Author Archive

Suppose a scientific conference on cancer prevention never addressed smoking, on the grounds that in a free society you can’t change private behavior, and anyway, maybe the statistical relationships between smoking and cancer are really caused by some other third variable. Wouldn’t some suspect that the scientists who raised these claims were driven by something—ideology, tobacco money—other than science?

Yet in the current discussions about increased inequality, few researchers, fewer reporters, and no one in the executive branch of government directly addresses what seems to be the strongest statistical correlate of inequality in the United States: the rise of single-parent families during the past half century. (Source)

The same holds true in Canada.Statistics Canada’s own figures show that single-parent families are a huge source of poverty and fare much worse than two-parent families. Check this out:

About 571,000 children aged 17 and under, or 8.5% lived in low income in 2011, also unchanged from 2010. For children in lone-parent families headed by a woman, the incidence was 23.0%, while for children living in two-parent families, the incidence was 5.9%, both unchanged from 2010. (Source)

So children in lone-parent families headed by a woman, virtually the only type of single-parent family, have a poverty incidence roughly four times as high as families with two parents (note: it’s two parents, not two income-earners, although many may have two income-earners). These single parents are almost always the result of broken families, with the father often abandoning his responsibilities and leaving the mother to fend by herself with the kids.

This is a huge poverty burden on women. Yet, the media, policymakers and politicians choose to ignore the matter. They pretend that more government programs will solve the problem. Well, here’s a news flash for you: we already have tons of programs in place, and we keep adding more, but the problem isn’t going away because we’re not attacking the root cause.

We need to start a discussion on the complex issue of how to fix our families. Just because there’s no simple solution doesn’t mean we should bury our heads in the dirt as to what the causes are.

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Easter is so central because it has two practical and fundamental implications for humans:

1. It confirms that Jesus is God, since no human can resurrect himself from the dead.

2. It confirms that we will also resurrect from the dead and have eternal life if we correspond to His plan for us.

Good Friday and Easter Sunday provide the answer to the age-old question of suffering. Why do bad things happen to good people? How can a good God allow suffering? Quite simply, because we can reap a greater good that way, if we respond properly.

God didn’t merely pronounce this baffling truth from the height of some ivory tower. He got down and dirty Himself, being tortured and crucified, to bring home this point more powerfully and lead by example. Indeed, Christ’s death and resurrection are the ultimate illustration: the greatest possible evil — deicide — led to the greatest possible good — the redemption of humankind.

Do you have problems? Fear not, for God has been there and has even died, something you have yet to do. He can relate and sympathize.

Even more, just as he turned His suffering and death into a great good, He wants to do the same for you, if you’ll cooperate and let Him go to work. Being God, He has turned suffering on its head. Instead of being incomprehensible and a despairing source of frustration, it has now become our most powerful ally, even our slave, because in spite of itself, it serves our good and salvation.

I’m not talking merely about growing in character and perseverance by overcoming adversity, even though those are important benefits. It goes much deeper. Suffering that is patiently united to Jesus’ Cross draws down supernatural grace from God, which acts more powerfully for our good and that of our loved ones than we could ever fathom.

In this light, the Christian no longer views suffering as an absolute evil. It is a mighty weapon at our disposal to overcome our mediocrity and to improve the world around us.

In short, Easter shows us that a Christian need never be discouraged or despondent. We’re never down for long, because we know that our times of suffering can be the most fruitful moments of our lives.

If you’re not a Christian, contact us to discover how Christ can put suffering at your service.

If you are a Christian, don’t let the power of suffering be lost by whining and complaining. Unite your suffering to Christ’s, and then watch the power flow.

Your own Easter awaits, but it is always preceded by Good Friday.

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A Catholic group called Tradition Family Property, Student Action is sponsoring a free book on Amazon. The free edition is only available electronically, which you can read on your PC, tablet or phone. The book is called Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society–Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go. It was written by John Horvat.

I haven’t read it yet, but it has been endorsed by some heavy hitters, like Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life; Joseph M. Scheidler, National Director of Pro-Life Action League; Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis; as well as a collection of economists, military men, and other intellectuals.

I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but you might as well download it now while it’s free and give it a try. You have nothing to lose. The free offer won’t last forever.

To install Kindle on your PC, tablet or phone, click here and select your type of device. Once you’ve downloaded and installed it, click here if you live in Canada, or click here if you live in the U.S. Then click on the orange button that says Buy now with 1-Click. Follow the prompts.

 

 

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Here’s a little bit of humor to spruce up your Triduum.

My parents live in the suburbs of Montreal. They attend a good parish that celebrates the Mass reverently, with a nice choir, a pipe organ, incense, etc. The building itself is very old and beautiful. Their Good Friday service was very well done and very reverent. However they had a glitch in their liturgy for Holy Thursday with respect to the washing of the feet, because they tried an “innovation.” The outcome is sad but kinda funny. Read the rest of this entry »

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If you do nothing else today, at least take a moment to thank Jesus for dying for you. Talk about taking one for the team.

Tell Him you love Him.

 14I am poured out like water,
   and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
   it is melted within my breast; 
15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
   and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
   you lay me in the dust of death. 


16 For dogs are all around me;
   a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shrivelled; 
17 I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me; 
18 they divide my clothes among themselves,
   and for my clothing they cast lots.

(Psalm 22)

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The Triduum starts on Thursday night and lasts until the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. This is the most holy time of the year. Even though it only spans three days, it’s considered its own liturgical season. If you’ve never participated in the entire Triduum in your life, this is a good time to start. The Triduum is a single worship service that lasts three days. It’s not three services. Read the rest of this entry »

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An inspiring story of forgiveness after a horrific genocide.

“We had attended workshops and trainings and our hearts were kind of free, and I found it easy to forgive,” she says. “The Bible says you should forgive and you will also be forgiven.” (Source)

I have to confess that I don’t think I could forgive a mass killer who would have done that to me.

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There may be some people wondering if the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) is morally required to comply with the request from the bishops of Kenya asking Canadian Catholics to stop funding a contraception-distributing clinic in Kenya run by Free the Children. After all, some would argue that the OCSB falls under the jurisdiction of the Canadian bishops. Is the request from the Kenyan bishops morally binding on the OCSB?

Evidently, the answer is yes: the OCSB is morally obliged to comply, otherwise both the organization and the Board members risk compromising their communion with the Catholic Church. Let’s see how. Read the rest of this entry »

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by squeaker

A spokeswoman for the Ottawa Catholic School Board says they are not changing their partnership with Free the Children, despite a vibrant plea from the bishops of Kenya asking Canadian Catholics to stop funding Free the Children’s “contraception-distributing” clinic in Kenya.

Presented with the letter on Friday, the OCSB again defended its partnership with the organization. Mardi de Kemp, OCSB’s manager of communications, told LifeSiteNews by e-mail, “Our position has not changed on our Board’s association with Free the Children.” (Source)

This is astonishing. They are choosing to ignore a direct request from the local bishops!

Call me naive, but I thought that the social justice work done in the schools was intended to help countries in the Global South. So when people on the ground, namely the Kenyan bishops, tell you to please stop because you’re inflicting evil on their families and their society, I would have expected a more compassionate and considered response.

I had read that the relationship between parents and the school board had improved recently. Being a realist, I wasn’t expecting the school board to immediately drop all ties with Free the Children. But it strikes me that the charitable thing to do would have been for the school board to say something like “we’re re-evaluating the situation in light of the new information.” But no. Mardi de Kemp says the board is not budging.

Wow.

How Catholic can this board be if it doesn’t heed the passionate plea of bishops? These aren’t small time bloggers like me. They’re the successors of the Apostles. Perhaps a little refresher is in order to summarize what this all means:

“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)

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The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) is pleading with Catholics in Canada and the United States to stop donating to Free the Children’s “contraception-distributing” Baraka Health Clinic in Maasai Mara, Kenya, because of the “evils caused to families and society in Kenya by the use of contraception”. Instead, they are asking that donations be directed to Catholic health facilities that do not distribute contraception, and respect the Church’s teaching.

Free the Children has come under fire during the past few years for its backing of abortion-supporting and contraception-dispensing initiatives.

siu1Socon or Bust has obtained a copy of a letter, addressed to a concerned Ottawa parent and ratepayer and written by Bishop Paul Kariuki Njiru, the Chairman of the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya, an official body of the KCCB. He contradicts an earlier statement made by Free the Children co-founder Marc Kielburger, who suggested that all public health clinics in Kenya are required by the government to distribute contraceptives and that even Catholic institutions are dispensing them.  Kielburger wrote the following text to the OSCB in October of last year:

“Because our clinic in Kenya is certified and supported in-part by the government of Kenya, the Baraka Health Clinic is mandated, by law in the country of Kenya, to stock provide contraceptives to patients should they personally request them,” he wrote… He claimed that “the Catholic Mission Hospitals and Catholic Mission Clinics in our region have also adopted this same policy, and have contraceptives on hand in their own clinics as well, as mandated by the government.” (Source) (Emphasis ours)

Not so, according to Bishop Njiru:

“There have also been claims by Free the Children that all health facilities in Kenya are required by the government to stock and distribute contraceptives for family planning. While the government and other secular health facilities in Kenya provide contraceptives, it is not a requirement by law and as such, Catholic health facilities do not stock or distribute contraceptives for family planning.” (Emphasis ours)

Bishop Njiru also pleads with Catholics in North America to stop supporting contraception-distributing health facilities that are causing great harm to Kenya, and to instead opt for the ethical alternative:

“Considering the evil caused to families and society in Kenya by the use of contraception, Catholic Bishops in Kenya through Catholic Health Commission of KCCB request that donors in Canada and the United States direct their generosity to Catholic health facilities and not to contraception-distributing institutions and programmes such as Free the Children’s Baraka Medical Centre. We are requesting that this be done through the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya who the Catholic Bishops hold responsible for the Catholic Church’s health apostolate.” (Emphasis ours)

The Bishop also attached a two-year plan developed by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops outlining their strategy to deliver enhancing maternal, neonatal and child health while upholding pro-family Catholic ethics in the face of “heightened programming by pro-choice organizations that are fostering anti-family principles in Kenya’s health sector.

In light of this development, it would appear that Catholics in North America have been misinformed by Free the Children into financially supporting the distribution of contraceptives.  Moreover, if Catholics truly intend to help the people of Kenya, it is doubtful how anyone could justify providing support through a contraception-distributing health facility, when support can just as easily be offered through Catholic facilities that respect the integrity of the person and of their sexuality.

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by squeaker

The mark of a great coach is to push all his players to become better, whether they’re plumbers or superstars. In Evangelii Gaudium, I sense the Holy Father is masterfully aiming to accomplish this by pushing on Catholics who consider themselves to be faithful.

Pope Francis knows that “faithful” Catholics assent to the Church’s doctrines, but often fail with respect to evangelization and acts of mercy. We often delegate this responsibility by cutting a check to some soup kitchen or organization that does evangelization. That’s not good enough, he says. We need to step out of the witness protection program. The Holy Father is rightly pushing us to become more than we are. His words can be uncomfortable to read, but if we’re honest, most of us will recognize ourselves in one or more of these excerpts.

Some of us love leisure too much:

At a time when we most need a missionary dynamism which will bring salt and light to the world, many lay people fear that they may be asked to undertake some apostolic work and they seek to avoid any responsibility that may take away from their free time.

Some of us are paralyzed pessimists:

One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, “sourpusses”. Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand. If we start without confidence, we have already lost half the battle and we bury our talents.

Some of us have checked-out prematurely and run for the hills:

Many try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the realism of the social aspect of the Gospel. For just as some people want a purely spiritual Christ, without flesh and without the cross, they also want their interpersonal relationships provided by sophisticated equipment, by screens and systems which can be turned on and off on command. Meanwhile, the Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction.

Then there are perennial critics:

Instead, we waste time talking about “what needs to be done” – in Spanish we call this the sin of “habriaqueísmo” – like spiritual masters and pastoral experts who give instructions from on high. We indulge in endless fantasies and we lose contact with the real lives and difficulties of our people (…)

It always pains me greatly to discover how some Christian communities, and even consecrated persons, can tolerate different forms of enmity, division, calumny, defamation, vendetta, jealousy and the desire to impose certain ideas at all costs, even to persecutions which appear as veritable witch hunts. Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act?

And the nostalgics and thinkers:

In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few (…) The mark of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen, is not present; closed and elite groups are formed, and no effort is made to go forth and seek out those who are distant or the immense multitudes who thirst for Christ. (…)

We cannot demand that peoples of every continent, in expressing their Christian faith, imitate modes of expression which European nations developed at a particular moment of their history, because the faith cannot be constricted to the limits of understanding and expression of any one culture. It is an indisputable fact that no single culture can exhaust the mystery of our redemption in Christ.

Finally, those that anonymously frequent the sacraments and don’t create a sense of community:

Isolation, which is a version of immanentism, can find expression in a false autonomy which has no place for God. But in the realm of religion it can also take the form of a spiritual consumerism tailored to one’s own unhealthy individualism. 

Ouch. I certainly recognize myself in some of those quotes. While these words are painful, they are most welcome and needed. The Holy Father has a gift of cutting through the pleasantries and getting to the core of the matter. It’s as if he’s telling us that we’re kidding ourselves if we think that assenting to the right doctrines is somehow sufficient to dispense us of evangelization and acts of mercy. Dare I say that some of us have almost dissented from Jesus’ call to evangelize, because we don’t feel the imperative to do it. He’s not the only one to notice this problem.  Dr. Janet Smith recent wrote:

It is undoubtedly true that some of us love truth more than we love those we serve. That is not a Christian attitude. (Source)

The Holy Father is on to something. Without realizing it, some of us have veered close to a form of Gnosticism.

God bless Pope Francis for challenging us to greater things.

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You gotta love this straight talk. Let ‘er rip, Holy Father!

“You still have time so as not to end up in hell,” the Pope continued. “And that is what is waiting for you if you continue on this path.” (Source)

But wait! Isn’t that being judgmental? Yes. Sometimes we must make judgments.

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Check out the beautiful story below. God bless these people. They’ve devised an alternative to abortion for many women, thus giving babies a chance at life. Do we have enough parents on waiting lists for adoption to make such an operation work? Is there a church or residence that would host this?

Lee Jong-rak [a pastor in South Korea] is the creator of the Baby Box. His Baby Box is the first and only box in Korea that is for collecting abandoned babies who are physically or mentally handicapped or are just unwanted by their mothers.

Hundreds of unwanted babies are abandoned on the side of the street in South Korea every year. Jong-rak knew he needed to set up a way to save the lives of these precious babies.  He built a drop box on the side of his home with a humble sign reading, “Place to leave babies.”

The inside of the box contains a thick towel covering the bottom, and lights and heating to keep the baby comfortable.  A bell rings when someone puts a baby in the box, then Jong-rak, his wife, or staff associates come to immediately move the baby inside. His aim was to provide a life-giving alternative for desperate mothers in his city of Seoul. He even admits that he didn’t really expect that babies would come in– He was mistaken. The babies came. In the middle of the night, in the middle of the day, some with notes, some without a word, and only a very few mothers actually spoke to him face-to-face. (Source)

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Story here.

That sudden draft you feel is the chill coming upon employees at abortion facilities across the US of A.

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The Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) today posted an advertisement on their Facebook page to promote a fundraiser for the pro-abortion Stephen Lewis Foundation taking place at St. Joseph’s parish.

Although this is sad and tragic, it is hardly surprising considering the close ties between St. Joe’s and the OCSB, as well as the support of the OCSB for organizations like Free the Children.

Please note: this is not the personal Facebook page of a teacher or a student. No, it’s the page of the school board itself.

Some background on Stephen Lewis:

Lewis, the former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, is a long-time proponent of abortion, and has publicly attacked the Church’s efforts to promote a culture of life.

At the infamous Cairo conference on population and development in 1994, Lewis slammed the Vatican for opposing abortion and contraception, calling their statements “torrents of thinly veiled misogyny.”

Also a major advocate of condoms, Lewis has said that Pope Benedict XVI, in opposing condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS, is “sending a message which ultimately kills people.”

“His words were, frankly, irresponsible and damaging and it was like inviting death,” he said.

On the same issue, he has said that the Pope is “living on the moon,” and presents “another example of complete indifference to the vulnerability of women, who are so hugely and disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.” (Source)

Try to wrap your head around it: a “Catholic” school board and a “Catholic” parish helping raise funds for a group that says Catholic teaching “kills people” and “invites death.”

 

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Sure enough, as Socon or Bust predicted yesterday, Louise Mailloux has apologized.

Kinda.

Various media are reporting that she says she’s sorry if anyone was offended by her comparison of baptism and circumcision to rape. That’s the extent of her apology. In other words, she hasn’t changed her mind. She hasn’t realized that pouring water on someone’s head has no correlation whatsoever to being violently abused. Nope. She’s just sorry anybody was offended.

So her underlying views are unchanged. Is that someone you want to have authority to vote laws in this country? If not, take 30 seconds to sign this petition. The number of signatures is rising fast. The best part is that Ms. Mailloux receives an email each time somebody signs, so she must be freaking out by now.

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A nice reflection from our friends at Catholic Vote.

Dear CV Friend,

The gift of the humble man from Argentina continues to surprise.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected Pope Francis one year ago today.

So what have we learned? Where is he taking the Church?

We don’t pretend to know all these answers. We wrote several months ago that what does seem clear is that the Holy Spirit is up to something. The world senses it. Endless commentators try to explain it. Yet it seems all of the chatter is, for the most part, inadequate.

The “pope talk” often seems too consumed with big narratives. What will he change? How will he shake up the Vatican? What will he do next?

I admit to being lured by these “big” overarching explanations in attempting to explain or understand the Holy Father. Every day we are told that this or that narrative is the grand strategy, synthesis, or plan which will explain everything.

But what if this is not the best way to understand the Pope?

What if we have it backwards?

What if the big questions we are asking, while important in some respects, are instead questions we should be asking about ourselves?

What if the big changes Pope Francis may be bringing to the Church are intended to be brought about by the transformation in each of us?

What are we willing to change? What are we willing to do differently? What will we shake up in order to become more faithful servants of Jesus Christ?

The media wants us to believe Pope Francis is preparing to overthrow chunks of Church doctrine. But we know that’s not true — and not even possible. What is clear is that the Holy Father is working to transform our hearts.

So tune out the media noise and read for yourself what Pope Francis has written. His encyclical Evangelii Gaudium is available here. I have included a small excerpt from the beginning of that document below which I hope may inspire you.

Brian

 

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”.

How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!

-Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, I, 3

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And the Premier defends it! What does that say about the PQ?

Let me tell you : I know women who have been raped. It’s hell. This PQ candidate is committing the most extreme insult and banalization of women who have been raped. I think she’ll be apologizing publicly before the end of the week.

MONTREAL — Pauline Marois has defended a Parti Quebecois candidate who compared baptism and circumcision to rape.

Louise Mailloux, who is running for the PQ in the Montreal riding of Gouin, has also written in the past that a tax on kosher and halal foods helps to fund religious wars.

Mailloux, who is a philosophy professor, made the rape comparison in an essay on religious neutrality. It appeared in the book, Laïcité ça s’impose!, that was published in 2011.

Mailloux made clear this week that she stands by the statement.

(Source)

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The clock is ticking, but there’s still time to start a Lenten plan. Lent is a great time for spiritual growth. Yes, we can do something small like give up chocolate, but why not strive for something more directly spiritual? Try this.

Identify the worst vice in your life. Hint: what sin do you confess over and over again? For married people, your spouse can readily identify your worst vice.

Identify the opposite virtue.

Each day, seek practical opportunities to practice that virtue and fight that vice.

Just pick one vice. Don’t get ambitious. The spiritual masters say you can only effectively fight one at a time.

Moreover, they also say that you can’t just try to fight the vice. As Bishop Fulton Sheen (and others) have said, vice is better crowded out than booted out. You need to develop the opposite virtue if  you’re to permanently get rid of that vice.

Give it a shot. This could turn out to be the most meaningful Lent of your life.

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Is it just a coincidence that the launch of this new fish burger occurred right at the beginning of Lent? To my knowledge they didn’t have any fish on the menu prior to this.

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