40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic-#37 The Catechism of the Catholic Church

At first blush, the Catechism of the Catholic Church may seem like an imposing book.  First of all, it’s BIG.  The one on my desk is over 800 pages.  Second, the margins are full of strange numbers.  Plus, every paragraph is numbered.  How are we supposed to read a book like that?  Third, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of footnotes.  But all things considered, the writers have done a remarkable job of covering our very complex faith in an understandable, not-so-hard-to-use book.

Let’s start with those numbered paragraphs and the numbers in the margin.  I’m looking at paragraphs 554-556, The Transfiguration. In the margin alongside these paragraphs are the numbers 697, 2600, 440, 2576, 2583, 257, and 1003.  The numbers refer you to other paragraphs in the Catechism that speak to the same topic.  See, that’s not so hard.

In order to prove that they’re not pulling this stuff out of thin air, the writers use copious footnotes  For instance, this section on the Transfiguration has 14 footnotes.  If you don’t want to take the Catechism’s word for it, you can check out the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Saint Paul’s letter to the Phillipians, the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, or the Byzantine liturgy.

If you want to dig even deeper, you can start looking at those other chapters listed in the margin.  But be careful!  Paragraph 697 references three more chapters and has seven footnotes.  You could spend all day on just this one topic.  If you’re a scholar, or maybe a preacher, all of this information is invaluable.  But if you just want to know what the Church teaches about the Transfiguration, the original sections are probably all you need.

The book is divided into four major sections:  THE PROFESSION OF FAITH, THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY, LIFE IN CHRIST, CHRISTIAN PRAYER.  Take a look at the table of contents.  Each of the main sections are broken down by articles, then by paragraphs, then by subheadings.    Each paragraph concludes with an IN BRIEF section, sort of a Cliff’s Notes summary.

Rather than make this post as long as the Catechism itself, I’ll wrap this up with a look at the “back of the book”.  First is the INDEX OF CITATIONS.  If you want to know what the Catechism says about the Scriptures, look here.  For example, Genesis 1:1-2:4 is treated in number 337.  If you want to learn about Church Councils and Synods, there’s an index for that.  If Pontifical and Ecclesiastical Documents are more your cup of tea, they’re there too.  The list goes on and on.

Last but not least is the INDEX index.  That’s where you can find references by topic.  Wondering what the Church has to say about tobacco abuse, that’s number 2290.  Wondering how to deal with the Lutheran who lives next door?  Try Ecumenism, 820-22.

Here’s the thing.  How great is it to have a single book to answer our faith questions?  Obviously, if you really want to dig deep, you can collect a whole library of books.  The Catechism even gives you a list.  But for 99% of the questions you may have about the Catholic Church, you can find the answer in one volume.  It’s not something you’ll want to curl up with in front of the fire on a snowy night.  (Even though priests and deacons in formation are often called to do just that.)  But for quick answers to your questions, there’s nothing like it.

And another thing…..if you’re away from home and don’t have your Catechism with you, there’s an online searchable version.

How cool is that?

40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic-#38 Et Cum Spiritu Tuo

A really cool thing about being Catholic is that wherever you go to mass, whether it’s in the good ol’ USA, or half way around the world, you always know what’s going on, even if you don’t speak the language.

We’re about three months into the “New Translation of the Roman Missal”.  Some of the words we’ve been using for decades in the English-speaking world have been changed.  Some of us adapted to the changes easily;  some of us not so much.  But the reason for the changes is very simple.  Our English translation wasn’t always accurate.  One change that’s happening slowly in some places is our response when the priest or deacon says “The Lord be with you.”  As recently as this past Sunday I’m still hearing some “and also with you”s.  Change is never easy.

But, take a look at the title of today’s post.  “Et Cum Spiritu Tuo.”  I’m no Latin scholar, I’ve barely mastered English, but the word “spirit” is clearly in there.  Et is “and”.  Cum is “with”.  Spiritu is “Spirit”.  And Tuo is “your”.  (Latin sentence structure is different from ours.)

Take a look at some other languages.  In Irish it’s “agus le do spiorad“.  There’s that pesky word spirit again.  In French it’s “et avec votre esprit“.  Are you beginning to see a pattern?  One more for the members of my community, Saint John Nepomuk Chapel in Saint Louis, “a se svym duchem“.  Duchem = “spirit”.

The point is that every Catholic mass is consistently the same.  There was a recent story in the news where a priest in nearby Southern Illinois liked to make things up as he went along.  He just can’t make himself say the prayers as they’re written in the book.  He no longer has preaching faculties.

Please don’t think I’m minimizing the faith by comparing it to a secular business, but hopefully you’ll see my point.  McDonald’s has become one of the most successful businesses in the world by offering virtually the same menu all over the world.  There are some local exceptions like wine in French locations, and non-meat choices in India.  But basically a Big Mac is a Big Mac in Los Angeles or New York City; Boston or Bejing.  Imagine how you’d feel if you pulled into Micky D’s and you were served a Big Mac with catsup instead of special sauce.  You’d be outraged!  You wouldn’t stand for it!  You’d demand your money back!

The same principle applies.  You can go to mass anywhere in the world and even if you don’t understand a word of the local language, you’d know exactly what’s going on.  The priest greets the people.  There’s a penitential rite.  Then there’s a prayer.  There are two readings (assuming it’s Sunday) separated by a responsorial Psalm, followed by the Gospel and a homily.  Next comes the Liturgy of the Eucharist, you receive communion (always unleavened bread), then the mass comes to it’s conclusion.  The closing prayer is never first.  The greeting is never last.  And you know that every Catholic congregation on the planet is hearing the same readings.  If you have your own Sunday missal you can read them for yourself.  Or, you can get them online.

The point is that there are a lot of churches where the Sunday service is what the pastor wants it to be.  If he wants to preach on the same Gospel every single week, that’s his choice.  If he chooses to ignore certain scriptures because they don’t support his particular brand of theology, that’s ok too.  But it’s not cool!

The Catholic mass is what it’s supposed to be.  The celebrant or the deacon may deliver a homily based on what the Holy Spirit reveals to him in the day’s readings, but otherwise there’s no wiggle room.  You can count on it.  If you have Catholic online friends and you want to have a discussion about the day’s readings, have at it.  They heard the same ones today as you did.

And that’s another reason why it’s cool to be Catholic.

40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic-#39 Timothy Cardinal Dolan

When I set out to list 40 reasons why it’s cool to be Catholic I reverted to the ancient, low-tech method of using index cards.  I listed each reason on its own card with the intention of sorting them in order of importance.  I ran into two problems.  First, over a period of a few weeks I ended up with more than 40 cards.  So, if you watch carefully you’ll see that I’ve combined some of them into a single post.

My second problem was, how to present these 40 or so reasons.  Do I do a “David Letterman” and list them in the order of importance, building up from number 40 to number 1?  That’s worked for Letterman, and for Casey Kasem for many years.  But how do you rank, for instance, Catholic Schools vs. Catholic hospitals?  And, what about timely issues?  I certainly don’t rank today’s reason as 39th out of 40 in importance.  The Cardinal is very much in the news right now, so I put him in the 39 slot.  If you know me, you can probably guess what (or who) will be number 20 on my list.  That post falls on March 17.  It (or he) wouldn’t seem right on any other day.

So, be aware that this list is arbitrary at best.  When we get to the top 10, beginning on March 27, those will be what I consider to be the “biggies”, though you may disagree.  Also, if you would like to contribute your ideas, please don’t hesitate to post a comment.  Now, let’s get down to today’s business.

Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York was recently elevated to Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI.  You probably know that.  It’s been all over the news.  Even one of our local anti-Catholic television stations has been running a promo piece bragging that they had a reporter in Rome for the occasion.  Cardinal Dolan is a character.  And I mean that in the best possible way.  From the time he was Auxiliary Bishop here in Saint Louis, it was clear that God had big things in store for him.

There’s an old Irish expression, “He can tell you to go to hell and have you looking forward to the trip.”  That’s a pretty accurate description of the new Cardinal.  One minute he can be walking down the streets of New York cracking jokes with the people and the next minute he can be on the phone with the President of the United States demanding that he back down from his unconstitutional mandate that Catholics pay for artificial birth control and other immoral procedures that violate our religious rights.

Right now, the Cardinal is the very visible face and voice of Roman Catholicism in the United States.  And, he’s cool.  He loves baseball.  At the consistory he joked about the red hat of the Cardinal and the fact that he grew up as a fan of the Cardinals, the Saint Louis variety, who also wear red hats.  In his homily this past Sunday he told his mother that, no, she couldn’t wear his new red hat on Easter Sunday.

I’ll admit I may be slightly prejudiced in the Cardinal’s favor since he grew up about 20 miles from where I’m sitting right now, and that he graduated from the same high school as my son.  (In Saint Louis that’s a big deal.  The appropriate greeting when two strangers meet in our fair city is “Where did you go to high school?”  But this is a man who is unabashedly Catholic.  He loves the Church and is proud to be a part of it.  We could all learn from his example.  And, growing up in the midwest, he has a kind of down-home personality that you don’t often see in men of his stature.

This is a guy who believes in ecumenism yet makes no apologies for his Catholic faith.  At his official “welcome home” service this past weekend there were representatives of all major faith traditions.  Clearly he respects them and they respect him.  But, make no mistake, Timothy Cardinal Dolan is a proud Roman Catholic and we’re blessed to have him.

There have been other prominent Catholic “characters” in the history of the Church.  Bishop Fulton Sheen is another one who comes to mind.  Like Cardinal Dolan, the late Bishop was a very public spokesman for the Church, dominating network TV in its early years.  Videos of his programs are still available both on-line and for purchase.

Our Church has a definite PR problem.  Anti-Catholic bigotry is alive and well, especially in the United States.  We desperately need men (and women) who have a big megaphone to sing the praises of the Church that Jesus founded.  We need those voices to offset prominent nominal Catholics like Joe Biden, Nancy Pollosi, Claire McCaskill, and so many others who proclaim their loyalty to the Church while publicly trashing the basic principles of our faith.

Personally, I’m proud and very grateful to have someone as cool as Timothy Cardinal Dolan speaking for my faith.

40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic #40 LENT

We Catholics have been taking a lot of heat lately.  As Philip Jenkns wrote in his book The New Anti-Catholicism-The Last Acceptable Prejucice, our society sees nothing wrong with anti-Catholic bigotry.  In fact, our secular media participate in it and encourage it.  In an interview on EWTN, Cardinal Timothy Dolan pointed out that he’s often the target of the media because, according to them, he mixes religion and politics.  The Cardinal wondered why similar criticism isn’t made about Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton, or even Reverend Martin Luther King.

I thought it would be interesting to write a series of posts during Lent outlining 40 reasons why it’s cool to be Catholic.  Bishop Fulton Sheen once said that no one actually hates the Catholic Church but that millions of people hate what they THINK the Catholic Church is.  Hopefully over the next six weeks we can take a look at who we really are and why it’s incredibly cool to be Catholic.

Since today is the First Sunday of Lent, I thought I’d start with an obvious one.  LENT

C’mon, Deacon, what’s cool about Lent?  We have fast and abstinence and penance.  How is that cool?

Let’s start with a couple of basic truths.  First, Jesus Christ died for our sins.  He came down to earth, became man, lived for just 33 years, and was tortured and crucified for His trouble.

Second, He often withdrew from the crowds of followers to fast and pray.  Prior to His Passion, He spent 40 days in the desert praying, fasting, and jousting with the devil.  Again, He did this for you and me.

Our natural tendency when someone does something for us is to return the favor.  But, how can we repay someone who did so much for us?  The answer is that we can’t.  One way we try is through the practices of the season of Lent, but our meager sacrifices can’t begin to approach what Christ did for us.

Let’s look at this in human terms.  Say you have a young child.  Maybe she’s five years old.  Obviously as a parent you provide her with everything including life itself.  How can this little girl pay you back?  Maybe she likes to draw.  She proudly presents you with a drawing that she’s done just for you.  Maybe, if you’re lucky and she’s having a good day, you recognize what she’s drawn.  Maybe not.  But she’s done her best, she’s very proud, and you smile.  Maybe you even shed a tear because you know she’s given it her all and she’s done it for you.  Isn’t that how it is between us and Jesus?  He knows we can’t do what He did.  Like the little girl in our story, we just don’t have the ability.  But, we try.

Jesus went into the desert and fasted for FORTY DAYS.  For almost six weeks He had nothing to eat.  In the forty days of Lent, we fast twice; on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  How do we fast?  We limit ourselves to one full meal and two small meals with nothing in between.  There seems to be a little difference between Jesus’ fast and ours.  But, you and I can’t go without food for 40 days.  We’d starve to death.  So we symbolically fast for two days out of the forty.  (Actually Good Friday isn’t part of Lent, but that’s another story for another day.)  Like children emulate their parents, we emulate Jesus.  And how proud are you, as a parent, to see your little one doing something that looks like something that you do?

Jesus prayed for those forty days.  Most of us have jobs, and families, and other responsibilities.  We just can’t drop everything and pray nonstop for a month and a half.  What do we do?  We do the best that we can.  We pray in the morning.  We pray in the evening.  Maybe we go to mass more often.  Maybe we say the rosary every day or go to stations of the cross once a week.  None of this stuff comes close to what Jesus did for us.  But He doesn’t want us to do what He did.  He wants us to do the best that we can.

Then there’s penance.  We’re asked to do penance during Lent.  Some folks give up a favorite food or beverage.  Some give up television, or water skiing, or some other pleasure.  But the idea is to do something that improves ourselves, while giving glory to God.  What you do is between you and God.  Nobody else needs to know.  While the required penance is a wonderful thing, it’s what you do on your own that really makes a difference.

So, to get back to the original question, Lent is cool because it’s our chance to show God how much He means to us.  We may try to do that every day of the year, but in Lent, the Church gives us a special time to kick it up a notch.  Church is decorated a special color.  Bulletins and homilies are focused on the season.  We’re reminded once a week, on Friday, that we’re in a special time of year.  You’re not going to hell if you eat a cheeseburger on a Friday during Lent.  Abstinence is a practice that reminds us we’re not alone.  Jesus is there for us and we’re here for Him.  Giving up meat a few days of the year is a small sacrifice but it’s a meaningful one

When I grew up as a protestant, I was fascinated by the fact that my Catholic friends wouldn’t eat meat on Fridays.  (Remember, it used to be every Friday.)  They would sit in the pizza joint until midnight so they could eat a pepperoni pizza.  I didn’t know why they did it.  After all, their parents would never know.  But they knew.  Even though we might have made fun of them, we’d wait until midnight too.  Somehow in our teen-aged, black and white, protestant minds, we knew that our Catholic friends had something special going on.

You and I have something special going on too.  Thank God for giving us the gift of Lent.  By allowing us this small participation in His suffering, by giving us a small way to pay Him back, He’s giving us something wonderful.

Lent is special.  Lent is cool.

“Preventive Medicine”?

Preventive medicine: Medicine designed to avert and avoid disease.  MedicineNet.com

“I don’t know about you, but I never considered a child to be a “disease”.  Sadly we live in a world where many people consider that to be the case, including our federal government.  The defenders of the Department of Health and Human Services‘ birth control mandate consistently refer to birth control, sterilization, and abortifacsants as “preventive care”.  By their definition these medications, devices, and procedures are not just a “right”, but a right that you and I should pay for with our health insurance premiums.


Our leaders, who consider our future citizens to be diseases, apparently live in some sort of fantasy world where they believe that health insurance carriers are going to turn into nonprofit organizations who will gladly dispense free birth control without passing the cost along to their customers.  The president’s suggestion that faith-based organizations won’t have to pay for these things would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.  I suppose that’s the mindset of someone who’s never had a real job.


Catholic (and other religious) hospitals, universities, and other institutions are nonprofits.  Insurance companies are businesses that survive by making profits.  We are not a socialist nation, at least not yet.  Don’t be misled by labels.  Pro-abortion and pro-choice are the same thing.  “Women’s rights” groups support only certain rights for women.  The president’s so-called “tweaking” of the birth-control-mandate means no change at all.


This entire controversy is nothing more than an attack on our First Amendment rights.

Children are not a disease!

Senator McCaskill on the DHHS Mandate

This afternoon Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) told Mark Reardon of KMOX radio that she definitely supports the Department of Health and Human Services birth control mandate for religious institutions.  She made the bizarre statement that free birth control for all women is the leading method to reduce the number of abortions in the United States.  There are two things wrong with her thinking.  One is that included in the mandate are abortifacient drugs like the so-called morning-after pill.  The second is that the wide availability of artificial birth control is a major contributor to the promiscuity of today’s society and that no method is 100% foolproof.  Pills and condoms do fail.  In fact, research shows that pills fail to prevent pregnancy 2-9% of the time.  Condoms are ineffective 15-24% of the time.

So, given a (possibly false) sense of security, extra-marital sex runs rampant and the total number of unwanted (or inconvenient) pregnancies skyrockets.  Saying that forcing religious employers to provide free birth control will reduce abortions is nonsense.  Here’s the thing.  Our Constitution provides us with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Free artificial birth control and sterilization are not included.

On the other hand, our Constitution does protect our religious freedom.  The DHHS mandate is a direct assault on our religious rights.  And make no mistake, if this mandate is allowed to stand, it’s only the beginning.  No matter what your religious faith, you cannot sit idly by and let this happen.  Whether you’re Jewish, Muslim, or a member of any of the Protestant communities, this health care mandate affects you and your freedom to practice your faith.

Now a word just to Catholics.  Ms. McCaskill said today on KMOX that the Catholic Church has no idea how many of its members use artificial birth control.  She’s wrong.  Of course the Church knows.  They have access to the same survey information as everyone els.  But it’s not the Church’s place to monitor what goes on in each Catholic’s bedroom.  That’s between the individual and God.  All the Church can do is point out what’s a sin and what isn’t.  You have free will to make a choice.  You don’t have to answer to the Pope, or your local Bishop, or your priest or deacon.  You will have to answer to Jesus.

The Church does recommend and teach Natural Family Planning.  NFP has proven to be 90-98% effective, roughly the same effectiveness as the pill and much more effective than diaphragms and condoms.  NFP has no side effects.  The same can’t be said for the pill.

Wait!  NFP does have a side effect.  Couples who practice it have a divorce rate of less than 1%.  Why?  Because NFP couples have to talk to each other!  Sexual activity has to be planned and sometimes it has to be postponed.  That shared commitment makes marriages stronger.

One more thing:  Groups that oppose the Catholic Church’s position on this subject, like McCaskill, love to point out the statistics on artificial birth control among Catholic women.  Catholic women, and all women who favor so-called reproductive rights, like to point out that these are personal decisions that don’t affect anyone else.  Well, before you take that pill or put on that condom, think of this.  Those who oppose the Church are using your failure to follow Church teaching to prop up their arguments.   Your “personal decision” to ignore Church teaching and God’s plan effects the entire Church.

Think about it.

External Links

Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body

7 Common Birth Control Side Effects

Sex and Fertility

Phyicians for Life

Natural Family Planning

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

We have a letter today from Archbishop Carlson.  He writes:

February 1, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith.  The federal government, which was formed to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people – the Catholic population – and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception.  Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write.  And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty.  And, as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences or to drop health coverage for our employees (and bring about the consequences for all in doing so).  The Administration’s sole concession was to give nonprofit employers, like hospitals and universities, which do not currently provide such coverage, one year in which to comply.

We believe this new requirement signals a direct attack on our religious freedom.  People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.  We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom.  Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God-given rights.  In generations past, the Church has always counted on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties.  I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same.  Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And, therefore, I would ask of you two things.  First, as a community of faith, we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting, that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored.  Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible.  Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision.

I call upon each of you to join me and the Bishops of the United States in speaking out on this violation of religious freedom and conscience by contacting your U.S. Representatives and our U.S. Senators.  Every Catholic has the responsibility to promote the dignity of human life and religious freedom.  If we do not make our voices heard, no one else will.  Let us work together to preserve the freedoms our forefathers established in our Constitution!

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson

Archbishop of St. Louis


Both the second reading and the Gospel today speak to us about preaching.  Paul writes to the people of Corinth, “If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it.


In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells the Apostles, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also.  For this purpose have I been sent.”


When Father and I were ordained, we knelt before the Archbishop.  We placed our hands on the book of the Gospels and he said, “Receive the Book of the Gospels, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, practice what you teach.”  In just a few months our seminarian Ray will hear these same words when he’s ordained to the transitional diaconate.


That’s our call; to believe the Gospel; to teach the Gospel; and to practice the Gospel.  It’s also your call.  Saint Francis told his disciples to always preach the Gospel and if necessary to use words.  All of us, ordained or not, preach the Gospel by the way we live our lives.  You shouldn’t have to walk around with a Bible in your hand for others to know that you’re a Christian.  That’s what the Archbishop is telling us today.


Sometimes I wonder what it takes to make Catholics mad.  I know, Jesus told us to turn the other cheek; to love our enemies; to return good for evil.  But sometimes even Jesus lost His temper.  He turned the money-changers tables over in the temple.  He called Peter, the man He chose to form His new Church, Satan.  He called the Pharisees hypocrites.  There are some things that even Jesus won’t put up with.


We live in a society that does its best to discourage us from following our Christian faith.  Sit down in front of the television some evening with a list of the Ten Commandments.  Then check off each one as you watch it being broken.  I promise you you won’t have to watch very long.


The thing is, I’m not so sure that most of what we see and hear in the media is malicious.  A lot of it is probably just ignorance.  I wouldn’t say that every television producer is anti-Christian or anti-Catholic.  They just don’t know any better.  Besides, a lot of the really offensive stuff gets good ratings where wholesome shows are often ratings flops.  Since television networks live off commercials and they charge more for more popular shows, the networks sink to the lowest common denominator.  That’s one thing.


But when our government, which we pay for with our tax dollars, deliberately attacks our beliefs, that’s something else altogether.  And that’s what we have here.  The Department of Health and Human Services is saying, “Sorry, Catholics.  We don’t care what you believe.  Your employees are going to have birth control, abortion-causing drugs, and sterilization.  And you’re going to pay for it.”


Can you imagine the outcry if the Amish were forced to connect their homes to the electric grid?  Every person of faith would be offended and demand that such an order be rescinded.   Or if Muslim hospitals (if there were any Muslim hospitals) were told they must serve pork to their patients and employees?  There would be serious ramifications.  It would never happen.


But, even in an election year, our government thinks it’s ok to impose their will on Catholics and other Christians.  Why would they do that?  Because they don’t think we’ll respond.  History shows that they’re right.  Roe vs. Wade has been the law of the land since 1973.  That’s 39 years.  Millions of unborn babies have been murdered in nearly four decades.  The Church has railed against Roe.  Every year thousands of Christians, not just Catholics, march on Washington, DC.  Right here in Saint Louis, Archbishop Carlson leads demonstrations in front of the local abortion mill.  But the demonstrators are a tiny percentage of all Catholics.  When election time rolls around, we keep reelecting the same pro-abortion candidates.  That wouldn’t happen without the votes of so-called “pro-choice Catholics.”  Why would politicians think that we would turn against them now.


But notice that the Archbishop and all the Bishops haven’t said anything about voting.  What they’re asking us to do is listen to Paul’s words.  “Woe to me if I don’t preach the Gospel”.  Stand up for your faith!  Write to Washington and tell them you won’t sit still and watch your religious rights be taken away.  Ask your friends and family to do the same.

The Archbishop said, “Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God-given rights.”  That statement should have special relevance for this church.  The immigrants who built this church by hand, brick by brick, then built it again when the tornado blew it down, would be mortified to see what’s happening today.


You and I have been given the privilege of keeping their memories alive in this historic church.  But it’s going to take more than just new boilers, and new air conditioners.  Without our faith, this is nothing but a big, old building.


Archbishop Carlson is asking you to honor their memories by standing up to anyone, including the United States government, who tries to take your faith away.  “Woe to all of us if we don’t preach the Gospel.”








Whatever Happened to the 1st Amendment?

Here in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, our Archbishop, Robert Carlson, has written a pastoral letter which is to be read in every parish.  The topic is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that all employers, including Catholic employers provide insurance coverage for artificial birth control, abortion, and the morning-after abortion pill.  This is in clear violation of the Constitution’s first amendment which assures religious freedom.

Archbishop Carlson writes, “In generations past, the Church has always counted on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties.  I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same.  Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.”

The Archbishop, along with all the U.S. Bishops is calling on Catholic Americans to stand up for our faith.  Imagine if the government would mandate that all Amish must be hooked up to the power grid.  The Amish would be outraged, as would every American citizen who values their religious faith.  Suppose the feds mandated that all religions observe Sunday as their sabbath day.  How would our Jewish brothers and sisters react to that?  Or, imagine this.  What if the government mandated that Muslim hospitals (if there were such a thing) serve pork to their patients.  I shudder to think what their response would be.

We can’t be so complacent as to think that if the government can interfere in one of our basic religious rights, that they will stop there.  A lot of us live in an environment where anti-Catholic bigotry lies beneath the surface.  But it’s alive and well.  What the haters don’t realize is that when the government takes away our rights, their rights are threatened too.

I’d like to share with you some comments from a local newspaper forum on Archbishop Carlson’s letter.  Keep in mind that these are anonymous posts.  The writers are hiding behind pseudonyms.  I’m sharing just a few highlights so you won’t have to waste your time reading this garbage.  Just keep in mind that one of these people may be your next door neighbor.

“No surprise here. Catholic church needs all the children it can get for brainwashing.”

“I’m waiting for the archbishop to pour as much money into ending the death penalty as he does abortion.”

“I’m Catholic, we don’t use birth control, but I think making birth control more available for those who want it is a good thing.”

[Note:  This issue isn’t about providing birth control.  It’s about forcing Catholic institutions to pay for it.  Two very different things.]

“The more kids the parishoners have the more choices priest have to chose from.”

“If Catholics don’t want to use contraception, that is fine. But the rest of us, who live in the real world, and have kids who live in the real world, don’t want this provision canceled from the health care bill because of some arcane and misguided belief that making contraception available is somehow wrong.”

[Note:  I’ll bet you thought you were living in the real world, didn’t you?]

“If the Archbishop do (sic) not like our laws in this country, he can take his church to another country.”

To all the right wing nut jobs who continue to follow the mindless ramblings of a holy roman empire cult that brought you the inquisitions, the crusades, the “irish laundries” the holy wars, the pedophile scandals, and now the tax free status of a MAJOR “PAC”. when are we gonna wake up and realize that we were founded on a “no religion is better than the other,”

“The only reason the church denounces birth control is because they want more asses in the seats on sunday morning, period.”

“Mr. Bishop,  Get a clue.”

“Hey Catholics, don’t like birth control then don’t use it. How is it your ‘religious freedom’ to impose your freedom-stealing views on others?”

“I’m burning. I’m burning. Hell is horrible. I never should have prevented that unwanted pregnancy.”

“Heres an idea, why dont you get off your knees (not from praying, but from servicing bishop carson) and wake up the the bullspit they are shoveling. All they care about is populating their pews and if they cant do that, they shut em down.”

“Catholic “leadership” opposes equal rights for all of thier (sic) employees. Meanwhile child molestation and sexual abuse continues to be denied, ignored and swept under the carpet. Typical of the catholic church to go crazy over the unborn but ignoring the needs of the children entrusted to their clergy. The catholic church has lost the higher moral ground and now they are as corrupt as any politcal party with a politcal agenda that does not include how Jesus Christ would treat others. The non-profit status of the catholic church should be revoked now that they are actively pursuing actions in politics and preaching their case from the pulpit. No more special treatment for the liars with the white collar.”

Excuse me for going off on a rant, but enough is enough!  If we, as Catholics, don’t respond to our Bishop’s request for action then we deserve whatever happens.  What you and I need to do is ( 1) pray.  Pray hard and often.  Pray that our employees in Washington DC will wake up to what they’re doing to our country.  (2) Find out exactly what the government is proposing and let your congress person and senator know how you feel.  Check out the US Bishops’ web site.  They have a convenient link to connect you with Washington.  It takes just a few seconds.

These people like their jobs (who wouldn’t) and they want to keep them.  If enough of us let them know we oppose this violation of our religious freedom, they will react.