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Anxiety remains well after the election

December 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Anxiety, Fr. Bartunek

Dear Fr. John, I am deeply distressed by the outcome of our election. I am beyond myself when I consider that more than 40% of Mass-going Catholics committed mortal sin (or something close depending on their knowledge) by voting for someone who will continue to support Planned Parenthood and abortion. I know it has only been a matter of days but I just can’t shake my anxiety over all of this. I am losing sleep and having trouble praying. What can I do to stop all this noise in my head and deal with all of this? I am really sick of politics!!!!

Now that the election is long gone, we all may be able to reflect on it more calmly.  And it is worth reflecting on.  At first glance, this question may seem out of place in the context of our usual fare about spiritual direction and spiritual progress.  But there is a connection.  Our spiritual lives impact every sector of our lives, and so every sector of our lives will also have an impact on our spiritual lives.  As the Catechism puts it (although not in the context of politics): “…we pray as we live, because we live as we pray” (CCC 2752).  The ups and downs of life are intricately interwoven with the spiritual journey.  In that light, allow me to share some thoughts on the points you brought up.

The Judgment Trap

In the first place, although it seems that the Catholic vote was distressingly inconsistent with what the Church teaches in general and what the bishops taught specifically coming up to the election, we can’t say whether or not those Catholics who supported pro-abortion candidates committed mortal sin.  We can’t read their souls, and so we can’t see if all three requirements for mortal sin were present: full knowledge, full consent, and grave matter.  All we can know for sure is that one requirement – grave matter – was present.  This is an important point.  Jesus taught clearly the evil of sin, but he also taught clearly the danger of judging other people.  We can always condemn the sin, but we must always love the sinner.  This applies to politics as well as to family life, office life, school life, parish life, and every other arena of human relationships.  One of our Lord’s hardest sayings is “Stop judging, that you may not be judged” (Matthew 7:1).  We are quick to make excuses for ourselves (as when we honk at another driver in the midst of traffic), and we are slow to make excuses for others (as when they honk at us).  Growing in Christ-like love requires intentionally thinking well of others, even when they do evil, leaving the final judgment up to God.  This is counter-cultural.  This takes virtue, and God’s grace.  The image that always helps me is St. Catherine of Siena holding and comforting a condemned murderer (who refused to confess to a priest) until the moment of his execution, and then holding his severed head in her arms.

Reflecting on Reactions

In the second place, I am certain that your intense anxiety about this has diminished by now.  But it’s worth reflecting on the roots of that anxiety.  Any time something steals our sleep and obstructs our prayer, it should be a yellow flag – especially the obstruction of our prayer.  Usually, that’s a sign that there is some attachment in our hearts that has not yet been fully bathed in God’s grace and put in its proper place.  I can’t tell what that would be, for you, but I would encourage you to reflect on it, to pray about it, and, if you have a spiritual director, to talk about it.  Don’t panic about it, but don’t lose the opportunity that this intense emotional experience gives you to learn about your own heart.

To cite the Catechism once again, where it explains how the things that distract us from prayer can be linked to hidden, disordered attachments: “To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified” (CCC 2729).  Whenever we are oppressed by “all this noise in my head” we can know for certain that we need to go back to basics: Who am I in God’s eyes?  Where am I going (heaven)?  What is the meaning of my life (to live in communion with God)?  What is the Lord asking of me right now?…  Often, staying on task spiritually requires heroic virtue and painful effort – but those are often the moments when we can best show and grow our love.

Just Plain Sick of Politics!

Finally, I can understand fully why you wrote “I am really sick of politics!”  By election day, I think we all were.  But that should not keep any of us from staying engaged in the culture, in the communities in which we live, and in the political process.  In the context of social life, one of the core Catholic virtues we are all called to cultivate is solidarity (cf. CCC 1939-1942).  Solidarity is our steady and dependable commitment to the common good of the communities and the society of which we are members.  Catholics are not individualists.  We believe in the inalienable dignity of every individual human person, but we do not believe that individuals are responsible only for themselves.  We are created in God’s own image, and God is a Trinity of persons.  We too are, by nature, inserted into a community of persons, and we are each responsible for contributing to the good of others by building up that community, just as we each benefit from the goods and talents of others who also build up the community.

So, though we may feel sick of politics, the right reaction is not to bow out of the pressing needs of our society.  Rather, we need to keep our sleeves rolled up and prayerfully consider how God is asking us (and he will ask different things of each of us) to carry on the work of evangelization in our world, which includes promoting and defending authentic social values and true, integral human development.  Tired we may be, but that is no excuse for shirking our social duties as Catholics: “”Participation” is the voluntary and generous engagement of a person in social interchange. It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person” (CCC 1913 – the entire section is well worth reading).

In short, as faithful followers of the Eternal King and Savior of the World, Jesus Christ, we must never lose hope, and never give in to the temptation of defeatism and cynicism.  We are called to “shine in the world like bright stars” (Philippines 2:15), no matter how dark the night may get.

 

Art:  The Anxiety of Saint Joseph, 1886-1894, James Tissot, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". He has also published two other titles: "Meditations for Mothers" and "A Guide to Christian Meditation". Fr. John currently splits his time between Rome and Rhode Island, where he teaches theology as an adjunct professor at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and at Mater Ecclesia College. He is also continuing his writing apostolate with online retreats at www.RCSpirituality.org and questions and answers on the spiritual life at www.RCSpiritualDirection.com. FATHER JOHN'S BOOKS include: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer", Inside the Passion--The Only Authorized Insiders View of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, Meditations for Mothers, and A Guide to Christian Meditation.

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  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    Thank you, Father John.  I need to take your advice very, very seriously, especially at this time when our country is bracing itself for another bruising Political Battle at the March next year’s General Elections.  The horrific experiences of the 2007/08 Post-Election Violence are still fresh in our minds and the country has not made any efforts foster reconciliation among the victims and the aggressors.

    • MarytheDefender

      I understand how you feel about election violence. We had horrible pre-election violence in 2010. Until now we don’t have justice or reconciliation either. We finally have a good president now. But many people are anxious over who will replace him. I’d hate to have another corrupt government. This May will be our legislative and local elections… I hope enough good candidates win this time… Thank you Father. We should do our best to serve God even if our governments are faulty.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FDQ4YKZT3BRROGWQUGDKQJHUAI irishlass

    Father John, I find your response very enlightening as I like the woman who raised the question have the same anxieties.  However, my anxieties cover such questions, as why do people want their children baptized in the faith, when they have no intention of following up with weekly Mass or even bring their children to church.  Why do people who never darken the doors of our Catholic Church want to be buried from the Cathloic faith.  It bugs me when people only come to Mass at Christmas and Easter.  The thoughts that go through my mind are “you are hippocrates”

  • sanders13

    wonder what account should be made by priests who see the wolf at the door but
    fail to warn the sheep.  My church was silent during the elections
    barbara

  • Charlie500

    Father John, I certainly understand what you are saying but just want to shed light on another side to this. What you say is very true, but I am afraid that it could be misinterpreted as being an excuse for silent inaction allowing more leeway for evil to grow. To be honest, I struggle with this balance between judgment and the need for correction of the sins of others (for example,of those supposed followers of Christ who essentially place their vote on the side of the culture of death.)

    In the Pope’s Lenten message this year, he spoke about the need to recover the Church’s tradition of “admonishing sinners” as an act of spiritual mercy in view of the eternal salvation of souls. He said that this has been forgotten. He said that Christ himself commands us to admonish a brother who is committing a sin. (Matt 18:15)  He pointed out, however, that it should never be with the “spirit of accusation or recrimination.”  This is true because we must judge the sins of others knowing we are all sinners and in complete need of God’s mercy.

    I am finding that in our Catholic community, we have more a problem with too much of an attitude of “nonjudgmentalism.”  It is this idea that to admonish and warn someone about their sin against God, is being judgmental. I think that this has been a subtle, yet powerful, trap of the enemy that has effectively neutralized the power of evangelization.

    Secular society accuses and recriminates Christians when they speak out against sin, which effectively has silenced and weakened the drive to respond in truth against the sinful trends of culture.  This is a sin of omission. It is fear of persecution, fear of ridicule, fear of standing out in the crowd, fear of being labeled “judgmental,” disguised as an attitude of compassion and nonjudgmentalism.

    When we see how the killing of the unborn has become such a common legalized act, when we see that the irreverence for life just keeps on progressing, when we see the innocence of children being pillaged by the tyranny of immorality, when we see the Church being under attack on many fronts, when we see the destruction of many souls, it is natural to have some emotional response. But, that response has to checked in our own hearts. I think this is exactly the point you were making.
    It it anger and contempt, despair or hopelessness, or is it true love for God and concern for the salvation of our our brothers and sisters? If it anger and contempt, despair or hopelessness, then we need to go to prayer and not act until the love of God and souls becomes our motive and intention for admonishing sinners, under the power of the Holy Spirit.

    • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

      Thank you,  Charlie.  Yes, I hear what you are saying loud and clear. As an Eucharistic Apostle of the Divine Mercy, we know “Admonishing a Sinner” is a Cardinal Spiritual Works of Mercy, fully supported by the Scriptures and the Tradition and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.  However, this MUST  be done in the Spirit of Mercy as Christ taught us to do. And while admonishing the sinner, we also MUST pray for them unceasingly and also for ourselves because we are ALL SINNERS.

      But when it comes to defending our Catholic Faith, we MUST DO THIS ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE without apology. The Bride of Christ has enemies all over – from within and from without.  The Sacrament of Confirmation enlists all of us as “Soldiers for Christ and His Bride”.

    • SeanPatrick3

      My parish is a secular society. There. I said it.

      I’m in Canada. A “Catholic” prime minister legalized abortion, clandestinely, in 1968. We are one of the few nations on Earth with no legal restrictions on abortion (on demand, no time limit). Abortion is considered to be an elective surgical procedure and is fully funded by our government. No questions asked, next day service. My dad waited 7 months for a heart-bypass operation, by the way.

      Socialized medicine started here in 1966. I was born in a Catholic hospital in 1969. It is no longer a Catholic hospital. There are none of those up here. Recently, I helped in the 40-days-for-life vigil in front of that hospital (with the one other person from my parish who thinks about this “stuff”) because the abortion clinic is there, nowadays. The stain from the giant statue of Our Lady is still visible on the bricks on rainy days.

      I drifted away from the Church in my late twenties. My fault. I was arrogant. I longed for Christ, though, despite an attempt to become Buddhist (took an RCIA-like series of weekend retreats and, in the end, skipped my “refuge vow” ceremony because the Dalai Lama could not trump Saint Thomas Aquinas . . . not even close . . . *smile*) and then I drifted as a kind of an agnostic who leafed through the odd heretical-Christian (or -yuk- new age) title. Even read some Ayn Rand (double yuk).

      Then I took a year long sabbatical from my work in clinical pharmacy, during which I spent time with an old professor/mentor in Egypt editing a book about pagan temples (my undergrad is in math and comparative religion). When I returned I was pretty much fed-up with my life, wound up drinking too much beer, sleeping ’til noon, for ten months. One night I knelt and called out to our Lord, in tears. “Lord Jesus, help!” Then I stood and thought, ” That’ll go nowhere.” A week later I felt compelled to pray a Hail Mary and – for the first time, ever (I was raised by a staunch Scots Presbyterian widower-dad, my mom being the Catholic). Well . . .

      Now I am consecrated to Our Lady, I love Our Lord like I could never have imagined, my wife is converting (from the Anglican church), I have regular meetings with a preist spiritual director, must have read 100 books (Sacred Scripture, saints, church fathers, popes, etc.) over the past year (a year in which my wife encouraged me to stay at home and study because she loved what was happening to us), regular confession, daily Mass and a - by grace, all of this, not by me – daily prayer “habit” *lol*. All I want to talk about is Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother, Holy Church and the Saints! I would NEVER have pictured myself so happy and healthy in orthodoxy!     

      But we are a little frazzled. We have not used contraception (admittedly NOT out of piety but simply out of a “come what may” attitude) in our ten-year marriage and we want children, if they are given to us. None so far. We had a very solid income, before. We still want children no matter what and of course we still do not contracept.

      Now that I am in love with Our Blessed Lord I cannot – after much prayer, tears and direction – possibly return to a field in which I would now (since I was away the feds have granted prescriptive authority to pharmacists who hold a doctorate) be required to both dispense AND prescribe abortifacient drugs (all oral contraceptives, btw). Not to mention the moral morass with biotechnology products.  

      Now, I know the Lord shall provide and I pray daily for the grace to be a good dad, spiritually and materially, should that happen. I trust in Our Heavenly Father. I do. We’re not anxious about cash flow despite the mounting bills – I work in construction (making one-sixth my old salary). It is hard to find technical or management type work once you tell the prospective employer that you are no longer in your field for ethical (Christian) reasons. 

      Here is why we are frazzled : we are lepers at our parish. People literally think that I am some kind of a fanatic. We stand alone at the post-Mass socials. People avoid eye contact. This type of thing has been said (with eyes rolling) : ” Well . . . if THAT’s what you want to believe . . .  .” When I said, ” Well, no, the Church thinks that way, too” my interlocutor literally trotted away. And I really did hear gossip-about-me from the sacristy (Father wasn’t there), once, while I was waiting for confession (I have only ever seen two others from the parish seeking Reconcilation on a regular basis, by the way).

      Call me judgmental but I’m kind of disgusted, and broken-hearted-for-my-brothers-and-sisters in Christ. Actually, they did at my wife’s RCIA class when I cited the CCC. Call me judgmental, that is.

      This is not an exaggeration.

      Outwardly, our parish looks quite devout. Mass is reverent, folk dress neatly and are relatively quiet. We sing and pray in Latin, even, sometimes (New Mass only in our diocese) and most of us genuflect and bow before the Tabernacle. Active social outreach and what-not. Not bad, I thought. Nice place. But our friends evaporated once I shared my story!  Hmmmm . . . .   

      Is it true that Our Lady said, ” Poor Canada” at Fatima?

      I shall pray that the USA be not next !                      

      • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

        Thank you, Sean. Do not be dismayed. I shall paraphase: “they will hate you and persecute your because of My Name….”. “……will the Son of Man find any Faith when He returns????”.

        Sean, that is the History of this One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  The world rejected the Saviour, they still do and will continue to do so because “….My Kingdom is not of this world….”.

        Stand firm Sean. You have come back to Him Who is The Way, The Truth and the Life. You are truly blessed and our Holy Mother Mary is at your side, especially when you get those snide remarks and pitying looks, holding you by the hand to ensure you stay on the “straight and narrow path that leads to Eternal Life”.

      • LizEst

        SeanPatrick3 – The traditional definition of a prophet is a person who speaks truth to power.  Power does not like to hear the truth and will even put prophets to death, as we see in the Old Testament…and the New. 

        When you speak truth to power, you are speaking like a prophet.  So, don’t be surprised when they hate you and revile you.  Our Lord Himself told us, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house” (Mark 6:4).  Stick to your guns!  Keep the faith. It is better to obey God than to obey man (cf Acts 5:29b).

      • Rick7De

        Jesus was crucified and the mystical body of Christ is also the object of crucification in this world. In Holy Mass, our sacrifice is incorporated in the one and only historical sacrifice of Jesus, my Lord and my God. There is no redemption and no resurrection without sacrifice. We can’t deny our cross. The denial of the cross is a source of great evil. Therefore, rejoice that you take up your cross. By the way, the situation is many parts of the extremely secularized Western Europe is even more deplorable and horrible. 

        • SeanPatrick3

          Agreed! And I think we do. Rejoice, I believe. The joy, however, has arrived as a gift, not at all like what I used to call “enjoyment” (a state I imagined I brought about all-by-my-self). 

          A few days ago, after we had our telephone service cut-off due to an overdue bill (that construction work I mentioned is temp-work : hot-and-cold), I sat next to my wife and she said, ” You know, if this financial situation had happened before we were called to the Church I would be panic stricken. I am strangely at peace right now.”

          Me, too.

          All I could think of was the fidelity of Our Lord’s promises to those who Love Him – and therefore seek to keep His commandments. In the Beatitudes he said, ” Blessed are the . . . “. Blessed. Beatitudino. Happy.

          Happy in a strange, new way : we’re not irresponsibly abandoning our obligations (up by 5 a.m. daily), not simply giving up. It’s a deep peace that carries us forward with haste, but not anxiety. Plus . . . we’re more ‘in-love’ than ever before, including a time when we had zero debt and a double income (and zero faith – we quarreled a lot back then, too).   

          A Christian paradox discovered! Losing is winning. All grace.            

  • bornagainCatholic

    Nitche said “Christians do not loose because of their arguments but because of their ‘FACE”,  The twelve inch journey from the head to the heart is where the battle is won.  Be at peace; that is what brings joy; we know who is in charge.

  • LizEst

    We must speak the truth in love in season and out of season. 

    In “Authenticity” by Rev. Thomas Dubay, S.M., he says “God is not popular.  Not the real God…[and] Part of [Christ's message] itself is that the message will not be favorably received by the majority…We ought not be surprised that the world hates the faithful disciples.  Yet strangely enough we are surprised.  We expect the Church’s teaching to be acceptable to the majority.  We tend not to hear the many times the New Testament proclaims the world’s hatred for the authentic proclamation and for those who announce it.” (Chapter 8 Doctrinal Criteria, Sign No. 7: At Odds with the Prevailing Spirit of the World).

    That should not disturb us.  Christ has already won the victory.  The knowledge of this should give us great freedom, freedom to do what He has commanded us to do, freedom to love and serve God and neighbor as the Lord desires, knowing that any credit for progress, any glory, belongs to Him.  It is a wonderfully freeing message that the Gospel gives us.

    On another subject, Fr. John, I am so happy you have included that CCC quote (2729) that “a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to.”  This is an excellent point to go along with previous posts on both attachments and prayer.  Thank you so much.

  • at_odds

    I am ‘sick’ about the same issue, but for different reasons.

    I am ‘sick and tired’ of the anemic manner the issue was treated by the bishops. In my diocese the bishop issued one letter on the last Sunday before the election. It was not worded to inform the conscience of  the man on the street, rather it named the 5 non-negotiables and mumbled something about an undefined responsibility to ‘vote the bible’.

    I am ‘sick and tired’ of waiting for the same uninformed to continue to commit the same sin, lead by the same ignorant, dysfunctional shepherds. 

  • $19933969

    +
    An older priest I respect a lot recently said depression is caused by being in a in a situation in which you cannot achieve the desired outcome, and you have an attachment to the desired outcome. I wonder if a lot of anxiety might not be caused by the same?

  • LisaBuss

    A wonderful post, Father!  I plan to share with many people.  We must not let the evil one take away our JOY (and if not with the election, he’ll try some other way)!   If our hope is in Christ, then the results of this election can be used to bring us (and others!) closer to Christ, perhaps in ways we do not expect.  Onward Christian Soldiers!

  • mtrv

    Fr. John,  I have a question regarding your comment on the Judgement Trap about committing a mortal sin.  We all know that our currect elected officials are very pro-abortion, supports planned parenthood and infringes on our religious liberty.  If a person knows full well the backgrounds of the candidates (full knowledge), have been given a guide to Catholic Voting and from having discussions about the intrinsic evils (abortion, same-sex marriage)  and still voted for the candidate, which is full-consent, due to the fact that they were more concerned about the economy per se, therefore they have committed a mortal sin? Yes?

    • LizEst

      mtrv – until Fr. John answers, please understand that we can never know what is in the heart of a person.  Only God knows, for sure, the heart and mind of each and every one of us.  It’s wise to follow Jesus’ words, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.  For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you…” (Matthew 7:1-2).   Numerous examples exist of people who have been unfairly judged because “everything” pointed to their guilt.

      This does not mean, however, that we are to sit back and not teach, not warn, not counsel or correct.  This we are called to do as part of the spiritual works of mercy, which are: instructing the ignorant, correcting sinners, advising the doubtful, showing patience to sinners and those in error, forgiving others, comforting the afflicted, and praying for the living and the dead (cf “Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Dictionary”).  Still, we cannot judge a person’s heart and mind.  To do so, would be to put ourselves in the place of God. 

      God bless you mtrv!  Hope this helps.

      • mtrv

        I’m a little blur on your response. Of course, only God alone judges, but it is the ‘choice’ of the person given their free will, whether to serve God and do His Divine Will or not. Just like the devil refused to serve God. Also, it is outright disobedience to the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you show the person why it is an abomination in the eyes of God, how it is offending Him, yet that person is defiant, I believe that person chooses his/her own destiny, their own fate. When they choose the economy, getting money, it is like Judas selling Jesus to the Pharisees for 20 pieces of silver.
        We are not to judge, yes, just pray for them. But these people know perfectly well what is good and what is evil. They choose to follow their own will and not God’s Divine Will. We are all given free will. It is up to each one of us. I’ve talked to them. They are very much pro-choice. And when you try to tell them the Truth, they become very vile and nasty. You see the hatred in their eyes. So, tell me that it is not obvious what is in their heart and minds? It shows thru their eyes. I am very much saddened. But it has been prophesied. There will be division, even in the church. I see this as a time of purification, and sadly, persecution of the Church. All must come to pass.

        • LizEst

          mtrv – yes, pray for them!  But, we cannot read their hearts.  Only God can do that.  And, we are not God.  No, it is not obvious what is in the heart and mind of someone else.  The fact that sometimes we guess correctly, doesn’t mean we know.

          We don’t know what has influenced a person, in this instance, in their choosing to be pro-choice.  God takes everything into account.  It is the Lord that moves hearts.  The best thing to do is pray, teach the truth by word and the example of our lives, and treat everyone with love and mercy. 

          Christ always invites but never forces.  We must follow His example.  Invite but never force.  Some people easily see the error of their ways.  Some people are driven away by having folks constantly tell them they are wrong.  Then they harden their hearts and it is even more difficult for their to be converted to the Truth.  I know  someone who pushes a particular devotional practice on every new person they meet.  Others avoid this person and are reluctant to hear them because they are pushy and overbearing. 

          Some people cannot stand to hear the Truth.  That does not mean we are to fail to speak the Truth.  We are to be zealous for the Truth.  But, God calls us to speak the Truth in love.  As St. Paul says, “If I speak in human, and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.  And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). 

          Christ has already won the victory.  He calls us to do our part as the Body of Christ.  But, we are never, ever to judge the heart of another person.  We are never to force people into our way of thinking.  Historically, that’s been tried.  It has failed miserably and we are still reaping the repercussions of it in our day and age.  Think of it, Christ, who is God and does know every person’s heart, does not force people to choose Him.  We are not above our Lord.

          • mtrv

            LizEst,
            From reading your post, I agree on some things, but I feel there is a twist in your explanation of the Truth. It’s as if you are giving excuses for the actions of some. It seems that you are telling me that no one can be at fault or guilty of sin even if we catch them in the act. So if someone runs over a pro-lifer marching in the pro-life rally or praying at an abortion clinic, we are not to judge the person that ran over and hurt the person? That it’s okay for an abortionist to receive communion because we don’t know what’s in their heart? Is it okay for a priest to refuse to give communion or will you accuse him of not giving communion to someone who he knows is an abortionist or adulterer lest he be accused of being judgmental? Are we not to defend the Truth, defend God, the Church? We are under attack. We are the ones being persecuted. Do we not stand up to the Truth lest we be accused of being judgmental? The government infringes on our religious freedom. Is that okay with you? If a priest refuses to marry same sex couples, are you saying the priest acted in bad faith? Shame on the priest for standing up to his faith? I think you are mixing ‘judging ‘ and defending one’s faith.
            I don’t force my religious beliefs on anyone, even to my family and friends. That beats the purpose. A lot of people are lukewarm. But I will defend my faith. You cannot claim to be Catholic and be pro-choice at the same time. Fr. John said for someone to commit mortal sin, three things has to be in place: Full Knowledge, Full consent, and grave matter. These are all present. Plus it is in the Commandments. You cannot say that they didn’t commit a mortal sin. God said you cannot have two masters, you either love one or hate the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. We cannot judge or condemn. Only God does. We only point out the sin. But I believe it is the people that condemns themselves. Unless, of course they repent.

          • LizEst

            mtrv – No, I am not telling you that no one can be guilty of sin.  I myself am guilty of sin.  I am saying that Jesus, who is God, tells us not to judge, lest we be judged, that how we judge someone is how we will be judged. 

            We can judge someone’s actions but we cannot, we must not, judge a person’s heart.  God himself is the judge, the just judge.  “He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.  Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips” (Isaiah 11:4c-5).

            We can admonish, correct, etc. but we are never to judge someone’s heart.  I can tell you I am guilty of sin, which I am, but I cannot say that you are, or what sin you are guilty of, or how guilty you are.  Not only did Jesus condemn this judging of a person’s heart, but we also see this admonition in the Old Testament, as when the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not judge from his appearance…Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).  God is rich in mercy.  And, Christ Himself shows us the face of the most merciful God.  He didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery (he didn’t strike her with a stone but told her to go and sin no more).  He didn’t condemn those who put him to death.  He forgave them from the cross.  He is our example. 

            Being merciful and not judging a person’s heart doesn’t mean we roll over and let injustice have a free hand.  No!  We must defend the rights of the unborn, the elderly and the disabled, the innocent, poor and needy, the widow and the orphan, the oppressed, the homeless, the hungry, the needy, the infirm.  But, we must NOT judge the hearts of anyone.  Whatsoever we do to the least, we do to Christ.  This is what Jesus teaches.  And, this is what we find in Scripture.  To that end, it is wise to keep in mind St. Augustine’s words, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”  Be at peace!

  • Rick7De

    ‘Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.’(Thomas Jefferson). The outcome of the election in the USA is one thing, the problem of Catholic nominalism, Catholic subjectivism and the attacks on the Catholic doctrine and morals from within the church is another thing. Should we not remember the Christ versus devil conversation that was experienced by pope Leo XIII?  The pro-abortion votes of many (nominal) Catholics are a symptom of a much deeper and generalized problem: the opinion that doctrine and morals are relative and a matter of personal, subjective consciousness. It is the duty of every Catholic to fight for the orthodoxy of the faith. As a matter of fact, fighting for orthodoxy and against sins is charity: you show that you love the sinner like you love yourself. 

  • LizEst

    Very well said.  Thank you Rick7De.  God bless you.

  • Jennifer D’Alexander

    Fr thanks for the article. I was too anxious and scarwd because i have a chronic illness and all i can think of is the day im not allowed to get treatment thanks to our new socialist country. All in God glory however.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BCPPITE534BX5NBF5BA3UUCQT4 C.Gerard

    if you are that ignorent about supporting the death of innocent children,that ignorence in itself is truly evil,”you shall know them by their fruits”.

  • Lisa

    I don’t understand why or how Catholics who are socialist and in favor of abortion continue to call themselves “Catholic.”  I am a convert and have met so many Catholics… who were born into the Catholic Church… who are for abortion, same sex marriage, socialist governments, serial divorces and serial marriages and do not believe that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ.  I don’t understand how bishops and priests put up with this…. it is a mystery. 
    “And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil
    and Satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his
    angels were thrown down with him.”   The world is seduced and deceived.  We human beings think that we are in control of things and we are not.  I find myself humbled before the only thing that matters:  The Eucharist, as the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The other thing:  pray for Holy Priests to come forward and to be our priests!

    • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

      Lisa, believe you me, those are certainly NOT CATHOLICS.  They are something else and they need our unceasing Prayers, because, if they were born and brought up as I was, then they are fully aware they have already ex-communicated themselves from the Catholic Church and they do not care about their Eternal Destination. 

      • Lisa

        I do pray for the conversion of my family, friends, relatives, neighbors and my enemies.  I hope that all Catholics will see the truths of the Church and live them.  I attempt that every day… many days I feel like a failure, but I get up again with the help of God, BVM and prayer.

        • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

          Lisa, that is one of the Cardinal Intentions the Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy pray for at the Hour of Great Mercy and as often as we pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy and attend the Holy Mass

  • Mark Cimini

    The ‘church’ does not give a clear, concise message.  On one hand you give a Catholic burial to a pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, socialist, i.e., Ted Kennedy, with a bishop present.  A person who not only openly believed these things but actively advocated for them in politics.  Then the ‘church’ says to vote how?  Hypocrisy.

    If the ‘church’ wanted to stop the hypocrisy then it should tell all those who voted for a pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage politician an those politicians they are excommunicated.  Do not sin any more if you wish to be called Christian/Catholic.

    Instead, most Catholics and Christians live in sin because of the lack of Christian guidance from the ‘church’.

    The prostitute was a prostitute in John 8.  “…And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee, go, and SIN NO MORE” (St. John 8:11)

  • Rick7De

    There is exactly 1 Roman Catholic church. There are more than 34 000 protestant Christian denominations. The Roman Catholic church is unambiguous with regard to doctrine and morals. The teaching is clear but unfortunately, the lack of faith of many priests and bishops who are de facto not in communion with the vicar of Christ, leads to a degree of confusion that rivals with the cacophony of protestants.
    It would be the right signal to refuse communion to Joe Biden or to Nancy Pelosi. Not because they are sinners like all of us but because they defend positions that are the antithesis of Catholic doctrine and morals. Logically, A and not A is not true.

  • SeanPatrick3

    Poor Canada. See my reply to Charlie 500 a few days back.   

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/E5ASK6GTNGIDYDYOWZ24ANLYUA Thomas Conway

    I think it’s important remember that as disappointing ad the election result is nothing happens that is misaligned with God’s will. An apparent evil can be used by God for his good plan. Have faith, pray and wait because God acts suddenly!

  • Edmund Leong

    St Catherine truly loved the sinners but I am sure she would have admonished them greatly over their sins before the end of their lives. If she admonished the Popes for over-staying in Avignon and not returning to Rome, I am sure she would have admonished many others, in her own loving way, reminding them of their sins and the judgment of God if they fail to repent.

    Admonishing the sinner is one of the most difficult Works of Mercy but it is highly essential. It requires prudential judgment and St Catherine definitely exercised her judgment so that she can highlight the sins to the sinners whom she loved.

    However in the name of politeness and nicety, we are “corrupting” the meaning of “judge not” and oftentimes, we merely make a slight allusion to the sin. For example, just mentioning the “unborn” in the closing prayer by Cardinal Dolan to an unrepentant President Obama during the Al Smith dinner is not admonishment. Mother Teresa’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech over the horrors of abortion is a lot more pointed but even then that is considered polite. 

    Admonishment places the horror of the sins, of God’s wrath and of Hell squarely before the sinner (repentant or unrepentant) to enable them to repent. This can be clearly seen from St Catherine’s letters. I can’t imagine how much more poignant she will be in her face-to-face dialogues with the sinners.

    Yes, let us imitate the saints – wholesomely and not selectively. Similarly, let us embrace and deliver the Good News – heaven and hell – to the people we meet. Christians cannot afford to pick and choose when we imitate Christ and his saints.

  • geraldcurran

    I read that Fr. Bartunek collaborated with Mel Gibson on the Passion of the Christ. If that is true can Fr. Bartunek please tell the world why satan is depicted as a mother and child in the movie?

  • Angela33

    Dear brothers and sisters in Christ – it is so great to see such passionate and deeply meaningful dialogue on these crucial matters which affect us all. To my mind, the one additional point to make is that Jesus tells us: “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matt 5:4).  It is good and right for any who are so moved to mourn the tragedy of sin (our own in particular!), and especially as it is manifested in the dramatically encroaching culture of death. In this, however, there is to be discovered an invitation for each to be ever more alive in Christ’s merciful love and to live helping others discover such a life…the victory is achieved! May we live giving glory to God!!!

  • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

    To mock Mary

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    Cimini, anyone who is well grounded in the Catholic Faith knows – without any doubt – when they are fooling the world and are fully aware they have ex-communicated themselves from the Church. Yes, I agree the Teddy Kennedy funeral should not have been what it was.  But then, we can lied to man but NEVER to God.  His Decrees are Just for all and those who have chosen to disobey Him and His Church all He tells them at His Judgement Seat is : “Thy Will be Done”. 

  • http://www.foxnews.com Mtxun

    I’ve never been more invested (literally) in the country than now – by God’s grace and VERY HARD work we manage to procure an income that, after deductions, still requires us to remit well over $50K to the government on an annual basis.  I have 5-beautiful kids, that we homeschool (incidentally, you don’t get a break on your property taxes, even though you are not using the public school system) and I still need to raise properly.  The stress of supporting a country whose commandeer-in-chief has set an agenda that makes Beelzabub proud creates frustration, and out-right ANGER. My children are the REAL and TRUE investment in the future of this nation, not Obysmal’s legions.  The ONLY, and I mean ONLY consolation that I have is KNOWING that God, in HIis infinite Wisdom will use the EVIL PLAN of the wicked ones to THWART evil itself.  The last time Satan had the “upper-hand” he gloated for a total of 3-days, then, using Satan’s plan itself, GOD shattered evil for all time and eternity with his resurrection from the dead.  I look forward to the time when the Evil one will, again, ensnare God, only to find his own neck in the noose.   Our Lady of Perpetual Help, ASSIST US!  St. Micheal the Arch-angel, defend us in the battle!

  • MarytheDefender

    Thank you for this article. I wanted to read it again because the Reproductive Health Bill was just passed into law here today. I’ve been grateful for the morality of our country’s laws. Even if their implementation can be questionable. I was really hoping that my country wouldn’t be swept away by the contraceptive mentality prevalent in the rest of the world. No such luck… I just hope that divorce and abortion won’t be next. 
    Thank you. I’ll try not to judge and stay focused on God and evangelization…. There is a Canon law on family elective they offer in school sometimes… maybe I’ll take it in the future…