Ash Wednesday

February 25, 2009

Christian life during Lent should be characterized by “more intense prayer, by an austere and penitential style of life,” Pope Benedict XVI said during an Ash Wednesday service at the Roman basilica of St. Sabina. “It should be an encouragement to conversion and sincere love for our brothers, especially those who are most poor and in need,” he added. The Holy Father led the traditional Ash Wednesday procession from St. Anselmo to St. Sabina, then presided at the distribution of ashes there. In his meditation the Pope suggested that the faithful imitate the example of St. Paul, and follow the Apostle’s advice in making a wholehearted effort to dedicate one’s life to Christ. “We are urged not to give our members up to sin,” the Pope remarked, “meaning not to concede, so to speak, room for sin to make a comeback.” In order to live intimately with God, the Pontiff added, “it is indispensable to nourish oneself with the Word of God.”


Prepare for the Worst … He’s Just Sayin’

February 22, 2009

Laura Ingraham: Life is Sacred Duty

February 21, 2009

Appearing on the O’Reilly Factor, Catholic convert Laura Ingraham says that the Pope has closed the Cafeteria and that life is a public duty.

Laura suggests that the cafeteria is closed. Unfortunately, I think it will take more. Perhaps all the way to most Bishops denying communion to make it clear, you can’t take or leave the Church’s teachings on life.


Pope Stands up to Pelosi on Abortion

February 20, 2009

Culture War of Words

February 19, 2009

From Inside Catholic:

 

Most of us have had conversations with friends regarding the hot-button topics of abortion, same-sex unions, or euthanasia. Is there anyone who has not heard the justification, “Well, I just feel that . . .”? It reminds one of the lyrics from an old Elvis tune: “If it feels so right, how can it be wrong?”

 

The one unforgiveable sin today is to cause anyone to “feel bad” about what he or she is doing. The apparent assumption is that if people “feel” something is good, it is indeed good. What is missing from the public discussion is any appeal to rational thought. The emotive pleas for “compassion” remind one of Flannery O’ Connor’s dictum: “Compassion leads to the gas chambers.”

 

The goal of political engagement is no longer to encourage thoughtful examinations of particular matter of urgent concern to our society. How this group or that cause “feels” about an issue trumps any non-emotional analysis. Furthermore, we as a nation have been socially bludgeoned into pretending that ill consequences are brought by storks and are not the result of behaviors. It has become a national fiction that few challenge.

 

When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi insisted that $335 million of the stimulus package be allocated for the study of sexually transmitted diseases, no one responded with the truth: STDs are the result of promiscuous behavior. No one suggested that the $335 million would be better spent teaching abstinence and fidelity. How is this triumph of pretense over reason achieved? The trick is linguistic deception.

 

This week, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life made a similar observation about the manipulation of language. Archbishop Rino Fisichell, preparing for a conference on genetics and eugenics, warned:

 

As often happens, a subtle linguistic formalism coupled with good advertising supported by powerful economic interests makes [us] lose sight of the real underlying dangers, and tends to create a mentality that is no longer able to recognize the evil objective nor make a corresponding ethical judgment.

 

We see can readily see how this works in the matter of abortion: The abortion industry has created a mentality that short-circuits ethical, rational judgment.

 

The essential intent of phrases such as “freedom of choice” or “compassionate death” is to deceive. When our language is engineered to hide the truth about the action it describes, it does so precisely because the truth is found to be too disconcerting. Those who seek to reset our cultural standards know that an emotionally comforting phrase must be found to substitute for a frank description of the actual act that is cloaked in soft language.

 

In “freedom of choice,” the baby has no choice; thus, the procedure is simply a “might makes right” move against an innocent being. No one speaks of abortion in straightforward terms: “This baby is inconvenient and I have the power to terminate it, so I will.” Once power is the premise, removing the infirm, the old, or the inconvenient is less difficult: The premise of might over right is established, and the culture grows comfortable with it.

 

 

Language shapes our understanding of reality by guiding our thoughts to elicit particular emotions. It is no accident that the phrase “perception is the reality” is a core component of Madison Avenue’s slick advertising campaigns. Cars may be pre-owned but never “used.” Such manipulation shields the listener from the unpalatable reality; he is eased past the truth by means of a deceptive sleight of hand.

 

The abortion industry cleverly employs these marketing tactics. Who can object to “freedom of choice” or “reproductive rights,” where the content of choice and rights is never spelled out? The emotional response is to the perception of a good thing — freedom of choice. The act that is committed under the deception that one is exercising a “choice” is then done in some measure of comfort — until reality overcomes the perception after the fact.

 

In his instructive little volume Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power, Josef Pieper states, “The abuse of political power is fundamentally connected with the sophistic abuse of the word . . . so much so that the latent potential of the totalitarian poison can be ascertained, as it were, by observing the symptom of the public abuse of language.”

 

Our current political options in the battle for the culture may be few, but culture precedes public policy. We must name things for what they truly are. Refuse to participate in the fictions fed to the public. Refuse to screen a dreadful act behind emotive happy talk.

 

Prior to the recent election, a fundraiser called me to solicit funds to “protect a woman’s right to choose.” The call took an unexpected turn for the solicitor when I asked him, “Choose what?”

 

You know,” the caller said. “I don’t know,” I replied sweetly. “Choose what?”

 

“Well, you know, the right to, uh, to terminate.”

 

“Terminate? What is terminated?”

 

“The pregnancy,” said the caller.

 

“But a pregnancy means a baby. Do you actually mean to terminate a baby?”

 

Pieper warned that the general public “are satisfied with deception and trickery that have determined their convictions, satisfied with a fictitious reality created by design through the abuse of language.” Our task as culture warriors must begin at the beginning: Name things for what they are.


Saints Are Made Through Adversity

February 18, 2009