Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

The Truth Hurts

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We’ve all heard the refrain, and we all know deep down inside that it’s false. Words have an incredible power in our lives. They have the ability to change us for the better or the worse. When you think of the positive impact of words, you might think of Lincoln at Gettysburg, Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, or Neil Armstrong as he descended to the surface of the moon. These words fill us with pride or spur is on to good actions. Words can also move us to profoundly evil emotions and actions. The genocide in Rwanda which killed up to 1,000,000 people was in part brought about by government propaganda that repeatedly accused the oppressed Tutsis of being roaches, of subhuman dignity. Because words are so important and powerful, telling the truth is as equally important and powerful an action. Today’s readings highlight the importance and necessity of proclaiming the truth.

In the first reading we encounter the prophet Jeremiah, who is one of the more colorful Old Testament figures. God choses him to be a prophet, to proclaim the truth to Israel. Jeremiah wants none of it. He knows he’ll be persecuted for it, and he’s not up to the task. Basically, he’s like any one of us: “God, don’t choose me, I can’t do; I’m not the one for the job.” But in a very powerful passage, Jeremiah recounts, “The Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, ‘behold I have put my words in your mouth.’” From then on, no matter how much Jeremiah wants to keep silent and not speak the truth, he’s almost forced to do so. At one point Jeremiah complains, “The Word of the Lord has brought me nothing but shame, criticism, and ridicule. If I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak anymore in his name, there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.’” The prophet Jeremiah, regardless of consequences, was compelled to speak the truth.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is in the same boat. He comes to his hometown of Nazareth, where he preaches in the synagogue, The Gospel tells us, “all spoke highly of him and all were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” But Christ knew that the people’s hearts weren’t in the right place. They were looking for signs and wonders, but didn’t want to go through the hard and necessary process of repentance. So Jesus reads their hearts—he’s God, so he can do that—and tells them the truth. Now imagine how much that must have hurt him, on a human level, to do so. He had been enjoying nothing but fame and adoration up to that point. In addition, these were the people he grew up with and knew intimately. These supposed friends and neighbors go from speaking highly of him to trying to kill him in a paroxysm of fury. Jesus, like Jeremiah, is driven to tell the truth, no matter what the personal consequences. Telling the truth has huge implications.

At our baptism, each of us was baptized into Christ. That means we take on Christ’s role (and Jeremiah’s, who prefigured Christ) of prophet. That doesn’t mean we go around reading palms or telling people that the world’s going to end in 2012. No, in the biblical sense a prophet is simply one who preaches the truth, consequences be as they may. We are witnessing a great example of someone living out his baptismal call to be a prophet with the great college quarterback, Tim Tebow. During the Super Bowl next Sunday, he will appear in a commercial that defends the sacredness and dignity of life from the moment of conception. The commercial, because it implicitly shows the evil nature of abortion, is being protested by many groups. Tim Tebow is in a real sense, a prophet; one who can say with Jeremiah, “there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” If God lives in us through grace, my brothers and sisters, shouldn’t he also speak through us?

Parents have a unique and privileged role in standing up for truth. The Church teaches that parents, and not teachers or other authorities, are the primary educators of their children. It falls squarely on the shoulders of moms and dads to pass along the truths of the faith and important values to their children in the midst of a very confusing culture. This is no easy task in our society, but it is nonetheless necessary. Parents, you have a special advantage in educating your children, though, precisely because you love them more than anyone else.

It is this all-important love that St. Paul extols in the second reading. St. Paul was no shrinking violet when it came to proclaiming the truth. He wrote, “Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel!” But he also realized that preaching the truth was fruitless without love. In today’s second reading he says, “If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, but do not have love, I am nothing.” The mistake that we make so often is teaching, admonishing, or correcting without love. A person is converted, or comes to the truth, not through our brilliant arguments or flawless reasoning, but through the love that accompanies our profession of the faith. Jesus says, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

All of us have areas of our life where we don’t live the truth fully. We should examine our relationships with our spouse, our parents, or our friends to see where lies, sometimes so hidden but dangerous, are rooted. It would also be beneficial to examine how well we have lived our baptismal calling to be prophets-to stand up for the truth, regardless of the consequences. So often, I think we will find, we are more than comfortable just going with the flow. But, my brothers and sisters, Christ is constantly calling us to more. He calls us to live in the splendor of his truth and in the deep impenetrable bond of his love. Christ said to his disciples and he says to us, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

What Does It Mean to Be a Spiritual Child?

Today, as on most Saturdays, my mother and I pick up my baby sister Keelin, about whom I've written before, and take her for a car ride. Keelin looks forward to these rides, and on the odd occasion when they cannot happen, she is disquieted. She does not understand. She wants her car ride. And it is worse if, for some reason, either of us has to go by her group home on such an occasion for some business. Today I had to drop off some articles for her. I took some pains to avoid having her see me, because the weather is very inclement, and in such situations the briefer one's time on the road, the better. I spoke with her aide quietly, never going into the house. As I took my leave, I saw Keelin in the background, standing on her tippy toes and craning her neck to see over the aide from a distance. I do not know if she identified me with my hood on, by I know that she knows the time of the week and whom she expects to arrive for her. What she probably does not understand is what snow and low visibility have to do with her car ride.

It is also so between us and God. We know what we want and are expecting, and we know them to be good things: successful career; family happiness; freedom of movement; good health; a rhythm of diversion, leisure, and fruitful labor; and so on. What we do not understand are the reasons for which God withholds these things from us, or at least permits them to be withheld.

It is at these times when we can internally rebel against God, even if we continue to go through all the motions of a religious commitment to Him; or we can pray for the grace to accept that our Father knows what we need and is giving it to us, even when it feels like a very bitter pill to swallow.

This is faith: knowing that God has a plan for our good, even when we cannot see it.

Thank You, St. Thomas Aquinas...

...for some of the most beautiful verse in the Western tradition.

Adoro te devote, latens Deitas,
Quæ sub his figuris vere latitas;
Tibi se cor meum totum subjicit,
Quia te contemplans totum deficit.
I devoutly adore you, O hidden God,
Truly hidden beneath these appearances.
My whole heart submits to you,
And in contemplating you, it surrenders completely.
Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur.
Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius;
Nil hoc verbo veritátis verius.
Sight, touch, taste are all deceived about you,
But hearing suffices firmly to believe.
I believe all that the Son of God has spoken;
There is nothing truer than this word of truth.
In cruce latebat sola Deitas,
At hic latet simul et Humanitas,
Ambo tamen credens atque confitens,
Peto quod petivit latro pœnitens.
On the cross only the divinity was hidden,
But here the humanity is also hidden.
I believe and confess both,
And ask for what the repentant thief asked.
Plagas, sicut Thomas, non intueor:
Deum tamen meum te confiteor.
Fac me tibi semper magis credere,
In te spem habere, te diligere.
I do not see the wounds as Thomas did,
But I confess that you are my God.
Make me believe more and more in you,
Hope in you, and love you.
O memoriale mortis Domini!
Panis vivus, vitam præstans homini!
Præsta meæ menti de te vívere,
Et te illi semper dulce sapere.
O memorial of the Lord's death!
Living bread that gives life to man,
Grant my soul to live on you,
And always to savor your sweetness.
Pie Pelicane, Jesu Domine,
Me immundum munda tuo sanguine:
Cujus una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.
Lord Jesus, Good Pelican,
wash me clean with your blood,
One drop of which can free
the entire world of all its sins.
Jesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio,
Oro, fiat illud quod tam sitio:
Ut te revelata cernens facie,
Visu sim beátus tuæ gloriæ. Amen
Jesus, whom now I see veiled,
I ask you to fulfill what I so desire:
That on seeing you face to face,
I may be happy in the seeing of your glory. Amen

Happy feast day, Domicans!

John Donne's Holy Sonnet V

I am a little world made cunningly
Of elements, and an angelic sprite;
But black sin hath betray'd to endless night
My world's both parts, and, O, both parts must die.
You which beyond that heaven which was most high
Have found new spheres, and of new land can write,
Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might
Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,
Or wash it if it must be drown'd no more.
But O, it must be burnt; alas! the fire
Of lust and envy burnt it heretofore,
And made it fouler; let their flames retire,
And burn me, O Lord, with a fiery zeal
Of Thee and Thy house, which doth in eating heal.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

A recent article by Mark Shea at got me to look up Rudyard Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings." The poem refers to the blank notebooks used by schoolboys of Kipling's day, each page of which had a pre-printed proverb on the head of each page, for the boy's edification. Here is the poem:

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
The presupposition of the poem is that there are principles built into the nature of the universe. They are summarized by the what Aldous Huxley, among others, has called the Perennial Philosophy, and what Peter Kreeft writes are loosely summarized by the teachings of Taoism, Confucianism, Stoicism, Platonic philosophy, and monotheistic religion. This description doesn't imply moral relativism; rather it shows that something of morality really is innate.  (Christianity, coincidentally, isn't about this or any other morality, not really; but it does take good, solid morality for granted.)  These principles are what we would call moral common sense. The poem makes the point that we ignore these principles, capitulated tidily by the Proverbs of the Bible and on the upper margins of old fashioned stationary for boys, at our own risk.

John Maynard Keynes vs. F. A. Hayek

The little video below is perhaps the best summary that I have ever encountered of Keynesian economics and Hayek's economic theories.

Keynes' economic theories are dominated by the overarching theme that regulation and stimulation of the economy by a central authority (i.e., government) are the chief driving economic factor and, when fine-tuned, can become the chief means of steady growth. Any number of mechanisms are to be deployed to achieve this end: stimulus, detachment of money from an actual standard coupled with printing more money and adjusting interest rates, etc. Borrowed money can be used to stimulate growth to such a degree that growth outstrips the interest rates and can then be used to repay the loans painlessly. Sound familiar?

Hayek advocated government restricting its role to policing the market to ensure the rule of law and a market genuinely free - including of unreasonable governmental intervention. He emphasized the role of savings and prudent investment as the chief source of authentic, long term prosperity. He did not believe that debt could be made into a source of genuine wealth. Sound unpleasant?

By why is this little reflection appearing on a blog devoted to presenting the Gospel? Well, simply put, because how we live our life has spiritual implications, and our religious faith should affect how we live our life.

The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender, (Prov 22:7).

Will we be a nation of free men, relying on our own wits and upon Divine Providence, or will we be a nation of slaves dependent upon foreign masters for a bit of dried bread, all that's left over from the sweat of our brow?

Thanks again, Anchoress.

Haiti - United in Prayer

Thanks, Luce.

How Religious Communities Heal Hearts

Anchoress, thanks for this video from the Boston Globe.

It got me thinking. That's always dangerous. A beautiful couplet of books, The Man on the Donkey, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2, by H. F. M. Prescott, show a similar dynamic.  The pair of books unfold and draw together the lives of disparate historical and fictional characters living in the time of Henry VIII.  In them, a battered and abused girl is sent to a convent so that she will no longer burden her older sister by existing.  Previously, the convent had been portrayed as worldly and petty in its aspirations: life was filled, apparently, with bickering over rugs and boasting over which sister had the most gold pins to hold her veil upon her head.  As the abused girls moves into the convent, the reader begins to see another side.  In this world vastly kinder than the one into which she was born, the girl begins to blossom as a person, having encountered simple, untangled and unmanipulative love for the first time.  I myself was startled by the ease with which the author, without ever re-representing or changing the personality of the convent, shows it first from one perspective, and then from another: worldly than it ought to be, but a haven of sanctity compared to the world.

During my time in seminary I saw something of the same dynamic.  Many of the men, myself included, thought the place very much more worldly than it ought to be.  Yet visitors were always and uniformly amazed by its quiet warmth, friendliness, hospitality, and the ease with which a heart lapses into prayer in that place.  We did not live in a place of lollipops and sunshine, and there weren't love-bombs, either... which is probably a good thing.  But there was a place where genuine love could gradually, organically grow and bring about real healing and a real kind of new life in the men that arrived there.  I saw it happen.  I recall one man who was very poorly socialized, a bore and boor, and very quickly found himself nearly isolated in that house of 150 Christian men because of it.  I suspect it was not the first time people had a hard time saying, "Well, that's just So-and-so.  You know how he is," because for most people, even good people, at some point, enough is enough.

But I also think of a friend of mine, a man who lived across the hall from me - well liked and popular because intelligent, athletic, easy-going, responsible, and kind.  This man told me that he was not going to just watch So-and-so crumble and fall away.  He couldn't bring himself to think, "Good riddance."  I also know that the petty unkindness and gossip against the unpleasant man became so bad that a very popular, well-respected, and high-ranking faculty member addressed So-and-so's class in his absence.  He told them that the faculty were aware of So-and-so's problems and issues.  There was no need to keep pointing them out to the faculty or to each other.  It was best just to be a friend to So-and-so, and to pray for him.  At first, I thought it unprofessional or even reckless of the faculty member to address the class so openly about what would probably be considered their classmate's personnel matter.  At least, that's what it would be considered in the world.  But there, in that house of God, it was a personal matter - and personal matters sometimes require far more delicacy than personnel matters, and sometimes far less.

Lastly, I think about how I watched, saw with my own eyes, the growth of So-and-so.  An irritating mannerism fell away.  A new friend was made.  Someone invited So-and-so to join in.  Another perplexing behavior was moderated.  So-and-so made another friend.  People stopped saying things harshly about So-and-so behind his back.  More people were willing to invite him to more things.  It became clear that he wasn't so stupid as people thought at first, even if a bit more uncouth than they liked.  People went from defending him on principle to defending him on the basis of his actual strengths.  It turned out he was athletic enough that, his abrasive characteristics diminishing, people didn't mind - no, actually wanted him on their team.  He started to enjoy his studies.  More prayers were offered up for So-and-so, doubtless, than anyone on earth will ever know.  For that matter, So-and-so went from being known for the amount of time he spent in front of the community television to being a man noted for the discipline of his prayer.  A man who looked like he wouldn't last the first year because he was so aggravating has since progressed well on the way to being a good and holy priest, certainly of great use to the People of God.  In that seminary, that house where seedlings are transplanted like stalks of rice, that man came alive in a new way.

So it is with the Church as a whole.  In the rock tumbler of our shared life in the Spirit, we are first to grind down sharp edges, then polish natural virtues, and at last glow like gems of holiness.  It is not a romantic thing, but a gritty thing.  Well, it is romantic in the sense of being adventurous, but not in the sense of being smooth or suave.  Temptations do not flee the life of holiness, but flock to it like moths.  We in the Church are called to live in a way different than that found in the world outside.
For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good, (Romans 12:4-21).
We will not always do it very well, but our company should be a place where people will encounter the healing touch of Christ made present in His people, in His priests, in His word and sacraments.  It might not happen all at once, and it certainly will not happen without bumps and bruises along the way... but the more we rely on Jesus to make it happen, the more surely we will see progress before our very eyes - the more we will see souls open and blossom in a way the world can barely conceive, let alone imitate.

For that matter, a Christian family is supposed to be very much the same sort of thing as a Christian church.

The Roar of the Unborn Babies

On Friday, January 22, over 200,000 people showed up to participate in the annual March for Life, the largest annual demonstration in the nation's capital.

As usual, the Democratic Administration and Congress turned a completely blind eye, as if the couldn't see the crazy traffic patterns and endless streams of people.  I mean, it was a small group on the edge of the city, out of sight.  So it's not surprising that the Prez couldn't see them.

Oh, wait.  I forgot.  It was 200,000 people who marched, and they marched down the central street of the nation's capital - Constitution Avenue.  And they did it in broad daylight.

But they were kooky nuts, the kind you just have to ignore.  You know: lots of taxpaying, middle-class, family-values types.  And so monotonously homogenous.  I mean, groups like Presbyterians for Life, Lesbians for Life, Democrats for Life, Jews for Life... not to mention women who have had abortions... no diversity there.  Just lots of white, mean, conservative Catholic men.  No news here, people.  Move along.  Lol.

Well, for decades Congress, the Courts, and Democratic Administrations have ignored the personhood of unborn children, democratic process, the growing consensus of the American people, and even basic principles of morality and constitutional law.  Now, Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) has admitted that the Senate's version of healthcare "reform" cannot pass in the House, and Rep. Pence (R-In.) has attributed it to the bill's abortion language.  Though the Democratic Party has ignored an increasing amount of its own constituency and all manner of other voices and concerns, the little babies have them now, right where they want them.  The Democratic Party leadership is like the monkey with its hand caught in the cookie jar - they can't get their precious healthcare obamination because they won't stop clutching onto their government-funded abortions.

In a surprise twist of fate, the little children have saved from economic catastrophe an America that cannot bring itself to save them because of our love of economic comfort.

Let's pray that we learn to return the favor.

i am a little church(no great cathedral)

i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)
Another beautiful piece of postmodern poetry by the late e. e. cummings.

Haiti and God's Providence

There's been a lot of nonsense lately about Haiti - everything from remarks about it being divine retribution, to attempted pleasantries about it all being for the best.

Something I've been focusing a lot on lately, for personal reasons and because of more public affairs, is the authentic meaning of joy and hope.

St. Therese of Lisieux asked in a letter how it was that Jesus, without ever being deprived of the joy of the beatific vision, could yet experience such utter emptiness and abandonment on the cross. She answered herself that she did not know, but only knew that it was possible because she herself was experiencing it during her own painfully fatal conflict with tuberculosis. Joy, for a Christian, isn't mere happiness any more than love is mere warm feelings toward another. Joy is the knowledge of the presence of God's Kingdom, the knowledge of His will at work - even when it is hidden-and-not-yet-present.

The cheapness of religious cant isn't that it's false to say that God's Providence includes even the catastrophic suffering of innocents. If God's Providence doesn't include suffering and death, then it's worthless. It isn't false to say, "God has a plan, and this, eventually will be drawn into the good." But also isn't the point, and it is cheap to say to someone who is in the throes of suffering, unless you are darn sure they are prepared to hear it.

The cheapness of religious cant is that it subsumes one reality - that of pain, suffering, and death - into another one: the victory of God. It tries to make the sorrow "go away," and not for a commitment to truth or to the person suffering, but simply out fear of the discomfort of facing the truth of the person suffering.

When we are suffering, it is good to remind ourselves of God's Providence, and that He is as displeased with the pain we are experiencing as we are, and to ask ourselves, and Him, honestly, what role this might play in His plan for our lives. When others are suffering, it is probably better just to listen presently at whatever length, help them practically in ways they might need or request, let them ask their own questions in their own time, and let our presence in persona Christi serve as an unspoken answer.

What Happened Yesterday Going to Mass

Yesterday, I got a minor reminder of something of what Deacon Dave preached about, and posted yesterday at this blog.

I drove to St. XYZ parish for its 12:10 p.m. Mass.  It was convenient to where I was working yesterday.  I got there, and a note on the door politely stated that the 7:00 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. Masses of the day would not be said.  I presume it was because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  It is a federal holiday and so federal workers, who populate my area plentifully, as well as students and teachers, had the day off.  "Priests apparently, too," I remarked to myself as I went into the church to pray for a bit, since I was there anyway.  There were twenty or thirty people inside, apparently also unforewarned about the cancellation - and apparently workers on their lunch break, as usual.  I became irritated.  Irritation turned to anger, resentment.  I tried hard to pray.  The best I could muster was to growl at God about workshy bureaucrats and priests.  None of this reflects well on me, I am afraid.

But then a moment of grace intervened.  I didn't detect it at first.  It simply arose as a quiet thought, "Well, I might have gotten my butt out of bed for the early Mass at my own parish, or even the morning Mass, and still been to work on time - or close enough to it."  Since I was there anyway, I tried to remember the words to a prayer of spiritual communion.  I couldn't, so instead I just prayed, "Jesus, just yesterday you came to me in love.  Please extend into today the union you gave me yesterday.  Help me to love like you.  I want to trust that whatever happens, it is your will.  Help me to trust you.  Amen."  As I walked outside after praying a couple decades of the rosary, another thought came to me.  "The priest might actually be very industrious.  I don't know.  He might very well need today off from his usual duties."  The sun was warm on my face during our little Spring Break in January.  I was grateful for having slept well on my soft bed in my warm house the night before, and for having a bit of work for the time being.  Resentment and anger faded away.

Taking responsibility for one's own actions, giving others the benefit of the doubt, and gratitude are good people-person skills.  They are also good attitudes.  They are also something of the natural virtue upon which supernatural sanctity is built.

I went back to the office where I was working and was able to make a valuable contribution to the firm.  That's something to take a bit of pride in, something to sleep well on.  I joined my dad and his wife for dinner and we had a pleasant time.  My evening tutoring session went well.  The day has ended nicely.  The bitter poison of anger, that might have slowly and imperceptibly tainted the rest of my day, was drawn out by an action of grace, to which I opened myself by a determination to pray, which was given to me by an action of grace, to which I opened myself by deciding to make use of the sacraments if I could, which was given to me by an action of grace...

So yesterday I saw the co-mingling of grace and my own efforts - and saw a bit of water turned into wine.  Let's look for little reminders of grace, and in our actions, try to be for other people little reminders of grace.

Cana and God's All-Powerful Word

The good news is that I was on a five day silent retreat this past week and so I have had plenty of time to meditate and pray on today’s readings. The bad news is that I wasn’t allowed to talk for five days (so maybe I’ll make up for that now). During this silent retreat, I of course had no connection to the outside world; no internet, no cell phone or newspaper. When I met with my spiritual director on Tuesday, he told me that there had been a huge earthquake in Haiti and that thousands upon thousands had died and everything was in ruins. I was completely taken aback, and I have to admit that my first thoughts were along the lines of, “God, couldn’t you have prevented this?” I’m sure all of us had similar thoughts go through our heads. In times like these, we’re tempted to think of God’s powerlessness. We’re tempted to think he doesn’t care or can’t help us. This is Satan’s temptation, to have us think that God is powerless against evil.

It may not be because of what happened in Haiti. It may because of financial ruin, the death of a loved one, seeing a loved one suffer, or a sin we can’t seem to conquer. For many different reasons, I’m sure that all of us have had the temptation at one time or another to think that God doesn’t care, that he isn’t here with us in our suffering, or that he’s powerless against evil. Because it’s so easy to fall into that temptation, it’s such a great thing that we have the Mass. At Mass we profess our faith together: “We believe in one God, the Father, the almighty.” We proclaim God’s mighty works in Scripture, the living Word of God. It is at Mass that we are brought back truly and spiritually to the crucifixion: the moment when it seemed evil had triumphed, but in reality God had won his most powerful, decisive, everlasting, and glorious victory. With all of this in mind, the message of today’s readings is God’s Word is all-powerful.

Imagine sitting in a ramshackle church in Haiti right now; you may have lost family, friends, or all your possessions. Now imagine how you would hear this line from the first reading that could have easily gone in one of our ears and out the other: “No more shall men call you forsaken or your land desolate.” Just think how resonating those words are for Haitians who may have dug their way into church this morning, who truly feel forsaken and whose land is clearly desolate. The prophet Isaiah wrote these words as the Israelites were in exile in Babylon. The Israelites had been torn from their land, the promised land which Yahweh had given them. In their time of great suffering, what does God promise them? He says, “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet.” God will speak, and simply by speaking they will be saved. Later the reading says, “You shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the Lord.” For the Israelites, God’s Word was all-powerful. Just by his speaking, their fortunes would change. They would go from being called “forsaken” to being called “my delight.” Their land would go from being called “desolate” to being called “espoused.” In the midst of great suffering for the Israelites, Isaiah declares that just by God’s almighty word, Israel would gain freedom and be restored to its land. If you’ve ever gone to the sacrament of reconciliation, burdened and broken by sin and heard those words of the priest, “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” you know as the Israelites did that God’s word is all powerful. The ruins of our soul are restored to beauty.

The Gospel also testifies to the fact that God’s word is all-powerful. We might be tempted to think that Christ changing water into wine was a simple act of kindness to an embarrassed groom. Certainly, it was a kind act, but it was more than that. It was a powerful act. Notice that one of the last lines of the Gospel reads, “Thus did he reveal his glory.” I don’t associate glory simply with kind gestures, but with powerful, miraculous actions.

Notice how Jesus performs the miracle of changing ordinary water into the best of all wines. He simply commands, “Fill the jars with water.” He does it through the power of his word. It takes nothing more; no praying over the water or blessing it; he doesn’t need to touch the water or do anything else. By those simple words a great miracle takes place. This reminds us of a later miracle when Jesus offers to go to the centurion’s house to heal his servant. The centurion responds with incredible faith and humility. He knows the Lord doesn’t have to come to his house to heal his servant. He has no need of praying over his servant, touching him or even seeing him to heal him, so the centurion says, “Lord, only say the word and my servant shall be healed.” We take the centurion’s line and apply it to ourselves before every Holy Communion: “Lord only say the word (your all-powerful word), and I shall be healed.”

Jesus changing the water into wine through his simple instruction also reminds us of what will take place later in this Mass. The priest, who during the consecration is really acting in the person of Christ, will say those sacred words, “This is my body,” then, “This is the cup of my blood.” Just by repeating Jesus’ words, the greatest miracle in heaven and on earth takes place: the bread and wine become Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity. Instead of water being turned into wine, wine is turned into Jesus. Rather than prolonging a marriage reception, Jesus allows us to participate in the heavenly wedding feast of God. Instead of supplying wine which will provide drink for a couple hours or days, we receive the food and drink that provides our nourishment for eternal life. This all happens through God’s word. God’s word is truly all-powerful.

We are tempted to think because of certain sufferings of our own or of others, that God is powerless against evil. Nothing is further from the truth. This same God who created the world through his word, who changed water into wine through his word, and who changes bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood through that same word, will change our mourning into dancing, our suffering into joy.

Babies and Distributism

Here's a little taste of G. K. Chesterton, whose writing style is somewhat ironic because as he writes, the reader has the constant sensation that he is being led somewhere and only the author knows.  He is a master of paradoxical conclusions designed to blow his ideological opponents out of the water.

I hope it is not a secret arrogance to say that I do not think I am exceptionally arrogant; or if I were, my religion would prevent me from being proud of my pride. Nevertheless, for those of such a philosophy, there is a very terrible temptation to intellectual pride, in the welter of wordy and worthless philosophies that surround us today. Yet there are not many things that move me to anything like a personal contempt. I do not feel any contempt for an atheist, who is often a man limited and constrained by his own logic to a very sad simplification. I do not feel any contempt for a Bolshevist, who is a man driven to the same negative simplification by a revolt against very positive wrongs. But there is one type of person for whom I feel what I can only call contempt. And that is the popular propagandist of what he or she absurdly describes as Birth-Control.

I despise Birth-Control first because it is a weak and wobbly and cowardly word. It is also an entirely meaningless word; and is used so as to curry favour even with those who would at first recoil from its real meaning. The proceeding these quack doctors recommend does not control any birth. It only makes sure that there shall never be any birth to control. It cannot for instance, determine sex, or even make any selection in the style of the pseudo-science of Eugenics. Normal people can only act so as to produce birth; and these people can only act so as to prevent birth. But these people know perfectly well as I do that the very word Birth-Prevention would strike a chill into the public, the instant it was blazoned on headlines, or proclaimed on platforms, or scattered in advertisements like any other quack medicine. They dare not call it by its name, because its name is very bad advertising. Therefore they use a conventional and unmeaning word, which may make the quack medicine sound more innocuous.

Second, I despise Birth-Control because it is a weak and wobbly and cowardly thing. It is not even a step along the muddy road they call Eugenics; it is a flat refusal to take the first and most obvious step along the road of Eugenics. Once grant that their philosophy is right, and their course of action is obvious; and they dare not take it; they dare not even declare it. If there is no authority in things which Christendom has called moral, because their origins were mystical, then they are clearly free to ignore all the difference between animals and men; and treat men as we treat animals. They need not palter with the stale and timid compromise and convention called Birth-Control. Nobody applies it to the cat. The obvious course for Eugenists is to act towards babies as they act towards kittens. Let all the babies be born; and then let us drown those we do not like. I cannot see any objection to it; except the moral or mystical sort of objection that we advance against Birth-Prevention. And that would be real and even reasonable Eugenics; for we could then select the best, or at least the healthiest, and sacrifice what are called the unfit. By the weak compromise of Birth-Prevention, we are very probably sacrificing the fit and only producing the unfit. The births we prevent may be the births of the best and most beautiful children; those we allow, the weakest or worst. Indeed, it is probable; for the habit discourages the early parentage of young and vigorous people; and lets them put off the experience to later years, mostly from mercenary motives. Until I see a real pioneer and progressive leader coming out with a good, bold, scientific programme for drowning babies, I will not join the movement.

But there is a third reason for my contempt, much deeper and therefore more difficult to express; in which is rooted all my reasons for being anything I am or attempt to be; and above all, for being a Distributist. Perhaps the nearest to a description of it is to say this: that my contempt boils over into bad behaviour when I hear the common suggestion that a birth is avoided because people want to be "free" to go to the cinema or buy a gramophone or a loud-speaker. What makes me want to walk over such people like doormats is that they use the word "free." By every act of that sort they chain themselves to the most servile and mechanical system yet tolerated by men. The cinema is a machine for unrolling certain regular patterns called pictures; expressing the most vulgar millionaires' notion of the taste of the most vulgar millions. The gramophone is a machine for recording such tunes as certain shops and other organisations choose to sell. The wireless is better; but even that is marked by the modern mark of all three; the impotence of the receptive party. The amateur cannot challenge the actor; the householder will find it vain to go and shout into the gramophone; the mob cannot pelt the modern speaker, especially when he is a loud-speaker. It is all a central mechanism giving out to men exactly what their masters think they should have.

Now a child is the very sign and sacrament of personal freedom. He is a fresh free will added to the wills of the world; he is something that his parents have freely chosen to produce and which they freely agree to protect. They can feel that any amusement he gives (which is often considerable) really comes from him and from them and from nobody else. He has been born without the intervention of any master or lord. He is a creation and a contribution; he is their own creative contribution to creation. He is also a much more beautiful, wonderful, amusing and astonishing thing than any of the stale stories or jingling jazz tunes turned out by the machines. When men no longer feel that he is so, they have lost the appreciation of primary things, and therefore all sense of proportion about the world. People who prefer the mechanical pleasures, to such a miracle, are jaded and enslaved. They are preferring the very dregs of life to the first fountains of life. They are preferring the last, crooked, indirect, borrowed, repeated and exhausted things of our dying Capitalist civilisation, to the reality which is the only rejuvenation of all civilisation. It is they who are hugging the chains of their old slavery; it is the child who is ready for the new world.

G. K. Chesterton, "Babies and Distributism," from The Well and the Shallows

I hope you enjoyed that little article as much as I have. Little did Chesterton know... or perhaps he did suspect... that before long an age would come in which men would murder babies in the womb, starve them in hospital janitor closets, and openly speak in the classroom of murdering them into their first years of life postpartum.

Proverbs that Might be True, pt. 5

Barbarism is not a picturesque myth or a half-forgotten memory of a long-passed stage of history, but an ugly underlying reality that may erupt with shattering force whenever the moral authority of a civilization is lost.
Christopher Dawson

(Ok, so it's a bit long for a proverb, I admit...)

Can You Do More?

Ask yourself, "Can I give up my Starbucks this morning and maybe tomorrow, too, and give the money to someone who really, really needs it badly?"  These people, the ones who weren't crushed to death, are now beginning to face acute dehydration by the tens and hundreds of thousands.  Hungry will be turning into a mortal threat in a couple more days, especially for the injured or weak.  People are becoming agitated and starting to loot and fight over very limited supplies.  Christian America, we've started to help - let's keep it up.

Catholic Relief Services
Food for the Poor

Can Anyone Guess?

Can anyone guess what is the problem with the views expressed in this interview?

Well, that's a trick question. Problems would better state the matter. In case you don't know, the "Rev." Mary Glasspool has recently been elected by separated "Christians" to be their second gay "bishop".  She will serve as an auxiliary in Los Angeles. (The quotation marks are deliberate, and yes, I mean exactly what they imply.)

Her last comments are what are most profoundly disturbing and revealing about what's wrong in the Anglican Communion. On the surface we seem closest to them in theology, and for years, there was a more apparent similarity that has now broken down because of the Episcopalians' acceptance of every sort of sexual aberration.

Here's what's wrong. Mary Glasspool, and many Episcopalians with her, believe that as long as we can all gather for the Eucharist and share communion together, then we are OK. It doesn't matter if we all believe different things - some accepting the Gospel, others implicitly rejecting it and trying to reshape it in their own image; it doesn't matter if some are striving to live Christian lives dependent on grace, overcoming their vices and growing in virtue - while others do whatever the hell they want and call it living in grace rather than law (the Gospel calls this lifestyle lawlessness, e.g., Acts 2:23, 2 Thess 2:8, 2 Thess 2:9, 1 Tim 1:9, 1 Pet 4:3, 2 Pet 2:8, 2 Pet 3:17).  According to Mary Glasspool, now a "bishop" of the Episcopalian "Church," none of that matters, as long as we can come together for communion.  The Latin word means "strong union," it is exactly what does not exist within the Anglican Communion, and especially within the American branch - the Episcopalian "Church".  There is no doctrinal union - union in how they see the world; nor is there moral union - union in how they live their lives.  They haven't got any communion at all, really.  And their "Eucharist" means about as much.

The Anglican Communion started off with compromise - the Bishops of England deciding to go with Henry VIII's flow.  Then, to quell internal dissent about this doctrine or that, they came up with 16 and then 39 points of agreement, written so vaguely that anyone could sign in "good conscience."  The Communion has since then seen itself as a "Via Media," a broad, middle way between "Roman" Catholicism and "Reformed" Protestantism.  They'd have the best of both worlds, they would.  Two contradictory propositions can be held at the same time by a thinker or by a Church, given enough latitude between them so they won't fight.  That's their thinking.  Implicit in that attitude, as much as in Mary Glasspool's, is that none of it is really that true, or at least, not that important.  This is the very serious deadly sin, the dreadful decay, of sloth: seeing a good (truth) and just not caring about it.  From the moment one embraces this sin, even if one likes the various Christian doctrines, one doesn't accept them as true and conform one's life to them.  Instead, one just likes them.  If we treated our knowledge of gravity with such mental laziness, we'd fall very visibly.  But we cannot see spiritual truths quite so obviously as material truths, and so it is easier to fake them.  But precisely in thinking that contrary spiritual propositions can be held simultaneously as true, they reveal what they believe: spiritual propositions aren't real.

We Catholics have something of this tendency - but it is always about matters of practice and discipline - never about faith and morals.  That is, our latitudinarian expansiveness requires celibacy for priests in the West and marriage for priests in the East.  It allows colored vestments in the Roman Rite and white ones only in the Byzantine.  We can fast from meat on Fridays, or from whatever else is suitable.  We can read this spiritual writer or that, it's all of a piece, really.  We can depict Christ on the Cross as African, Asian, or Australian.  These distinctions are based on prudential judgments and aren't really from God, but by convention.  But it's all prudential judgments based on the same faith and morals throughout the Catholic world, and those are real and they are really from God.  What we are not free to do is to insist upon celibacy for all priests or to prohibit it.  We are not free to say, "Mass on Sunday isn't obligatory."  We must not say that because we can depict Christ as whatever sort of man we like, he was no man at all.  These things are from God and to reinvent them is to fake them, to lie.

We must do the hard spiritual work of maintaining real spiritual unity, based on real love and real agreement on the real essentials of Christian faith and morals.  Far from scoffing the erosion of Christian faith in separated Christian communities, we should take a warning from the direction they take, pray for them, and extend to them a hand, an invitation to rediscover Christ and the Church that He founded.  Otherwise, we will have abandoned Christ.

Keep Your Eyes Open

You may not have heard, but Haiti was struck today by an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale.  That's the same as the earthquake that beat San Francisco down in 1986.  Only Haiti is poor, very poor, and hasn't got a very stable government, and hasn't got a broad tax base.  The quake hit very close to the capital, Port-Au-Prince, so many houses and hospitals designed to withstand storms, but not shaking, have collapsed into piles of rubble.  Catholic Relief Services is estimating that thousands will be found only after they are dead.

The people there are going to need some help getting themselves back up on their feet again. Keep a look out for ways to help. I recommend Catholic Relief Services (which has, as far as I know, had nothing like the scandals attached to the CCHD lately) or Food for the Poor.  Don't forget to pray for the Haitians, while you are at it.

It's Over - But Really, It's Just Beginning

Well, folks, it's over. Christmastide, that is. Now we are back in the day-in day-out of ordinary Christian living marked governed by the ordinary ordinances of Ordinary Time. And it's no coincidence that this period begins today with the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. Isn't it baptism that begins all of our lives in the Lord?

Here is the first reading from today's Mass (Is 42:1-4, 6-7):
Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
So many messages for the Christian life:

"Here is my servant whom I uphold": God upholds us, as a Church and each of us individually.  We can rely upon Him.  He does that not upon our own meritorious character, but because of our intimate union with His Son: the "chosen one" with whom he is actually "well pleased."  In the beginning, all of creation was "very good," (Gen 1:31) but sin damaged all of creation very badly.  Now, in Christ, we can be a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) that is again pleasing to God the Father (Heb 13:20-21).

The Christian follows Christ in bringing forth "justice to the nations," but he does not do it with riots, rebellions, crying out, or "shouting... in the street."  Instead, the Christian brings uprightness to the nations without breaking even anything as fragile as "a bruised reed."  The ways of the world are not the ways of a Christian, who is always on guard to be delicate, delicate with souls, lest he "quench" the "smoldering wick" of someone's embryonic faith.  He persists in his pursuit until the very edges of the world, the "coastlands" hear his teaching - because they are eager for it.

The LORD, the great I-AM, calls us "for the victory of justice."  He grasps us by the hand as a father takes his little boy, his little girl, and leads them step by step.  The distance seems far to us only because we are small, but our Father is very great, and he will grow us, form us into Christian men and women.  We will serve as a living covenant, a living sign of the commitment of God to His creatures and of those as of yet unruly creatures to their God.  The very way we live our lives - uprightly, doing what is right whatever it cost us, merciful to the weak and the poor - will make us a "light for the nations."  Our life in Christ will "open the eyes of the blind" so that they too can come to know His immense love for them.  People who are "prisoners" to the "confinement" and "darkness" of sinful ways of life - irresponsible borrowing and spending, excessive eating and drinking, shallow and broken relationships, promiscuity, lies, wrecked families, dependency on glamorous false solutions to life's problems - these people will see Christ in the conduct of our lives, and they will come to follow Him and be saved.

Or not.

The difference could very well be in how effectively we set our egos out of the way and let Him work in us.  We will do this setting-aside by taking up our cross daily (Lk 9:23) and following Him, even if it is to a place we would rather not go (Jn 21:18).  In this daily voluntary setting-aside of our desires when we cannot legitimately set aside our sufferings, we will know joy.  Joy is not ecstasy.  Daily ecstasy would be too much to bear for us right now anyway.  Joy is knowledge of the of the acting of God, of the providence of God, kingdom of God, in our daily lives.  It does not make the suffering go away, but it makes everything fit into a big picture, and makes even our sufferings sufferable.  Ordinary Time is the time to practice this daily joy in the midst of daily suffering for the daily sanctification of the world.

Ordinary Time doesn't sound so ho-hum now, does it?

The Highbury Quartet plays Beethoven's String Quartet No. 7 in F Major (for Rasumovsky), Op. 59, No. 1 - 3rd Mvmnt

I apologize for the quality of the recording, which is slightly off, but you get the point, and you get what you get for free. The recording that I have, that I paid for, is amazing. I've listened to this piece for hours, and it's never gotten old. I don't even really know almost anything about classical music - yet. But with the most beautiful things, you don't need to know much to start getting it.

Beauty is like that.

My roommate and I got to brainstorming today about retro, and we had some interesting thoughts. I'll share more about that tomorrow or the next day.

What the Priest Told Me in Confession Today

The priest to whom I made my confession today told me the coolest thing:

When you wake up in the morning, that is God saying to you, 'Get up! I've got something important for you to do today!' And you want to get in the habit of asking yourself and asking God throughout the day, 'OK, God, so what's the next thing I do today?'
I believe that he was bearing in mind that, being underemployed right now, I have more free time than normal. Such time is often squandered unintentionally on frivolities, and the long term effect of such leaking is demoralization.

A Good Reminder in the Onion

Thanks to The American Catholic for displaying that clip from The Onion. The video is really a clever reminder about how silly are many of our affairs, and how soon they will be forgotten, in the grand scheme of things. Let's keep our eyes fixed on the things that we can bring with us into eternity: friends and family, faith, hope, and love.

Psalm 116

This psalm has been very important in my prayer for several years now. Enjoy!

I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.

Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.

Then I called on the name of the LORD:
"O LORD, I beseech thee, save my life!"

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
our God is merciful.

The LORD preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

For thou hast delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling;

I walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.

I kept my faith, even when I said,
"I am greatly afflicted";

I said in my consternation,
"Men are all a vain hope."

What shall I render to the LORD
for all his bounty to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD,

I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.

O LORD, I am thy servant;
I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid.
Thou hast loosed my bonds.

I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the LORD.

I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,

in the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!

How Britain Is Eating Its Young

I have decided to embed below one of the very best articles I have ever read on modern socio-economic woes, written from a macroscopic perspective. I am embedding it, because if I made it downloadable now that the original magazine has it archived and available only for purchase, I would certainly get my pants sued off - or at least be violating their copyright.

You need the Adobe Reader plugin to view this document.

More Beating of Drums for Death...

Montana's high court rang in the New Year by ruling that it's OK to murder sick and, presumably, very old people.  Oh, wait - that's right, it's to be called mercy killing or assisted suicide or death with dignity or some such nonsense.  The court affirmed a lower court's December 6 ruling to the same extent.

Why Montana?

Hmmm... cash-strapped state... aging population...  Well, I suppose it doesn't matter why Montana, because the whole country is headed in that direction.  It will be a perfect storm - a trifecta of previously unlikely scenarios inevitably colliding:

  1. Economic pressure from our incomprehensible national debt;
  2. Demographic pressure of our aging baby-boomers who are now beginning to retire in earnest;
  3. Foreign pressure from our Chinese debt-masters to impose the same sort of draconian measures that we impose upon our debtor nations.
When these three factors coincide - and they will - we are gonna start gassing 'boomers like you can't believe.  Mark my words; this prediction takes no great foresight, only commonsense.  We've long since been solving our unborn problems by killing them in the privacy of the womb; now Montana's court, the first such state high court ruling in the land, says that privacy protects the "right to kill granny."  They didn't call it that, but will the aged infirm or the sick have much more voice than those in the womb?

Christians, let's resolve in 2010 to pray harder.