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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My Sacrifice

One of Creed’s best known songs shares the title to my article. Many people say this is a prayer song, not surprising since lead singer and songwriter, Scott Stapp, a troubled man, is a Christian.  The lyricist is actually talking to his younger self, reflecting on life experiences that form his person, and how all those bad times helped him persevere.

I chose the title because we are approaching the season of Lent.  As children in Catholic school during the 1960’s we were basically taught that during Lent you had to sacrifice something you loved.  In children’s terms that meant candy, cookies, or a favorite toy.  While we are still encouraged to abstain, emphasis should also be placed on taking on more, such as penance and prayer.  We should be preparing ourselves for Easter by attending Stations of the Cross, Mass, a weekly holy hour, personal prayer, and of course making a good confession.

Lenten practices have been with us since the earliest of times, becoming more regular around the time that Christianity was legalized in 313 AD.  What does Lent mean?  It means “Springtide” and is also the word for “March” the month in which most of Lent falls.  We leave the darkness of winter for the renewal of life that spring brings.  Trees, flowers, and plants that once lie dormant burst with life once again. Jesus died on the Cross and rose from the dead.

Do you remember as a child attending Stations of the Cross with your class or with your family?  Or visiting neighborhood churches on Holy Thursday?  Do you recall how mysterious the dark churches were and the statues covered up in purple cloth?  Good Friday, always a day off school, was spent in silence from Noon to 3PM before heading over to church.  Holy Saturday meant lots of baking and cooking and of course bringing the baskets of food to church to be blessed.  All we would think about was receiving our Easter baskets and indulging the next day!  Of course all this led up to Easter Sunday, which entailed dressing in your new clothes, going to church, which was once again filled with light, and then an early dinner at Grandma’s.

Most if not all of these church activities survive today.  However, there are less and less faithful attending.  If you ask any child today what Easter is all about they will tell you the Easter bunny, candy, and toys.  In fact, Easter has turned into a mini-Christmas.  The same way the culture has secularized Christmas it’s doing the same to Easter.

So why should we perform all these sacrifices?  Why fast, pray, and do penance?  Ask anyone who is getting ready for a big event in their life.  What do they do before the big day?  Prepare.  Ask any child what they do before a big test—study, eat well, and get plenty of sleep.  Or an athlete who is participating in a big game—practice, exercise, pray/meditate, eat well, and condition themselves.  The preparation can be grueling on the body but it’s needed for the soul.  You get the idea.  We need to get ready.  We need to put gas back in the tank for God.  And yes, the process can be quite draining but the reward is great.  Just think if the child or the athlete does not prepare.  What happens?  They fail.  We don’t want to fail.

If you’ve ever lived or vacationed in the southern states you’re acquainted with the Passion Play.  I attended an outdoor version in Arkansas.  Several Hispanic parishes take part in the Passion of Christ Via Crucis.  There are still a few in the Chicago area who walk the way of the Cross through busy Chicago streets.  The most well-known is in the Pilsen neighborhood.  All are amazing and if you’ve never seen one you should.  During each walk, even though hundreds of people are participating down busy city streets—you can hear a pin drop—except for the orders yelled out by the actors portraying the Roman soldiers.  For that moment, buses, cars, and all foot traffic stop and stare.

Before the movie, The Passion of the Christ, most people, including Christians, never realized the true torture and horror Jesus experienced leading up to and including the crucifixion.  Isaiah’s prophesy (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) of the suffering servant was fulfilled.  He endured it for us—for our sins.  Jesus was the Lamb of God.  It was the ultimate sacrifice.  Yet, we are not even willing to spend an hour with Him on a Sunday morning or give up a hamburger or a cookie for a few days.  A Stations of the Cross service lasts about 20 minutes—are you too busy or too tired?

A popular commercial for cold medicine shows either a woman or man popping their heads in what appears to be an office door and telling someone they need to take a sick day.  When they show who is in the room, you expect it to be their boss but it’s a very young child.  The announcer states moms or dads don’t take sick days.  Well neither does God.  We call out to Him in prayer or just expect Him to be with us in times of trouble.  What if He were too busy or too tired?

Almost all of us will partake in some festivities on Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Paczki Day, or Carnivale, whichever name you call it by, but know why we celebrate it.  It’s the last hurrah before Lent begins and it ends abruptly at midnight. Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  A day when we recognize our inevitable death coupled with repentance.  Do you remember in the Old Testament when someone sinned they would dress in sackcloth and cover themselves in ashes?  It’s the same thing.  We are telling God we’re sorry for sinning against Him and promise to repent and never do it again.

The best thing about God is He’s our father.  Like all good parents we get a second chance.  In many cases, we get several chances.  You can always turn back to Him at any time and all will be forgiven.  In fact, Jesus states in Luke 15:7, “There will be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who have no need to repent.”  How cool is that?