanked me for the invitation but said he wouldn't take it up for now. My question is, what's a good way to ease someone like this into deeper involvement with the Church? He talked about how impressed he was with the youth and vibrancy of the church, but felt out of place in it. What can you do in a situation like this? With a Catholic who appreciates the church and attends, but has never been involved at a deeper level?

A -
Thanks for the question. This is a somewhat delicate situation and there are several guiding principles that can help you.

1 - Respect his freedom.
The gift of our free will is a beautiful thing. We should always respect this gift in ourselves and others. This means that we must allow the person to make their own decisions, even if they are not what we believe is best for them.

2 - Continue to evangelize him.
Everyone needs to grow closer to God and we are all called to help others do so. You can help others by continuing to gently invite, talk about your faith (without being pushy), and ask questions. You also need to be a good example for your friend. Finally, try to engage him in dialogue about faith issues. But, don't get overly aggressive about it.

3 - Let God do the heavy lifting.
You must remain patient with your friend. It is an exercise of our faith and hope to believe that God wants something even more than you do for him. So, let God work on his heart and hope that in time it will happen.

4 - Stay positive.
This is very important. You don't want to guilt your friend into getting more involved. Remember that he is still coming to Mass and this is the biggest of all steps.

I know this isn't the magic bullet you might have been hoping for, but it really is the best avenue to evangelize another - by being a good friend and a good Catholic.

I hope this helps.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Most Affordable Car Ever!!!

In these tough economic times, it is good to see innovation in the automobile sector:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Who Can / Should Go To Communion?

Q - I recently met someone who was raised Catholic but left the Church at some point. When she goes home to visit her family she still attends mass with them and says she receives the Eucharist. She considers herself non-denominational and says that since there is no 'bad blood' between her and the Church it's ok for her to participate.

What's the status of someone who leaves the Catholic Church? Is it appropriate for them to recieve the Eucharist? If not, then is it appropriate for me to correct them?

A - Thanks for the question. Here are the requirements for Catholics who go to Communion:

1 - You must be in the state of grace - that is, have no unconfessed mortal sins.
Paul talks about this requirement:
"Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup" - 1 Cor 11:27–28
So, you must have confessed all mortal sins and received absolution from them in the Sacrament of Confession. It this has not happened, then one should not present themselves for Communion.

2 - You must believe that the the Eucharist is what the Catholic Church teaches it is - the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Thus, you must believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation. Paul also talks about this:
"For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself" - 1 Cor 11:29
3 - You must be a baptized Catholic in good standing with the Church, that is, you must be Catholic and cannot be under any kind of Church penalty that would keep you from be disposed to receiving the Blessed Sacrament. Non-Catholics can receive in very strict circumstances outlined in Canon Law (click here to read about these narrow circumstances).

4 - You must fast. The particular kind of fast to prepare yourself to receive Communion is called a Eucharistic fast. Canon law says:
"One who is to receive the most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion" - Canon 919
The US Bishops sum it all up for Catholics in this way:
For Catholics
As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.
For a non-Catholic, here is what the US Bishops say:
For our fellow Christians
We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ's prayer for us "that they may all be one" (Jn 17:21).

Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 § 4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 § 3).

For those not receiving Holy Communion
All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.

For non-Christians
We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family.
Based upon all of this, and what we believe about the Eucharist - it is highly inappropriate for your friend to present herself for Communion - because she no longer considers herself Catholic. Even if she did, she would need to go to Confession first, because the Church considers missing Mass on Sunday (without good reason) grave matter. We should hope this is just ignorance on her part, but I encourage you to talk to her, as nicely as possible, about the seriousness of what she is doing. This would be a good opportunity to talk to her about what the Bible says about the Eucharist as well.

For more about this topic, see these related posts:
**The Eucharist and Grace.
**Mass can be boring. How can I go to Mass and get more out of it? 
**How is Jesus present in the Eucharist? Where do we find the teachings about this presence?
**Why Can't Non-Catholics Receive Communion?
**What is The Sabbath Rest?
**Does Having an Infant Excuse One From Sunday Obligation?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

We Have Forgotten "Should We" In Our Culture

We have forgotten to ask "should we do this" in our culture. Instead, the presumption is "why not?" Case in point:
A bill under consideration by California lawmakers would allow children to have more than two parents.

The bill, SB 1476, introduced by Sen. Mark Leno (D) from San Francisco, amends California’s current two-parent-per-child law to allow for several of them to protect the best interests of the child.

The additional parents would have to meet a court-established definition of a parent, according to Leno.

“The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today,” Leno told the Sacramento Bee.

The bill is not meant to expand the definition of who can qualify as a parent, but rather to eliminate the limit of two per child, he said.

Are We A Nation of Christian Heretics? Fr. Barron Comments

Monday, July 2, 2012

Olympics and Christian Churches

Southern Baptists “Stand With the Bishops”

The Southern Baptist Convention hasn't always been very welcoming to Catholics. But, sometimes there are circumstances that draw us closer together. The attacks on religious freedom are certainly one to do that.
At its Annual Meeting in New Orleans last week, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution on Religious Liberty.

Representing about 45,000 individual churches with 16 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention is a voluntary organization whose members agree on a statement of beliefs. Almost 8,000 “messengers,” or church representatives, attended the Annual Meeting. The SBC made history this year by electing its first African-American President, Rev. Fred Luter, Jr. It also made history by, for the first time, directing its members to work with Catholics in the fight to preserve religious liberty.

“Our religious freedom is under attack,” says Dr. Richard Land, who heads the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Former Vice President for Academic Affairs at The Criswell College, where he taught Theology and Church History, Dr. Land has worked with then-Texas Governor William Clements, Jr., and former President George W. Bush on church-state issues, and served five terms with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He is the author of The Divided States of America: What Liberals and Conservatives Get Wrong About Faith and Politics, and numerous other books about religion and public policy.

Calling the HHS Rule mandating that all insurance policies cover contraception, sterilization, and “morning after” abortifacient drugs the latest in “a disturbing pattern” of actions encroaching on religious liberty, Dr. Land has worked with New York’s Cardinal Dolan and Baltimore’s Archbishop Lori on religious liberty issues. Last month his commission organized a day-long event on the issue for Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox, Jewish, Mormon, and other religious leaders.

“We took an unprecedented action at the convention this year,” Dr. Land explains. “Our booth is one of the most popular — we probably had six or seven thousand people stop by. We passed out information about how to get on the USCCB web site and how to adapt what they have for the Fortnight for Freedom for Southern Baptists.”

Although relations between Southern Baptists and Catholics have not always been cordial, Dr. Land says the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission received no complaints about the suggestion to visit the USCCB site, and the resolution passed “overwhelmingly.”

“We stand with the bishops on this,” he says. “The United States government is attempting to make people do what they believe is unconscionable. For Catholics, it’s contraception. For Southern Baptists, it’s abortifacients. We find it utterly unacceptable.”