Month: July 2016

Go Coach Chaput for Team Catholics!

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In Philadelphia, the courageous Archbishop Chaput has merely stated what the Catholic Church has consistently taught, and provided a challenge to live according to that teaching.  The visceral reaction and very one-sided point of view in almost all mainstream media is alarming.  Kudos to the National Review Article by Alexandra DeSanctis and to the Philadelphia Inquirer for posting the Op-Ed article by Christine Flowers.

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The mayor of Philadelphia calls Chaput’s guidelines “not Christian.”  Yet based on what evidence?  If being Christian is to follow Christ, then let’s look at what Christ said, and see how “un-Christian” it is.  At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28

It has also been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, brings adultery upon her.  And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”  – Matthew 5:31-32

All Chaput did was echo the teachings of Jesus, and Social Media erupts as if he just called for a mass slaughter.  The reaction leads to his character assassination and accusations that he supports pedophilia (for which all his words and actions shows he has absolutely no tolerance, and is completely unrelated to the topic at hand).   Where is love?  Where is charity?  Seems that the stone-throwers are abundant.  Yet, like Jesus, Chaput throws not a single stone.  He mainly advises as Jesus did to the woman caught in adultery:  “go and sin no more.”  Un-Christian?  Really?

A challenge to live up to higher moral standards, is not unlike the challenge to an athlete to run an extra mile, to pursue the next higher goal.  In sports, or even in reality-television,  sacrificing desserts and certain foods to avoid unnecessary weight gain would be considered a necessary part of the training.  But in the moral life, why is this suggestion of abstinence outside of marriage intolerable?  Because living the chaste life that Jesus calls us to is especially hard in a sex-saturated culture.

Chaput is caring for the souls of his flock.  He’s reiterating the tough moral teaching. Striving to be Christian is difficult.  It’s work.  It takes training.  It takes effort.  It requires turning over my will for the better of another.  Not exercising the spiritual muscles will ultimately require us to be part of the spiritual version of the Biggest Loser to make it to heaven.  In Catholic terms, that is called Purgatory.  If we opt-out of that program, then we’ve chosen a really bad place to spend eternity.  Not God’s punishment, but our choice.

All that said, Jesus, despite being challenging in his teachings, was also rich in love and mercy.  He forgives over and over for our misgivings.  The story of the woman caught in adultery and the story of the woman at the well both highlight that Jesus, while never saying what they did was good… still forgave and showed mercy, when forgiveness and mercy was welcomed.

The key difference is, Jesus is merciful when we are remorseful for our sins.  But the moment we are indignant that our behaviors are called a sin, or when we glorify sin, claiming it as my own moral truth and my right, we slam the door in the face of Jesus to His mercy.  Fortunately, Christ continues to invite, and open the door to his mercy.  As he did it on the cross, he says it to each one of us:  “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they are doing.”



Celebrating Freedom the Pier Giorgio Way

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Pier Giorgio pulling a keg

Happy 4th of July!  We celebrate freedom this day, but at a time where our freedoms have slowly eroded over the past 2 decades, and more severely in the past 4 years.  Pier Giorgio Frassati stood up to the rise of Facism in his day, during the time that Mussolini was on the rise to power.  As defined by Merriam-Webster, Facism is a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government.

While we can be grateful that our founders sought to prevent this kind of government, we have witnessed legislation and recent Supreme Court Decisions that, while not preventing us from disagreeing with the government, comes with a hefty price-tag when we do.  Our country has required nuns asked to compromise their conscience. It has demanded business owners cater events contrary to their beliefs (by labeling it discrimination), or pay for certain “health” coverage that has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with forcing a secular belief system.

Now is the time for the New Evangelization.  A time for young Christians to embrace the model of Pier Giorgio Frassati.  It is time to show we are Christian through the love of Christ.  This means a willingness to love no matter what the cost.  What is Christian love in a society that has forgotten Christ?

  • Talk to the homeless on the side of a street, and break bread with them.  Seek to know, listen and discover ways to help them.
  • Invest time with your families, and repair broken relationships.
  • Forgive those whom have hurt you, remembering Christ forgave us while nailed to a cross.
  • Visit those in prison, and be a sign of love and hope for them.
  • Embrace those who are homosexual and fight for their dignity and freedom, while standing up for His truth that homosexual behaviors can never bring about true life and true freedom… but relationships founded in chastity can.
  • Love the single mother seeking an abortion, and give them hope that the child in her womb is hope for our future.  Help her to see that abortion will bind her, not free her, and there are many who are willing to help.
  • Give to all who ask, without judging what they might do with your gift.
  • Be willing to stand up for Truth with love.  Don’t judge and don’t presume anyone’s intentions.

This is what Christ taught, and repeatedly, lives lived this way draw others to them.  They bring about true freedom, but true freedom does not mean freedom from suffering. Rather true love expressed unconditionally will require suffering.  This is the mystery of the cross.

May we all truly treasure what we have been given, for it can all be taken away in but a moment.  Happy Independence Day!