Thursday, July 2, 2015

Life as a Chess Piece

Written by Mark Serafino

If you were a chess piece, which piece would you be? A pawn? A Knight? The Queen? If you’ve ever played chess you know that each piece bears it’s own unique power to attack it opponent or defend its King and you are keenly aware that in spite of her unmatched power on the board the highest piece, the Queen can be taken by the lowest, the Pawn in one move when you least expect it to happen.

Why is this? How can this happen? The answer lies in the tactical strategy of the chess player. Without his direction, even the most powerful piece on the board is impotent and left to stand powerless to accomplish anything unless his ‘master’ places his hands on it and ‘moves’ it further in the game.

I would like to suggest that life is very much like a chess game and we are the chess pieces waiting for our Master to move us. What piece are you? Who is your Chess Master? 

In truth, there is only one Chess Master, God our Creator, the Author of life. He controls the ‘chess board’ of life and He moves each piece, each one of us to the very spot (square) He needs us, at the very moment He needs us to be there.

As chess pieces go, are we a good chess piece? Do we wait to be moved, or are we taking the game into our own hands? Is God capable of making a wrong move? How often in life do we try to take matters into our own hands and move from our current square to another, because we are impatient for results, in our family relationships, our daily responsibilities or our vocation? When you think about it, if we were to focus our effort on Earth to being the perfect chess piece we could never be moved in the wrong direction or prematurely eliminated from the ‘game’, because our ‘moves’ will have been directed by God and our suffering while we wait to be moved would be rewarded by Him on Earth and in Heaven.

Painful as it may be, our best and perhaps only option in life is to be His obedient chess piece, waiting for His touch while preparing ourselves spiritually to fulfill the mission He has chosen for us in the next move. The silence and waiting can feel unbearable, and the lack of action makes us feel abandoned and alone. It is in these moments, when we are our most vulnerable that we actually have the most power as a chess piece because it is our love and faith in Him that strengthens us, molding us to be ready for Him to place us in the perfect square and serve Him.


So tomorrow when you wake up, think about being that chess piece. Wait quietly and patiently for Him to touch you, then, move with Him confident that His moves are unmatched and that His love for you is immeasurable. Your faith and obedience are the keys to making your next move one with His.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tradition, Family, and Property - In Legalizing Same-Sex “Marriage” U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Natural Law and Provokes God’s Wrath

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property—TFP vehemently protests the “profoundly immoral and unjust”[1] majority opinion of the United States Supreme Court inObergefell v. Hodges which imposed same-sex “marriage” on America by judicial fiat.

The sacred institution of marriage—established by God in Paradise for our first parents, Adam and Eve,[2] and which has been seriously undermined by the moral crisis devastating Western society since the sixties—suffered a tremendous blow on June 26, 2015.

In the most powerful nation on earth today, five liberal judges reinterpreted the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to discover that it contains a constitutional right to same-sex “marriage.”

The Court Rejects God and His Law
When declaring America’s independence from Great Britain and forming a new political unity, our founding fathers placed “the rectitude of [their] intentions” before God as the “Supreme Judge of the world.”

In this landmark decision, however, the majority basks cynically in an atheistic, implied rejection of God and His right to be adored and obeyed by men, His creatures, not just individually, but as a society.

A Skewed Understanding of Liberty...
The majority opinion ignores the physical liberty plainly meant by the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Written by liberal Catholic Justice Anthony Kennedy—who was joined by fellow liberal Catholic Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Ginsburg—the majority opinion ignores the physical liberty plainly meant by the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment[3] and embraces an evolving and anarchy-favoring reading of what human moral liberty is supposed to be: Liberty understood as license, whereby man is free to do as he pleases, regardless if the action is good or evil. In doing this, the Court implicitly rejected a proper understanding of liberty found in the perennial moral teaching of the Catholic Church, which, echoing natural law[4] and the Ten Commandments, defines human moral liberty as our freedom to pursue all that is good and our duty to avoid all that is evil.[5]

…Informed by Moral Relativism
In Obergefell, Justice Kennedy builds on the moral relativism undergirding the majority opinion he authored in Lawrence v. Texas— a decision that went down in history as having “decreed the end of all morals legislation”[6]—when the Supreme Court discovered in the same Fourteenth Amendment a constitutional right to the practice of sodomy. Now, twelve years later, Justice Kennedy explains further his liberty-as-license perspective:


Lawrence therefore drew upon principles of liberty and equality to define and protect the rights of gays and lesbians, holding the State “cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.” This dynamic also applies to same-sex marriage. It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality.[7]

The Court Breaks with History and Tradition
Kennedy cynically affirms that this “Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of our social order”[8] and that “[t]he right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition, but rights come not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era.”[9]


“[T]hese [fundamental] liberties extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.”[10]

“The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimension, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”[11]

“The right of same-sex couples to marry that is part of the liberty promised by the Fourteenth Amendment is derived, too, from that Amendment’s guarantee of the equal protection of the laws. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause are connected in a profound way though they set forth independent principles….This interrelation of the two principles furthers our understanding ofwhat freedom is and must become.”[12]

This evolving notion of liberty is the Supreme Court’s justification for rupturing with history, destroying tradition, and redefining marriage. Since Herodotus started recording the history of nations and peoples, thousands of years ago, nowhere do we find lawful same-sex “marriage.”[13]Not in lustful Rome. Not in dissolute Greece. Not in the horrors of Communist China or Castro’s Cuba. Not even in the divinely chastised cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Chief Justice Roberts’ Inexcusably Weak Dissent
Regrettably, Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent was weak and included concessions to the homosexual movement such as: “Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us….”  “Although the policy arguments for extending marriage to same-sex couples may be compelling….” “The people of a State are free to expand marriage to include same-sex couples, or to retain the historic definition.”[14]

More importantly, Roberts’ dissent shares by omission in the majority’s implied denial of the obligation of every man, and therefore of society, to do good and to avoid evil. There is no discussion much less condemnation of the unnaturalness and intrinsic immorality of the homosexual act, which lies at the root of every same-sex “marriage.”[15]

With the attention of America riveted on the issue, Roberts’ dissent could have been used as an ideal “teaching moment” that a moral wrong can never become a civil right, steering America’s conservative reaction onto the high ground where it belongs.
 
None of the Dissents Defended Natural Law

Of the three other dissenting opinions only that of Justice Thomas comes close to mentioning our obligations under Natural Law, but only in a fleeting manner. He quotes John Locke and Thomas Rutherforth but does not develop this line of thought.[16] While he expounds ably our constitutional political liberty and correctly denounces the majority’s misconception of thephysical liberty alluded to in the Fourteenth Amendment, he does not denounce their erroneous view of man’s moral liberty.

On the Cusp of a Religious Persecution
The world knows how religious Americans are. What will happen when our fundamental right to adore God above all things and obey His Law is effectively denied because it runs contrary to the new constitutional right of homosexuals and their media- and now government-privileged status?
Both majority and dissenting opinions talk about the impact of this decision on the free exercise of religion in America. The latter show evident concern that it stands threatened, and they should be worried. Just as the homosexual movement fought for the legalization of same-sex “marriage” so that homosexuality would be accepted as normal and homosexual acts would be considered equal to the marital act, it will now push to further erode and eventually extirpate the expression of Christian morality from society.[17]

This decision increases the country’s growing polarization. If before this decision anti-discrimination laws around the country were already being used to elevate homosexuals to a privileged class, giving rise to many incidents of egregious and unjust persecution (e.g. bakers, florists, photographers, CEOs, teachers, etc.), what will the nation witness in the decision’s wake?

The world knows how religious Americans are. What will happen when our fundamental right to adore God above all things and obey His Law is effectively denied because it runs contrary to the new constitutional right of homosexuals and their media- and now government-privileged status? What conflicts will this religious persecution engender? Will it lead to civil war?

Did the Court’s majority weigh possible outcomes before opening this Pandora’s Box?

Christians Must Resist This Unjust Law
In this ever more intense Culture War, all Americans who consider themselves faithful disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ “must obey God rather than men”[18] and peacefully and legally resist legalized same-sex “marriage” for the unjust and unconstitutional law it is.

As Most Rev. Joseph E. Strickland, Bishop of Tyler, Texas, reminds us:


We know that unjust laws and other measures contrary to the moral order are not binding in conscience, thus we must now exercise our right to conscientious objection against this interpretation of our law which is contrary to the common good and the true understanding of marriage.[19]

In 2003, addressing the growing threat of legalized homosexual unions around the world, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons. This instruction to the universal Church was signed by the Congregation’s Prefect, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) and Secretary, Archbishop Angelo Amato. The Vatican document insists that, “any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws” and even any “material cooperation on the level of their application” must be avoided. “In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”[20]
"We know that unjust laws and other measures contrary to the moral order are not binding in conscience, thus we must now exercise our right to conscientious objection against this interpretation of our law which is contrary to the common good and the true understanding of marriage."
- Bishop Joseph E. Strickland

Our Bishops Should Excommunicate Justices Kennedy and Sotomayor
In this monumental fight, we pray that our spiritual leaders will wield their shepherds’ staffs courageously, reinvigorating discipline, strengthening the faith of good Catholics, and dispensing appropriate punishment to bad ones.

The Vatican Considerations document quoted above also addresses the responsibility of Catholic politicians (and, by extension, judges who legislate from the bench) whose public lives must be “consistent with Christian conscience.” The document states:
If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legalization of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians…. The Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.[21]

For the great harm done to the sacred institution of marriage, the family in America, and the common good of the nation, Associate Justices Kennedy and Sotomayor should be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
 
Legalized Same-Sex “Marriage”: A Sin of the Nation

As in its unjust Roe v. Wade decision, which imposed legal procured abortion on America, so too now, and abusing its authority, the U.S. Supreme Court has consummated a collective sin of the nation, which will draw God’s justice and chastisement upon us, because the sins of nations are punished in this life, not in the next. In His justice, God rewards or chastises nations in this life for the good or evil they do, because unlike individuals they are incapable of being rewarded or chastised in eternity.[22]

This truth makes us fear for the nation. We draw comfort, however, that principled and loyal resistance to this sin does not pass unnoticed by God. The resistance that needs to occur is precisely the means of averting Divine wrath and drawing instead His mercy on America.

We Are Certain of Final Victory
If Christians in America fight in this way they have every reason to confide in God’s assistance, for as Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, founder of the first TFP in Brazil, reminded us:
Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat” (“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” - Phil. 4:13).

When men resolve to cooperate with the grace of God, the marvels of history are worked: the conversion of the Roman Empire; the formation of the Middle Ages; the reconquest of Spain, starting from Covadonga; all the events that result from the great resurrections of soul of which peoples are also capable. These resurrections are invincible, because nothing can defeat a people that is virtuous and truly loves God.[23]
In her seemingly impossible quest, Saint Joan of Arc ever reminded her troops: “If we fight, God will give the victory!”

And in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, when appearing to the three little shepherd children to deliver the Message for our times, the Mother of God assured us of Her ultimate victory: “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

May the loving and faithful resistance of millions of Americans to this unjust law attract God’s mercy and blessings on the nation, and may the prayers of Mary Most Holy bring special graces that change hearts and minds, thus making America truly and enduringly “one nation under God.”
Spring Grove, Penn., June 29, 2015
The American TFP



Taking a Principled not a Personal Stand
In writing this statement, we have no intention to defame or
 disparage anyone. We are not moved by personal hatred against 
any individual. In intellectually opposing individuals or 
organizations promoting the homosexual agenda, our only
 intent is the defense of traditional marriage, the family,
 and the precious remnants of Christian civilization.

As practicing Catholics, we are filled with compassion and
 pray for those who struggle against unrelenting and violent
 temptation to homosexual sin. We pray for those who fall 
into homosexual sin out of human weakness, that God may
 assist them with His grace.

We are conscious of the enormous difference between these
 individuals who struggle with their weakness and strive to 
overcome it and others who transform their sin into a reason
 for pride and try to impose their lifestyle on society as a whole, 
in flagrant opposition to traditional Christian morality and 
natural law. However, we pray for these too.

We pray also for the judges, legislators and government officials
 who in one way or another take steps that favor homosexuality
 and same-sex “marriage.” We do not judge their intentions, 
interior dispositions, or personal motivations.

We reject and condemn any violence. We simply exercise our 
liberty as children of God (Rom. 8:21) and our constitutional
 rights to free speech and the candid, unapologetic and unashamed
 public display of our Catholic faith. We oppose arguments with
 arguments. To the arguments in favor of homosexuality and 
same-sex “marriage” we respond with arguments based on right 
reason, natural law and Divine Revelation.

In a polemical statement like this, it is possible that one or
 another formulation may be perceived as excessive or ironic.
 Such is not our intention.

1.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, “Supreme Court Decision on Marriage ‘A Tragic Error’ Says President of Bishops’ Conference,” June 26, 2015, at http://www.usccb.org/news/2015/15-103.cfm, accessed June 29, 2015. 
2.
“And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman: and brought her to Adam. And Adam said….Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh.” (Gen. 2:22-24). 
3.
“Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Section 1. (Our emphasis.) 
4.
Natural law informs our oldest legal traditions as evidenced by this quote from Sir William Blackstone: “This law of nature, being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original” (Commentaries on the Laws of England [Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1765], 1:41). 
5.
Cf. Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Libertas, June 1888, at http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_20061888_libertas.html, accessed June 29, 2015. 
6.
Lawrence v. Texas, J. Scalia, dissenting opinion, section IV. 
7.
Obergefell v. Hodges, majority opinion, p. 22. (Our emphasis.) 
8.
Ibid., p. 16. 
9.
Ibid., pp. 18-19. (Our emphasis.) 
10.
Ibid., p. 10. 
11.
Ibid., p. 11. (Our emphasis.) 
12.
Ibid., p. 19. (Our emphasis.) 
13.
“No country allowed same-sex couples to marry until the Netherlands did so in 2000.” Obergefell v. Hodges, J. Alito, dissenting opinion, p. 3. 
14.
Obergefell v. Hodges, C.J. Roberts, dissenting opinion, p. 2. 
15.
Sacred Scripture and the perennial moral teaching of the Church have always categorized homosexual acts as intrinsically evil as they are contrary to nature, and always sterile, closing the sexual act to the gift of life. 
16.
“Locke described men as existing in a state of nature, possessed of the ‘perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature…” J. Thomas, dissenting opinion, p. 7. (Our emphasis.) “Rutherforth explained that ‘[t]he only restraint, which a mans right over his own actions is originally under, is the obligation of governing himself by the law of nature, and the law of God.'” Ibid., p. 8fn. 
17.
The railroading of same-sex “marriage” on the American people helps us understand better what homosexual activist Paul Varnell wrote: “The gay movement, whether we acknowledge it or not, is not a civil rights movement, not even a sexual liberation movement, but a moral revolution aimed at changing people's view of homosexuality.” Paul Varnell, “Defending Our Morality,” Chicago Free Press, Aug. 16, 2000. 
18.
Acts 5:29. 
19.
Bishop Joseph E. Strickland, “Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Decision,” June 26, 2015, athttps://www.dioceseoftyler.org/news/2015/06/bishop-stricklands-statement-on-u-s-supreme-court-decision/ accessed June 28, 2015. 
20.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, no. 5, atwww.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html, accessed June 28, 2015. 
21.
Ibid., no. 10. 
22.
This is the underlying thesis expressed throughout Saint Augustine’s famous City of God
23.
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), p. 104, at http://www.tfp.org/tfp-home/books/revolution-and-counter-revolution-v15-1370.html, accessed June 29, 2015. 








Tradition, Family, and Property - In Legalizing Same-Sex “Marriage” U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Natural Law and Provokes God’s Wrath

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Greatness We Cannot Fully Comprehend


Written by Mark Serafino

Yesterday I came home from work my heart, like all good Christians (and non-Christians) filled with deep remorse at the news of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on marriage. Trying like everyone else to live life as usual in our house yet there was a sense of sorrow that permeated everyone’s mood. 

Just before dinner, our daughter came home for a weekend visit and brought with her the Father’s Day gift that had not arrived in time for her to give it to me last week. Here is a picture of her gift to me. It happens to represent a gift that Holy Mother Church has given to ALL good men and women who understand and believe that true marriage is between a man and a woman, nothing else, and He has chosen Louis and Zelie Martin to be the modern day role models for that union.

I can’t help but think that in spite of yesterday’s ruling it is ironic that in this 20th anniversary of the ‘Year of the Family’ there is a clear message to be heeded by all, it is a message of victory; the gates of Hell shall not prevail! Let us call upon Blessed Louis and Zelie and all of the Saints to pray for us in this battle, and in the midst of our sadness let us rejoice in the knowledge that Holy Mother Church is offering Louis and Zelie to us to be our front line leaders in the Faith and in Traditional marriage.


Friday, June 26, 2015

The 'Benedict Option' and the Barbarian Challenge - Crisis Magazine

St_Boniface

Scratch the soul of many a conservative and beneath you will find a villager. Something is there that attracts these Americans to more natural and simpler lifestyles. Perhaps it is because organic and authentic things appear restful and reassuring in a world of uncertainties and anxieties.
However, what makes the organic option particularly attractive to conservatives is that it seems to be a solution to a neo-pagan world that corrupts and attacks family life. These conservatives believe, not unreasonably, that families fare better when surrounded by organic produce, home remedies and whole grain granola. Journalist Rod Dreher wittingly dubbed these rustic conservatives as “crunchy cons.” He described the phenomenon of those who desire to find a “village” of like-minded people to get away from the maddening liberal crowd.
Such attractive dreams of an organic Christian society have circulated for decades. The idealized community generally involves a fair amount of acreage far enough away from the city. Community members might build a homestead on some ten or twenty acres. There would be huge gardens full of organic vegetables and produce. Livestock, free-range chickens, or goats would supplement diets. Add an orchard and maybe a vineyard. One could make one’s own beer, cider or wine. Self-sufficiency would reign as people would get off all the grids. There would be children aplenty to make things merry. One would simply walk away from secular society. There would be no time for sin and war, since all would be busy on their farms with wholesome work.
Of course, at the center of the village there would be a church, ideally a monastery, a Benedictine monastery, where holy priests would celebrate the Divine Liturgy and bells would call people to prayer. Monks would intercede before God for our sinful world. A sacredness would be conferred upon all society where a love of beauty in a God-centered life would propel men toward their final end. Eventually, a school or university would form around this community and a new culture would be born.


To read the rest of the article, click below



The 'Benedict Option' and the Barbarian Challenge - Crisis Magazine