Friday Five (Vol. 45)

— 1 —

Quote of the Week:

And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

The quote is from Mark 10:13-16 and was contained in the Gospel readings at Mass last Sunday, Oct. 7 at Catholic parishes everywhere. October 7 was also Pro-Life Sunday. I have waivered back and forth on whether to say anything about it during this politically-charged season, and because quite frankly this blog has a large number of new subscribers the past few weeks due mostly I suspect to my recent series of posts on my retreat. And so because I didn’t want to upset people or for them to think they had been falsely led to subscribe to a blog and then be blindsided by this subject I wasn’t going to say anything.

That would have been a mistake. I choose instead to believe that people are subscribing because they see something in these posts that is not of me but of God. I say that with all humility because that is in fact what I’ve desperately tried and and prayed I would do. Simply be a vessel and limit my own opinions. Well this is one time I’m going to be injecting a little of my own. The photo below was taken by me as my family and I, along with many members of our parish and congregations from churches of other faiths lined the main street of our town on Sunday afternoon, just as we have for too many years to count. We stood in silent vigil for those unable to stand for themselves. This is not a celebration. It is not an “event.” It is a vigil of prayer. There is a code of conduct and we adhere to it. We are bold, yet humble.

This year I noticed more honks of support from passing drivers than almost ever before. The past few years I had seen and heard quite frankly many bizarre things. Things that say more about those saying and doing them than those of us standing there as a witness.

A witness. Not a judge.

To the man who at the end of the hour felt it necessary to yell at my five-year old girl: I prayed for you. She did too. She’s got a hell of a lot more spunk than you.

She is bold. She is only sometimes humble. In other words she’s five. What’s your excuse?

— 2 —

I also chose to write this week’s Friday Five in this vein because of the incredible lack of honesty in our current vice president’s remarks during his debate last night with Congressman Paul Ryan about the HHS mandate and about Catholic social doctrine.

The U.S. Conference of Bishops issued a statement last night in which they responded to Vice President Joe Biden’s “innacurate statement of fact on the HHS mandate. You can read it here.

As for his mischaracterization of Catholic “social justice”, and would that he were the only one who does this, I think Ed Morrissey at Hot Air says it best:

Sorry, but speaking as a Catholic, Biden’s answer was nonsense, as was his attempt to interrupt Ryan with some scolding on “social justice.” That’s not to say that Catholics have no objections to Ryan on that score — they certainly do, although Ryan’s bishop defended at least Ryan’s intent and spirit on his budget proposals. But the entire Catholic mission of social justice rests on the sacredness of individual human life, beginning at conception — as Biden himself acknowledges in this debate.

The point of social justice is to recognize the sanctity of each human life and act to protect it, be that through shelter, healing, food, and a number of other ways. However, the most defenseless of all human life is that of the unborn. Furthermore, while one can argue to what extent government should be involved in charitable efforts, the basic function of government is to protect the lives of its people. Social justice cannot begin without protecting unborn human life (and it can’t end there, either). That, as Catholics know, is one of the major aspects of the “seamless garment” of Catholic social teaching.

What Biden and others who shout “social justice” do is akin to a contractor who is going to build you a beautiful mansion because he is obligated by state regulations to do so. He is obligated to take care of your needs by furnishing you with a spacious home with high ceilings, large rooms, big walk-in closets, plush carpeting and an in-home speaker system for every room. He is to do this for you because as your contractor he is obligated to do this. He’s “taking care” of you. If he deviates from these plans you can shout “homeowner justice” at him so he gets back in line.

One more thing. He’s also building your mansion over a sinkhole. And you’re okay with this because he is adhering to your desires and building you a fantastic house.

Over a sinkhole.

There is a basic and inviolate foundation to the teachings of Catholic social justice and one that is always ignored when invoked for political reasons. That foundation is life, born and unborn. As Ed says it doesn’t end at birth and we do have an obligation to care for those who are in need. Everything else…every other tenet or corollary or teaching about social justice means nothing if you have built your argument over a sinkhole where a human life once existed.

Care for them. Not kill them. Social justice begins with life.

A new documentary takes on this heated issue: The 40 Film. You can learn more about this film project by visiting their website.

— 3 —

Those of you still with me are probably wondering why I as a man would care about this. It’s not my body after all, right? I should LOVE abortion because it allows me as a man to sleep around with woman after woman, treat them like dirt, and move on…right?

I thought that way once. Actually I was on the fence. Didn’t care one way or the other. Hadn’t really thought about the issue on my own. I simply parroted whatever my more vocal peers were saying so I could go along to get along.

That was me, and then three things happened, and not in this order.

First, while driving as a passenger in my future bride’s car on a Pro-Life Sunday many moons ago on a mild day with my window down we were stopped at an intersection. There were people lining the streets and not saying anything. But I snarked back through my window at some of them, something to the effect that they needed to “Go home and get a life.” I sat back in my seat, smugly sipping from my coffee. I turned to see the look on the face of the woman I had not yet asked to marry me and see a look of disdain and horror. The drive was very chilly the rest of the way to her apartment where she proceeded to calmly discuss the issue with me and I listened, wilting in my chair.

Two, I educated myself on the issue. This is not hard, especially today where a wealth of information resides at your fingertips. There are many great sources, but I’ll just provide one:

Third, my unborn son or daughter from a relationship I had in college would have turned 24 this year. It wasn’t my decision. I found out about it a few days later.

Don’t tell me abortion doesn’t affect the father. Don’t you dare lecture me.

By the way, the words I sneered out that car window twenty years ago? The same words sneered at my daughter on Sunday.

— 4 —

I could have inundated you within this post with link after link and story after story of the horrors and damage done by abortion. I didn’t talk about the money, pride or the medical research. Instead I’ve tried to share my own personal experiences. I have also avoided the use of numbers or statistics because they are numbingly staggering, so much so that they lose all meaning and make it easier to retreat into our partisan shells. I’ve chosen instead to just tell you one. One-on-one.

Just as this short film does.

This issue, despite what those who favor it will tell you, is not a political story. It is not even a Catholic one. It is a human story. It is our very foundation of who we are as humans.

— 5 —

I read a recent column at the First Things blog “On The Square” in which Russell Saltzman was musing about long, senseless sermons. Perhaps some of you are nodding and saying to yourselves after reading this blog post “Tell us about it, Jeff.” After writing about what his research uncovered about several very long sermons (the record is forty-eight hours and eighteen minutes!) he decided to check on the shortest sermon. I’ll close with it as I think it fits with all of the above. Thank you for reading.

I haven’t found anything about the world’s record for the shortest sermon. But there is the story from tradition reported by St. Jerome of St. John to whom the fourth gospel is attributed.

By the time he was old, frail, infirm, and had to be carried into the sanctuary John was down to the one same sermon, repeated Sunday to Sunday until he reached his death bed.

His sermon was: “Little children, love one another.”


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