The Light of St. Lucy

The Light of St. Lucy

Advent is full of great feast days, including today’s feast of St. Lucy whose name literally means “light.” St. Lucy’s (283-304 A.D.) life and death were a shining light in the darkness of the secular Sicily where she lived. After her mother was healed through the intercession of St. Agatha, Lucy vowed to remain a virgin and distributed her money, including her dowry, to the poor. When the young man who wanted to marry her heard what she had done, he brought her before the Roman prefect accusing her of being a Christian; and when induced to worship pagan idols, Lucy refused, quoting Christ to the prefect, “You will stand before kings and governors for my sake, to bear testimony before them…When they bring you to trial and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit”(Mark 13:9, 11).  He asked her if the Holy Spirit was in her to which she replied, “Those who live chastely and piously, are the temple of the Holy Spirit.” He then commanded her to be taken to work in a brothel, but miraculously, the soldiers could not move her from where she stood. After a failed attempt to burn her and other forms of torture, Lucy was eventually beheaded. Part of her tortures was the removal of her eyes, which were then miraculously restored to her, and this is why she is portrayed in statues and paintings holding a plate with an extra set of eyes. A verse in...
Legislating Morality Pt 2: Objective truth

Legislating Morality Pt 2: Objective truth

Last week, I wrote about legislating morality* and how every action by a government entity is the creation or enforcement of law based on moral position.  The lone commenter, Beth, made the following points which I would like to address in a series of posts, the first covering objective truth.  To be clear, my original post was not intended to take a position on whether government should or should not make such moral judgments, but merely to address the argument that “government shouldn’t legislate morality”. The best type of government is no government or one that tolerates “whatever they want as long as the act is consensual and victimless.” This makes sense to me as I see how the Catholic church must fight against the HHS mandate for religious liberty and government intrusion. Why then is it okay for Catholics to force our beliefs on a non-Catholic society using man made laws and man made consequences? Gods laws come with their own consequences. I have often heard the argument asking why is it acceptable for Catholics (or Christians) to force their (our) beliefs on a non-Catholic society.  This question originates in moral relativism or the idea that there is no objective truth, no absolute, which is in itself an absolute.  It implies that every belief system exists on the same plane, none more important or more true than any other.  When faced with this question, many people (I) shrug or stammer looking for some verbal branch to grasp on the way down the rhetorical cliff. A few examples of objective truth are these: 2+2=4.  Light and darkness cannot coexist. ...
Legislating morality

Legislating morality

You couldn’t tell by my posts, but I like to debate politics.  Many of my debates center on the concept of liberty, usually with an emphasis the degree of governmental involvement in social issues.  One major argument I often hear in the defense of freedom and liberty is how the government shouldn’t legislate morality.  It seems a number of people would like to be able to do whatever they want as long as the act is consensual and victimless. Allow me to offer a wake-up call.  All governmental action falls into one of two categories: 1) the legislating of a moral position, or 2) the enforcing of a moral position.  Currently it is illegal to drill in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve.  Why?  Because environmentalists believes it is morally reprehensible to drill for oil.  The federal government has banned insider trading, but libertarians believe insider trading should be allowed.  (While the general public is prohibited from insider trading, it is only recently that it has been made illegal for Congressmen and their aides to engage in the practice.) Here is a short list of issues in which government taking one position or another is actually a moral position. Drilling in ANWR Insider trading Emissions standards Charging interest for overdue tax filings Abortion laws Gun laws School lunch programs Sex ed Preemptive war War of defense Redistribution of wealth Entitlement programs Government taking money by threat of force and investing it in your retirement Steroid use in professional sports Prosecuting Muslim terrorists Prosecuting non-Muslim terrorists Not prosecuting terrorists, specific or otherwise Food safety Drug safety Spanking Consumer safety Air travel...
The Distinction Between Welfare and Charity

The Distinction Between Welfare and Charity

When I was a sweet, naïve freshman in college, I was inspired by a “liberal”, philosophy, namely, that if we all paid higher taxes, then fewer people would be poor. It seemed like such an easy and straightforward way to help so many people out, who could possibly be against that? Slowly I began to realize that this philosophy was too easy. I knew lots of faithful Republicans whom I knew for a fact were definitely “pro helping poor people” and yet were opposed to this government philosophy. One day I was eating lunch with a notoriously Republican friend of mine, and on our walk back to the dorms, he stopped to give his leftovers to a man begging on the street. We had been debating politics and I asked in all sincerity, “If you Republicans really love the poor, why are you against the government helping them?” It’s a simple question, but it seems to be at the crux of a major divide in our country today. I actually can’t remember his response, but as the years went by and I discerned my role as a Catholic in politics at a deeper level, I realized that charity, freely given out of love is what God asks of us. Charity that is coerced by punishment of law (through taxes) isn’t charity at all, it’s rendering to Caesar what is his.  Of course, rendering unto Caesar is important, we need a society with roads, bridges and stoplights. In fact, Jesus endorses this kind of giving, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesars, render unto God what is God’s”. Being charitable is...
Moral Governments and the Leveling Effect

Moral Governments and the Leveling Effect

by Mary Walker Obedience is a virtue that must be central to any Christian faith. Practicing obedience is to actively submit our wills to what we know is right and true: God’s word. Last week, I posted to my Facebook page what I thought was a fairly benign column on obedience to God. To my genuine surprise, a few individuals barraged the post with negative, hateful and mostly irrational remarks about the Church.  Confused about how an article on obedience could cause so much disdain and disgust, I spent a few hours thinking about it. Suddenly, while in line at the grocery store, it hit me. The very authority of God is a concept that most people do not recognize in their daily lives. I’ll never forget an episode of Meet the Press, where then-candidate Michelle Bachmann was ridiculed for saying she’d pray and seek God’s guidance about governing decisions. The host made it clear he thought this was a medieval, irrational way to approach governing. The prevalent mentality, in fact, is that our wills and desires are paramount; few talk seriously about submitting in any way to God or his Church. Where did this arrogance come from? Obviously there are plenty of places where original sin disrupts our right relationship with God, but I’d like to explore an avenue that has had an immense corrupting effect on our entire society: the government, which rules our bodies and is now attempting to rule our souls. The Bible says little specifically about governing and politics, however, God structures governing relationships in one, irrefutable way: they are all hierarchies. God made...