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BREAKING: Supreme Court to Hear HHS Mandate Case – Will Be Historic Ruling on Religious Liberty

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases challenging to the contraceptive mandate in the “Obamacare” health policy.    In a conference on today, the justices decided to hear two cases in which employers have challenged the HHS mandate. The High Court chose to hear a case brought by Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma firm; and another brought by Conestoga Wood Specialties of Pennsylvania. A federal appeals court had sustained the Hobby Lobby challenge, while a different court rejected a similar challenge by Conestoga.     The split opinions in federal appeals courts, the dozens of challenges to the contraceptive mandate, and the need for a clear-cut decision on the federal health-care policy all weighed in favor of a Supreme Court hearing on the arguments.    The key question to be resolved is whether the mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 by requiring business owners to pay for services they consider morally objectionable. The High Court has already ruled that corporations should be treated as persons for purposes of their political activity. The Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases will revolve around the issue of whether corporations should be free to operate according to the religious principles of the individuals who control them. If the Supreme Court finds that corporations can have religious principles, the Obama administration will be forced to show that the federal government’s interest in providing contraceptive coverage is sufficiently urgent to outweigh the ordinary demands of religious freedom.     The Supreme Court will probably schedule arguments in the cases for the spring of 2014, with a decision likely by June. Either way it will be a landmark ruling on religious liberty with significant future ramifications.

Below is a round-up of articles published in the last couple hours.

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Landmark Hobby Lobby Case – Beckett Fund

Supreme Court accepts Pa. Mennonite cabinetmakers’ challenge to abortion pill mandate - Alliance Defending Freedom

Supreme Court will take up new health law dispute – Associated Press

Supreme Court to decide Obamacare birth control mandate – Washington Times

Can a corporation have a religion?: Hobby Lobby challenge to contraception mandate heads to Supreme Court – Salon.com

The Supreme Court Prepares to Consider the Contraceptive Mandate – The Wire

This Advent, stop the clock: Slow down and savor the true beauty of the season

OSV Newsweekly

November 21, 2013

By Mary De Turris Poust

This Advent, stop the clock

 

By the time Advent officially begins, most of us have been bombarded by so much Christmas music and Christmas advertising and Christmas everything that we’re already sick of the season. In a world where the Christmas countdown begins sometime before Halloween, it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty of Advent, and to get so caught up in the material trappings that we can’t see the spiritual forest for the tinsel-covered trees.

 giving tree
Participate in a giving tree or some other opportunity to adopt a family or child who will otherwise not receive any gifts this Christmas. CNS

We live in a goal-oriented society, and in this case, Christmas is the end zone that we’re running toward at breakneck speed, hardly looking at what’s going on along the sidelines. But our faith beckons us to stop the madness, to stop the running, to focus on the journey as much as the destination. And to do that the Church gives us the four-week season of Advent, with its beautiful interplay of darkness and light, with its scriptural focus not only on the coming of the Christ Child but on the second coming of Jesus Christ, and with its quiet but constant insistence that we prepare — not just for a day but for a lifetime, and for the next life.

If we’ve been paying attention these past few months, we’ve been given some sound advice on how to do all this from Pope Francis, whose pastoral theme has been one focused on moving away from materialism and toward a deepening relationship with others and God.

“Brothers and sisters, let us call upon the name of Jesus,” Pope Francis challenged during his Nov. 3 Angelus address. “… And let us welcome him with joy: He can change us, can transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, he can liberate us from selfishness and make our lives a gift of love.”

“Liberate us from selfishness.” Sounds like an Advent plan. So we start and end with Jesus, but how do we manage the days in between that are filled with things of a much less transcendent but somewhat necessary nature? It requires Herculean effort to silence the drumbeat of the secular version of this holiday and holy day. But by creating rituals and practices that refocus our attention on Jesus, we can bring some sanity, serenity and balance to the most difficult aspects of the season: the waiting, the buying and the praying amid the noise.

Waiting game

“Waiting is never easy, especially when we’re waiting for something as important and awesome as Christmas. Yet, the waiting itself is essential in properly preparing our hearts to welcome our Lord. If he just appeared suddenly — bing! Instant Savior! — then we wouldn’t have time for the prayer, meditation and contemplation that is required to reach the level of reverence that our hearts need and that he deserves,” said Marge Fenelon, author of “Waiting with Mary: Advent Reflections for Those Who Hate to Wait.”

“During Advent, the Church asks us to relive those weeks before Mary gave birth to Jesus. No mother (not even foster or adoptive) welcomes a child out of the blue. There always is a period of preparation and anticipation. Advent is a time for us to imitate Mary’s pregnant motherhood — yes, even the guys — in that we await his birth in our hearts on Christmas morning. Savoring the waiting takes practice and determination,” she said. “To pull it off fruitfully, we need to focus on the waiting itself and how we’re approaching it spiritually. We need to plan spiritual exercises, customs, and quiet times that will lead us into, and hold us in, the attitude of holy expectation. If we don’t plan for a waiting-ful Advent, it won’t happen by itself.”

Fortunately, the Church gives us a ready-made set of customs and exercises from which to choose. The Advent wreath is the most popular and familiar custom most Catholics use to mark the days of the season with prayer. But there are other opportunities to bring ritual and prayer into the season in ways that makes sense for you and your family. (See sidebar for Advent ideas.) Regardless of the method, the bottom line is prayer.

Advent Practices
The Advent wreath and the Advent calendar are classic traditions that keep Catholics focused on the “reason for the season,” but here some everyday Catholics offer ways they try to keep the spirit of Advent alive:Have everyone in the family go to confession during the Advent season.Cut up small pieces of yellow yarn or small pieces of cotton and each time someone does a good deed or acts like Jesus to someone else, he or she can place a piece in the crèche to prepare a soft place for the Baby Jesus.

Create an ‘Advent chain’ made of appropriate purple and pink paper strips to follow the liturgical colors of the season. Remove a link each day. Links can include a prayer, a Scripture quote or good deed.

Celebrate St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6 by leaving a token gift — an orange, a piece of chocolate — in each child’s shoe. Then talk about the real St. Nick.

Participate in a giving tree or some other opportunity to adopt a family or child who will otherwise not receive any gifts this Christmas.

Serve lunch at a local soup kitchen before you head to your family celebration.

Create your own Jesse tree with a branch from your yard and some handmade ornaments. Talk about the meaning behind each symbol.

Turn your tree-trimming into a new tradition, either by chopping down your own tree or by blessing the tree as a family or by having a special dinner the night you decorate it. If possible, hold off on putting up the tree until the O Antiphons begin on Dec. 17, no easy feat in this rush-the-season world of ours.

Help your children make gifts for their siblings, parents, grandparents and friends: pictures, stories, dates out, free baby-sitting. Let kids get creative.

Everything is rooted in a prayerful watching and waiting. Fenelon, who says she wrote her book precisely because she lacks patience, told Our Sunday Visitor that prayer is essential if we’re going to try to slow down this season.

“Waiting is hard because we’re trained not to wait. Everything is instantaneous now — information, mental stimulation, recreation and even relationships. Digital technology puts it all right at our fingertips at a second’s notice … Prayer can’t be measured in gigabytes; it is measured in heartbeats. It’s also addictive. The more we pray, the more we feel the need to pray,” she said. “It can be a real struggle to reach the point of deeply fulfilling prayer when we’re feeling pressured by holiday preparations. We might not even feel like praying at all. That’s when we have to start with baby steps.”

Those baby steps can be something as simple as lighting a candle before dinner each night and stopping for just a minute to refocus attention on the sacred rhythm of the season, or it might be a conscious decision to avoid playing Christmas music or putting Christmas decorations up too early in the season. It’s not easy when “Jingle Bells” is playing from every radio station and when Santa is waving from every shopping center. But making an intentional effort to go against the grain will slow things down and allow you to savor the true beauty of Advent.

Consumerist culture

 family time
Spending time with loved ones is more important than shopping. Shutterstock

Perhaps nothing says Christmas like consumerism in mainstream America. We are living in a material world, and during the weeks and months leading up to Christmas, that fact is magnified to the point of the absurd. Gone are the days of handmade gifts and thoughtful trinkets. Now it’s not unusual for people to ask for gift cards, which is really just a polite way of saying, as Sally does in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Just send money. How about tens and twenties?”

Quantity counts a little too much when it comes to Christmas these days, a point that is driven home by the folks at Advent Conspiracy, an organization that strives to make people aware of the over-the-top spending that goes on in the name of Jesus and offers ways to reverse that.

In a video clip that went viral when it was first posted in 2006 — and which has done the same every year since — Advent Conspiracy points out that Americans spend $450 billion on Christmas every year, most of it on credit. That’s a lot of stuff, most of it unnecessary.

The video encourages people to give more of their time and their love and themselves, and less of their paycheck and watch the magic start to happen.

“I think people want a different way because they see all this stuff they’re buying is not doing it … We give people permission to relax, to enjoy the season and to push back on the tendencies they have to buy,” Tony Biaggne, creative director of Advent Conspiracy, told OSV.

Biaggne said people innocently try to fill the empty spaces in their lives with material things because that’s what the world tells us will make us happy. Advent Conspiracy started asking people to consider cutting back on even one gift and distributing that money to a good cause.

What happened was staggering. The group has raised millions of dollars for Living Water International, which works to end the “clean water crisis.”

But Biaggne is quick to mention that Advent Conspiracy is an “upside down charity.” It didn’t start out as an effort to raise money; it started as an effort to raise awareness of Jesus’ importance in our lives.

“We gave people a chance to focus on Jesus. The natural outflow is love, grace and mercy. It just happens,” he said. “People desperately are searching for a chance to truly connect with the God of the universe who truly does give them a sense of peace on earth.”

But that doesn’t mean forgoing gifts and taking on a Scrooge persona. Instead, the idea is not to stop giving gifts, but to give more intentional gifts, not necessarily handmade gifts but gifts from the heart.

Gifts from the heart

What does that look like in our modern world?

Well, it could be as simple as giving a child a “date” with mom or dad, a special day where they get to go somewhere or do something with a parent without interruptions or distractions like Facebook or work phone calls or TV.

Get Real this Advent: A Checklist
Set aside time for silence and prayer. Forgo Christmas music and listen to Advent chants and hymns. Light a candle before dinner each night and reflect on the season.

Make an effort to spend more time with loved ones.

Even gift cards can become heartfelt gifts when done right, said Biaggne.

“So if you give a gift card, you might say, ‘I know you love to shop at this store. The only catch is, I want to be with you and have lunch with you and shop with you,’” he said. “It becomes relational, and that redeems what seems like an empty gift.”

Biaggne is also quick to explain that Advent Conspiracy and other efforts to restore some sanity to the season cannot work without Jesus at the heart. He said that choosing not to include Jesus in a meaningful Christmas season is like choosing not to breathe oxygen when you take a breath. It can’t be done.

“You cannot enter into this without bringing your faith to the table and bringing Christ to the center of it and focusing on why the Christmas story matters,” he said. “It’s the most surreal, beautiful, most unexpected way that a Savior would enter into our world for all time.”

Change begins at home

So, for those of us just trying to balance the spiritual and the secular this season, how do we make it work?

“Forget trying to change the world and simply try to change your family,” said Al Kresta, president and CEO of Ave Maria Radio and author of “Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism’s 21st Century Opponents” (OSV, $14.95). “You ask how Catholics can change. We won’t if we don’t recognize the seduction of consumerism. In spite of strong, even pointed, papal preaching, most Catholics still don’t feel that consumerism is much of a problem. It is, according to John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. Consumerism is the life orientation that our identities are formed by purchasing and consuming goods and services.”

Kresta told OSV that rather than scold others or society for the sad state of the Advent and Christmas season, do small things at home to make a difference where it counts — in the heart of your family.

That means, first and foremost, treating Advent as a season and an event separate from Christmas, rather than an extended shopping season.

“We sing Christmas carols all through Advent. We put Baby Jesus in our crèche scenes before the Nativity. Stop it. Don’t scold others about it. Stop it yourself and in your family. Try to enjoy the fact that our culture still has a way of recognizing the Incarnation, as inadequate a celebration as it is, and don’t be a scold. But be merrily different and when questions arise, enjoy making the point about Advent as a season of anticipation and the octave of Christmas as a season of thanksgivng,” he said. “One way to ensure that Advent will be a time of reflection rather than a time for commercial hype is to simply try and do as much Christmas shopping as possible the week before Advent begins. This requires more planning but I do know people who do and they exhort the rest of us to try. Advent, they say, has never been more meaningful.”

Biaggne from Advent Conspiracy also stressed the importance of doing small things that have the potential for big results. He suggested taking time to be silent now and then, saying that Psalm 46:10 — “Be still and know that I am God” – is his favorite go-to Scripture verse during the otherwise hectic season.

“I love that God is constantly trying to get us to shut up. Be quiet, not just physically, but turn off the buzzing in your head, turn off the quickening pace of your heart because of stress and know,” Biaggne said, adding that when we do that others pick up on the shift in us.

“They catch a whiff of grace. They notice we’re living differently, more at peace. ‘What’s your trick?’ they ask,” he said.

The answer is simple but not always welcome: Jesus, at the heart of Advent, at the heart of everyday life.

How does that translate into Advent action in Biaggne’s home?

He recalled how last year his 9-year-old son gave him a “date day” for Christmas. He made Biaggne his favorite pasta, served it up with sparkling grape juice, and asked his dad to talk about his life.

“It was a dinner I’ll never forget,” Biaggne said, reminding parents that their kids are not likely to remember the action figure or game they got years ago but the time you spent with them and the special rituals you created.

He recalled how his own father used to pick him up from his Catholic school to take him to a business club for Christmas lunch.“It wasn’t about what he gave me,” he said. “It was all about the time we spent together.”

Papal words, example

When we start to feel our spirits flagging as the push to conquer Christmas continues, we can look to Pope Francis for inspiration and guidance.

Although the message isn’t groundbreaking, he has put renewed emphasis on the dangers of materialism, a message that seems especially appropriate during this season of excess.

“Pope Francis perfectly follows the emphases of John Paul II and Benedict XVI on this matter of consumerism. The advantage that Pope Francis has is that he is living as close as possible to the very people he wants to reach and can better depict the immediate love of Jesus for the lonely, the poor and disabled. Like Jesus, he is with the people and by living with us he affirms our dignity and value,” said Kresta, who devotes a chapter to “Consumerism: Branding the Heart” in his book.

“To redeem means to buy us back from the slave market of sin. Consumerism sees redemption as a matter of coupon clipping or payment plans. It buys back products; Christ redeems persons. One of the purposes of the Incarnation is to break the bonds of consumerism,” Kresta explained. “Christ’s coming shatters its false scale of value so that we will no longer live enthralled by the impulses of the flesh, the seduction of the world or the manipulations of the devil. … We imitate the one who ‘though he was rich, yet became poor for our sakes’ (2 Cor 8:9). This strikes me as a particularly poignant theme for American Catholics to ponder during Advent.”

Mary DeTurris Poust is the author of “Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality” (Alpha, $14.95).

Resources
On the Web◗ General and seasonal Catholic resources, links, crafts and more at catholicmom.com◗ O Night Divine, Advent resources, at onightdivine.com

◗ Devotions, blessings and commentaries at usccb.org/advent

◗ Resources, alternative gift ideas and more at adventconspiracy.org

Books

“Advent Reflections: Come Lord Jesus,” by Cardinal Timothy Dolan (OSV, $6.95)

“O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath,” by Lisa Hendey (Ave Maria Press, $1.25)

“Rediscover Advent,” by Matthew Kelly ($8.99, St. Anthony Messenger)

Music

“Advent at Ephesus,” by Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles” (De Montfort, $15)

“Advent,” by the Gregorian Singers of Minneapolis (Church Publishing, $17.95)

“Gregorian Chant for Advent and Christmas,” by the Gregorian Chant Schola of St. Meinrad Archabbey (St. Meinrad Archabbey, $16.95)

 

Source: https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/InFocus/Article/TabId/721/ArtMID/13629/ArticleID/13460/This-Advent-stop-the-clock.aspx

The Real Richard Dawkins?


November 21, 2013
To The Source
 
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by Dr. Benjamin Wiker
 
 
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What do we find out about Richard Dawkins in his recently-penned autobiography? Maddeningly little.

We find that Dawkins—Clinton Richard Dawkins, to be precise—had a kind of romantic beginning living in Africa. He was born in Nairobi, Kenya to kind and loving parents who treated him well, and who remained married until his father passed away at 95 years old, just a bit after the couple’s 70th wedding anniversary.

While his parents, John and Jean, were non-religious, they were not anti-religious. We don’t find an overbearing religious tyrant-father against whom the son could rebel, or a model of militant atheism to devotedly imitate.

His parents didn’t take him to church while they lived in Africa, but he did go (in good English fashion) to boarding schools where students went regularly to chapel, and said communal prayers every evening. Young Dawkins is quite happy to sing and pray along with everyone else—he loves hymns and prays nightly just like every other child-like child. If anything, boarding school caused belief to blossom.

So, when his family moved to England, his boarding school experiences only deepened his faith. Near the end of his time at Chafyn Grove, when he was thirteen years old, young Richard was confirmed at St. Mark’s Anglican Church. “I became intensely religious around the time I was confirmed. I priggishly upbraided my mother for not going to church,” he reports. A very interesting sort of rebellion against one’s parents, given his later career.

The year after his confirmation Dawkins went from Chafyn Grove to another prep school, Oundle. He began, as before, with prayers and chapel, but would end up, within three years, refusing to kneel or pray with the others. Why?
As a first phase of the transformation, he came to reject what he calls “the particulars” of Christianity as a result of doubts sown by his mother when he was just nine. She told him that there were other religions than Christianity, “and they contradicted each other.” So, Dawkins reasoned, five years after this seed was planted, “They couldn’t all be right.”

The result was interestingly mixed. He gave up anything particular (as in, the “particular” beliefs of the “particular” religion that surrounded him as a “particular” English Anglican adolescent) and embraced an “unspecified creator…because I was impressed by the beauty and apparent design of the living world, and—like so many others—I bamboozled myself into believing that the appearance of design demanded a designer.”

In a very strange and ironic twist, having given up Christianity, Dawkins now imagined himself to have a vocation, a calling “to devote my life to telling people about the [unspecified] creator god—which I would be especially well qualified to do if I became a biologist like my father.”

If Dawkins had continued on that trajectory, he might have become as famous for his arguments on behalf a designing God as he is now famous for his arguments against a designing God.
What happened? “I became increasingly aware that Darwinian evolution was a powerfully available alternative to my creator god as an explanation of the beauty and apparent design of life.” Interestingly, “it was my Father who first explained it [i.e., natural selection] to me but, to begin with, although I understood the principle, I didn’t think it was a big enough theory to do the job….I went through a period of doubting the power of natural selection to do the job required of it.”

One wonders what would have happened if Dawkins had followed through on these doubts. That would have put him among those evolutionists who believe in God precisely because they find that atheistic natural selection alone is woefully insufficient as an explanation for the drama of the majestic development of life.

Read the rest here:

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – November 21, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on November 21

4:00 – How to Share Your Faith with Anyone: A Practical Manual of Catholic Evangelization
Recent popes have challenged all Catholics to participate in the New Evangelization. But most Catholics feel ill-equipped to take up the challenge. Terry Barber, founder of St. Joseph Communications, has written a practical guide that takes much of the pain and uncertainty out of sharing one’s faith. Based on Barber’s decades of personal experience as an effective evangelist and masterful communicator, and drawing on the perceptions, examples, and lessons of other great evangelists and apologists, How to Share Your Faith with Anyone informs, entertains, and inspires would-be, as well as, seasoned evangelists and teachers. Terry is here to discuss it.

5:00 – Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads
From choosing to live in a simple apartment instead of the papal palace to washing the feet of men and women in a youth detention center, Pope Francis’s actions contradict behaviors expected of a modern leader. Chris Lowney, a former Jesuit seminarian turned Managing Director for JP Morgan & Co., is here to show how the pope’s words and deeds reveal spiritual principles that have prepared him to lead the Church and influence our world—a rapidly-changing world that requires leaders who value the human need for love, inspiration, and meaning. Drawing on interviews with people who knew him as Father Jorge Bergoglio, SJ, Lowney challenges assumptions about what it takes to be a great leader. In so doing, he reveals the “other-centered” leadership style of a man whose passion is to be with people rather than set apart. 

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – November 20, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on November 20

4:00 – 6:00 – JFK Special Broadcast
Many items make up the searing images from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — from the ill-fated presidential limousine to the gravesite eternal flame, to the historic Air Force One plane where Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office. Friday marks the 50thAnniversary of JFK’s assassination and we devote the day today to the 35thPresident and our nation’s first Catholic President. It was a year before his election that he gave his now-famous speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. In front of the Protestant ministers in attendance at the Rice Hotel in Texas, the presidential candidate gave his justifications on the “religious issue”—that is, how a Catholic president would navigate church-state relations while in office. Anti-Catholic sentiments ran high, as did fears the pope would influence his decisions. We talk about that speech, it’s impact, the JFK presidency, his moral issues, and much more.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – November 19, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on November 19

4:00 – Kresta Comments

4:40 – Undercover: Hotel Profiting from “Room-Service Abortions” in Albuquerque: City to face historic late-term abortion ban Today
The pro-life organization Live Action has released a second investigative video, highlighting what Live Action President Lila Rose has coined “room-service abortions” – and the hotels that profit off such sinister arrangements. The new undercover recording features an investigator attempting to schedule a 25-week abortion appointment with Southwestern Women’s Options, Albuquerque’s notorious late-term facility.  After specifying that the late-term abortion comprises a “week-long procedure,” the staffer directs the investigator to the Plaza Inn – “a hotel that we work in conjunction with” – which offers room rate discounts and free transportation to and from all appointments. Voters in Albuquerque, New Mexico will go to the polls today to vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation.  Research shows that children in the womb are able to feel pain at this point in their development, if not sooner. We talk to Lila about this investigation which proves the need for this legislation in NM.

5:00 – The Gettysburg Address Turns 150 Years Old
On the Civil War battlefield where President Abraham Lincoln gave a speech that symbolized his presidency and the sacrifices made by Union and Confederate forces, thousands gathered today, historians and everyday Americans alike, to ponder what the Gettysburg Address has meant to the nation. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address — delivered 150 years ago today, took place here nearly five months after the major battle that left tens of thousands of men wounded, dead or missing. We talk to Ronald White Jr. who has written one of the most authoritative biographies of our 16th President, A. Lincoln: A Biography

5:40 – Kresta Comments

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – November 18, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on November 18

4:00 – God’s Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian’s Fight for Freedom
Tens of millions of Christians live in China today, many of them leading double lives or in hiding from a government that relentlessly persecutes them. Bob Fu, whom the Wall Street Journal called “The pastor of China’s underground railroad,” is fighting to protect his fellow believers from persecution, imprisonment, and even death. We hear h is his fascinating and riveting story.

5:00 – The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution
From Iraq and Egypt to Sudan and Nigeria, from Indonesia to the Indian subcontinent, Christians in the early 21st century are the world’s most persecuted religious group. According to the secular International Society for Human Rights, 80 percent of violations of religious freedom in the world today are directed against Christians. In effect, our era is witnessing the rise of a new generation of martyrs. Underlying the global war on Christians is the demographic reality that more than two-thirds of the world’s 2.3 billion Christians now live outside the West, often as a beleaguered minority up against a hostile majority– whether it’s Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, Hindu radicalism in India, or state-imposed atheism in China and North Korea. In Europe and North America, Christians face political and legal challenges to religious freedom. Long-time Vatican analyst John Allen exposes the deadly threats and offers investigative insight into what is and can be done to stop these atrocities. Christians today indisputably form the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often its new martyrs suffer in silence. John is here to try and shatter that silence.

It’s About to Rain!

The trailer for the biblical epic “NOAH” has finally been released. The early peek at the film’s visual effects are impressive, as all creatures great and small crowd into the ark as Noah warns, “A great flood is coming.” The cast includes Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman. The official trailer for the film, which opens March 28, is below. ENJOY!

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – November 14, 2013

Talking About the “Things that Matter Most” on Nov. 14, 2013

LIVE FROM THE USCCB FALL ASSEMBLY IN BALTIMORE, MD

4:00 – Suggestion: why not have the government traffic organs? After years of fighting black market medicine, researchers propose a new approach
New ethical trends in medicine usually turn up in obscure medical journals first. Witness the academic argument for legalizing trade in human organs in a report in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. This idea was newsworthy: the government should pay living kidney donors – or more accurately, vendors – $10,000 to cut the dialysis cost of those waiting for transplants. The proposal totally contradicts accepted views on the role of government and the ethics of organ donation. Fr. Tad Pacholczyk of the National Catholic Bioethics Center is here to analyze.

4:40 – Kresta Comments

5:00 – Superior Catholic Schools Already Exceed Common Core Standards
We have received an overwhelming amount of e-mails, letters, phone calls, columns, press releases, articles and more regarding the Common Core Curriculum. Today we delve into it with Dan Guernsey, headmaster at the Donohue Academy and serves on the board of the National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools, (NAPCIS), which provides consulting and accreditation services for more than 150 independent Catholic schools across the nation

Kresta Commentary from May of 2010 – Do You Know the Mind of Christ on Immigration?

Do you know the mind of Christ on immigration?
 
Christians are disciples of Christ. The word “disciple” means  literally, “learner” i.e., a follower, pupil, or adherent of a teacher or religious leader. Claiming to be a disciple when you think you’ve got nothing more to learn is just plain dumb and shows you’ve got a lot to learn.  Scripture teaches that when a disciple is fully trained he will be like his Teacher. Catholic disciples, i.e., learners, are followers of Christwho teaches them through His Body, the Church.  So what has Christtaught on immigration? Do you know the mind of Christon immigration? 
 
I think the first response might be “Can I even know the mind of Christon immigration?” If you mean you know what piece of legislation Jesus would pen to solve our immigration crisis, then “No”. 
 
If you mean, however, having a knowledge of the priorities of the Kingdom and how the laity should function in ordering the temporal affairs of the state, then, “Yes”. By purifying our hearts and motives in prayer, allowing divine revelation to clarify the natural law that we know through right reason, civil debate, and by exercising the virtue of prudence, we can produce legislation that is more rather than less likely to reflect the Mind of Christ. 
 
This scares some people and ends the discussion. They fear theocracy and mullahs and burning stakes, etc. The images are all wrong. This is not, first of all, a matter of divine revelation. For those who accept a divine revelation, God has spoken! Yes, this would a conversation stopper in political debate.  How do argue with God?
 
But in the integration of faith and public life, political argument, not divine revelation, is foremost. Civil debate and discovery are central. The method is more that of trial and error than application of a divinely ordained policy. Consequently, we never have the certainty in prudential political matters that we have in revealed dogmas like the Trinity. Nevertheless, in reading through comments and commentary sparked by Arizona’s immigration debate, I’ve been so disappointed. So much of what I’ve read by Catholics seems to think that the teaching of the Church has no role to play in forming our minds on prudential political matters. As though there is no mind of Christon the issue. As though the plight of immigrants or the safety of the host nation are matters of complete indifference to God. 
 
For instance, in some circles, the Old Testament phrase “Welcome the stranger” (Lv 19:34; Dt 10:17-19)) is mocked as though it is sentimental whitewash concealing a left wing political agenda. Well, the devil can quote Scripture but, in fact, a quick look at some standard reference work like the Anchor Bible Dictionary would show lots of ink about the foreigner, the stranger, and the alien. Care for foreigners is central to ancient Israel’s self understanding since they were once strangers in a foreign land. 
 
A related theme is picked up in the New Testament under the notion of “hospitality.” Strangely, it’s usually political conservatives that  parody the “welcome the stranger” or “hospitality” motifs. Nevertheless, their importance as a mark of the faithful Church can be confirmed by any of the standard Bible dictionaries. 
 
On the other hand, political liberals invite ridicule by acting as though a simple quote or practice from ancient Israel(whose borders were porous and often changing) can somehow be directly invoked to declare current immigration law unjust. 
 
Shameful and silly arguments are advanced by both sides. From the left: that those concerned for border security are really racists and xenophobes in disguise. Just look in their car’s trunk and you’ll find a hood or a swastika flag. From the right: that Catholic ministry to migrant workers is a calculated and sinister church growth strategy. 
 
All of this neglect and nonsense shout that most Catholics are unfamiliar with, for instance, the Pope’s annual message on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees easily available with a few keystrokes at http://www.usccb.org/mrs/papalstatements.shtml. I confess that on Kresta in the Afternoon I have rarely even mentioned these particular papal addresses never mind use them as the spur to commentary. 
 
Or that John Paul IIwho hailed from a nation perpetually concerned about her borders could write that “the Church in Americamust be a vigilant advocate, defending against any unjust restriction on the natural right of individual persons to move freely within their own nation and from one nation to another. Attention must be called to the rights of migrants and their families and to respect for their human dignity, even in cases of non-legal immigration.  Migrants should be met with a hospitable and welcoming attitude which can encourage them to become part of the Church’s life.” (John Paul II, Ecclesia in America, 236, 237). 
 
John Paul II sounds like he’s familiar with the civil law of ancient Israelwhich had a different understanding of borders. Foreigner or sojourners had certain rights but also certain limitations while in Israel. Civil rights were provided for foreigners by the Law of Moses (Ex 12:49; Lv 24:22), and they came under the same legal processes and penalties (Lv 20:2; 24:16, 22; Dr 1:16). They were to be treated politely (Ex 22:21; 23:9) , loved and treated generously if poor and receive the fruits of the harvest (Lv 19:10;23:22; Dt 24;19-22). They could receive sanctuary in times of trouble (Nm 35:15; Jos 20:9). A foreigner could not take part in tribal deliberations or become a king (17:15) The prophet Ezekiel looked forward to the messianic age when the foreigner would share all the blessings of the land with God’s own people (Ez 47:22,23). He envisioned a coming Kingdom without borders. The Church is, today, that emerging, visible society in sacramental form.
 
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also gives us as citizens of America, the lead nation of the world, reason to remember that to whom much is given, much will be demanded and that enforcement of our laws is a matter of the common good.

CCC 2240 “Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country…

CCC 2241 “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.” 
 
Now this teaching doesn’t translate very easily into public policy. Among Catholics, however, it should set the tone and establish some parameters.
 
Of course, the Church also teaches the importance of the rule of law. St. Thomas Aquinas regarded it as the “primary proper means of coordinating civil society.” As the Archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaputwrote “Illegal immigration is wrong and dangerous for everyone involved. There’s nothing ‘good’ about people risking their lives for the mere purpose of entering the United States. There’s nothing ‘good’ about our nation not knowing who crosses our borders and why they’re here, especially in an age of terrorism, drugs and organized violent crime.  There’s nothing ‘good’ about people living in the shadows; or families being separated, or decent people being deported and having to start their lives all over again, sometimes in a country that they no longer- or never did-know.”
 
I am convinced that our southern borders will not suddenly be closed off.  I am similarly convinced that 11-18 million illegal immigrants won’t be deported. With those assumptions in place, what do you want to do?
 
Indignation is understandable and natural since grave injustice has been committed. Indignation, however, is no exemption from dealing with reality. And the reality is that neither Democrats nor Republicans will close the borders nor will they deport the majority of illegal aliens.
 
Further, the American people will not support comprehensive immigration reform without a believable commitment to secure the border. We went through that in the last Bush administration.
 
So, in the meantime, how is the Church to treat illegal immigrants who are frequently already Catholic?
 
1. Welcome them so they will come out of the shadows. The Church is not an arm of law enforcement. When Jewish religio-civil authorities tried to lure Jesus into enforcing a particular legal penalty, he argued for discretion rather than strict retribution and said, “Go and sin no more.”
2. Minister the sacraments including penance.
3. Exhort them to pay back taxes, get to the back of the immigration line and pay a necessary financial penalty.
4. Give them sanctuary and promise to stand with them through the process of naturalization. Make disciples of them.

5. Where appropriate encourage them to turn state’s evidence against factories or agribusiness which lured them over here and held them in a form of indentured servanthood.

6. Insist that Federal and State authorities cease trivializing the law by lack of enforcement. Their failure discredits the law in the eyes of the citizens, invites violation, and wreaks havoc on the common good.

7. If the state interferes with the legitimate ministry of the Church, we must obey God rather than man.

What do you think?

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