“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church… must take up.” Karol Cardinal Wotyla (Sept. 1976)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Red Letter Campaign for the Unborn

Please remember, Tuesday, March 31st, is the day to mail all of your empty red envelopes. The official Web site had over 1 Million envelopes pledged to be sent to President Obama. It is going to be quite a sight to have 1 Million red envelopes in the White House mail room.

Originally posted March 19, 2009:

There is a grassroots movement, started by a man called Christ Otto, that is requesting that all pro-life Americans send an empty red envelope to President Obama, on March 31st, that says on the back:

"This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception."

I received my pre-printed envelopes this weekend, they were given out at Mass.

The Web site TheRedEnvelope.org already has 716,000 pledges to send these envelopes. I urge all pro-life defenders to partake in this powerful message and flood the White House with these empty red envelopes representing the millions of babies taken from us by abortion. In addition, pray for a change of heart by Barack Obama, hopefully this campaign will give him pause to think.

Please read the FAQ page to understand how to best proceed.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Persecution of the Roman Catholic Church in India

I know many times Americans take the practicing of our Roman Catholic Faith for granted. This is not the case in many locations around the world as the persecution is intense as witnessed by martyrdom. Here is a piece by Bill Flynn that appeared in the Camden, NJ, Diocesan newspaper highlighting the persecution of Roman Catholics in Munigua, in the Rayagada District of India.

"On Aug. 25, 2008, a large mob of Hindu terrorists arrived in the early evening and began two days of systematic destruction of all physical structures on [the parish's] ten-acre site. The priests and nuns were alerted to the impending violence by faithful parishioners in the adjacent community. With only enough time to secure the consecrated Eucharist from the tabernacle and some of the parish records, the entire compound of priests, nuns, hostel boys and girls (ranging in age from 5 to 16) and staff members ran for their lives down the road to the town center and called for help from nearby parishes.

On the parish grounds they left behind were a grove of cashew trees, gardens of vegetables, flower gardens, a grotto to honor the Blessed Mother and fruit trees. The buildings consisted of a large church, rectory, boys’ hostel housing approximately 100 boys, education building for the carpentry apprentice program, convent, girls’ hostel, and “out buildings” such as the power generator shed.

The destruction was thorough. The wrought iron windows were pulled from their foundations with trucks; all wood doors, tables, chairs, beds and other flammable materials were placed in piles in the center of buildings and burned to create enough heat to warp the reinforced steel bars inside the concrete slabs that made up the walls and some ceilings. This was specifically done to render walls and ceilings unstable and non-repairable. All breakable items were destroyed. Clothes and books, vestments and furniture were all used as fuel to torch the buildings after all portable objects of value were removed (“all portable objects of value” included even water pipes that were removed from the walls). The grotto was smashed and all statuary was defaced.

In the past 15 months over 650 Catholics homes, scores of churches, convents, hostels, prayer chapels and other structures have been destroyed in the state of Orissa alone. Thousands of Catholics are still in refugee camps.

Here is an insight into these Catholics of India. If the refugees go home, many are forced to embrace Hinduism and are immediately forced to pray at the local temple. Their general response so far has been, “No thanks, I’ll sit right here and keep my faith.” They will not trade their homes, farms and whatever material possessions they have if it means losing their faith.

There is a saying in India, that I am sure is borrowed from early Christian martyrs, “Wherever the blood of a martyr is spilled into the soil, there the faith grows even stronger.” This is true. I’ve witnessed it. In February 2008 I attended the Dantoling feast which honors Our Lady of Lourdes. Last year’s feast was less than 60 days after the start of these 15 months of persecution. Only 10,000 attended last year, possibly out of fear of the unknown. I attended the feast again this February of 2009 and in spite of the continued persecution throughout the year, the numbers grew to over 20,000 attendees."

To give you more of an understanding of the widespread violence in this region, here is a chronological list citing what has happened to Christian institutions in the last 5 months of 2008.

Our friends at the National Catholic Register had this very disturbing but inspirational piece on the persecution in India printed in an issue from September:

"BHUBANESWAR, India — An armed Hindu mob landed at the doorstep of evangelists Samuel and Daniel Nayak on Aug. 25, with an ultimatum: Denounce the faith or die. [Blogger Note: The Nayaks were brothers who were lay catechist instructors.]

“Do you want Christ or your life?” the mob leaders demanded of the Nayaks and five other members of the Nayak family. Unfazed, the brothers replied, “Christ is everything for us.”

Enraged, the Hindu fundamentalists hit two children in the house with iron rods, breaking their skulls. After pouring gasoline on the adults, the fanatics gave them “one more chance.” They stood firm and raised their hands in prayer.

Within seconds, five adults were aflame. Foreseeing that they might try to escape, the mob had poured gasoline on the outside walls of the house. The house was set on fire, reducing all seven members of the family to ashes."

We must keep these brave brothers and sister of our Faith in India constantly in our prayers and appreciate the religious freedom that we have in this country. In America, we have the luxury of complaining about long homilies. This puts everything in perspective, doesn't it?

We must also take increased dedication to being bold in our Faith from these examples.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shooting for the Stars: Balloons and Paper Clips

Here is a great story. Four Spanish teenagers put a digital camera on a weather balloon and ended up taking pictures of space. The balloon made it twenty miles up and the whole projected cost the equivalent of about $75.00 US dollars. Now, here is my question. How much do you think it would cost our government to get the same exact picture? Tens of millions? Hundreds of millions?

While we are talking about great ideas from young people that inspire, here is one of my favorites. A 26-year old, unemployed man decided to test his barter/trading abilities. He started with an idea of trading a paper clip that he had on his desk and by the time he was finished he traded up to and owned a house.

With these stories, what achievement is not possible?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Front Line of Our Humanity

In 1973, Feminists promoted abortion as their route to liberation; a way to elevate their status in society and secure for them what they believed was rightfully theirs.

Due to their efforts, the evil of abortion was unleashed. Once an evil is unleashed, no person, group of persons nor government can limit or control it.

In the Guangdong province of China today, 144 births out of every 200 are male. The reason for the disparity of the normal 50% ratio is that this province (and government) specifically targets female babies as undesirable and aborts them. So 44 female babies are aborted out of every 100 female conceptions, or 44%. Chilling, isn’t it?

So the Feminists in this world thought abortion would free them as second class citizens, but now it targets them as a second class citizens ten fold.

I thought about this scenario as President Obama lifted all bans on embryonic stem cell testing this week.

Those disabled advocates (who struggle with horrible diseases and face the difficulty of lost mobility) who promote embryonic stem cell research as their way out are in danger of making the same mistake that the Feminists did 30 years ago.

By targeting the weakest and most defenseless members of society (embryos) -- defining them as less than human with no rights -- these advocates are advancing a mindset that there are some members of humanity that are less than human and can be disposed of. They are in effect stating that a class of humanity can be designated and labeled not human by just a popular opinion, or even as little as just one man's signature.

Their efforts will be unleashing an active evil that will eventually turn on them ten fold and seek out the disabled, elderly and infirmed defining them as less than human with no legal rights nor deserving of any protection. They, themselves, will become the hunted.

John Donne said, "No man is an island," and he was right. We are all interconnected. Our front line of protecting the humanity and dignity of every member of the human race, including our own, has always started and ended with how we as a society defend the most defenseless in our presence. Today, the unborn are the most defenseless in our society considering they have absolutely no legal protection and can not speak for themselves. They are clearly the Front Line of Our Humanity.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Red Letter Campaign for the Unborn

There is a grassroots movement, started by a man called Christ Otto, that is requesting that all pro-life Americans send an empty red envelope to President Obama, on March 31st, that says on the back:

"This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception."

I received my pre-printed envelopes this weekend, they were given out at Mass.

The Web site TheRedEnvelope.org already has 716,000 pledges to send these envelopes. I urge all pro-life defenders to partake in this powerful message and flood the White House with these empty red envelopes representing the millions of babies taken from us by abortion. In addition, pray for a change of heart by Barack Obama, hopefully this campaign will give him pause to think.

Please read the FAQ page to understand how to best proceed.

Best of VCR: God's Master Plan for a Father

This post was originally posted last June. With the difficulties of unemployment and the stress of financial viability that many fathers are facing in this economy, and considering today is the feast day of St. Joseph, this is an appropriate time to revisit this post. VitC

I often think that marble statues and painted portraits of saints do them such an extreme disservice. The “porcelain-doll faces” that accompany these works really betray the less-than-perfect, human shortcomings that these saints struggled with daily in theirs lives and had to conquered on the way to their sainthood. For the most part, these works portray these spiritual warriors as immune to all human emotions; somehow having a secret to make their lives easier than ours. There are no hints of tragedy in beautiful oil paintings that have peaceful faces with rose-blushed cheeks. Sculpted marble never conveys fatigue, worry, nor tears.

Specifically to this thought, St. Joseph is always viewed as the quintessential protector and provider in his role to the Holy Family. The fact that this view is widely accepted and requires no reflection does St. Joseph the same disservice.

He holds lilies in his hands to show you how easy it was for him to be pure and a carpenter’s saw to show you how easy it was for him to provide for his family. We never truly realize the difficulties he undertook to end up with these reverent symbols.

For instance, three times (Nazareth, Bethlehem and Egypt) he had to completely uproot his business and risk the means of his livelihood to move for the protection/benefit of his family. He must have felt exhausted each time and that all of his hard work to build a master artisan's reputation within these towns was completely erased as he lead his family out of each town.
I likewise envision that a stranger coming into a close-knit town was not immediately, nor freely, trusted to the point of being supplied work. In the beginning, he must have taken any job offered, remedial in task or beneath his skill level, to feed the Blessed Mother and his Child (sound familiar dads?). It is hard to envision St. Joseph pleading for any available work, saying that he would do anything for food or payment, or... begging for lodging as well...

How many doors do you think St. Joseph knocked on before he settled on lodging his expecting wife with animals? How many doors do you think you would have knock on before this concession? Thirty... Fifty... One Hundred?

I often wonder that in the quiet moments following Christ’s birth, when the Blessed Mother was resting from her labor and the child was sleeping in her arms, did St. Joseph, standing vigilant guard, look at his loved ones co-mingled with the dirty beasts and feel as if he had failed to live up to his role as a provider?

These thoughts do not even consider that these difficulties and frustrations must have been amplified many times over considering he knew the importance of whom he was providing for.

But throughout all his struggles and discouragements his Faith never wavered and he knew God had a master plan for his life; that God relied on him meeting his responsibilities.

If one reflects, the master plan of St. Joseph's life was to give all his efforts to serve as protector of the helpless Christ child so that Jesus would be ready to sacrifice himself with great suffering when the time was right. It is really such a chilling irony that his role was to protect his child so that his child could eventually suffer, but take out St. Joseph's protection and the bigger master plan could have be in peril. Herod would have found the child in the "Slaughtering of the Holy Innocents" if not for St. Joseph's action. It was St. Joseph who would act on a dream, saving the Christ child's life so that he could eventually redeem the world.

We can take great insight from understanding this father's master plan. As fathers, our primary goals and efforts in life lie in helping our children achieve God's plans for their lives and help them attain holiness/heaven. Everything else is just a distraction and will not matter a century from now.

So to all you fathers: When the bills are many and the energy is fleeting; when the money is dwindling and the pressures are mounting; when there is a family member who is suffering and you cannot help, pray to the great St. Joseph. Start by heartfully mentioning to him that you are approaching him as one struggling father to another. He, through his experiences, will empathetically feel your hurt and raise your prayers up on your behalf to an Indebted Child that he once protected.

Happy St. Joseph's Day!

Saint Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care. May he always guard, protect and enlighten families. - Pope John Paul II

Timothy Geithner: Connecting Some Dots

When Timothy Geithner was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, he was seen as a 47 year-old whiz kid, and the only man that could do the job. Now months later, America sees things differently. Geithner’s has been a disaster since the onset and his appointment might not have been such a random act, "best man for the job," as the Obama administration would have us believe.

Timothy Geithner's father, Peter Geithner, was the director of the Asia program for the Ford Foundation. During the early eighties, Peter Geithner oversaw the Ford Foundation’s microfinance (small loans to the underprivileged) programs in Indonesia being developed by Ann Dunham-Soetoro, who was Barack Obama’s mother. So basically, Geithner’s father was financing Obama’s mother’s charity. There was a prior relationship between the families.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Favorite St. Patrick's Day Joke

Here is my favorite St. Patrick's Day joke. It is chock full of all the personality and humor that you would come to expect from a supreme race of story tellers! I am posting this a few days early in case you want to practice it before telling it to another member of the Divine race next week. Happy St. Paddy's Day!

A backpacker traveling on foot through Europe, stops in the Eternal City of Rome, and finds himself tagging along on a tour of the Vatican. While on the tour, he spots a gold-plated phone guarded by a lone Swiss Guard with a sign over it that says, “Converse with the Almighty - $10,000 a minute.” Being intrigued by the sight, he confirms with the Swiss Guard that it was indeed a hotline to Heaven, and he could surely talk to the God if he could afford the fee. Being penniless, he laments at his loss opportunity and continues on his way.

Several months later he finds himself hiking through the rolling, green hills of the Irish countryside and ducks into a small Irish pub to dodge an intensifying rain storm.
After shaking the raindrops off his cap, he sees to his disbelief what appears to be the same gold-plated phone that he saw at the Vatican months prior, positioned behind the bar. This one; however, has an accompanying sign that reads, “Converse with the Almighty - $.25 a minute”. Being in a state of stark confusion, and after confirming with the bartender that the phones were indeed identical, the backpacker inquires how can the Vatican - with all of its rich treasures - be charging $10,000 a minute, and this small pub - with many leaks in the ceiling- be charging only $.25 a minute.

The bartender breaking a half grin and instantaneously coming to life with sparkling eyes as if he had been waiting for this question for centuries leans towards the backpacker. With an overflowing pride that he can not fully contain and all the assurance and conviction that can be found in and framed by a strong Irish brogue, the bartender whispers his secret, “My dear traveler, the answer is obvious, here it is a local call!”

Monday, March 9, 2009

Larry Kudlow: "I Oppose Obama Actions!"

One of "my boys", Larry Kudlow, stands up for his Faith in the National Review today. You can also see Chaput has his ear, as mine:

"How can you destroy a life in order to save one? That’s a key question Pres. Obama is not answering as he aborts Pres. Bush’s ban on federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research. We already have existing stem-cell lines, plus blood cells and skin cells. So why must we seek new stem-cell lines from human embryos?

...And why is taxpayer money necessary for this? That means those of us who oppose embryonic-stem-cell research — for ethical, moral, or religious reasons — must finance it. Why not leave all this to the private sector and private capital? That wouldn’t make me any happier from a moral standpoint. But at least I wouldn’t be paying for this research with my tax dollars.

In a recent speech in Toronto, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput — the author of Render Unto Caesar — argued that Catholics must engage in all manner of political issues in the public square. “Politics is the exercise of power, and the use of power always has moral content and human consequences.” This is a perfect example. And as a traditional Catholic I oppose Pres. Obama’s actions."

For those who do not know Larry Kudlow's conversion story, click here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Best of VCR: The Sleeping Giant Will Sleep No More!

Originally posted October 27, 2008:

I have referenced in a prior post that the "Pelosi Heresy" will be a defining moment and turning point for the Roman Catholic Church in America. The past practice of the Catholic hierarchy in the U.S. privately trying to counsel pro-abortion, Catholic politicians to see the error in their ways while these politicians politely deflected the issue to seem passive came to a blazing, Hindenburg-like end one Sunday morning. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated in front of all America that St. Augustine’s writings would have permitted a pro-abortion position.

This scandal, as literally defined by the Catechism, was unleashed across the airways and country and could not be recoiled back into the bottle by private actions. In trying to confuse the issue for her political gain, Speaker Pelosi actually did the complete opposite by invoking the 2,000-year teaching authority of the Catholic Church to starkly publicize her error. It was the arrogance of a conditioned politician who thought she would have free range without hierarchy interference.

An unending list of Who’s Who of American Prelates (Chaput, Wuerl, Lori, Rigali, Egan, Niederauer, Zubik, Sheridan, etc…) soon followed denouncing Pelosi and her lack of understanding of the Catholic Faith. It was obvious that our Cardinals and Bishops now had their kid gloves off. Enough was enough with this prolonged, American farce that adamant, pro-choice politicians could claim that they were devout Catholics in good standing with their Church.

The clerical outrage that started with the "Pelosi Heresy" has continued and broadened through this whole election season as Church leaders are not remaining silent anymore. Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput has not mixed words, or dabbled in vagueness, citing specifically that Barack Obama, by name, is the "most committed" abortion-rights candidate for the presidency since abortion became legal.

Knowing the Archbishop, his vocal amplification of the Gospel of Life will not stop on Inauguration Day, if the unspeakable does happen. He will be as much as a nemesis of Barack Obama as he was when the DNC were putting up those "Styrofoam pillars" in the Archbishop’s backyard. Obama greatly underestimates Chaput’s conviction and the Archbishop’s not caring whether or not he is ever invited to a Heads of State dinner. This core of character cannot be understood by most expedient politicians. It is contrary to their very existence. They sniff the air for something they can use. Similar to an indicted mobster not understanding how a district attorney making $45,000 a year cannot be bought but will do what is just and bring him down while continuing to live below the poverty line because of his conviction. Chaput will be Obama’s ongoing nemesis.

Anyone who travels a lot for business has travel horror stories. Four hours out on a tarmac; a twenty-hour layover; and things not going quite right at 30,000 feet in the air. When these latter prayerful moments come, as they will, I always look at the flight attendants faces to reveal the seriousness of the situation. These reactions of those in charge will tell you more than any group announcement by the pilot.

This strategy holds true as well in the religious realm as we have witnessed the reaction of the leaders of our Faith over the past few months. This election is a very serious moment for the pro-life movement and there has been a plethora of prelate statements reinforcing this view. Rocco Palmo of the UK Tablet has documented that some 50 active, U.S. bishops have issued statements that abortion is the key issue of this election and that it should dictate how Catholics vote.

The latest entry in this catalog of conscience has been Cardinal Justin Rigali, again not mixing words:

"At this moment in our country’s history, defense of innocent human life is a moral responsibility for all of us. The same God who thundered from Mount Sinai: "Thou shalt not kill," thunders still. When life in the womb is destroyed, God thunders: "This is a child!" When by the most barbaric means, unworthy of any civilized people, the brain of a child is sucked out of his or her head by a vacuum, God thunders: "This is a child!" When a baby is left to die of exposure on a shelf because of a failed abortion, and this is considered a "right" by any leader, God, the Source of all law and authority, thunders: "This is a child!" When we are faced with every modern means of education and communication, in addition to the law placed in our hearts at creation, no one, and most especially, no Catholic, can ever say: "I did not know."

The vast majority of Presidential polls point to the fact that the Pro-life cause may have lost the battle of the 2008 Presidential campaign. But take heart! As we continue to fight the "Cultural of Life" war we have a new era of bold, Catholic leadership who will preach the unfiltered Gospel and influence the 25% of the electorate under their pastoral care.

In the movie Tora, Tora, Tora, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto ceases the celebratory and congratulatory mood after his subordinates confirm that the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a complete success. The Admiral laments, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

On that Sunday morning in August, Nancy Pelosi poked the sleeping giant that is the Roman Catholic Church in America in the eye, and the sleeping giant awoke. The sleeping giant will sleep no more. I do not doubt its resolve.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Pro-Lifer and the Beta Fish

On a Daddy-daughter outing about 4 months ago, we returned home from a stop at Petco with my daughter’s first pet, a beta fish. My daughter was so excited! She named the fish Sarah. Till this day, we do not know if the fish is male or female, but Sarah it is.

There are two things parents always know upon purchasing a small fish for their 4-year-olds. One certainty is that after about 2 weeks you will be the sole caretaker of the fish, and secondly the fish probably won’t last too long in a small fish bowl.

Well the first part of the realization held true to its promise, as once a week -- on my day off -- I would empty the clouded, and very noxious, waste water from the bowl and replace it with new sparkling water. This task should have qualified for the Discovery Channel’s show, Dirty Jobs. The stench was worthy of an animal of a much larger size, something of a bovine nature.

The second realization, the prediction of a short life span, was far from accurate. I joked to my wife that this fish should have been named Lazarus for the countless times it came back from the dead. Many times I woke up in the morning to a motionless fish floating in the bowl only to see it dart back to life when I tapped the bowl. I think after a while it was playing with me.

I was so convinced that the fish would have a short life span that I only bought two containers of fish food when I purchased the fish. The second container ran out of food about 5 days ago.

Realizing this fish was not eating at all, for three days I frantically searched for fish food. I went to different retail stores and supermarkets, only to find that none of the establishments I visited carried fish food. I even asked the guy at 7-Eleven, who gave me a blank look. Can you imagine the desperation to ask the counter guy at 7-Eleven?

All I could think of for the past few days is how hungry this fish must have been, not eating. I had a meeting with an executive Vice President of my company the other day, and all I could think of during the meeting was whether or not Target might carry fish food.

In a last moment of desperation Friday night, I tried to extend the fish’s life just one more day to get it to the weekend -- when I could finally make the long drive to Petco -- by sprinkling some oatmeal flakes into the fishbowl hoping that the fish could eat something. Admittedly, it was not the best idea but it did lower the fish's cholesterol. Yesterday, I made the long trip to Petco and got the fish some legitimate food. The fish is doing well and is back to playing possum with me.

So here’s my point. I was so bothered by this little fish starving to death that it became an absolute compulsion for me to feed this fish. This little life that God created was put under my care. The empathy I had for this little fish was incredible.

In driving to work the other day, the irony of this story hit me as well as a sad commentary of our society.

By way of comparison, Terri Schiavo was starved to death over 13 days, not even being given so much as an ice chip to hydrate her tongue and lips, and many Americans were not bother by this at all - - actually many supported the act. Michael Schiavo's lawyer, George Fellos, actually said that Terri Schiavo looked "beautiful" as she was starved to death.

The difference between these two stories? Thankfully, my heart beats Pro-Life.