Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The sad (and never ending) case of Fr. Alberto Cutié

So Fr. Alberto Cutié (aka, Fr. Oprah), the Catholic Church in America's Latin media sensation who was something akin to a Hispanic Fulton Sheen, has written a new book. It's an attempt to justify why, after promising at ordination to be celibate, he broke this promise, took up with a cutie, left the priesthood, and became first just a run-of-the-mill Episcopalian and then an Episcopalian priest.

Here's what I've never understand about his doing what he did. Not falling in love; hundreds if not thousands of Latin rite priests have done this (although it should be said that the overwhelming majority came to their senses and remembered their promises and responsibilities before God and the faithful). What I don't get is the whole Episcopalian thing. How can a Catholic priest do this? Here's the thinking:

Either the Church is the one, true Church or not. Either only validly consecrated priests have the power to consecrate the Eucharist using valid form and matter or they do not. Either the Real Presence is just the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ or it is blasphemy. If it is the Body and Blood -- and if only hosts consecrated in apostolic churches qualify -- then anything else pretending to be the Eucharist (monthly Lord's Supper, something calling itself Eucharist, etc.) is blasphemous. Either the Mass is a re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary -- and is thus properly called the eucharistic sacrifice or the holy sacrifice of the Mass -- or it isn't. Either Anglican priests have valid orders or, pace Leo XIII, they are utterly null and void. If they are utterly null and void, then Anglican/Episcopalian priests have no more priestly powers than any lay member of the Body of Christ. They can baptize in the case of emergency or bless their own immediate family members, no more, no less. They cannot consecrate bread and wine into the Eucharist. Either the Pope is the successor of Peter and has authority in everything having to do with faith and morals, or he does not. There is no in between. On any of this. It's not a matter of opinion. Either the sky is blue or the sky is whatever it is you want it to be. Either 2+2=4 or it equals whatever you want it to.

Understanding this -- as he had to have -- why, why, WHY would Fr. Cutié have left the Catholic Church to become an Episcopalian? The issue was not about him and his honey. As other have noted, he could have  become an Eastern rite priest. He could have become a Catholic layman with a wide-ranging apostolate. (It's not likely either of these would have been successful, but that's another kettle of fish.) It had to be something else.

Whatever the case, just as well, since Cutié has obviously ceased to be Catholic in any tradtional sense of the word. That is, he never believed what the Church teaches or, conversely, that the Church is authoritative in what it teaches. Instead, it was left to him to decide what was authoritative and what was not. Just like any good Protestant, really.

The only question that remains is why won't his fellow travellers (i.e., the dissenters all along the spectrum) have the intellectual integrity to do the same as he has done? Admit you are Protestant and stop giving scandal. Leave. Repent and reform or leave. Otherwise, why harm the Body of Christ as you do?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Islam, religion of peace.

If it hasn't been lifted already, this article lifts the veil on what is intended for infidels like me. "But Islam is a religion of peace! You can't judge all Muslims by the actions of the crazy few!" OK, granted. You're right. I can't. In fact, as someone who lived in a Muslim country as a boy, I have always had a huge amount of respect for Muslims. They treated me so kindly as a child. They were good to my whole family. I loved Muslims. And as a young man, one of my best friends was a guy with whom I worked named Mohammed.

But back then, I didn't know much about Islam qua Islam, so let me spell it out. There is the Realm of Islam and the Realm of War. If you are not living in nations controlled by Muslims, you are in the Realm of War, and it is allowable to make war on you by whatever means necessary. The Koran includes lying as part of this (see Surah 3:28 in the Koran).

For those who live in Muslim lands, furthermore, you are considered a dhimmi. Dhimmi are subject to greater than normal taxation and even slavery (a Muslim cannot licitly enslave another Muslim, although there is plenty of historical precedent for their having done so; Christians, on the hand? Ask the current residents of southern Sudan.). The higher taxation is supposedly because infidels need more security, since, otherwise, government officials can't be held responsible when Muslim citizens attack them precisely for being infidels. This is a large part of the reason why the formerly Christian peoples of northern Africa, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey are now mostly Muslim (granted, Monophysitism, Nestorianism, and other heresies played a contributing part).

This is what the ayatollahs and imams and mullahs have planned for you, friends. They want you to be like them, in terms of religion. They want you to either be like them or suffer the dhimmi's fate. This is the same sort situation that prompted the Crusades (those were not a case of the big, bad Christians attacking the peaceful, wise Muslims; the Crusades were called in response to an appeal for help againts the attacking and maruading flyers of Islam's flag; they were essentially wars of assistance and defense). The war on terror is really a war for the ability to worship as we choose. (Keep in mind that the "radical" and "crazy" strains within Islam represent at least 10% of its adherents, and then do the math: There are 1 billion Muslims in the world).

Don't believe me? Consider that the largest mosque in Europe is less than three miles from the Vatican. It is huge. Then answer me these question: Where is the largest church in Saudi Arabia? When was the last time a building permit was allowed for building a new church in Turkey? How long has the Greek Orthodox seminary been closed and why (keep in mind, there has not been an Orthodox patriarch in recent memory who did not graduate from this seminary)? How easy is it for churches in Egypt, Turkey, Sudan, etc. to get permits to make ordinary repairs? If you don't know the answer to these questions, then you simply have to Google them. News sources such as Fox, Reuters, CNN, AP, etc., have done stories on these subjects in recent years. The answer to the first one may be hard to find, so I'll tell you: There is not a single standing church in that country (there is at least the ruin of one out in the middle of the desert).

Why aren't we paying attention?

Postscript: At the recent Synod on the Middle East held at the Vatican, an Iranian Muslim scholar told the Synod Fathers that there were no problems of tolerance in his nation. Again, they are allowed to lie. They make the Communists look like pikers when it comes to this art.

Oh, Canada.

It's hard to think of Canada as different from us. They speak the same language, have largely the same culture, and they're a democracy just like us.

And yet how different. An evangelical TV preacher said something about the radical homosexual agenda (hey, compared to where the culture was even 5-10 years ago, what they're pushing for is radical). Now he's being threatened with removal from the airwaves. I guess there's no freedom of speech or religion, at least judging by our standards. What he said was intemperate. Even as someone who is a traditional Catholic Christian, I do not think they want such curriculum changes to "make" kids homosexuals. But will such curriculum changes make them more blase about homosexual genital activity and unaware of how morally problematic such activity is? Yes, without a doubt. Will it make them more susceptible to experimentation as young adults? Yes, and that has ramifications for their everlasting souls. And just because he intemperately overstated the case (sometimes, sigh, we're our own worst enemies) doesn't mean he's not correct with his objections over the advertizing that was so sick as to beggar description. Where are the fines for those people? People say stupid, intemperate stuff all the time. Just read the com boxes on any post at Hufpost or Vile, disgusting stuff. No one in Canada's trying to restrict access to those, last time I heard.

The truly frightening thing is that some want to move the US in this same direction of censorship. How long until they're successful?

Oh, the weather outside is frightful ...

Over the last two days, we've had the season's first real snow storm. Between 10-15 inches have fallen. Yesterday, we got home from a wonderful weekend at a local water park to find another 3-4" had dropped since our plow guy had evidently been there in the morning. I got the older children outside, and we shoveled a path to the car and through the driveway so that, if it snowed again, it wouldn't be so deep. (What incredible exercise. Who needs a gym when you have snow to shovel?)

Good thing we did, too. This morning, you absolutely can not tell where we dug yesterday afternoon. Furthermore, for one of the few times since we moved here three years ago, there is snow on the window panes. The cats are begging to come in. If the dog was not still at the sitters, we'd have to trudge through a big pile on the front porch to get him outside for his business.

Inside, however, it's warm, we have good coffee in the pot, we have some corn for poppin', the youngest daughter is being cute and funny, and all is well with the world. Praise God. And let's pray for those who are cold, hungry, thirsty, and lonely (the coldest cold of all).

Habemus "Marian apparition"!

In case you hadn't heard, a bishop has approved a Marian apparition for the first time in US history. The best recounting of the story is in the book The Signs of the Times: Understanding the Church since Vatican II, but there's also a good book available from the apparition shrine on just the apparition itself (
On the one hand, I'm thrilled. In a sense, it means the Church in America has arrived. We have a native-born cradle Catholic saint -- St. Katherine Drexel -- and now we have this. And the apparition is so simple. Frequent the sacraments and catechize your children. Of course, we don't need apparitions to know these things. We should just do them. It should be second nature, but it isn't. We always need reminding of this. Even the Hebrews needed a reminder of this (see Deutoronomy).

On the other hand, the question is, why was this needed? I mean, the Church has always told parents, "You are the first educators. It is your job to educate your child in the Faith." And yet Our Lady appeared to Adele Brice (pro. "breese") to say, "Catechize the children. Teach them the Sign of the Cross." Why hadn't their parents done these things?

As I look at the situation about us in this nation and others, we still have this problem. Each week, I speak with parish DREs and youth ministers. I've never spoken with one who has told me this isn't a problem in their situation. There are parents who catechize their children, to be sure. So many, however, just don't care. They could not care less, in fact. They evidently believe in the Eight Sacrament of Holy Osmosis. That's where you drop your kids off at the parish, save goodbye to them in the rearview mirror as you pull away, and just sorta hope our holy faith will somehow magically sink into them. And then we're surprised when our kids fall away from the faith, either for its poor imitation and substitute or, worse, for abject secularism.

One DRE told me she held a parents information night to let parents know what their children were going to learn in a class about sexuality. They advertized in 10 local parishes for several weeks. Not one parent came. Not one. It's devastating to learn of such things.

But these parents are like so many out there Their attitude toward catechesis is, "That's the Church's job." No it's not. If you're a parent, it's your job. The parish's catechists are only there to reinforce and augment what you're teaching your children in the home. In fact, parishes could save themselves a lot of money if parents were doing this, money that could go to help the poor pay heating bills and put food on their tables.

"But I'm not qualified," I hear some saying. So? So what? Your kids don't know that. Read. Learn. Pass on what  you learn. Don't teach them something unless you know for sure it's fact, and, like any good catechist, don't pass on what you think but what the Church teaches. Trust me, once you start learning, it's contagious. It's not boring at all. It's actually fun and interesting. I, too, used to think it was boring. I certainly don't have that false notion anymore.

So the message given to Adele Brice is still as timely today as ever. Together, let's make it less so.

Obama's an American ... get over it

A friend of mine, an American living in Italy and a conservative, notes that we need to get over this notion that the President is somehow not an American because he was born on foreign soil. The reason this is true is that -- even if he had been born in Kenya, and no one's produced anything other than speculation that he was -- his mother was American, and the last time anyone checked, having an American citizen for a parent qualifies a person as an American. You would think these oh-so-smart individuals would know that.

Protestations to the contrary draws for me images of the sort of wild eyed ravings that I had to deal with during my 15 years or so in conservative politics. In that sort of situation, I would look at the person, nod, grunt a muffled "Uh huh," and furtively hunt the earliest opportunity to escape.

On the other hand, it's understandable: Your guy lost. It's hard to accept, especially when you've bought into the wholesale demonization of the winner throughout the campaign, drank it to the dregs like someone in the desert trying to get the very last drop out of their canteen. You want something, anything that will help this "evil" person (not misguided, not poorly formed, not benighted, but absolutely, certifiably, uncontrovertably EVIL!!!) to be banished to the furthest reaches of historical oblivion possible. You borrow today all of the calamities, material and spiritual, you think this person will visit upon our beloved nation tomorrow.

Nonetheless, we need to simply accept it and work for a better tomorrow. You want to avoid future Obamas? Good, then here's the equation: If you get God wrong, you will get man wrong. If you get man wrong, you will get the culture wrong. If you get culture wrong, you will get society wrong. And if you get wrong society -- and all that flows from it, e.g., government, etc. -- you will get leaders like Nancy Pelosi and President Obama. Ergo, the first task is evangelization. Change people's hearts. Look at the Reagan Democrats. Look at the proportion of Mass-going Catholics who vote for people that reflect their values. Look at the proportion of Evangelicals who do the same. Would a Nancy Pelosi or President Obama be even slightly conceivable with such people? I suppose possible, but not likely.

First things first, folks.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Where to even begin?

The Washington Post has a blog called "On Faith," and one contributor calls himself Catholic. Here's his latest post. It's hard to imagine someone calling themselves Catholic who obviously knows so little about and is so poorly formed in their faith. My comments in red (I'm predicting there will be a lot of them):

Sex and the engaged Catholic

"Most of the Catholics asking to be married in the Church today already have been living together."
Such is the testimony from priests working at the front lines in our parishes today. Probably all too true. A new document on Catholic marriage proves the American bishops are listening. The awareness is especially noticeable among Catholics in the pews, who seem less and less shocked at women five-months pregnant walking down the aisle in a white dress. Is this a good thing? Should we accept this as normal or even good? It's proof two people committed a mortal sin. We all sin. But it should be OK to advertize the fact?  We now shrug our shoulders and content ourselves that at least they are marrying within the Church. In sum, Catholic America faces a new reality: The semi-traditional marriage.

There is dissension in theological circles about what this new social reality means. The dissent is as it's been for decades now: Between those who are faithful to the timeless teachings of orthodox Christianity, who understand truth does not change, even if society's receptivity to the truth does, and those who want to make things up as they go along. Retro-Catholics argue strenuously that the contemporary culture must be rejected if we wish to return to the day when (supposedly) there was no premarital sex. Sheer and absolute bull puckey. There has always been premarital sex. There has always been spousal abuse. There has always been alcoholism. There has always been murder, suicide, gambling, cheating on taxes, theft, lying, blasphemy, tyranny, oppression, greed, gossiping, objectifying, gluttony, and a whole host of other things we used to agree were capital sins. And anyone who understands the fallen nature of man will understand we will always have these sins. So the object isn't, as the author sophmorically proclaims, to return to a day when "there was no premarital sex." Rather, it's to return to a day when we realized premarital sex wasn't something to shrug at, that society opposed it not because they were trying to ruin people's good time, but because sex has consequences, both biological and psychological, and it is so important and beautiful and sacred and holy, that only within the permanence of marriage was it legitimate. The role of the priest, some say, is to force an admission from the couple seeking a church wedding that they are living in sin. Again, sheer sophistry. Does this guy think that in days of old when knights were bold, priests stood over the pregnant bride-to-be and her intended, crucifix in hand, face red with anger, screaming, "Admit sin! Admit sin! Admit sin you ... you, you, you SINNERS!!!!" For crying out loud. A priest (at least a good one) will present the truth about a sin -- any sin -- and call the sinner to recognition of this and thus repentance. But it's not his job to "force" the sinner to admit culpability, any more than it is a doctor's to force a lung cancer patient to give up cigarettes.

Purpose-driven Catholics Don't you love this? See, if you believe in traditional Catholic Christian morality, you are retro, a relic stuck living in the past. But if you are hip, coooool, and oh-so-with-it, you are "purpose-driven.", in contrast, stress the stabilizing union brought by sacramental marriage. If the primary motivation for marriage among people already living together is to raise children in the Catholic faith, why stress the past over the future? Better to emphasize the ways in which the sacrament enshrines the family and permanence than to berate past behavior.

No, no, no, no, no. Yes, it is better to give that child the benefit of a mother and father who have, before God and Johnny Law, pledged themselves to each other til death do us part. Children deserve to have their biological parents raise them in an intact family that isn't subject to the whim of a boyfriend who wants to break up with his girlfriend or vice versa. That's a primary purpose of marriage, to give children stable homes in which to be raised and thus give society healthy, functioning citizens.

But if I stole something in 7th grade, I still have to confess that sin. I'm still responsible for that sin until I repent and confess. If I hit someone in anger when I was 17, the same thing. If I had an abortion, and I feel terribly guilty about that, I don't make things better by ignoring it. So it's not a matter of berating. It's a matter of simple calling to repentance. No priest worth his salt will not do that.

The dilemma for parish priests is how to satisfy both the traditional and the semi-traditional. To a certain extent, this is true. On the one hand, you don't want to cheapen the chastity of those who have followed Catholic tradition to the letter. As all couples should. On the other hand, you don't want to chase away those whose goodwill is belated but real. No sense losing a whole family to the Church because of anger over spilled-milk. It's amazing people feel this way, but what he says is true.

An award-winning book by Creighton University professors Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler, The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology (Moral Traditions) looks at the theology of marriage as a disputed question, paying considerable attention to the issue of premarital sex. The authors advocate a rethinking of the meaning of the sacrament from the ground level of experience in the grass-roots rather than to await Solomonic pronouncements from on high. Translation: The authors advocate totally throwing out the Church's timeless teaching -- based on Scripture and divinely revealed truth -- concerning the illicit nature of all pre- or extra-marital sexual relations and replacing it with an anything goes, carnival atmosphere.

The fallacy addressed by the theologians is how traditional teachings equate the sacrament of marriage with permission for the first physical act of intercourse. Uhm, excuse me? "The fallacy"? Point to me to one place in the Bible where pre-marital sex is seen as being a-OK. Take as long as you want. Still at it? Get back to me when you can, all right? Get a Bible search engine via Google. Look for the words "fornicate" and "fornication" and "fornicators." See what Scripture says about this. Is Scripture a fallacy? OK, look at it from the perspective of Natural Law. Even some pagan philosphers found the truth in this (admittedly not many). Many societies have traditionally acted on this, as well. The authors note that in human history, having sex and getting married were seen as two different acts. Yes they are. Just like giving birth and baptizing the baby are two different acts. Just like eating/drinking and expelling human waste are two different acts. But one is always supposed to precede the other. No difference here. After all, what is the world's oldest profession? Bad journalism and ignorant op-ed writing. Even during the Christian dispensation, society expected men to have sexual experience before marriage. In some places, maybe. All societies? Demonstrably false. And the Church never, ever, ever countenanced this. Canon law in the past recognized the rights of concubines, i.e. mistresses, and their children to receive the sacraments. Boy, if you set fire to all the straw men this author has erected, you could light the world for days. OK, deep, cleansing breath. Look, it's simple: The sacraments -- and Confession is and always has been a sacrament -- are meant to be channels of efficacious grace. Christ gave them to us and the Church administers them to help sinners get back on course. So of course mistresses had access to Confession and, assuming they received absolution, Communion. Of course they had access to last rites and matrimony. And their offspring had access to baptism as the beginning of a life of grace that would hopefully keep them from making the same mistakes made by mum and dad. Canon law recognizes this in the present, too, mate. And straying males like St. Augustine could go to heaven as canonized saints along with his son born out of wedlock. Straying males who, like St. Augustine, saw the error of their ways, repented, confessed, and did the penance given them by their confessor did get to heaven. Again, check out the Bible as to what happens to straying males who don't do these things. Ain't pretty. Fire, gnashing of teeth, you know the drill.  

There is little incentive to go back this far in history, mostly because it set up a dual standard for the genders: men to be "practiced" and women to be virgins. But if society's norms have changed, should not theology have responses? Pagan society practiced this norm. For 2,000 years, Christianity changed that paradigm. So this author -- supposedly a Catholic -- would have us go back to the good ol' pagan days? Society's norms haven't so much changed as they've expanded. Whereas in the past, a wink-wink, nudge-nudge was given to the male philanderer, now we're celebrating the female who spreads her legs at any passer-by and calling it "empowerment." Actually, the author, I gotta give it to him, he's right. They have changed. Dads and mates may have given their sons and chums an elbow in the ribs, but it was never something trumpeted. It was something about which polite society expected discreetness and was frowned upon far more than it was considered morally neutral or good. Now, hell, shout it from the rooftops. As to whether theology should similarly say, "Ah, bugger it all," theology's role is to serve true religion, and true religion's role is to lead souls to salvation. You don't serve anything by saying, "To hell with Your rules, God. We'll make it up as we go along, thank you very much." Well, Satan. You serve him when you do this.  A generation ago in 1960, only 5 percent of U.S. births were out of wedlock.: today it is nearly 40 percent. About 26 percent of children now live with a single parent--up from 9 percent in 1960. In that same decade two-thirds of adult Americans were married. But in 2007, those percentages had dropped to little more than 50 percent. No big deal, right? Hey, so what if we're dooming these individuals and the societies in which they live to a less than ideal life from the very start? Times change, after all. Stop being so old fashioned and judgmental, so Victorian, so prudish. Get with the times, pal.

The professors may have gone a step too far for the bishops when they argued that traditional Catholic teaching on marriage is "obsolete and inadequate." However, they do make the case that the theological meaning of the sacrament of marriage rests upon a personalized commitment between two people to form a permanent union in the model of Christ's love for his Church. Uhm, news flash, Sparky: The Church has always taught that the ordinary ministers of the sacrament of matrimony are the couple. And as John Paul II's Theology of the Body shows, the marital act and the agape love that transforms mere eros (which is by nature selfish) into something completely self-giving is a model of Christ's love for the Church. But it must have agape to do this. And you can't have agape when you're giving into your selfish desires, when you are ruled by eros, by your passions. Passions lead you astray.

Furthermore, look at the research on oxytocin, the powerful chemical bonding agent that is released during the marital act. You are bonded in some way with everyone with whom you have ever or will ever have sex. Now let's say the groom is jilted at the altar by his fiancee, with whom he's had intercourse numerous times. A year later, he meets a woman whom he does marry. Is it of absolutely no consequence that he is bonded to this other woman, the one who jilted him, in some way? Shouldn't that bonding have been reserved to the woman who actually made it through the "I do's"? Again, the word is commitment, and while a ring isn't a magic talisman that guarantees commitment, it does go an awful long way to getting the job done. To say this all isn't true is to ignore the Everest-tall mountains of research that have demonstrated to the contrary. The bishops' official critique of the book highlights points of theological disagreement but does not offer a solution to changing social views of marriage. I've not read their critique, but even if this is true, you don't have to look far to see the bishops' efforts to change our changing/changed social mores.

Marriage is the sacrament performed by the two people getting married, not by the priest-witness. True, but totally irrelevant. I think the rival theologians and bishops should listen to the laity about Catholic marriage. And I think anyone who is this poorly formed in what the Catholic Church teaches and who builds enough straw men to fill the Grand Canyon shouldn't have the ability to write such tripe. So? Bottom line: The Church isn't a democracy, something even Vatican II affirmed. Get over it. Now is the time to engage the laity in a "Year of the Married Vocation" to refocus prayer and pastoral practice on this vital issue. Translation: To refocus prayer, etc., so the Church will finally say, "Hey, man, if it feels good, bro, do it! Party on! Woooooooo!!! Get naked and do it ALL NIGHT LONGGGGG! Yeah, baby! Gi' som'!" More translation: Did He say you will die? You will not die: You will be as gods!

This guy tries to sound so artful and sophisticated and intelligent, but, really, he wasted a whole column to say something that is like a broken record from the progressive/i.e., regressive crowd: Church, change your teaching on sex, so we can copulate, masturbate, sodomize, and fornicate to our hearts' content. This is done in the name of humanism, but I can't imagine anything else that is so falsely human. Man is better than this and should expect more from himself. This particular man needs a basic course in Theology of the Body. Someone, please, quick, get him to one.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What would it be like?

I was thinking today about the people in Haiti. In the midst of their earthquake recovery woes and cholera outbreak/epidemic, the thought of presents for Christmas to them must seem like a mix between an obscene joke and an unattainable dream.

And yet while our tendency is to pity them, what if we looked at it from a different perspective? What if we looked at them as amongst the luckiest people in the world, at least in terms of the Christmas celebration that draws near?

Since focusing on gifts of things, things that will perish or end up in a landfill is an exercise in futility, they can instead focus on the one thing that has any lasting value: The gift of Jesus Christ and the salvation He has won us on the Cross. Put yourself in their position. You have nothing, and so you have nothing materially to give. So all your focus, therefore, is on the "reason for the season," the miracle that God became man.

He became a tiny embryo and grew from there to full gestation. Then He was delivered "at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold." He had diapers that needed changing. He became a playful boy. He got boo-boos and was afraid of the dark and sought comfort from His parents. He grew to adolescence, was found in the Temple, presumably learned a trade, and practiced that trade until He turned 30, living all the while with His Blessed Mother. All in obscurity.

And then for three years, He set the world ablze. He ministered to the sick and the spiritually sick. He preached, He wept, He had no place to call His own. And then after enduring untold suffering, He died a horrible death upon a cross, the death of a common criminal.

Yet today, we say with St. Thomas, "My Lord and my God." In the face of this reality, who needs gifts wrapped in paper and gilt with shiney celophane bows? How can those compare with the treasure of a personal God Who loves you so much that even if you were the only sinner who had ever lived, He would still have died for you?

This year, many have nothing. Their immediate future hangs in the balance of what happens in Congress. They want so much to put something "meaningful" and joy-producing under the tree for those they love. And this is fine. There is nothing wrong with this. And yet, if they have salvation in Jesus, don't they have something meaningful and joy-producing? Oh sure, a life in Christ is not something you can wrap in a box. But to pass on the gift of faith, it makes both the giver and receiver inestimably rich. And who has need, therefore, really, of any other present?

In some ways, therefore, the Haitians and those like them are the richest people in the world. They are compelled to concentrate on that which is truly gift, truly important, truly worth receiving.

And while we should show solidarity with them by donating to charities such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Food for the Poor, let us join them in their poverty insofar as we make remembering "the reason for the season" not so much a slogan but a lived reality.