Month: June 2018

Sen. Murkowski must hear from Alaskans on Supreme Court vote

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski may well become a center of national attention as debate heats up over the next justice for the U.S. Supreme Court.

With Justice Anthony Kennedy stepping down after 30 years on the bench, there is now an opportunity for President Trump to appoint a solidly pro-life justice to the high court, a move that would give the conservative block a clear majority. Kennedy was long considered a “swing” vote as he often sided with decisions in favor of gay marriage and abortion. His replacement could allow the court to finally roll back key aspects of Roe vs. Wade, the court ruling that ensured legal abortion throughout the nation.

With Republicans holding a extremely narrow majority in the U.S. Senate Murkowski has emerged as a critical vote in confirming a new Supreme Court justice as activists from both sides of the abortion debate lobby legislators. A self-identified Catholic, Murkowski is also a supporter of abortion rights who has shown a willingness to disregard Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life in the womb and the right to life of unborn babies.

National reports this week indicate that Murkowski will be under immense pressure from both sides when she deliberates how to vote on the next Supreme Court nominee.

This is no time to sit on the sidelines or quietly hope for the best. Each and every pro-life Alaskan needs to contact Murkowski and respectfully but forcefully reiterate that we want her to vote for a conservative judicial nominee who will uphold the original intent of the U.S. Constitution.

The pro-abortion side will most certainly make a strong effort to influence Murkowski. We cannot let our voice go unheard. Please contact Murkowski through letters, phone calls and emails. The more correspondence the better. She must be made aware of the fact that most Alaskans are pro-life, we are counting on her vote and we are watching closely to see how she votes.

Click here to contact Murkowski.

Lisa Murkowski, Abortion, and Holy Communion

A fine plea for human life was recently made by Alaska’s most prominent cleric, Archbishop Etienne, on his blog:

How many couples get married today already having decided how many children they will have? How many decide they do not even want children? Or, sadly, how many couples when they conceive a child decide it is ‘inconvenient’ and do not accept this gift of new life? Without judging any of those particular situations, I simply beg the questions: Can we not be more open to God? to God’s plan? Do we have the faith and love to accept God’s will in our lives, even when it ‘blows up’ our plans and trust that God’s plan is better than our own?

Regrettably, these questions do not seem to affect Alaska’s most prominent lay Catholic, who has taken to the state’s most prominent public forum to share that she doesn’t “adhere to all the tenets of my faith,” “I’m not hesitant to question when I think that my church, my religion, is not current,” and that “if you don’t like abortion, the best way to deal with it is . . . through contraception“?

Here’s what Evangelium Vitae states:

“Be Not Afraid!”

Laws which legitimize the direct killing of innocent human beings through abortion or euthanasia are in complete opposition to the inviolable right to life proper to every individual; they thus deny the equality of everyone before the law.

Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.

In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it”.


As pointed out by Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute, here’s how Cardinal Ratzinger would have responded to a politician who “does not adhere” to the Church’s teaching on abortion or euthanasia:

5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

6. When “these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,” and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, “the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it” (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration “Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics” [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.


In contrast, here’s how Cardinal McCarrick would have responded:

“Based on our consultation process –said  Cardinal McCarrick,- there is significant concern about the perception that the sacred nature of the Eucharist could be trivialized and might be turned into a partisan political battleground.”

“Expecting a minister of Holy Communion to make these judgments would create great pastoral difficulties. We do not want to encourage confrontations at the altar rail with the Sacred Body of the Lord Jesus in our hands. This could create unmanageable burdens for our priests and those who assist them and could turn the Eucharist into a perceived source of political combat,” the interim  report added.

The Washington Cardinal also said that denial of Holy Communion “could further divide our Church and that it could have serious unintended consequences. For example, it could be more difficult for faithful Catholics to serve in public life because they might be seen not as standing up for principle, but as under pressure from the hierarchy.”

“We also fear it could push many people farther away from the Church and its  teaching, rather than bringing them closer.”

“In light of these and other concerns, the task force urges for the most part renewed efforts and persuasion, not penalties,” Cardinal McCarrick’s report also said.

And here is Deuteronomy:

I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live!

St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

Catholic Education: One Man’s View

Pope Francis leads a ceremony of baptism during a solemn mass in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican“The steady decline in Catholic school population has been the subject of a vast amount of comment, most completely off the mark.  The Catholic population in the United States did not suddenly plummet to the bottom of the economy after 1971.  If anything, the general income level of Catholics after 1971, when the decline of Catholic schools began to take hold, was as good or better than their level of income in the 1950s and ’60s, when they–infinitely better off than their immigrant ancestors who founded American Catholic schooling–had managed to sustain a vast number of schools throughout the nation.  Indeed, during the 1950s and into the late 1960s, new Catholic schools were being built.

“Economics has not been the real reason for the steadily diminishing Catholic school population.  Nor has the decline in female (and male) religious vocations been the essential cause.  Nor has Lemon v. Kurtzman.  Paraphrasing Cassius, a Catholic is forced to say: ‘The fault, dear Catholics, lies not in our laws but in ourselves.’  Like the leadership in many mainline Protestant churches, many Catholics of influence after the Second Vatican Council departed from traditional beliefs, disparaged all authority but their own, and embraced novelty as though it were ‘renewal.’  If there is a return, now, to a profound sense of the sacred among Catholics, to discipline, and to the careful teaching of doctrine, Catholics may have hope for a resurgence of Catholic fervor and fidelity.”

–Wm. Bentley Ball, Mere Creatures of the State (Crisis Books, Notre Dame, IN: 1994).

Et tu, Brute?

Here is a good visual of a restoration of the sense of the sacred.  May Alaska’s bishops and priests hasten this restoration in our fair state, through the intercession of St. Therese and Our Lady of the Snows!

Heart v. Head = Jansenism

Certain Alaskan ecclesiastical circles have recently revived the old “Heart v. Head” chestnut, e.g., “for too long we have simply focused on the intellect, and not done nearly enough to engage the hearts of believers.” Or again, the “starting point is not the teaching, but the person of Jesus.”  Along with that fusty old Baltimore Catechism, it now seems that the Divine Commission to teach all nations has outlived its usefulness.

Historically, this sentimental journey occurs in Alaskan pulpits when the peons in the pews clamor for authentic Catholic formation.  But it is not limited to Alaska, nor even the clerical state. The classic “heart-over-head” exponent was that brilliant Jansenist sympathizer, Pascal, who wrote in his Pensees:

The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things…It is the heart which experiences God, and not the reason.  This, then, is faith: God felt by the heart, not by the reason.

Feelings…whoa-oh-oh…nothing more than feelings. See?  Pascal wrote that, not Morris Albert.

It is good to draw distinctions here. Pascal lived a saintly life, and died yielding his room and board to a destitute family.  May we meet merrily in heaven!  But Pascal, along with his fellow Enlightenment geniuses Leibniz and Newton, veered into weird heresy when he applied his mathematical mind to the things of God.  Interestingly, Jansenism, for all its modern reputation as a heresy of “moral rigorism,” was originally a kind of Catholic determinism.  Quoth Fr. Hardon:

According to Jansenius, man’s free will is incapable of any moral goodness. All man’s actions proceed either from earthly desires, which stem from concupiscence, or from heavenly desires, which are produced by grace.  Each exercises an urgent influence on the human will, which in consequence of its lack of freedom always follows the pressure of the stronger desire.  Implicit in Jansenism is the denial of the supernatural order, the possibility of either rejection or acceptance of grace.

Trust your feelings. Unless they involve Magisterial teaching.

Jansenism thus leads to a Calvinist idea of predestination. The human will is overwhelmed, determinism ascendant, and man is not free.  Rather than love – that is, man freely willing the good of another person – Jansenism produces an anxiety whereby a man is uncertain whether he is among the saved.  And how does one know whether one is saved?  Says Obi-Wan, er, Pascal: trust your feelings.

There are, of course, echoes in the Gospel that make the heart-first, head-later ideology initially attractive. Our Lord spoke at length about the human heart:  Where your heart is, there also will your treasure be.  Love the Lord your God with all your heartBlessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.  Our Lady, too, pondered all these things in her heart.

But there is a distinction with a difference here. The recent Alaskan trend views the heart essentially as sentiment, an effusion of “warmth, compassion, mercy, and love.”  Such gushing language calls to mind the embrace offered to Wormwood by dear Uncle Screwtape.  Or, Barney.

See the source image

I love you, You love me, Encounter and accompany…

The Gospels, on the other hand, regard the heart as the utter interiority in man – that is, that ineffable inner sanctum wherein one either accepts or rejects God. What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a manThis people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from meYou shall indeed hear but never understand, for this people’s heart has grown dull.

Yet God forces Himself on no one. Howsoever corruption may take hold, the human heart remains essentially free to choose, even in the natural order.  St. Paul, wonderfully, drives this home:

When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law unto themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them.

But can they call upon him in whom they have not believed, in him of whom they have never heard? As the Baltimore Catechism (shudder) suggests, can you love, honor, and serve Someone without knowing Him first?  Is faith, as Pascal said, “God felt by the heart, not reason?”

No, no, and no. St. Paul tells the Romans, “Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.”  Better yet, Our Lord tells us, “Go and make disciples of all nations, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Please pray for the Pope and our Bishops and Priests, that they may preach and teach Christ and His doctrine – not sentiment.

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