22 August 2011

The United States is, was, and always must be a Christian nation


In recent time, and particularly with the socialist ideals being pushed on America at the moment, it has become popular to suggest that the United States of America is a secular nation. Yet, this is not true. One need only look to the National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, to see this. Not the first verse with which we all are (or should be) familiar, but the fourth verse. Here it is:

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation,
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n - rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto--"In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Yes, there it is. America is indeed a Christian nation. We are not a secular nation, and we are certainly not a Muslim nation. America is one of the great societies in the world's history, and perhaps the only one today that stands for the Christian Faith against the evil tyrannies of the world. Let all Americans stand up proudly and reaffirm that the United States is, was, and always shall be a Christian nation.

09 August 2011

Entitlements and the London Riots


The London riots continue to rage on as scenes of fires in the city on the Thames are shown in the media. The riots are said to be about proposed cuts in entitlements programs in the UK, such as health care. So, in order to protest this, they go around harming the very same innocent people who pay the taxes that support their entitlements. They're biting the hand that feeds them, so to speak. More than that, they are allowing their anger over not getting what they believe they should get from other people to turn into violent aggression. It rather reminds me of the poor, misguided souls who bomb abortion clinics to stop abortion, thereby committing murder, the very act they claimed to be against. This outcome is what logically follows from long-term entitlement programs, though the London case is perhaps a bit more dramatic than I hope will be seen elsewhere. Various demonstrations against proposed entitlement cuts in the US, for example, have thankfully thus far remained non-violent.

While a society has a moral obligation to tend to the poor, Christian duty applies to helping those who really need it and, when help is given, that help should be real help. Real help is something that facilitates a person's well-being and growth. As the saying goes, teach a man to fish, and you will feed him for a lifetime. Entitlement programs, on the other hand, are largely hand-outs from the government and create incentives not to work and contribute. Those who truly could be productive members of society but choose not to be, instead living off of welfare programs of socialist governments are selfishly committing the sin of pride as they live off the sweat of others. The more they stay on the entitlement programs, the more they feel entitled. It becomes a way of life. Now try to reduce or take away those entitlements to prevent the nation as a whole from going under. Ask those on entitlements to share in the financial woes everyone else is facing. Not surprisingly, as they feel the entitlements are, well, their entitlement, they act out as if their sacred rights are being violated.

It is no surprise that socialist European and British governments are finding that their social programs could not last forever. The problem is that they created a monster in the process, and that's the vast army of people now fully convinced that they are entitled to government payouts and social programs. Another problem is that socialism tends at the same time to suppress religion, thereby removing any sense of Christian obligation to society from those on entitlements.

And the United States is not far behind Europe in this regard. As the recent debt debate showed, America also cannot continue to spend like it is spending. Entitlements were at the heart of the debate, and both sides, but especially the socialist Democrats, were in the end unwilling to take the lollipop away. Entitlements were essentially left untouched. The politicians know that cutting benefits from those receiving them, even if they shouldn't be receiving them, is likely to have a negative impact on their chances of getting re-elected. So, instead of doing the ethical thing, they do the politically expedient thing. The people have figured out that they can vote themselves benefits from the public treasury, so now the elections go to those who promise the most to the most. The trouble is that this is not a sustainable position. We are seeing the fruits of the seeds that were planted in the 1930s.

The London rioters' behavior, as completely unacceptable as it is, nevertheless is not surprising. It is the fruit of what socialism planted. The rioters are behaving like spoiled children, and really that is what anyone who is hooked on entitlements is: a spoiled child. It is time for a new generation of truly ethical statesmen in both America and Europe to take back society from the socialists and rebuild under Christ's Holy Cross all that had made our societies great.

02 August 2011

Saint Alphonsus Liguori and Redemption


SAINT Alphonsus Liguori, well-known as the founder of the Redemptorists, and also as a Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church, is a shining example to all in the clergy. A nobleman, Saint Alphonsus had a successful secular career as lawyer before dedicating himself completely to the service of God through the Church. He turned down two advantageous arrangements of marriage made by his father to remain celibate for the Roman Rite priesthood. His family was a bit put out at his decision to be a priest. Yet, he followed the calling of God anyway. It reminds me of a Roman Catholic bishop I know who told me once that the only time he ever saw his father cry was when he announced he was going to become a priest.

As a priest, Saint Alphonsus, of course, founded the Redemptorists. He also was made, against his wishes, a Bishop. His order and his own work were dedicated to the poor and ignorant. For his work he was much maligned by those within and without the Church. Yet, he labored on doing his duty to God and to the Church, helping the poor and working for the redemption of those he encountered and, through his writings, of those of future generations. If he had allowed himself to be bullied into giving up or modifying his work, think of those who would likely not have found redemption through Christ.

If a priest is doing his job, we know that he will be maligned. Perhaps it will not happen as much as to Saint Alphonsus or to Saint Ignatius, whose feast we celebrated two days earlier, but it will happen. People will try to claim a priest is teaching falsehoods when he is professing the truth of the Catholic Faith. People will try to badger a priest into giving up his vocation, his obligations, his duties, and his work all in the name of "getting along," or "getting ahead," or other worldly platitudes. The world rejects that which is not of the world. The degree to which this happens to a priest depends on the environment he is in and what he is doing. Even within a purely religious setting, human nature leads to jealousy, politics, and other problems that cause internal turmoil within the Church. The specific problems a priest faces are ultimately individual, but the point is that a priest doing his job necessarily will face opposition.

It is so very important for priests to understand this and take solace in the life and work of Saint Alphonsus and others like him. Priests, and especially Bishops must not abdicate even a modicum of their responsibility simply for personal comfort, worldly security, to "get long," or even to keep people in the pews. The latter sounds perhaps counter-intuitive, but it is true all the same. Priests cannot water down the Faith simply to keep the stubborn in the pews. If the will of the parishioner is so great as to refuse to accept the Catholic Faith, then they will effectively excommunicate themselves. A priest cannot give in to such intimidation and must maintain the Faith for the spiritual good of both the entirety of their parishioners and for the redemption of the stubborn parishioners who choose to leave. You do no one any good by watering down the doctrine simply to keep more people in the pews.

The world, furthermore, will try to tempt priests into giving up their solemn pledge to God and joining the ways of the world. Yet, priests, as servants of the Kingdom of God, are in this world, but not of this world. Especially in the secular society we live in today, this becomes all the more difficult. Yet, we must persevere. If we do not, then how many souls might be lost? Even the mere sight of a priest in his clerical collar or cassock out in public might turn people to God or cause people to examine their own conscience more than they otherwise would. The more the Church is allowed to be suppressed and allows itself to be suppressed in society in general, the more difficult it will become for people to attain to everlasting life. Christianity is a constant struggle, not a panacea to soothe and affirm with weekly emotional highs. Christianity is a process of true conversion of heart, of warfare against darkness, and of self-sacrifice as we deny ourselves and take up our own cross and give ourselves completely and entirely to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.