In the last few weeks I have upgraded to secure hosting after changing hosting companies. I have a few more websites to migrate in the next few weeks. But yes… There will be a beta site up very soon.
If you didn’t know it, I am a huge Transformers fan. Growing up there were Transformer teams known as combiners; a half dozen robots would join together and become a larger robot. Something weird happened when they combined – the new combined robot was much larger than what you would expect when you sum up the mass of the 5 or 6 robots that were combined together. An example of this exaggeration would be that one robot would make up the entire leg of a combiner and be 4 times taller than he was as a robot. As kids we didn’t need an explanation, but as adults looking back it doesn’t follow logic. Since the 80’s airing of Transformers, the fan base has taken a word from German and applied it to this phenomenon: “gestalt“, which is a word that means more and different than the sum of its parts. It is interesting that the modern writers picked up on it and have since run with it. In the new comics the Transformers have lost the secret of gestalt and are fighting to re-discover it.
As Christians I think it is important to realize that every person is more than the sum of their parts. Man is not just merely a collection of cells designed to perform various bodily functions that come together for a job. When our cells first are formed the Creator adds something that we cannot see, something that makes us more than the sum of our genetic and cellular parts. Something blocks us from feeling the pain of millions of cells dying every minute, and the joy of millions of cells being created. A great mystery happens and we are given a will and an intellect. Biological sciences have never been able to explain how our will and intellect appears out of this sum of lesser parts. Somehow we have become more and different than a mass of 37 trillion walking cells.
Social sciences has no answer for another gestalt phenomenon: the body of the Catholic Church. Composed of 1.3 trillion sinners she has managed to survive for thousands of years. How has this organization managed to do this? Why isn’t it the largest mafia in the world? When Catholics come together as the Church they become more than the sum of individuals, a Will and an Intellect guides them. This Will and Intellect is the Holy Ghost which, as promised, descended on the Church at Pentecost and has guided her ever since. The Catholic Church also gains powerful intercessors when one of its members dies and enters heaven. Led by our Lord Jesus Christ, death is turned into a victory for mother Church, who becomes stronger when each soul enters heaven.
On the surface our body is just 37 trillion cells moving about, eating and drinking, but in reality we know we are gestalt, and so much more. We want to do great things; we desire to know much more. Mother Church’s body may look like 1.3 trillion sinners, but in reality the Church is much more than the sum of these individual sinners and their sins here on earth. In a way, you could say our bodies are “more than meets the eye“.
The picture comes from IDW comic Combiner Wars 09 Streetwise. You can download it for free from Hasbro here.
I was reading this science article that came across my feed this morning while waiting in the dentist office. The article talks about injecting human brain matter into mouse skulls and how the mouse as a result becomes smarter… yep friend this is not science fiction anymore.
Being heavy into computers and IT, I think the science regarding human brains, and all brains in fact, as something important to keep track of. Someday computers will be more logical than humans and the whole lengthy set of moral repercussions to follow is something this and future generations is going to have to deal with. So I am reading a long sort of saying, wow cool, who donated their brains cells to science after death for this experiment… when suddenly the article tells me…
“Goldman’s team extracted immature glial cells from donated human fetuses. “
At that line in the text I stopped reading a science article and realized I was reading something akin to the notifications about human experimentation at the hands of German scientists during the second world war. The scientific line of ethics here had been crossed. People are literally being killed to maybe make a mouse a fraction of a % smarter. Something I need to expound upon in a future blog post is the whole ‘donated human fetuses’, why it is wrong to create fetuses outside the womb and then ‘dispose’ of them. Like children who are dropped off at an orphanage, these babies who were made in a lab have been left to the hands of a butcher to tear them apart and put their pieces into other animals to make chimera hybrids. This is an abomination, it is no longer science. The cost of a human life has been reduced to an experiment on mice!
As Catholics we draw the line of person-hood from the moment of conception. When an egg is fertilized it become ‘human’. Living humans cannot be donated, they have rights, especially to live. As disciples of Christ we need to stand up and say what is going on here is murder and human experimentation without consent.
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
I strongly urge you to speak out against such experimentation to your peers. Explain to them that each human life is unique and special and none of us are worth ‘paltry’ experiments of this magnitude. Scientists have more ethical sources to get similar materials for their experiments. We need our voices to be heard. Don’t be afraid, speak out and it will make a difference.
So your family all watches TV and then goes to bed. Maybe your family hasn’t prayed together since Aunt Lucy was in the hospital? You want to change that and bring the family together to pray but do not know how to? Maybe you just want to pray more routinely? Well this
listicle blog is for you.
If you are like most Americans who watch 5 hours or more of television every day TV might be a major roadblock. But tossing the TV out the window, you might think is a good place to start, it probably won’t be. If your goal is to get rid of the TV and replace that time with prayer, you need to ease television out of your life and gradually add in a little bit of prayer. Then one day you will look at the television and say to yourself, gosh when was the last time I turned that thing on? Then feel free to toss it out the window or at least kick it out to the curb.
Here it is in a nutshell: The fact is something is missing; you have a hole in you – we all do – and that hole is bottomless. We try to put things into that hole. For some of us it is watching sports, others it is television programs, for many it is sadly pornography. But all those finite things we put into a bottomless hole! The only way to fill that hole is with the infinite, and only God is infinite! You place God into that hole by engaging in the sacramental life and through regular devout prayer. Participating in the sacramental life means regularly going to confession and regular attendance of Mass. A routine devout prayer life fills in the rest of the gaps and means you set aside time(s) each day to pray.
This is my guide to praying with the family every night: you can do it by yourself if you live alone or with your spouse and/or children. For my family it has gone over very well with my little kids. They are transfixed by the fire of the candle we light when we pray, and are not afraid to chime in when there is time to ask for blessings or thank God for things that occurred or they saw during the day.
Step One: run to the grocery store! In most grocery stores placed with the exotic Latin American foods there are always – either on the top or bottom shelf – these weird candles with Saints, Jesus and/or Mary pictures on them. They are cheap… incredibly cheap! They are usually week votive candles, meaning they will burn for 188 hours or more! At a dollar store they will cost you $2-3 or less and at the grocer they will probably be about the same cost. They are almost always not scented so you don’t have to worry about allergies. I think you want to use these for a couple of reasons. It supports the people that make these religious candles which is a valiant profession to be involved in. The candles when not lined on a shelf and stand on their own are usually quite beautiful. Unlike the scented candles, these candles really are very obvious that they are set aside for holy things.
Step Two: bring the candle(s) to Mass and afterwords get the candles blessed by your priest. If there is a lot of time between buying the candles and getting blessed it is OK to start praying at night, but getting the candles blessed marks them as holy and special; specifically set aside for God. This candle for its life will be a centering location for your family to rally around in prayer.
Pro-Tip: plan next February 2nd to have candles for the year (including the next year’s Advent candles) already purchased for blessing. This date is the Feast of the Presentation, sometimes referred to as the Candlemass. Many parishes invite parishioners to bring candles to this Mass around this feast for blessing on a side table at the beginning or conclusion during Mass.
Step Three: set a time and place to pray. If you have little children you should pray together just before the youngest child’s bed time. Always give yourself plenty of time, so even if you are just starting and going to say one quick prayer, allow for double the time! If it is just you and your wife, I could think of 3 times to pray: after dinner, at dusk, or before bed. As for a location, any table or place that is free from distractions will be good. Talk about it, and make sure everyone knows what time family prayer time is.
Step Four: pick the prayers. As with anything start off simple. If all you can remember is the Our Father and the Hail Mary, then do that. I recommend starting with just an Our Father anyways, building up other prayers later. Discuss the ‘format’ with spouses, and if children are old enough to comprehend then explain it to them before hand. Always leave time for thanksgiving and intentions. In our family when intentions come up, we always ask the children what they are thankful for to encourage them to not be afraid to speak up. Start short and simple and get a set pattern of nightly prayer and then add to the prayer as everyone becomes more comfortable with family night time prayer together. Here are a few recommendations for you to ease into nightly family prayer, start with the basics and build up over time:
Starter Basic Prayers:
- Sign of the Cross
- Our Father
- Everyone states something they are thankful for, and any special intentions.
- Sign of the Cross
- Sign of the Cross
- Our Father
- Everyone asks for a special intention
- Hail Mary, Glory Be
- Everyone states something they are thankful for
- “We ask this through Christ our Lord…”, Sign of the Cross
- Sign of the Cross
- Our Father
- Special Prayer (use prayer cards, everyone works on memorizing the prayer together)
- Special intentions
- Hail Mary & Glory Be
- Everyone states something they are thankful for
- “We ask all these things in Christ our Lord who reins for ever and ever…”, Sign of the Cross
Step Five: get everyone involved.
Little children; sometimes you get started and cranky children are screaming bloody murder. (like every family wedding you have ever taken them to) When this happens it is OK to send them to bed with a quick Our Father after placing them in bed. My oldest son at about 18 months would not go to bed without lighting the candle and praying, it would break his routine, he absolutely had to have it. (You don’t know how much I pray that he is always like that.)
Teenagers; if you are starting this late in your family, teens are going to be a challenge. Do not turn family prayer time into something that is either demanded or a reward. Try to make it something that is normal, which may be hard to develop into a habit. Always kindly invite them to join you in prayer; forcing someone to pray with you will have little effect. The nights they do not join you in prayer, ask them if they have an intention they would like you to pray for; friends, school, sports. Teens always have things they are worried about, and as long as you are friendly, sincere, and actually do care, they will entrust you with intentions. If they are upset and rebellious, make sure you pray for them if they do not join you, as well as for their special un-named intention. Chances are they are upset with something that involves deep emotions or complicated relationships and need that prayer badly.
Spouses; Sometimes one spouse is busy, maybe a husband is working under a car or a wife is busy working on a project. One of the reasons I recommend such a short format is sometimes really important things are happening, and prayer time doesn’t need to be hours long and we always have time to give a few minutes to God. Never nag your spouse to pray, everyone has bad days or things that sometimes they can’t ignore for a few minutes once they start. Like the sulking teenager: ask for a prayer intention and make sure you pray for them.
Step Six: pray. Pull out the candle, and find a regular place to pray, light it before you go to gather the family. When they show up the candle will already be burning, inviting them to pray. Of course shut out all distractions, turn off computers and televisions, turn off the lights, even if there is still sunlight out. The father of the house should lead the prayer, even if the mother has to remind or encourage the father. Often, in summer, I will be working outside as bed time draws near and my wife stroll out and say, ‘Its almost bed time, want to come in and get ready to pray.’ It is a pleasant reminder as my role as head of the household when she says it that way. At the conclusion of the prayer, children that do not misbehave, may take turns each night blowing out the candle. The flame, much like the glow of the screen will capture a small child’s attention, and it can be something you offer as a reward before hand, ‘hey isn’t it your turn to blow out the candle tonight’. Just like blowing out birthday candles only multiple times a week!
A note about Advent; the Sunday after Thanksgiving (In the Untied States) is the first Sunday of Advent, the tradition of burning candles and praying is often encouraged during this 4 week long liturgical season. For my family this is how we started praying at nights as a family. The practice quickly caught on as a regular nightly activity, and with the cooperation and encouragement of my wife it has developed into our nightly custom.
Step Seven: down the rabbit hole! Remember the hole that is inside us is an infinite hole. Praying with your family will strengthen the bond to each other. When friends visit and prayer time comes up, invite them to join you. Pass out prayer cards for them to join in, or if they are not religious, give them a brief overview and ask them to silently observe. Sometimes we find ourselves away from home or in transit at prayer time, we don’t break tradition, and we still pray all buckled in our car seats. As time goes on, build a prayer corner in your home. You can acquire beautiful things for your prayer corner; linen, pictures, statues, crucifixes and incense that you burn on special feasts and solemnities. Here is a book on building a prayer corner.
Before, I gave three examples of formats that each one builds on the last. For adults this most likely will not be enough prayer to fill an adult God-shaped hole. In fact it is enough that I hope you will grow a taste for more prayer. My wife sticks to more rote prayer, and most nights after family prayer and the youngest go to bed we will say a rosary with the older children. For me I have received spiritual direction to say the liturgy of the hours at night, and the nights we don’t say a rosary are filled with Vespers(evening) or Compline(night). If you want to say the liturgy of the hours I recommend getting the Laudate app for your smartphone, it supplies links to daily liturgy of the hours. Saying the same thing every night can become to routine, so we mix it up a little too: novenas can fill small spaces and bring new enlightenment, devotions to saints or the holy family can bring a deeper understanding and love for the whole body of the Church. Currently after prayer my family is trying to read ten or more paragraphs from the Catechism, so we even balance Catechesis with our prayers. We’ll have read or heard the whole thing in less than a year, but will most likely take a break during advent, lent, Christmas & Easter. The most important thing to remember is we don’t have to get stuck in a dull and boring prayer life. My family didn’t just start praying a full load of prayers and doing all this reading on day one. For us it wasn’t all natural to just jump into all of it, we had to build and let it grow on us diligently working day by day, forming a routine that we love and can’t wait for each night.
Time: How much? I would say keep it short, anything over three minutes is a lot if you have kids. In fact 2 minutes is probably the norm for our family prayer. If you are doing something afterwords like a rosary or liturgy of the hours, 10-20 minutes is all they take depending on your tempo. It is nice to have long nights and short nights because sometimes you really need to tune-in to God more, and sometimes the day has been long and maybe you want to get to bed a little early. Compline (night time prayer) from the liturgy of the hours takes about 5 minutes and that is our lets go to bed prayers.
For some people the sacraments and a rosary a night is all they need to fill that God shaped hole. But there are so many devotions out there, you really may never be able to do them all in a lifetime. There is no need to do the same thing every night. My family will pray that this helps you or maybe encourages you to try to pray more with your family!
Most, by ‘most’ I mean enough that I really should say ‘all’, of the Catholic kids of my generation (80’s kids) will agree that these are the circumstances of their Catholic upbringing. They grew up in a family whose faith formation consisted of going to Mass most Sundays, and attending between 45 minutes and 2 hours of C.C.D. (which at one point changed to the title P.S.R.) once a week. We grew up saying grace at dinner, and maybe our parents prayed with us before bed, but it was when we were very little, and it was not normal. As we got older we would hear our parents say, “We’ll pray for you,” on the phone to a sick great-aunt, but we never heard them actually pray. Our prayer life was seriously lacking the instruction of our parents. Catholic education was too busy teaching us how to draw happy pictures of what we thought God looked like and giving us weird magazines with children from 12 different ethnicities outside of our own, all smiling and having a good time. Nobody showed us how to talk with God. When it comes to prayer, early on we had to memorize the Sign of the Cross, Our Father, Hail Mary, Act of Contrition, and Apostle’s Creed, but once we were tested we were never asked again. Most Catholics of my generation probably remember only two of those five prayers today, since they have not prayed them since they were a preteen.
In place of the traditional prayer times (Morning Prayer, Angelus, Vespers, Compline) was the TV. We watched cartoons every Saturday morning from 7 to 11 a.m. when the programming got disinteresting and full of advertisements. We played outside, but most of the time we came home to an empty house after school and watched cartoons and then cheap comedies (zit-coms) until our parents did or did not come home and make us dinner. We watched TV late into the night right up until bedtime, and then like zombies shuffled to bed, parents not tucking us in. My parents did not pray at home with us; I honestly will say I don’t think they have a visible home prayer life today. Yes, surely, they prayed a couple of times. But I can remember more spankings than times I had spent praying the Our Father with a parent one on one or as a family. I suspect my parents are not to blame for this; I suspect at some point in generations before family prayer fell to the wayside.
I was lucky enough to have a father who I at least knew had a minimal visible private prayer life, and he took the time to pray out loud at our regular weekly Catholic Bible studies we attended and sometimes hosted in our house. My wife’s parents realized early on the necessity of a family prayer life, and at some point in her early childhood began to pray every night with their children. I see this as possibly the greatest example that the two of us have been given.
Fast forward to today. Television and its 200+ channels of poor programming has consumed the lives of almost all of my peers. All my conversations with coworkers consist of small talk about the latest TV show from the night before. But television has found a new companion to the affections of my generation; the screen! PC’s, Mac’s and hand held(s) take up almost every waking moment of the average person’s down time. People who say they are too busy to do something, really are too busy looking at the screen and the false relationships of Facebook, blogs, etc. [Yes reader I may be really chastising you for reading my blog right now instead of praying with your loved ones, I guess I am one to talk as I am writing this instead of doing the same]. Most people are bored because they are actually doing nothing, and they constantly distract themselves into forgetting that disturbing truth. TV shows and video games are entertaining. We face all the seats in our home at the almighty screen as the center. Crucifixes on walls have been replaced by a screen in every room; in some homes even the bathroom.
I talk to my parents often, and I worry that they don’t have a daily devotion to prayer, instead spending way too much time sitting watching their favorite reality show or the History Channel. I look at my Catholic peers, and they have stopped praying even at meals. It is like prayer has disappeared. I look at myself and wonder how many hours I spend with a screen vs. how many hours I spend praying with my family and teaching/showing my children to talk regularly with the Lord. I firmly believe everyone needs to increase devotion time with our families as well as silent time for ourselves. We need to set time aside to talk with God. This topic has bothered me for several months now, and it will be talked about more here. In the last year my wife and I have really worked on family prayer. Today I feel a lot better about it than this time one year ago. I want to share with you simple strategies to get the whole family to turn off the screens and pray, even how to get young children excited about 5 minutes of prayer time and praying out loud.
For now, let me leave you with these questions: Do you watch TV or read Facebook to avoid being bored? If you are bored, what would be the best thing with which to fill your life?
Tim Haines, latest podcast on Vericast, 5 minutes worth the listen:
Best line in this one: “They use comedy as a means of lowering the defenses of rational people who then accept their lies without scrutiny.” Because it is so true.
So recently if you didn’t hear the The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments headed by Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, have a letter out to all Catholics about what we are doing during the part of Mass we call the “sign of peace”. If you have not been following, in 2005 some bishops were worried that the particular section of Mass before we say the “Lamb of God…” is turning into more than it should be. Sighting things like priests descending from the alter for hugs, people singing (‘the song of peace’), and people tossing out the 1970’s hippie peace symbol at each other.
As the dust clears from this letter, it seems apparent that in the last 9 years not much has changed, since the conversation started. The biggest issued was the bishops had considered to moving the sign of peace back to the end of the Liturgy, where there at one time was a “Kiss of Peace“, so we were not moving around while Jesus was present on the alter. In the letter they note the idea but have concluded to leave the sign of peace where it is at. Honestly I have had enough liturgical changes to last a lifetime, and I can’t imagine how confused my parents generation feels after Vatican II, and then the more recent vernacular changes.
Cantering at Mass a few weeks ago, during the sign of peace a server and I were right next to each other yet separated by chairs, an amplifier, and speaker, we could not shake hands, instead we exchanged two different hand gestures. I mouthed “Peace be with you” (Cantor… microphone… I think you get it) and the hand gesture I made was my index finger and middle finger touching extended with my thumb holding my ring finger and my pinky down. He responded with the 1970’s peace symbol.
Now what did I mean and he mean? I ask this because I think we meant different things:
My hand gesture was a profession of my faith in the Trinity. Our Orthodox brethren use the hand posture to make the sign of the cross. The hand gesture I used is seen all over iconography and in famous picture and statues of the saints. It is a teaching tool that these icons artists have purposely placed, much like St. Peter holding keys or St. Paul holding scrolls of his epistles. The thumb and two smaller fingers (in some images touching in some not) denote the three persons of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The two extended fingers denote that Jesus is both 100% God and 100% Man as one. The servers response was, “Oh that is the hip catechist teacher in our parish trying to be hip and cool and reach out to me with a peace sign, I should throw back.” So some things got lost in translation.
I guess I know what the bishops are talking about when it comes to abuses. I guess I am guilty of abusing the moment. I probably should refrain from such hand motions in the future.
Lets look at the traditional peace hand symbol. Its origins as a peaceful gesture do seem to come from the United States in the late 1950’s, where it was popularized as a symbol of nuclear disarmament. By the 1970’s it had grown into the culture as an anti-war symbol. Before that the gesture is rooted in British history. It is often said that the British archers use to denote that they have their drawing fingers and they can still fire their bow to shoot at the French (lovely). Asian culture refers to the same sign as the victory sign. If you look it up there are hundreds of ancient uses for the gesture. Seems like the symbol has bounced back and forth between war and peace, regardless the average person today would consider it means an end to war. Unless you throw it upside-down or back of your hand out, in which case it is almost always an obscene gesture in most cultures.
So why do the bishops not want us tossing up the peace sign? It has to do with the solemness of the Mass itself. The Mass is steeped in the beauty of the beatific vision, it is not a place for secular rap music, pop singers, or twerking dancers all of which will come and go in popularity and style. While we are free to bring some of the aspects of our culture into the Mass, there is a time and a place, and at this particular moment Jesus is very present at the alter. It is a time to recognize that Jesus loved us and wants to be part of our community; not just you and Him, but everyone and Him. It is also a moment for us to stop and make peace with our brothers and sisters, if there is something between you, before eating at the heavenly feast.
Over the weekend we saw a lot of these video’s of our friends dumping a bucket of ‘ice water’ (nobody I have seen has had ice in their bucket?) on their heads and challenging their BFF to do the same and to donate to ALS.
Often times we see things that bring about an emotional responce, and on the outside cover they look like they might be a fun way to help out, and this appears to be one of those times. Unfortunatly, ALSA is not an organization Catholics or Pro-Lifers should be endorsing or advertising. I say this with the utmost respect for the people who ALSA is trying to help. ALSA is willing to cure Lou Gehrig’s Disease going as far as willing to pay money to people who kill healthy babies and harvest their organs for parts in their experimentation. There are several poeple who have gone over the organizations policies and discovered that their own website says they support the controversial use of embrionic stem cells.
As Catholics, we can never support such an organization. One can quote the catehicism, encyclicals, books, etc all day long. The Church has always been very consistant that murdering babies for parts is evil. So this is a cry to my friends; you need to not participate in this activity. If you already have, please remove the video’s you have posted and contact your friends you have asked to perform the challenge, asking them not to participate. I beg you, on behalf of the 9 month old babies who are brutaly murdered, their brains litterally sucked out of their skulls in these procedures, please send the message to tha ALSA that they will not be supported by people of good morals until they change their policies.
Note: <SARCASM>All we want to do is dump buckets of water on our heads and raise awareness to disease, why do you have to go about supporting abortion.</SARCASM>
After getting the liturgical calendar table created I have moved onto bringing together the other elements of the database that I have already created.
Here is a screen shot of the begining of some basic loops to determine basic schedules. I have taken an January 1st through March 31’st and pulled all Sunday Masses and Solemnities from the Type in the Database. I happen to notice that Ash Wednesday is abasent from this selection, So I may need to make a future marker for Ash Wednesday to appear. My next loop looks for ministries in the parish, and then another loop looks up ministers. It is a humble start.
I have a couple of issues, I will need to add a lot of generic testing data; more ministers in particular, I may want to re-think ministry slots, with a second look I think they may be overly complex, and instead of creating multiple named slots, maybe I should be just saying how many ministers are needed for each Mass; aka 2 Lectors, 1 Bread EME, 4 Wine EME’s, 2 Servers etc. I am going to sleep on the idea, and weigh which system allows for the most future growth.
If someone is prejudiced against a person because they are Jewish, we call them an Antisemite. It has been marketed to the world as a negative term. Antisemitism has grown into a label that nobody wants to be called; it is a hater label, something the mainstream slaps next to someone’s name when it wants to berate or put them down publicly. There is a derogatory term for every kind of prejudice except for someone who hates Christians, Catholics in particular. As one of the largest and most disliked religions, why is there no label for the scores of people who hate Christian Catholics?
Since the dawn of the new world the only long-held tolerable prejudice in the United States has been against Catholics. It only takes a few simple searches to find loads of personal attacks against Catholics online. It is, in fact, quite popular to Catholic Bash in the secular media. This is despite the first hospital (Our Lady of Solitude 1592 St Augustine, FL), orphanage (Ursuline nuns Natchez, Mississippi 1792), and schools were all founded by Catholics. In politics there was mass fear that Kennedy (our only Catholic President) would take orders straight from the Pope. The KKK was: white, protestant, & male; meaning they didn’t like non-white races, Jews, Catholics, and did not allow women in their meetings. Today we have blown away all those prejudices in almost all secular channels. It is acceptable to be a woman, Jewish, and of any race; but it really is not acceptable to be a practicing Catholic.
My question: The Jewish people have this derogatory term for their prejudice, why don’t Catholics?
My first thought is because Catholics do not defend themselves; we are asked by Christ to lay down our lives. We embrace persecution, suffering, and strife, offering it up to be one with the Lord. It is in the nature of our religion to not fight back with violence, instead to lay our lives down for the Church. Maybe this is the reason why we don’t invent a bad word with which to label our persecutors.
In light of what I see going on with my Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq, I am deeply upset by images and reports in the media. Yet I am also very proud to see them stand in lines and be shot; proud to die for what they believe, beheaded to join with the Godhead and wear a crown of martyrdom. There are many people calling for an end to the violence and displacement. This is the Church’s call to notice the dignity of all humans in the world. Not because we are all as unique as snowflakes, but because we are created in the image of the Creator. I just can’t see us labeling the ISIS with a derogatory Christian-hater title. I believe this term does not exist because Catholics will always be persecuted; after all, Christ came to bring the sword not peace. Christians will always be struck down by the sword.
But what about the Cristero’s in the Cristero Civil War of Mexico 1926-1929? There are some terms that come from this war: Cristero and Anti-clericalism that are worth looking into. Cristero is a term we may see pop up more in the USA culture as more Catholics come into the country as immigrants. I am doubtful, though, since the secularization of immigrants is very rapid. I don’t think many coming over the boarder stay religious very long once they get a taste of McDonald’s and Mickey Mouse. Also because Cristero means sort of a Catholic guerrilla fighter, and I don’t think that is what Catholics really want to be labeled. Anti-clericalism isn’t very valid either because Catholics themselves don’t really connect ‘clerics’ with being lay-Catholic.
The natural term is Antichrist. Yet, in English we generally use this term to refer to people: people like Adolf Hitler or the Emperor Nero. Modern Fundamentalism and Protestantism also paints pictures of the Antichrist who is to come, who will be seen as equal to Jesus, only evil and one with Satan. There is a lot to be said though in this title. One could really see the person mowing down a line of Christians with an assault rifle as an Antichrist. In every way they are acting against Christ; they are hurting others, they are angry, and they are physically trying to kill the Body of Christ. Despite this, Catholics really see them as the Roman soldiers to whom Christ said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
In conclusion: Catholics do not have a bad name for their persecutors. I ponder if this is pleasing to the Lord? Yet a quote does comes to mind, that of St. Thomas More in the movie “A Man for All Seasons”, I wonder if he actually said it in real life to his executioner:
I forgive you right readily. Be not afraid of your office; you send me to God.
My final thought on the lack of a name of such a person; to invent a hater title for our persecutors would in fact make us no better than them. To do so would be very similar to that self-defeating reasoning: we will not tolerate intolerance. To be hateful to someone who hates just makes you as bad as them, and in fact turns you into what you despise – a hater. The Church in her Christian philosophy and wisdom continues to discourages the creation of hateful speech.