HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?

The same question Chubby Checker asks in his version of the Limbo Rock, I can ask several democratic United States governors and legislators who support and cheer for late term abortion and infanticide. This has nothing to do with politics, because I can ask the same of some US Catholic Cardinals. I watched in anger and disgust as the “catholic” governor of New York, Mario Cuomo (D) signed his late term abortion bill into law while members of the New York legislature, cheered wildly. To top this, Governor Cuomo ordered the Freedom Tower to be lit that night in pink for victory!

Governor Cuomo, who identifies as catholic, has been vocal against Church teaching throughout his career. He stated in 2014, if you are pro-life, you ‘have no place’ in New York1. Does this sound catholic to you?  If you’re not sure, ask yourself if you could imagine Jesus congratulating King Herod on the slaughter of Jewish baby boys in his quest to kill Jesus.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D), went even lower. The bill in his state included infanticide. Governor Northam explained on local radio station WTOP that under his bill a newborn baby will be kept “comfortable” while mom and doc decide if he or she should be snuffed out. How low can you go? Apparently as low as China and South Korea. Such illustrious company. Thank God the bill was defeated.

Let’s move on to the democratic ladies in white, headed by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D) California, a “catholic”, and newbie Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) New York. This block of women wore white to represent the late 1800’s to early 1900’s US suffragette movement. Interesting, since all leading suffragettes of the time, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone among others, were vehemently against abortion and considered it a tool of men to oppress women. These legislators couldn’t even stand or applaud President Trump’s comments against infanticide. Instead of white, the female democratic legislators should have worn red.

Speaking of wearing red, the color of cardinals, and I’m not talking about birds or the baseball team, I’m talking about Catholic Cardinals. Namely, Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York. When the good people of New York rose up against the horrific abortion law in their state, many turned to their religious leaders. Catholics demanded punishment of Cuomo on the grounds of his prolific, unrepentant pro-murder stance. The outcry is not limited to New York—it’s country wide. According to Pew, only 25% of US adults approve of late term abortion—many of the 75% against are pro-choice2. So what did the chief shepherd of the Diocese of New York City faithful do?  Cardinal Dolan was horrified and condemned the law. When pressed on why Cuomo shouldn’t be excommunicated he stated that excommunication shouldn’t be used as a weapon3.

OK so why do we excommunicate women who legally have the abortion and the people who legally perform them4 but not the legislator who made it all legally possible? I’m not a theologian but I thought excommunication is an agent of mercy, not punishment or a weapon. It’s meant to bring the person back to the faith through penance. If you are Catholic, you want to be in communion with the church—not against it. How can Cuomo, a man who repeatedly and flamboyantly flips his nose at our Lord, have the honor of partaking in anything sacred? He’s not sorry. He’s rubbing it in our faces.

In the wake of the current sex scandal rocking the Catholic Church, why do our shepherds keep adding fuel to the flame? In what way will this lead people to the faith? Who wants admittance into a religion where the person next to you reviles the very principle you stand for? If Governor Cuomo called a presser this morning and said he was wrong about this law, begs forgiveness, and will vote to repeal it, Catholics would accept this and welcome him back, but he’s not going to do that because we know what happens to politicians who buck democratic party lines. One need looks no further than Pro-Life Illinois US Rep. Dan Lipinski (D)5.

It’s time we tell our “shepherds”, religious and legislative, we’re not having it. When I discuss the new late term abortion and infanticide laws to friends and co-workers, many don’t know a thing about it. The media squelches the story because it doesn’t follow their agenda, but the Church should not. This should be the main topic of every homily. What are parish priests afraid of? Parishioners like Governor Cuomo.

Just last week I read a story that Bishop Hurley, Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan, removed Father Edwin Dwyer, a canon lawyer, from his parish for introducing reverence and tradition back into one of his Masses6. The congregation loved it—except for a wealthy couple who reported him. He was removed expeditiously. Money is what influenced this bishop to do the unthinkable. Money and prestige influence some priests, bishops, and cardinals. Cardinal Dolan rubs elbows with the elites, attends cocktails parties and exhibits, even those that exposed sacred Catholic garments to the vile, mocking fashion of wealthy celebrities7.

All of us will have to face God one day—including Dolan and Cuomo. It’s our job to enlighten our loved ones. You and I have a voice. I intend to use mine. I am Catholic and proudly Pro-Life. To quote gospel singer, Mavis Staples, “We go high when they go low.” Don’t be afraid of being mocked and hated. Don’t get discouraged. Be proud. Wear it like a badge of honor. Instead of dancing the politically correct Limbo, heed the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13-28 and Luke 6:22-23, “Blessed are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy! Your reward will be great in heaven.”

 

1 The Washington Times – Sunday, January 19, 2014

2  Pew Research Center, Public Opinion on Abortion, October 15, 2018

3 Relevant Magazine, NY Cardinal Dolan Won’t Excommunicate Gov. Andrew Cuomo Over Abortion Law, January 28, 2019

4 Canon #1398

5 CNN Politics, An anti-abortion, conservative Democrat fights for survival in Illinois primary, Eric Bradner, March 19, 2018

6 National Catholic Register, Nation, Saginaw Priest Removed From Parish for Traditional ‘Style of Worship’, Joseph O’Brien, February 7, 2019

7 National Catholic Register, Blogs, How the Vatican Became Enmeshed in the Met Gala, Edward Pentin, May 9, 2018

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DAUGHTER

The song by the same name was performed by Pearl Jam and is about a child with a disability.  Usually my articles and the titles of the songs by the same name have nothing in common, but this one… If you follow the news like me you may be aware of the Bonnie Liltz story.  Actually, the real victim of this story is not Bonnie but her late daughter, Courtney. You see Courtney was adopted by Bonnie at the age of 2.  Courtney had cerebral palsy and had to have 24-hour care.  However, the young woman was thriving. Speaking, when doctors said she wouldn’t, feeding herself, and using a computer. According to Bonnie Liltz, “she was a happy girl”1.

On May 27, 2015, after twenty plus years of caring for Courtney, Bonnie decided Courtney’s life must end.  She came to this conclusion because she, Bonnie, was battling cancer and other health issues.  Courtney had no say-so in the matter.  Bonnie mixed a cocktail of several drugs and fed it to her daughter, Courtney. She then attempted to take her own life, but was unsuccessful.

Bonnie Liltz, who is still ill, and very much alive is upset because the Illinois courts think she should—I don’t know—go to jail for murdering her daughter.2 You see Bonnie doesn’t want to go to jail.  She is now asking for “mercy” from Bruce Rauner, the governor of Illinois.  It also appears that because Bonnie is so ill the state jail just can’t seem to take good care of her.  Hmmm. Now let’s think back.  Isn’t it ironic that it was for this same reason that Bonnie decided to kill Courtney? Yes, you read that right. Bonnie worried that she couldn’t care for Courtney if she was too ill and she didn’t want to subject Courtney to state care because it wasn’t adequate—so, she killed her out of “mercy and love”. That’s amazing.

Also amazing is how many times Bonnie Liltz refers to God and the “gift” she received from Him when she adopted Courtney, and how “all life is precious”.  Really, wow!  So being Courtney was a gift from God how does Bonnie reconcile that she, not God, would decide to snuff out that gift?  And now that she is the ill one who cannot receive individualized care, it becomes a whole different story?

Bonnie, who is currently out on bond, didn’t like state sponsored jail life and is now asking for clemency to spare her from the horrors of it.  The Illinois Department of Corrections (state) just can’t provide the (individual) healthcare that Bonnie is accustomed to. You know, eating what she wants, taking her medications, and good quality physical and mental care.  She lost 14 pounds in jail! This is the same argument she made for taking Courtney’s life.  The state could not take care of her in the same manner that she, an individual citizen, could.

So far the courts are having none of it. She was sentenced to 4 years for involuntary manslaughter, which is a far lighter sentence then the one she bestowed upon her daughter.  It’s becoming the norm for judges to sentence killers of the innocent to lesser stints in jail and it’s wrong.  There is that slippery slope that pro-life advocates keep spotlighting. If abortion is legal, why stop at the fetus just before it’s born? Why not after birth and maybe up to say, 2 years old or older? And what about the disabled? That leads to the elderly. We’ve already started legalizing suicide for the sick, so why stop there?  You know, all in the name of “compassion”.

Thanks to abortion (the proverbial foot in the door), we are seeing this happen all too frequently. Mothers who no longer want to care for their child will kill them, out of mercy of course, and judges pass on lenient sentences. The child doesn’t have to be ill, just inconvenient. Some cases are more heinous than others, yet it’s difficult for Americans to wrap their heads around a mother who can kill her own child. This must stop or it will end with infanticide and worse.

Christians are taught that all life is precious from womb to the tomb. We are against capital punishment as well. It’s a hard sell when you look at some of these horrific serial offenders.  God teaches us that everyone can change. We must forgive.  St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans 12:19 that vengeance belongs only with God.  However, God never said there should be no justice for the innocent and oppressed.  In fact that very thing is mentioned quite often in the Bible.  Jesus summed it all up in one sentence: love your neighbor as yourself. If you follow that golden rule you’ll never go wrong.

Back to Bonnie Liltz.  I’m sure Bonnie was a selfless mother at one time.  She cared for her disabled daughter for over 20 years. Being a mom is a thankless job on a good day. One may have looked at her and thought her a saint at one time. I agree with her thinking that the state could never take care of Courtney like she did. She was worried about her daughter and what would become of her once she was too ill or dead.  However, her end game was all wrong.

It’s very easy to feel compassion for a mother with a very ill child. How can that be murder? The mother thought the best place for her daughter was with God in Heaven. She didn’t stab or shoot her. She just went to sleep and never woke up. There was no pain1. Tell that to the millions of mothers who have and still are caring for their sick children.

Answer me this, would you feel comfortable with another person making the decision to end your life? What happens when you’re too old or too sick to take care of you? If this becomes the norm it will eventually make its way mainstream and come for all of us.  Eugenics is making a comeback.  It seems that the more we forget our history the more it just keeps circling back.

Bonnie Liltz references God so often that I wonder if she belonged to a church or a support group. If she did, she could have talked to her pastor or friends who could have reached out and got her the help she so desperately needed. She was overwhelmed, distraught, ill, and confused. Someone could have counseled her and this tragedy would never have happened.

If Governor Rauner has an ounce of sense, and I’m not sure that he does since he lied to his constituents and just made Illinois the most abortion friendly state in the union, he will uphold the Illinois courts and keep Bonnie Liltz in jail.

 

1 Suburban Mom Who Killed Disabled Daughter in Botched Murder-Suicide Speaks Publicly for 1st Time; Carol Marin and Don Moseley, NBC 5 Carol Marin Reports, August 31, 2016.

2 Bonnie Liltz initially was charged with murder but plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Sugar Shack

The song by the same title was performed by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs way back in 1963.  The lyricist simply told a tale about a coffee shop.  Not so for the “controversial” movie The Shack, based on a novel by the same name by author, William Paul Young.  I try viewing as many faith-based films as I can.  Sometimes I just can’t find a theater nearby.  I had no problem as The Shack is playing everywhere, most likely because Octavia Spencer and Tim McGraw are starring in the film.

The film opens with a troubled young boy, named Mack, who lives with his mother and abusive father.  Not many people in his small town acknowledge the abuse, except for one black neighbor, played by Octavia Spencer, who comforts him with her home cooking. When home life becomes unbearable, young Mack, who feels deserted by God, makes a horrible decision.  We quickly fast forward to the present.  Mack is now a man, living with his deeply religious wife and their three children. On a camping trip his youngest daughter is kidnapped and murdered.  The film does not dwell on this so don’t be put off thinking it will be bloody because it’s not.

Mack blames himself for his daughter’s death and cannot shake his depression.  He receives a letter from “Papa”, his wife’s name for God, inviting Mack to meet at the very shack where his daughter was killed. Mack decides to go and is shocked to find “Papa” is the same black woman who consoled him in his youth. Papa explains that Mack couldn’t accept a father figure at this time.  He meets Jesus, a Jewish carpenter, and the Holy Spirit, a beautiful Asian woman.  Towards the end of the film Papa decides Mack needs a father to take him through the rest of his journey of forgiveness and Papa becomes a mature, Native American man.  Again, the viewer knows exactly why God chose this form.

It’s this portrayal of the Holy Trinity that has several Christians upset.  I accepted God’s explanation of why He appeared in these forms.  Mack despised his father and couldn’t forgive himself for not being there for his daughter. He did not have a father figure he could rely on.  The Holy Spirit is portrayed as an attractive, soft-spoken, attentive Asian gardener.  Many Christians associate the Holy Spirit as a dove, ray of sunlight, a spiritual counselor and consoler.  Anyone who gardens knows how devoted you must be to your plants and flowers.  You protect them from predators and the elements as well as nourish them.  The same as the Holy Spirit is in her garden of souls.  All three display the wounds of crucifixion…something I’ve never seen before but makes perfect sense.

More importantly, The Shack is a story of forgiveness and how God loves ALL his children—the good and the bad.  It also emphasizes our free will to make our own choices.  Mack thought God had deserted him when he was a boy, but he comes to learn God was with him every step of the way, even when he made the wrong choice.  God never forgot about him and never stopped loving him.

I would definitely recommend this film not only for its message of forgiveness but also for showcasing the relationship individuals have with God.

 

Come Together

The Beatles released this song in 1969.  Some say John Lennon penned the song for Timothy Leary’s quest to become governor of California, while others insist he’s talking about all four of the Beatles.  Whomever he was talking about the message is clear.  Everyone has bad habits, quirks etc. but it’s time to get a grip and come together.

I thought about this as we prepare for Thanksgiving.  The first big Holiday of the year and the first time many families and friends will be getting together since summer.  It’s also the first time everyone will be around the table after this election cycle.  Holidays bring out the best and worst in us and the larger the family, the more assorted the characters.  This year could be a doozy.  With many Americans divided on several fronts you can guarantee more fireworks than Independence Day—and that’s just for Chicago White Sox and Cub fans!

I’ve been hearing from friends and acquaintances that some of their family members will not be attending Thanksgiving dinner under any circumstances because certain members of the family who will be present supported one presidential candidate and they cannot accept that.  Cannot accept is actually being kind.  The words and adjectives being used are repulsive.  If I can live through a Chicago Cubs World Series you can sit down and break bread with your family.

Here’s a newsflash.  We’ve been deciding the fate of our leader via elections in this country for over 200 years, and in each there was one winner and yes one loser.  In politics everyone doesn’t get a trophy.  If the President is doing a lousy job there are checks and balances in place to keep him or her on the straight and narrow.  For those who are educationally challenged in US government—elections happen every 4 years.  The greatest protest of all is silent and done in the privacy of the voting booth.  Well that’s true unless you live in Chicago and then all bets are off.

I brought up baseball and the World Series for a reason.  Baseball and voting in an election are not the same, although each year it seems like it is.  The fact is voting in an election is not like cheering for your favorite sports team.  In sports the winners get a trophy and lots of money.  Fans get boasting rights and in the case of the World Series, spend a fortune on team paraphernalia.  The country is at the heart of presidential elections.  It’s not my team is better than yours because whether your blue, red, green or in-between we’re all technically on the same team.  Team USA.  Or so I thought.  If Mary Matalin, a prominent Republic consultant, and James Carville, a prominent Democrat consultant, can be married for 23 years1 anyone can get along.

Whether you are a Cub fan or White Sox fan, a Democrat or Republican, this is the time to come together.  Some people will not be able to be home with their families and others are completely alone or hospitalized.  Others have lost a family member and don’t know how to “celebrate”.  I’m sure all these Americans would give anything to celebrate Thanksgiving with their missing or lost loved one.

If you are lucky enough to live in this country you have much to be thankful for.  So please leave your politics at home.  Celebrate that you can spend another Thanksgiving with your family and friends.  Thank God that you live in a country where you can change your leader every 4 years, speak freely for or against it, and it doesn’t lead to bloody revolutions as it does in other countries.

And to my friends who are White Sox fans—sit next to your relative or relatives who happen to be Cub fans and let them gloat.  We did it in 2005.  Give thanks to God for all you’ve received this year.  Everything is better with turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie—even a Cubs World Series.  And remember, baseball season starts in just 4 short months!

1 Matalin and Carville were actually married on Thanksgiving Day, 1993

 

It’s Good to Be the King

Who doesn’t love Mel Brooks?  This particular song was from the soundtrack of History of the World: Part I.  The idea of a king ruling over us is not particularly well received here in the US, or is it?  Our nation was built on Judeo-Christian principles.  We were firm believers that our rights come from God, not man.  However, over the past few years many of our citizens either have forgotten or no longer believe that.

History teaches us when you have a ruler who controls the population it never ends well, which is why the Founders gave us a Republic so that man could rule himself with as little government interference as possible.  To quote Abraham Lincoln, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  So what happens when these people decide they want a king or queen?

I’m reminded time and time again of 1 Samuel 8, when Israel rejects God as their king and demands a man to rule over them.  Even when God, through Samuel, tells them they will relinquish many of their freedoms, they still demand a king.  They want to have what other nations have—a false sense of security at the price of oppression and loss of liberty in service to the king.

As a serf in a kingdom you are entitled to what the king or queen bestows upon you.  However, many don’t realize what the king or queen gives you—the king or queen can take away.  If you’re a friend of the ruler it means a lofty position, land, money, all on the backs of said serfs (you).  Serfs get to work for low wages and pay high taxes to the ruling family to provide their “free stuff” but more importantly to provide a lifestyle fitting for a king and his royal friends. Sounds familiar?  Yeah, but this ruler will be different.  This ruler will take care of us.  He or she will protect us from the bad people who say mean things, or want us to follow the Constitution, or want to do us harm.  So we give up our God-given rights in the false belief that the ruler will bring us security.  After all, he’s going to build a huge wall around the castle!

What images appear in your mind when you think of a king? A  crown, huge castle, opulence, greed, trumpets and great fanfare, a dungeon to jail those who speak out against the monarchy? You think huge, you think loud, and you think extravagant.  There is no question the boisterous voice is heard over the quiet, but does that mean what comes out of the loudmouth is always correct?

Let’s take a trip in the time machine back to 1960’s.  We all remember the riots, the days of rage, Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, as well as the civil rights movement—Malcolm X and MLK.  Did the violent win over the peacemaker?  Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, a man of God, stood for the rights of Black Americans.  Was he vulgar, ostentatious, or violent?  No, he was the exact opposite; actually making his followers pledge an oath of nonviolence.  Did he promise African-Americans free stuff?  No.  He looked to a day when people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.  Did he say rise up and demand the rich pay their fair share?  No, he said whatever you become, become the best at it. If you want to be a garbage man, be the best garbage man. And yet he won.  Why? He had truth on his side—God’s truth.

Unfortunately, the history revisionists have left out the religious side of Rev. King.  It’s quite remarkable since almost all his speeches and writings were steeped in scripture.  Was he perfect? No.  None of us are.  He will be remembered as a modern day Moses.  How many rulers or overlords can you say will be remembered as such?

As America turns further and further away from God and instead turns to a king for a false sense of security, there are days I feel like the prophet Jeremiah, reluctant to speak yet compelled to do so.  Feeling I am not qualified to state the obvious yet I hear Him whisper in my ear, ‘Fear none of them, for I am with you and will keep you safe’ Jeremiah 1:8.

I have quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer so many times but never before has his words had more meaning than they do now.  “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us innocent. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”  I know when I meet Jesus face to face I can tell him I spoke out.  I did my part.  I tried to be a good watcher on the wall (Ezekiel 33:6).  Jesus told us, “I am the truth, the light, and the way,” (John 14:6) “and you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).

As we approach Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, it’s good to remember that the King of Kings entered the world not as a flamboyant king, but as a humble, defenseless child.  He didn’t live in a castle; He was born in a stable.  His parents were not wealthy aristocrats.  We do know He never condemned or threatened those who spoke out against Him or those who even plotted His death.  He didn’t join the local Occupy Jerusalem movement or support Jewish Lives Matter.  Instead of a gold crown He was given a crown of thorns. He stood in silence as His own people mocked Him, spat on Him, and humiliated Him.  He did not raise a hand against those who tortured and crucified Him.  Instead, He forgave them all.

Jesus accepted everyone, even tax collectors and prostitutes.  He also cured a Roman Centurion’s servant and offered life giving waters to a Samaritan woman.  You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to know prostitutes, repentant thieves, tax collectors, outsiders, and a soldier from a conquering empire not your own would not be welcome in a king’s court.

Where we go as a nation I have no idea.  I can tell you if we stay as divided as we are now it will only bring about disaster.  “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:25.  However, I have hope.  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Who would you proclaim as your king and savior?  A man, or the King of Kings?

 

The Holy Spirit—The Parachute

Not a song title, and yes I know it’s the Paraclete.  I remember one of my daughters coming home from school one day, telling me she learned about the Holy Spirit in religion class.  I asked her who is the Holy Spirit and what does He do?  She answered immediately and enthusiastically. “He’s a parachute!”  Each Sunday when our priest recites The Divine Praises before Mass, I chuckle to myself when he says and I repeat, blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.  I think of my daughter’s parachute.  I don’t remember if I corrected her or not but maybe in her youthful innocence she was right.

The world was amazed and awed by former President George H.W. Bush’s parachute jump last year in honor of his 90th birthday.  I must admit, for a man who can no longer walk because of Parkinson’s disease, it was inspiring.  However, he was tethered to a member of the All Veteran Parachute Team.  I’m not taking anything away from our former president because tether or no tether, it’s scary.

I didn’t think much of it until today.  Today is the Feast of the Ascension and that means Pentecost is just around the corner.   With that realization, the Holy Spirit decided to pay me a visit and that small still voice whispered in my ear, “being a Christian is like jumping out of an airplane”.

So I thought about it and as usual the Spirit is right.  Nowadays, when we step out of our comfort zone and dare express our opinions, isn’t it a lot like jumping out of a plane?  Especially if, ONE: you talk about your faith, and TWO: you actually live it.  Free speech and freedom of religion are not what they used to be.  The Founders had a reason for placing those two protections in the first amendment.  They were the very bedrock of our country’s founding and the Constitution.  It’s sad and dangerous that Americans do not know their own history and those in power prefer to keep it that way.

A couple of weeks ago, while commenting on an acquaintance’s Facebook post, ironically about past presidents, the topic came up about presidents who were born poor.   I commented that the poorest presidents in my lifetime were either Nixon or Bill Clinton.  However, two other people disagreed.  Within seconds I was labeled a racist, homophobic and a member of a hate group.  I don’t know these people so I asked them how they could come to such a hateful conclusion of me.  They both responded because of the pictures I posted and some of my likes.  The argument between these two strangers and others on the page became more heated so I exited the conversation.

Later, I went back and looked at what strangers could see of me on Facebook.  Practically all of my posts and pictures can be viewed by friends only, but there are a few that I don’t mind sharing with the public.  So what classified me to be included in those detestable camps?  I found a few pictures of Jesus, my church, and two “likes” for a pro-life group and the Catholic Church.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been attacked on Facebook.  It happens all too frequently by faceless cowards, shrouded with the cloak of anonymity.  However, I was once threatened by someone I knew, someone who I classified as a friend.  Why?  She was on Facebook spewing hate against Jews, Christians who are not Catholic, and a well-known pastor from another Christian denomination who I personally admire.  I told her I did not agree with anything she said and I had friends from those Christian denominations who live their faith.  She then emailed me.  She was furious with me, threatening me with personal harm and calling me every name under the sun.  And to make matters worse, she is a Catholic!  I stood by what I believed and I told her I’d pray for her.  To those of you who are Facebook savvy, she then promptly “unfriended” me.

Yes, being a Christian is exactly like jumping out of a plane.  I mentioned President Bush was tethered to a veteran jumper.  Like Bush, we too are tethered to a veteran, except ours is even more reliable.  Our parachute is the Holy Spirit.  Remember that when navigating the not too friendly skies of living Christian in today’s society.  And if your child comes home from school or from their religious education class and tells you all about The Holy Spirit, the Parachute, don’t correct him or her.

Check Yes or No

You don’t have to be a country music fan to love George Strait.  I’m trying to figure out my favorite Strait song but I love them all—including this one.  It’s a song about two small children, a boy and a girl.  The little girl slips the boy a note asking if he loves her and if he does, check yes or no.

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord.  The angel Gabriel visited a young Mary, probably a girl of about thirteen years old, a little older than the children in the song mentioned above.  He calls out to her and asks her in a much more eloquent way, Mary, God has chosen you over every woman in the world.  Will you be the mother of His Son?  Check yes or no.

I’m sure Mary was startled.  She asked the angel how she could be pregnant when she’d never had sex with a man.  A logical question for a human, but Mary didn’t hesitate to check yes, in all CAPS.  Mary had free will, but my guess is God knew Mary would agree.

I don’t think this story is all about Mary.  It’s a lesson for us all.  Every day God asks us to check yes or no.  It may not be something monumental as giving birth to Our Lord, but it is He who is asking us to do something.  It may be small, like being kind to a friend or relative.  Call or visit someone who is ill.  Buy the homeless man or woman on the street a cup of coffee.  Help out a co-worker.

You’ve been away from the church for various reasons and He misses you as a father misses one of his children who have strayed.  I’m sorry, God.  I want you back in my life.  But Father, you can’t possibly want me.  I had an abortion when I was young.  I was wild and have lived an impure life.  I left my wife/husband for someone else.  I’m in prison.  I’ve cursed against You.

But He does want you.  He does love you.  He wants you back.

Remember what the father did when the prodigal son returned home?  Did he tell him to get out?  No, he dressed him in the finest clothes and hosted a huge party in his honor.  His child, who he once thought was gone to him forever, returned.

Tell God you’re sorry, but He already knows that.  And next time you hear that small voice in the quiet ask you, “Do you love Me?”

Check YES.