27 December 2011

The Fate of Christians in Iraq and Afghanistan


A news report on television today spoke of the distinct possibility of Christians being expunged from Iraq and Afghanistan. A news article from 2010 detailed mass persecution of Christian in Iraq, including many violent attacks. This leaves me wondering precisely why we fought the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Are we going to leave the Christians to their fate at the hands of the Muslims, despite our rhetoric of fighting the wars for the freedom of the Iraqi and Afghan people? Does that freedom only apply only to Muslims? Do we oppose Islamic attacks on the United States, but tolerate Islamic attacks on Christians in Iraq and Afghanistan?

The fact is that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is at this time a secure country. The American military has withdrawn from Iraq, but do the Iraqi officials we left in control actually care about the freedom and security of all their people? And, if they do care, then are they truly capable of securing the freedom of Christians? If not, then why have we withdrawn when the stated job of the military has not been completed? No doubt it is considered politically incorrect today to wage war against Muslim forces in order to protect Christians. Yet, we waged a war to protect and free the people of Iraq and Afghanistan from tyrannical rule. Why are the Christians of those countries any less entitled to freedom and security than the Mohammedans? And why does the United States government seem unwilling to do anything tangible about it?

Whether anyone in the government wishes to admit it or not, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have at their heart the very issue of religion. There is on the one hand the Islamists carrying out the principles of their religion to seek world domination against every other religion, and this includes attacking the great bastion of religious freedom, the United States. And then there is the United States, along with the other allied nations, who have fought back. The War on Terrorism is inherently about religion, because at the root of that terrorism is the issue of religion. They cannot be separated. Attempting to separate them or attempting to explain the actions of terrorists and others from any basis other than that of the principles of Islam leads to nothing more than a skewed comprehension of the situation. This leads to inappropriate and ineffective action.

So, we are left with two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, which have supposedly been freed from oppression. Whether that has actually been accomplished in general is perhaps a matter of opinion. It is clear, however, that freedom from oppression, basic security, and respect of human dignity has not been accomplished for Christians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, is this why we asked our young men and women to deploy overseas? Is this why our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines have died and suffered wounds? Without freedom and security for Christians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the victory is hollow, if it can even be called a victory. The task should be seen through all the way and finished properly or it should not have been undertaken at all.

08 December 2011

On the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Hail, full of grace, the Angel Gabriel saluted our Lady. She surely had to be in the fullest state of grace possible in order to be worthy to be that vessel by which our Lord was to be brought into the world. We each receive graces through the Sacraments and by other means that God has established, but only the Blessed Virgin was so endowed by God with grace that she was indeed full of grace. This state of grace began at her Immaculate Conception, defined infallibly as dogma by Pius IX. In order to be in this state of grace, it was necessary that she be preserved from original sin. And she was so preserved from the very instant of her conception. This was a singular event, a special exemption granted by God from universal law to Mary for the special purpose of bringing into the world our Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of all Mankind.

Neither could our Lord be born by the work of man, for man is in a fallen state. What good would it do for the vessel to be pure, only to be contaminated? This would not do as a worthy means for our Lord to be born into the world. If the purest golden cup receives even the most infinitesimal drop of poison, it is no longer worthy to hold wine, let alone the finest fruits of the vine. As Mary was pure, spotless, and white as snow, only the Holy Ghost could be upon her to make her conceive. And, for our Lord to be wholly man and wholly God, being of one substance with the Father, then if he was to be born of woman, he must be conceived of God, and specifically God the Holy Ghost, the Holy Paraclete. Considered in the reverse, as our Lord was wholly man and wholly God, being born of woman and conceived of the Holy Ghost, then only a woman pure and spotless, born immaculate, without the stain of Original Sin, would be fitting.
Mary is sometimes referred to as the Second Eve, for just as Eve was the vehicle by which loss came to the human race, Mary was the vehicle by which its Redemption would come. Just as Eve had a choice, Mary had a choice. Eve made the wrong choice, with all its negative consequences for the world. Mary, on the other hand, made the right choice. She accepted the work of the Holy Spirit and bore the Son of God, saying "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word." Her acceptance was essential for salvation, for without it Christ would not have come into the world. There would be no ministry of Christ, there would be no Passion, no Cross, and no Resurrection. However, Mary's acceptance of the weighty task was only one necessary factor. Our Lady was given the choice of accepting conception by the Holy Ghost because she had been made ready and acceptable for it through her Immaculate Conception. God gave the fallen world the gift of a special woman, full of grace, upon whose free will depended the salvation of mankind. As Eve lost paradise for all mankind, Mary brought back into the world the hope of salvation for all mankind.

Though we can never have the fullness of spiritual grace that Mary possesses, nevertheless we are all endowed by God individually with certain gifts and abilities. As was the choice our Lady faced, we also face the choice of accepting those gifts and using them for the glory of God or using them either not at all or for some ignoble purpose. This is the choice we each face in our daily spiritual struggle. The general life choices we make affect ourselves, of course, but as with Mary's choice, they may also affect others. Nowhere is this more evident than in the spiritual decisions we make. We may uphold the Catholic Faith, or we may choose not to. We may accept what God has has revealed to us, or we may reject his saving graces. The choice is ours. The consequences are not only ours, though. Whenever we stray into apostasy or even act weakly in our faith and morality, it makes it all the more difficult for those in our lives to maintain their faith and morality. Moral courage is so often absent in human beings because a lack of moral courage is so contagious. People would so often rather merely get along and serve worldly or selfish interests than uphold the Holy Truth and stand up for right and wrong. It is a constant battle against the ways of the world, for the path of God is rarely easy. The path of God, however, is the only way to true and everlasting happiness.

07 December 2011

The Very Real Danger of Christian Persecution in America


Never in my life, until now, have I had concern that Christians could be persecuted in America for upholding Christian morality. Never, until now, have I had concern that Christians could suffer legal penalties or even be arrested in America for upholding the Christian Faith. Now the threat is real, and due in large part to government actions and policies, I have significant concern that we will see a steadily-increasing amount of persecution against Christians in America.  

The time has come in America in which Christians and secularists are locked in a war. No longer is it live and let live, allowing each to follow his conscience and beliefs in an atmosphere of tolerance, but rather the secularists have made clear their agenda of destroying the authentic Christian Faith. Secularists have long since been attacking the fundamentals of natural law and Christian morality, but they have never made such progress at eroding the rights of Christians as they have in the recent period. Theirs was a process of gradually chipping away at the walls so that few, if anyone, would notice and stand up to it. The secularists have now managed to get many to turn from their faith towards secularism through this gradual process of eroding beliefs. They have even infiltrated the highest levels of the U.S. government. Now more and more of the government's policies and practices are not only against the basic principles of the Christian faith, but are also increasingly more directly hostile towards Christians. A new government-imposed morality is rapidly being forced upon Christians, who may be faced with the very real choice of going against the Faith or facing legal, social, or occupational consequences.

Now is the time for Christians to stand up for our rights, for if we do not, then soon it may be too late. We may see in America persecution against Christians as seen in communist China and under Stalin in the Soviet Union. Truly, if we do not defend our rights, we will surely lose them. The secularists are not resting and are working as actively as they can to dislodge religious freedom, substituting their own dogma for that of the Faith.

It is far easier to be complacent, and that is what the adversary is counting on. To stand up for that which is right in the face of a seemingly-overwhelming threat and refused to yield takes true courage, conviction, and faith. If we do not face this challenge now, then the armies of secularists will succeed in creating their form of utopia in which authentic practice of the Christian Faith will be virtually impossible. Americans must speak up for religious freedom, for moral truth, and for the laws of Christ while we still have the chance. Inaction will lead to defeat and usher in a period in which the Christian Faithful in America stand the real risk of being driven underground. Never forget that this is a war. Let us all adopt as our own the motto of my native State of Alabama, Audemus jura nostra defendere. We dare defend our rights.