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The Logical Conclusion of Liberalism

A couple of weeks ago James Kalb wrote a piece for Catholic World Report on how we can be  “good Catholics and good Americans” pointing out that: “Until recently that did not seem to be an issue to most of us.  Separation of Church and State appeared to reconcile the Faith with a secular pluralist public order.”

This order and the separation of Church and State that we are all used to is fading quickly.

One of Mr. Kalb’s recommendations for Catholics in today’s America is to “follow Dorothy Day’s example.  Her Catholic Worker houses refused to apply for tax-exempt status.”

This is most interesting given the arguments at the Supreme Court over legalizing gay “marriage.”  Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation reports that “One of the more startling portions of oral arguments today at the Supreme Court was the willingness of the Obama administration’s Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, to admit that religious schools that affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman may lose their non-profit tax-exempt status if marriage is redefined.”

Anderson reported that when Justice Samuel Alito asked whether a school which affirmed the traditional view of marriage would lose its tax-exempt status, the Solicitor General replied, “It’s certainly going to be an issue.  I don’t deny that.”

It is also interesting to note that at a recent speech at the Women in the World Summit presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said that with regard to “access to reproductive health and safe childbirth” that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”  “Reproductive health” is, of course, the code word for abortion, contraception, sterilization and the like.

It is hard to imagine a serious presidential candidate making such a statement even ten years ago.  The political and cultural climate has changed enormously in the blink of an eye.

Those of us in the pew as well as in the hierarchy including the Vatican need to change our thinking on how the Church can exist in this new world; but I am not sure that many of either realize it.  It is liberalism which has let this happen and there are all too many lay Catholics, priests, bishops, cardinals, and even the current Pope who think like liberals.  Do they realize that what is happening is the logical conclusion of such thinking?

Maureen Williamson

 

 

Kenya’s Bishops Speak Out about Christian Persecution

Kenya’s bishops, in Rome for their ad limina visit to the Pope, spoke to the media about the recent Muslim attacks on Christians in their country.  Both John Allen at Crux and Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register have done stories on the bishops’ comments.

global war on christiansBoth stories quote the bishops’ distress at the media’s lack of interest in the April 2 Garissa University attack, pointing out that the media paid much less attention to this Muslim massacre of Christians at the Kenyan school than they did to the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.  In addition, after the Paris attack a number of international leaders went to Paris for an assembly of solidarity.  No one went to Kenya and President Barack Obama’s statement on the tragedy never mentioned that the murdered students were killed because they were Christian.

I am so used to Catholics and, indeed most Christians, being treated as second class citizens that the comparison didn’t occur to me at the time; although, I did note the President’s failure to acknowledge that the victims were Christians.  Yet, as is more and more evident, Christians are being persecuted.  John Allen’s book, The Global War on Christians examines this recent phenomenon and, as Mr. Allen points out, “However counter-intuitive it may seem in light of popular stereotypes of Christianity as a powerful and sometimes oppressive social force, Christians today indisputably form the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often its new martyrs suffer in silence.”

Maureen Williamson

The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide New and Notes for Catholics

EWTN broadcasts a performance of Haydn’s The Creation on April 19 at 1 p.m. ET with John Nelson conducting and featuring the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic and Radio Choir….In Communion with Christ: According to Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Sister M. Regina van den Berg, F.S.G.M. considers the question, “what does it mean to be in true communion with Christ?” and uses the life and writings of Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, better known as Edith Stein, to help find the answer…. Wyoming Catholic College has established a Center for Distance Learning which offers online lectures and courses for the public in the liberal arts. The Spring offerings are “Religious Liberty in America” and “Literature and the Virtue of Hope.”…Pray Always: A Catholic Children’s Prayer Book includes the basic prayers A.D. The Bibleevery Catholic should know, a guide to praying the Rosary specifically designed for children, brief prayers that can be uttered any time of the day, how to make an Examination of Conscience, short bios of saints and prayers for intercession to help children overcome their unique struggles and much more….Franciscan University of Steubenville will confer honorary degrees on Archbishop William E. Lori, Their Royal Highnesses Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Lexembourg, and former football coach Lou Holtz at their commencement on May 9…. For those watching the NBC series A.D. The Bible Continues, Sophia Institute Press has brought out two companion books: Ministers and Martyrs and The Catholic Viewer’s Guide.

Maureen Williamson

A Wonderful New Book for Bedtime Reading with Your Children

You Nest Here

Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple are a mother-daughter writing team whose latest collaboration is a lovely children’s book written in rhyme called You Nest Here with Me.

It is nighttime and a mother is putting her daughter to bed, telling her:

 “Like baby bird, your nest can be

   Anywhere there’s you and me.

I find the whole idea of the dual theme of motherly love and the subject of birds and birds nesting with their young ones ingenious.  Birds are something children see all the time no matter where they live.  Bird watching is very popular and any number of families put out food for the various birds around their homes.  Here, the mother in this story goes through a list of bird species with a description of each one’s nesting habits.

“But you nest with me,” she tells her little one again and again, reinforcing her love for her little girl.

Melissa Sweets’ illustrations are wonderful.  Beginning with the warm and natural little girl’s bedroom to the figures of the mother and little girl themselves, and ending with the various types of birds, these pictures are appealing and colorful with lots of background details that add authenticity to all the scenes including the birds in their nests.  I think my favorite detail was the little girl on her way to bed holding this book.

At the end of You Nest Here with Me is a glossary with illustrations of all the birds in the story along with fascinating facts about each.  Did you know that during World Wars I and II our Army sent messages using pigeons, or that owls’ feathers are built for flying soundlessly?

This book is highly recommended – especially as bedtime story.

Maureen Williamson

 

 

Catholics Need to Stand Up and Defend Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act

In the wake of Indiana’s newly passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, comes an excellent piece on the ensuing furor by First Things editor Rusty Reno.

“Will a traditional view of marriage be permitted any public space in the new gay rights regime?” he asks.

“The furor against Indiana’s RFRA suggests that if the gay rights activists have their way, no, there won’t be,” he says, answering his own question.

As Easter approaches, it is disheartening for Catholics to watch their freedom to practice their faith and uphold its tenets slowly erode.  As all Catholics and Christians know, the devil never gives up.  Nowhere has that been more obvious than in the threats to our religious freedom.

What can we do?  Mr. Reno correctly points out that, “we need to stand up and speak clearly about the biblical teaching on sex, marriage, and family.  It’s the leaders of the Church who should be attacked in public as ‘homophobic,’ not politicians like Mike Pence who are trying to do the right thing.  Few things are more demoralizing than an officer who cowers in the trenches.”

Unfortunately, the reaction  of the bishops of Indiana to the new law and the controversy surrounding it was to release a milquetoast statement that avoids the real issue.

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EWTN will televise the Solemn Mass of Easter celebrated by Pope Francis in Rome at 4 a.m. eastern time and replay it at 7 p.m.

A Happy and Blessed Easter from everyone here at The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide.

Maureen Williamson

Why Do Parents Send Their Children to Catholic Schools. The Answer Used to Be to Teach Them the Faith

Why do parents send their children to Catholic schools?  The answer used to be easy: to train them in the Catholic faith.  Now?  The answer is as likely to be because the academics are better than public schools or that they are safer or maybe just because that’s where the parents went to school.

Another Catholic school controversy proves the point.  Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown, PA has instituted a dress code for its prom:  “Women’s gowns may not be extremely short, have an extremely low cut front or back, have any excessively high cut slits, have overly revealing midriffs, or be inappropriately revealing – giving the illusion of nudity.  Gentlemen must be in formal attire: tuxedo or complete suit coat, dress pants (no shorts), dress shirt and tie.”

The school has asked that each girl email a picture of her dress to a school authority for approval.

Anyone who has observed how young girls dress these days won’t be surprised at the necessity for these guidelines.  Catholic parents especially should be happy that a school cares enough to establish these rules.  But, of course, at the school this has caused controversy.  Opponents of the policy have put a petition online.  The petition refers to the regulations as “antiquated and unreasonable restrictions” and complains that the policy was posted too late because some students have already bought gowns.  When I checked the petition today there were 255 signers.

Out of curiosity I went to the Delone Catholic High School website.  It is interesting to see how the school presents itself.  “As a diocesan secondary school, Delone Catholic serves students of all faiths in Grades 9 through 12,” they tell us.  Can you imagine any other religious school beginning its presentation that way?  The best the school can do in describing its teaching philosophy is to say that they offer “students a program of studies and activities designed to provide them with diverse experiences which will equip them to recognize and respond to the Truth.”   How about teaching them the Truth as in the tenets of the Catholic faith?

Is it no wonder that on an occasion when the school attempts something like promoting modesty in dress, a petition against the policy is the reaction they get?

Maureen Williamson

Why Catholic Converts Read, and Read, and Read…

My oldest stepdaughter will be Confirmed Catholic this Easter. I can’t tell you how her conversion to Catholicism swells my heart!  I haven’t spoken much about her conversion in respect for God’s work still happening, in boy does it happen in grand ways during a conversion! There’s so much my husband has taught me about how faith can grow, and one of the most important lessons has been to notice the times when I should keep my Italian/Irish/Polish/NY mouth shut.  Yes believe it or not, God can do things without me.

Back to the important topic: Kayla is right now enjoying a phenomenon that so many converts do, which is an unquenchable desire to read, and read, and read some more.  Prior to RCIA, on the scale of illiterate to Anne Shirley, she sat at roughly Jane Bennett. Where does this come from?  The desire to know God is in all of us, but learning about Him in this particular way seems to be so dramatic among RCIA students that it has piqued my curiosity.  An acquaintance in my husband’s RCIA class once read 10+ entire books in a week, in addition to attending RCIA classes, serving on a young adults’ committee, and maintaining a full-time advertising job (for those of you familiar with the industry, advertising “full-time” could be 70 hours/week).

Here are some human factors that I see, and I’m sure there is at least a little of each motivation in every conversion.  With more active conversations about faith, a more finely tuned ear to hear God’s words is a beautiful testament that verifies this good life choice.

  • Desire to articulate the change that’s happening inside. As soon as words are put to one problem, solution or emotion, another arises!
  • Want of relationships—new relationships—with people alive today and prior. It’s tough to have one less item in common with the people closest to you.  Especially among families.
  • Want of stability, which is unique to the two thousand-year-old Church, in a time of change. our personal changes may be nothing compared to the upheavals that the Church has outlasted, nonetheless inner conversions can feel more dramatic than social change, yes?
  • Curiosity about how the Church’s perspectives can fill the holes in secular world-history lessons. We all know when something told to us just doesn’t seem quite right. Through the lens of religion, many events in Western history make a lot more sense.

Can anyone chime in with more?

– Michelle Gracia

The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide News and Notes for Catholics

101Surprising Facts about St. PetersFor more on the San Francisco archdiocese’s efforts to have teachers in its high schools uphold the tenets of the Catholic faith when teaching, see Joan Frawley Desmond’s story in the National Catholic Register on City Visions’ Forum on the controversy.   The Forum “will serve as a wake up call for anyone who thinks it is still business as usual for Catholic education,” says Mrs. Desmond….Father George Rutler examines 24 parables that give us Hints of Heaven in a new book from Sophia Institute Press….Read some surprising and troubling facts about Catholic Relief Services in Stephen Phelan’s “The Two Masks of Catholic Relief Services” published in Crisis….EWTN airs “The Feast of the Annunciation” at 9:30 a.m. eastern time on March 25.  The setting is London’s Brompton Oratory and your host is Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. who will discuss the meaning of the Annunciation through history, in our individual lives, and in society today.  At noon EWTN has live coverage of Mass from the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth….How much do you know about St. Peter’s and the Vatican?  Read Father Jeffrey Kirby’s 101 Surprising Facts about the Vatican to find out….Ignatius Press is publishing The Wife of Pilate and Other Stories, a collection of short stories by German writer and convert Gertrud von le Fort….From the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank dedicated to dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy, comes word that Peter Wehner, a Senior Fellow there, will be contributing to the New York Times’s Op-ed and Sunday Review sections.

Maureen Williamson

What Would Happen if Your Children Saw a Lion in the Library?

Library Lion

I live in a house filled with lions.  Stuffed lions, silver lions, plastic lions, ceramic lions…you name it, we have it here.  Well, except a real lionMy husband and I love lions.

Lions fascinate people, including children.  They are one of the most popular animals in zoos.  They are beautiful and, unlike other felines, they live in prides and interact with each other.

Recently, I came across a children’s book called Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen. It naturally piqued my interest and it didn’t disappoint.

“One day, a lion came to the library,” begins our tale.

“Is he breaking any rules?” asks Miss Merriweather, the librarian.  No.  Well, “Then leave him be,” she says.

The lion fits very well in the library, helping Miss Merriweather, letting little children stand on his back to reach books, and listening quietly during story hour.

Artist Kevin Hawkes captures the beauty of lions in his illustrations.  The added dimension, necessary in a children’s book of this sort, is the expressiveness in the lion’s face and body.  Both children and adults will fall in love with this lion.

The story is more than just about the lion, however.  It looks at rules and when there is a good reason to break them.  Children don’t always understand nuances and this story does a good job of presenting one kind.

I find that most newer books lack the charm of older books (this book was published in 2006)  and this one is no exception.  Yet, it is a nice, gentle picture book that I would gladly give my great nieces and nephews.  The publisher recommends it for ages four to seven and provides a Story Hour Guide and Event Kit on its website that you may find helpful.

Maureen Williamson

Anti-Cordileone Forces Hire Public Relations Big Gun

In a footnote to my piece last week on Archbishop Cordileone’s attempt to insure that teachers in San Francisco’s diocesan high schools are respectful of Catholicism’s teachings, comes a story in SF Weekly News that “concerned parents” have hired a noted public relations professional, Sam Singer, to fight the Archbishop.

According to the National Catholic Register, Singer posted on Google+, “Everyone is praying that the Pope will remove the San Francisco Archbishop.”

For more on Sam Singer see a SF Weekly story that ran last August.

A couple of thoughs:

When I was in Catholic schools in the 1950s and 60s it was unheard of to have teachers who didn’t support the Church’s teachings.

Why send your child to a Catholic school if you don’t want him taught Catholicism, much less hire a PR person to turn public opinion against the Archbishop?

The devil has done his work well in the past half century.

Maureen Williamson

 

 

 

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