Those videos are hard to watch

Mother of the Light of the world, pray for us.

Mother of the Light of the world, pray for us.

I have not watched the videos all the way through. You know the videos I’m talking about. Those videos. I have not watched them all the way through because they make me ill. They make me want to throw up and the images haunt me. I go to sleep and I wake up in a cold sweat, still seeing them before my eyes.

Bad enough that I have been researching for the last couple of years the Holocaust and the World Wars. Bad enough that I have been watching the last couple of weeks many documentaries about these subjects and have seen things I wish I had never seen, things I wish had never happened. Bad enough I have been reading about eugenics and “scientific racism” and the incredible and preposterous cruel things man can do to his fellow man in the name of the “greater good” or “science”. Bad enough, all of that.

But something very like the Holocaust is happening now, and has been happening right under our noses since 1973 when we had the audacity to make legal to do to humans what we consider monstrously inhumane to do to wild animals. And do not misunderstand me: I care about wild animals and would not think of trying to harm one unless I had to protect myself or someone else. But I love my fellow man even more and certainly do not want to cause any harm to any man, woman, or child, unless, likewise, in defense of myself or someone else.

I find the chopping up of tiny babies to be sickening, but not less sickening than killing them in the first place. ALL of it must stop. There is no reason to take an innocent human life, ever. To directly and deliberately take an innocent human life is always and everywhere evil. There is no way around it. There is no name you can give it to justify it. There is no way to cover it with ridiculous words and excuses, no way to hide from the truth of what it really is.

There is no way we can pretend that we do not know what we are doing, what we are permitting, what we are approving and condoning, what we are selling, what we are making legal and profitable.

In the end, what does it profit you if you make all the money in the world and drive the fanciest car you can buy and wear the best clothes and drink the best wine, when you have to hack tiny human babies to pieces to do it? How much money do you make for each of the lives you take, to make it worth it to you to take them? How many pieces of silver do you get for selling your own soul?


The Gospel of Life by Pope Saint John Paul II. Here he quotes Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes (easier to read at EWTN), 27:

“The Second Vatican Council, in a passage which retains all its relevance today, forcefully condemned a number of crimes and attacks against human life. Thirty years later, taking up the words of the Council and with the same forcefulness I repeat that condemnation in the name of the whole Church, certain that I am interpreting the genuine sentiment of every upright conscience: ‘Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practise them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator’.”

From the Gospel of Life, 40 and 41:

  1. The sacredness of life gives rise to its inviolability, written from the beginning in man’s heart, in his conscience. The question: “What have you done?” (Gen 4:10), which God addresses to Cain after he has killed his brother Abel, interprets the experience of every person: in the depths of his conscience, man is always reminded of the inviolability of life-his own life and that of others-as something which does not belong to him, because it is the property and gift of God the Creator and Father.

The commandment regarding the inviolability of human life reverberates at the heart of the “ten words” in the covenant of Sinai (cf. Ex 34:28). In the first place that commandment prohibits murder: “You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13); “do not slay the innocent and righteous” (Ex 23:7). But, as is brought out in Israel’s later legislation, it also prohibits all personal injury inflicted on another (cf. Ex 21:12-27). Of course we must recognize that in the Old Testament this sense of the value of life, though already quite marked, does not yet reach the refinement found in the Sermon on the Mount. This is apparent in some aspects of the current penal legislation, which provided for severe forms of corporal punishment and even the death penalty. But the overall message, which the New Testament will bring to perfection, is a forceful appeal for respect for the inviolability of physical life and the integrity of the person. It culminates in the positive commandment which obliges us to be responsible for our neighbour as for ourselves: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev 19:18).

  1. The commandment “You shall not kill”, included and more fully expressed in the positive command of love for one’s neighbour, is reaffirmed in all its force by the Lord Jesus. To the rich young man who asks him: “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?”, Jesus replies: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:16,17). And he quotes, as the first of these: “You shall not kill” (Mt 19:18). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus demands from his disciples a righteousness which surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees, also with regard to respect for life: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, “You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment’. But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment” (Mt 5:21-22).

By his words and actions Jesus further unveils the positive requirements of the commandment regarding the inviolability of life. These requirements were already present in the Old Testament, where legislation dealt with protecting and defending life when it was weak and threatened: in the case of foreigners, widows, orphans, the sick and the poor in general, including children in the womb (cf. Ex 21:22; 22:20-26). With Jesus these positive requirements assume new force and urgency, and are revealed in all their breadth and depth: they range from caring for the life of one’s brother (whether a blood brother, someone belonging to the same people, or a foreigner living in the land of Israel) to showing concern for the stranger, even to the point of loving one’s enemy.

A stranger is no longer a stranger for the person who mustbecome a neighbour to someone in need, to the point of accepting responsibility for his life, as the parable of the Good Samaritan shows so clearly (cf. Lk 10:25-37). Even an enemy ceases to be an enemy for the person who is obliged to love him (cf. Mt 5:38-48; Lk 6:27-35), to “do good” to him (cf. Lk 6:27, 33, 35) and to respond to his immediate needs promptly and with no expectation of repayment (cf. Lk 6:34-35). The height of this love is to pray for one’s enemy. By so doing we achieve harmony with the providential love of God: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt 5:44-45; cf. Lk 6:28, 35).

Thus the deepest element of God’s commandment to protect human life is the requirement to show reverence and love for every person and the life of every person. This is the teaching which the Apostle Paul, echoing the words of Jesus, address- es to the Christians in Rome: “The commandments, ?You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet’, and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ?You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom 13:9-10).

When I ran a search in the Gospel of Life for the word “murder”, I got 29 hits. I highly recommend reading it in full. I’ve read it many times, usually once a year or every two years, along with the Splendor of Truth. More than anything else I have ever read, outside of Scripture, these two encyclicals changed my life (and just so you know, John Paul II’s encyclicals are filled with Scripture references). They woke me up. I went from being someone who was nominally pro-life to someone who was pro-life actively, outspokenly, finding out more, sharing what I had found, voting for pro-life laws, supporting pro-life candidates, no longer supporting candidates who are not pro-life. Really, if you do not stand for life, then what in God’s name do you stand for?

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Posts will resume after a brief interlude

I’ll get back to reading and posting about Laudato Si soon, but I’m taking a brief break while I work on a novel for Camp NaNoWriMo. Right now I’m over 17,000 words in and am finding it difficult to think of anything else. But soon I will resume reading the encyclical and putting down some more thoughts about it. Plenty of other people have said plenty about it, as I am sure you are aware. Some of them even have something worthwhile to say. While I’m away, working on the novel, I leave you with this worthwhile and short video commentary and summary by Al Kresta. (If you haven’t ever caught his show on Catholic radio, I highly recommend that you check it out.)

Published on Jul 9, 2015: While specific scientific and economic points can be debated, since they are prudential judgements of the pope, the doctrine surrounding them are truths of faith and are binding on the consciences of believers. So why don’t we focus on those aspect of the encyclical, since they really aren’t controversial at all?”

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Wake up, wise up, and rise up, Church

mgok_reillyYes, I saw the ruling. I wasn’t surprised by it, saw it coming. This has been in the works for a long time. Many years. Decades, even. From the 60’s onward (though, of course, it began long before then) this has been in the works. Read School of Darkness (which doesn’t mention homosexuality but reveals the marxist machine behind many movements). Read Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything. Read After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90’s (if you can find a used copy for a reasonable price or in a library). Read Rules for Radicals. Read about Cultural Marxism and the Frankfurt School (see related videos also). Listen to Psychology: Friend or Foe (CD or MP3) or read We Overcame Their Tradition, We Overcame Their Faith by Dr. William Coulson. Also see video below.

All of these things are interconnected. All of these movements and trends have led us to where we are now. To combat our enemy, we must know our enemy. We have been complacent or ignorant or asleep for TOO LONG. Wake up, wise up, and RISE UP, Church, NOW.

Psychologist Dr. William Coulson explains what he and fellow psychologist Carl Rogers did to Catholic religious houses, and more, in the 60’s. What they needed was holiness and spiritual training and discipline. What they got was “self-esteem” and not an authentic understanding of the human person as taught by the Church. What a mess. And look where we are today: vocations dropped to almost nothing in those houses that opted for false spirituality; vocations booming in houses that kept or returned to authentic Catholic spirituality and RELIGION. Yes, the R word. RELIGION: That by which we are bound in covenant to and united with God, and without which we have a vague, amorphous and all too often imaginary relationship without any basis at all in reality.

Do I feel strongly about this? I do, but this is not about feelings or opinions or desires or wishes. This is about reality, about the world of the real versus the world of really stupid wishful thinking. The world IS, God IS, and all the playing with words that humans can do will never change reality. Contrary to all the new age nonsense so many have imbibed, we do NOT make our own reality. Reality is a given and we receive it and deal with it, or we can butt our heads against it which won’t hurt reality but can break our hard little heads. Looking around me, I see a lot of people who prefer to bash their own heads against the brick wall of reality instead of learning to see the world as it really is.

Divine Mercy

Jesus, we trust in You!

But I also see many people who are more spiritually aware than that. We are praying for those who are obstinate and who are determined to harm themselves and others. We are praying for those who insist on living in a way that may bring some sort of temporary pleasure but can never bring lasting happiness. And can certainly never bring eternal joy.

By the way, once one accepts reality as it is (which does not mean giving in to sin or giving in to despair), the brick wall aspect of it drops away and what is revealed is beautiful beyond words. Is there terror in the world, and sin, and horror, and death? Yes. But there is also joy and love and friendship and family and creativeness and intellect and spirit and heart and music and so many things I can’t even think of without feeling overwhelmed by tears at the beauty of it all. The world would be such a different place if people gave themselves over to real Love. And the One Who is Love Itself.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Amen!

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Medjugorje, Marian Apparitions, and Some Interesting Links

Medjugorje Revisited, Donal Anthony FoleyOne of the books I’ve been reading recently is Medjugorje Revisited, by Donal Anthony Foley. I revere and love the Blessed Mother, and I accept the major apparitions that have been approved by Holy Mother Church. But I have never gotten a good feeling from the Medjugorje stuff. Never. When I was going through the conversion process, the strange talk about it turned me off totally. Still does. A lot is being said about the CDF and a possible ruling on Medjugorje being announced soon. (Not that I’m holding my breath. Rumors have gone around about this for many years. But it may happen soon. Who knows?) I’ll be on the lookout for that. In the meantime, I’ll continue reading Mr. Foley’s book.

See also the following at Te Deum. Not official, but for what it’s worth: Full translation of Gianluca Barile’s report on CDF and Medjugorje.

Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern WorldFor more on apparitions, also see the excellent and unusual Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World, also by Donal Anthony Foley. From the book description:

“This is an in depth investigation into the major Marian apparitions that have occured during the last five centuries. It relates them to secular happenings and important revolutionary events in Western history including the Reformation and the French and Russian Revolutions.

“It also argues that the major apparitions are not random or historically inconsequential events, but actually seem to follow a preordained plan, one intimately linked with the biblical Marian typology explored by the Church Fathers.

“In particular, this books looks at the importance of Fatima in the life of the Church, its links with the papacy, and its continuing relevance for the Third Millennium.”

Follow Donal Anthony Foley on Twitter: @Theotokos_Books.

Some interesting and useful links about Marian topics in general:

A collection of short Q & A videos about Mary and Marian topics at Catholic Answers.
A collection of articles about Mary in the faith library at EWTN.
An article by Fr. William Most – Marian Devotions and Apparitions.
A page at EWTN – Apparitions and Private Revelations.
A video by Fr. Robert BarronFr. Barron visits Lourdes: Mary, the Immaculate Conception.
A video by Dr. Scott HahnMary: Christ’s Greatest Masterpiece.
A course, Holy Queen: The Mother Of God In The Word Of God, based on Scott Hahn’s book, Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God.
An article by Daniel Stewart at Fr. Barron’s Word on Fire – Gimli, Galadriel, And Guadalupe: An Image Of Our Lady In The Lady Of Lothlorien.

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On Reading the Encyclical, Laudato Si Part 2

This is Part 2 in an ongoing series on Laudato Si by Pope Francis. For other posts in this series, see Series TOC. Text of Laudato Si.

A word before I begin

No, I cannot read ItalianI am not a Pollyanna. I am not overly optimistic, unable or unwilling to think critically (in the true sense of that word). I am also not someone who sees marxists and demons around every corner, though I do see them where they are, or I try to, and there are a good many more than some people like to believe. There are things in Laudato Si (properly spelled Laudato Si’; for ease in posting online I dropped the apostrophe) that I wish were not there, things that sound like the product of someone who grew up in a different culture in a different part of the world — which I addressed in a Tweet early on in my reading, or was it while reading the comments or perhaps the leaked document, I don’t remember now. Some of it sounds like the words of advisors whom I also wish were not anywhere near the Vatican. Alas, no one asked for my input or approval and those things got in. So I’m reading it carefully and offering comments as I go. I am not writing a dissertation, however, and this is not an academic exercise. I’m not an economist, a scientist, a theologian, or any other kind of -ist or -ian other than an amateur Catholic Christian apologist. I’m not a Pope Francis fangirl, nor am I overcome with rebellion, anger and angst. I am a lay Catholic, trying to see what is truly there, what he is really trying to say. In the past this has not always been easy. I want to reflect on it, and to respond as best I can.

Just so you know, I have peeked ahead and I found some things coming up that should prove heartening for any tempted to lose heart by what they’ve heard from others (oh, the things I’ve heard!) or what they’ve read for themselves, especially if they skimmed it, looking for things to confirm their worst fears. Some of those things may actually be there. For understanding, some things need the context before and after it, as well as the context of the faith as a whole. As Catholics we should know that. I expect Catholics to have the patience and understanding to ask questions and to seek answers, to calmly reflect, even to pray before, as, and after they read the words of our Holy Father, not just skim then doubt and shout. There are plenty already outside the Church who proceed in the latter mode, and I wish there were fewer within.

Is what Pope Francis is teaching really Catholic?

I’ve heard some people accuse Pope Francis of being a socialist, a communist, and worse. My favorite was the one (a Catholic, mind you) who yelled at him, using all caps, addressing the Pope directly on Twitter, accusing him of being a communist and telling him basically to keep his mouth shut and stick to religion, and — get this — he is not the ambassador to the world, then posed the question, who made him the ambassador to the world?

If you follow me on Twitter or even read the comments here and elsewhere around the web, you know that I could not let that slide.

Pope Francis actually IS ambassador to the world. He is the ambassador of Christ, the vicar of Christ on earth, and he receives that position by virtue of being the current successor to the Apostle Peter. Not ambassador to the world? Shut up and stick to religion? More ignorant comments from an alleged Catholic I simply cannot imagine. Or abide.

And so we come to the question for Part 2 of this series: Is what Pope Francis is teaching really Catholic?

Can Francis tame the modern wolf of hatred for all things human?After turning to his predecessors and to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Pope Francis turns to Saint Francis beginning in paragraph 10. St. Francis is well-known and beloved both within and without the Catholic Church, but he is much misunderstood, by some in the Church, by many outside it. St. Francis would not be one of those people who loves animals more than humans, or loves animals and hates humans. He cared for ALL of creation, not just animals and including humans, and he loved God, the Creator of all those things both great and small. I would hope that people would read paragraphs 10-12 slowly and let what the Pope is saying sink in. Love creation, yes, love all creatures, yes! But love, also, mankind, and not in a general way, but each and every individual living human person. But above all, “‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’”*

I have a feeling that many people skipped all these opening paragraphs. They were busy seeking their favorite heresy so they could run trumpet the news. That people would do that does not surprise me, though I was surprised by some of the people who did it. People I thought were rather more level-headed. Are there things in it that I find troubling? Yes. Will I run around screaming that the sky is falling? No.

Paragraph 11 goes further into a Franciscan integral ecology:

Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human.

Ah, there it is again: the emphasis on the human. The Pope never loses sight of this, even if many other people lose sight of it and even lose sight of it while they are reading the words right in front of them. Pope Francis is not talking about the ecology of radical environmentalism. If people would read on, he firmly rejects the virulently anti-human position of the radical environmental agenda. Perhaps if he had placed that section closer to the section on St. Francis, people would have noticed it. But, no, that wouldn’t have worked, they skipped the opening and probably scrolled right down to what he had to say about the climate.

In paragraph 12 Pope Francis follows St. Francis in reflecting on the book of nature, the book through which the Author Himself “speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness.”

“Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20).

And this I did not know about St. Francis:

For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty.** Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

In paragraphs 13-15 Pope Francis reveals why he is writing this encyclical. He’s offering an invitation to dialogue. He’s not making a solemn pronouncement on science, which is not his proper sphere and he knows that.

 I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. The worldwide ecological movement has already made considerable progress and led to the establishment of numerous organizations committed to raising awareness of these challenges… It is my hope that this Encyclical Letter, which is now added to the body of the Church’s social teaching, can help us to acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face.

I hope people read this whole section, especially the ones who say he should only talk about religion and keep his mouth shut about anything else. (See above.) These are people who have bought into the secularist notion that religion is one thing and life is another and somehow the two have nothing to do with each other. Perhaps it’s not even a secularist notion but merely a notion held by those whose minds have degenerated into such a confused tangle of slogans and anger that they cannot seriously reflect on anything any more and then charity goes out the window, too. I’m not saying that one cannot criticize other people, even a Pope. I am saying that there is a way to do so that includes listening to what the other person is trying to say, making an effort to understand. People who write reviews of things before they read them are not practicing charity or even good sense.

Here’s what I think led to the Pope writing the encyclical, based on reading what he writes here, and based on what I see happening in the world, and on what little I know of goings on at the Vatican before the encyclical was released. I think he is responding to a real current of thought going through the world, a real current that is driving people to say and think and do things that are supposed to (or are allegedly supposed to) address problems but are causing more problems instead. I think he is responding to a very real current of thought that is very loud, very powerful, and very anti-human. I think he is trying to speak to these people in a way they can hear and understand, in a way that will get their attention. I think he is trying to talk some sense into them. And Lord knows, somebody needs to. Here’s why.

This is real: The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Yes, it is a little tongue in cheek, but, in the typical anti-human fashion of confusion, it’s also a little serious. And as an example of the kind of thinking that is becoming more and more prevalent in the world, it is serious, indeed. Abortion, euthanasia, population control—all part of a mindset, a worldview, that sees human beings as the problem and not the solution, as a curse and not a blessing, a plague to be wiped out instead of a gift to be cherished. (And you don’t have to take my word for it that this is a movement gathering momentum. Do a web search for transhumanism, humanity is a plague, overpopulation, or right to die, and see for yourself.)

The reason St Francis loved creation was because he loved its CreatorAnd what is the antidote to the poison of the anti-human movement? Christ, specifically as He has been known and loved and taught by His Church for two thousand years. Christ is the answer to our questions because He is the Logos, the Word by Whom the universe was created. The world is seeking to make its own religion and that religion is radical enrivonmentalism, a religion that says there is no god but Gaia and many are the prophets who long to control us all in her name. Pope Francis is saying what the Church always has said and always must say: There is no God but God and no way to Him but through His Son and Jesus Christ is His Name. Can’t get much more Catholic than this. But many people can no longer stand to hear such words. So Pope Francis engages in what a friend of mine calls “stealth evangelization” and how I wish I had thought of that myself! (Thanks, Christopher Ziegler and Susan Fox for the conversation.)


So now Pope Francis has situated his reflection on the world and ecology in Catholic and Franciscan tradition, the lens through which he will view what scientists present to him. Is what he teaches really Catholic? Yes. So far, so good.

Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to Part 3. See you there. Peace be with you! :)

This is Part 2 in an ongoing series on Laudato Si by Pope Francis. For other posts in this series, see Series TOC. Text of Laudato Si.


*Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). (1994). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (Mk 12:29–30). New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. Those words are in quotes inside of quotes because they are the words of Jesus in Mark 12:32, quoting the words of Deuteronomy 6:5, with a slight change: He added the word “mind”. He can do that. He is the Logos, after all. The Word made flesh. The Mind of God. The Understanding by which (really, by Whom) God understands Himself. (Anybody who thinks people check their minds at the door in order to become and remain Catholic needs to think again. I invite them to spend some time reading and reflecting on what Catholicism actually teaches. I invite them to learn what thinking really means.)

**Cf. THOMAS OF CELANO, The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul, II, 124, 165, in Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, New York-London-Manila, 2000, 354.

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