04 April 2009

Conscience for me but not for thee

Obama Catholics in the Democratic Party continue to work hard to "reduce the number of abortions" by making them moral, legal, free, and now. . .mandatory! Mandatory for doctors to perform them, that is.

Washington D.C., Apr 3, 2009 / 09:13 pm (CNA).- Yesterday, a majority of Catholic Senators rejected a conscience protection law proposed by Senator Tom Colburn that would protect health care workers who object to abortions from participating in the procedure.

Conscience protection has become a topic of debate after President Obama announced that he was reviewing the law and could possible eliminate it. Colburn’s amendment states, "To protect the freedom of conscience for patients and the right of health care providers to serve patients without violating their moral and religious convictions."

The amendment was voted down by a margin of 41-56, in which a majority of Catholic Senators voted against the amendment 9-16. The failure to pass this legislation now leaves the door open for the Obama Administration to rescind the law by executive order and force health workers to compromise their moral convictions.

[. . .]

Yet, 16 Catholic Senators still voted against the protection of these "human rights" including: Begich (D-AK), Dodd (D-CT), Kaufman (D-CT), Durbin (D-IL), Harkin (D-IA), Landrieu (D- LA), Collins (R-ME), Mikulski (D-MD), Kerry (D-MA), McCaskill (D-MO), Menendez (D-NJ), Gillibrand (D-NY), Reed (D-RI), Leahy (D-VT), Cantwell (D-WA), Murray (D-WA).

The nine Catholic Senators that voted for the amendment were; Murkowski (R-AK), Martinez (R-FL), Risch (R-ID), Brownback (R-KS), Bunning (R-KY), Vitter (R-LA), Johanns(R-NE), Voinovich (R-OH), and Casey (D-PA).

So, all that business we are constantly hearing from dissenting Catholics about "conscience" being the only rule and reason for every moral act only applies to those who agree with their politics. . .disagree with their politics "in conscience" and you are S.O.L.

Obama's upcoming revocation of the conscience clauses that protect health care workers from performing abortions is nothing more than a move against Catholic health-care. The abortion ideologues in his administration hate the idea that there are hospitals and doctors out there who do not bow before Moloch.

For you Catholics out there who voted for this moral monster, I have a question for you: any buyer's remorse yet?

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Why someTHINGS and not noTHINGS at all?

Way back a hundred years ago, I made a "D" in ECON 202. That's when I decided that perhaps International Banking wasn't the right major for me! When I announced--quite proudly--to my family that I had changed my major to philosophy, my Banker Mom and Real Estate Dad asked, "What the hell is philosophy?" I'm sure my answer then wasn't very reassuring, but now I would say, "Philosophy teaches us to ask questions like: 'what the hell is philosophy?'" Reassuring? No, not really.

However, this question--on the nature of philosophy--is as common to philosophers as diverse in temperament and style as Joseph Pieper (Thomist) and Martin Heidegger.

Here's the opening paragraph to Heidegger's Introduction to Metaphysics:

"Why are there beings at all instead of nothing? That is the question. Presumably it is no arbitrary question. 'Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?'--this is obviously the first of all questions. Of course, it is not the first question in the chronological sense. Individuals as well as peoples ask many questions in the course of their historical passage through time. They explore, investigate, and test many sorts of things before they run into the question 'Why are there being at all instead of nothing?' Many never run into this question at all, if running into the question means not only hearing and reading the interrogative sentence as uttered, but asking the question, that is, taking a stand on it, posing it, compelling oneself into the state of this questioning."

People who ask this question--why is there any at all instead of just nothingness?--are philosophers. . .even if they think themselves Bankers or Real Estate Agents.

Heidegger continues:

"In great despair [. . .] when all weight tends to dwindle away from things and the sense of things grows dark, the question looms. Perhaps it strikes only once, like the tolling of a bell that resounds into Dasein* and gradually fades. The question is heartfelt joy [. . .] The question is there in a spell of boredom, when we are equally distant from despair and joy, but when the stubborn ordinariness of beings lays open a wasteland in which it makes no difference to us whether beings are or are not--and then, in a distinctive form, the questions resonates again: why are there beings at all instead of nothing?"

And I would say: in that open wasteland--there, right there--is exactly where we make our stand for or against Christ! Our "being here" is either being perfected in Being Himself (i.e., growing in holiness). or we are wasting as beings and making no difference at all.

*Dasein: an insanely complicated concept to translate. . .a human being who has become aware that his/her existence is a site where Being is made present to other existing things and all the subsequent weirdnesses of anxieties, etc. that accompany this awareness.

01 April 2009

Habits Sewn!

I rec'd the following email from Emma Friemoth, the habit seamstress for the Eastern Province novitiate. I've edited the email to restrict the content to information about habits:

Dear Fr. Powell, O.P.,

My name is Emma Friemoth. . .I am the Habit Seamstress for the Novitiate of the Province of St. Joseph. My fee is indeed closer to $200 than what they are currently paying, and I am in constant search for a durable, breathable, non-wrinkle, off-white fabric. I recently have found several fabrics that have potential for meeting these requirements and they are currently being tested for durability in habit use.

This late summer and fall I am expanding my sewing business from part time to full time and would be happy to open discussion. . .about sewing habits.

My contact information is as follows: emmathecapegirl(at)gmail(dot)com

Prayer!

Please pray for my poor laptop!

Just this morning a vertical line appeared on the monitor. I asked one of our techie-friars about it. He asked how old my laptop is. . .five years. . .he shook his head, "Probably gonna die soon."

NOOOO!!! I have to finish the semester and get my book manuscript in. . .

So, pray! Please.

31 March 2009

Thanks & Remember

As always. . .

. . .my deep appreciation and gratitude for the recent activity on the WISH LIST!

I have been blessed with many arrivals of new gifts in the last few days.

Thank You notes will go out tomorrow (4/01). Also, as always, my Book Benefactors will find themselves on my daily prayer list, including my Sunday Mass intentions.

Occasionally, I get emails about the List. . .please remember that I have three different areas of interest at the moment: 1). prayer in all its catholic forms; 2). the relationship btw faith and science; and 3) questions in the philosophy of religious experience.

The first corresponds to my upcoming book from Liguori Publications. The second to my academic work on the license/doctorate in philosophy. And the third in my overall preaching/teaching.

Any Dominican worth his salt has to juggle at least three intellectual/academic interests at one time!


No Garden, No Cross

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Jer 31:31-34; Heb 5:7-9; John 12:20-33
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Convento SS Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Jesus is troubled. What should he say? “Father, save me from this hour” or “Father, glorify your name”? He chooses to glorify God’s name. Why? He says, “…it was for this purpose [to glorify God’s name] that I came to this hour.” By glorifying God’s name he fulfills his purpose. Does this glorification of God’s name accomplish any vital tasks other than praising the Father? Yes. Jesus says to the crowd at that time of judgment, “. . .the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." What Jesus says and does is the engine of our salvation; his word and deed makes us sons of the Father. What does he say? “Father, glorify your name.” What does he do? He dies. And then he rises from death to take us with him. So, why is Jesus troubled? To rise with him, we must die with him and our deaths must be in service to him. We cannot hope to escape the betrayal of Judas, the passion in Jerusalem, the nails and wood of the cross, and then expect to be part of a glorious Easter harvest. If we will follow Jesus up from the earth, we must follow him on the earth. This is what troubles our Lord: “. . .unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” To rise, we must fall; to produce much fruit, we must die.

Are you ready to die? I mean, are you ready to follow Christ and produce the fruit he produced by dying on the cross? Most of us hope to avoid the kind of death that Christ died. And most of us will. At least in the particulars. Few of us will be scourged. Or forced-marched to a burning landfill and nailed to a cross. Few of us will be subjected to public ridicule and executed to spare the nation the wrath of its foreign military governors. Few of us will be accused of blasphemy, religious sedition. If we are killed for the faith, it will be incrementally. Slowly. Almost invisibly. The proverbial frog boiled by degrees of increasing heat. The Enemy’s strategy this time around is far more subtle. More understated and restrained. This time we will be accused of hating ourselves, our neighbors, our God; we will be accused of standing against truth, against the beauty of creation, against the goodness of our human natures. This time, we will be charged with being insufficiently humane, unremarkably merciful. And like all the other times, we will die. . .for preaching the simple truth of the gospel.

God’s will be done; therefore, we are troubled. So, what do we say: “Father, save us from this hour” or “Father, glorify your name”? We could ask our Lord to save us from this hour. We could. But why should we? Can we honestly claim we didn’t know what was in store for us? Can we look God in the eye and say, “Hey, this wasn’t in the brochure!”? No, to claim such a thing would be a lie. If you know what it means to be baptized into his death, then you know what it means to be resurrected into his life. If you will rise, you will die. Why would you beg God to save you from the very thing you signed on for? Yes, you were promised a garden. . .and you will have it! Look for the path marked “Gethsemane.” Ask yourself: why do I deserve a better life and death than Christ? You might say, “Didn’t Christ die so we wouldn’t have to?” No. No, he died so that we might have eternal life and have it most abundantly! That path—the Way to an abundant life, an eternal life—cuts straight through Gethsemane. There is no detour.

No detour, for sure. But there is hope; here it is: “…when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." Though we may understandably fear the death we have signed up for, part and parcel of that death is the promise—the guarantee—the death is not the end; that is, death is not our end, our purpose. We were not created to die. We do not live to die. Though our bodies fail us, and we cease to live, we do not stop being exactly who God made and remade us to Be. In fact, in Christ, we are made perfectly who were first made to be. And only in Christ—perfect God, perfect Man—can we be perfectly who we are made to be for all time. When Christ dies on the cross, humanity dies with him. When Christ rises from the tomb—dead for three days, three nights—humanity rises with him. If you and I will be among those who rise with Christ, we must be among those who die with Christ. As Christ himself teaches us: “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.” If you see a detour here, you need to have your eyes checked.

Where are you? Whose path do you follow? Which Way do you go? You, like every man and woman ever created, will be offered a bag of thirty silver coins. The Powers of this world want one thing for this price: a simple, easy compromise; an answer from one who has chosen to follow the Way of Truth and Life—“So that the many may avoid persecution/pain/inconvenience/anxiety, tell us what we want to hear; tell us that this Christ is a fraud; tell us that his good news is simply one message among many equally valuable options; tell us that we do not have to suffer the cross in order to rise again; tell us that we can disobey and still reap the harvest!” At this moment, who are you? Where are you?

Before you answer. . .before you commit. . .hear again: “[Jesus] learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” If you will learn, if we will be saved. . .we will first suffer. We will obey. And in obedience, we will glorify the name of God our Father!


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Stats never lie, the Media usually do

Commenting on the post, More Condom Lies, reader Mark makes the following observations:

And the condomaniacs get away with it because John Q Public doesn't understand that probability is multiplicative, not additive; the odds (of preventing infection) go down as he continues his risk-taking.

NIH advertises an 86% effective rate for condoms in preventing pregnancy. Lets put that in terms we can understand:

Would you jump out of a plane with 99 others skydivers, knowing that 14 parachutes wouldn't open? then get in and do it again and again and... the probability of surviving 10 jumps is only 22%, 20 jumps and its down to 4%, and there is only 1% chance of surviving 30 jumps.

The probability of surviving 100 jumps is .0000282%.

Now, no one will tell you the probability of a condom's effectiveness preventing HIV infection (because to run a test would be highly immoral and even considered unethical by the secularists), so the only thing we can go on is the high failure rate of condoms in preventing pregnancy.

I deeply appreciate this sort of analysis because I need a calculator to add together more than three double-digit numbers. Sad, I know. . .but true.

What's also sad but true is the consistency with which the Old Media lashes the Church for its stubborn refusal to emerge from the dungeons of medieval alchemy and embrace the enlightened wisdom of postmodern scientism. That these very same squawkers repeatedly choose to ignore the facts that their much-vaunted science provides them in favor of politically-correct propaganda is telling. What does it tell us? It tells us that we can safely ignore their self-serving homilies extolling unbridled condom hedonism and pay attention to the facts.

And those fact are these. . .

--from Edward Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies:

“The pope is correct,” Green told National Review Online Wednesday, “or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments. He stresses that “condoms have been proven to not be effective at the ‘level of population.’”

“There is,” Green adds, “a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”

Green added: “I also noticed that the pope said ‘monogamy’ was the best single answer to African AIDS, rather than ‘abstinence.’ The best and latest empirical evidence indeed shows that reduction in multiple and concurrent sexual partners is the most important single behavior change associated with reduction in HIV-infection rates (the other major factor is male circumcision).”

To summarize both the Holy Father and Professor Green:

+ Condoms are not effective in preventing the spread of HIV at the level of populations.
+ Greater availability and use of condoms increases HIV-infection rates.
+ Monogamy reduces HIV-infection rates.

Our Betters in the Old Media (and some in the Church) would have us believe that monogamy and abstinence are impossible. Condoms are the only answer. These, of course, are the same people who tell us that abortion is perfectly moral and should remain legal. Why? Isn't it obvious? When the condom fails--and it will--they don't want all those cute, chubby little kids running around reminding the Great Unwashed that the Condom Gospel they have heard preached from the pulpits of the NYT, CNN, the White House was really just self-serving propaganda. Better to just get rid of the evidence. . .

30 March 2009

Abortion is holy work: following our inner-Episcopalian

Chris Johnson of MCJ notes the recent selection of The Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale as the president of the ill-named Episcopal Divinity School. Johnson notes that Ms Ragsdale is a pro-abortion priestess of the Episcopal Organization. . .a rather radical supporter of abortion, in fact. He asks:

How radically pro-abortion is Katie Rags? This radically pro-abortion:

[From a Ragsdale homily]: "And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight — only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.

These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing – who do this work every day: the health care providers, doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, who put your lives on the line to care for others (you are heroes — in my eyes, you are saints); the escorts and the activists; the lobbyists and the clinic defenders; all of you. You’re engaged in holy work."

This is evil.

Please keep in mind faithful Catholics: this woman is a priestess in an ecclesial community that many of our own R.C. "Spirit of Vatican Two" brothers and sisters admire for its wonderfully relevant theology; its attention to "prophetic ministry;" and its democratic polity.

The E.O. didn't end up in the suicidal chaos it finds itself in now by accident. Progressives and radicals engaged in a systemic dismantling of the E.O.'s canon law and tradition with the irregular "ordinations" of 11 women in 1974 in Philadelphia. (Those Catholic women "ordaining" themselves on the boats are imitating these "ordinations.") But long before these acts of rebellion, the theological foundations of a once-beautiful ecclesial community were rotted away by modernist theological dissent on fundamental dogma; episcopal complicity with heresy in the ranks of bishops; compromise with sexual libertines and moral disease; and finally, the adoption of radical feminism and Marixism as legitimate Christian worldviews and foundations for church revolution.

The E.O. is hemorrhaging membership and money. They are mired in hundreds of lawsuits with orthodox dioceses and parishes over property and assets. The Presiding Bishop, a radical feminist, Ms Katherine Schori, is deposing and firing in violation of the organization's canon laws fellow-bishops who oppose her. The organization has been declared "out of communion" with almost 2/3 of the rest of the Anglican Communion for its diabolical violations of scripture and tradition (the E.O. ordained a divorced, "partnered" homosexual man as bishop of New Hampshire). It's venerable Book of Common Prayer is due for yet another overhaul and this time the plan is to scuttle the whole thing in favor of a three-ring binder designed to allow parishes to "cut and paste" as they see fit. One diocese has elected (yes, elected) as its bishop a man who is an Episcopal priest and also a Buddhist priest. Another diocese supports an Episcopal priestess who is also a practicing Muslim. . .this Episco-Muslim teaches scripture at Seattle University, a university "in the Jesuit tradition." And this once venerated ecclesial community has replaced its Christian moral theology with the dubious Utopian fantasy of the United Nations Millenium Goals--a grab-bag of Marxist, globalists "Genie in a Bottle" socio-economic engineering outcomes that will be achieved and administered by the highly efficient, penny-pinching, subsidiarists of the U.N.'s threadbare bureaucracy. Nothing to fear in that!

Folks, this is the folly Catholic dissidents would have the Roman Church imitate. This is where the Obama-Catholics would lead us.

Mark Shea, summarizing Ss. Augustine and Aquinas, says it best, "Sin makes you stupid." Once you have abandoned the possibility of objective moral standards and rejected the reality of intrinsically morally evil acts, preaching the holiness of child-murder is just a step away.