For anyone to confess Christ as their savior and to compare one of the means of God's grace to an act of torture is reprehensible. I hope members of Gov. Palin's local church will explain to her why her remarks denigrate the Christian faith. Such remarks bring shame on the Body of Christ and to our witness in the world. Even more shameful, however, is the fact that so many Christians would cheer her support of torture (and yes, waterboarding is torture).
Gov. Palin was attempting to appeal to the basest political populism (nothing in her remarks could be construed as genuinely conservative) by claiming that current U.S. counterterrorism policy is overly-tolerant and empathetic toward our enemies. She contends that proper policies would "put the fear of God into our enemies."
Unfortunately, what Palin is proposing is a mixture of pagan ethics and civil deistic religion. She could have provided a more useful recommendation by supporting a Christian view, for on this issue in particular, Christian anthropology not only provides the correct view but the only one that can provide an adequate framework in which to form our conception of our "enemies."
As political scientist Glenn Tinder notes, the human being is both fallen and exalted, sacred and yet morally degraded. These two aspects of humanity cannot be separated. A fact, Tinder admits, that is "hard for common sense to grasp." Indeed, it is almost impossible to grasp when we try to apply this concept to our enemies. We often fall for one of two extremes.
The "liberal" position criticized by Palin (more accurately framed as the liberal cosmopolitan elite position), tends to be overly empathetic in an attempt to understand and "humanize" our foes. As Palin notes (albeit hyperbolically) they take the view that we cannot "offend them" or "make them feel uncomfortable."
But this is just one of the ways in which we can err. The "right-wing populist" position supported by Palin, seeks retribution and "dehumanizes" our opponents in order to distance them from ourselves, can be just as dangerous, particularly for those who must carry out the fight against terrorism.
I said my piece yesterday and received some serious pushback on Twitter. So be it. Sarah Palin is wrong here. Grievously wrong and I join with others in hoping someone can set her aside and show her why she's wrong. And I hope she'll prayerfully reconsider her remarks.
If some overly sensitive wusses took offense, remember the First Amendment doesn’t give you a right not to be offended. Perhaps hypocritical folks who only want Freedom of Speech to apply to those who agree with their liberal agenda might want to consider that the evil terrorists who were the brunt of my one-liner would be the first to strip away ALL our rights if given the chance. That’s why we do whatever we can to prevent them from killing innocent people. And for that, we should NEVER apologize. Good Lord, critics... buck up or stay in the truck.
I'm no overly sensitive wuss. I'm someone attempting to take my faith seriously. I fail too often. We all do. But I won't fail or falter on this particular point. It's too important.
Sarah, reconsider your words. Prayerfully and thoughtfully.
You've probably never heard of Nathan Trapuzzano. He was not a pop singer nor a hollywood actor. He was not a professional athlete nor a politician. He was not a celebrity in any sense of the word.
Instead, Nathan was a 24 year old man who was married less than a year ago and who with his young bride was looking forward to the birth of their little daughter Cecilia next month. He was widely known by friends and family as a tremendously faithful, compassionate and decent human being yet, tragically, Nathan is no longer with us.
On Tuesday in Indianapolis, he was murdered.
If you're like me, your first reaction, particularly after reading more about what kind of man Nathan was, is... why? Why does something like this have to happen? You can't fault the question. It's a natural one.
But this morning, via Deacon Greg, I found the homily delivered by his priest at the funeral. It's a tough, but necessary read, one I'm posting in its entirety. I post it because Father Christopher Roberts chose to focus on a completely different question. Read what follows and seriously ponder its implications:
We begin with a very practical note. We celebrate a Solemn Requiem Mass at the request of Nathan’s wife, Jennifer, who indicated this would have been what Nathan wanted. This form of the Mass, even for practicing Catholics, can be a bit confusing. Like any Mass, we focus in this Solemn Requiem on the re-presentation of the One Sacrifice of the Incarnate Son of God on Calvary and His presence, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the appearance of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist. This form of the Mass invites us to participate in this great mystery of Our Lord’s presence and sacrifice principally through contemplation and adoration.
Holy Communion will be offered only under one species, kneeling and on the tongue, not the hand, at the communion rail. It is not customary to make any response when one receives Holy Communion. If you are not accustomed to receive the Eucharist in this manner, observing others doing so can be a great help.
We welcome all those who are not practicing Catholics or who are ill-disposed to receive the Eucharist and invite them to remain in their pews and lift their minds and hearts by a spiritual communion with Almighty God when others are receiving the Holy Eucharist.
When Nathan asked me about a year ago which parish I thought would be a good one for him and Jennifer to attend after they settled in Indianapolis, I would have never imagined that when I put Holy Rosary on the top of the list I would be preaching at his funeral here before he had the chance to celebrate his first anniversary. Today is a heart-rending day for all of us.
There is so much that we could say and so much that has already been said about Nathan in the past week.
We could reflect at length about his involvement in the pro-life movement and how he would pray rosaries in front of the abortion clinic near his home in the hope that his prayers would save the lives of little unborn babies.
We could share stories about his great love for his wife Jennifer and his soon-to-be born daughter Cecilia.
We could reminisce about Nathan’s intelligence, goodness and deceivingly keen sense of humor.
We could marvel about the tremendous outpouring of goodwill that Nathan’s murder has created.
But rather than focus on these very worthy themes, we will focus today on forgiveness. We do so because Nathan Trapuzzano was a man who knew from his head to his toes that he was a sinner who was loved and forgiven by God. He wanted everyone he met to know the same love and forgiveness. I believe that he still does.
His friends report that during his college years he went to confession very frequently, even weekly, so that he could become more and more the man that God had created him to be. Less than a year ago when I celebrated his wedding Mass, he asked me to hear the confessions of all of the Catholics in the wedding party after the rehearsal. While I cannot remember his exact words, they were something like, “Father, don’t be surprised if some of them have not been to confession in a very long time.” His wife Jennifer wanted everyone to know that celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation was one of the last things that Nathan did, going to confession a day before he died earlier this week.
We know Nathan to have been an exceptionally good person. Why then, we might ask, did he confess his sins to a priest so frequently?
This special young man went to confession so often because he had a deep desire to love others with the love of the heart of Jesus and would stop at nothing until he did. He didn’t just want to be good as the world reckons it; he wanted to be like Jesus. He wanted to love others with a pure and humble heart. One of the most important aspects of having such a heart is being able to forgive unconditionally. Nathan knew that the best way to learn how to do that was to ask for such forgiveness for himself. He prayed the Our Father frequently and asked,
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is not looking at an evil and being too cowardly to call it evil. Nor is forgiveness acting as if something that is a big deal really is not. Rather forgiveness looks at something done that is evil and recognizes it as evil, comes to a sober conclusion about the extent to which the guilty party is responsible and then extends love to the offender and hopes for repentance and change of heart.
Our Blessed Lord teaches us what forgiveness is from the Cross when He says, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He looked squarely at the crime being committed, namely the execution of an innocent man who also happened to be God in the flesh, and recognized that what was happening was an unspeakable injustice. He knew that those killing Him did not have full knowledge of what they were doing, which diminished their guilt. Most importantly, Our Lord did not withhold His love from His executioners, but desired their repentance and return to communion with His Father.
Nathan would have wanted everyone here to know something in our bones. Each one of us here is loved with an infinite, personal and unconditional love by a merciful God. There is nothing that we can do that God will not forgive. We can refuse to accept that mercy, but God will never stop extending it. God loves each one of us more than we can ever know. He wants nothing more than for us to return to Him and let Him fix His merciful eyes on us and say, “You are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter, in whom I am well-pleased.” He wants to run out to meet us just as we decide to come back to Him, to embrace us and to shower us with kisses. This is true no matter how grievous our sins are.
We cannot be certain exactly what was going through Nathan’s mind in the last moments of his life. But as one who knew Nathan’s soul well as a priest, I believe that he would have desired to do God’s will with all his heart, just as he sought to do throughout the entire time that I knew him. For myself, I have little doubt that as his soul drew near to his particular judgment on Tuesday morning, perhaps even after he had passed out of consciousness, Nathan forgave his murderers. That was the kind of man that I knew him to be.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they have done.”
Like some of us here, I met Nathan when he was a parishioner at Saint Francis in Muncie. The last lines of the Prayer of Saint Francis capture the Christian mystery that gives us hope today: “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;/ and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
Dear God, your ways are not our ways. We are likely never to know why Nathan had to die so young. Neither however can we fully comprehend the necessity for the death of Your Son. Instead oh Lord, teach us to trust that good can come from evil and that Nathan's death was not in vain. Wrap your arms around his wife, watch over her future and the future of his soon to be born daughter Cecilia. This we pray in Christ's name.
Ron Kinney, 67, waits tables at the French Quarter Restaurant in West Hollywood, California. In December, he received a huge tip on a $50 bill - but threw away the receipt, thinking that a diner had simply had too much to drink.
Unbeknown to Mr Kinney, 'Tips for Jesus' is a phenomenon sweeping the country where restaurant staff from New York to Arizona have been left thousands of dollars by an extremely generous, anonymous patron.
A loved one is going through a very tough time. He's watching his wife struggle with a debilitating disease. He's watching their children watch her suffer. I can't imagine the angst. I can't imagine the thoughts going through his head. I wish there was something I could do, something I could say, something that could help.
We of faith cling to it particularly when things go awry and we're prone to offer what semblance of faith we have to those we see suffering. Morsels of intended comfort.
Today, I stand with my cousin Ed, who's wife was re-admitted to the hospital yesterday. I stand with him offering yet more morsels of intended comfort.
It's the purpose of this post and particularly what follows.
May Ed, and particularly his beautiful wife Diane, find what is intended, the peace and comfort of He who suffers with them.
In the bottom of the first inning against Houston, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips pulled a cruel, cruel trick on Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar when he forced him to slide directly into his butt while protecting second base.
As if his head placement wasn't embarrassing enough, Villar was called out on the play.
How many of us have walked past a beggar with nary an eye blink? How many of us rationalize away giving to the poor man or woman with their hand out on the street corner? How many of us drive right by the person in the median there at Sam's Club holding the cardboard sign, trying hard not to make eye contact with him or her?
I am surely guilty. I can imagine most of you reading this are.
There are two commandments regarding poverty that I have come to dislike. The first is as follows: “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.” I do not disagree. I have simply come to the sad conclusion that those most likely to use the phrase are those most likely to neither give, teach, or fish.
The second is my topic: “Never give money to a beggar. They’ll only spend it on drugs.”
The problem with this maxim is its cleverness. I am a man of conflicting desires. On the one hand, I want to keep my money, because I like money. On the other hand, I want to give to the poor, because
it is good to give to those in need, and I desire the good. On the other hand, I want to go about my day without the interruption of a beggar, because I am selfish. On the other hand, I — a Christian, and worse, a Catholic — know that Christ wants me to break the pitiful shell of selfishness that petrifies me from reaching out towards my neighbor — to help.
Now the brilliance of the maxim is that it allows me to reconcile these conflicting desires — by doing nothing at all. I may keep my money, and more than that, keep it for the very reason I may have been inspired to give it away — for the benefit of the needy, who are benefited by my not supplying their potential drug addiction. I may walk past a beggar, and do it for the precise reason I may have stopped — I am called to help the poor, and it is no help to give money to a man who will “just spend it on drugs.” Miraculous! I may simulate the whole strength of moral feeling by doing nothing. I may walk past a beggar and say, “Thank you Lord, for helping me to show your love to the poor by aiding them in kicking their drug addictions by way of my generous not-giving.”
See, it is a clever commandment, but I am skeptical of any argument that allows me to do nothing in a spirit of doing something. But let us consider the claim.
It is true that we must give alms wisely. But what wisdom is it to assume a drug addiction of all beggars, and more than that, to assume that your personal act of almsgiving will be used, each time it is given, to that end?
Even if we do not make this assumption of all beggars, only admit the possibility of a beggar using our alms for drugs, our subsequent not-giving still seems based on a false conception of Christian charity. The Christian is not called to give usefully, that is, to give on the basis of the ends of his giving. Who among you buys flowers only on the condition that your gift is used for the ends you have in mind? A gift that is only given on the basis of what will be done with it is not gift, but an investment. As with all investments, it is dependent on the return, the result of giving. Giving on the basis of outcome isn’t necessarily bad, but it is hardly charity. For what is the Christian called to do? To love as God loves. How does God love him? Unconditionally. So, in imitation of our God, we should practice charity without conditions, understanding that a gift is not a philanthropic contribution to known, trusted and worthy cause — a gift that will only have the effects we are satisfied with — but a giving that allows for the possibility of misuse.
What then, coming back to the title of this post, is your obligation?