Archive for October, 2010

Father Steven E. Clark

Father Steven Clark is Pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Mount Kisco, New York. He is a 1976 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Annopolis MD, a former Marine Corps Major, helicopter pilot and naval flight instructor, as well as master of Sacred Scripture. He’s also a priest’s priest, best friend whom I met in the seminary and Joseph’s Godfather. His homilies are usually something to write home about, but today’s was especially poignat in light of today’s Gospel and the upcoming elections. I reprint it here with Father Clark’s permission.

Zacchaeus Was an Evangelist
by Reverend Steven E. Clark

Zacchaeus found a new job. The day he met Jesus he became an evangelist. He met Jesus and received Him into his house with joy. Even in the face of criticism from pillars of the community Zacchaeus stood his ground and proved his faith through repentance and restitution of all wealth taken through the unjust means often employed by Roman-Jewish tax collectors.

Conversion, or a return, to God is a mystery of God’s grace. How and/or when a person experiences the presence of God and a need to be close to Him is almost as varied as there are people on the planet. However, a true conversion and embracing of one’s faith is made visible for all to see. It’s demonstrated in the way a converted person lives their life in all its aspects. In the case of Zacchaeus after meeting Jesus and dining with him he was completely changed. Through such a personal experience with the Lord, not only did Zacchaeus see his wealth as a tool to help those in need, he also knew he had to return any wealth gained by unjust means. He preached the Gospel with deeds of true Christian charity and righteousness. Such deeds surpassed all eloquence of all words ever spoken. Like all true evangelists Zaccheaus lived his newly found faith in Jesus.

We Catholics are called to live our faith and accept ALL its obligations from the moment of our Baptisms. Every Holy Communion we make is a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus and calls us to a deeper relationship with the Son of God. We do this by an honest concern for the wellbeing of others (our neighbor) grounded in the bedrock principle of Christian love.

Therefore, as Christians how we live our lives and how we fulfill our responsibilities, both private and civic, are founded on our relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus, himself, said by their fruits (meaning actions) you shall know them (“them” meaning those you live their faith and those who do not). [Mat 7: 16]

There has been much discussion on a Catholic person’s responsibility to vote. In an age where politicians claim to be Catholic, or at least Christian, and who make numerous church visits during the election season, a concerned citizen must discern the truth of their words. Is such a person stating their belief because it is not only heart-felt, but fully embraced and active in all aspects of life or is he (or she) stating such for mere political gain?

Let’s look at a general example. Using biblical principles and applying them properly to certain life situations, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we see that voting for candidates who support the common good and dignity of all people is most appropriate. Such a candidate would be one who upholds the natural moral law in all its integrity.

The great difficulty in our age is that many candidates for public office do not uphold the natural moral law in all its integrity especially in the area of the protection of human life, marriage and support of the basic building block of society, the human family. Some even oppose aspects of the natural moral law. Such is discernment and not condemnation. Discernment is always necessary to determine good and proper morality. Condemnation is neither appropriate nor to be done by anyone professing their faith in Jesus Christ. So what does a faithful Catholic do?

Well, depending on the seriousness of the part of the natural moral law the candidate opposes will help determine the way (or for whom) one ought to vote. The natural moral law is written on the heart of every person (Rom. 2: 15). Therefore, we know by nature that human society cannot endure when the integrity of the human person is no longer sacrosanct, when the marriage covenant is not respected and lawfully supported, when property rights of the individual are not respected and when one cannot rely on the veracity of another person’s word.

Fr. Clark being ordained, 1990

Certainly, we should never vote for a candidate who promotes or endorses immoral practices. According to Catholic moral teaching assisting another to achieve evil in this fashion is called formal cooperation in evil and is wrong – gravely wrong if the immoral practice is gravely immoral.

Sometimes it is difficult to choose a candidate for office because of all of the candidates’ stances on a number of issues. Therefore, we must determine the seriousness of the issues and determine if one takes precedence over all others.

A number of bishops of the United States have determined, with good Catholic moral teaching in mind, moral issues that take precedence. The former archbishop of Saint Louis, Cardinal designate Raymond Burke, who is now the head of the Roman High Court, called the Roman Rota, put it this way in his letter to the faithful in their “Civic Responsibility for the Common Good” dated October 1, 2004:

39. But, there is no element of the common good, no morally good practice, that a candidate may promote and to which a voter may be dedicated, which could justify voting for a candidate who also endorses and supports the deliberate killing of the innocent, abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia, human cloning or the recognition of a same-sex relationship as legal marriage. These elements are so fundamental to the common good that they cannot be subordinated to any other cause, no matter how good.

Cardinal designate Burke then focused on abortion and the protection of human life as an issue of prime importance.

So, what does a faithful Catholic Christian do? We must do what is right and just to uphold the moral principles we have espoused at our Baptism and every time we receive the Holy Eucharist – moral principles for the common good and wellbeing of all people, the very young and vulnerable, the elderly, the infirmed and the not-so-perfect of society. Therefore, if a candidate proclaims his/her Catholic faith, but fails or, worse, openly chooses not to live their faith, then I hold such a person seriously suspect – I can’t trust them to do what they say. We have to ask ourselves, what kind of leaders do we want directing our country and promulgating laws and judging our courts?

How has your encounter with the Lord changed you? That is a question that is most important not only today, but for all the days of your life. Zachaeus met Christ and it changed his life in all aspects. Those who profess their faith in Christ Jesus must live their faith in all aspects of their lives, public and private, using Zachaeus as an example of conversion and true faith-filled practice. Are you an evangelist? Zachaeus chose to follow the Lord without reservation. It’s time for all faithful Catholics to make such a choice.

(see Archbishop Burke,s letter dated October 1, 2004; http://ewtn.com/library/bishops/burkecom.htm)

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Cardinal-Designate, Archbishop Raymond Burke gives clear teaching:

“You can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion…You may in some circumstances where you don’t have any candidate who is proposing to eliminate all abortion, choose the candidate who will most limit this grave evil in our country, but you could never justify voting for a candidate who not only does not want to limit abortion but believes that it should be available to everyone.”

That, and so much more in the video.

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Some months back Steven Ertelt, Editor and CEO of LifeNews.com contacted me about writing for Life News. After a string of obligations that have prevented me from doing so, I am happy to announce that I’m now a part of Steven’s team as a contributing writer/blogger. It’s an honor to be a part of such a talented and committed group of people over at Life News. My articles may be found in the contributing writers/bloggers section. I’ll eventually repost those articles on Coming Home after LifeNews has had several days of lead time with them, and will post the links to the article at LifeNews on my facebook account.

Steven Ertelt

The section carrying my first article can be found by clicking here.

Steve Ertelt recognizes the importance of the scientific mountain of evidence that shows the ghastly consequences of the Culture of Death’s most hallowed practices. That’s why he’s also had with him fellow biologist Dr. David Prentice, who is Senior Fellow for Life Sciences at the Family Research Council. Dr. Prentice’s work on elucidating the stem cell issue is nothing short of brilliant.

So the pro-life train gains more and more momentum with the ever increasing added weight of scientific evidence supporting what we have been saying all along. I can think of no better work than bringing that body of literature to the public’s attention. In so doing, women’s choices are ever more informed. Because of that information, more and more women are reconsidering their plans to abort, to use oral contraceptives, to employ in vitro fertilization.

It’s all breaking our way.

My thanks to Steve Ertelt for giving the science a prominent place at Life News.

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We have come a long way together since the diagnoses of autism, ADHD, static encephalopathy, cerebellar deficit, and mixed expressive/receptive language disorder seven years ago. Just shy of Joseph’s fifth birthday we finally got the proper diagnoses, which were nothing less than shattering to my wife and me.

All we had to cling to was our faith and one another.

But after adapting the very rhythm of our lives to Joseph’s needs he has progressed beautifully, and tonight at age eleven he became a Boy Scout. He decided to join the troop of a friend from sports. Per usual, with new steps up socially I was anxious that the experience be a positive one. Not quite sure how Joseph would respond to the boys, or the boys to Joseph, we entered the hall.

The older scouts working on their last and highest rank, Eagle Scout, immediately brought Joseph before the troop and had him introduce himself. The boys (some 30-strong) gave a hearty “hi”, and immediately pulled him into the activities of the night. I sat and watched as they showed him the scout sign, scout salute, scout handshake, knot tying exercises, scout oath, scout law, etc. They were the embodiment of the goodness, decency, and leadership that are the hallmarks and endpoints of the scouting program; just as it was when I was a scout, only these boys were better.

None of the boys know about Joseph. From the goodness and warmth they lavished on him tonight, I doubt that they could have been any different had they known. These aren’t just any boys. These are scouts. These are boys who submit themselves to discipline and the commitment of citizenship and leadership. They are a breed apart, and always have been. Many will become our next generation of military officers, astronauts, business leaders and clergy.

And while all of this was happening tonight, there were parents elsewhere wrestling with prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome, still others who have not yet conceived the autistic child that will one day be prenatally diagnosed. I understand their despair. I’ve lived it. I’ve been consumed by it. It has tested my faith in God’s love, in humanity’s decency. “What happens when I’m gone?” and a host of other questions…

But all along the way we have encountered nothing but goodness and kindness, decency and love, acceptance and words of encouragement from people. None of my worst fears, or even my mildest fears have materialized. Quite the opposite. People are so very accepting of the Josephs today. This is NOT my parent’s generation. This tsunami of autistic children has brought right behind it a tsunami of love and patient forbearance in society. Everyone knows someone with autism. Speech and occupational therapists, special education teachers work miracles daily as a matter of routine. Down syndrome kids benefit every bit as much from these modern miracles at overcoming neurological defect.

We live in a golden age. With so much hope, so much healing, so much acceptance, there is truly little to fear. The only caveat is the pro-abortion nihilists whose black hearts lead them to manipulate parents’ worst fears when they receive the results of genetic testing. They’ll never tell Joseph’s story, which is the story of thousands and thousands of autistic spectrum children and Down syndrome children today. We must do so, and so I am today.

When we left the meeting, I wondered if the boys sensed a difference in Joseph who just seems a bit shy now. If they did, it didn’t matter. These are, after all, Boy Scouts, and they live their oath and their scout law. These boys stood tall as men tonight in the way they welcomed and embraced a new kid, and they’ll never know how high they made a father’s heart soar as he saw his special son embarking on his training in honorable manhood as just one of the guys. With such mentors and guides outside of the immediate family, how can Joseph do anything but succeed?

And that is the good news, the message of hope that we need to trumpet in our witness to life.

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From Yahoo News. This is for all parents who are encouraged to abort their Down Syndrome babies. There is an ocean of goodness and decency in the world for our special children.

Down syndrome football player scores TD in Washington game
By Cameron Smith

Ike Ditzenberger is like a lot of other 17-year-old American football players. He dreams of playing college football. He attends daily practices. Most of the time he toils away in offensive drills. Then, on rare occasions, Ditzenberger runs into the limelight with aplomb. The description could fit thousands of American teenagers, except for one crucial detail: Ike Ditzenberger has Down Syndrome.

Ditzenberger, a junior at Snohomish (Wash.) High School, achieved a major milestone on Friday in a game against Lake Stevens, running 51 yards for a touchdown with 10 seconds remaining. The “Ike Special” provided the only points in Snohomish’s 35-6 loss. It was the first varsity touchdown in Ditzenberger’s career, a ramble through an opposing defense that mirrors the end to Snohomish practices every day, when Ditzenberger gets the final run of practice and somehow finds the end zone, through a combination of running guile and intentionally passive defenders.
“He’s someone that everybody can kind of enjoy because he has such a great personality and character,” Snohomish senior captain Keith Wigney told the Everett Herald in a feature on Ditzenberger.

For Ditzenberger’s feel-good story to go beyond practice to an actual competitive game took an assist from the coaching staff at Lake Stevens. The Vikings’ coaches not only instructed their players to let Ditzenberger score, but to make it look relatively competitive in the process to make the moment more real for the Snohomish junior. In the video above you can see a handful of Lake Stevens defenders make diving runs at Ditzenberger, only to come up agonizingly short. Or perhaps gleefully short, in this case.

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My article in today’s Headline Bistro.

An art exhibit in New York City features AIDS activism posters from the 1980’s by the notorious activist group, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, known commonly as Act Up. The exhibit and its review in The New York Times have recently raised the ire of Archbishop Timothy Dolan. In truth, the exhibit is a must-see for all students of psychology, history and politics. It is a towering exhibit of human narcissism and the desperate lengths to which humans will go in order to blame others for the consequences of their own selfish and reckless behavior. Clicking the link will bring the reader to the review complete with photo of the exhibit, including a poster of the late Cardinal John O’Connor in miter with a cartoon image of a condom in the same cut-out shape as the Cardinal’s photo. In giant red letters the sign proclaims, “Know Your Scumbags.”

There’s no mention in The New York Times’ review of Act Up’s desecration of the Eucharist by seven protesters and desecration of the cathedral at Mass 21 years ago this December.

Read the rest here.

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Thank You Drew Mariani

Many thanks to Drew Mariani and his producer Cassandra Everts for your gracious hospitality on today’s show and for your care and concern for women’s health. I am told that there were several callers and not enough time. So please leave any questions in the comments section here and I’ll be happy to answer all!

God Bless.

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