“God will not hold us guiltless.
To not speak is to speak.
To not act is to act.”
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The Vatican Bank has recently been placed on the State Department’s list of institutions that have the potential to engage in money laundering. Shortly thereafter, JP Morgan decided to close the Vatican’s account.
Given the Obama Administration’s latest attack on religious freedom involving the HHS vs. the Catholic Church, one can hardly be faulted if the initial reaction to this situation is seen as the Administration using it’s authority to punish an institution that refuses to comply with its current demands. However, as I started to do some research, I realized that the truth is much more complicated and nuanced and I therefore needed more research and thought before posting on the topic.
TC Avey has beaten me to the punch and published a post on her blog that covers all the issues and twists and turns – and I can only say, “Thanks, TC!!” So read her post, follow the links she provides, and draw your conclusions.
I will add some information on JP Morgan’s CEO, Jamie Dimon – it’s been obvious for a while that he has become disenchanted with the President – (who would have seen that one coming) – perhaps others will gather their courage and maybe even really go public??? Anyway, the first Dimon story is here, and the second here.
(The Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner – courtesy of Mark Hardon’s Archive)
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:26-38
Today the Church celebrates the Annunciation. Two aspects of this event have always fascinated me, each revolving around a voluntary choice.
The first is Mary’s consent, her voluntary cooperation – after all, she could have said “No”. Think about that. Put yourself in her place – imagine the initial fear, the confusion, and then the wonder she must have experienced.
Then she must have realized the personal difficulties that would result from her agreement — the reaction of those around her if she appeared to have violated the moral code. What would Joseph do? What would the future be? These questions and many more must have passed through her mind – yet she decided to place her trust in her God.
Mary said “Yes”, and the world would never be the same.
Every day, each of us has the opportunity to say “Yes”, as Mary did. What will I say today? What will you say today?
The second aspect of the Annunciation that captures my imagination is the choice that God made to be born of a human and to temporarily join His Divine nature with our Human nature. The Office of Readings today has an excerpt from a letter written by Saint Leo the Great in the fifth century AD that discusses this subject:
Lowliness is assured by majesty, weakness by power, mortality by eternity. To pay the debt of our sinful state, a nature that was incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer. Thus, in keeping with the healing that we needed, one and the same mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, was able to die in one nature, and unable to die in the other.
He who is true God was therefore born in the complete and perfect nature of a true man, whole in his own nature, whole in ours. By our nature we mean what the Creator had fashioned in us from the beginning, and took to himself in order to restore it.
For in the Saviour there was no trace of what the deceiver introduced and man, being misled, allowed to enter. It does not follow that because he submitted to sharing in our human weakness he therefore shared in our sins.
He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity. He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself visible, though Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So he who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.
He was born in a new condition, for, invisible in his own nature, he became visible in ours. Beyond our grasp, he chose to come within our grasp. Existing before time began, he began to exist at a moment in time. Lord of the universe, he hid his infinite glory and took the nature of a servant. Incapable of suffering as God, he did not refuse to be a man, capable of suffering. Immortal, he chose to be subject to the laws of death.
No words I can add to improve upon that – there is material for many days of meditation here.
For information about the artist Henry Ossawa Tanner go here:
For information about St Leo the Great, go here
For information about the Divine Office (or Liturgy of the Hours), go here
irony — an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected
In a recent comment on the post Obama and Collective Salvation – Oh, the Irony, student Kenneth Holloway wrote:
What follows are my thoughts prompted by this inquiry (they may or may not be what you are seeking). I would ask others to please add your own comments to this post. You can read the Salvation essay by Langston Hughes at this site.
First, I want to thank you, Kenneth, for introducing me to Langston Hughes – I checked out some biographical information before I read the essay – he was not someone whose work I was familiar with – I hope to find the time someday to read a bit more of his writings. He wrote essays, poetry, plays – if you could recommend perhaps a starting point, maybe an anthology, that would be helpful for those who would like to read some more.
Below, I want to comment on the irony in Hughes’ Salvation essay, and then the most significant irony in the Christian faith itself.
Part 1: Irony in Salvation, by Langston Hughes
The glaring irony, of course, is the difference in the perceived outcome and the true outcome. At the end of the evening, Hughes’ aunt and the rest of the Congregation believed that conversion had occurred, when in fact it had not. Even worse, the true result was not a neutral one, but instead there was a rejection of Jesus by young Langston.
Another irony that I see is the idea held by the Congregation that there is only one way to receive the Truth of Christianity – a dramatic, instantaneous conversion experience. This is simply not the case – there are many pathways to Jesus, and for some of us that path is very gradual and much less emotional.
I think Hughes’ rejection can be seen in another way, and this to me may illustrate the greatest irony — perhaps the rejection was actually based on Hughes hearing the Spirit at that point in time, and he was not yet able to recognize its voice. Psalm 51:18-19 tells us:
For in sacrifice you take no delight,
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit,
a humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn. (Grail Translation)
God does not want automatons. He created us with free will, free to accept or reject Him. He wants from us a sincere acceptance. Langston had not yet truly heard His voice in his heart and mind – he could not yet sincerely accept Him. When he cried it was because somewhere in his heart he knew what he had done was wrong – what would have told him that, except the Holy Spirit? That the outcome at that point in time would be total rejection does not conflict with this view at all – he was, after all, a youngster and processing what was happening based on limited life experience – been there, done that, with the same result. (If you would like more info, read My Journey to the Catholic Church.)
Part 2: Irony, thy name is Jesus Christ
Most Christians of every stripe are aware that the Old Testament points to the New Testament and the New Testament must be read and interpreted in light of the Old. To put it another way, the entire Bible is one continuous story of Salvation History. (At least, I hope it’s most, I’ve only encountered a few Christians who are clueless about this.)
The person, actions, and teachings of Jesus are not what the Jews expected from the Messiah they so patiently awaited. And therein lies the irony. The entire Christian faith is based on irony. In fact, ironically, this can be a major argument for the Truth of the Faith, for we see demonstrated the idea that God works in mysterious ways – certainly no human would have written the story in this manner.
Lately I have been taking a course at Church that is the handiwork of Fr. Robert Barron. The series is called Catholicism, and parts of it have been shown on some public television outlets and on EWTN. The second part, Amazed and Afraid: the Revelation of God Become Man, brings together many of the ways Jesus, the Messiah, was not what was expected by the Jews of His time.
The very person of Jesus, who he claimed to be, human and divine, was shocking to his contemporaries, and should also be to us, if we really think about it. If he spoke Truth, what then – Fr. Barron explains here…
The Messiah was expected to accomplish four tasks – and Jesus did accomplish all four, but again, ironically, not the way the Jews expected – in a totally different way, a more radical way – again, I’ll let Father Barron tell the story here….
Irony abounds around Jesus’ story in many other ways – just look for them. Why the method of His death would never have been imagined by a human – it was not only that it was a horrible, painful way to die –in those days, it was a shameful way to die.
Kenneth, I’m not sure if this was the sort of thing you were looking for, but they were what your response prompted for me.
I have a question for you – did Langston Hughes eventually accept Jesus as his Savior?
Thank you, David Barton.
Part of the difficulty when attempting to awaken others to the grave danger our Republic faces is the classic “can’t see the forest for the trees” syndrome.
Something outrageous happens, in our estimation, and when you try to discuss it with others you get “oh, come on, surely he doesn’t mean that” – or, “you can’t take this one incident and make a big deal out of it”, or, “you’re being crazy to leap to those conclusions” – etc., etc….. I’m sure you have your own versions. Each individual incident is like an individual tree in the forest.
But, what if there was an accumulation of incidents – what if a pattern emerged — what if many examples were put in one place – then what? For any honest person, interested in Truth, the case would become overwhelming and one would have to then use their God-given brain to draw – conclusions. The overall forest would now be visible.
David Barton of Wall Builders has gathered together a long list of incidents that he believes supports the case that our current President is “anti-Biblical”. And he’s done this the correct the way, he has documented the original sources in the footnotes, so the reader is provided with links to those sources. Just the facts – pure, simple, and irrefutable.
Read Barton’s piece here: America’s Most Biblically-Hostile U. S. President
A Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit come, like a mighty rushing wind
and awaken us out of our complacency, our
apathy, our indifference.
Disturb us, for we are too content to let things
go on as they are, and to let people go on not
knowing you. Penetrate the closed gates of our
hearts, and make us live again.
O Holy Spirit, create among us a mighty Christian
revolution and cast the fear of the unknown out
of our lives.
– Michael Hollings and Etta Gullick, from
The Catholic Prayer Book, page 47
A Prayer to Michael the Archangel
Holy Michael, the Archangel, defend us
in the day of battle;
be our safeguard against the wickedness
and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and may the prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust down to Hell Satan and all
who wander through the world seeking
the ruin of souls.
As the battle for Religious Freedom in this Nation continues, another strong voice for Truth, Cardinal Francis George, speculates on the future using a Lenten theme; some excerpts:
This year, the Catholic Church in the United States is being told she must “give up” her health-care institutions, her universities and many of her social-service organizations. This is not a voluntary sacrifice. It is the consequence of the already much discussed Department of Health and Human Services regulations now filed and promulgated for implementation beginning Aug. 1 of this year.
Why does a governmental administrative decision now mean the end of institutions that have been built up over several generations from small donations, often from immigrants, and through the services of religious women and men and others who wanted to be part of the Church’s mission in healing and education? Catholic hospitals, universities and social services have an institutional conscience, a conscience shaped by Catholic moral and social teaching. The HHS regulations now before our society will make it impossible for Catholic institutions to follow their conscience.
So far in American history, our government has respected the freedom of individual conscience and of institutional integrity for all the many religious groups that shape our society. The government has not compelled them to perform or pay for what their faith tells them is immoral. That’s what we’ve meant by freedom of religion. That’s what we had believed was protected by the U.S. Constitution. Maybe we were foolish to believe so.
In the public discussion thus far, efforts have been made to isolate the bishops from the Catholic faithful by focusing attention exclusively on “reproductive” issues. But the acrimony could as easily focus next year or the year after on assisted suicide or any other moral issue that can be used to distract attention from the attack on religious liberty. Many will recognize in these moves a tactic now familiar in our public life: Those who cannot be co-opted are isolated and then destroyed. The arguments used are both practical and theoretical.
…..Perhaps this is the time for everyone to re-read the Acts of the Apostles. Bishops are the successors of the apostles; they collectively receive the authority to teach and govern that Christ bestowed upon the apostles. Bishops don’t claim to speak for every baptized Catholic. Bishops speak, rather, for the Catholic and apostolic faith. Those who hold that faith gather with them; others go their own way. They are and should be free to do so, but they deceive themselves and others in calling their organizations Catholic.
….The provision of health care should not demand “giving up” religious liberty. Liberty of religion is more than freedom of worship. Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union.
The strangest accusation in this manipulated public discussion has the bishops not respecting the separation between church and state….The state is making itself into a church. The bishops didn’t begin this dismaying conflict nor choose its timing. We would love to have it ended as quickly as possible. It’s up to the government to stop the attack.
Lately, many of us have been amazed at how quickly things can change – the radical ideas of the Progressive elites and their vision of the future – no, actually our future – are clearly stated much more often now – even forcefully stated. They are in charge of our Nation now, and they are working furiously and rapidly to bring us the “radical transformation” the President promised.
The attack on Freedom of Religion is the latest and perhaps the most stunning vehicle that will move us headlong toward Nirvana as our “betters” understand it. Why now? Why in an election year? I’m still playing with theories on that one, and any ideas you can provide would be appreciated.
Meanwhile, as the as the March 2nd letter from Cardinal Timothy Dolan makes clear, the fight has been clearly and publicly defined in a way that would have been unthinkable a short while ago.
Cardinal Dolan writes:
Since January 20, when the final, restrictive HHS Rule was first announced, we have become certain of two things: religious freedom is under attack, and we will not cease our struggle to protect it. We recall the words of our Holy Father Benedict XVI to our brother bishops on their recent ad limina visit: “Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.”
Wow, so Pope Benedict recognizes our freedom is under attack and he’s way over there in Rome.
The Cardinal continues:
We did not ask for this fight, but we will not run from it. As pastors and shepherds, each of us would prefer to spend our energy engaged in and promoting the works of mercy to which the Church is dedicated: healing the sick, teaching our youth, and helping the poor.
Yet, precisely because we are pastors and shepherds, we recognize that each of the ministries entrusted to us by Jesus is now in jeopardy due to this bureaucratic intrusion into the internal life of the church.
…We are grateful to know so many of our fellow Americans, especially our friends in the ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, stand together in this important moment in our country. They know that this is not just about sterilization, abortifacients, and chemical contraception. It’s about religious freedom, the sacred right of any Church to define its own teaching and ministry.
So the good Cardinal is up to the fight – and from what he describes later in the letter, it will be a serious battle indeed:
…At a recent meeting between staff of the bishops’ conference and the White House staff, our staff members asked directly whether the broader concerns of religious freedom—that is, revisiting the straight-jacketing mandates, or broadening the maligned exemption—are all off the table. They were informed that they are. So much for “working out the wrinkles.” Instead, they advised the bishops’ conference that we should listen to the “enlightened” voices of accommodation, such as the recent, hardly surprising yet terribly unfortunate editorial in America.
The White House seems to think we bishops simply do not know or understand Catholic teaching and so, taking a cue from its own definition of religious freedom, now has nominated its own handpicked official Catholic teachers.
Who the hell do these Administration people think they are!!!
Stunning – absolutely stunning! Read over the quote again and consider it’s meaning – not only has this Administration closed the door on further debate, not only has it trashed the First Amendment guarantees of Freedom of Religion without even acknowledging the problem, but now – amazingly – they presume to define who speaks for the Catholic Church and who defines Church doctrine – not Pope Benedict, not the bishops and other leaders loyal to the Pope and to the traditional teachings of the Church – but radical elements that call themselves Catholic who continue to work for the destruction of the orthodox Catholic Church.
Never thought I’d see the day. If the government can define what a church must believe and teach, then the government can define what each and every one of us must believe and teach in any and all circumstances. If that doesn’t send a chill up your spine, nothing will. However, if this does disturb you, it is critically important that you not be the only one disturbed – go out and disturb others – family, friends, and neighbors.
Consider this – if those who govern us are willing to be this arrogant in an election year — what does it say about their opinion of its citizens – and what do you think they will do with four more years?
WAKE UP!!! NOW!!! It’s about control, it’s always been about control.
As we were discussing the condition of the nation the other day, my friend said that when she was young she loved to read science fiction and now she feels like it may be coming true. We then talked about some of the books she had read, and it turns out I had read them too – but I did not consider them science fiction, but predictions of a possible political future. Anyway, it was the second time recently that I realized there were a few books that were common reading for certain generations but maybe not so much for generations that followed. So I present you with the list below – if you haven’t read them, you should – most if not all of them are available quite inexpensively on the used market, and the story is the same whether it comes from a beat up old used paperback or the newer anniversary editions
Enjoy – or not, depending on how frightened you get – and you should be.
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