Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Jesuits Sunk the Titanic, Apparently

I've decided to start the tag "Y u no like Catholics?" to make fun of some of the more inane instances of anti-Catholicism on the internet. Enjoy!

Guys, guess what? The Jesuits sunk the Titanic. I know you all learned in school that it was an accident and bad ship design, but you're clearly not aware of the depths of depravity that the Society of Jesus will sink to in their evil mission. Observe the exhaustive research of this highly respectable and professional website, run by that monolith of academia, the Pacific Institute. There's clearly no bias here, just academic objectivity:
"When we think of events that have transpired in history over the last one hundred to two hundred years, there are certain events that stand out as ones of great horror, great surprise and great sadness. Of the many that come to mind the most devastating have been the destruction of the the World Trade Center in New York City and the sinking of the Titanic. The greatest tragedies in the last two hundred years can be traced to the Jesuits. We will now show that the Jesuits planned and carried out the sinking of the Titanic, and we will show why they did it."
When Ignatius of Loyola said "Go forth and set the world on fire," he clearly was referring to important buildings and heretics. And you all thought he was being metaphorical!

Observe the depravity of this Romish order! They have all the elements of a summer-movie villain, including wearing scary black cassocks and having zombie slaves to do their bidding:
"When a person takes the Jesuit Oath, he is bound to his master until the day that he dies. Edward Smith had become a man without will or intelligence. He would commit any crime the Order wanted him to commit."
If you aren't in the mood to read this insightfully brilliant treatise now, here's the gist: The Jesuits had the captain of the Titanic under oath to ram an iceberg and kill as many passengers as possible. This is clearly shown because there was a Jesuit taking pictures of the Titanic before it left port. Tourist, you Jesuit-lovers ask? Don't be silly. We're talking about sinister, black-cassock-wearing Papists!

Why would anyone do this, you ask? Well, that's obvious. With all the people on the Titanic dead, all opposition to the Federal Reserve was eliminated!
"The unsinkable ship, the floating palace was created to be the tomb for the wealthy, who opposed the Federal Reserve System. By April, 1912, all opposition to the Federal Reserve was eliminated. In December of 1913, the Federal Reserve System came into being in the United States. Eight months later, the Jesuits had sufficient funding through the Federal Reserve bank to begin World War One."
Yes, the Jesuits started WWI. They sunk the Titanic to  form the Federal Reserve to siphon money to start a world war. The Jesuits are basically Emperor Palpatine, except they give longer homilies and have even more confusing plan to take over the galaxy.

This is a picture from a relatively uneventful campus Mass.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Loving Both Mother and Child: An Open Letter to Carolyn Jones

(Dear Readers: I will be taking off from Gaudium Dei from now until after May 6th, and this will be my last post until then. My co-writer David will be taking over posting for the next five weeks. Posts will have two days between each instead of only one day. I will be taking this time to expand some of my on-campus work concerning religious liberty as well as trying to improve my grades during finals. Please pray for me, as I pray for all of you, and I look forward to returning with gusto in early May. God Bless! - Joseph Jablonski)

An open letter to Mrs. Carolyn Jones, who recently ended the life of her unborn son and publicized the reasons behind her decision and the horrific process it involved her in:
Dear Mrs. Jones,

I have read the article in TIME magazine put out that details your traumatic story. I have also read your story in the Texas Observer. It was very heartfelt, and I begin my open letter by declaring this is not an easy issue to discuss. You are in a deep ocean of emotional pain, for you are not like the majority of women seeking to end their pregnancy, who do so for reasons of selfishness, caring not for their child. For those readers of mine who are not familiar with your story, you are speaking out against the Texas ultrasound law, feeling that it was not a necessary reminder when you decided to spare your disabled unborn son suffering by ending his life. Through the process of determining whether your son should be carried to term, you had two ultrasounds, which were both heart-wrenching, and the third was an unnecessary reminder of the tragedy that had befallen you and your husband - the genetic disorder of your unborn son. As you wrote in your article in the Observer:
Instead, before I’d even known I was pregnant, a molecular flaw had determined that our son’s brain, spine and legs wouldn’t develop correctly. If he were to make it to term—something our doctor couldn’t guarantee—he’d need a lifetime of medical care. From the moment he was born, my doctor told us, our son would suffer greatly. 
Your son would suffer greatly. Pro-lifers recognize your unique words. You had acknowledged truth: You recognized the humanity of your child. Surely, we pro-lifers can recognize you did not choose your son's death out of selfishness. That statement that you make above was after your first ultrasound. After the second ultrasound, confirming that your child would be disabled, you write:

Our options were grim. We learned that we could bring our baby into the world, then work hard to palliate his pain, or we could alleviate that pain by choosing to “interrupt” my pregnancy. The surgical procedure our counselor described was horrific, but then so seemed our son’s prospects in life. 
Nick Vujicic, a man without limbs from birth, now speaks regularly about
the joy of Christ and how invigorated his life is.  
This moment is not unfamiliar to many pro-lifers and to many people of true joy and true love. Time and time again it is heard for many different pains. Maybe its genetic disorder, like was your situation. Maybe it is Down Syndrome. Maybe it is another disorder that is diagnosed prenatally, one that suddenly shocks a parent's life. Many women, many heroic families, in these circumstances when they recognize that suffering will exist everywhere if a child is brought to birth, if they even can be brought to birth, drive through the pain and choose life, for life always finds ideal, even if the life is imperfect. May Hayley's smile speak to all of us as an ideal, or the ideal joy of the parents of Baby Adam. On this blog, I celebrate the love and joy of all: even those who suffer for life, but yet suffer in life rather than out of it: Down Syndrome children, mentally and physically disabled, and even the above, more extraordinary cases. They experience life, and with life comes encounters of love. I'd say that we, in our comfort and our security, do not experience love as deeply as they do, though one should never wish this upon anyone. But if anyone is conceived with a suffering aliment, destorying their life would not only spare them from the torments but also spare them the graces that God can enjoin upon us when we live. Sparing your son from the suffering also disconnects him forever from true joy.

Which is why my heart sinks as you proceed:

In those dark moments we had to make a choice, so we picked the one that seemed slightly less cruel. Before that moment, I’d never known how viscerally one might feel dread. 
The article continues. The rest is a complaint against the supposed cruelty of the ultrasound laws that exist in seven states, particularly your Texas, and the eighth that will be soon put to law in Virginia. You go into detail how you suffered from the ultrasound law, and believe that you have a right "not to know" more about the child that was in your womb. It put you through pain to have to experience a third ultrasound, as mandated by the government. You felt it was not necessary.

However, I believe the ultrasound law isn't the problem here. You weren't upset because of the law; you were upset because you were being constantly reminded of a reality that couldn't exist, even though there was in fact no requirement, no forced reality that required you to end your child's life. Many pro-lifers take that moment in the ultrasound room as a moment to love, as I described above. In fact that is the only way to love, since love rejoices in life, not death. Why did you not choose life? Why didn't you decide to even try to bring the child to term? Have I not already shown that a suffering life can still be a joyful one?

Do I blame you in your overflowing woe? Why should I; this would be cruel and farthest from attempting to embody joy in this caustic situation. Yet there is blame, and it falls on the corruption and fault of our fatally realist society, for it was your doctor that suggested termination. This has happened all too frequently, for parents are encouraged to spare children both suffering and life in one quick stroke. In this, a new suffering is born: the suffering of one who kills.  He cared nothing for trying to bring joy to your son, and in those moments when you were weakest and needed the counsel of life, you were encouraged to a false, empty love in the counsel of death. You are not to blame. The culture of death that believes that we should "put the suffering out of their misery" is the cause for your pain because, throughout the excruciating events that followed, it was not the ultrasound law that caused you to feel upset, and caused you to cry and weep throughout the process of abortion: It was your conscience of life. 

My words are far from comforting, but in reality this isn't as much a letter to you as it is letter to that doctor who suggested termination, and a letter to the society that believes as he does. I love you, and I love your son, and his blood and your tears cry out how twisted this society is: a society that advised you to love through death. I will never kill for love, only die for love, for I am pro-life. 

I don't hold you guilty for any death, but instead I place this society on trial. A society where people encourage false love in death, rather than life for the child and sacrificial love for the parent. That, Mrs. Jones, is only where we will find joy.

And if I am to experience such joy as having a disabled son or daughter, let me choose life, in order that my whole family may rejoice forever. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Movie Review: October Baby

“October Baby”: Learning to “Hate the Crime; Not the Criminal”
A guest post by Tabitha Garnica, SUNY New Paltz, Class of 2015

“I am the strength for all the despairing, Healing for the one’s who dwell in shame” ~ David
Haas “You Are Mine”

          “October Baby” is a new film out in theaters that spreads the Pro-Life message. The story follows Hannah, a 19 year-old girl who has struggled with epilepsy and other physical troubles her whole life. Hannah’s life is completely turned upside-down when she discovers that she is really adopted and her physical struggles are due to the fact that she is the survivor of a failed abortion.
          As Hannah ventures to find out the truth about her birth-mother and the meaning of her own life, she is conflicted with feelings of anger and hatred. She hates her mother for not wanting her, she hates her adoptive parents for keeping this secret from her, and she hates herself for feeling unwanted and hopeless. As she continues her physical and emotional journey she learns to forgive as God forgives us, and to see the beauty that is life.
          This film brought so many emotions to me, considering that my eyes have still not quite recovered from crying. It made me consider how we, as God’s people, are meant to treat those who feel trapped and see abortion as their only solution. One of my favorite lines from the movie is, “Hate the Crime; Not the Criminal”. How many times have I thought of women who have even considered abortion to be evil? How many times have I thought of those who support abortion to be evil? How many times did I look upon them with eyes of hatred instead of forgiveness? The answer to all of these questions is: more than I am proud of.....and definitely more than God has. If God can forgive these people, who am I too look upon them with hatred?
           A powerful scene in the film is when Hannah’s birth-mother is confronted with her mistake and just breaks down on her knees crying. I did not want to see her suffer. All I could see was God cradling her in his arms and telling her that everything would be alright. These women do not need our harsh words. These women need us to tell them to trust in God. These women need us to tell them of His incredible forgiveness.
           As Catholics, we are called to show the love that God shows us. Of course we should fight our hardest against abortion. But what this film taught me is that God calls us to do so with His mercy. This could mean possibly refraining from spreading the message of: “If you are for abortion, we hate you because you are murderers!” Instead God calls us to spread these messages: “We love you!”, “We love your unborn
child!” “We want to help you”, and “We forgive you!” Another memorable quote from the film is “To be human, is to be beautifully flawed.” We all have fears. We all have weaknesses. We all feel like we are alone
sometimes. We all at one point or another forget that God is always with us. We need to spread the message that, as long as you seek God’s forgiveness, it shall be given to you. I strongly urge all young people to see this movie. It is simply beautiful that, even in this secular society, the Pro-Life message is still being spread with joy and love.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Movie Review: The Mission

We're beginning the new tag "Catholic media;" we have some posts lined up about media that we see as promoting the mission of the Church, whether through positive portrayals of lay Catholics  and clergy or through generally Catholic themes. Our first movie review is of a long-standing favorite among Catholics and at Jesuit schools.

The Mission (1986) is a powerful film about Jesuit missionary priests in South America during the 18th century, doing God's work abroad and trying to protect the native people from state-sponsored slavery. It is one of the most powerfully Catholic films I have ever seen. Nominated for seven Oscars, it is based on a true story.

There are plenty of themes that demonstrate joy. Firstly is an extremely positive portrayal of priests. One priest in particular, Father Gabriel, is shown having deep concern for his mission congregation. He is consistently moral and self-sacrificing, and converts a native Guarani community to Catholicism through non-violence and love. Father Gabriel is the picture of Joy in Christ, shepherding his flock in a particularly perilous assignment without complaint. I'd like to hold his character as an example of joyfully proclaiming the Word.  This also plays into an extremely positive portrayal of missionary work. The missions are shown as places where art, music, and education flourish; they are sanctuaries of Christian living. This runs counter to a contemporary understanding of missions as a place where imperialists brutally instill a fear of God and guns into native populations, which is, to say the least, a terribly incomplete view.

Martyrdom, conversion, and the power of music are also powerful themes in this movie, but I don't want to give away too much of the plot. You could also draw a message about problems arising when the state represses the Church.

You could actually make quite a few parallels between this movie and the Dances with Wolves/Avatar genre. If you wanted to sum up this movie in those terms, it's kinda like Avatar with awesome priests and a coherent plot.

This movie is the perfect example of how a film with incredibly Catholic themes can be compelling in modern times.

I watched the movie as part of a movie night sponsored by our newly-restarted Knights of Columbus council at Fordham. A Jesuit scholastic who watched with us told us the film was part of what got him thinking about the priesthood.

Powerful stuff.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stand Up For Religious Freedom: The Inspiration of St. Joan of Arc

St. Joan of Arc: A powerful woman of faith; an inspiration to us all.
(Starting Saturday, we will be resuming our varied discussion about other topics of joy, but once more I wanted to put the spotlight on the rallies occurring tomorrow. They were enough to even suspend BadCatholic's usual Lenten break. It's that important!) 

Tomorrow, joy shall have a witness and a voice in over 140 cities across the United States. Be sure to check out our Facebook and Twitter for more information, as we will be updating live between the hours of 12PM and 1PM with pictures of rallies in NY and DC, which we would like all of you to share. Many times, there is a general complaint that joyful news fails to make it to the front pages, but that only happens because we determine who the journalists are. We will be posting numerous pictures: Be a voice and a part of a new media which focuses on the joy of the Church and of religious freedom by sharing our photos and messages during your lunch hours, or even later on after the events. Additionally, post any experiences you had at different rallies, so we can better demonstrate the joyful and universal nature of these rallies.

More important than this, though, is prayer. Without God, none of our successes so far could be possible, and it is through Him that we shall be able to overcome injustice, since he is the definition of justice. In the spirit of prayer, I would like to also ask for us to pray in intercession to as many of the faithful and saintly women of the Church as we can, but especially St. Joan of Arc. As a young woman, she (suspend your geopolitical and historical opinions for a second) provided a hope to the French in a time when they were being taken over by a seemingly unstoppable enemy. We are in such a time, where we can barely believe the infringement of freedom we are experiencing. However, we need heroes, especially women heroes in the continuing debate about contraception, to keep standing up and continue defending the Church: like St. Joan of Arc.

Stand up for Religious Freedom tomorrow. Be a part of the joyful revolution that the HHS Mandate is fueling. And let us witness to the joy and freedom of the Catholic Church, whether as a journalist, in prayer, or in person.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The "I Have A Say" Campaign

My "I Have A Say" video, where I detail how the battle
 against Planned Parenthood and the contraceptive mandate 
affects the true joy of God.  Like and Share!

One of the distinct marks of Catholicism (and at one point we have all seen it) is taking evil actions and campaigns, turning them around and using them to evangelize and spread the Good News of the Gospel. It is believed by some that the word "Christian" was first used as a derogatory term by Roman and Jewish authorities, before we used it to describe someone who had "put on Christ" (Romans 13:14). Tertullian is known to have remarked, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." Rock music, which was decried by ministers numerously times in the second half of the 20th century as the devil's music, has been made to do things like this

Enter Cecile Richards's campaign, "I Have A Say". Throwing lies about the HHS Mandate Hearing and the 98% statistic left and right, she encouraged women to spread support for birth control message by  "making a video about why you should have affordable access to birth control no matter who your employer is." The inherent meaning of this video is that Youtube should be filled with women explaining how they personally need this birth control, taking away fully from the debate about whether a religious employer should not be obligated to do such a morally contentious action. It's the same rhetoric we've always seen: all women obviously support the HHS Mandate, so they should be speaking up. The Church is a bunch of old, oppressive men trying to stop them. The tactic is to take a question of religious freedom and make it out to be an issue of woman's rights.

Fr. Hollowell: a priest that coaches football? No wonder he
 tackled  Planned Parenthood. 
Then, suddenly, Fr. John Hollowell shows up. He points out how he, as a man, Catholic priest, and someone who wasn't killed by abortion, still has a say. He proceeds to detail how Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Church are not merely opponents but sworn enemies.
"You better knock us out now. You and the president, in seeking to silence the Church, in seeking to silence those who also believe that they have a say: you and the president better knock us out right now. Because Cecile, I can promise you, here comes the Catholic Church."
His video (linked above) has gotten almost twice as many views than Sandra Fluke's video, and possibly even more views than all of the pro-contraceptive "I Have A Say" videos combined. And, as a result, a new campaign has been born: a campaign which foremost shows the simple joy of being able to "have a say" because we were born and not aborted. Stories about how Catholic women don't accept the culture of death, a culture of contraception and abortion, and how all Catholics have a say are now being found daily on the new blog Fr. John Hollowell set up for the campaign. Some additional response videos have been created, including mine that is at the top of the page.

Gaudium Dei obviously emphasizes a spirit of dialogue with others who disagree, including Pro-Choicers and supporters of the mandate, and that doesn't change with my strongly-worded video. By making this video I do not seek to judge any individual (although I talk about Cecile Richards, it is in her capacity as a representative of Planned Parenhood). But we here at Gaudium Dei say and believe that Planned Parenthood, in its realist approach to abortion, is an organization that is damaging the ideal of true joy. Just because we are enemies of an organization does not mean that we are sworn enemies of the women seeking abortion, abortionists, or supporters of the choice agenda. In fact, it means we must pray for them more frequently.

So Fr. John Hollowell aptly points out how we Catholics have a say in this debate. Are we using our right to a say when it comes to this issue of religious liberty? The fight of the Catholic Church here in America is on. We here at Gaudium Dei always encourage joyful witness to all. Exercise your right to have a say. Stand up for true joy.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bad Catholics?

"I'm tired of Catholics telling other Catholics they're bad Catholics. The only exceptions: (a) you possess the miraculous gift of being able to see within someone else's soul or (b) you're Jesus. If you don't satisfy (a) or (b) please stop the judging, especially on this page."

Fr. James Martin, SJ, a popular Jesuit writer, recently posted this on his Facebook page. I spent some time looking at the comments that I thought he might be referring to, but since I can't figure out the full context, I'm going to take some liberties. I hope you all don't mind.

The behavior Fr. Martin is trying to curb here is certainly a bothersome one. I think Father is correct in identifying these cries of "bad Catholics" as judgements, and judgements are dangerous things. Full judgement, that is, judgement of the soul, is reserved to God alone. I'm not saying that pragmatic judgements regarding a person's actions should never be made by the proper authorities; after all, Jesus said, "Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven." (Matthew 18:18). That's a responsibility of the Magisterium, and the hierarchy of our Church must point out errors that go against the Good News. Call it tough love if you wish; simply put, we need people who spend their lives studying the Word and can point out transgressions against that Word: we call this the the Magisterium.

On the other hand, we can't all call other people "bad Catholics." It's not our place to make such judgements. The Church is a hospital for sinners, and we all have the stain of Sin on us. Some people have unique and tiresome burdens they must carry; sometimes, these people quite visibly stumble. Even people who have generally saintly lives sometimes falter; such is the taint of Original Sin. It's easy to shake your head at the drunk, until you consider that perhaps his family has a history of alcoholism and he doesn't know a healthy way to deal with the troubles of life that others might be able to shrug off. Instead of calling him a bad Catholic, perhaps it would be better to encourage him to go to AA meetings so that he can improve his life, and support him on the road to abstinence. Of course, he might fall off the wagon a few times on the road, but such is the stubborn nature of sin. He also might refuse your help, but you should be willing to extend a hand if you get the opportunity.

Paul's letter to the Galatians offers some guidance in this matter: "Brethren, and if a man be overtaken in any fault, you, who are spiritual, instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens; and so you shall fulfil the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:1-2).

Dear Galatians: Be nice. I'm trying to convert the Mediterranean, and I'm hearing about your antics all the way over in Jerusalem.  You're not making this easy.

I think that it's important to note that I'm not saying you should see an alcoholic friend vomiting on the steps of your dorm and think, it's not my place to judge other people, and then go and leave him there. There's a huge difference here. One is not judging a person because you simply can't know the fullness of the load they must bear. The other is refusing to help a person in need.

I think it's also important to point out that some people use this lack of judgement as a license to misrepresent Church teaching. Some prominent Catholics take advantage of mercy and make false claims about Church teaching, saying that their membership in the Church allows them to make claims statements what is authentically Church teaching and what isn't. Let me be clear: this practice is destructive. It wounds the unity of the Church. There are certain things that Catholics in good conscience must not do. We have a Magisterium for a reason. I think it's completely valid to call these people out on their transgressions; in the case of elected leaders, it is in fact our duty to make our voices heard. We should say that these people are misrepresenting sacred Truth and behaving in a way they shouldn't. But let's not go the extra step of claiming that these people are bad Catholics. That's a judgement about their whole person that is beyond our capability.
[ Update: Several lines in this paragraph were badly-worded, if not completely incorrect. See comments section. A synopsis of what I was trying to say: Sometimes Catholics in prominent positions misrepresent Church teachings. While everyone is entitled to opinions, the Magisterium has final say in doctrinal matters, and we should take their guidance seriously. Since we live in a democracy, it is our duty to oppose certain policies according to our consciences informed by sacred truth with the guidance of the Magisterium. That isn't to say that I don't think reform is ever needed, or that you should disobey your conscience after you've properly formed it. Sorry if I gave such an impression. Thanks for the comment, Bob!]

BTW: Google searches and Papist ninja techniques have revealed several Tumblr notes asking people to post nasty comments on my post about post-birth abortion. I have not noticed any comments directed from these sources. This is disheartening! I demand more hearty resistance! I will be satiated by even anonymous complaints, as long as they are reasonably polite! Stop being like lukewarm milk! (Revelation 3:16)

Copyright (c) 2012 David Birkdale

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Evangelization: Fueled by Joy

(So firstly, I wanted to thank my friend Matt for putting together the social networking links on the side, connecting our blog directly with our Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube Account. If you haven't already, just click the "Like" button to be directly connected to our blog posts and even more additional updates which show appreciation for joy in our world.)

Understanding the motives behind our words here on Gaudium Dei means understanding the sometimes ambiguous concept of "joy." When I end some of my blog posts with robust rousings about joy, I am not doing this merely because it sounds nice, but because joy is the most powerful element behind evangelization. Fr. Robert Barron, author of Catholicism, in the video below (added to one of our playlists on our brand new Youtube channel) clearly explains what it means to truly embody the "Joy of God" in our daily lives, dialogue with others, and defense of the Church.

Scriptually, the example of the disciples of the John the Baptist, points out how two followers of John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus the Messiah only after they had a close friendship with him. The acceptance of the Messiah does not supersede the joyful encounter with that Gospel; it in fact bases its initial acceptance on that joy. As Fr. Barron says:
It begins with friendship with the Lord; it begins with this intimacy with him, which leads to joy, which then leads to the desire to share that joy. That's the right rhythm. The friendship and the joy come first, and then the desire to share it. 
The Gospel shows how didactically this is put into practice, Philosophically, the Summa Theologica instictively shows a connection between joy and morality.  In the Summa's  second half, Aquinas discusses ethics as the laws of right and wrong. Superseding the questions on law, however, were questions at the beginning of this section that embodied "beatitudio" or "joy." This method is Aristotelian in nature, for Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, does the same thing. He determines that the greatest good is happiness, but not momentary happiness which is in fact pleasure, but deep happiness, joy that develops over a lifetime. Only then does he try to target what fosters happiness (virtue) and the laws that govern that process (morality and ethics).

What does this all mean? Happiness attracts, and if virtue and morality provide the greatest happiness over pleasure, then people will desire to follow this virtue and morality. As Catholics, we know this morality to be linked to God's love and selflessness, which fully disconnects happiness as a selfish gesture. Basically, the deepest joy is what fuels the moral truth of the Catholic Church. We only discover this when we work in that direction: first from joy, then to morality. This is why, when someone (or a nation) is falling from their faith, we do not dryly lecture Theology of the Body. Instead we show, because words, even words on a blog, aren't enough. This is why priests are so scary: their lives, by living celibately without pleasure while immersed in joy, are a contradiction which has attracted for two millennium,  Catholic women don't need birth control to bring happiness. They find true joy in following the dignity of loving as Christ loves.

The alternative culture of liberality and selfishness, not knowing joy, relies on pleasure, which is a vacuum which merely sucks deeper and deeper, never satisfying. That is why, quite frankly, they have even violated the founding documents of our country in order to get what they want. Yes, this depraved culture deserves criticism. Yet far more do they deserve our kindness, our love, and our joy. Let your letters to Congress ring with the element. Let your calls to Kathleen Sebelius and Barack Obama be immersed with a genuine happiness. Let your shouts on March 23rd be shouts of praise. For through joy we shall demonstrate what it truly means to live. 

Copyright (c) 2012 Joseph Jablonski

Monday, March 12, 2012

Letter to Bishop Lori on the March 23rd Protests

In the spirit of writing letters to influential people that this blog has taken, I have written a letter to the Most Rev. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut. I ask that he, as the head of the USCCB's Committee on Religious Liberty, would assist in making a public statement from the bishops supporting the March 23rd campaign "Stand Up for Religious Freedom". As you may know from what I spoke about in my Tower article, Bishop Lori is the bishop who, over two years ago, was able to mobilize thousands of people for a protest in the streets for religious liberty. If anyone is to truly understand the magnitude of the March 23rd protests, he will be the one. Similar letters have been sent to Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Donald Cardinal Wuerl of Washington, DC, and Bishop William Murphy, bishop of my home Diocese of Rockville Centre. I encourage any of you to send similar letters to these or your own home bishops, because the shepherds of the Church should guide the flock in this matter of witness.

Dear Bishop Lori,
My name is Joseph Jablonski. I am an undergraduate at Catholic University of America, and an active member of the University community in support of the Catholic Church, blogging frequently ( and writing for the CUA newspaper The Tower. As a Catholic who covers modern issues, I am thankful and proud of my bishops who have stood up for religious liberty in the past few weeks with this crisis of the HHS Mandate. In one of my articles, I took as inspiration your work in Bridgeport, when you dealt with the challenge of religious liberty by encouraging people to demonstrate in front of the Connecticut Capital building, which spoke to the whole of the Church in America.
In that spirit of public demonstration, I would like to encourage you, as head of the USCCB Committee on Religious Liberty, to express public support for the March 23rd “Stand Up For Religious Freedom” protests that are planned to be happening nationwide on that day. The website
In that spirit of public demonstration, I would like to encourage you, as head of the USCCB Committee on Religious Liberty, to express public support for the March 23rd “Stand Up For Religious Freedom” protests that are planned to be happening nationwide on that day. The website explains how the movement has grown to over sixty cities and already has bishops speaking at three of those rallies. Though I am not directly associated with the rallies, I feel they are integral in our effort for religious liberty, since they will unite Catholics and express publicly our joy and support for the freedom to spread Christ’s message. You most definitely encountered these effects when you spoke at your rally in Bridgeport. However, these rallies are not widely known, and support for them is moving slowly.Thus I was hoping that the USCCB would, through an announcement on your website, come out in support of the rallies. This would give the movement the national momentum and media attention it needs to truly make an impact on repealing the HHS Mandate. I look constantly to your inspiration when I consider the protests that will occur later this month. I know that the bishops are behind our work, whether it is writing to our representatives or speaking out on our campuses or through blogs and newspapers. However, I pray that in this instance you could be shepherds for the flock of the Church, and guide those that do not know of this movement to be out in the streets, vocally and joyfully witnessing to Christ’s message in the Gospel.

Yours in Christ,

Joseph M. Jablonski
Copyright (c) 2012 Joseph Jablonski

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Catholic Conversation Starters

Here's a lighthearted guest post from Patrick Castle, who has some suggestions for the next Campus/Youth Ministry event you happen to attend. Gaudium Dei Blog does not take any responsibility if this causes you to get into a heated discussion on Papal succession or the Church's best martyr.


Top Ten Young Catholic Conversation Starters:

10. How many times have you forgotten to say "And with your spirit?"
9. Marriage at 22 or 24?
8. Bad Catholic isn't really taking a month off....Is he?...IS HE?
7. When was the first time you prank-called Planned Parenthood?
6. How many times have you been to confession today?
5. How young were you when you first went on the March?
4. Are Catholics allowed to eat eggs on Fridays in Lent?
3. So how bout d'em Jesuits?
2. Who is your favorite martyr?
1. Who do you think is gonna be the next Pope? My money is on Dolan.

Jesus, the greatest conversation starter,  was somehow able to take the opening line, "Give me a drink" (John 4:7), and turn it into an interfaith dialogue and conversion. This route seems to be less successful when you're not Jesus.

Note from David L.- Can I just say how jealous I am of Franciscan U right now?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Joy in Witnessing to Religious Liberty

When I heard about the HHS Mandate, I pointed to a possible response towards Religious Liberty: out in the streets witnessing bravely and joyfully:
To show what I mean, let me tell the story of Bishop William Lori. As Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, he was shepherding his flock in 2009 when his state legislature proposed an overreaching bill which would remove control of a parish’s finances from the hands of a pastor. Religious liberty was threatened, and many Catholics simply gasped in horror with words now ringing today: “This can’t be happening.” Yet how was the bill stopped? Bishop Lori showed them the Church. Over 4,000 proud, vocal Catholics, professing the truth, were present at a demonstration in front of the Connecticut capital. That man now heads the USCCB’s subcommittee on – you guessed it – religious liberty.
This is now a reality.  On March 23rd, 2012, people of goodwill will nationally stand together for religious liberty. This rally, taking place in over sixty cities across the nation, will be the first united public outcry against the Constitution-violating HHS Mandate, and will take place in the days before the Supreme Court will hear arguments against Obamacare and, possibly as a result, the HHS Mandate. The false "compromise" failed us. Congress failed us. We need to voice our rights stronger than before. These lawsuits may not reach  reach the Supreme Court by the time the "year" Catholic institutions have been given to violate their consciences runs out. Institutions and bishops have promised that if things reach that point, the consequences and conflict will be ugly and drastic. Worse than even the consequences of liberty and rights that this conflict has is the inability to witness to the kind, compassionate message of true joy of Christ. This is what seems to happen when the government and the clergy seem to be locked in a vicious combat.

Thus, these rallies have an additional meaning to them. These rallies, like the yearly Pro-Life March, will be the face of the religious liberty movement. We must take care to show this movement is the epitome of joy. What blessings have always come from the oppression of His Church, the Bride of Christ! Men were so enthusiastic in the birth of the Church to give their lives to Christ (See: Life of Antony, paragraph 46). Throughout her existence here on Earth men have constantly sought to build her up, improve her, bring more love and joy to her followers. Not all these times were times of ease and comfort. The call to joy is perpetual. The call to joy, no matter the times nor the circumstances, doesn't end.

Gaudium Dei is not sadist. It isn't a positive that freedoms are being taken away and I wouldn't wish this upon us. However, we are facing this conflict, and, as I declared in the Tower Article I wrote above, we must move from our disbelief and saying "I can't believe this is happening" to a determination to face this valiantly. Therefore, these rallie must show that, despite trying to take away our rights and our ability to practice our faith, that we know the joy in the future and ultimate victories. The other side, Planned Parenthood and the government, is painting us as women-hating oppressors. However, beautiful movements such as hijacking Planned Parenthood's "I Have A Say" movement to be pro-life, and the letter from women speaking out against the mandate (which my wonderful girlfriend has signed, gotta love those Catholic women) are showing that Catholics - almost in a gleeful manner - are not forsaking joy in this deep and dark conflict. With confidence that we are right and the victory is ours, it is almost laughable as the other side, to which we still keep dialogue, tries to make that case. And laughter, in fact, is the devil's greatest weakness.

So on March 23rd, let's laugh at him. Take a day off from your jobs. Put down your schoolwork. Do we truly love Christ if we only seek to enter into his Joy when it is convenient? Join the thousands of Catholics, Christians and people of goodwill as we stand up for the freedom and truth of the Church. Join our bishops. Stand with our university presidents and priests.  But do not merely stand - show that joy is in fact the heart and soul of not just this movement but all movements of the Church. Don't merely rally against a mandate, but celebrate a religious liberty and freedom of conscience that no government will ever be able to truly take away. 

Vivo Christo Rey.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The HHS Compromise - A Shroud of Deceit

(My contemplation has allowed me to refocus and renew my defense and writing on the Church, and spreading of joy. I've pondered on the purposes for my blog, and I shall be writing shorter, more concise posts in order to be able to focus on being published elsewhere. Thanks for all your prayers, and may Lent continue to help us come closer to Risen Christ. Here's a post I had begun a few weeks ago)

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, President of USCCB and leader of the charge against the HHS Mandate
Obama's compromise: As I did with my posts before the compromise, I tended to have one or two devoted as encouraging a response, and one that explains why a response is needed, and in this post I plan to go farther into detail of the fraction of responses and important events that have occurred within the past few weeks

1. Well, you may ask, what Catholics support the Compromise??The petition that was formerly on the White House website (with the replacement here) was taken down after Obama's compromise announcement, and an e-mail was sent to all the signers that explained how the compromise had supposedly reconciled both sides:
Here are a few statements from groups involved in the issue: 
Catholics United:President Obama has shown us that he is willing to rise above the partisan fray to deliver an actual policy solution that both meets the health care needs of all employees and respects the religious liberty of Catholic institutions.
Catholic Health Association:We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished. 
These are the only two Catholic groups mentioned, the pro-contraception groups are NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Who's Catholics United? An group with a openly liberal agenda which seeks to divide the Church against the Magesterium whom I first heard about from the bishop-supported Catholic League over two years ago : here, here, here, and also here. This wouldn't be surprising, though, because their major donations come from a George Soros, a liberal who supports the liberal Obama and the key Democrats in the Healthcare passing. The other organization, the Catholic Health Association, also supported Obama through the Healthcare Law the bishops were against, for the very problems we have now . It's circular - Obama's supporters support Obama.. A compromise is when an opposing party supports the decision, Mr. Obama, not when you feint a solution. Frankly, I'm insulted. We aren't dumb. 

2. So if those are the few Catholics that are supporting the compromise, who isn't buying it? The bishops definitely aren't.  And by the Bishops, I mean all of themBut in case you weren't bought by the Magesterium, take a look at this fierce letter undersigned by sixteen pages of names of higher Catholic Academia.  There's President Garvey's name at the top of the list. This is the same letter I highlighted in my last post, to show that not only do they disagree with the administration, they declare they are insulted. I don't take that word lightly. It's one thing to intellectually disagree with the administration's approach. It's another thing to be shouting "trickery, scandal and intrigue (my words)." Even the head of the most prominent Catholic college in America, Notre Dame, Fr. Jenkins, declared that the compromise merely was a "step" and that:
“There remain a number of unclear and unresolved issues, and we look forward to joining the U.S. bishops and leaders from other religious institutions to work with the administration to resolve them.”
Henry Clay is turning in his grave. "Unresolved issues", coming from the smarter of the Catholic liberals. What type of language is this? Only for something worthy of suspect. The Anchoress has a fantastic collection of additional responses from both sides, and she continues to fantastically comment. Additionally, John Garvey and nine others, including two women, we were part of a congressional hearing investigating the issue. From the bits that I listened to, the issue was always getting off track of religious liberty to talk about why all women everywhere need contraception immediately now without reservation. The hearing ended after a reading of a woman's experience from ovarian cists.Which brings me...

3. Why do we have to be against this compromise? Well, I'm no expert on economics and government, but Harvard Economics Professor Dr. Greg Mankiw is:

     Consider these two policies:
A. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance that covers birth control.
B. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance.  The health insurance company is required to cover birth control.
      I can understand someone endorsing both A and B, and I can understand someone rejecting both A and B.  But I cannot understand someone rejecting A and embracing B, because they are effectively the same policy.  Ultimately, all insurance costs are passed on to the purchaser, so I cannot see how policy B is different in any way from policy A, other than using slightly different words to describe it.
       Yet it seems that the White House yesterday switched from A to B, and that change is being viewed by some as a significant accommodation to those who objected to policy A.  The whole thing leaves me scratching my head.
It changes nothing. I'm not going to go on about this because many  others have already, and additionally the motives and circumstances are more important. So...

4. What is the result of the compromise, and why did they do it? Because your typical Catholic that doesn't read the USCCB website nor devours the Catholic blog sphere saw the word "compromise" and assumed everything was okay. That's what the media did. It's not on the news. I have to give Obama credit for one thing: He has successfully hindered the religious liberty movement that erupted on Janurary 20th. Catholics everywhere at that time were furious, however, even among the community here as well with some of the bishops, that momentum has seemed to disappear and people seem to be ready to resume dialogue with the administration. However, the organizations aren't giving up. 

5. Where do we go from here? 

Francis Cardinal George
In my article in the Tower several weeks ago, I declared that there was an immediate and imperative need to  organize a protest, in not so few words. These efforts are scattered, but are underway. On February 16th, a small group was arrested,  as they had planned, for protesting outside the White House. However, a larger effort is forming that will take place on the 23rd of March. This nationwide protest will give people the opportunity to publicly show how they stand with the true joy of the Church, and the right to practice freedom. (I am going to discuss the Stand Up For Religious Liberty protests in a future post on its own)

Deception and a lack of truth is the disease which harms true joy and causes selfishness to ferment in its place. One-liners are everywhere as people seek not truth but convenience. Even when debated on the side of contraception, it as if that it is a crisis that this new mandate isn't upheld. Two years ago, no one would dare to propose such a radical mandate opposing religious liberty. Yet now, because the door has been opened up to injustice, as the Church is trying to slam it shut to protect true joy, it is being pried open as if it contraception has always been necessary. I could continue, but I will let the words of Francis Cardinal George speak for themselves:

The bishops didn't begin this dismaying conflict nor choose its timing. We would love to have it ended as quickly as possible.
It's up to the government to stop the attack.

Copyright © 2012 Joseph Jablonski

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reductio Ad Absurdum

It's been a while since an abortion post. I know we've got a rather large number of abortion posts, but something caught my eye recently.

Some ethicists are advocating post-birth abortion.

I normally use this as a bit of a reductio ad absurdum [Update: Sorry, I got the Latin wrong at first, but it's fixed] argument (unfortunately, I've learned if you get to that point in an argument, this won't generally work). The idea is fairly simple; if you choose birth as the point of personhood, it's really quite an arbitrary distinction. A newborn and nearly-born fetus are virtually indistinguishable, except for the attachment to her or his mother. Either can survive out of the womb. Neither one is "fully-developed," of course, but what is fully-developed? The age of reason? Full physical development? Legal autonomy? Full mental development? It's rather hard to empathize with pro-choice positions when you see conception to natural death as a vibrant spectrum of human development, each moment a sacred and beautiful hue of life.

 But disregarding all that, I'm actually rather surprised that this idea hasn't gained momentum yet.  It seems like a natural extension from late-term abortion. I can only guess that there's no major constituency advocating for it . There's no one to empathize with. In the case of pre-birth abortion, there's the fairly compelling case of the scared, confused pregnant girl who couldn't be expected to raise a child. The case is made even more emotionally compelling in the case of rape victims. I don't mean to imply that this concept of finding an emotional banner for the cause is a pro-abortion one; we've all seen the pictures of fetuses and newborns used to remind pro-lifers what they should be fighting for. Those pictures can often be disturbing and graphic. Both cases are certainly compelling, which is why we've noted the importance of loving both the mother and fetal child.

Some pro-abortionists might have found their empathy magnet for post-birth abortion. An Emily Rapp writes that she wishes her child had been aborted  because he suffers from a painful, chronic illness. My prayers go out to young Ronan and his mother, of course, but such examples are those that post-birth abortionists will use. It's basically mercy-killing, and it's legal in Holland. Can people get on board with that? People have been convinced that abortion isn't taking human life, that it isn't playing God. Could they be convinced of this? Can they be convinced that death is better than a life of suffering? Furthermore, can they be convinced that this justifies actually killing a newborn?

I think it would take a while to convince them.

© 2012 David Birkdale