29 February 2012

Schizophrenic Posting

As the March 1 Google privacy deadline approaches, I remain unsure whether to transfer the site to wordpress or not.  If you see that this site is not being updated regularly, go to the wordpress site, linked here.  The full web address is http://stlouiscatholic.wordpress.com.


Another Thing

The picture on the previous blog post (and I put it above as well) about the firing of the music teacher who publicly announced his fake marriage is from a manuscript of Dante's Inferno.  It depicts a scene in Canto XV where Dante and Virgil encounter Brunetto Latini, a former teacher of Dante's who is consigned to eternal torment in hell for the grave sin of sodomy.


This Canto is a very poignant one, and presents Brunetto Latini's many favorable characteristics and his positive influence on Dante.  He is noble, he is wise, he is a sympathetic character. Dante addresses these words to him:


Within my memory is fixed-and now moves me-your dear, your kind paternal image when, in the world above, from time to time 

you taught me how man makes himself eternal; and while I live, my gratitude for that must always be apparent in my words. 

And yet, at no point does either Dante or Latini rail against God for the sentence under which the teacher suffers.  Nor does either defend sodomy as a lifestyle.  In fact, part of the sympathy Latini's character engenders comes from his acceptance of his sentence, which his behavior shows is justly imposed.

My point is that the behavior of sodomy, which scripture includes as one of the sins that "cry out to Heaven for vengeance," is condemned because it contravenes the natural law and leads souls to hell.  Any particular person who is tempted to this sin may have many outstanding qualities.  In fact, his struggle against the force of this temptation may be truly heroic, especially since nearly everyone in society today would tell them that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the act.  The duty of a Christian is to help them, not to encourage them to continue down a path that leads to temporal and eternal ruin.  Charity must inform our actions towards these persons; but charity must be supported by the truth.

Archdiocesan School Fires Teacher Who Purported to Marry Same-Sex "Partner"

It is always difficult to write about matters relating to same-sex attraction and the Catholic Church.  Not because there is any doubt about the moral law or the rectitude of Catholic teaching, but because of two things:  1) the moral depravity of our culture encourages immoral behavior to such an extent that it becomes a mere "lifestyle choice"; and, 2) neither those persons who suffer from such attraction nor most Catholics in general have been formed well enough by the very same Church that should have been more zealous for souls than it has been for the last fifty years.  These two factors create a situation where the teaching of the Church-- and the natural law itself-- appears arbitrary and subjects the Church to gleeful attack from her enemies when she does act to uphold the moral law.

Yet, it must be said that the Archdiocese did the right thing in firing the "openly gay" music teacher at St. Ann School in north St. Louis County who publicly announced his fake marriage to another man, whom he describes as his long-term "partner". And expect the Archdiocese to be pilloried in the press.  The linked story is from STLToday, and I won't repost it here, but there are a few comments I'd like to add:


1.  The teacher is described as "popular".  Of course, because we know the Church is "unpopular".  The truth is always opposed by the world.


2.  The fired teacher wrote his own letter to parents to tell them why he was fired.  In this letter, he strongly suggests that this only occurred because someone from the Archdiocese overheard a conversation about the faux wedding, and that the pastor and principal of St. Ann were supportive of the two men:


In his letter to parents, Fischer wrote: "I think the word has been well spread that this is not the fault of St. Ann School or its leadership, and I want to emphasize that I get that, too." It added that the school's principal and the parish priest "are still there for me in a big way."

The letter encouraged parents to talk to their children. "A family conversation about whether or not justice was served here could be a great thing," it read. "I do not want the lesson from this for the kids to be, 'Keep your mouth shut, hide who you are or what you think if it will get you in trouble.'"

Now, support of the school is his allegation, and we cannot assume it is true.  If it were true, I wish I could say I was surprised.  But far from putting the school in a good light, it is a reminder that the Archdiocese should take a far greater interest in what goes on in their schools.  A school pastor or principal should be disciplined if they knowingly employ a person who publicly defies Catholic teaching at a Catholic school.  Again, we don't know if they did, but there is very troubling indicia of it, including this gem:


Among his roles as an area musician, he is artistic director of the Gateway Men's Chorus, which, according to the group's website, "affirms and promotes gay culture and acceptance through excellence in musical performance and education." A biography of Fischer on the group's website includes a reference to his partner of 20 years.


3.  It is a mistake to think that the public espousal of sodomy by a music teacher at a Catholic school is irrelevant to his qualifications to teach there.  As you can see by his letter, he attempts (and almost certainly has attempted throughout) to persuade Catholic students that their Church is wrong in defending marriage.  Does the Archdiocese want to pay someone to do that?  This action shows they don't, and they deserve credit.

4.  The Church around the world, including in this country, has presided over the general emasculation of the faith-- I mean this in every sense of the term.  Our defense of doctrine is anemic; our priests have lost physical and mental vigor; our liturgy is emasculated; heresy is not only not rooted out but is even countenanced.  Items like this no longer surprise, and what does surprise is that the only surprise is when the Church takes a stand at last-- like on the contraception mandate.  We continue to reap the whirlwind.

5.  The persecution is upon us.  The time has come to defend the faith without regard to the cost.  The Archbishop and those at the Archdiocese deserve credit for this decision, but they should also use the occasion to conduct a systematic and immediate review of the staff of every school. 

It's That Day That Happens Once Every Four Years

I'm going to clean up my desk.

Well, and also leap day.  Furthermore, today is Ember Wednesday in Lent: 

Deliver me from my necessities, O Lord: see my abjection and my labor; and forgive me all my sins.  To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul; in Thee, O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed; neither let mine enemies laugh at me.  For none of them that wait on Thee shall be confounded: let all them be confounded that do vain things.

--Tract from today's Mass

Pray for our priests.

28 February 2012

Blessed Are They Who Hunger and Thirst for Justice

Part of the ongoing series of sermons on the Beatitudes, Canon Michael Wiener of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest delivered this excellent presentation on the First Sunday of Lent:


Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.

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Why are those who hunger and thirst for justice called blessed?
 
When we hear about this beatitude our thoughts might be directed toward a predominantly secular notion of justice: “Social justice”, “justice for the poor”, “global justice”, “environmental justice” or “restorative justice” – all aspects of justice, which may come to mind.  “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought”, wrote John Rawls in 1971 (“A Theory of Justice”).

What kind of justice should we long for to be called blessed?

“Justice consists in rendering to God what is due to Him, and then for the love of God, giving also to the creature what is due to it.” (Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.).

Justice in the broad sense of the word means the perfect fulfillment of the law. Law in this context means the law that governs the entire life of man. Just, according to this understanding, is he who is and lives according to the law that was promulgated either by God as the highest legislator implicitly in nature or explicitly (Moses) or by man in accordance with the law of God (law of states).

Justice, understood in this broad sense, is equal to holiness.

We say that Adam and Eve were just, because they reflected perfectly God’s idea of man in their physical and moral integrity. It was only after the fall of Adam and Eve through their disobedience to the will of God that man had to be governed by positive laws.

In the Old Testament justice meant the complete fulfillment especially of the law given by God through Moses. But perfect fulfillment of the law was impossible due to the fallen and weakened nature of man.

Perfect justice became visible in this world through the coming of Christ who fulfilled the law of God and the need for atonement completely. This perfect justice, re-established on the Cross by Christ, is communicated to us through Sanctifying Grace.

Through grace we are made just: “Love therefore is the fulfilling of the law”, says the Apostle (Rom. 13, 10).

Justice respects order! The author of all order is God and without respecting Him as source and center of all order, no man may be called just.

Pope Leo the Great teaches: “This hunger [for justice] is not for bodily food, this thirst is not for any earthly drink: it is a longing to be blessed with justice, and, by penetrating the secret of all mysteries, to be filled with the Lord himself. Happy is the soul that longs for the food of justice and thirsts for this kind of drink; it would not seek such things if it had not already savored their delight.”

“The appetite comes with eating” – The more intimately we are united to Our Lord, the more we are having in common with Him, the true God made man, the more we long for an ever growing holiness. Love for justice is born in the love for our own sanctification. No true justice can be exercised or possessed without longing for one’s personal holiness.

“Bear in mind”, continues Leo the Great, “the kind of school in which you are to learn your skills, the rewards to which you are called. Mercy itself wishes you to be merciful, justice itself wishes you to be just, so that the Creator may shine forth in his creature, and the image of God be reflected in the mirror of the human heart as it imitates his qualities.”

Justice is not self-righteousness, we don’t make ourselves just, but we receive justice by receiving God’s grace and cooperating with it. “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He that believeth in Me, as the Scripture says: Out of His belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

The just man’s thirst for justice won’t be completely satisfied here on earth, but in the beatific vision in heaven.  However, such a man will long for God’s grace not only for himself, but also in others. True justice which desires to give God what is His, wants also to exercise true justice towards his neighbor.

The just, if he is blessed, wishes to see the rivers of living water extend themselves also on the whole of creation. For this goal the just man works, prays and suffers. But such a man doesn’t separate any form of justice from God’s will and order. There is no such thing as social justice without respecting God’s will, there is no justice for man if man is opposed to God. 

He who wishes to establish perfect justice in this world without beginning to long for his own sanctification and without placing all hope and all desire in God as the source of all justice, is not blessed but self-righteous.

Blessed are therefore those who, as a result and fruit of their serious spiritual efforts and struggles, are moved – for example – to pray and work for the rights of the unborn, the sick, the dying.

Blessed are those who desire justice in this world which is based on an ever renewed understanding of the rights of God!

Blessed are also those who see the unjustly treated as individuals with a dignity as creatures of God, rather than seeing them as nothing more than pawns in political discussions about “social justice.”

The beatitudes are the most heroic and perfect gifts of the Holy Ghost in man. These beatitudes describe true happiness in this life and in the next. Those who long for justice will give themselves to works of justice. According to the teaching of St. Augustine and St. Thomas (ST II, II 139, 2) this longing for justice will be accompanied by the gift of fortitude – to help us overcome obstacles in the works of justice.

What do we need more in this life than God’s gift of fortitude to persevere in works of justice and to enjoy a foretaste of heaven in receiving this blessing of Our Lord?

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.

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Credo Day of Recollection

If you are seeking to supplement your Lenten plan, here is a good opportunity for a day of recollection sponsored by Credo. 

Mark your calendars for the 2012 Credo Day of Recollection: March 3rd, 2012. We return this year to the Chapel of St.  Anselm at the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine in Creve Coeur, located on the grounds of The Priory at 530 Mason Rd. 


The Rev. Brian Harrison O.S. and Msgr. Arthur Calkins will be giving the conferences. Fr. Harrison is Credo’s Spiritual Adviser, and Msg. Calkins is a renowned Mariologist and for many years before his retirement had been an official of the commission Ecclesia Dei.

24 February 2012

Meatless Friday Friday: Mexican Food Edition

Well and truly off topic and hopelessly local, but I couldn't help but note the passing of the last remnants of the former local-legend Mexican restaurant line Casa Gallardo.  Ol' Ramon Gallardo cashed in the franchise long ago, but several restaurants continued to operate the brand. 

Until now.

As a yoot on the mean streets of Jefferson County (yes, it explains a lot), heading north into the oh-so-high-class South St. Louis County for a meal at Casa Gallardo was like hitting Tony's.  

I once broke up with a girl who ordered a hamburger instead of Tex-Mex.  True story. 

¡Adios, Casa Gallardo!


Death

"O Jesus, agonizing on the Cross, be my model at the hour of death.  Although You are the Creator and Restorer of life, You willed to undergo death and accepted it willingly in order to expiate my sins.  Death had no claim on You; You are the fountain of life and immortality, in whom and by whom all creatures have life; yet You willed to subject Yourself to death in order to resemble me and to sanctify my death.


"O death, who will henceforth fear you, since the Author of life bears you in His bosom, and without doubt, everything in Him is life-giving.  I embrace you, I clasp you in my divine Savior's heart; there, like a chick under the wing of the mother hen, I shall peacefully await your coming, secure in the knowledge that my most merciful Jesus will sweeten your bitterness and defend me against your rigors.


"O Jesus, from this moment I wish to employ all my powers in accepting all the circumstances and pains of my death; from this moment I desire to accept death in the place, hour, and manner in which it may please You to send it.  I know very well that I must suffer and be ground by the teeth of tribulations, sorrows, privations, desolations, and sufferings in order to become bread worthy to serve at Your celestial banquet, O Christ, on the day of the general resurrection.  I well know that if the grain of wheat does not fall into the ground and die, it brings forth no fruit; therefore, with all my heart, I accept the annihilation of death in order to become a new man, no longer mortal and corruptible, but immortal and glorious."


--St. Francis de Sales

23 February 2012

Giving It Up


This link takes you to the above video at STLToday that features students at St. Gabriel the Archangel school relating what they are doing for Lent. 


:-)


The children are charming, as children are.  And apparently not much has changed on the getting-along-with-our-siblings front.  Cute video.


Aaaaaagh!

If this photo from the Post-Dispatch doesn't get you thinking about Judgement Day, then you need to up your Lenten sacrifice.


Thankfully, these aren't Catholic priests (not even the lady).

I Have a Crazy Friend Who Says It's Wrong to Eat Meat. Is He Crazy?


This post is in honor of my eldest daughter, who was asked during a scholarship interview if she thought it important to know from where her food comes.


The above clip is from The Simpsons, and Troy McClure sets Jimmy straight.  For more, check out this post on all-time Simpsons greats at Grantland.

Test Design 4

I figure fatigue is setting in, but here is the second-to-last theme I'm considering at Wordpress:  Retro-fitted.

22 February 2012

Missouri Attorney General to Continue to Repay His Pro-Abortion/Pro-Cloning Backers

Remember Chris "All Prosecutor, No Politics" Koster, the Missouri Attorney General who abandoned the GOP for the Democrat Party before he ran for statewide office?  Remember how he had to make the "tough decision" that his election was too important than to let thousands of unborn babies stand in the way?

Yeah, that guy.  Well, he continues to pay dividends for his donors.

In a shocker (not), No Politics has announced that he will be appealing the ruling of the Cole County Circuit Court that the Missouri Science Innovation and Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA) violates the State constitution.  Although the STLToday story doesn't mention it, pro-lifers had hailed the Judge's decision because MOSIRA would have gone to fund so-called embryonic stem cell research at taxpayer expense, as foisted on Missourians by the deceptive and successful Amendment 2 campaign.  If you lived outside of the state or under a rock within it, that was the constitutional amendment that required the taxpayers of Missouri to fund the cloning and killing of little babies for the enrichment of junk scientists in the name of science.  It deceived the voters into voting to enshrine cloning-and-killing into the constitution by stating it was banning cloning, and then defining cloning as "not cloning".

If only "pro-life" politicians were so loyal once elected...


Test Design 3

Look familiar?  It is the closest to current blogger site.  Design: Andrea

Words from the Past

Isn’t it true that every honest [citizen] is ashamed of his government these days? Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes—crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure—reach the light of day?

--from the first pamphlet of the White Rose, 1942

Test Design 2

at Wordpress: Rusty Grunge


Sounds just like me...

Ash Wednesday

Today is the beginning of Quadragesima, the Great Fast.  The above photo-shopped pic of George Washington is provided by dulac90 for the sole purpose of entertaining St. Guy Fawkes.


Emendemus in melius, quae ignoranter peccavimus: ne subito praeoccupati die mortis, quaeramus spatium poenitentiae, et invenire non possimus.

21 February 2012

Blessed Are They Who Mourn

This is the third in the ongoing series of sermons on the Beatitudes.  This one was delivered on Quinquagesima Sunday by Canon William Avis of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest: 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 

Introduction—Vanities of the World This Beatitude is a contradiction to the World 

Frivolity, licentiousness, Mardi Gras! “Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes: vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.” [Eccles. 1:2] “I said in my heart: I will go, and abound with delights, and enjoy good things. And I saw that this also was vanity.  Laughter I counted error: and to mirth I said: Why are you vainly deceived?” [Eccles. 2:1-2]  What shall we say, dear faithful, about this contradiction between the worldly and the just, between the disciples of mammon and the followers of Christ?  The world clamors after pleasure, exhilaration and the latest thrill.  The moment someone is unhappy, it gives him a pill. “How can sadness be good?” sneers the world as it adds, “Blessed are certainly not those who mourn! And all who shall rejoice must come to me.” But Christ, the True Light dispelling the darkness of this world, declares to us, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” [Matthew 5:5] and “Woe to you that now laugh: for you shall mourn and weep.” [Luke 6:25] 

1. Of what sadness is this mourning 

“What kind of mourning is here recommended in this beatitude,” asks the reverend Bishop Challoner, “Not worldly sadness of which it is written, Eccles. xxx. 25, 'Sadness hath killed many, and there is no profit in it;' and 2 Cor vii. 10, 'The sorrow of this world worketh death.' Not a sullen melancholy, or any such mourning as is turbulent, or accompanied with the impatient wishes for death, or anxious solicitudes or despondency; but a more calm and peaceful mourning, viz., of compunction for our sins, daily bewailing them in the sight of God, and doing penance for them.” [Meditations]  It often happens that those who leave the world and its sordid pleasures experience some sadness at their apparent loss.  Saint Augustine explains this thus, “Mourning is sorrow arising from the loss of things held dear; but those who are converted to God lose those things which they were accustomed to embrace as dear in this world: for they do not rejoice in those things in which they formerly rejoiced; and until the love of eternal things be in them, they are wounded by some measure of grief.”

“[Christ] designated not simply all that mourn, but all that do so for sins,” expounds Saint John Chrysostom, “Since surely that other kind of mourning is forbidden, and that earnestly, which relates to anything of this life. This Paul also clearly declared, when he said, ‘The sorrow of the world works death, but godly sorrow works repentance unto salvation,’…These then He Himself too calls blessed, whose sorrow is of that kind; yet not simply them that sorrow did He designate, but them that sorrow intensely. Therefore He did not say, they that sorrow, but they that mourn...[And] He bids us mourn, not only for our own, but also for other men's misdoings. And of this temper were the souls of the saints: such was that of Moses, of Paul, of David.”  [Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew] 

2. Penance-How we live this Beatitude 
Helas! What sadness should strike our hearts when we consider the immensity of our own iniquity?  How many tears should pour forth from our eyes at seeing our God, the Supreme Goodness, offended by so many sins? How are we to mourn, so that we may be consoled by God’s gracious mercy?  “Now it belongs to right reason than one should grieve for a proper object of grief as one ought to grieve, and for an end for which one ought to grieve [III q. 85 a 1],” Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches. “Penance is a special virtue not merely because it sorrows for evil done…, but also because the penitent grieves for the sin he has committed, inasmuch as it is an offense against God, and purposes to amend. Now amendment for an offense committed against anyone is not made by merely ceasing to offend, but it is necessary to make some kind of compensation [III q. 85 a 3].” 

We who desire to be comforted by God’s mercy must mourn through acts of penance, to offer Him good works in compensation for the evil that we have committed.  In a few days hence, we will hear from God “Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning [Joel 2:12],” and the great fast of Lent will begin.  It is a time for us to turn back to the Lord lamenting by penitential acts in expiation for sin.  Already today we have an opportunity with the 40 hours devotion which will begin after (the 10 a.m.) Mass to offer reparation to Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament. 

3. Spiritual joy and consolation 

Now if we do mourn and lament over our sins, we shall be comforted. Saint John Chrysostom states: “Wherefore, if you will be comforted, mourn… For when God does comfort, though sorrows come upon you by the thousands like snow-flakes, you will be above them all. Since in truth, as the returns which God gives are always far greater than our labors; so He has wrought in this case, declaring them that mourn to be blessed, not after the value of what they do, but after His own love towards man. For they that mourn, mourn for misdoings, and to such it is enough to enjoy forgiveness, and obtain wherewith to answer for themselves. But forasmuch as He is full of love towards man, He does not limit His recompense either to the removal of our punishments, or to the deliverance from our sins, but He makes them even blessed, and imparts to them abundant consolation.” [Sermons on Saint Matthew]  Truly blessed will we be to receive from Christ comforts which will have no end, and woe to those who seek from the world their ease which one day will perish and be no more. 

Conclusion—towards the world or towards heaven 

My dear faithful, the choice is laid before us either to mourn now in works of penance so that we might rejoice forever, “they that sow in tears shall reap in joy [Ps. 125:5], or to gloat in the hedonisms of this world making that we lament in eternity.  Which will you choose?  Consider this world’s fleeting pleasures that soon will but ash and naught, and would you forfeit the eternal gifts of God for such things as these? Amen.

Shrove Tuesday, and Request for Reader Feedback

Hello all, and best wishes for a profitable Lent.  Remember that the Forty Hours at St. Francis de Sales Oratory concludes tonight with Mass and procession beginning at 6:30pm.  A good way to focus and dedicate our Lenten efforts.


I also want to ask a favor from you.  Due to Google's upcoming new "privacy" policy, set to take effect in March, I am contemplating porting the blog site over to Wordpress.  I haven't finally decided to take the plunge, but if I do I would like to get some feedback on some different themes.  I will put a few up over the next couple of weeks.  Comment in the combox only if you really like, or really dislike, the proposed theme.  I assume that for most of you it wouldn't really matter because you are just. so. content. oriented.


Thanks!


First theme:  Chateau.

20 February 2012

Meatless Friday Monday: Advertisement Edition

I read this story in the UK Daily Mail, and would have let it pass as another mildly entertaining story on nostalgic ads from the past, except for the one above, which hits a little close to home.

George Washington Might Disagree with the Current Administration's Effort to Persecute Catholics

As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope – He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of commons sense, so not so see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are soliciting, and have really obtain’d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause.. The defence of the general Liberty of America. At such a juncture, and in such Circumstance, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.

-- from an order issued November 5, 1775, banning the "celebration" of Guy Fawkes' Day (h/t to Fr. Rutler)


(Click here for a discussion of Washington's possible deathbed conversion to the Catholic faith)

Notes from the Bowl, Vol. II: Junk Science

In this second installment of reflections on the flushing of civilization, we read of  really nifty developments in the world of junk science:


Test tube burgers could hit kitchens this year after scientists create meat with taste of quarter-pounder 

They used to just raise cattle, then slaughter them, then sell the meat.  This sounds so much better.  Current price is about $350,000/lb.  I guess that government funding is in order for that bargain price.


Animal rights activists like the idea, as it is--to them-- an "ethical" way of producing meat.  They show little concern for the slaughter of human children, but cows, hey, that's cruel!

Sex-changing treatment for kids: It's on the rise 

 Aren't there laws against child abuse? 

 Five-year-old boy lives as girl in youngest case of Gender Identity Disorder

See, he "chose" to be a boy, so the parents "had to" give in.  And the British government supports the decision.  My young girls say they are princesses.  Can we get our kingdoms, castles and courtiers now, please?

A Lenten Plan Anyone Can Get Behind

At this point, I hope that you have your Lenten plan ready to roll.  If not, why not consider this whimsical plan devised by John Zmirak some years ago.  This is taken from the archives of the now defunct "Godspy" site, but perhaps Dr. Zmirak will forgive the liberty if I provide this link to Crisis Magazine, for which he now writes.


Did your Lenten penances get lost in the desert? On April 1st, here are one bad Catholic’s ideas for making Holy Week suitably grim.


10. Schadenfreude: That warm, grim feeling of satisfaction you get from watching planes crash, stocks plummet and presidential candidates debate. Best to dampen this enthusiasm in preparation for a Holy Easter.

9. Foxhunting: Bloodsports are generally discouraged in the 40 days before Our Lord shed His.
8. Discussing the “spiritual problems” of a friend with everyone you know, “so they’ll remember to pray for him.”
7. Writing single-spaced letters of complaint to: a) The local bishop, b) The Vatican, or c) The Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights.
6. Forwarding emails of the following types:
  • Jokes that make people groan audibly at their workstations—especially any and all puns
  • Chain letters disguised as lucrative “marketing tests” from Microsoft or St. Jude Novenas
  • News of epidemic diseases that are being “covered up by the Feds”
  • Recent, unapproved Marian apparitions that warn of “U.N. one-world government”
  • Memoirs of alien abductions (especially if true)
  • Last requests from terminally-ill kids that entail forwarding an email to all your friends. (Remember, the dying children can wait until the Resurrection!)
  • Nigerian-based financial scams.
5. Hand-rolled cigars or French cigarettes (smoking the cheap ones is a penance).
4. Visiting churches with appalling liturgies, just to count the abuses (see Schadenfreude, above).
3. Lingerie shopping and gun shows.
2. Lurid daydreams—romantic or violent—about your boss.
1. Conspiracy Theories (except those involving the Masons—these are always acceptable for Catholics).

17 February 2012

"Leviathan cannot brook a single opponent."

This line is taken from an excellent, insightful and foresighted article in Crisis Magazine.  Excerpts from the full article below:
  
Leviathan Groaning
by Anthony Esolen

On June 25, 2009, a seven year old boy was abducted at gunpoint from his terrified parents. They had just boarded a plane to fly to the country where the boy’s mother had been born, and where her kin still lived. They were leaving their own country for good, because they had grown weary of the harassment they suffered there from a syndicate of well-placed thugs. They themselves had broken no law.
 
The boy’s name is Domenic Johansson. He is now going on ten years old, and he has seen his mother and father only very briefly since. The thugs, officials of the Swedish government, have allowed the parents very little opportunity to visit. Domenic’s mother has suffered a nervous breakdown, and is now quite incapacitated. The foster-woman into whose care Domenic was given has informed the boy that she will never let him return to his mother and father, no matter what any court might say. Domenic, once a cheerful little boy, looks haggard, crushed, dull, as if the heart had been ripped out of him.

What was the crime committed by Christer Johansson and his wife? They did not run drugs. They did not steal. They did not cheat the government of its yearly right to a third of their corn, milk, potatoes, and apples – or whatever it is that the Lords and Ladies of Stockholm now exact from their tenant citizens. Or what was the moral sewer wherein they were raising their little boy? It could not have been a sewer of fornication; the Johanssons are married, and the Swedes have turned fornication into their national pastime. It could not have been the dry gulch of nihilism; Christer Johansson did not work for Swedish television. The crime was simply that the Johanssons, a devout Christian couple, had pulled Domenic out of the state school and were educating him at home. It was, we should note well, perfectly within their rights by the Swedish law then in force to do this. It was also within their rights as specified by the European Union.

[...]

What makes for such cruelty? I cannot imagine the black heart of a man (or, alas, a woman) who struts before a simple little family, and steals their child away. That person, we would say, should be hauled before a court of law and then be banished from civil society. He – she – should be granted plenty of spare time to think again about the cruelty, while staring at the blank walls of a prison cell. How much worse it is, however, when the abduction involves an entire social organism: the long arm of a dull-witted and compliant police force, the convoluted brains of a corrupt judiciary, and the seething metaphysical hatred burning in the heart of politicians, who cannot abide a single little reproach, not even in the form of a happy little boy, against their claims to know what is best for everyone. So far from repenting in sackcloth and ashes, the Swedish thugs have compounded their sin by breaking their own laws, denying the Johanssons their right to choose their own legal counsel. The Swedish education domina has even written, openly, brazenly, that all homeschooled children should be abducted.

[...]
There was a time when certain things were considered holy. The family was holy: it was a realm of order and authority and love, not to be burst into by marauding benefactors. “A man’s home is his castle,” went the saying, meaning that the home, for father and mother and children, is as an independent dukedom, with its own traditions, its laws, its bonds of loyalty, its wisdom, and its hard-won wealth. So long as no crimes against God and man were committed, that castle was to be honored; for upon such families the whole social order was founded. One would no sooner set spies in the home to rat on mother and father, as the Soviets did, than one would burn down a church. It is not simply that one would refrain from abducting a child, as the Swedish government has done. One would not wish even to associate with someone who could conceive of so vile a thing.

Conscience was holy, too; as were the churches wherein the consciences were formed. I cannot imagine George Washington intruding upon a Quaker meeting to conscript men. He would have considered it a blot on his sacred honor to do so despicable a thing. I cannot imagine even that progressive Puritan, Woodrow Wilson, prying open the gate of a Catholic school to compel the nuns to conduct courses in state-approved licentiousness.

But the Leviathan has no such scruples. Consider the case of the current administration, wishing to compel Christian employers to provide insurance policies for free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. Even before we consider the sheer harm these things have done to the common good, what decent person would want to bring the churches to heel? 

What kind of soul must one have, to wish to cow every religious institution into submission, so that one may gain one’s will? The same kind of soul that is required, I believe, to order policemen to board a plane and remove a little boy, screaming and wailing, from his mother and father he loved, all because they dared to oppose the lovingkindness of the State.

Let us be clear here. The American Leviathan loathes everything that is not Itself. It does not want self-reliant people who can take care of themselves and their neighbors. It does not want people teaching their children in their own way. It does not want free associations, like the Boy Scouts, who actually do things like clean a park or build a bicycle path, things that benefit everyone, and for little or no cost to their towns and cities. It does not want private schools with their own curricula. It does not want private universities with their own ideas about what sports to sponsor, or what people they should hire. It will allow the shells of these things, so long as the “free” truckle to its will, and the “private” strip naked to its searching glare. Its pact with the little people is simple enough.
The Leviathan will promote a false freedom, mere license, which helps to destroy every other social institution in existence, from the family to the neighborhood to the local school to the church. Then the Leviathan, having built a sufficient number of prisons, will come a-knocking on every door to help.

This is really the central meaning of the debate concerning whether the Catholic Church should provide for Fornication Protection Kits – for that is what we are talking about, though no one wishes to say so openly. The diktats from Levi come cloaked in the language of medicine, just as the diktats from Lotta and Lars come cloaked in the language of children’s welfare. But just as no one without a diseased mind can really explain why it is a benefit to children to be yanked out of their innocent mother’s lap and sent to live with strangers, just because mother and father wanted to teach them to read and write, so no one without a diseased mind can explain why it is a benefit to women’s health, or anybody’s health, to underwrite the sexual revolution.

The abortifacients and contraceptives heal no disease. They do not restore proper function to any organ or limb. They do not soothe chronic pain. They do not shield the taker from casual infection. If a couple were infertile, that would be a medical problem. It would require a remedy. That is why we call it “medicine.” But the problem with the fornicators is not that their reproductive organs are not working. They are working just fine. When people engage in a reproductive act, using their reproductive organs in a natural way, then reproduction is the healthy and natural and perfectly predictable result.

More than that: the sexual revolution itself is the cause of tremendous human misery. The problem with Pope Paul’s Humanae Vitae was not that the Holy Father was wrong in his predictions. He said that the sexual revolution – that is, the regime of Pill-popping – would result in more, not fewer, unwanted pregnancies and children born out of wedlock. The cognoscenti laughed at him, but he was right. He said that it would result in more, not fewer, abortions. The illuminati laughed at him, but he was right. He said that it would result in more divorces, and a debased view of women as mere objects of sexual gratification. The women’s liberationists laughed at him, and then proved him right themselves by turning men into those same objects. No, the Pope erred in not being pessimistic enough. Even he did not foresee that the reign of sexual license would destroy human communities and human culture. Even he did not foresee that the people of a once great nation would, as placid as pigs in a sty, give over their most precious civil liberties just to ensure a good roll in the mud.

Leviathan cannot brook a single opponent. The Johanssons learned this lesson, to their excruciating sorrow. We Catholics are learning it now.

Abp. Dolan to become Cardinal Tomorrow

P-D photo
The Post covers this story from the local angle.


Though the two things are unrelated, I think it is very good timing that the USCCB's public spokesman in the effort against the contraception mandate is receiving the highest honor the Pope can bestow a cleric on this earth.

Review Covers More Help Coming from Non-Catholics

Again, on the contraception mandate:

Religious leaders of other faiths speaking out against health care mandate

by Jennifer Brinker

Leaders from Christian and other religious groups around the country have been stepping up to speak out against the federal health care mandate, which will require all health insurance plans to include free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-producing drugs.

Whether or not they hold the same view on contraceptives as the Catholic Church, all seem to view the mandate as a violation of religious freedom.
John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, which includes about 400,000 regularly worshipping members, this week called the mandate "a frontal attack on our religious liberty," in an article in the Pathway, the MBC's newspaper.

Yeats will be teaming up with Archbishop Robert J. Carlson and others next month for a Rally for Religious Liberty at the Missouri State Capitol.

"Pope Benedict XVI has called on people of many faiths -- despite our differences -- to put to work the unity that exists among us for the sake of the common good," said Lawrence Welch, director of the archdiocesan Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. "The Rally for Religious Liberty will be a remarkable show of unity by people of different faiths who will be standing up for the common good of religious liberty.

Yeats noted that Missouri Baptist universities will be forced to deal with a ruling that "seeks to secularize the institutions of faith we have built for purposes of faith."

According to the Pathway, the president of Southwest Baptist University, C. Pat Taylor, said he plans to speak with trustees later this month about the possibility of joining a federal lawsuit, filed in December by Colorado Christian University and Belmont Abbey College, which challenges the mandate. Also considering that option is Hannibal LaGrange University, another Southern Baptist institution.

Missouri Baptist Children's Home, located in Bridgeton and which provides residential child care and foster and adoptive services, among others, also is considering how it would be affected by the mandate.

The president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, is calling on members of the second-largest Lutheran church body in North America to support efforts to preserve religious freedom. The synod has 2.2 million baptized members and is headquartered in Kirkwood.

[see my previous post here]

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America also issued a statement last week, saying that it is joining with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in speaking out against the mandate and calls on HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the White House administration to rescind the ruling. The assembly includes the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for 'contraceptive services,' including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions," according to the statement. "Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care."

Last December, more than 60 religious leaders, including Protestant and orthodox Jewish leaders, penned a letter to President Barack Obama, stressing that "religious organizations and leaders of other faiths are also deeply troubled by and opposed to the mandate and the narrow (religious) exemption."

"It is emphatically not only Catholics who deeply object to the requirement that health plans they purchase must provide coverage of contraceptives that include some that are abortifacients," the letter said. "It is not only Catholics who object to the narrow exemption that protects only seminaries and a few churches, but not churches with a social outreach and other faith-based organizations that serve the poor and needy broadly providing help that goes beyond worship and prayer.

"We believe that the federal government is obligated by the First Amendment to accommodate the religious convictions of faith-based organizations of all kinds, Catholic and non-Catholic."

Blessed Cardinal Newman on the Church's Resistance of the Contraception Mandate

At least it could be (thanks to the reader who sent this one along):


The Church … regards this world, and all that is in it, as a mere shadow, as dust and ashes, compared with the value of one single soul. … she holds that it were better for sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions who are upon it to die of starvation in extremest agony, so far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, though it harmed no one, or steal one poor farthing without excuse. She considers the action of this world and the action of the soul simply incommensurate, viewed in their respective spheres; she would rather save the soul of one single wild bandit of Calabria, or whining beggar of Palermo, than draw a hundred lines of railroad through the length and breadth of Italy, or carry out a sanitary reform, in its fullest details, in every city of Sicily, except so far as these great national works tended to some spiritual good beyond them.

Blessed Are the Meek

Another great sermon on the Beatitudes. I will put links to these on the right side of the blog--like I did for the sermons on the Seven Deadly Sins from last year-- when the series is concluded.

The sermons are great to read, but are even more powerful to hear. If you can, I highly recommend getting to the Oratory for some of these, which will continue to run each Sunday until Passiontide.


This week's installment on the Beatitudes comes from Father Jean-Pierre Herman, of St. Francis de Sales Oratory:


Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land (Matthew 5.5)

Gandhi, although not a Christian, highly valued the beatitudes.  Nevertheless he valued them in a wrong way.  He considered them to be a charter of universal love and saw them as a genuinely inspired text from aspiritual author, without reference to Jesus Christ Himself.  He did not understand the real meaning of the beatitudes.  If we wanted to sum them up, we could use the title of one of the most famous books of spirituality: “The Imitation of Christ”.  Who is pure in heart? Who is the meek one? Who is the one who is persecuted for justice? It is Jesus Christ Himself.  The beatitudes are self-descriptions of Jesus, inviting those who want to follow him to imitate His perfections.

Meekness… who are the meek?

“Beati mites quoniam ipsi possidebunt terram,” says the second beatitude, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land.”

If we want to understand what Jesus says, we have to ask two questions: “What is meekness?” and “What does inherit the land mean?”

The word used in Latin is mites: “Beati mites.”  It has been translated in numerous manners by the different Bible translations.  In English, the word “meek” has usually been chosen, French translations speak of “les doux,” the sweet, whereas many others talk about “the humble” and in more progressive translations “the non-violent.”

In fact, mitis is a word difficult to translate adequately and we could say that it embraces all the meanings of those translations.  The meek are those who can be humble, sweet in character, docile to the will of God, and who will never use violence.

What about the second part of the statement: they will inherit the land? Meekness never was the best means of conquering the world.  Can the meek rule over this world on earth?  No! The land of which Christ speaks is not down-to-earth reality, it is not the land once promised to our forefathers on earth, but the land promised to all those who follow Christ: life eternal.  “My kingdom,”says Jesus, “is not from this world.”[1]
  
Jesus, the meek

Since the beatitudes are a self-portrait of Jesus, we can consider that Jesus is the meek, i.e. meekness incarnated.  Everything in his behavior is imbued with meekness: when he performs miracles, calls his disciples, preaches, heals the sick, welcomes people in distress and especially in his patience: "He will not wrangle or cry out, he will not break a bruised reed nor quench a smoldering wick,”[2] the prophet had foretold.

Nevertheless we must notice that Jesus’ meekness never means passivity or leaving room to the adversary.  Jesus’ meekness is also imbued with firmness, one of the best examples being when He kicks the merchants out of the temple.

But the climax of Jesus’ meekness is to be found in the sacrifice of the Cross.  The meekness of God manifested in Christ is revealed in the Cross.  The way by which Christ is going to win the victory over death is not violence, but submission.  "When he was reviled,” Peter says, “he did not revile in return, when he suffered, he did not threaten."[3]

Jesus is victorious over death by lowering Himself, as the letter to the Philippians states:

“He lowered himself unto death, even death of the Cross therefore God elevated him and give him the name above all names.”[4]

The way to the Promised Land, to eternal life, was re-opened by God’s meekness manifested in Christ.
 
Meek and humble of heart

"Learn from me,” Jesus says, “for I am meek and humble of heart."[5]

The best way to eternal life is the imitation of Christ.  Thus all things in our Christian behavior must reflect the meekness of Jesus. The martyr St. Ignatius of Antioch suggested to the Christians of his time, in relation to the outside world, this always relevant attitude: "Faced with their rage, be meek; faced with their arrogance, be humble."[6]

And our beloved patron Saint Francis de Sales recommended to his faithful:

"Be as sweet as you can and remember that more flies are captured by a drop of honey than with a barrel of vinegar."

Never in life and on earth will we acquire anything with violence, but by meekness and patience, which are the meekness and patience of Christ Himself.

We must be convinced that it is not only a matter of external behavior, but an attitude of the heart.  An act of charity does not mean anything if there is no love in the heart.  Allow me to quote the following text.  It is written by a monk and it is about monastic life, but everybody could draw guidelines for himself from what he says:

"Observe even for just one day, the course of your thoughts: You will be surprised by the frequency and the vivacity of the internal criticisms made with imaginary interlocutors. What is their typical origin? It is this: The unhappiness with superiors who do not care for us, do not esteem us, do not understand us; they are severe, unjust, or too stingy with us or with other 'oppressed persons.' We are unhappy with our brothers, who are 'without understanding, hard-bitten, curt, confused, or injurious.… Thus in our spirit a tribunal is created in which we are the prosecutor, judge, and jury; we defend and justify ourselves; the absent accused is condemned. Perhaps we make plans for our vindication or revenge."[7]

Most of us could easily replace the words superior and brother by boss, wife, husband, colleagues, or neighbors and apply them to his or her own life.

The beatitudes are a charter of the Kingdom, a self-portrait of Jesus.  Our Christian life is a time which is given to us, from baptism to the great encounter with our Savior, to prepare for our eternity.  The surest path to it is the imitation of Christ and meekness is an essential feature of it.

We should make ours that prayer which Saint Augustine offers in his Confessions:

"O God, you have commanded me to be meek; give to me that which you command and command me to do what you will."[8]

In the coming week, let us constantly repeat this short prayer, which is part of the patrimony of Catholic devotion:

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.  Amen



[1] John 18.36
[2] Mark 12:19-20
[3] 1 Peter 2:23
[4] Philippians 2.8
[5] Matthew 11.29
[6] St. Ignatius of Antioch, "Letter to the Ephesians," 10, 2-3.
[7]A monk, "Le porte del silenzio," Milan, Ancora, 1986, p. 17 (Originale: "Les porte du silence," Geneva, Libraire Claude Martigny).
[8]St. Augustine, "Commentary on the First Letter of John," 7, 8 (PL 35, 2023).

16 February 2012

It Doesn't Quite Make Up for the 95 Theses, but Thanks Just the Same

From STLToday comes a story about help from outside the Catholic Church on a matter that will affect everyone if not stopped:



Lutheran leader testifies in debate over contraception rule 

by Bill Lambrecht

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod today joined the pitched debate over the reach of the new health care law, calling a new Obama administration mandate "a requirement that violates our stand on the biblical teaching of the sanctity of life."


The Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of the St. Louis-based Missouri Synod, was among religious leaders testifying that the requirement that employees of religious-affiliated institutions have access to birth control coverage violates basic rights to religious freedom.


The mandate, Harrison told the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "will have the effect of forcing many religious organizations to choose between following the letter of the law or operating within the framework of their religious tenets."


Harrison earlier had criticized the compromise spelled out last week by President Barack Obama in which insurance companies, not religious institutions, would have the responsibility of providing contraception coverage and paying for it.


"It simply described a temporary enforcement delay and a possible future change, a change that, unfortunately, would not adequately protect religious freedom or unborn lives," he said in a release.

Missouri Senate Acts to Counter Contraception Mandate

Thanks to Jack Smith of the Catholic Key:


Missouri Moves to Repeal HHS Mandate

A Missouri Senate Committee has passed and sent to the full Senate a bill which would protect the conscience rights of Missouri citizens, employers and insurance companies from the effects of the Obama administration’s sterilization, abortifacient and contraceptive mandate.


SB 749 by Senator John Lamping (R-Clayton) has been fast tracked and could be up for consideration as early as Monday. The bill’s summary reads, in part:
This act provides that no employee or any other person, employer, health plan provider or sponsor, health care provider or any other entity shall be compelled to obtain coverage for or provide coverage for abortion, contraception, or sterilization in a health plan if such items or procedures are contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of such employee, health care plan, provider or sponsor, or any other entity or person. No such employee, health care plan, provider or sponsor, or any other entity or person shall be discriminated against by any governmental entity, public official, or entity acting in a governmental capacity for failing to obtain or provide such coverage because of such religious beliefs or moral convictions of such employee, health care plan, provider or sponsor, or any other entity or person.
The bill further directs the State Attorney General to bring action in state or federal court is any of its provisions are threatened or violated. Below is the Missouri Catholic Conference analysis of the bill and the HHS Mandate situation in general (Don’t miss the action item at the bottom):
The Missouri Senate is moving swiftly to respond to the Obama Administration's recent edict that employers, including the Catholic Church, provide health coverage for contraceptives, sterilization procedures and abortion drugs. SB 749, sponsored by Senator John Lamping (R-Clayton), won committee approval Tuesday and is fast-tracked and may be debated next week by the full Senate. (Click here to see the Fox 2 News video.)


SB 749 would place in state law a clear prohibition on government forcing employers, including the Catholic Church, to pay for contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion drugs. The bill would also ensure that individuals would not be forced to purchase health plans that include these items if they object to them on moral or religious grounds.



WHY STATE ACTION MUST BE A PRIORITY
Congress has so far failed to enact revisions to the federal health care law (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) that will protect rights of conscience and religious liberty. Leaders in the U.S. Senate in particular have stymied efforts to amend the law.
 It is becoming increasingly clear that change will only come when there is a groundswell of protest from citizens. And that is most effectively mobilized at the state level. State officials are closer to the people and more responsive to their concerns.


 The MCC has great hope that the Missouri General Assembly will pass SB 749. If Governor Nixon then signs the bill into law, this will send a powerful message to Congress that events are leaving them behind and they need to act.
 WHY OBAMA'S "ACCOMMODATION" FAILS TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
Last Friday President Obama announced a so-called "accommodation" on a rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that required all employers, including the Catholic Church, to pay for contraceptives, sterilization procedures and abortion drugs. This "accommodation" requires insurance companies offering health plans to religious organizations to separately provide free coverage to the employees for contraceptives, sterilization and abortion drugs. 
In fact, insurance companies are not going to offer this coverage for free. Someone is going to pay for it and that someone is the religious employer. The religious employer will pay a higher premium and thereby subsidize the use of these products that violate their religious and moral tenets. And religious employers that self-insure, that is, don't buy their health insurance on the open market, will have to pay for and provide contraceptives, sterilization and abortion drugs in the health plans they offer to their employees.


The "accommodation" also does not offer a private (non-Church) employer the option to refuse to pay for abortion drugs etc if they have moral or religious objections. Individuals (employees) will also be forced to pay through premiums for health plans that include abortion drugs etc, even if they don't use them or if they object for moral or religious reasons.


DEEPLY FLAWED PROCESS, DEEPLY FLAWED LAW
This deeply flawed "accommodation" has not been issued as a revised rule. That rule will not be issued until after the election. People are being asked to just trust that the President will take care of the problem, somehow, later. It's a sad day when our religious liberties depend upon some edict from the White House.


We got to this point because Congress, when they wrote the new health care law, failed to include provisions protecting rights of conscience and religious liberty. Instead, the law ceded broad authority to HHS to write rules and HHS proceeded to define the "preventive services" that employers must offer to include contraceptives, sterilization procedures and abortion drugs.


If we have learned anything in recent weeks, it is that we should not trust our religious liberties to federal regulators. Without clear guidance from the new federal health care law, regulators proceeded to write a rule that violates the moral and religious convictions of Americans.



IT'S ABOUT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
Opponents (and much of the media) are trying to characterize this issue as one about birth control. But people get it: this is about religious liberties. Click here to view a short video prepared by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
 WHAT YOU CAN DO
  1. Contact your state senator today.
  2. Forward this email alert to family, friends and others.
  3. Pray for wisdom and understanding by all our Missouri Senators.
  4. Report back to the MCC on what your senator is saying.

THE MESSAGE/TALKING POINTS
  • Please don't delay in protecting our religious freedoms; pass SB 749.
  • The President's so-called accommodation is flawed (cite reasons above).
  • Missouri should send a message to Congress today; don't delay in protecting our religious freedoms.
  • Government should not force churches or private employers to pay for abortion drugs or other things they morally object to.
  • Individuals should not be forced to pay for health plans that include abortion drugs.
  • It's about religious liberty; pass SB 749.