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  • Media Repeatedly Deceives Public in Hobby Lobby Coverage

    via Crisis Magazine

    by James Agresti

    james agrestiIn the buildup to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, and even more so in its aftermath, prominent news outlets have been aggressively spreading falsehoods about key aspects of the case. Beyond logical fallacies about who is imposing their will on others, many reports and commentaries also contain statements that are discredited by the scientific facts at the core of this case.

    Although journalism standards give commentators “wide latitude” to express their views, this is not a license to mutilate the truth. In the words of New York Times deputy editorial page editor Trish Hall, “the facts in a piece must be supported and validated. You can have any opinion you would like, but you can’t say that a certain battle began on a certain day if it did not.”

    Yet, the New York Times and other media outlets have repeatedly broadcast demonstrably false claims about the Hobby Lobby case. Among the most frequent of these are as follows:

    • Medical science shows that the Obama administration’s “contraception” mandate has nothing to do with abortion.
    • IUDs don’t terminate human embryos.
    • Morning-after pills don’t kill human embryos.

    As detailed below, all of those claims are deceitful and derived from politicized, unauthoritative sources. In reality, data from highly credible sources shows that:

    • The Hobby Lobby case concerns the destruction of living, viable human embryos.
    • IUDs terminate viable human embryos.
    • Morning-after pills may kill embryos, and claims that they don’t are based upon crass distortions of scientific studies.

    What follows is the documentation of these facts, along with the details of how media outlets have flouted basic standards of journalistic integrity in their coverage of this case.

    What is an embryo?
    As explained in the medical textbook The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, an “embryo” is formed at “fertilization” and marks the “beginning of a new human being.” Per the American Heritage Dictionary of Science, the earliest stage of an embryo is also called a “zygote” or “fertilized egg.”

    During fertilization, embryos acquire the genetic information that makes each of us human. Per a 2001 paper in the Biochemical Journal, “Sexual reproduction in mammals results in the formation of a zygote, a single cell which contains all the necessary information to produce an entire organism comprised of billions of cells grouped into multitudinous cell types.”

    In more practical terms, the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancyexplains that the genetic material formed at fertilization “will determine your baby’s sex, eye color, hair color, body size, facial features and—at least to some extent—intelligence and personality.”

    Science has also revealed that each human embryo is biologically unique and irreplaceable. Genetically speaking, with the exception of identical twins, once a woman conceives an embryo, the odds against her conceiving the same one again are greater than 10600 to one. For comparison, there are roughly 1080 atoms in the known universe.

    Even among identical twins (who have exactly the same DNA), the burgeoning science of epigenetics has shown they still have biological differences that make each of them remarkably unique.

    What is an abortion?
    As described in various dictionaries, an “abortion” involves the termination of a pregnancy. There is little controversy over that. However, there is disagreement over when pregnancy begins, and this boils over into the issue of what constitutes an abortion.

    Some claim that pregnancy begins at fertilization, while others argue that it does not begin until the embryo implants in the uterus (which occurs 8-10 days after fertilization). Hence, under the second of these definitions, killing an embryo before implantation would not be considered an abortion. Instead, it would be called “contraception.”

    Does the Hobby Lobby case concern abortion?
    According to Annie Sneed in Scientific American, Anne Michaud in Newsday, and Jamie Manson in the National Catholic Reporter, medical science says that pregnancy does not begin until implantation, and thus, the Hobby Lobby case is not truly about abortion. In the words of Manson, “according to the medical definition, a woman is not considered pregnant until the developing embryo successfully implants [in] the lining of the uterus.”

    Those are but a few examples of many who have made absolutist claims to that effect, but in reality, the definition of pregnancy is highly disputed in the medical profession. For example, polls of obstetrician-gynecologists published in theAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine both show that doctors are divided over whether pregnancy begins at fertilization or implantation.

    Likewise, medical literature abounds with the use of both definitions. Here is just a small sample of the countless medical texts that define pregnancy as beginning at fertilization:

    • Human Reproductive Biology: “In most textbooks and in legal rulings about induced abortion (see Chapter 14), pregnancy begins at fertilization: We will also use that definition in this book.”
    • Medical Physiology: Principles for Clinical Medicine: “A mother is considered pregnant at the moment of fertilization—the successful union of a sperm and an egg.”
    • What Every Woman Should Know about Cervical Cancer: “The pregnancy begins with the fertilization of the ovum [egg].”
    • Medical Terminology Made Incredibly Easy: “Pregnancy results when a female’s egg and male’s sperm unite.”
    • Placenta and Trophoblast: Methods and Protocols: “Pregnancy begins with fertilization of the ovulated oocyte by the sperm.”

    Nevertheless, writing for Al Jazeera, Marisa Taylor quotes two people from the Office of Population Research at Princeton University—neither of whom have a medical degree—stating that Hobby Lobby and other companies “are really redefining what pregnancy is, and therefore what abortion is. … Either they are very stupid, or they don’t believe in science.”

    When Al Jazeera gives a platform to that kind of rhetoric while failing to report the countervailing facts, they violate a central tenet of journalism: to tell “the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it.”

    Most importantly, the precise definition of pregnancy is a semantic distraction from the core of the case. The Hobby Lobby lawsuit is about the owners’ objection to being forced to pay for items that terminate living, viable human embryos. Whether one calls this “abortion” or “contraception” does not change this reality.

    Read More

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 29, 2014—Hour 1

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 29, 2014—Hour 1

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Birth Choice: Providing Help to Unwed Mothers

    • Description: When Kathleen Eaton became a single mother in 1980, she felt she had no way out. She couldn’t find any clinic in her area that offered an alternative to abortion, and felt she had no choice. She founded Birth Choice to help other women avoid the pain she experienced from her abortion. Birth Choice offers pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, referrals and other services free of charge to women faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Kathleen is here to tell her story and talk about Birth Choice’s mission and future.
    • Segment Guests:

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Birth Choice: Providing Help to Unwed Mothers (continued)

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Institute of Catholic Culture

    • Description: Several years ago, Deacon Sabatino Carnazzo was just one more of millions of “fallen away” Catholics and had no idea of God’s plans for him. He has since dedicated his life to making sure others don’t take lightly of God’s gift of eternal life. In order to restore the Catholic Church to her former glory, we must begin by educating the faithful in the Church’s great inherited tradition and we must once again reach out an evangelical hand to those outside the Catholic Church. Deacon Carnazzo joins us.
    • Segment Guests:
  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 29, 2014—Hour 2

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 29, 2014—Hour 2

    + Segment #1 of 3

    The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade

    • Description: Yesterday, July 28, marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. “The Great and Holy War” offers the first look at how religion created and prolonged the war. Historian Philip Jenkins reveals the powerful religious dimensions of this modern-day crusade, a period that marked a traumatic crisis for Western civilization, with effects that echoed throughout the rest of the twentieth century. Phillip joins us.
    • Segment Guests:

    + Segment #2 of 3

    The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade (continued)

    + Segment #3 of 3

    The Catholic Church and Ukraine

  • The Mark of a Christian Today

    via Crisis Magazine

    by Dusty Gates

    dusty gatesThe recent siege of systematic targeting of Christians in the Middle East should spur us to action in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. While separated from them geographically, we are called to unite ourselves with them in spirit: praying for their safety and an end to the widespread anti-Christian violence in that region. We should do our part to educate those around us, informing our communities and making the seriousness of this situation and our position known to our leaders and representatives. The truth about this tragic and fearful situation must be understood with honest clarity. Our readiness and ability to identify with our fellow “Nazarenes” who have been branded as subjects for oppression and victimization is truly a test of our own Christianity. If we are unmoved by their plight and do not feel compelled to act on their behalf, we fail to live out our calling to be “members of one another” (Eph. 4:25).

    Perhaps we should also ask ourselves, at this critical juncture, whether or Christian house mosulnot we would be marked as Christians by those around us. Would our lifestyles, attitudes, and actions identify us as followers of Christ? Would we be found worthy to bear the title “Nazarene,” as our persecuted brethren in Iraq have been, labelled as such in a context reminiscent of the betrayal of our savior who, “knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, ‘Whom are you looking for?’ They answered him, ‘Jesus the Nazorean.’ He said to them, ‘I AM’ ”(Jn. 18:4-5). How often do we hide away, preferring our own security and social acceptance to the demands of discipleship? We regularly cower in secrecy, seeking our own comfort while concealing our Christian identity as Peter did, warming his hands by the fire while denying that he even knew Jesus.

    Those who are identified and marked as Christians in Iraq are given three choices by their ISIS persecutors: conversion, acceptance of oppressive conditions, or death. Though, thanks be to God, in the West we are not faced with the immediate danger of this sort of threat, in spiritual solidarity perhaps we should recognize that we are all given these same three options, though in a different form with perhaps more room to attempt compromise. Christians living in any society that is inhospitable towards Christianity are given a choice either to convert (abandon their Christianity in favor of popular anti-religious attitudes and rhetoric), to passively accept oppressive conditions (silently enduring infringements upon freedom, biases, and the general difficulty of trying to be faithful in an opposed society), or to die: to actively resist and counteract evil in our world, willing to accept the full consequences of doing so in the hope and trust that we will be vindicated and that Satan will not have the last word.

    The notion of being marked in accordance with our relationship to God should be horrifying for us all. It leaves no grey area: you are either marked or you are not. Most of our notions of Christian identity leave us some opportunity to blur the lines of inclusion and allow us the benefit of the doubt. But when we are presented with a choice of either bearing a mark or not bearing it, we are faced with a concrete and blatant choice. Our mark, or lack thereof, is both objective and affective; it signifies and brings about a real change in our existence and future. It brings to mind several instances in Scripture where God’s faithful are set apart by a special marking bestowed upon them for the purpose of preparation for an imminent crisis.

    For example, God appeared to Ezekiel in a vision through which God showed Ezekiel the horrendous abominations that were being committed in the House of God, explaining why his presence was forced to leave the Temple (Ezek. 8:9-18). In this vision, the Lord marked those who were faithful with an X (the Hebrew letter tahv) as a promise that they would be saved from the destruction that would befall all those opposed to God. His servants were instructed to pass through the city and strike down without mercy those who did not bear the mark (Ezek. 9:4-10). This marking and subsequent judgment in Ezekiel’s vision would have reminded the Jews of their history as God’s specially protected people, rescued in dramatic fashion at Passover. In preparation for the final plague, the Hebrews were to mark the two doorpost and the lintel to signify their identity and be spared from death (Exod. 12:7).

    We are given a similar image in the Revelation to John, where once again a select group is made distinct from the masses by the bestowal of a mark, signifying their preservation by God. “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God” (Rev. 7:3). The 144,000 (a multiple of the 12 tribes of Israel: the assembly of God’s chosen) would be spared from the wrath of the Lamb. This also draws a distinction between those sealed with the name of God and those that bear the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:17). In other words, everyone bears a mark: we are either marked for God or marked for the anti-God; destined for everlasting life in the new creation or for everlasting death in separation from it, “for the world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31).

    Read More

  • Catholic Unity Threatened

    by Al Kresta

    al_kresta-125x130When I see people cloaking their own political/economic preferences with the authority of divine revelation, I get angry. Jesus, himself, got angry when the Pharisees attributed to their own traditions a divine authority for which they had no warrant. I’m sure my anger doesn’t compare well to that of Jesus. Nevertheless, having been misled in my teens and early 20s by false spiritual claims, this does get a bit personal.

    All Catholics, however, should take false spiritual claims personally. They threaten to undermine our task in the world. The Catholic Church is placed on earth to reveal the united humanity willed by God and inaugurated in Jesus’ Kingdom. People enter this new humanity through baptism and the Church is established, one might say, as the pilot-plant of that new humanity. We are to pioneer better ways of loving and serving one another, of carrying one another’s burdens, of resolving human conflict and ensuring human flourishing. When the institutional and spiritual unity of the Church is threatened, Jesus’ claim to have inaugurated his Kingdom is made less plausible in the eyes of the watching world.  Much is at stake in our life together.

    This is why I am dismayed when well-intentioned men and women confuse left-leaning, socio-economicpolicies with definitive Catholic social principles. Inevitably, this confusion provokes reaction from fellow Catholics who, leaning right, sense the abuse of spiritual authority. It gets ugly.

    I first saw this type of abuse from the political right at a 1976 symposium titled “A Christian Approach to Economics” held at a Lansing Baptist church. The presenter, a genial, successful businessman and longtime Bible reader, made the claim that the Ten Commandments show that unfettered capitalism is the only economic arrangement that Christians can support.

    I had just finished reading Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and my head was busting with Bible verses about the Jubilee year and the gleaning laws of the Old Testament. The presenter’s hot words led to my boiling words and when I stood to interrupt, verbal fisticuffs followed. Both arrogantly and incautiously claimed to know more about God’s will than we had a right. It was ugly.

    Disagreement about socio-economic policies doesn’t justify abandoning confidence in the Catholic social principles that do apply in all times and all places. These principles are:

    • The dignity of the human person, meaning that every human life is sacred, images God and is the foundation, the cause and the end of every social institution.

    • Subsidiarity, meaning that problems should be handled by the smallest, lowest, or least centralized authority capable of resolving the problem.

    • Solidarity, meaning that no economic, religious, racial, ethnic, or political barrier should blind us to our common creation and our potential redemption.

    • Universal destination of material goods, meaning that the goods of creation are destined to meet the basic needs of the whole human race.

    • Preferential option for the poor, which means the testing of various policies by their impact on the poor and powerless.

    These immutable principles construct the arena in which we carry out our contest of application. Catholic laity are divinely ordained as citizens, sociologists, politicians, economists, artists, mothers and fathers, union leaders, corporate managers, etc., to enter that arena and formulate policies based on these revealed principles. We won’t always agree. But our policies must be submitted to prudential reason and, when possible, empirical testing. In Christ, conflict of opinion should be creative.

    Unfortunately, some try to short-circuit the debate by claiming divine authority for their favorite socio-economic policies. The evangelical Protestant businessman, coming from the right, championed unfettered capitalism as a divine truth. Today many Catholics, coming from the left, similarly abuse spiritual authority and baptize a center/left Western European democratic socialism. They seem mired in memories of the mixed economies of Europe that produced strong recovery after World War II. Today’s economic successes of India, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, the failures of Argentina, Chile, many African nations or the current economic stagnation of the European Union seem lost on them.

    This is our test: “What offers long-term help for the poor?” The Asian Development Bank estimates that between 1990 and 2005, approximately 850 million people have escaped absolute poverty. A major reason has been more open markets, private entrepreneurship, greater access to foreign capital and the freeing up of trade. Here the poor have been elevated, first of all, through the creation of wealth rather than its redistribution. You can’t redistribute what you don’t possess.

    Many Catholic social justice advocates fail to learn from these social experiments because of a habitual distrust of free markets and economic liberalization. They reflexively turn to the state to solve socio-economic problems as though this is the only option mandated by divine teaching. It is not.

    Embrace everyone, but resist any opinion from left or right that confuses Catholic social doctrine with any particular application of it. We cannot claim divine warrant for our prudential judgments any more than the Pharisees claimed for their, perhaps helpful, pious traditions. The Body of Christ is not conservative or liberal; it is Catholic. We are not captive to any partisan ideology. We do have our principles, but will test policies by how they protect human life, increase human beatitude, expand human liberty and elevate the poor to freedom and dignity.

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 29, 2014

    Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on July 29, 2014

     

    4:00 – Birth Choice: Providing Help to Unwed Mothers

    When Kathleen Eaton became a single mother in 1980, she felt she had no way out. She couldn’t find any clinic in her area that offered an alternative to abortion, and felt she had no choice. She founded Birth Choice to help other women avoid the pain she experienced from her abortion. Birth Choice offers pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, referrals and other services free of charge to women faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Kathleen is here to tell her story and talk about Birth Choice’s mission and future.

     

    4:40 – Institute of Catholic Culture

    Several years ago, Deacon Sabatino Carnazzo was just one more of millions of “fallen away” Catholics and had no idea of God’s plans for him. He has since dedicated his life to making sure others don’t take lightly of God’s gift of eternal life. In order to restore the Catholic Church to her former glory, we must begin by educating the faithful in the Church’s great inherited tradition and we must once again reach out an evangelical hand to those outside the Catholic Church. Deacon Carnazzo joins us.

     

    5:00 – The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade

    Yesterday, July 28, marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. “The Great and Holy War” offers the first look at how religion created and prolonged the war. Historian Philip Jenkins reveals the powerful religious dimensions of this modern-day crusade, a period that marked a traumatic crisis for Western civilization, with effects that echoed throughout the rest of the twentieth century. Phillip joins us.

     

    5:40 – The Catholic Church and Ukraine

    The current tensions in Ukraine are rooted in the Euromaidan movement, which wants Ukraine to join the European Union and sever its ties with Russia. Ukrainian bishop Borys Gudziak has witnessed the escalating violence firsthand and has also witnessed the growth of the Church in Ukraine, even during the days of Soviet oppression. He joins us. 

  • The Next Hobby Lobby: Mandating IVF Coverage

    via Crisis Magazine

    by John Grondelski

    john grondelskiThe most cursory survey of the American mass media in July 2014 would have you believe that millions of women are being denied basic medical care and fundamental rights are under total assault because … they can’t get somebody else to buy their abortifacients. Indeed, the U.S. Senate—whose legislative productivity this year suggests it has been the victim of an Obamacare death panel—managed to rush a bill overturning Hobby Lobby to the floor, without committee hearing or public input … only to fail at the hands of Republicans.

    Well, has the New York Times given us a glimpse of Hobby Lobby II?

    The July 26 issue carries a story whose gist is that government and private insurance does not adequately cover in vitro fertilization (IVF).

    The story opens with the usual human interest story: a 27-year-old nurse complains, after suffering four miscarriages and her husband divorcing her, that “‘I decided I am going to be a mom, whether I am on my own or whether I had a partner by my side.’”

    Since “wishin’ don’t make it so”—especially when it comes to parenthood—not having that141274_embryos_MJB_ partner could pose a problem, though nothing a little withdrawal from the sperm bank can’t solve. The bigger problem, though, seemed to be costs: a single round of IVF costs $15,000-$25,000, and “her health insurance, through the California exchange” doesn’t pay for it.

    The article then goes on with the usual litany of complaints: only 27 percent of large company-provided insurance plans cover IVF; only 15 states require plans to have an “infertility coverage” component; 4 of the 15 limit mandate to IVF using artificial insemination by husband only; some policies “exclude gay couples and single women” by “defin[ing] infertility as an inability to become pregnant through sexual intercourse”; some states require a documented period of infertility or waiting periods before coverage kicks in; not covering IVF now paves the way for pregnancy complications later; and “the Affordable Care Act did little to expand infertility coverage.”

    Let’s consider what’s at issue:

    Implicit in this argument is the ongoing divorce of sex from marriage. The wisdom of generations—that a man and woman should fall in love, marry, and have children as a gift from God—is rejected as so much patriarchical enslavement to biology. Bringing children into the world has nothing inherently to do with being married: our 27-year-old nurse is determined to have a baby, “partner or not.” Notice her word choice: she does not even say “husband or not,” but “partner or not.” Parenthood is now to become a unilateral decision; while previous generations might have only dreamed of Amazon-like reproduction, modern technology has now made it possible. Unilateral maternity, of course, was already endorsed in Roe v. Wade and ratified in Planned Parenthood v. Danforth (declaring unconstitutional Missouri’s spousal consent requirement). This “solution” is, of course, essential to cementing the “achievement” of “same-sex marriage,” transgenderism, cohabitation, etc.: to be “human,” man has to transcend his biology.

    Advocates of unilateral parenthood have no qualms about ensconcing their view in public policy. The Times article takes it as a given that social policy is just a little behind the curve on this issue, and that eventually—by putting money behind it—IVF will just become standard “treatment.” The article appears in a series “Your Money”—but it’s our money (insurers, exchanges, the public) that will be enlisted to pay for it.

    Society has no interest in how society is sustained. The privatization of marriage and parenthood have become so complete in American law that society is seen as having no interest in how members come into it or how society is sustained. This is not just a question of how people are born but of the whole ethos of family life in society. No serious social science research disputes that children need intact families to develop normally; but the current American approach to family policy avoids engaging with that truth.

    Read More

  • What do we Mean by “Full of Grace?”

    via Catholic Exchange

    by Stephen Beale

    Stephen bealeNo greeting has ever been more troubling—or controversial.

    Hail Mary, full of grace.

    The words are beautiful, angelic, and rich in meaning. They are also a centuries-long fault line between Protestants and Catholics. Everything, it seems, hangs upon what is meant by full of grace, or whether full of grace is even the correct translation of Luke 1:28. In Latin, the phrase becomes two words: plena gratia. In the original Greek, it’s just one, the phonetically unwieldy but potent in meaning verb, kecharitōmenē.

    The case for the Catholic reading of this is not only far more compelling than Protestant critics will let on, but also far stronger than many Catholics today probably realize.

    But first, a word about how to read Scripture. A common Protestant critique is that it is irresponsible for Catholic apologists to read so much into just one word, phrase, or a single verse. It’s something we often hear in familiar Catholic-Protestant debates. Does the rock in Matthew 16:18 refers to Peter (the Catholic position) or his faith (the Protestant claim)? Or what is the meaning of “is” in the words of institution at the Last Supper? No matter how convincing the Catholic claim becomes, it becomes the ultimate fallback for the Protestant skeptic: one verse can hardly be the foundation for an entire dogma.

    Setting aside for the moment that the dogmas at issue in the above debates actually have broad Scriptural support, such criticisms are extraordinarily disingenuous for a group that has made Sola Scripture the shibboleth of faith. It’s also out of character with the spirit of the early Church. Take this reflection from one Church Father, St. Basil:

    Every deed and every word of our Savior Jesus Christ is a canon of piety and virtue. mary full of graceWhen thou hearest word or deed of His, do not hear it as by the way, or after a simple and carnal manner, but enter into the depths of His contemplation, become a communicant in truths mystically delivered to thee.

    Basil is talking about Christ’s words in particular, but his statement could just as easily describe how the Church has traditionally approached all Scripture. They are just a few words, but God’s declaration to Moses in Exodus 3:14—I am Who I am—have shaped centuries of theological thought about God’s being. Christ is referred to as the Word just four times in Scripture (John 1 and 1 John 1), but Christology today is unthinkable without the epithet. The same goes for Christian anthropology and Genesis 1:27 (man was made in the “image” and “likeness” of God).

    Now let’s return to Luke 1:28. The theological debate begins with a textual question. What exactly does Luke 1:28 say? Is he talking about grace, that most potent of theological words? Or is Mary simply ‘favored’ by God, as so many Protestant translations read?

    Some evangelical Protestant apologists will play a semantic shell-game. They seize upon the fact that full of grace is taken from the Latin plena gratia, not directly from the Greek text. Full of grace, they point out, appears in the Greek in two other verses, not this one. (Click here to see one example.) The argument is presented as a rebuttal of the Catholic position and it plays neatly into Protestant stereotypes about Catholics not knowing their Bibles.

    This raises the question as to how to translate the word at issue (kecharitōmenē) in the first place.  The word is a form of the verb charitoō. This word should look familiar, even to non-Greek speakers. It’s where we get our word charisma, which refers to someone’s gift as a leader. In ancient Greek, the companion noun was charis, the stock New Testament word forgrace. Although it’s sometimes translated as favor, it overwhelmingly is rendered in the King James Bible as grace. (Out of 156 instances, 132 read asgrace, while just 7 are favor. Most of the rest appear to be translated as a form of thanks.)

    We are right to suspect that charitoō then has something to do with grace as we understand it. And that’s exactly how it’s defined. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines the verb this way: “to endow with charis, primarily signified ‘to make graceful or gracious,’ … ‘to cause to find favor.’” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon puts it this way: “to pursue with grace, to compass with favor.” Another dictionary drops “favor” altogether and gives us this definition: “kecharitōmenē … means endowed with grace.”

    However, these definitions do leave it open-ended as to whether grace orfavor is the way to go. Although favor and grace have related meanings they remain distinct. In a theological context, grace is a free and unmerited gift of God. Grace is something given to someone. Usually we think of a favor as something done for someone else. So which way do we go in Luke 1? Unlike the noun, the verb is used only one other time in the New Testament, so we don’t have too many verses to guide us on how it’s used. (For the record, the other instance is Ephesians 1:6 and the most common translation is grace.)

    Fortunately, the text does not leave us hanging. After Mary’s initial apprehension, the angel tells her, “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found gracewith God” (Luke 1:30). Grace here is the noun charis, which we’ve already established usually means grace and only rarely favor (in the New Testament at least). If Luke 1:28 was unclear, Luke 1:30 is our clarification. This should settle it. We’re talking about grace.

    Now our question becomes: How much grace did Mary receive and when? The dogma of the Immaculate Conception holds that Mary was fully graced from the moment of conception, that through the grace of God, Mary’s life was one without sin. Is this supported by Luke 1:28?

    Read More

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 28,2014—Hour 1

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 28,2014—Hour 1

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Pope Francis and the Border Crisis

    + Segment #2 of 3

    New Accommodations to the HHS Mandate

    • Description: The Obama Administration is considering new accommodations to the HHS contraception mandate. These new accommodations will determine whether non-profit organizations are required to provide contraceptive services in their health care plans. Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life joins us to discuss the latest news in the fight against the HHS mandate.
    • Segment Guests:

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy

    • Description: St. Faustina had a vision of Jesus in 1930. He asked her to paint this image with the words ‘Jesus, I trust in You.” He also gave her a special prayer, the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Leonardo Defilippis and Maria Vargo of St. Luke Productions have created a live-action drama about the life of St. Faustina. They join us.
    • Segment Guests:
      • Maria Vargo
        Actress with St. Luke Productions, lead role in Faustina
  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 28, 2014—Hour 2

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”—July 28, 2014—Hour 2

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Institute for Psychological Sciences

    • Description: The Institute for Psychological Sciences is a Catholic graduate school of psychology founded in 1999 with the mission of basing the scientific study of psychology on a Catholic understanding of the person, marriage, and the family. Fr. Charles Sikorsky, president of the Institute, joins us.
    • Segment Guests:

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Boko Haram & the Missing Nigerian Girls

    • Description: Earlier this year, the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls. The group says they plan to sell the girls into slavery unless their demands are met. The Nigerian government has been received international criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram's actions. Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of the Archdiocese of Jos in Nigeria joins us.
    • Segment Guests:
      • Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Lila Rose: Exposing Planned Parenthood

    • Description: Planned Parenthood portrays itself as a champion of women's health, but it is actually the nation's largest abortion provider. Lila Rose, president and founder of Live Acton, has conducted undercover sting operations at Planned Parenthood clinics to expose the truth behind the company. Lila joins us to discuss her latest investigation.
    • Segment Guests:
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