Thursday, April 25, 2013

We could use more of this!

In her blog post The Well-Ordered Life, Jennifer Fulwiler makes a point that needs constant repeating: that the Church's teachings offer a coherent, fulfilling (but not always easy) way of life, a way that stands in increasingly appealing contrast to the Way of the World, as the latter goes merrily off the deep end.

And very usefully, she observes that "It's amazing, in fact, to see how naturally your priorities fall into proper order when you make even a basic effort to follow the ancient teachings and traditions of the Church." [emphasis added] Lest you think this observation hasn't cost her some discomfort, I encourage you to read her entire post.

Note: this comes from the National Catholic Register, not the National "Catholic" Reporter.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A last small gift

Fr. Frank Pavone (of Priests for Life) has asked officials for after-trial custody of the remains of the forty-five infants killed by abortionist Kermit Gosnell and his staff, whose deaths are the subject of the current murder case that will soon go to jury. Fr. Pavone wants to give the infants a decent burial, as human beings deserve.

I have no idea whether he'll succeed. But I do think it's an artful move, in that it draws fresh attention to the fundamental issue of the humanity of these small and helpless victims.

I hope that every American of goodwill can agree that (1) these infants, whether killed in utero or after delivery, were members to some degree of the human race, and (2) the natural virtue that I hope we can still call "common" decency leads us to grant them the respect of a burial fitting for human beings.

We don't really need to settle the Great Question of whether these infants were full-fledged "persons" with an absolute right to decent treatment of their remains. We only have to agree that we, the living, have enough human pity and generosity left in us to grant these forty-five dead creatures, whatever their precise legal and philosophical status may be, the tiny last gift of a respectful interment.

Maybe they have a right to it. Maybe they don't. But can't we just let someone give them that gift?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sorry, Lord, I can't hear you...

I left a comment at Dr. Greg Popcak's Patheos blog earlier today. I've edited it a bit as a standalone blog entry here.

The headline of Dr. Popcak's post, featured at, is Why You SHOULD Bring Baby to Church. But the issue is not so much about merely bringing babies to church; the illustrative photo he provides, of a toddler in full tantrum mode, makes it clear that the real issue is Why It Shouldn't Matter to Anyone That They Can't Hear Anything Over Your Child's Fussing. And why, if it does matter to you, you're just being uncharitable. Or you hate kids.

Though my child is grown up now, I vividly recall her toddlerhood and preschool years, so I approach this topic as a fellow parent.

There are many good techniques to be found in Dr. Popcak's post, aimed at helping parents and children deal with the challenge of coming to church. What I don't see there, however, or in the enormous train of comments that follows, is sufficient pity for others at Mass whose spiritual needs may be different from those of parents and their children. For example, for the adult whose faith is hanging by a thread, who nevertheless forced himself to go to Mass that day, and who desperately needs an focused hour at that Mass to let his frayed emotions be calmed, and get his confused intellect reconnected with Truth, to let God's grace work through to his tormented heart. Imagine such a person trying hard to understand the message of that day's Gospel, but hearing instead something like this:
"At that time, Jesus said to the Pharisees, I am the Good SHRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! lays down His WAAAHHHHHHHHH! know Mine and Mine know BANG! WAILLLLLLLL!!!! The Word of the Lord."
He hangs on through the Homily, hoping for the guidance he craves, but since whole sentences are inaudible over the din, that's reduced to incoherence, too.

Perhaps at that moment, something gives. His life is already full of distraction and disappointment. He can't take any more. Parents, he won't be the one scowling at you. He's beyond that. He's the one with head down, shuffling out quietly before the Credo, concluding that not even at Mass will God grant him an hour's peace.

And just outside the church door, the Enemy is waiting for him.

Parents, in your commendable efforts to bring your children to Mass, don't forget about that man who left early. That's all I ask.