Christmas 2013: where are we now and where are we going?

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of this Christmas season, a thought struck me.  I began to wonder where as a soceity our focus is.  Is it on material things or is it on the simple things that make what would be a dull and dreary life in this world a life instead filled with meaning and love, all the things that make life worth living?  Where are we now, as a society?  And where are we headed?

The rampant commercialization of Christmas, brought to light in the classic “Miracle on 34th St.” movie, has wrought devastating effects.  Our society has become so focused on the material, that we have neglected the fact that Christmas isn’t really about what material things we can get out of our parents or an employee donning the suit of the jolly big guy in red.  It is about reflecting and celebrating the point in time that God gave us His greatest gift: the gift of Himself, wrapped up in the most frail and unassuming of packages, the human body.  A staggering thing to imagine: that all God was, is, and ever shall be, could co-exist inside a human nature so fragile that it is easily bruised and broken.  This is the ultimate Christmas gift, is it not, for God to humble himself?  And should we not then do likewise?

Shouldn’t such an event give us pause?  Should we not consider, perhaps, that this is a clarion call to ever strive to become the best version of ourselves that we could possibly ever be?  Christ raised the bar on human existence.  He transformed an ordinary existence into something extraordinary, something to be cherished.  With Christ this existence then becomes a chance to touch other people’s lives with the best example of Christ’s love we can manage.

And yet every Christmas season, because of the rampant commercialism brainwashing soceity to think that Christmas is all about the material and that if your child doesn’t get the latest toy this season then he’ll hate you forever, I see so many people pushing and shoving each other and getting frustrated with each other, something even I’ve been guilty of from time to time.  Isn’t this supposed to be a time to wish our fellow man peace and goodwill?  To reflect on the awesome gift that is God, Incarnate in flesh?  And yet this gift of an Incarnate God was also as brutally opened in the same fashion as we open our regular gifts: the packaging violently torn to shreds.  But unlike with our regular gifts, the gift that poured forth as Christ’s flesh, God’s human packaging, was torn asunder, is a gift that shall last unto the end of time: the prospect that we may one day be reunited with a Divine and Loving and Merciful God upon completion of our mortal existence.  This gift is such a simple gift and yet gives many people’s lives in this world such great meaning and purpose.

And yet this gift sees widespread rejection in this new age of skepticism.  Skepticism can be a great tool, this desire to question things.  It allows us to be wary of falsehoods and of men who claim powers that you know they could possibly never have.  But, taken to extremes, skepticism can rob us of belief in the simple things that make this existence worth living.  We now, as a society, are witnessing the rise of human arrogance, the place where unbridled skepticism can lead.  Unbridled skepticism leads human beings to think that because reason tells us it cannot be so, then it is not so and can never ever be so.  And yet we can plainly see that living by reason alone leads to a dreary existence indeed.  And is it any wonder then, that with the rejection of God’s most awesome and gracious Christmas present to us, that we are now seeing an increase in the number of Ebenezer Scrooges in our world?

Father in Heaven, hear my prayers that the whole world may come to accept Your most beautiful gift into their hearts.  That one day all divisions and strife shall cease and instead of pushing and shoving each other in the stores in order to fulfill the corrupted commercialized vision of Christmas, we may greet each other with Christ-like warmth and joy as we patiently pass each other in search of the gifts that show our families just how much we love and appreciate them.  Amen.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas my faithful (and few….:-P) readers!

*looks to PC advisor and whispers*….Did I offend anybody with that?  Oh?  Just all the free-speech hating liberals?  Ok….cool.

This Christmas season, let us remember our greatest and most powerful gift as members of the human race.  We are capable of a life-giving love so pure, so chaste, that we would give of our very lives for our fellow man.

So many people use this time of year to ramp up the demonization of those who have wealth.  These people forget that the pursuit of producing wealth is not wrong on its own power.  It is our intentions for doing so that can be called into question.  There are some who pursue wealth because they love money more than their fellow man, leading to the other extreme of poor people getting so jealous of what others have that they would be willing to break 2 of the 10 Commandments (Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods & Thou Shalt not steal) to get it.

On the whole though a lot of poor people I think are much richer.  Because the Scrooges of the world, like the man at the beginning of the movie, have wealth.  But those people are poor because they are lacking in love.  Despite all they have they are miserable because of that deficiency.  On the other hand I’ve met successful people who have plenty of compassion for those in need and some poor people who are so lacking in love that instead of working to obtain their “fair share” of the American Dream like the rest of us they covet what they don’t have.

Because, in the end, it matters not how much money you have.  What matters more is that you keep love, which comprises the entire essence of the Christmas spirit, alive in your hearts all year round.  Christmas isn’t the only time of year we need to remember our capacity for love.  Christmas is something that we would all do well to keep all the time and never lose sight of.  It’s the time of year when we were given the greatest gift of all: the gift of God Himself, incarnate in human flesh, to be given for us in bloody recompense for our human failings.  And we, who are made in His image and likeness, can do no less than to love one another as He loves us.

O Lord, dear sweet Father in Heaven, I pray that by Your grace we may have the strength of spirit to keep the Christmas gift alive in our hearts all year round by remembering those in need not just during this season but all the time.  Amen.

Abortion, Contraception, and Social Security

I’ve heard a lot in the news recently about all kinds of budget shortfalls.  The most notable of these shortfalls is Social Security.  To be sure, a large part of our deficits stem from out of control spending and the belief that we as  a nation can borrow our way out of this mess.

But for this blog I intend to talk about Social Security and the effect that pushing abortion, contraception, and by extension the devaluing of the institution that gives new life back to society because of the participation in this institution of men and women who wish to commit themselves to each other.  That institution is the natural law institution of marriage.

People are under the erroneous impression that they pay into the Social Security system for themselves, and liberals have done absolutely nothing to discourage this impression they have of Social Security.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The SS system is set up so that members of the workforce pay into the system for the people going into retirement ahead of them.  So we are paying for others’ retirement and others are paying for our own retirement under this system.  Aside from the affront to liberty regarding our own monetary affairs that this system represents, there is only one way that this system could work out mathematically: the government must value human life and dignity above all else and it must value marriage as the life-giving institution that it is.  If the government ceases to do this, which it has, you wind up with more people entering retirement than there are people in the workforce to support their SS checks.

Back in the early days of SS, it did work out mathematically.  People entering into retirement had at least a good 3  or 4 people paying into the SS system for them.  This was because back then people never would’ve thought to kill their own child at any otherwise viable stage of human development or to glorify the devaluing of the sexual act as a mere tool to be used only for the satisfaction of base and carnal desires through the pushing of contraceptive use.  But then people began to push for these things in the name of so-called “choice and freedom.”  We bear stark witness today to the horrible and rotten fruits of this terrible push for the “right” to kill your own child and the “right” to devalue our greatest and most powerful gift, the gift that allows us to give to society in the form of new life.

Because of these things, the devaluing of human life as a blight upon “Mother Earth” rather than the gift to the world human life is, and of the sexual act that leads to new life, our population is aging.  Whereas in the early days there were fewer people retiring than were people in the workforce, today there are more people retiring than there are people in the workforce to support them through SS.  The fruits of this secular humanistic approach that the liberals are so fond of has wrought terrible fruits indeed, not only politically and socially but now economically.  The system is collapsing not just because of out-of-control government spending, but by the simple mathematical fact that there are fewer people in the workforce than there are people retiring.  The foundation of support for the elderly through social security, workers, is collapsing as a result of the push for those immoral things.

So because of the glorification by the left of the immorality of lifestyles that dissociate the unitive act from the procreative act and of lifestyles that are by nature closed to the gift of new life (seeking a moral equivalency between the homosexual lifestyle and the special and unique life-giving love that can only exist between a man and a woman), we witness today the severe economic repercussions of such glorification.  All of these have led to a vacuum that people wrongly look to unconstitutional expansion of government to fill, when the proper solution is to restore life and liberty and the natural law that gave us these things to their rightful place in our Republic.

As for the homosexual lifestyle, I would like to add that liberals will, and have, lied about the nature of this lifestyle in order to make people who live with this unnatural lifestyle feel good about their sinful behavior by calling it love.  That is patently incorrect, for the love that can only exist between a man and a woman naturally is our greatest act of charity as human beings.  In this act man and woman give themselves totally to each other, and through their selfless act of commitment to each other give back to society in the form of the most wondrous gift of new human life.  The homosexual lifestyle is rightfully known as unnatural and carnal precisely because by its very nature the homosexual lifestyle dissociates the unitive act from the procreative act of our sexual gifts by being intrinsically closed to this gift of new human life.

The Essence of Christianity

There is one question in the world that human beings yearn for the answer to: Is there life after death?  Or in other words: Is there a reward for being the best we can possibly be in life when the mortal shells of our worldly existence fall to the ravages of time?  This is where faith comes in.

In this life we have a wide variety of faiths that explore that two-fold question, and I shall give you an example of some of their answers.  Buddhism says (or perhaps it’s Hinduism that believes in reincarnation…I have a bad habit of getting the 2 mixed up): I don’t know, or that your reward is to be born into this imperfect world again and again.  Some reward, to be burdened with another imperfect life, eh?  Conficius says: I don’t know.  I’m beginning to sense a bit of a theme here.  Other faiths believe that the things of this imperfect world have divine powers.  Say what?  How can an imperfect thing have any divine power over us?  Still other faiths believe in a god or gods upon whom they seek to project their own human arrogance towards those deemed “not worthy.”  And that’s the kind of god some say exists after death?  One who is arrogant?  I say no way!

This is what makes Christianity in general and Catholic Christianity in particular so unique.  We as Christians believe in a God who loves us so much that He created the universe and all life within it so that he could share His love.  We believe in a God who loves us so much that He gave us the freedom to choose whether or not to love Him of our own free will.  We believe in a God who loves us so much, that He allows us to make mistakes and learn from their consequences so that we might grow in understanding.  We believe in a God who loves us so much, that He humbled Himself, became human, so that we might have a reward for seeking to rid ourselves of our darker impulses while we live in this world.  This is the heart, the essence, of Christianity.  We follow God, to seek a personal relationship with Him.  We seek to follow Him into divinity because He followed us into humanity.  And we as Catholic Christians in particular believe in a God who chose a woman and elevated her as a real-world example of the kind of perfect dedication we seek to give to God: the Blessed Virgin and Mother of Christianity, the woman Mary.  Like a mother who, after bringing us forth into the world through her labor, points us in the direction of our fathers, their husbands who create in their wives new life, who say to us “Look upon your father,” Mary brings us forth into the new life we seek in Christ and points Him out to us.  This is why in some Catholic Churches you may see that the statue of the Blessed Mother is positioned in such a way so as to be pointing to the ever-present crucifix and the tabernacle beneath it.

We as Catholics believe in a God who loves us so much that not only did He make Himself into a sacrificial lamb for our sins, but also chose and elevated a woman who He knew would dedicate her life perfectly to Him to be the Mother of all who come to be re-created by God through His sacrifice, the mother of all the truly living, the new Eve who will lead us to our final reward when we die which is to dwell in Christ, the new Adam, for all eternity: Mary.  In this way the Catholic Church, modeled after this woman of perfect love for God, has a much more real connection with the loving God of Christianity, made ever more real by the near perfect re-enactment of the Last Supper through the Eucharist.  In no other church in this world do you see such a real and ever-present connection between mortal and divine.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my Protestant brethren to death.  But I choose to remain in a Christian Church whose beauty and richness in the sacred Tradition make the connection between me and my Lord more real.  And the Catholic Church was, is, and forever shall be, this Church of God, the Church that makes the new life we seek more real than it could ever be in any other church, more real than sacred Scripture alone could ever make it.

So when you sail the ocean of life, you need to choose where to set your anchor.  Will you set your anchor in the imperfect and transient things of this mortal life?  Or will you set your anchor in a god who has no mercy upon us in our imperfection?  Or will you instead set your anchor in a God who loves you so much that He would humble Himself, make Himself our loving sacrificial lamb, so that we might have life after death, and who also happens to sometimes reveal His presence to us even more concretely in the form of miracles, events that defy all rational explanation?  And when you choose a church, will you choose one that glorifies the imperfect and transient things of this world?  Or perhaps will you choose one whose rituals and formality remain closed to those who seek mercy?  Or will you instead choose one whose rituals and formality seek to make God more real to us and whose rituals and formality seek to create a more real and sense-perceptible sign of His mercy and love?  Our time in this world is limited, so I recommend making your choice and making it wisely.

Natural Disasters: God’s way of punishing a wayward people?

I cringed when I heard that some evangelical Christians have begun to speculate that perhaps we are seeing all these disasters like the one in Haiti because God is now seeking to punish us for going astray.  I had to cringe.  Because the idea that if something bad happens to you then you must’ve done something to make God mad at you is just plain ridiculous.

Bad things happen to good people all the time.  On the surface this doesn’t seem fair, but disasters are a part of life.  And yes when a disaster such as the quake in Haiti claims many human lives it is a tragedy of epic proportions.  But it’s not necessarily because people like the Haitians did something that made God mad.

Quite simply, natural disasters in the world, from a religious standpoint, are another of the temporal effects of the original sin of Adam and Eve.  Not only did their actions cause us, the human race that they created, to inherit a corrupted nature and a comparatively frail and weak physical form, but their actions had temporal effects on our world as well.  In the beginning earth was a paradise, but because of their actions our world is no longer a paradise.  It is now a world fraught with imperfection, much like our own selves, corrupted till the very end.

And so we are directed to pray for those people lost to these expressions of our world’s imperfection and the family members and other loved ones they leave behind.  And we must also with heavy hearts mourn their passing.  For the Haitians and others, while subscribing to cultural beliefs that often times clashed with ours, are not as a people intrinsically evil.  They deserve our prayers and our charitable support, not our condemnation for not believing in God.  For if all we do is condemn those who do not believe, we will not endear them to us and we will push them further away from the ideal we as Christians seek to show them.