Wise Advice from St. Francis de Sales for When People Question Your Motives

December 30, 2009 by  
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“As soon as worldly people see that you wish to follow a devout life they aim a thousand darts of mockery and even detraction at you. The most malicious of them will slander your conversion as hypocrisy, bigotry, and trickery. . . .

“Philothea, all this is mere foolish, empty babbling. These people aren’t interested in your health or welfare. ‘If you were of the world, the world would love what is its own but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you,; says the Savior. We have seen gentlemen and ladies spend the whole night, even many nights one after another, playing chess or cards. Is there any concentration more absurd, gloomy, or depressing than this last? Yet worldly people don’t say a word and the players’ friends don’t bother their heads about it.

“If we spend an hour in meditation or get up a little earlier than usual in the morning to prepare for Holy Communion, everyone runs for a doctor to cure us of hypochondria and jaundice. People can pass thirty nights in dancing and no one complains about it, but if they watch through a single Christmas night they cough and claim their stomach is upset the next morning. Does anyone fail to see that the world is an unjust judge, gracious and well disposed to its own children but harsh and rigorous towards the children of God?

“We can never please the world unless we lose ourselves together with it. It is so demanding that it can’t be satisfied. “John came neither eating nor drinking,” says the Savior, and you say, “He has a devil.” “The Son of man came eating and drinking” and you say that he is “a Samaritan.”

“It is true, Philothea, that if we are ready to laugh, play cards, or dance with the world in order to please it, it will be scandalized at us, and if we don’t, it will accuse us of hypocrisy or melancholy. If we dress well, it will attribute it to some plan we have, and if we neglect our dress, it will accuse of us of being cheap and stingy. Good humor will be called frivolity and mortification sullenness. Thus the world looks at us with an evil eye and we can never please it. It exaggerates our imperfections and claims they are sins, turns our venial sins into mortal sins and changes our sins of weakness into sins of malice.

“‘Charity is kind,’ says Saint Paul, but the world on the contrary is evil. “Charity thinks no evil,” but the world always thinks evil and when it can’t condemn our acts it will condemn our intentions. Whether the sheep have horns or not and whether they are white or black, the wolf doesn’t hesitate to eat them if he can.

“Whatever we do, the world will wage war on us. If we stay a long time in the confessional, it will wonder how we can have so much to say; if we stay only a short time, it will say we haven’t told everything. It will watch all our actions and at a single little angry word it will protest that we can’t get along with anyone. To take care of our own interests will look like avarice, while meekness will look like folly. As for the children of the world, their anger is called being blunt, their avarice economy, their intimate conversations lawful discussions. Spiders always spoil the good work of the bees.

“Let us give up this blind world, Philothea. Let it cry out at us as long as it pleases, like a cat that cries out to frighten birds in the daytime. Let us be firm in our purposes and unswerving in our resolutions. Perseverance will prove whether we have sincerely sacrificed ourselves to God and dedicated ourselves to a devout life. Comets and planets seem to have just about the same light, but comets are merely fiery masses that pass by and after a while disappear, while planets remain perpetually bright. So also hypocrisy and true virtue have a close resemblance in outward appearance but they can be easily distinguished from one another.

“Hypocrisy cannot last long but is quickly dissipated like rising smoke, whereas true virtue is always firm and constant. It is no little assistance for a sure start in devotion if we first suffer criticism and calumny because of it. In this way we escape the danger of pride and vanity, which are comparable to the Egyptian midwives whom a cruel Pharaoh had ordered to kill the Israelites’ male children on the very day of their birth. We are crucified to the world and the world must be crucified to us. The world holds us to be fools; let us hold it to be mad.”

Saint Frances de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

TIME Magazine's 2009 Person of the Year?

December 29, 2009 by  
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I’m sure Ben Bernanke is a nice man and all, but why is he being touted as the “Person of the Year”?

Back in the olden days, back before I became at least somewhat politically astute and hip to the ways of the world, I used to read TIME Magazine. Yes, I confess it, and I have repented of that folly. In fact, I stopped reading TIME years ago because its editors and writers seemed to be pathologically incapable of presenting commentary on the news in a balanced and objectively honest way. Not only are the stories and editorials imbued with liberal cant, the selection of stories is perpetually reflective of a distorted leftist weltanschauung that perceives everything only in shades of gray, pink, and rainbow.

Which brings me to this blog piece from the PIME Missionaries (a congregation of Catholic priests who minister primarily in India and Asia), who comments, As the world waits for hyperinflation and a world government, Bernanke becomes ‘Person of the Year.’”

The piece includes a number of good observations about why Ben Bernanke is an odd choice for this honor, including this one: What better achievement to put in the resume of an otherwise average economics professor from Princeton, without much theoretical work or publications to his name.”

A Caller to My Radio Show Asks Why I Kicked Him Off My Facebook Page

December 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

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This audio clip is from a recent show in which a caller wanted (I think) to publicly put me on the spot over why I “de-friended” him on Facebook. As you’ll hear, the reason was because of some things he said to some of the women there about their having had an abortion.

The problem was that he branded such women as “murderers” because 1) abortion is murder and 2) they had aborted one or more of their children. His logic is correct, at least in a sense, because abortion is murder. But the way he put that logic into practice was, in my view, wrong-headed and counterproductive, and in this audio clip, I explain why. Take a listen . . .

What do you think?

Also, for any woman reading this blog post who may be struggling with feelings of grief, self-hatred, and remorse (to name a few common emotional reactions women feel after having had an abortion), I would like to encourage you to get in touch with the following welcoming and very helpful organizations:

Bethesda Healing Ministry and Rachael’s Vineyard.

Some Advice for Catholics Who Want to Study Scripture More Deeply

December 28, 2009 by  
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On my “Open Line” radio show last week (Thursdays from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. ET), I took a call from Ryan in Baton Rouge. He asked for some advice on resources for studying Scripture in a systematic way. Here’s what I told him.
Take a listen . . .


Newt Gingrich's Prescription to Fix U.S. Gov: "Replace, not Reform"

December 28, 2009 by  
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Leftist Blogs Gleeful Over Attack on Pope Benedict

December 28, 2009 by  
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In view of the widespread orgy of gloating among those who were delighted by the Christmas-Eve attack on the Pope at the start of midnight Mass in Saint Peters, I offer up to the Lord this scriptural prayer of encouragement for the Holy Father, that He would continue to protect and strengthen him in the face of his enemies:

May God “deliver you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil; men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways” (Proverbs 2:12-15).

Conservative columnist Theodore Kettle comments on the shameful display of glee in some circles about the attack on the pope:

It was only minutes after Pope Benedict XVI was violently attacked on Christmas Eve by a woman described by authorities as mentally deranged, but leftist blogs lit up with joy over the assault.


The Daily Kos’s “Late Afternoon/Early Evening Open Thread,” for example, featured this posting at 8:10 PM Eastern Time: “Having just about enough of this male dominance bull—t, one bold Italian woman ran up and knocked down the Pope and a Cardinal!”

The woman, Susanna Maiolo, 25, was actually Swiss-Italian, and while the Pontiff himself came out of the episode unhurt and able to complete his celebration of Midnight Mass, 87-year-old French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray was left with broken bones requiring hip replacement surgery.

The comments that soon appeared on blogs known to be critical of the social teachings of the Catholic Church were so harsh that even fellow bloggers of similar ideological bent were outraged.

In a Dec. 26 a Daily Kos article entitled “Anti-Catholicism,” a “former Republican” Catholic woman and “forester/biologist” from the Deep South wrote, “I logged onto HuffingtonPost.com and read about the Pope getting knocked over by a mentally disturbed woman.

While several people pointed out the Pope’s age and how this could have easily resulted in a broken hip, many more rejoiced in the event.” One blogger’s “attack on Catholicism and Catholics was met with near universal approval within the HuffingtonPost community.”

She added, “I have read numerous, nearly identical comments and posts at Daily Kos.”

A number of HuffPost bloggers were also amazed at the venom of some of the responses, like one woman who observed, “This incident with the Pope has brought lots of Christmas cheer to the HP community. Wow.” . . . (continue reading)


Competition Heats Up in the Apologetics Biz

December 28, 2009 by  
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Game Changer: Alleged Northwest Airline Leg-Bomber Doesn't Fit the Profile

December 26, 2009 by  
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Here is one of the first photos of former British university student, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, being arrested on Northwest Airlines 253 after allegedly trying to blow up the Airbus A330 filled with 11 crew members and 278 passengers, as it was on its final landing approach to Detroit Metro Airport. (Photo CNN.)

This unfolding story of the man who attempted (nearly successfully) yesterday to blow up Northwest Airlines 253 in mid-air is nerve wracking on several levels. Yes, he’s a Muslim and, apparently, a self-proclaimed “jihadist,” which does fit the prevailing “airline terrorist” profile. But that’s not what concerns me here. The fact that he is black — black African — is something, at least ethnically, that has not been part of the standard Muslim terrorist paradigm.

Until now.

Consider a few points. First, this “leg-bomber” and/or his accomplic(es) managed to smuggle liquid and powder bomb components onto this trans-Atlantic flight, assemble them in flight, and ignite the mixture is cause for grave consternation for every law enforcement agency with any role to play in preventing this kind of thing. If this jihad-addled yahoo got this close to killing 289 innocent people, my hunch is that there are other such yahoos out there all ginned up and ready to go on similar airline slay rides.


Second, as someone who does a lot of airline travel each year myself, foreign and domestic, I know that the man who is being credited with foiling the terrorist in the act of igniting the explosive device (or whatever it was that he had strapped to his leg), was very possibly the only thing that prevented the attack from being successful.

It’s possible that Abdulmutallab, the wannabe bomber, is simply an inept bumbler, though if his claim that he was dispatched on this mission by Al Quaeda or some derivative group plays out as true, then perhaps that means that, thanks to the relentless campaign against them by the U.S. and Britain, they have been reduced to conning bumblers into doing their dirty work. But regardless, thank God that heroic passenger had the awareness and the fight in him to lunge at the bomber and, with his bare hands, rip the already burning bomb off his leg so it could be squelched before it could explode. God bless that man!

Other passengers on this flight helped subdue the attacker (God bless them, too), once they became aware of the danger, only moments later, but the Dutch man who got to him first is very likely the one who prevented the plane from disintegrating in a fiery explosion, somewhere over Detroit, as the plane made its landing approach. I know from experience, traveling fairly often on long, trans-oceanic flights that, because the clear and present danger of in-flight terrorism has not abated one whit since 9-11 (remember, the conventional wisdom, with which I wholeheartedly concur, is “if, not when”), it can be nerve wracking for those passengers who are alert to the danger while in the air. I know this not only from my own experiences, but also as
a result of conversations about this very issues, while flying, with flight attendants, dead-heading pilots, and other aware, concerned passengers.

Within a few hours of this story breaking on the Drudge Report and other major news sites, a close friend of mine who travels on business frequently between Detroit and Amsterdam’s “Schiphol Airport, texted me: “I take that same flight all the time — it’s my primary one. I’ll be on it in a month, twice. Unbelievable!” I can readily understand my friend’s unease over this. I feel his pain.

True story: A few years ago, I was seated in business class on a flight on a major US airline from Chicago to New Delhi, India. The 777 was configured in that class as 2-4-2, and I was seated on the left-hand aisle of the middle section. About 9 or 10 hours into the flight (it’s a 14-hour haul) I watched in shock as a man dressed in a traditional Pakistani outfit literally ran up the right-hand aisle toward first class. The cabin was dark, most everyone was asleep, and a flight attendant who was alert enough to this guy stepped out from the galley into the aisle and physically blocked his way from moving past her toward the front of the plane.

She barked loudly and firmly, “Sir! You cannot come into this cabin!” a few passengers seated nearby stirred, sat up, and looked around to see what was happening. The guy seemed to hesitate for a moment or two and then said he was trying to get to the bathroom. The flight attendant pointed to the back of the plane and told him firmly and audibly enough to be heard by everyone in business class, “I’m sorry, sir, but you can only use the lavatories in that part of the plane. You cannot come into this part of the plane.” And with that, he turned and walked casually toward the back. I didn’t see him again during the remainder of the flight, but I admit that my thoughts revolved around the previously publicized theory that Muslim terrorist engage periodically in “testing” the reactions of airline crews during flights as a way to determine what methods of attack will and won’t work during a real attack.

A few minutes after that unsettling altercation took place, I made my way to the galley and told the flight attendant that I had watched the whole thing and asked what she thought it meant. She seemed tense and kind of nervous and she said she had already alerted the captain and the rest of the flight crew about it. About all I could do was let her know that I’d be awake and watching, if she needed any help. How I prayed that nothing would happen that would bring things to that stage. Nothing did, obviously, thank God. But that incident branded on my mind and took up residence in the “what-if” section of my imagination.

What if that guy, or several, had tried to do something bad on that flight? What would I have done? Anything? Nothing? It’s impossible to say. All I know is that I tell myself I would act, if the situation ever required it (thank God it never has). Who knows what any of us would actually do if faced with mortal danger in mid-f
light. Thank God that the Dutch passenger on yesterday’s Northwest’s flight sprang into action when he did. I shudder to imagine what would have happened if the attacker had succeeded.

This British press report discussed how he tried to blow up the plane, as does Politico.

And finally, third, it’s being reported — and the pictures that are starting to come out indicate — that the terrorist did not fit the racial stereotype of what we have come to assume in-flight attackers would look like. He is not an Arab, he’s Nigerian. He speaks presumably excellent English with a British accent. Unlike the “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid, He doesn’t look “the part.”

Racial profiling? Ha. This incident is a game-changer. This changes everything. Wait and see.


Christmas Morning Shocker: Majestic Irish Cathedral Destroyed by Fire

December 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

The north-central Irish Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise has suffered the tragic loss of its 150-year old cathedral yesterday morning in what may have been an act of arson. Just a few hours after the bishop celebrated Midnight Mass, the fire broke out. By the time it was extinguished the beautiful interior was completely gutted. Of course, it’s too soon to know yet what caused the fire, but given the turmoil still at a fever pitch of shock and anger in Ireland over the recently revealed devastating report of clergy sexual abuse (with a number of bishops resigning in disgrace over it) the possibility of arson is certainly plausible. I pray for my Irish Catholic brethren as they are hit by this new and unexpected blow.


UPDATE: The origin of this fire is being actively investigated, according to this U.K. source, and the possibility that it was caused by arson (perhaps in retaliation against the Catholic Church in Ireland because of the recent sex-scandal report)
is also being widely discussed.

How Religious Is Your State?

December 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

The Pew Forum has come out with a new study showing the relative levels of religious activity based on four measurements: “the importance of religion in people’s lives, frequency of attendance at worship services, frequency of prayer and absolute certainty of belief in God.”


Not surprisingly, the ten most religious states are in the South, the heart of the Bible belt. I salute them. Also, not surprisingly, about half of the dozen least religious are the heavily “Catholic” states of Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, California, and Connecticut. Sad. Very sad.


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