Language Barrier

In Order to Communicate Better, We Need a Point of Reference

I think many are asking today, "What is Pope Francis up to?" Take a look at this picture and try to figure out what it says. For some this will take a second and for others they may never figure it out. Ask yourself, if this sign hung over the door, would this be a place you would enter?


Like never before, the Church needs to be in dialogue with the world. It is in this particular area that Pope Francis has already offered some great insights. As with every form of communication and dialogue, all of the participants need a common point of reference to understand what is being said. Otherwise, it is impossible to have a productive dialogue. Like Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis realizes the language used in a dialogue is extremely important. There is no doubt that he is making every effort to open the dialogue using language that others can appreciate. In this regard, it appears he realizes there are still many barriers that need to be crossed.

Throughout much of his academic career and pontificate, Pope Benedict sought open dialogue with secularists and atheists, and he is still doing so in retirement. In the many dialogues he had, he was a master at expounding on the depth and riches of the theological language that expresses our Faith. The struggle in many of these dialogues has been the linguistic barriers that form around uncommon points of reference. For
Pope Benedict, much of the dialogue required bringing the non-believer to the point of reference from which he was speaking.

Generally speaking, when someone in the Church speaks to someone who is not, the outsider typically reacts as if the Church were speaking a foreign language because, for them, it is. For many decades, especially through public educational systems, there has been a program of verbal engineering that was intended to promote a specifically secular verbiage. This process openly sought to detach the point of reference of traditional moral and ontological referents from their Divine Referent and attach them to secular alternatives. So in this regard, modern language has changed dramatically, and linguistic barriers have formed.

Think of it this way: Imagine if the UN General Assembly did not have simultaneous translators when the world's leaders gathered to discuss an important issue. For the most part, there would be frustration and problems with regard to the proper understanding of what another world leader was saying. Not only would the dialogue become voluminous and unsustainable, any real or effective communication would be impossible. In fact, a lack of understanding among the participants could be disastrous. In this regard, for there to be effective communication, an accurate translation is needed. However, just translating a word is insufficient as a common point of reference is also needed. Words are powerful but without a common point of reference, they are powerless.

By way of example, a word could be translated accurately, but, if the recipient does not have the same point of reference, the meaning could still be lost. If an Italian used the word "mucca," the recipient would hear the English translator use the word "cow." If both have the same point of reference, there would be no problem. But if the listener had no point of reference or knowledge of a cow, this could result in a breakdown in communication. Or if the recipient, through a process of verbal engineering, had always been shown a bull as the point of reference for the word cow, it would change his or her reaction when the word is used. It is important to remember that it is not the word that makes a cow what it is; rather, it only designates what already is. If there is no common point of reference, further explanation would be required so that all parties understand the reality before them.

The same is true when we attempt to speak of eternal realities, especially from an ecclesial point of reference. In any dialogue with the world we need a common point of reference, which is often lacking today. The problem is that many of the expressions the Church uses have been altered by verbal engineers because they wanted to remove the traditional stigma and judgmental tone. For instance, when the Church speaks of virtue, it is an aspect of reality derived from the nature of Man. But a person steeped in a secular worldview may think of a list of desired qualities that have to be cultivated in a person. In such conversations, the Church speaks of the Natural Law. However, a person steeped in a secular worldview may hear it as the law of nature. In this context, the two are not synonymous and point to two very different realities. This has created a problem today because, especially with regard to morality and Sin, the common point of reference is missing.

In following what Pope Francis has been saying, it appears he is trying to bridge the linguistic gap between Church teaching and worldly interpretations. Make no mistake, I am sure he understands both sides very well and is choosing his references very carefully. I am convinced that he is asking pastors around the world to do the same. Yet he is extending the challenge even further because at this point in the verbal chasm he realizes that we are not going to have success if we continue with the status quo or allow ourselves to be cornered into specific dialogues.

Thus, in saying that we "cannot insist only on abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods," it seems Pope Francis is saying that these issues have lost their point of reference in the dialogue, which has made it "impossible" for us to have an effective dialogue today. In the secular world, if you are Catholic and say you are pro-life, they hear that you are anti-abortion. If you say you are pro-marriage and wish to preserve Marriage as ordained by God, they perceive you as homophobic, anti-gay, or out of touch. If you say you are convinced that Natural Family Planning is the only way for virtuous family planning, they accuse you of being anti-women, unscientific, and sexually repressive. It is not that any of these perceptions are true, but that they are the effect of the verbal engineering that has taken place for many years. In this regard, the process of verbal engineering has cultivated a different point of reference that is now quite widespread.

Therefore, what Pope Francis has been doing is opening the door to a new dialogue and allowing the Church to reclaim what has always been Her position… every Catholic must love the sinner and hate the sin. He has not changed any teaching but is changing the current point of reference. The dialogue must begin on this revamped premise. In loving sinners, we embrace them first and let them know there is hope and healing. It is possible for the wounds of Sin to be healed, but it will not happen if the sinner does not find Christ. Too often the popular caricature is that the Church only wishes to condemn sinners, an image that church members have fed at times. However, as the Pope reminded us, every member of the Church is a sinner first and foremost and in need of Grace. It is only through Grace and the pursuit of virtue that the sinner has hope.

If I truly love someone, I want them to receive Christ's Grace. The Pontiff is correct that many need to come to this healing font now more than ever. The ministers of the Church are the guides to that font.

But to be clear, Pope Francis did not say we should leave the sinner in sin or that sin is not important, even though that is what the secular media seem to have heard. By saying, "Who am I to judge," he is saying that our first recourse in the dialogue is to remind everyone that there is Hope, there is Grace. So let's not talk about the sin first; let's talk about the hope given us in Christ, Whose Grace is the source of healing. I believe this is why the Pontiff said, "The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the Church must be ministers of mercy above all… In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds." It is during the process of accompanying that the ongoing conversion and true healing take place.

If I am correct, the Pope has been trying to get those on the ecclesial side of the dialogue to follow the RCIA model with the goal of walking with the converted sinner in Mystagogy. To adapt a popular expression, we must not just talk the talk… we must walk the walk -- with them!

For the record, the word in the picture above is a phonetic spelling of McDonald's in Cyrillic letters. If you substitute each of the Cyrillic letters with their latin equivalent, it spells Macdonalds.

And So It Begins

The Onslaught of Evil

Yes, we all like to complain about advertisers who begin showing ads well before a particular holiday. Certainly, these same advertisers wish to strip Christmas and Easter of any Christian message whatsoever. What still baffles the mind is the love they have for the ghoulish festival of Halloween. Not only have the ads for candy been out since mid-August but the onslaught of evil images has started. It is amazing how unfascinated the world has become regard to God but how fascinated it has become with ghosts, goblins, and horror in general.

Who Will Teach Them?

The Time Has Come to Start an Aggressive Catholic Education Campaign

There are many examples today of Catholics who openly depart from the Church with regard to Her Teaching and the principles upon which this Teaching is built. The one that has garnered the most attention of late has been the issue of gay marriage. There have been a number of recent polls in which a significant percentage of Catholics admit they support gay marriage. As is the case with other surveys, there are differences between Catholics who attend church weekly and those who do not.

For the most part, the results given can be highly deceiving because it does not measure depth of knowledge, just personal opinion. When surveying an opinion, we must recognize that it is often tainted by the verbal engineering of the secular world. Of course, there have been similar polls conducted on abortion, euthanasia, contraception, and the like, all of which report similar results, particularly that there are those sitting in the pews each week who dissent from Church Teaching. What these polls do not show is the level of Catholic knowledge among the respondents on either side of the debate.

From such surveys, can one assume that those who attend Mass weekly have a better basis for making an informed decision? I would answer cautiously with a qualified yes. The caveat is that 36% of weekly Mass attendees disagree with the Church's Teaching on gay marriage and 30% say abortion should be remain legal. These percentages are not insignificant and seem to indicate that many regular churchgoers do not know the depth of the Teaching. This high percentage could be due to poor preaching in some parishes and certainly a result of the catechetical failure of recent decades. Fortunately, many who attend Mass weekly are favorable to the Church's position, which indicates that there is some level of understanding but what that level is remains unknown.

It would be interesting to question those surveyed with regard to the Church's Teaching to determine if they know the basis for the Teaching. Because we live in an era of catechetical illiteracy, it may well be they do not have sufficient knowledge. In all cases, I would venture to believe that few in either camp can clearly explain the basis. In short, how many realize that the gay marriage Teaching is not about homosexuality but about the nature of Marriage? How many realize the ontological structure of Marriage that requires masculinity and femininity, male and female, for this reality to come into existence? How many appreciate the good of procreation that is intrinsic to Marriage? Or with regard to abortion, how many realize that we are talking about the existence of a human being that will be murdered? How many understand that there are no situations that justify killing an innocent human being? How many realize that supporting abortion laws is a form of cooperation in the evil committed agains innocent human life?

In times past, everyone was taught how to formulate a proper argument by establishing an informed basis for the argument. It typically involved every person researching the positions generated by both sides and even being able to argue both sides. Today, in the whim-of-the-moment culture, many people make decisions on important issues on the basis of personal feelings, which is often tainted to favor a position without understanding the foundation of the position. Indeed, there are many emotional arguments made in favor of a particular issue but it is necessary for clearer heads to prevail in the long run. Generally speaking, the clarity is rarely expressed and the arguments dwindle into ad hominem attacks.

In of the hot button issues we face today, we see the effect of the dictatorship of relativism. When soon to be Pope Benedict XVI coined this phrase, most of the world had already been living under this dictatorship for quite some time. It is in this light that the world can no longer identify the depth of so many issues and would prefer facile discussions to in depth arguments. The dictatorship exercised by the secularists has taken its toll. It is good to recall Cardinal Ratzinger's words:

Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.

If we are to move forward today, all those who teach the Catholic Faith must first accept the devastation that has been brought about through by trend. Every religious, bishop, priest, deacon, catechist, and teacher should make this trend part of his or her daily renunciation and seek to take hold of the pearl of great price. As part of this process, we need all Catholic educators to develop a strong relationship with Christ so as to come to an adult faith. Having a large number of Catholics who have achieved an adult faith is essential for the present and future of the Church. We are not an institution built on whims-of-the-day but one founded by and on Christ, Who is THE Teacher, Who is THE measure of all existence.

Sadly, to achieve this goal may mean a contraction for a time. At some point, standing up for what we believe will have to take precedence over the numbers, which means we have to challenge those sitting in the pews to get off the fence. To be Catholic means that one believes all that the Catholic Church Teaches, which implies that one knows what She Teaches. To move forward at this point will require more priests to take up such themes in their regular preaching. Yes, many of the themes are quite controversial. But just because they are controversial does not lessen the need to catechize those before us and to proclaim the Truth. The key in preaching the Truth is to avoid opinion and love the doctrine, love the Church. To Love the Church is to Love Christ!

OK, I Get It

And It Is Still Not Right

I get it. Gay Marriage is a foregone conclusion and is legal in the state of New York. Beyond a shadow of doubt, the national laws of our country will eventually recognize these unions as well. I get it.

However, the civil laws are just that, civil. They are laws devised by human beings that only have one real goal in mind -- to "balance" the scales. At the heart of modern day justice, the apparent goal has become a process in trying to make all things equal, to try to find a balance between the concerned parties. Unlike years gone by when there was a True Wisdom that undergird justice, today there is no consideration of anything that seemingly disturbs the balance. There is no talk of the Nature of things and promoting justice as our rendering to God and neighbor based on the nature of each. And so in our mistaken approach to justice, we now have laws that give recognition to moral evils such as abortion, divorce and remarriage, mandated contraception, and gay marriage.

But a legal position devised by civil authorities does not make it right. Of course, in the minds of many, especially the secularists, the civil law is all that matters. If consensus can be reached, then the scale is balanced. In their minds, there is no such thing as the Natural Law. There is no such thing as the Divine Law. There is no such thing as moral absolutes. Only a teetering scale. The irony is that all the weight in our public moral debates has been placed on one side of the scale and, although it has tipped, it is like The Emperor's New Clothes. Those who want to court the favor of the powerful merely join along and say that there is nothing wrong -- the scale looks fine.

We must keep in mind that the Church remains the haven and guardian of the Truth. In fact, Truth is not part of a balancing act. Truth is not found as the midpoint of differing opinions. Truth is not had by agreeing to disagree. Truth does not come about through a call to tolerance. The Truth IS. And if something IS, then we must conform to it. Truth rises above the dialogue.

When it comes to realities like Marriage, Life, Human Sexuality, etc., we are responsible to the Truth. The reason for religious freedom is because the Truth IS. While Man labors under the weight of His rebel passion and errant desire, the Truth is what sets Him free. The yoke of Sin is a great yoke indeed. Normalizing that yoke does not remove it and only succeeds at increasing its weight around our necks. Always remember that the Church is where Man encounters the Truth with freedom coming through discipline and conformity of the self to the Truth encountered. In the Truth taught by Church is where the yoke is lifted.

For too long the dictator of the world has been trying to get the Church to conform to itself, by eliminating all talk of eternal realities. No heaven! No hell! Just now! Most people are deluded into believing that the Church is a mere human institution that is only responsible to Herself. Because of the Truth and Her responsibility to Almighty God, the Church can never be conformed to the world and worldly ways. It would be better to have a millstone about Her neck and cast into the sea than to deceive anyone by distorting the Truth to the views of the world. Jesus died and rose so that we can cast off the yoke of Sin. But that means we must yoke ourselves to Him, to the Truth.

So, I get it. The laws of the world are changing rapidly. The scales are completely tipped to the secular. Justice is no longer about rendering to God and Man based on what is due according to Their natures. While I get the point, I also realize that a warped view of justice exists. So just because the laws are changing does not mean they are changing for the better. Just because the laws are changing does not mean God is offended any less. To continue to believe the scales are balanced is to believe the emperor really has new clothes. The Church, for Her part, would say it is better to be like the little child and blurt out that the emperor is not wearing anything at all.

Faithful to God and the Church

And That is a Good Thing

It is interesting how many today, especially those in the media, find fault with those who are faithful to the Church and Her Tradition. As the conclave continues, there are many articles written about who the media wants for a new pope with no thought given to the Church and Her Tradition. Any candidate who is considered “conservative” or faithful to the Church is often demonized or the subject of an ad hominem attack.

What is most curious, however, is that no one in the secular media ever provides an honest account of the Teaching and legitimate refutation of the Teaching. Instead, they simply call for changes that will result in the Church eventually matching the secular consensus and will finally get the Church to jump on the bandwagon of relativism. Quite possibly, the reason they have to attack an individual or the character of the institution is because if they were to understand the Teaching and the fullness of our Tradition, they might find it to be legitimate and rational. In an era in which there are no objective standards and morality is on the decline, it is good to be faithful to God and the Church.

Please continue to pray for our cardinals as they continue to discern God’s choice for the successor to St. Peter.

Shepherding Today

Is the Idea Outmoded?

In the ninth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus has compassion upon the crowd because they were like sheep without a Shepherd. I believe this particular verse is highly relevant today. But I do not say this because of the Pope’s retirement, who made it clear he is not abandoning the Church. Rather, I refer to the perfect storm of contemporary pastoral life that has left a void in proper shepherding. In other words, this particular storm has erupted and left priests who renounce the role of shepherd as well as those who consider themselves good Catholics to wander through life like sheep without a Shepherd. To be clear, Jesus the Christ is and will always be THE Shepherd of the flock. And it was Jesus Who said He will give shepherds to guide the sheep of His flock.

Unlike times past, however, this modern day wandering has a dimension to it that may not be easily reversible as today many of the shepherds of the church eschew true shepherding and the sheep resist the possibility of being shepherded. This situation did not come about in isolation and is the result of many complicated factors that occurred over a span of history. Thus, we are dealing with the aftermath of a perfect storm in which we need to recapture Catholicism in the modern world. The shepherds should always be seeking to raise the flock to the level of God but, in today’s context, the flock would prefer to reduce God to the level of the flock and expect the shepherds to do the same. The problem we face is that, in an effort to remain popular, many shepherds have complied.

Let me explain…

To start, we must acknowledge that the situation in which we find ourselves grew out of the age of the Enlightenment. During that period, a tacit anger was directed toward the Church and an elitism formed among those who were scientifically “in the know.” Discoveries and scientific progress were happening at an astounding rate and anyone not up on the latest science was looked down upon as being out of touch. These discoveries were all beneficial to Man and clearly improved His situation, but did not make His being better. Within this age of rapid change, a secular force began to take hold of the popular mindset and scientific discovery became the new scriptures. Unaware of the fact it was happening, human beings around the globe, and especially in the West, began making doctors and scientists their new priests, i.e., those who were experts in the secular scriptures. Key to understanding what happened is rooted in the approach of science found in thinkers as early as Descartes — start as a skeptic toward everything, including God.

As skepticism became the rule of the day, anything that was previously accepted as authoritative had to be proven anew. It is one thing to learn about gravity or be able to demonstrate a heliocentric universe but that did not mean the experts of the past were demons who willfully misled generations. Those of the past simply operated on the science of the time. In fact, age after age of modern science has seen one expert after another challenged and his or her “science” refuted. Many popular scientific theories did not withstand the scrutinies of the community and many were considered passé within a generation or two, i.e., several times within the lifespan of the average person. This ongoing process left many subconsciously wondering if there is anything definitive at all. The result of this process was that many began to place their faith in progress. Keep in mind that the process is subliminal and not occurring with any overt intent. It is the result of a long process that left a state of uncertainty in the minds of most people and the only thing sure was that everything operated under the law of progress. The result of the process is the point — Man no longer knew where he was going — only that He had to keep going.

With skepticism entrenched and progress as the philosophy of the day, defiance toward authority grew throughout the early part of the 20th century, especially when the industrial revolution was beginning to make a difference. The ire against authority was latent in this stage, but would manifest itself in future generations. The underlying perspective as this period unfolded, which began many centuries earlier but only made the mainstream at this point, was that all things must be questioned to make sure the claim is accurate. This era saw skepticism blossom on a widespread scale and by the middle of the 20th century it became the normative response to all things, especially authority. The stance taken on a broad scale, simply put, was that those in authority had to earn rather than receive respect, not just once but over and over again. Burdened by faith in progress, those in positions of authority had to repeatedly prove to the masses why he or she deserved to have the obedience of those subject to them.

This incessant process gave rise to an irreverence toward those in charge, which became manifest in the rebellious attitude of the 50s and 60s. All authority came to be suspect and had to be tested over and over. However, scientific progress by itself was insufficient. Horrific wars had become commonplace and abuses of power were witnessed by subsequent generations. The problem identified was that these things happened because of blind obedience to authority. This tendency to question authority was fueled by corruption in democratic governments in the 70s and the threat of totalitarianism from the Communist world. All of this together is the making of a perfect storm. Even long before the scandals in the Church became public, which in hindsight was a growing time bomb for the Church, the storm was being fueled by a desire in the Church to express Herself more clearly to a world in turmoil. Unfortunately, in this expression there was a disconnect between the magisterium of the Church and the local shepherds in the church. It is in these pieces that we find a trajectory that leads to the degradation of shepherding.

As we know, Vatican II was not a council of “change” or “progress” but one in which the Traditional Teachings of Christ needed to be re-expressed to a world that had truly become modern in the philosophical sense. Although never intended or foreseen by the council fathers, many priests and theologians began to abdicate their pastoral responsibility in favor of being popular in the mind of the flock. The reason for the abdication was due to the misperception that the Church was progressive like everything else when, in fact, She was not. Sadly, during this period of societal upheaval and confusion, many priests turned to secular sources to become “effective leaders” and to be “more pastoral.” These sources were along the lines of contemporary psychological models in which trust is gained by not challenging or judging a person but listening and affirming a person where he or she is at. The problem is that the technique is built on relativism and subjectivism. It would not be long before this same worldview was preached from pulpits around the country. The clearest example was the overt rejection by some priests of the Teaching in Humanae Vitae.

As we know, relativism allows a sheep to pick and choose what he or she considers to be right and wrong. Combined with emotivism and hedonism, the relativist concludes that the good is what feels good and evil is what feels bad. If someone disagrees with a sheep’s personal assessment of a given act, rather than try and understand the Truth of the act as expressed by the authority, the relativist merely rejects the discordant “opinion” espoused by the errant other. Ultimately, the relativist will have to reject the other because it is the only way he or she believes personal harmony can be achieved. Implicit in this rejection, therefore, is a denial that the other is an authority.

The relativist criteria would eventually be applied to and embraced by those who are shepherds in the Church. In this regard, many of the Church’s pastors falsely believed it was important to tell a sheep what he or she wanted to hear rather than what he or she needed to hear. Within this milieu, the sheep are now formed in the expectation that affirmation of what they wanted is truly “pastoral” rather than being told what is needed for salvation. The eventual result was that sheep would only seek shepherds that told them what they wanted to hear. A relativist sheep only seeks shepherds who speak in terms of what affirms their fallen desires and allows him or her to remain mired in acting on those errant preferences. In the aftermath of the perfect storm, many shepherds began preaching a secular gospel in fear of “losing” the sheep to some other shepherd. This discordant voice among the shepherds of the Church, and the resistance within the flock of being shepherded, has left many sheep to live as if there is no Shepherd at all.

Well Said

It Is Good To Speak Up!

The conservative political commentator, Mike Huckabee, clarified comments he made in response to last Friday’s tragedy, comments that were distorted by the mainstream media. What he said is something that needs to be said at this point in history. Note: he is not talking about the shootings per se but rather offering a commentary on contemporary society.

Sadly, in looking at alternate sites where this video has been posted, the comments being made show no signs whatsoever for the possibility of a civil dialogue, which only further proves how far modern culture has deteriorated. Rather than make a well informed comment, the same latent anger that wants to rid society of any display of God forms the content against what Mr. Huckabee is saying. Go ahead and attack the individual who speaks or those who agree with him but that still does not respond to the issues he raises. What still eludes me to this day is the level of vehemence spewed against those who publicly display their Faith or even speak in public about God?

Hopefully commentaries like this will multiply and a true dialogue will ensue.

In a Word


I have been searching for a word the past few days that could appropriately express my gut level reaction to the consumerist frenzy that is taking place. If it were merely about the economy, I could live with that. If it were about families coming together in a simple exchange, I could live with that. But the ardent secularists have completely highjacked the Christian ethos and made it a purely consumerist endeavor. There is no longer a consideration of God in anything because God would take all the fun out of our consumerist lust. And the word that keeps returning to me is disgusting. It is especially disgusting to see Catholics betray their own tradition by subscribing to the new order as contrived by the secularists.

In the new order they have established, we have a great number of things to be grateful for but no one to whom we can be grateful. We have a great holiday season but no real holiday to be named. In fact, Christ is to be left out all together. Even in the mind of Catholics, Advent is no longer a recognized season but shopping is. N.B. This change in perspective of Advent and Christmas has occurred in less than a century. What is most disturbing is the number of Catholics who have fallen prey to this trend and have no problem with it at all. In large numbers, Catholics now believe that Christmas is about giving and getting presents and December is about shopping and parties. For most Catholics, the weeks of December are to be spent in malls or at parties and gatherings to celebrate the season (yes, even Catholics now avoid the word Christmas).

Although I have resisted the trend and tried to speak up, I am often labeled a scrooge. If I advocate for a return from the shopping frenzy to Advent and penitential practices, most Catholics tell me I am out of touch and have no idea what it is like today. If I even dare suggest December be a time of prayer and repentance, Catholics respond that Christmas has nothing to do with that and even express perturbation at the thought. Even though we are in Advent, Catholics are already in the “Holiday” mode and are hoping the emotive winter magic occur for them. Case in point - there are already many who have put up trees, lights, winter wonderland decorations on the lawn, and, because they are Catholic, a small Christmas Creche with the Baby Jesus already in it. Heaven forbid you suggest holding off on the decorations and practice self-denial, patience, or waiting in joyful expectation for the Coming of Christ. In this regard, it is the Holiday Season and they will not be deprived one moment of indulgence or winter magic.

Furthermore, in large numbers Catholics have been duped by the transformation of St. Nicholas to Santa Claus by famous artists, Coca Cola, Macy’s and other consumer organizations. In large numbers, Catholics celebrate the secular santa at this time of year because it is all about the jolly fat guy in red whose sole purpose in life is to have businesses get in the “black.” Sadly, even priests preach santa as the reason to be good. Forget about even discussing who the saint really is behind the legend. The real saint has been totally disconnected from history. The modern lie is so entrenched almost no one really knows the actual story of St. Nicholas anymore.

I sometimes wonder if I am the only person left who is distressed by the widespread lying that takes place. We are told to believe in Santa and, once we are old enough and know he is not the one who brings all those gifts, we are coerced by others to perpetuate the lie so as to not spoil it for the children. When I point out to Catholic parents that lying is a sin and they should be truthful with their children, they tell me that it isn’t really a lie, is it? It is just good fun, isn’t it? These same parents will insist they do emphasize the Christmas story, even though the lie is more interesting to children than the truth and the santa figure is going to give them every toy or electronic device imaginable, but Jesus only brings salvation. And then there is the day when the bubble bursts and the lie is found out. What is to stop a child from questioning the veracity of the Jesus story? After all, his or her parents were good liars. And everybody in society went along with the lie. They were all pretty good at it as well. So maybe the whole Jesus thing is a lie also?

Today more than ever Catholics must unite and reclaim the Truth. Christmas is about the first Coming of Jesus and His Own did not recognize Him. Our celebration of Advent is a call to prepare through penance and mortification because Christ will Come Again, not through human birth but as Judge of the living and the dead. The standard for that Judgment has been set by God, not Man. The celebration of Christmas is just a reminder of this extremely important Truth. For those who have forgotten, hear what Linus has to say:

Paying Attention

What Surrounds Us

People today live their life in the simplest manner and tend to choose the path of least resistance. Generally speaking, most modern people do not stop and ponder the meaning of things or even attempt to understand things beyond themselves. In ages past, culture had depth and relevance in a person's life. The culture usually challenged an individual to a higher excellence through a deep introspection of the self. Yet today when we have more at our finger tips than ever before, most people do not take the time to understand what has just happened to them.

As Matthew Kelly summed up well, "Today, there is little philosophical rigor in our culture. The way we consume information leads us to think less and less about more and more. We spend much of our time fixated on secondary questions (usually related to controversial and sensational issues) and very little time exploring the primary questions about our brief stay on earth."

The secularist does not want anyone to spend time in real thought or even be able to focus on what happens in the world at any given time. The secularist only wants the facts. And after the facts, some may draw a variety of conclusions but will go no further in attempting relate the findings to the Truth.

Thus, if the Resurrection of Jesus happened today, it most likely would be a passing curiosity that would be covered with skepticism. Scientists would come and do an examination and determine that no determination can be made based on their findings. Reports would be filed by the various media with each putting its own "spin" on it. So called experts would debate the possibility of Resurrection and talk shows would survey opinions on its possibility. Comedians would make jokes about those making such claims. The information overload would leave many confused and prone to just simply ignoring it.The great moment of Salvation would get lost in the world around us because nobody really pays attention any more. Most just end up lost in their own thoughts after the information barrage… And in the end they convince everyone that they are immune to such overload and burn out.

Bring It On

We Can Take It!

The infamous Richard Dawkins recently spoke to a group of atheists in Washington D.C. During his speech he called for atheists to come out and openly mock Christians and Catholics for their beliefs. As is the case with other secularists, he did not address the teachings he disagrees with or why they are wrong. Instead, he made general statements and slurs against believers and rejected doctrine generally but did not substantiate any reasons for his rejection. Rather, he preferred to use a quasi-ad hominem attack and encouraged others to do the same.

So in response to his query, I do say that I firmly believe and know that the substance of bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ through the invocation of the Holy Spirit. This knowledge does not come from the puny methodology of the physical sciences but through minds much greater than his. From this, I guess he will now "ridicule" and "mock" me publicly. If that be the case, the only thing I can say is, "Bring It On!"