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Good Tidings at Eastertime

Archbishop Samuel Aquila (from the Archdiocese of Denver website)

Archbishop Samuel Aquila (from the Archdiocese of Denver website)

Kudos to Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila and the good people of Colorado who succeeded in killing S.B. 175, a pro-abortion bill which, in the Archbishop’s words, was “an over-reaching piece of legislation” that would “essentially shut down any attempt to pass life-affirming legislation in Colorado ever again.”

“More than that,” continued Archbishop Aquila, “it enshrines the ‘right to abortion’ into Colorado law.”

The Archbishop rallied hundreds of people to the steps of the Colorado State Capitol to protest the law, reported the Catholic News Agency. He  told the crowd that “Some of the senators have said they have shut off their phones.  Some of them have said they have never been contacted by so many.”

In a letter thanking all those who played a part in overcoming S.B. 175, the Archbishop reminded the faithful:

“Our hope lies not in the powers of government, nor the laws of man, but in the Resurrected God-Man who conquers the grave and never ceases to be present among His followers.”

During this Easter Season, let us remember these words.

A happy and blessed Easter to all.

Maureen Williamson

The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide News and Notes for Catholics

Evangelical CatholicismEWTN has a variety of Easter specials as always including Pope Francis’s Easter Mass live from Vatican City at 4 a.m. ET and Pope Francis’s Easter message and blessing at 6 a.m.  For more listings check out their website….From Sophia Institute Press comes The Love That Made Mother Teresa which they describe as “Part biography and part spiritual reading.”…Vicki McCaffrey of the Ronald Knox Society of North American alerts us to an extensive restoration campaign for the Corpus Christi Maiden Lane church where Msgr. Knox preached on the Feast of Corpus Christi for many years.  The parish website has more details….George Weigel’s Evangelical Catholicism is now available in paperback with a new Afterword by the author.

Maureen Williamson

The Leftist Bullies

Mozilla, as I am sure you have heard, just fired its new CEO and co-founder Brendan Eich because in 2008 he contributed $1,000 in support of California’s Proposition 8 which defines marriage as between a man and a woman – a ballot measure which won handily.

Halfway around the world in New Zealand, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a playdate with Prince George, their almost-nine-month-old son.  Among the ten families who were invited to attend with their children was a gay couple and their daughter.

Six years ago even liberal politicians like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did not support gay “marriage”.   Now, the British royal family, who cannot be fired, is towing the line too.

Scary, isn’t it?  And, it has all happened so fast.  As Robert George says on FirstThings.com “Now that the bullies have Eich’s head as a trophy on their wall, they will put the heat on every other corporation and major employer….And you can also bet that it won’t end with same-sex marriage.  Next, it will be support for the pro-life cause…”

Rich Lowry, in an excellent column on the Eich controversy rightly points out, “It turns out that when the left inveighed against ‘imposing morality,’ what it meant is that it didn’t yet have the power to impose its own.  Now that it increasingly does, the old live-and-let-live pose is abandoned and the purge is on.”

What can we do?  We live in the devil’s world.  The devil is the Prince of Liars and the morality of the left and its regime of political correctness is one lie after another.  Mr. George declares, “Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox Christians, Mormons, observant Jews, Muslims, and others had better stand together and face down the bullies, and they had better do it now, or else they will be resigning themselves and their families to a very unhappy status in this society.”

And, we had all better pray and pray hard.

Maureen Williamson

Revisiting Winnie-the-Pooh

Complete Winnie the PoohI took a copy of Winnie-the-Pooh off my shelf today.  It has been years, of course, since my mother read it to us.  Do today’s mothers still read the original Pooh stories to their children?  I wonder.  Everything about the stories is averse to today’s world.  The language is wonderful:  descriptive, witty, and sophisticated, yet includes all the touches of children and childhood one expects in stories for children.  There is everything you want to help you introduce a child to good literature.  Nothing dumbed down here.  Just read this description of a spring sky:

“Little soft clouds played happily in a blue sky, skipping from time to time in front of the sun as if they had come to put it out, and then sliding away suddenly so that the next might have his turn.”

There are any number of dumbed down versions of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories available these days; not to mention cartoons and dolls, which, I guess, is what keeps the stories and characters alive.  I do hope at least some of the children who read the modern versions, also have the originals read to them.   

I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on the original illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard, now vulgarized by Walt Disney for their books, cartoons and toys.   Shepard’s illustrations are simple and charming line drawings that are nonetheless marvelously effective.  The pictures of Eeyore looking for his tail in “Eeyore Loses a Tail” are among my favorites.  Any child will love them and surely laugh.

The Sesame Street mentality, computer games and the like all conspire against today’s children appreciating the good – and entertaining – children’s literature  of the first sixty or so years of the last century.  Today we seem to expect less and demand less of our children.  What happened to a time when, instead of indulging a child’s immaturity, adults tried little by little to civilize him and train him to be an adult?  Today, I often think that adults try to imitate children rather than the other way around.

At the time of its publication in the mid 1920s, Saturday Review wrote, “Winnie-the-Pooh is a joy; full of solemn idiocies and the sort of jokes one weeps over helplessly, not even knowing why they are so funny, and with it all the real wit and tenderness which alone could create a priceless little masterpiece.”  An apt description.

Winnie-the Pooh is recommended for children in the three to eight range.  Clearly, the younger children can’t read the stories themselves; but can certainly appreciate them if an adult reads to them.  If there are children in your life I recommend you read Winnie-the-Pooh to them.

Maureen Williamson

The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide News and Notes for Catholics

“The Sacred Liturgy is not a hobby for specialists.  It is central to all our endeavors as disciples of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Dominique Rey of Frejus-Toulon, France opening Sacra Liturgia of 2013, an international conference of leading liturgists, cardinals, bishops Maryand scholars from around the world.  The resulting book, Sacred Liturgy: The Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church, is now available from Ignatius Press and includes contributions from Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Raymond Cardinal Burke, among others…Do you understand the reasons behind the Church’s teaching in defense of traditional marriage?  The latest episode in the “Franciscan University Presents” series on EWTN, “Transforming Witness: Marriage in the Early Church”  will help you.  It airs on Sunday, April 6 at 10 p.m. ET and again on Thursday, April 10 at 5 a.m. ET….Father Mitch Pacwa’s latest book is the Bible Study, Mary – Virgin, Mother, and Queen….Read C-Fam’s (The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) report on how the UN Population Fund is distorting data on maternal health in order to promote abortion at http://c-fam.org/en/issues/global-health/7791-new-paper-un-report-emphasizes-abortion-instead-of-maternal-health .

Maureen Williamson

Help for RCIA Programs

Almost a year ago I wrote a blog about the inadequacy of the current RCIA system.  Any number of adults are baptized these days without really learning the precepts of the Catholic Church.  The Augustine Institute of Denver now gives us one solution, a new program called Symbolon.

Symbolon is a series of lessons available on dvd and online that teaches the Catholic faith to adults.  Dr. Edward Sri, one of the program’s architects, was just interviewed about the program by Catholic World Report.  The interview gives a succinct description of the program for those interested.

I saw the first lesson of the program at my parish.  The dvd is slickly and professionally done – a  little too slickly done for my taste, but that is a personal quibble.  The lesson teaches orthodox Catholicism meant not just for prospective Catholics, but also for Catholics interested for any number of other reasons, like those who teach the faith in schools or RCIA programs and want a refresher.

Each lesson allows for discussion time and includes suggested topics to reinforce the lesson.  There is also suggested outside reading.

If your parish needs help providing better RCIA instruction Symbolon is a good alternative.

Maureen Williamson

On Religious Freedom

Dr. Robert P. George

Dr. Robert P. George

On Tuesday, March 25 the Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue of whether the HHS Mandate can force those who find its directives clash with their religious principles to abide by it.  Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., both privately held companies, brought about the suit.  It’s anyone’s guess what the Supreme Court will decide, although, reports are that the two companies have a reasonably good chance of prevailing.  Let us pray that they do.

President Obama met with Pope Francis today and, according to the Vatican Information Service, “In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, the Parties discussed questions of particular relevance for the Church, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection”[italics mine] among other issues.  Obviously the Pope is well-aware of the President’s troubles with the Church regarding these issues.  However, I doubt that the meeting was any more than a nice photo op for the President.

Speaking of religious freedom, Franciscan University of Steubenville has announced that Dr. Robert P. George, Princeton professor of jurisprudence, will speak on the subject at the university on Friday, April 4.  His talk will be the keynote address of the Truth, Conscience, and Religious Freedom Conference put on by the university’s Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life.

Maureen Williamson

Losing a Pet

Saba

Saba

Yesterday wasn’t a good day for my husband and me.  Early in the morning I brought Saba, one of our four cats, to the vet for a routine teeth cleaning.  Something went wrong and just as she was coming out of the anesthetic, her heart stopped.  The vet tried to revive her to no avail.  When we got there she was on oxygen and the vet was massaging her heart trying to get it started again.  Nothing worked and she died.

Saba, like all our cats, was a rescue cat.  We got her and her litter mate (we think)  Siena from our local animal shelter.  They were about two when we took them home.  Saba was named after a lion cub born at a zoo where my husband volunteers.  Wherever she came from, people did not pay much attention to her or Siena.  Neither answered to their names which allowed us the give them names we wanted them to have.

Saba had amazing green eyes and when we first saw her they were lifeless.  Within a month or so they lively and she was a happy, contented cat.  She had three good years with us and gave us much joy.  For that we are happy.

I lost my first pet some thirty years ago, our family dog Otis.  People who don’t have pets can’t understand how awful it is to lose one.  Most especially for those of us who have never had children.  In these circumstances I have always read C. S. Lewis’s thoughts on animals and immortality in The Problem of Pain.

In talking about domestic animals Lewis says, “You must not think of a beast by itself, and call that a personality and then inquire whether God will raise and bless that.  You must take the whole context in which the beast acquires its selfhood – namely ‘The-goodman-and-the-goodwife-ruling-their-children-and-their-beasts-in-the-good-homestead.  That whole context may be regarded as a ‘body’ in the Pauline (or closely Pauline) sense; and how much of the ‘body’ may be raided along with the goodman and the goodwife, who can predict?”

“And,” Lewis further says, “in this way it seems to me possible that certain animals may have immortality, not in themselves, but in the immortality of their masters.”

I hope the great apologist is right.

Maureen Williamson

More for Lent

Father Dwight Longenecker

Father Dwight Longenecker

I got a note yesterday from Basic Books reminding me to keep George Weigel’s latest book, Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches in mind as Lenten reading.  It is, indeed, an excellent choice to add to your daily reading this Lent….I have found Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s “Blobble  Study” of St.  Mark’s Gospel to be quite good.  Fr. Longenecker includes it in his daily blog, Standing on My Head….I also like Fr. Robert Barron’s Lent Reflections.  They are short; but meaty….You might want to check out Msgr. Richard Soseman’s Reflections from Rome, a series of practical reflections on faith and family, available from Roman Catholic Books.

Maureen Williamson

True Charity

More and more we hear talk in the Church about her teachings on marriage, divorce and remarriage.  The upcoming synod on the family, the German bishops and others calling for the Church to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion have spurred on this talk.  Much of the talk suggests treating those guilty of such a sin with more “charity.”

First and foremost, let’s make clear that we cannot change 2,000 plus years of Church teaching on divorce and remarriage.  The Church teaches truth.

How misleading is it to talk about treating people who commit such a sin with more “charity”?   Is it charitable to allow or encourage people to commit mortal sins?  That’s essentially what some people are suggesting.  Especially when they suggest that divorced and remarried Catholics be allowed to receive Holy Communion.  That’s piling up mortal sin upon mortal sin.

Now, I am not suggesting one should be unkind to these people.  Quite frankly, I don’t think that has happened in the past or is happening now.  However, making clear the truth of Catholic teaching is not being uncharitable.  Charity requires that we make truth clear.  As Alice von Hildebrand wrote in an article in Catholics Answers, “Tolerance of another’s errors on crucial questions is nothing but watered-down charity. If our neighbor is in error—and every weighty error inevitably poisons the person endorsing it—it is an act of charity to pray ardently that his eyes be opened and to beg God to use us as unworthy instruments.”

Maureen Williamson

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