Monica E. Smith

Monica E. Smith

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sailing True North

from St. Francis de Sales from The Devout Life

"Each day is unique. There are cloudy days and sunny; wet days and dry; windy days and calm. The seasons roll by as day turns into night and night into day. This variety makes beauty. It's the same way with your life. There are ups and downs; no two days, no two hours, are ever exactly alike.

A compass needle always points north regardless of the ship's course. It we aspire toward God, the confusing changes of life will not unsteady us. “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8). Nothing can separate us from God's love. When little bees are caught in a storm, they take hold of small stones so that they can keep their balance when they fly. Our firm resolution to stay with God is like stability to the soul amid the rolling waves of life."

We are ever encountering more and more “confusing changes of life”. Our course has become more challenging and dangerous, yet we steer away from “true north”. Is it, seriously, any wonder why our lives are fraught with confusion, frustration, doubt, anger? And, to help us along, even in the United States, our religious freedom is threatened. Specifically, to name one instance, wiith the enforcement of Obamacare, our fundamental religious freedom is being compromised. But no one has the right to mandate acceptance and coercion of practices entirely in opposition to the (Catholic) Church’s dogma, or to arrogantly tell members of any church how they are to live their faith. Not even the president of the United States. A directive such as this has no place in a health care coverage bill. Indeed, it has no place in any government policy of any free country. The term “freedom of religion” has now (by the present administration) increasingly become “freedom of worship”. Nitpicking? I don’t think so. It is a deliberate, subtle change in language; and little changes such as this can be used to change perceptions of rights or freedoms. It is just such subtleties of which we must be congnizant.

Ashley Samelson, (International Programs Director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty) stated in an article for “First Things” magazine:

"To anyone who closely follows prominent discussion of religious freedom in the diplomatic and political arena, this linguistic shift is troubling. The reason is simple. Any person of faith knows that religious exercise is about a lot more than freedom of worship. It's about the right to dress according to one's religious dictates, to preach openly, to evangelize, to engage in the public square. Everyone knows that religious Jews keep kosher, religious Quakers don't go to war, and religious Muslim women wear headscarves-yet "freedom of worship" would protect none of these acts of faith."
 
But it is not only the government which demeans and thwarts spirituality. We distance ourselves from God, and ignore His every attempt to redeem our lives. We pray constantly, "God, why do you let certain things happen? Why don't you help us?! How can you let "this" happen to me? What kind of a God are you?" We continually condemn Him for not changing, not interceding, or saving us from what ever consequences arise from the choices we make. We expect God to fulfill our every desire, and are furious, to the point of abandoning Him, when He doesn’t; yet we have no room for him in our lives, save to display His Word as art (as long as it is not on public ground). We do not have the time to seek Truth and reason and guidance and understanding from it because our lives are so busy. God is OK, in His proper place. But, really, let’s not take Him too seriously. What a slap in the face to the One who called us into being.

Further, we murder our unborn and call it "reproductive rights"; homosexuality is rampant, but we call that "civil rights", as if who we choose as a sexual partner is, in some distorted way, a basis/criteria for whether we should receive housing, employment, legal rights and the like. Not even taking into consideration the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality, how absurd is this? And yet, there have been recent attempts to equate homosexuality with slavery. Really? I shudder to think what is next in this arena.

We allow, and even welcome evil into our lives. Perhaps we don't recognize it, or do not want to recognize it. It enters our lives so gradually, that we are not even aware. We simply accept more and more because it is constantly being hammered into us that we have no right to tell other people what to do. Inevitably, we find even “devout” Christians believing and saying “Well, I don’t agree with it, but who am I to say someone else is wrong?”. There are, however, “religious issues” which cross over into “human rights issues” and violate nature; and these cannot be ignored. But we are so afraid to speak truth. When we live a homosexual life, we are supposedly only “choosing an alternative lifestyle”. But when we do not defend the integrity and uniqueness of marriage between a man and a woman, we may as well be promoting homosexuality. When we abort a child, we say it is our “right”. Do we even spend a second pondering the right of the unborn child we have murdered so that we do not have to be burdened with the “mistake” we have made? We rarely speak out against pornography, because after all, we are all adults, and “everybody” dabbles now and then; and we have a right to live our lives the way we choose. And people are so afraid/hesitant to speak against another’s “rights”. But I believe people, especially Christians, are morally obligated to take a stand against such intrinsic evil. The more we allow evils to pervade society, the larger and more perverted they become. The more we accept, the more society is endangered. Our acceptance of anything and everything is much like the (proverbial) frog which was put into a pot of boiling water. It leapt out immediately recognizing that it must escape the danger. But when the frog was put into a pot of cool, pleasant water, and the water was gradually heated to boiling, the frog did not become aware of the threat until it was too late. 
 
Perhaps we feel that some things are none of our business, that they do not touch us or affect us. But when we fail to speak against things that are wrong, it is the same as saying that they are OK. And therein lies the rub. Little by little, things once thought of as abhorrent, are fast becoming accepted, commonplace in society and, “really, not that bad”. Before long, we will find ourselves asking “How did this happen?”.

And what of our children? What are we teaching them by what we do or fail to do? (“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6) Are we teaching them at all? Do we guide and instruct them about what is right or wrong? Or do we just let them drift in the chaos we have created to (hopefully) find their own way? Our children are our responsibility. It does not take a community, a school, society, a village or a government to raise them. It is up to us as parents to provide them with example, discipline and instruction that will be a compass throughout their lives. We can no longer afford to float along in a comforting pool of lukewarm water, believing all is well; we can no longer ignore the true north reading of our own compass. The salvation of generations depends upon it.



 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Today

video


 Video Music Selection: "Through the Dark", by Helen Jane Long

Today I set out on a walk through Logan County Ohio. I was armed with a camera, Helen Jane Long on the ipod, hot tears and cold raindrops, and a few prayers: Of thanksgiving for what had been, joy for the life I now live, and petition for what I hope my life to become.

I am in that proverbial "autumn of my life"; and sometimes the way becomes cold, frightening, confusing and unclear. Or, perhaps it is just hidden by all the tumult in the world.

But not today. Today I could see clearly, right through the low, dark clouds of this October sky. Today, I wasn't cold but rejuvenated by the day's coolness and the refreshing rain upon my face. Today, I could see and hear the beauty in the world I sometimes miss. Today, I was alone, but I was not abandoned. Today, I was not confused about which road to take. Today, I knew just where I was going, and with whom.
 
I share with you some of the beauty of today's images. God bless all, and be with you this day.





 

 




 
 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Devil is in the Details

A growing number of Catholic bishops have said they will not comply with the Obamacare mandate the administration implemented in January. The mandate forces religious employers to pay for birth control and contraception (including drugs that may cause abortions) in their health care plans:


"We cannot – we will not comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their prosperity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope she can trust on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less."


Setting all politics aside (and we must if we are to truthfully and effectively approach and address such intrinsically right-wrong issues), the citizens of the United States should be extremely concerned and wary of what is transpiring, little by little, within the present administration. Make no mistake about it, this particular issue is not simply about contraception. It is not a political party loyalty issue. It is not a Catholic issue. It is an American issue. It is a conscience issue, and it infringes upon the rights of every individual, regardless of religious expression, regardless of one's stand on contraception or abortion; and no man, no government has the right to interfere in a relationship between a man, his conscience and his God. No government has the right to force its citizens to violate conscience. No government has the authority to force its citizens to choose between faith and livelihood.  Simply speaking, no government has the right to interfere with the teachings of the church: "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22: 15 - 21).


The government’s responsibility is to adhere to the Constitution and secure its citizens’ rights, not to enforce pseudo safeguards under the guise of “freedoms” and “services” and “women’s health issues” which are in actuality ultimately designed to chip away at our God-given rights. But this administration cares nothing about God-given rights inherent to all men. This administration prefers engaging in semantics. This administration is abusing its power.


Furthermore, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. Does this sound familiar? It should. It is the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States—that same Constitution to which the President of the United States affirms loyalty at his inauguration:


"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Really Mr. Obama?



WORTH NOTING


The following ponderous statements (put forth in July of 1968) bear some serious consideration, not only as regards the so-called "contraception mandate" of Obamacare, but in discerning to whom we (should or should not) allow moral direction.

Excerpts from the ENCYCLICAL LETTER HUMANAE VITAE
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF PAUL VI

"17. Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife."

Quite prophetic, no?

"23. And now We wish to speak to rulers of nations. To you most of all is committed the responsibility of safeguarding the common good. You can contribute so much to the preservation of morals. We beg of you, never allow the morals of your peoples to be undermined. The family is the primary unit in the state; do not tolerate any legislation which would introduce into the family those practices which are opposed to the natural law of God. For there are other ways by which a government can and should solve the population problem—that is to say by enacting laws which will assist families and by educating the people wisely so that the moral law and the freedom of the citizens are both safeguarded."

The conviction of the founding fathers, held in the highest regard, was that all men, all governments are subject to the Word of God. This was of utmost importance to them; so much so, that Thomas Jefferson begins The Declaration of Independence

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."


This is no small matter. And it is not an issue solely unto itself. It is the beginning of, what I feel to be, a most difficult path ahead for people of faith. We often ask ourselves “What would I do if…?”. The time to answer is upon us.