What’s the big deal?

Today’s first reading was one of my favorites, and one of the most dramatic in all of Scripture.  This week we’ve been hearing from Maccabees, and after the inspiring story of Eleazar yesterday, I knew we were due to hear about one of the bravest mothers in the world.  (Please, go read it now — here — it’s straight out of a movie.)

After watching her sons die before her eyes, she is encouraged to dissuade the youngest from his heroism.  She goes through the motions of dissuading him, then bends down and whispers in his ear, “Don’t disappoint me, boy.  Have the courage to die.”  And he did.  He had the courage to resist eating the pork and face the executioner.

To our modern ears, while we may be impressed by the courage of these people, but we might also be tempted to ask, “Really?  What’s the big deal?”  After all, this is supposedly just about pork.

Eleazar died at age 90, willing to be killed rather than eat pork.

Really?  What’s the big deal?  It’s just a little pork.

But it was so much more… as evidence by the lengths to which Antiochus goes in order to dissuade the aforementioned youngest son:

“The king appealed to him, not with mere words, but with promises on oath, to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs: he would make him his Friend and entrust him with high office.” (2 Mc 7:24)

Really, Antiochus?  What’s the big deal?

At the heart of it, it wasn’t about pork.  It was about obedience and faithfulness to God rather than Antiochus.  The Jewish people were a threat because they recognized that true freedom came not from this world.  They understood their loyalty belonged to a power far greater than any government.

The parallel is clear to us.  The Church is a threat to our modern world.  Do we really think this fight is about birth control?  A simple pill?

We’ve been asked by the modern world — is that Pill really worth losing insurance, jobs, businesses, hospitals, schools?  A Pill? What’s the big deal?

We could ask the same same of the Administration.  Just let us run our businesses the way we believe we should.  Is the Pill really such a big deal?

The battle is not about the Pill.  It’s about Christ and his Church.

Are we ready to follow in the footsteps of the seven brothers?  Or better yet, their mother?  Go back and re-read 2 Maccabees 7.  Because it’s on.




Waking up in the Garden

Today is one of those days that I feel like I should have a really profound blog post.  Then I read a bunch of other people’s blogs and wonder if I should just do a giant link-up.  Is there anything new to say?

Part of me is just scared that if I even mention the issue on this blog I’ll be hammered with hate speech in the comments.  As we’ve seen, nothing is more intolerant than “tolerance.”

But I’m wading in a little bit anyway.

Could things have gone worse this morning?  Yes.  Is there some hope?  Sure. (There’s always hope…right?)

But do I think things look pretty grim?  Yes.  Read Kennedy’s language carefully. It will have serious repercussions.

As Justice Scalia said in his dissent in United States v. Windsor, “It takes real cheek for today’s majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here—when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority’s moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress’s hateful moral judgment against it. I promise you this: The only thing that will ‘confine’ the Court’s holding is its sense of what it can get away with.”

I think we have some interesting days ahead, and I think you’re kidding yourself if you’re thinking, “Yeah, but it won’t directly affect me.

But what I think concerns me even more than what happened this morning is what didn’t happen this morning.

Millions of people in this country went along with their day and didn’t even know what happened.  They didn’t even care.  That’s scary to me.  I’m not expecting everyone to be glued to their computer screen waiting the decision to appear, but this was a turning point for our culture and the future of our society.  And people are clueless.

I’m sick of complacency.  WAKE UP, PEOPLE.

Eve is in the Garden. Adam is beside her.  The devil is telling her that freedom is doing whatever the hell she wants it to do.  And instead of saying, “No, actually, that’s Hell,” Adam is ignoring the whole exchange.

The devil is telling Eve that making it illegal to kill babies after they’re 20-weeks old is “anti-woman.”  He’s telling her that passing a law so that abortion clinics need to have the same health standards as surgical centers (because last time I checked, that’s what pro-abortion advocates say happen there — “safe surgical procedures”) is “bad healthcare.”

And all Adam does is tweet his support for Eve and then pats himself on the back for being pro-woman.

We’re in the garden with the serpent.  He’s lying.  We’re buying it.

And no one seems to care.

Wake up, America.  Last night was not about women or democracy or healthcare.  This morning was not about equality.  It was not about love.

“In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated.” (Scalia)

Perhaps it is fitting that this all happened on the feast of St Josemaria Escriva.  Living at a time when the Catholic Church was under attack for Her beliefs and practices, he noted, “It is surprising how often, even in the name of freedom, many people fear and oppose Catholics being simply good Catholics.”

This morning wasn’t about the Catholic Church.  It was about natural law, the fundamental unit of society, and the future of this country.  But because our Church upholds natural law, we will be persecuted.  I would say “and this is just the beginning” … but it’s not.  It’s been happening for awhile in this country.

And it’s time to wake up.

(If you are desirous to read what real people are saying: “Worse Than it Sounds” “Why I’m Scared” “Marriage is Dead” … If you need less gloom and doom: “DOMA, Prop 8 Could Have Been Worse”  and there’s always good stuff to be said by Archbishop Chaput)

Fortnight 2013

I’ve been away, and in my absence I neglected to post a link to last year’s Fortnight for Freedom meditations like I had intended.  It’s up now, right there at the top of the page.

The US Bishops called for a period of prayer and fasting for our country last year — a fortnight for Freedom that ran from the Feast of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More (June 22) until our Independence day on July 4.  This year the Bishops called for a second Fortnight, although I fear we have already become lukewarm and complacent, and I’ve heard less about this year’s than last’s.

If you’re so inclined, you can go back and revisit my meditations.

But most importantly, pray for our country during these days.  Tomorrow is a big day.

St. Thomas More, Pray for us.

Our Lady, Immaculate Conception, Pray for us.

Reawaken the Spiritual Energy

“The Church’s social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church’s responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church’s immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.

The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.”

Pope Benedict, Deus Caritas Est, 28