I just went to see a wonderful film called “God’s Not Dead.” The story is about a young College Freshman, Josh Wheaton (played by Shane Harper), who is majoring in Pre-law–in other words, he has a lot at stake when it comes to getting good grades.
Nonetheless, he finds himself in a class with a staunch atheist teacher, Professor Radisson played by Kevin Sorbo, who wants all of his students on the first day to write “God is dead” on a piece of paper and sign it. Completing that “assignment” is a huge part of the semester grade, and the argumentative Professor won’t accept any alternative views by his students.
Josh, a devout Christian, could not deny his faith by writing the words. And so, throwing down the gauntlet to a Freshie whom he was sure he could argue circles around, the atheist Professor gives him 3 20 minute sessions to prove the existence of God.
With the students who had all written “God is dead” on their papers as the jury, the Josh takes on the challenge, despite numerous obstacles, including risking his future career and closest relationships.
We see other characters in the movie, also modern day Christians, who face difficult challenges to practicing their faith as well.
It’s an engaging tale, and very well done. The acting is marvelous. And the ending had me in tears — it was really touching.
After the mega-doses of atheism we’ve had to endure in modern entertainment, not just the obvious propaganda, but others — some disguised as science as in the recent tv documentary* “Cosmos,” it’s refreshing to find a movie like this. And it’s even more inspiring that the premise is not based upon some far out theory, but is grounded in experiences by many a Christian and numerous Christian groups who all bravely fight the good fight, finish the race and keep their faith despite it all.
*(The new Cosmos was funded by Family Guy’s Seth McFarland and written and produced by Ann Druyan, who won the 2004 Richard Dawkins Award from the Atheist Alliance International Society and who was inspired to pursue science due to her fascination with Karl Marx.) (See Ann Druyan Wikipedia page)
Please pray for Pastor Saeed as he undergoes unspeakable hardship and torture in an Iranian prison because he refuses to deny Jesus Christ.
So often we think of Martyrs as people who lived in the past — people like St. Stephen, or St. Nicholas who remained in prison for 11 years for refusing to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ, St. Philhomena, St. Maximillian Kolbe, and many others who lived so long ago. But there are those who are tortured and abused just as badly today for refusing to deny their love and faith in Jesus Christ.
These modern day martyrs–in China, Bishop Ma Daquin, and now in Iran, Pastor Saeed Abedini, are a shining light in the world’s darkness —- heroes for the Faith. Their hardship only makes their love stronger, their faith greater and the light they shine brighter until it is a beacon for all to see.
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” wrote Tertullian in the 2st Century. That fact has not changed. These heroes who suffer for Christ today do great good and convert many to the faith.
Please listen to Pastor Saeed’s beautiful letter to his wife, proclaiming his love for Jesus Christ despite the horrific abuse he has endured from those who are trying to torture him into denying the Lord. Even now in the letter he wrote from that hellish place he is inspiring all of us to stay strong for God’s glory…
“..See your golden opportunities in pressures and difficulties….see the Shining Morning Star in the dark times in your life…….Stay strong for His glory! He will come back soon. Be with God and give your best efforts for His kingdom.
Pastor Saeed, Servant of Jesus Christ in chains for endurance of the Gospel. I love you all.”
Please then go to ACLJ.org to sign the petition for Pastor Saeed’s release so that he may return home to his beautiful family.
Hobby Lobby, a great American Christian business, has been threatened with fines of 1.3 million dollars a day if they do not pay for the abortifacient, the “morning after” pill, via Obama’s HHS Mandate. Essentially, this company is required to choose between following their conscience or keeping their doors open.
According to David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby,
“These abortion-causing drugs go against our faith…. We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”
Please pray for them and for America as they fight this issue in court. Just as they have put their heart and soul into their business, they are not willing to lose their soul to follow this unjust and unconstitutional order.
We are at a moment of crisis in this country. America has provided Religious Freedom to all of its citizens for over 200 years. But because of Obama, that may all come to an end very soon. President Obama refuses to respect the religious freedom of American citizens with whom he disagrees. His mandates force them to choose to violate their consciences or to violate an unjust law in the country they love and pay millions of dollars in fines until their businesses are shut down.
Our country may soon lose its most precious freedoms. Please pray for America, and please vote for American freedom!
On Sept 17, 2012 as America commemorated 225 years since the signing of the U.S. Constitution, Hobby Lobby put this wonderful ad in the paper:
Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin has been “detained” by the Chinese government after making this courageous speech and declaring his loyalty to the true Catholic Church in China. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIuMdFIxasI
He is now missing and there is fear that he is being harmed or has even been martyred for his Faith!
Please pray for him and join the twitter conversation #whereisbishopma?
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome— for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us— this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.
I saw “For Greater Glory” today, and it was a wonderful movie. Out in theaters now, this beautiful, spectacularly-filmed movie had me moved to tears many times. Based upon a true story, the film highlights the true heroes and tragedies in Mexico’s war for religious freedom in the early 1900. Hurry up and see it — the film may not be out for much longer and it is definitely worth a look.
In any case, I was browsing around and began to read the Catholic Catechism, which can be found as a link on the “app.”
Big surprise. I had always thought of the Catechism as a book of rules, and had never before thought of reading it through like a regular book. To me that would have been as silly as reading the Arizona Revised Statutes from cover to cover. Who wants to read a book of rules?
But what a shock! The Catechism is not a book of rules. It is sheer unadulterated absolutely exquisite poetry. It is just beautiful. In fact, I was blown away by its beauty.
As an example, let’s start with Chapter One:
MAN’S CAPACITY FOR GOD
I. The Desire for God
27 The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for……..”
Why had I never done this before? Why had I never tried? What more could I read on a daily basis that could possibly matter more than the first things that this book talks about? This book holds the key to the meaning of existence — why had I not bothered to look before?
First, an announcement. If you care about religious freedom and the First Amendment of the Constitution, please join us on March 23, 2012 to Stand Up For Religous Freedom (see http://standupforreligiousfreedom.com/ ) from 12-1 pm in cities across the country!
For Arizona, the location is the Sandra Day O’Connor Courthouse, 401 W Washington St. Phoenix, Arizona.
I know that there are many people who do not really understand why the Catholic Church is so upset about HHS Kathleen Sebelius’ order for the Churches to provide contraception and abortifacients to those whom they serve. Why not just give in? Why is this such a big deal?
First of all, let me explain that contraception, especially the kind of contraception that kills an unborn baby, is not just any kind of sin. It is the worst kind of sin– a mortal sin. For the deeper reasons for the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception and abortion, read this document, and perhaps even this article.
But the basic issue is this: ordering Catholics to provide contraceptives and abortifacients is like requiring Muslims to provide wet t-shirt contests every Friday for their young women to participate in, or requiring Jewish people to eat bacon cheeseburgers every week for their health. Except that it’s actually a lot worse. A Catholic who participates in a mortal sin (like providing abortifacients) must go to confession and repent in order to receive the Sacraments — in order to do anything that is Catholic — in fact, in order to actually continue to BE Catholic. .
So to begin with, what we are talking about with this new Kathleen Sebelius-generated law is that the government is ordering the Catholic church to do something that would essentially make Catholics no longer Catholic. The mandate destroys freedom of religion by definition.
But let’s also look at the impact here. Catholics who have never disobeyed a law in their lives, are faced with the choice of disobeying a law with severe consequences and incurring fines, jail, or a shut down, or choosing to disobey their conscience — the core of their faith — and consequently cease to be Catholic.
They must either stop being who they are, or face a government power that will ultimately destroy their very existence (esp. the existence of the agencies they have established to care for the poor and sick, such as hospitals and other charitable services).
And to make a long story short, I think that’s the point.
With this HHS Mandate, the Obama administration is not as much concerned with the miniscule addition of a few more free contraceptives as they are with the destruction of the Catholic Church’s charitable influence, especially the Church’s formidable presence in the healthcare industry.
And that’s why you should care about the Catholics. Because what this administration wants to do in the healthcare arena after they get total, unrestrained control over healthcare in America is not something that the people of this country want.
Also, this act of closing Catholic hospitals et al. is a “necessary” step towards Obama’s ultimate agenda. I think that getting the Catholics out of the way is just the beginning — I truly believe that they have quite a bit more planned with Obamacare than they are telling you now.
So much has changed since Obamacare was approved by Congress. Abortion was not a part of the originally passed Obamacare. Conscience protections were promised, sworn, insisted upon and practically written in blood verifying that they would be there and not be taken away. The Death Panels were removed from the law to get it passed. Executive orders were signed to reassure everyone that nothing like this would ever happen. Let me rephrase that. President Obama was the one who promised that conscience protections would be in place. President Obama was the one who signed an Executive order promising that abortions would not be paid for by Obamacare. The President even made Rep. Stupak and pro-life advocates actually look stupid for questioning his integrity on the matter. There was absolutely no question that Obama promised not to do what Obama just did to the American people in order to get Congress to agree to his healthcare bill.
The President’s guarantees were so iron clad and his contradiction of those promises so blatant, that if Obama were sellling a house instead of a bill, he’d be indicted for fraud. There is no way to explain Obama’s “in your face” reversal on his promises to Congress and the American people except that he was just looking for a way to trick Congress into signing something that would give himself and his HHS Czar total control over healthcare in America.
(Obama’s Christmas present to the American people when they weren’t paying attention)
Abortion is being paid for by Obamacare with a $1 surcharge.
Conscience protections are forbidden by law and severe punishment is threatened.
And free contraception is being dispensed like bubble gum, now considered a right that trumps the First Amendment to the Constitution.
The Obamacare that was passed, despite its unpopularity, looks nothing like the Obamacare that is evolving with each stroke of HHS Kathleen Sebelius’ pen.
If you look at how convincingly they promised and cajoled and issued comprehensive executive orders that left little room for doubt that they would not do what they just did, , that abortion would not be paid for by Obamacare, that conscience protections would be in place etc. — you might want to think twice before you trust anything they’re telling you now. http://ofbyfororagainst.com/
And then the next thing you should do is to Google Kathleen Sebelius, who now has this incredible power over life and death in America. This woman can pretty much issue any law she feels like ordering and make people do anything she wants. So who is this woman who has that kind of power over you, and what are her views?
O.k. So let’s say that you are trying to overhaul the entire healthcare industry of the United States and how people look at healthcare in general. The decision of who should be entitled to medical care is something that you want to control–totally, without competition or objection. You want to change long held perceptions about who is worthy of care from the historical concern for the individual person to a more statistics-based cost/benefit analysis.
And let’s say that your formidable competitor in the healthcare industry considers everyone beloved and worthy of care, regardless of usefulness or age or convenience.
Let’s say that your competitor’s healthcare systems comprised the largest group of non profit systems in the country. Let’s say that in 2005 they had more than 611 hospitals representing approximately 12% of all hospitals nationwide. Further, that more than a quarter were located in rural areas, so they owned the predominant health care services in those areas. And let’s add that they additionally had acute care facilities that treated and continue to treat more than 1 in 6 patients each year. Let’s even say that your competitor, the Catholic church, has more members than any other single religion in North America.
That kind of competitor could be a problem for an agency that wants to be the only player on the block. The bottom line is that the Catholic Church has a definite influence in health care as it stands right now. By delivering an impossible mandate, this administration gets a two-for — a win for the culture of death, and the potential destruction of an obstacle to unrestrained power.
Now, let’s say that you are a eugenicist and you want health care to be based on your own criteria and not on the principle that all people are endowed by their Creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness –not all people, anyway.
Let’s say that you want to be in charge of the decision of who lives and who dies. An organization like the Catholic Church could really crimp your style. The Catholic Church has been standing up for the rights of the unborn child even when they’ve stood alone. They will stand up for the rights of the elderly or the newly born or the infirm in the same way. They have always stood against and will continue to be a thorn in the side of the Culture of Death. They consider each person precious in the eyes of God, precious in reality, despite what he or she can contribute to society. The Church teaches that each life is a gift from God regardless of age or usefulness or infirmity. The Church would be a bigger pain than the Constitution to an administration that wants to be in complete and total charge of who has access to medicine in America.
“Read Love and Responsibility” by Pope John Paul II and tell me that it doesn’t make sense.
Consider why it is the Catholic Church who is being persecuted now–whom have they stood up for? Whom have they defended from the beginning? Consider what is really happening in abortion centers right now and decide for yourselves what is really going on and whether it should continue.
The fact that Catholics are being persecuted, and that it may get really difficult for us really terrifies me. And yet, it also makes me really proud to be Catholic. It strengthens my belief and my love for my Church and makes me want to stand too for the defenseless — not only the defenseless unborn but the elderly and infirm as well –even if I stand alone with my brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church.
I believe that the end of all of this turmoil will not result in destruction of the Catholic Church, which is not in a building, but is in our hearts and souls. Instead I think that through this trial the Catholic church will grow and flourish exponentially, increasing the number of true believers who will do what it takes to follow Christ and care for all people, even, and perhaps especially, those whom this world wants to throw away.
“You are the salt of the earth!
You are the light of the world!” (Mt 5:13-14)
Dear Young People of the Seventeenth World Youth Day,
1. On a hillside near the lake of Galilee, Jesus’s disciples listened to his gentle and urgent voice; as gentle as the landscape of Galilee itself, as urgent as a call to choose between life and death, between truth and falsehood. The Lord spoke words of life that would echo for ever in the hearts of his followers.
Today he is speaking the same words to you, the young people of Toronto and Ontario, of the whole of Canada, of the United States, of the Caribbean, of Spanish-speaking America and Portuguese-speaking America, of Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Listen to the voice of Jesus in the depths of your hearts! His words tell you who you are as Christians. They tell you what you must do to remain in his love.
2. But Jesus offers one thing, and the “spirit of the world” offers another. In today’s Reading from the Letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul tells us that Jesus leads us from darkness into light (cf. Eph 5,. Perhaps the great Apostle is thinking of the light that blinded him, the persecutor of Christians, on the road to Damascus. When later he recovered his sight, nothing was as before. He had been born anew and nothing would ever take his newfound joy away from him.
You too are called to be transformed. “Awake, O sleeper, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Eph 5, 14), says Saint Paul.
The “spirit of the world” offers many false illusions and parodies of happiness. There is perhaps no darkness deeper than the darkness that enters young people’s souls when false prophets extinguish in them the light of faith and hope and love. The greatest deception, and the deepest source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God, of finding freedom by excluding moral truths and personal responsibility.
3. The Lord is calling you to choose between these two voices competing for your souls. That decision is the substance and challenge of World Youth Day. Why have you come together from all parts of the world? To say in your hearts: “Lord, to whom shall we go?” Who has the words of eternal life? “You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6,6. Jesus – the intimate friend of every young person – has the words of life.
The world you are inheriting is a world which desperately needs a new sense of brotherhood and human solidarity. It is a world which needs to be touched and healed by the beauty and richness of God’s love.It needs witnesses to that love. The world needs salt.
It needs you- to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.