Palm Sunday 2011

Palm Sunday 2011. The beginning of Holy Week for us Catholics. A sign that Lent is almost over and Easter is almost here. That the time when we can celebrate Christ’s triumph over sin and death, whose triumph grants us freedom from sin so that death no longer holds any power over us, is nearly at hand.

We call it Palm Sunday because of the Scripture passage where Christ first enters Jerusalem. He is greeted with open arms and shouts of acclamation and with people waving palms which are then laid along with their cloaks at His feet as He passes. They are overjoyed at his arrival. However just a few days later we see that they had a funny way of showing how much they loved Him. When He first got there they were overjoyed. Then a few days later these very same people hung Him on a cross, and the sins of mankind along with Him.

This situation from the Scriptures serves as a stark reminder of the pitfalls of seeking worldly recognition, fame, and riches. These things of the world as we have seen in Christ’s situation are transitory indeed. And such things usually require that you surrender your soul, to sacrifice Truth at the altar of seeking the imperfect and transient material things of the world. These things will never bring you true power and happiness. Only by recognizing that we have the capacity to love others as Christ loves us can we break the power of the world to sell our souls into material slavery.

The Eucharist: Source and Summit of Catholic Christian Faith

This blog post today is about something that brings us Catholics great joy.  It also a source of confusion for my Protestant brethren.  I love them dearly.  They have a zeal for revealing Christ to those who need it that I only wish some of my Catholic Christian brethren had.  But I can’t see how they could be so blind to this concept, which Scripture shows quite clearly.  I can’t give book, chapter, and verse like my Catholic and Protestant brethren can since I don’t have it that well memorized.  But I do know what Jesus has said and not said in Scripture.

First, Jesus said to the people: “Unless you eat of the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His Blood, you shall not have life within you.”  And the people knew what he was asking, although most thought he was preaching that the way to eternal life was cannibalism and so a lot of people, not wishing to cannibalize  Jesus, left.  Probably with thoughts along the lines of “I’m not roasting this guy’s flesh and drinking his blood like some kind of vampire!  No way!  This Jesus dude is ’round the twist if he thinks that doing so with his is the way to eternal life!”  But they left before they Heard Jesus clarify Himself.  So for those that stayed to listen to him continue, not having jumped to any conclusions, He said: “My Flesh is true Food, and My Blood true Drink.”

And then at the last supper Jesus Himself instituted what true food is to serve as the flesh of His Precious Body and which true drink is to serve as His Precious Blood: unleavened bread and wine respectively.  In the book of Matthew, chapter 26, Christ broke the bread and gave it to His disciples and said: “Take this, all of you, and eat, for this is my body….”

And then He took the cup, and gave it to His disciples saying: “Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, which is to be poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins.

He then instituted this to be a sacrament celebrated for all time by saying “Do this in remembrance of me.”

But the passage that I think gives greatest witness to the real presence of Christ Himself in the Eucharist is in St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:27,29):

“Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the Body and Blood of the Lord…..for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”

Wow.  I ask, does mere bread and wine alone have that power, the power to hold people accountable to the Lord’s Body and Blood?  No.  But bread and wine being used by Christ to make Himself physically apparent to the faithful does.  After the words of consecration according to sacred Scripture itself, the bread and wine ceases to be merely bread and wine and becomes Christ Himself, present in body and blood, soul and divinity, appearing to us in the form of bread and wine.  This is why we as Catholics cannot just dump what is leftover from Mass down the regular drain which goes to the local waste water treatment facility.  Because this is Christ we’re dealing with now.  Christ’s flesh is now in every particle of that bread and His Blood in every drop of that wine.  We cannot in good conscience dispose of Him as waste.  We first rinse out the sacred vessels into a Sacrarium, which is a sink but one that drains into the ground.  THEN we wash the vessels in a regular sink with soap and water.  And, from the very words of Scripture itself, this is why it’s a grave sin to do things like defecate on a consecrated host.  I could defecate on all the unconsecrated hosts I darn well please.  No sin would be committed though the supply of hosts to be used for Masses would be in jeopardy.  But if I were to defecate on a consecrated host, that’s a grave sin.  I just defecated on Christ Himself.  That, my friends, is a whole different ball game.  To do so knowingly incurs the penalty of excommunication automatically.

The passages of Scripture itself only serve to reinforce my faith that when I gaze upon the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, that I gaze in awe and wonder at the power of God who loves us so much that not only did He die for us, but he gave us a gift that lives on, the gift of His Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine.  Such awesome power that were He to reveal His full power to us mere mortals, our physical senses would be completely and totally unprepared for processing it.  Say what you will about faith.  Call it a fairy tale if you must.  I daresay I’ve been called worse for my beliefs.  But there is one thing that faith gives us that reason on its own power cannot: the power to live not as we wish but as we ought and the power to use our gift of reason in wise and ethical ways.  I’ve seen the incredible and miraculous changes that human beings have undergone when they gaze upon that sense perceptible sign of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God for such belief to be purely the signs of mere myth.  Incredible.

 

Government Welfare: Stealing? Yes!

Many people I’m sure have read my blogs regarding true charity and how forced taxation is not true charity for the poor because it’s the government telling you how to spend your hard-earned money.  This concept goes by another name: STEALING!  There is NO moral justification for stealing, no matter how badly you might need some food, water, clothing, or money.

How does government welfare equate to this most grievous of violations against another person’s property, you ask?  Simple.  Think about the nature of government welfare.  Their nature forces them to obtain funding through taxes.  Taxes are something that we the people have no choice but to pay.  The government takes this money and gives it to the poor people.  If the poor people did this directly we would rightfully call that stealing, but because the poor people have gotten the government to do it for them it’s somehow A-OK?

A lot of people, even some of my Catholic brethren, including some clergy, have forgotten that while we have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to serve the needs of the poor people, Church teaching also says that those in need must also be Christ-like, and Christ never would’ve stolen money from people nor would he have used the Roman government to do the stealing for him through taxes.

Therefore, government welfare does not constitute charity at all.  It does just the opposite.  What government does through these programs is turn an entire class of people into thieves, thereby continuing, not abolishing, class warfare.  The only way poor people can truly be helped is to help them with basic necessities in the short term, while at the same time helping them to help themselves by teaching them skills that they can take to the job market and get a decent job so that they can obtain such basic necessities as food, water, clothing, and even perhaps some creature comforts, on their own power.  That is how poverty is truly treated.

People don’t seem to realize that the needy also have a moral obligation to obey the law.  This means that the needy only have a right to ask that people help them out of the goodness of their hearts, not to force or use government to force people to help them.

The preamble to the US Constitution states:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Notice how it states to PROMOTE, not PROVIDE, the general welfare.  There’s a world of difference between the 2 terms.  “Promote the general welfare” means that government must provide en environment by which people can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps by fostering a free market where both commerce and true charity can flourish.  If the founding fathers instead had “provide” instead of “promote” for general welfare we would have an environment where government turns poor people into nothing more than thieves by stealing money from us and giving it to the poor.

There are some people who don’t mind that government welfare programs only use government to enable the poor people to steal from hard-working American citizens.  Who don’t mind that poor people essentially use the government to commit a crime that is rightfully called stealing.  To those people I say that if you like having poor people, or anybody for that matter steal from you through government, move to a communist country, like China.  Then see what promoting socialism over using the free market to provide true charity gets you.

Note: My good friend and former roomie Tom did point me out to a clarification I should make.  I neglected to include the keyword “unwittingly.”  this grievous exclusion of that keyword on my part did make it sound like I was generalizing and accusing a whole class of people of being thieves.  I should have said that with these welfare programs government is UNWITTINGLY, i.e., without the knowledge or consent of the needy, turning the needy into thieves by stealing our money through taxation and giving it to them.  And THAT is the difference between actual thievery on the part of the needy and government welfare programs.  In government welfare programs the thievery is being done indirectly and the needy are none the wiser because the needy don’t care where the money is coming from.  But I would bet that if it were explained to the needy in this way that the needy would also be all for the same gradual changeover from government welfare to private charity services  that I support

Immigration and the Arizona Law

“The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin.  Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.  Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.” – Paragraph 2241 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

It is important to note the first and foremost key phrase, as it sets up the rest of the passage from this book: “to the extent they are able.”  This means that the Catholic Church recognizes the common sense fact that no nation’s resources are infinite and therefore no nation, no matter how prosperous, can absorb an infinite number of immigrants.  That sets up the next part that says that the people charged with the common good, duly elected government officials, have the right to, by using their prudential judgment, craft a fair and just set of immigration laws which are used to control the flow of people seeking entry into said nation.  First and foremost amongst these “juridical conditions” would therefore be an acknowledgement of the fact that no nation’s resources are infinite by basically the government stating “we will take as many of you at one time as our resources will allow.”  And so first and foremost they would have to examine the possible cost of an immigrant (and his family if he has one) on the nation’s resources.  And if there simply aren’t enough resources to support said immigrant (and family) then the government has the right to say “we cannot take you in at this time as our resources are maxed out but you do have the option to wait until enough resources are free and we’ll look at your application again at that point in time.”

As for the rest of the passage, it states that immigrants must respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the nation that adopts them and to obey its laws and assist in carrying civic burdens.  This simply means that immigrants must respect our sovereign laws as long as they aren’t contrary to the dignity of persons and the natural law.  This would include those laws that are designed to control the flow of immigration.  Our nation has (or is supposed to have) a heritage rich in the liberty given by natural law and purchased for us by the blood of our ancestors who fought the yoke of British tyranny.  It is a heritage that is both material and spiritual.  This heritage gives us all the freedom and opportunity we could ever ask for provided that we abide by the natural law that must necessarily constrain us as we are imperfect beings and so thus need common sense restraint in the form of fair and just laws given by the light of this natural law.  And our heritage also punishes those who transgress our laws in proportion to the severity of the crime.  This means that immigrants who are caught breaking other laws while residing here in willful defiance of our fair and just immigration laws are punished with deportation.  Say what you will but this is infinitely more fair and humane than the way most 3rd world countries have treated their illegal immigrants.  Their treatment of them tends to include numerous violations of the natural dignity of the human person and the natural law.  By simply saying “go to the end of the line and wait to gain entry legally,” we preserve the dignity of the human person in our punishment of the person transgressing immigration law.

Now, on to this new law Signed by Gov. Brewer in Arizona.  Border security is supposed to be a federal issue.  However if the federal government is derelict in this duty it should by necessity fall upon the States to pick up the slack.  All this law does is give law enforcement officials in Arizona the authority to enforce federal immigration law during lawful stops and arrests.  Those charged with State, county, and local law enforcement must be able to enforce the law in its entirety, this would necessarily include immigration laws.  If law enforcement is prohibited from enforcing any one part of the law, then law enforcement is being prevented from doing its job, to enforce the law.  Why have laws in the first place if you’re going to remove the enforcement power of those charged with protecting the public through law enforcement?  What good is law enforcement if law enforcement cannot do its legal duty by the citizens they are charged with protecting.

So to reiterate, all this law does is first of all expand one’s identity to include citizenship status (which is in essence one’s identity as a citizen or legal resident or lack thereof) and gives law enforcement the power to check for this ID when making a lawful stop and/or arrest.  And if the person is found to be an illegal alien, then said person is deported.  This sounds fair enough to me and does not sound like a violation of the principles set forth in the Catechism, because this law also essentially says that if law enforcement at any time violates the dignity of the human person of whoever they lawfully stop or arrest, then said officers are penalized under the code of conduct that governs law enforcement officers.

I would also like to add that if government officials don’t shape up and start enforcing our border security and related immigration laws, then a grave injustice shall continue to be done unto the ranks of American citizenry and legal residents as the flow of illegal immigration continues unchecked and consumes resources at an ever-increasing rate.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Today is the day when Christians everywhere celebrate one of our highest holy days ever: the day when we were restored to life by the rising of our Savior, who being the perfect leader He is, gave of Himself so that we might be free of our sins.

Today is the day we celebrate the glorification of the Son of Man as the unblemished sacrificial Lamb sent by God the Father, the Creator, who would take upon Himself our sins and be slaughtered and crushed by their weight, but having done so willingly will destroy their power by His rising.

Some say it is impossible for a human being to free us from our sins because up to that point all human beings had been subject to the original sin of the progenitors Adam and Eve.  But this is where divine intervention came in.

If I were to burden someone with my baggage who was already burdened with his own baggage of the same kind, that person would rightfully say: You idiot!  Can’t you see I’m loaded down with my own burden?!?!?!  So it is that the Son of Man by his very nature would have to be specially created by God to be able to carry the burden of the sins of the people.  So that means this Son of Man, this sacrificial Lamb, would have had to be originally created without sin Himself, for it would make no sense to raise up as the One who saves us from our Sins one who was created with sin himself.  And because He took this burden willingly, and willingly allowed Himself to be crushed by their weight, the power of this burden was nullified, allowing Him to rise to eternal life so that the people might be restored and refreshed by the victory of the sacrifice of this unblemished Lamb of God.  Because God is our perfect leader is how this came to pass.

Happy Easter everyone!