Just saw this on EWTN Live: the bishops of the USCCB have called for a simple novena, “Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage” toward a culture of life. The novena will be from January 19-27, 2013. You can sign up for e-mail or text updates and get more information at the USCCB website. I think it’s a great idea. The battle we are in must be waged at the spiritual level and we need to pray together to defeat our common ancient enemy.

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St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

God bless you.

I’m in the midst of editing and updating some of the pages around here (about time!). Made some additions tonight including some new resources on the Life Issues page, more  about the HHS Mandate (including the false claim made by the Vice President during the VP debate and the USCCB’s quick response to it– breathtakingly fast!). Made a couple of changes on the Year of Faith and the Vote pages. I also moved the Other Writings page to the About section of the site. Comments are welcome and thank you for reading. God bless you and peace be with you.

[Brief list of voting guides at the end of this post and on the new Vote page.] People have told me here at the blog, in emails, on forums, in conversations, that being Catholic has nothing to do with politics, has nothing to do with choosing a candidate, has nothing to do with any part of life except one hour on Sunday. Most of these people are not Catholic or they would realize many of us don’t go to Mass just that one hour on Sunday; many of us go during the week, too, and some go every day of their lives and always have. Even so, being Catholic is not just about what we do at Mass, no matter how many times a week we attend.

And voting as a Catholic is not merely a matter of prayer and reflection, but prayer and reflection on the teachings of the Church, listening to the priests and bishops giving guidance concerning the teachings of the Church, and doing our best to live as faithful Catholics abiding by the teachings of the Church. Yes, we have to follow our consciences. But first —FIRST–we have to FORM our consciences! And how do we form our consciences? By listening to our priests and bishops, the Chief Bishop, and studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the marvelous teaching documents written by the Popes (including but not limited to the last two Popes, the late Pope John Paul II and the current Pope Benedict XVI).

There is absolutely no excuse for any Catholic old enough to vote not to know his or her faith. You can read the Catechism of the Catholic Church (here or here or here) and/or study the Catechism and the documents written by the Popes and the documents of Vatican II, and much more, all on the web and all for free. The bishops of the USCCB have been trying to teach people for some time now and the “faithful” blithely ignore them and say they can follow their own consciences. Without forming them!

Yes, some bishops are less than stellar examples. So don’t follow their examples! But do as they say, the same way Jesus told the disciples to do what the Pharisees said do. But He told them not to do as the Pharisees did! And besides, a good many bishops are wonderful shepherds and I pray for them every day. They do not have an easy job. Shepherding Catholics is like herding cats. Everybody wants to be his own Pope! Well, there’s only one Pope and he’s in Rome!

So form your Catholic conscience and THEN follow it! Read Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life) and Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life). Study them (study guides to  Evangelium Vitae and Humanae Vitae). I’ve been told that the Church has yet to rule on abortion being a sin. Newsflash: The Church has taught that abortion is a grave sin since the time of the early Church, in the Didache (in chapter two, really the second paragraph)! And we know that taking it upon ourselves to take an innocent life is prohibited by the Ten Commandments.

So right there, before we go any further, we can see that if a candidate wants to do everything in his power to promote and support abortion and cram it down the throats of the people and refuses to do anything that would limit abortion, which is an intrinsic evil, which means it is always and everywhere a serious and grave sin, then, guess what? A Catholic may not vote for that candidate and say that he is following his Catholic conscience. Because he would be demonstrating that he does not, in fact, have a Catholic conscience!

We can vote for someone who does not share our idea of the intrinsic evil of abortion IF–IF IF IF–we have reason to believe that that person would act in such a way as to limit abortion more than another candidate would. And we do have just this case in our political landscape as I write these words. We must vote in such a way as to limit evil. If you vote for the candidate who has put into positions of authority numerous people formerly connected with the largest abortion provider in this country, then you are not voting to limit evil, you are voting in support of evil. You are voting against a Catholic conscience, which you would demonstrate by your action, by your vote.

This is a grave scandal and for the life of me I cannot understand anyone not understanding this issue or thinking that any issue at all could ever take precedence over LIFE! If you don’t have life, I ask you, then what, pray tell, do you have? Nothing! The economy doesn’t matter if we are happy to ignore the slaughter of millions to get that economy. And the economy certainly doesn’t matter to those who we slaughter! So stop saying that pro-life people are “one issue voters” and then proceeding to say that you are voting on the issue of the economy. Hello! Isn’t that being a “one issue voter”? Isn’t that what you just said we shouldn’t do, reduce our vote to a vote on just one issue? Well, at least, if I “reduce” my vote to “just one issue”, I “reduced” it to the ONE FOUNDATIONAL issue–LIFE ITSELF!

Yes, other matters matter. But Life is the one matter that matters most. Without it, the rest of the issues are empty talk and chatter.

Voting as a Catholic: Live Your Faith, Vote Your Faith!

These links are also on the new Vote page added tonight. I’ll add more as I find them.

To Help You Form Your Catholic Conscience:

Year-of-Faith-PacwaI don't know about you, but I try to be a good Christian, a devout Catholic. I try to practice my faith, to do what I am supposed to do, to love my Lord and my fellow man. I try. Well… Okay, sometimes I try. And sometimes I don't try at all. I just act like I don't even know anything about Christianity and I charge ahead like a water buffalo–wait, do water buffalo charge? Oh, you know what I mean. Don't act like you don't. You go to confession and Mass (if you're a Catholic, and if you're not, then you pray or give testimony and go to your community's worship service or whatever your community calls it or does) and you resolve to do better, to remember yourself and your commitment to the Lord, to change, to allow Him to change you, to rely less on your stubborn self and more on Him. Journeying Toward God in the Barque of Peter And yet you do the same thing, time after time, the same thing you did last time and the time before that, and the same thing you have been confessing since you went to your first confession, no matter how many years ago that was. And you're still doing the same thing! Oh, maybe you catch yourself now and then, but for the most part you are still losing your temper the way you always have and about the same things and at the same people.

ARGH! What's a (supposed) disciple to do?!

Well, I'll tell you what this wannabe disciple is going to do. The same thing I have been doing. The same thing I will keep doing and having to do. I will pick myself up off the floor again and go to confession and go to adoration and tell the Lord that I am sorry and ask Him to forgive me and ask Him to help me. Again. And, yes, I have already asked Him that, I know I don't have to wait until I go to confession and I don't wait until I go to confession to talk to the Lord. We talk a lot. Well, mostly I talk and He tries to get a word in edgewise and sometimes I shut up and let Him. Sometimes He tells me the most beautiful things. And sometimes I even hear what He says. Yep, sometimes I actually listen.

All of which leads to the heart of my post: the Year of Faith which our Holy Father announced a while back and which began on October 11 2012. Pope Benedict has asked all the faithful to study anew the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the documents of the Second Vatican Council, so that we may deepen our knowledge of our faith and of our Church and of our Lord. So that we may deepen our love for Him Who is Love. And how else can our love for God grow if our knowledge of Him does not also grow? And how can our knowledge of Him grow if we do not make an effort to know the Truth He has revealed to us? And how can we know the Truth He has revealed to us if we do not trouble ourselves to listen to His voice in the teachings and liturgy of the Church He Himself gave us?

We are all of us embarking on a journey, setting out into the deep. The Lord will guide us on our way, the Lord Himself Who is the Way and the Truth and the Life. He is the only Truth that is worth knowing. May the Lord richly bless you and yours during this Year of Faith and may His peace be upon you forever and ever. Amen.

AND it came to pass, that when the multitudes pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Genesareth, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And going into one of the ships that was Simon's, he desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting he taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when he had ceased to speak, he said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said to him: Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing: but at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him. — Luke 5:1-11, Douay-Rheims translation.

Learn more: Read more about the Year of Faith at the official website or at the USCCB or at EWTN and many other places too numerous to list. Read Porta Fidei (the Door of Faith) or the transcript of the Homily at the Opening Mass of the Year of Faith, both by Pope Benedict. Other resources include a Catholic Bible study guide by Fr. Mitch Pacwa (Kindle version or paperback) and daily brief readings in the Catechism delivered to your email inbox and also available online. This is truly a wonderful resource and I have enjoyed my mornings with the Catechism very much since this program began on Oct 11. We're not far along yet and you have plenty of time to join in. Please do! You can join in the discussion on the site and learn a lot that way and share what you know, too. You can also find the entire set of sixteen documents of the Second Vatican Council online at EWTN.

 

Fortnight 4 FreedomI plan to write more about this at some point but right now I’m linking to the USCCB‘s Fortnight 4 Freedom site. My current novel-in-progress focuses on this very issue of freedom and faith, and the writing has taken over my blog time and pretty much the rest of my life. (After much struggle and a long dry period, having the writing take over my life, at least part of it, is a good thing and I am loving it.)

“The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayerstudycatechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.”

For information, bulletin inserts, web graphics, pdf’s and more: http://www.fortnight4freedom.org