Catholicism in a Rancorous Age: By Bevil Bramwell, OMI

Catholicism in a Rancorous Age

Periodically America, like all other nations, goes through a convulsion of public rancor. That word, too little heard in our public discourse, means bitterness or resentment (and, interestingly, comes from the Latin for smelly).

There was rancor in the country at the time of George Washington, during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and so on. There has never been a fully quiet period since, though some times are more obviously rancorous than others. The media have always played a role in magnifying this phenomenon, and it has become singularly sharp in our own day.

But the larger problem is that many people, including many Catholics, are so caught up in the current frenzy of rancor that it consumes almost all their time and energy.

Social and political matters are not the be-all and end-all of life. The be-all and end-all is that we share in the “mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:16) That is what is worth the bulk of our attention. In the New Testament, Saint Paul spoke of the “mind” frequently. To the Philippians he wrote: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mind as Christ Jesus.” (2:5)

So for a baptized person’s mind, social and political thinking are secondary to using one’s mind to plumb the mind of Christ, something that takes great humility and often takes us far away from the social hullabaloo.

This focus opens up the stupendous spiritual world that Christ came to bring us. There is real serenity in reflecting on what Christ teaches, a welcome alternative to the angry hostility of the national conversation. Moreover, plunging into the mind of Christ gives us the proper tools to enter into that national conversation – if and when we actually have to.

This is not a flight into mere passivity. It is taking up the true Christian task. By Baptism, the thinking Christian is presented with various urgent and immediate projects.


First of all, (s)he has to continue the process of his own conversion. It does not just happen without our efforts. Paul explained to the Romans: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) Who does not need to spend more time carefully and deliberately going through conversion, regardless of age?

God starts the process: In the language of the Letter to the Hebrews, God says: “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.” (8:10) The laws of family, friendship, politics, and every other area of human endeavor come to be written in our hearts, through the work of the Spirit and our own efforts to cooperate with the working of the Spirit in the Church.

The reference to minds and hearts means you have to know what God’s law is before you can apply it reliably. Plunging into the mind of Christ does not mean only praying. It also means reading the Scriptures and what the Church has written – not merely in order to get an advanced degree – but to taste how we should understand family, or friendship, or – God help us – politics.  Reading in the tradition brings us face to face with the full promise towards all such matters as they are illuminated by Christ. Which also helps us to pray better so that we are not just having a private conversation with ourselves or being “spiritual” freelancers, but rather genuinely listening to God.

There is a fly in the ointment, however, something that St. Paul lamented: “I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” (Romans 7:23) The distraction of participating in rancorous conversation diverts us from the far more urgent work of escaping from the law of sin, particularly when the conversation may be sinful in itself. This is no small task and will take a lot of authentic effort –and shrewdness.

Paul understood that we have to live with love in the world and to communicate with one another lovingly: “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”(I Corinthians 13: 4-7)

This is perhaps the greatest hymn on love in the whole of Scripture. It is noteworthy that every one of these behaviors has to be learned. Again and again, we have to review how we are doing—hence the daily examen of conscience that so many Christians practice.

When we are constantly working on our conversion, we become Christian islands of calm in the firestorm of rancor around us, rather than pouring additional gasoline on the world’s fire. A lesson much worth learning these days.


*Image: Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Johannes Vermeer, 1655 [Scottish National Museum, Edinburgh]. This is the largest of the extant painting of Vermeer.


The the importance of Christians voting in fall election: by Dr. James Dobson.. Focus on the Family

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James Risdon

The the importance of Christians voting in fall election

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, Aug. 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — An American evangelical powerhouse is urging Christians in the United States to make their voices heard at the ballot box or possibly face the same kind of losses to freedom as in Canada.

“We must vote, vote, vote to elect leaders who will defend what has been purchased with the blood of patriots who died to protect our liberty,” writes Dr. James Dobson, founder and president of Family Talk, in his August newsletter.

The highly-influential evangelical’s exhortation to vote comes as America gets ready to head to the polls for the Nov. 6 midterm election that will see all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 Senate seats up for grabs.

Two years ago, Republican candidate Donald Trump took the White House in an election that saw only 55.7 percent of Americans of voting age cast their ballots. That was down from 62.3 percent of Americans of voting age who took part in the 2008 U.S. presidential election and far below the level of voter turnout in many other industrialized nations.

In Denmark, Belgium and Sweden, more than 80 percent of citizens of voting age cast their ballots in their last elections. New Zealand and Australia both had voter turnouts of more than 75 percent.

At just a tad above 62 percent, Canada’s voter turnout is close to that of its neighbor to the south.

And the political happenings in the Great White North should serve as a warning to American Christians, noted Dobson.

“Let me illustrate what can happen in a country that doesn’t respect basic human rights as they have been understood historically,” he writes in his newsletter. “The Parliament of Canada, our neighbor to the north, passed an act into law on June 19, 2017. It is called the [transgender rights bill], and it imposes jail time and fines on anyone who uses inappropriate pronouns with regard to gender identity, gender expression, race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability or conviction of an offense for which a pardon has been granted.

“Forget laws protecting freedom of speech,” wrote Dobson. “Violations of this act are considered to be hate crimes in Canada’s Criminal Code. Its passage has been lauded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as ‘another step toward equality.’ No! It is a step toward tyranny for our Canadian friends.”

Although Americans and citizens of other western nations are not yet facing similar tyranny, a growing political correctness in the mainstream media influences elections and can lead to the loss of much-cherished freedoms in West, warned Dobson.

“America and other western nations have for decades been losing their God-given rights that define us as a free people,” he wrote. “We are not experiencing Nazi-like tyranny yet, but we are steadily being expected to think, speak, write, and act in a prescribed manner in conformity with what is now called ‘political correctness.’ The mainstream media has become a tool to influence elections and spread this belief system.

“Sadly, the rights handed down to us by our forefathers more than 200 years ago are gradually being overridden, ignored, contradicted, or disregarded by the courts and legislature. Alas, we are less free now than we were even five years ago.”

Chiding the desperation of the political left in America for going so far as to mock Supreme Court of the United States nominee Brett Kavanaugh for such trivial matters as putting ketchup on his food, Dobson makes it clear that Christians must beef up their political clout.

“So far, President Donald Trump has nominated 44 judges who have been confirmed to the bench, and there are many others (88) in the pipeline,” wrote Dobson. “There is hope for additional conservative and common-sense decisions to be handed down in the future. This is a matter for sincere prayer among those of us who have longed for relief from judicial tyranny.” END QUOTES

I have for a very long time been a fan of Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family; Patrick


Why did Jesus invent the Eucharist?  by: Tom Hoopes

Why did Jesus invent the Eucharist?

 Tom Hoopes |

The soul-body unity that is the human being requires treatment that acknowledges both elements. And our Creator knows that …

It is as if we are two creatures in one, we human beings.

We could say that we are part animal and part “angel.” One part of us is hungry, like a bird, for what will satisfy our body — the other is starved for what will satisfy our soul.

Jesus points to our two hungers in Sunday’s Gospel  (the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B). Last week, he showed his preference for giving us more than enough for our body. This Sunday, he wants to give us more than enough for our soul.

Bread is not enough.

Feeding the body is a central aspect of Christianity — from Jesus’ miracle at Cana to the loaves we heard about last weekend, to the Last Judgment when his test for each of us will be, “Who did you feed?”

As one 12th-century Church text put it: “Feed the man dying of hunger, because if you have not fed him, you have killed him.”

But Jesus has also always warned about stopping there.

When the devil tempted him to turn stones to loaves of bread, he refused, saying, “Man does not live on bread alone.”

Today, he hides from the people who want to celebrate him merely because they ate. “Do not work for food that perishes,” he tells them, “but for the food that endures for eternal life.”

Mother Teresa knew what this greater hunger looks like.

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat,” St. Teresa of Calcutta said.

Recent headlines about wealthy suicides would seem to make her point. But our hunger for meaning causes many behaviors that plague us, well short of suicide. There is the hookup culture on campuses, alcohol and drug abuse, even social media.

Clearly we have a gaping hole in our hearts that pains us terribly if we find no way to fill it.

As the Second Vatican Council put it, a human being “plunges into the depths of reality whenever he enters into his own heart; God, Who probes the heart, awaits him there; there he discerns his proper destiny beneath the eyes of God.”

The only way to satisfy our second hunger is to plunge in.

Jesus Christ in this Sunday’s Gospel refuses to settle for satisfying anything less than the deepest hunger he knows the people have.

This is why he invented the Eucharist — to show as clearly as possible that he wants to enter into our lives and fill us with his life.

As the the Catechism puts it, “What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life.” In particular, “As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity.”

In other words, it immerses us in love, making it possible to “put away the old self of your former way of life” and “put on a new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth” as the Second Reading specifies.

The Eucharist can do wonders for us, if we receive the Bread of Heaven not just with our mouths but with our hearts and our lives.

After all, when we are hungry, we can’t think of anything else.

For me, at least, the longest 10 minutes of the day are the 10 minutes before dinner. And when the milk, eggs or bread run out, restocking them is a priority that trumps all other considerations — even if it means going to the store looking like you just woke up.

That is how hunger works: It demands food, now.

Our spiritual hunger has to work that way, too. But often it doesn’t. We are like hungry beggars invited to a feast who stand outside, too self-conscious to go in — too afraid of confession, too afraid of Christ, too afraid of ourselves.

“I am the bread of life,” Jesus tells us. “Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

We know we are hungry. We know where the food is. We have been invited to the table. What are we waiting for?