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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2

Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005

Monday, August 30, 2004

World Youth Day 2005!!

Whoo-hoo, I'm getting excited! Our Holy Father has once again called all youth and young adults to pilgrimage with him for another World Youth Day!

In 2005, WYD will be held August 12-22 in Cologne, Germany!

"We Come to Worship Him"
-Matthew 2:2

Official WYD 2005 Website!

Prayer for WYD -

Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the World, You became man, to give us a life in abundance. You promised to remain with Your Church until the end of time. Then Your Kingdom will come: a new heaven and earth full of love, justice and peace. This is our hope, our foundation. Thanks be to You.

Lord, we pray:
- Bless the young people around the world.
- Reveal Yourself to those who are in search of You.
- Awake the non-believers.
- Strengthen the faith of those who confess You.
- Let them continuously search for You like the three Wise Men from the East.
- Make them architects of a new civilization of love and witnesses of hope for the whole world.
- Through them may You be with those who suffer from hunger, war and violence.
- Inspire those who are contributing to the World Youth Day 2005.
- May they serve Your kingdom with the power of their faith and their love and may they welcome their brothers and sisters from all over the world with open hearts.

Lord, You gave us Mary as our mother. Let her be our advocate for this World Youth Day.

May it become a celebration of faith. Bless Your Church with new strength in these days, so that it can become a credible witness for You. We ask this through our Lord and God, living in the unity of the Father and the Holy Spirit, reigning forever and ever.


Friday, August 27, 2004

Coming August 31: Catholic Answers in USA Today

The following press release just came over e-mail from Catholic Answers (I tried to find it posted online but no luck -- if I find where they have posted it themselves, I will remove this and link to them directly)

Next Tuesday, August 31, Catholic Answers will place a full-page ad in key USA TODAY markets containing the entire text of the Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics. This is the first step in a major push to widely distribute the guide be the November election. Catholic Answers is planning more national placements of the guide in other major publications. To support this crucial effort, go to www.catholic.com and click on Catholic Voter's Guide.



(619) 387-7200

Controversial Catholic Voter's Guide Tells
Catholics How to Vote on "Forbidden" Issues;
Full-Page Ad to Run in USA Today During GOP Convention

On Tuesday August 31, over a million voters in and around New York City, Hartford, Buffalo, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Richmond, and hundreds of surrounding cities will be reading a full-page ad in USA Today that advises them how to vote according to Catholic moral teachings on five key issues when they go to the polls.

The issues Catholics are forbidden to vote in favor of are abortion, homosexual marriage, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and euthanasia.

The full-page ad in USA Today is paid for by Catholic Answers, the nation's largest lay-run Catholic apologetics organization dedicated to defending Catholic teaching and dispelling myths about Catholicism.

According to Karl Keating, founder and president of Catholic Answers, Catholics who deliberately vote against the Church's moral teachings and still call themselves "good Catholics" have another thought coming.

"It's a serious sin to vote for moral evils, especially those that are so clearly opposed to the Church's teachings."

Keating, a former attorney from San Diego, California, recently took his non-profit apostolate into the legally permitted realm of the political debate by distributing millions of copies of a controversial "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics," which is what the ad in USA Today will contain.

The guide does not mention any candidates or political parties but explains that Catholics cannot in good conscience vote for candidates who support, endorse, or condone the five key moral issues.

The voter's guide, which is being distributed nationwide and will also run in USA Today nationwide, is raising hackles among many pro-choice Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Keating denies the accusation that the guide is partisan or favors a particular candidate, stating, "These are the primary moral issues of our day. Four of them concern deliberate homicide, which is always and everywhere wrong. There's no room for 'debate' about murder or ending an innocent human life at its most vulnerable stages. These are non-negotiable issues, regardless of party politics or specific candidates."

Keating also stresses that there was no effort to fashion a list that would allow a particular politician to "pass" or get off easy. "The five issues were picked because they are major topics in American politics that the Church has forcefully stated that no Catholic can support. The "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics" doesn't tell the reader which candidates to vote for but which to vote against-simply on principle. Candidates who are wrong on any of the five non-negotiables should be eliminated from consideration."

He continues, "On these five non-negotiables, there is only one possible position for a conscientious Catholic to take: complete opposition. A Catholic is free to support or to oppose any politician or ballot measure on issues such as jobs, trade, taxes, or the war in Iraq. But with issues such as abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriage, human cloning, and embryonic stem cell research, all Catholics are forbidden to endorse them or vote for them."

When several U.S. bishops as well as the Vatican declared last April that Catholic legislators are forbidden to endorse or support abortion-and that those who do so are not welcome to receive Holy Communion at Mass-dozens of pro-choice politicians complained loudly that the bishops had no right to tell them how to vote. They argue that since abortion is "the law of the land," they have no choice but to uphold it, and that they're required to keep their public actions separate from their private beliefs.

Keating responds, "That's nonsense. By their reasoning, lawmakers would have to support the status quo, no matter how deplorable it may be. They wouldn't be able to change any laws. If slavery were still 'the law of the land,' would they support it? I hope not. These same politicians work to change existing laws, write new laws, and change social policy every day. And most of them are vocal advocates of abortion. Hiding behind the 'status quo' on the issue of abortion and saying 'we're just doing our jobs' is not only ridiculous, it's cowardly."

Keating firmly states that the voter's guide is not tied specifically to this year's presidential election. "Our voter's guide makes it clear that the principles it conveys should be applied to all political races, not just those at the national level. Catholic voters should demand the same accountability from candidates who are running for state and local offices as they do from those running for national office. After all, those running for lesser offices, if successful, will be running for greater offices in the future."

The Catholic vote will weigh in heavily during this year's elections. Catholics make up 25% of the U.S. population, with some 64 million citizens. Furthermore, Catholics typically vote at a rate four percent higher than Protestants, and the Catholic population is heavily concentrated in key states with high Electoral College votes.

"In the past, most Catholics have not voted according to the Church's moral teachings. They checked their faith at the door when they stepped into the polling place. That needs to change."

Catholic Answers already has distributed over a million copies of its "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics," with millions more planned in the next two months. Millions more voters will be reached through the USA Today ad campaign. In addition, many pastors around the country have purchased copies for every member of their parish. Others are being distributed through a nationwide direct mail campaign as well as through the Catholic Answers web site, www.catholic.com.

Catholic Answers hopes that its voter's guide will help millions of Catholics to "vote as Catholics should vote," says Keating.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The 5 Non-Negotiables

Catholics are called to take an active role in the political process, as citizens of their country. But, Catholics are also called to be not partisan voters, but moral voters. This means that in voting, one must look at the moral intentions behind the vote (do I intend to vote for someone/something that is immoral, because I choose the immorality) as well as the moral outcome of the vote (do I foresee that my vote, while not intending to vote for their immorality, will lead to the support of something immoral that is more evil than any other good that would come out of it?).

This second issue is officially called "proportionate means" -- this states that something that is objectively immoral cannot be tolerated (much less supported) unless there is an equal or greater evil that will be prevented. In other words, the only way that someone can morally vote for someone who is pro-abortion is if the person is doing so 1. without the intention of voting for the person because of their pro-abortion position and 2. because there exists a greater evil than the pro-abortion position (The "Doctrine of Double Effect").

Let's see, 4400 babies aborted every day in the United States alone, millions and millions of children killed since 1973 when abortion was legalized in the United States. Can there possibly be any issue that is a greater moral evil than this? No. Even Hitler didn't kill that many. Even Stalin didn't go that far. There can be no modern "proportionate means" to allow for a Catholic to vote for a pro-abortion politician today (apart from there being no pro-life alternative, see below).

The five non-negotiable moral issues for Catholic voters to be aware of are:

1. Abortion
2. Euthanasia (assisted suicide)
3. Embryonic Stem Cell Research (Adult SCR is fine)
4. Human Cloning
5. Homosexual "Marriage"

"But what about war and capital punishment?", you ask. "Shouldn't they be non-negotiables as well? Isn't the Pope against war and capital punishment?"

War and capital punishment are not non-negotiable issues. Catholics are free to support or oppose the objective possibility of there being a justified war or justified capital punishment. The Church does not consider war or capital punishment as a whole to be intrinsically (inherently, always) immoral. The Catechism (see below) states this clearly.

This does not mean that the Church is pro-war or pro-capital punishment, it just means that the Church acknowledges that the Church does not have the authority to tell or command a state whether or not to go to war, or when to defend its country from criminal behavior by the death sentence. Even the Pope only has a personal opinion regarding war and capital punishment -- his opinion, however, is just that, an opinion. One that should be respected of course, but not a teaching that falls under the "faith and morals" category, and therefore not an infallible statement of the Pope's that must be agreed with. The Pope, however, does not run a state, other than Vatican City. He is not in a position where he has all the necessary information to evaluate the morality of another country's decision to defend itself. The Church does not command that each country consult Her before defending themselves. The state has the authority on earth for the protection of its people - what is Caeser's belongs to Caeser.

Can individual wars or death row executions be immoral? Of course. Does the Church support these instances too? No. The Church only supports the objective responsibility of the state for the matters of the state's defense, this does not mean that every single action of an individual state is supported by the Church, but does mean that the Church says that She does not have the earthly authority to do so, above and over the state's own authority.

Should these unjust wars/executions be knowingly supported? No. But -- because the issues of "just war" and capital punishment are not inherently evil in and of themselves, they are not to be considered on the same level as the non-negotiable issues. Non-negotiable issues are considered first, then all other moral issues are used to determine the vote from among the remaining candidates.

This does not mean that you have to vote for someone who is pro-just war/pro-life over someone who is anti-war/pro-abortion.

What it means is that, using Catholic voting guidelines, the pro-abortion candidate will be removed entirely from the picture, disqualified because of their pro-abortion stance. To knowingly vote for them, with the understanding that there are no proportionate means to justify the vote, is sinful. The other candidate can be later disqualified as well by the individual voter, on the basis of their pro-just war stance, but this is based on the voter's own decision - it is not always objectively sinful (according to Church teaching) for a person to vote for them.

If the election is taking place during wartime, the current war may be evaluated on the basis of the just war criteria by the individual voter to determine if they should or should not vote for them, but just because a candidate supports a defensive war does not automatically disqualify them. War in and of itself is not intrinsically evil, no matter how much someone may want to believe it. There is the possibility of the existence of a just war (look at WWII for instance), therefore you cannot disqualify everyone who is pro-war just because they are pro-just war in general. (Unlike pro-abortion candidates -- they must always be disqualified outright.)

On the other hand, if the candidate is supporting a war that the voter determines is unjust, then the candidate can also be disqualified (after the candidates who are supporting the non-negotiables are disqualified).

If both candidates are pro-abortion, then there exists proportionate means to vote for one or the other of them -- whichever one will limit the evil the most. If they are equal in all pro-abortion aspects, then whichever of them will do the most good on other issues can be voted for. All moral positions being equal among the candidates (ie, all candidates hold positions that violate the non-negotiables), the Church teaches that we are to vote for the candidate that will limit the most evil/do the most good.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church lays out the moral differences in the issues of Abortion (#2270-2275), Just War (#2302-2317), and Capital Punishment (#2266-2267) click here to read these sections.

Please check out Catholic Answers' Voters Guide for a more in-depth overview of Catholic voting practices and the 5 non-negotiable issues.

Monday, August 23, 2004

3 Bishops Refute Fr. Greeley!

Fr. Greeley, star "Catholic" voice for the secular media, recently had an article in the New York Daily News where he confidently stated that, thanks to a recent statement by Cardinal Ratzinger, Catholics were free to vote for John Kerry. This article has since misled countless individuals as to the true teaching of the Church on voting practices and the primacy of the right to life.

Now, Barbara Kralis has written an article for Catholic Online in which Bishops Robert Vasa, Michael Sheridan, and Fabian Bruskewitz take on Fr. Greeley's misrepresentation of Cardinal Ratzinger and the Church's teachings. I do wish that Bishop Bruskewitz would have been perhaps a bit more tactful... ending his statement with the comparison of Fr. Greeley to a clown was perhaps unnecessary (even if I agree with him... :)

Read the article now at http://www.catholic.org/printer_friendly.php?id=1243§ion=Featured+Today.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Narrow Gate... A Call For Us All

Today's Gospel, from Luke 13:22-30, got me thinking... In it, Jesus is asked, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" and He answers, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough." In fact, Jesus says, He will claim that He "does not know where you are from", He does not know you!

I have to wonder, how many homilies today really helped people to understand the message of this passage?

I will be the first to admit that I cannot claim any full understanding of this passage either, however, I did sit through two Masses, two readings of this Gospel, and two homilies on this Gospel today, and so, here are some observations that I have made from the experience. :)

In this day, so many are convinced that heaven is a "freebie", because, hey, "I'm a good person" and "I surely don't deserve hell." A few even go so far as to claim themselves Christain and then say, "But only heaven exists anyway, right? No good God would send anyone He created to hell, therefore both a good God and hell can't both exist!" We must all face the fact that, according to the Bible, we must work out our salvation "with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12).

While both of the priests at my parish today did make this Gospel passage's relationship to the Catholic understanding of salvation central to their homilies, I shudder to think of how many well-meaning and "kind" priests had no desire to stir the pot (so to speak), and completely left heaven and hell out of their homily's rosy picture.

As Cardinal Ratzinger has said, "He who has refused to acknowledge the truth in life will be forced to confront it in death." Strong words indeed.

Jesus says quite clearly that the gate is narrow, that many will not be able to enter heaven. This does not tell us whether or not few, or many, will make it, it is merely reminding us that we must not become either despairing or presumptuous about our salvation.

Those who become focused on the technicalities of the faith, to the loss of their relationship with Jesus Himself, are in danger of loving Truth, but forgetting the truth about Love (St. Thomas Aquinas). For, as St. Paul commented on in his letters, the Jewish Law is too much for anyone to be able to adhere to perfectly on their own, to make the Law the end in itself; to think that salvation comes through works, puts the soul in jeopardy. Legalism, believing in the power and merit of works without faith, is deadly to a soul.

Then there are those who go the other direction, focusing almost exclusively on their "personal" relationship with Jesus, assuming that they have in fact already "been" saved, once and for all. They feel that they "know" in their hearts that Jesus would never let them go to hell. Some even deny that there could be a hell anymore! In this way, many scorn or ignore the commands of Jesus, who came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it. Not all of those who say "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21). This error, too, places the soul in danger of losing their salvation, the salvation that God wills for all of us, but that we must freely will to accept!

Yes, I fear that many today will hear this Gospel and will be blinded to the whole picture, only seeing the elements that we agree with (myself included; indeed, this is partly what made me realize that I needed to write down these observations -- they are also observations about myself and I dare not forget them!).

Those who strive solely for the obedience to the letter of the law will see only Jesus' words about the narrow gate. They say, "See! Many will not make it! If you do not obey Jesus' commandments through the Church's authority, you will not make it to heaven."

Those who strive for a "personal" relationship with Jesus will see only Jesus' later response about not knowing the person. They say, "See! You need to accept Jesus, you need to know Jesus, those whom He does not know will not make it to heaven."

Both sides are in danger of missing the forest for the love of their particular tree.

Christ has given us the grace of salvation, if we choose to accept Him, to follow Him, to obey Him -- in a word, to love Him. Love is not merely a feeling, or even a sense of peace and happiness. Love is, first of all, a choice, an ongoing decision motivated by our free will. In order to love Christ, we must love His Church. When we choose to love someone, we choose to place them ahead of us, to sacrifice ourselves for them. We must see today's Gospel as a call for us to freely choose today, and every day, to love Him and trust in Him completely.

(I highly recommend this article, "Assurance of Salvation?", for everyone, Catholic or not!)

Friday, August 20, 2004

Poem - "Kiss of Christ"

Caryll Houselander's "Kiss of Christ" is one of my favorite poems. I have never been able to find it in its original publication, or even attributed to her in print, but a knowledgable friend insists that he learned it in college and that she was the author...

There he hangs — pale figure pinned against the wood.
God grant that I could love Him as I really know I should.

I draw a little closer to share that love Divine
And almost hear Him whisper, "Ah foolish child of Mine!

If I should now embrace you,
My hands would stain you red.
And if I leaned to whisper,
the thorns would pierce your head."

And then I knew in silence that love demands a price
'twas then I learned that suffering is but the kiss of Christ.

— Caryll Houselander

Smallest Baby Born Enters High School

As seen on Yahoo's News --

"Madeline Mann is seen shortly after her birth in June 1989. Born at 27 weeks into her mother's pregnancy, she weighed just 9.9 ounces, less than any surviving baby in medical history. Next week, she enters high school as something even more extraordinary: an honors student who plays violin and likes to rollerblade." (AP Photo/A. Hayashi/Loyola University Health System)

And this is Madeline today!

So, Madeline was outside the womb at 27 weeks and the world considered her a person... Why are babies who are also 27 weeks but happen to be still inside the womb... not?

Why is it that we, as a nation, can be so dedicated to saving the life of a premie who is wanted... and callously leave a baby in the exact same condition (just "unwanted"!) exposed to die? (As has been documented numerous times, even though the Live Child act was signed two years ago!)

Oh Mother Mary, and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, who had the courage to say what needed to be said, pray for us, for we are indeed among the poorest of peoples!

+ For the sake of His sorrowfull Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

Thursday, August 19, 2004


After spamming my e-mail contact list too many times to count, I have decided that for all concerned it may be best for me to attempt to do the "blog thing" instead... :) Anyone else who happens to wander in here is also welcomed with joy!

First things first...

What is "Veritatis Splendor"? Well, apart from being the title of a fabulous encyclical (ie, a letter) from our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, my blog's title means "Splendor of Truth". If you know me, then you know how fitting that title is for my blog! Like St. Augustine, I yearn for God, for His Truth and His Love, and "my heart is restless until it rests in Thee" (Confessions, Book I).

In my journey through life, I have come to have complete faith in Jesus Christ and in the Church that He founded - the Catholic Church, the Church containing the fullness of the "Splendor of Truth" of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! By the grace of Jesus Christ alone, through His gifts of the Church and sacraments, I confidently say that I have been saved, I am being saved, and I hope to be saved!

I pray that you too, may continue to seek the Truth in love, to one day share the joy of Heaven with our Lord and all of His angels and His saints! After all, "life is short, but eternity is long!" (John Henry Cardinal Newman)

I entrust this blog to the patronages of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Dominic, St. Thomas More, and St. Gianna Molla -- may we see their examples of courage and fidelity as our model for Christian discipleship, and may they and all the saints in heaven pray for us!

"Lord, in my love for the Truth, let me never forget the truth about Love."
-St. Thomas Aquinas

Fra Angelico's Annunciation