No Catholic Teachers, No Catholic School

I’m tired of hearing about how “we need faithful Catholic schools.” One, the term Catholic needs neither qualifiers nor modifiers. But more than that, I cannot stand half-baked ideas. If you want more butterflies, you cannot have them without first having more caterpillars. There are precursors without which certain things cannot be accomplished. You want more priests, you need more Catholic parents raising Catholic boys, who actually understand and value the priesthood. [Side note: we currently have one of the best ever priest : parishioner ratios in the U.S.]

Similarly, you don’t have Catholic schools without Catholic faculty. So, if we “need faithful Catholic schools,” then what we are really saying is that we need Catholic teachers, because they are the constitutive elements that make for a school which is Catholic. You know what’s not helping anyone, neglecting to correct the idea that one can be Catholic while disbelieving and not professing “all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.”

And this situation is remarkably bad because countless children and parents are exposed to a caricature of Catholicism in these schools, but they are under the impression that, since they’re parochial schools, “this is Catholicism.” The result is anti-evangelization. Few things are presently so damaging to the Church and her evangelical mission as the misrepresentation of Catholicism by faculty at nominally Catholic schools, under the implicit approval of Catholic dioceses.

Legalese Can Sound Pretty Harsh

A legislator (literally: “proposer of law”) recently said that, “The state doesn’t own your children; parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom.” The response from some people has been to characterize the legislator’s idea as a form of slavery. [Why didn’t they just go all the way down that road to the eventual Hitler references?]

Not that it takes two brain cells to know that this legislator does not think of his children as slaves, but I thought I would note something in the legislator’s defense:

From a legal standpoint, he is right!

Some people might not like it, but the whole reason that parents have the power to make virtually every decision for their minor children is that the *legal reality* is that children are property. They certainly are more than that, even from a legal standpoint, but nothing changes the fact that the law has for centuries dealt with children as property of the parent. Property on a different plane than regular, inanimate possessions, but property all the same. Dogs are property too, and even they have more rights than a TV. Children should be treated far better than a television, and even far better than a pet — and the law demands it, because the law recognizes the child’s personhood. Yet none of that contradicts the legal property aspect. Have I ever thought of my own kids as property? No, not really, because I have never considered them from a legal standpoint. You know who is prone to think of children from a legal standpoint — and for whom I hope that he/she does think of children from a legal standpoint? A legislator.


The state demands that we treat our children as persons, even while maintaining that they are our property. “Put your kid in a child-seat.” Why? Because despite the parent’s legal property rights over the child, that child is a person with certain rights that are greater than property rights. The kid has a right to be free from abuse and undue risk, so you need to put him in a car-seat.

The state has the responsibility of securing the rights of all people, even and especially those who are vulnerable, such as children, the elderly, the disabled, etc. So, the state demands car seats, and the state demands an education be provided. The state even demands medical attention when necessary. But the state is not and should not be stepping on the property rights of the parent. The state should only be acting to protect the personal rights of the children. It may be nuanced; it may be complex, but it is the legal reality. And I hope it stays that way, because if it goes, I’ll no longer have the right to decide how to raise my children.


Side note: Do you know which rights can in some instances trump the state’s right and responsibility to dictate certain things of a parent in regard to his child?  The first right.  The right enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The right to free exercise of religion.

Secularism is Stupid, Very Stupid

There’s something so braindead about the responses elicited by the violence by Islamic extremists. On one hand you have this push to stand up for freedom of speech. Yet you have at the same time a culture that is pushing for us all to COEXIST. While the coexist mantra has more to do with an intellectual relativism that pretends all ideas are equal, what it espouses is peaceful relations between persons of varying creeds. Of course, peaceful relations requires forgiveness and tolerance, but it also means showing respect for others. It means not acting maliciously, not only in deed. It does not mean foregoing criticism, but it does means using kind words in criticism.

The Charlie Hebdo massacre is a tragedy. There was nothing good or redeeming about it. Without gainsaying that in the least, there was also nothing redeeming about malicious jesting. If the secular world really wants peaceful coexistence, it cannot exclude itself from the demand of non-violence. I’m not painting the Charlie Hebdo victims as deserving. They ought to have been left alone to say and draw whatever they pleased. What I am saying is that we are more likely to enjoy peace by acting peaceably. Legal restrictions on free speech are not the answer, but personal meekness will go a very long way.

Nobody should shy away from speaking freely. Nobody should penalize those who speak freely. Nobody should commit unnecessary verbal violence. Nobody should commit unnecessary physical violence.

Casual Catholic, Infantile Catholic

I think that, by far, the greatest misconception about the Catholic faith, among Protestants anyhow, is that we hold to the idea that man earns his salvation. I’ll tell you what, if that were true, we might not have so many pathetic “casual Catholics.” Seriously, the percentage of Catholics, especially Catholic men, who feel that religion is very important in their lives is absurdly low. It is, in fact, 50% lower than among Evangelical men (48% and 74%, respectively). Laughable, except that it’s mortal (LETIM).

No, the Catholic Church does not hold that man earns his salvation. She does teach that “assurance of salvation” is absolute heresy, and she does profess that “faith alone is dead” [because in the sole instance where “faith alone” appears in the Bible, it is followed by the words “is dead”]. What the Church does teach about salvation is that it is a matter of God’s judgment alone [which explains why presuming to know absolutely one’s eternal destiny is heresy; it’s presuming to judge as God judges]. And she professes that one’s actions factor into God’s judgment, vis-à-vis sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell, and “what you did unto the least of these…” [So much for the accusation that the Church isn’t “Bible-believing.”]

But back to those depressing stats. How is it that a Church which confesses the mortal importance of faith and charity has a membership that seems to think otherwise? By all accounts, I’d say that the enormous numbers of “casual Catholics” are acting as if their asses are covered. They are the ones who seem to be convinced that their salvation is assured! They’re sure acting like it. So, how did that happen?

Well, it would be dishonest of me to suggest that I know. I do not know, but I do have suspicions based on every piece of anecdotal evidence I have encountered. Disclaimer made, here’s my suspicion: Abysmal catechesis!

Do I think that some people were basically told that their baptism procured for them a get out of hell free card? Yes, but not a huge proportion.

Do I think that some were told that they needn’t worry about the moral guidance of the Church [sexual ethics, anyone?] but only get themselves to Mass? Yes, but not a great many.

Do I think that some were hardly catechized at all, that their CCD classes were a joke, that their Catholic school didn’t teach Catholic beliefs, that they have had a veritable lifetime of hum-drum, wishy-washy self-esteem boosting homilies that did nothing to move them from spiritual infancy to adulthood? DING-DING-DING Yes, you nailed it!

Think I’m being harsh? Try this exercise, go to Mass as often as you can for two months. At minimum, that should put you at 10 Masses, if you only get to one daily Mass and 9 Sundays. Since there are at most 53 Sunday Masses (and we’re excluding Holy Days of Obligation for now), and since most people will only be hearing Sunday homilies anyhow, that means your sample is a decent 19%.

Now, for each homliy that you hear, write down atleast 5 tags [provided the homily is even long enough] to characterize what you heard. Maybe the priest mentioned abortion, tag it ‘abortion.’ Maybe he incorporated something about contracepting [don’t laugh; it could happen], tag it ‘contracepting.’ Perhaps he said that we needn’t be too hard on ourselves [finally, some realism], tag it ‘encouragement.’ If he gets deep into the Scripture and its context, tag it ‘exposition.’ You get the idea.

At the end of those 2 months, review those tags. If you have even once tagged a homily “fear of God” or “apologetics” or “no assurance” you have won the Homily Lottery. Congrats! [That homily was your prize.]

Chances are: it won’t happen to you. Chances are: it didn’t happen to your parents. Chances are: this is a major factor in the Church being flooded with lifelong neophytes. But don’t worry, I’m not laying all of my blame suspicions on bland, uninspiring, unambitious homilies. No, with great failure comes great blame to spread around.

Parents, you actually bear the brunt of the blame, over and above pastors. The home is the center of spiritual nourishment. Even if you weren’t getting meaty teaching at Mass, you still had the responsibility of going out and digging up some spiritual grub to give to junior. If your children left your home only ever knowing what it was like to subsist on spiritual milk, you did them a great disservice. [Step 1: admit your fault and go to Confession!]

Catechists…well, you get the idea. [tl;dr Confession!]

Ultimately, blame is of no benefit in itself. Feelings of guilt are only good insofar as 1) they reflect reality and 2) they illicit a response to amend. So, let’s amend the situation…Now! This is urgent. Remember the M in LETIM — Mortal. By failing to nourish and raise up spiritually healthy adults, we have done the equivalent of never giving a child solid food. The Devil prowls about like a roaring lion, and we have laid out a feast before him.

How Red Herrings Kill Our Children

For the sake of the children, stop with the idiocy! No, I’m not kidding–think of the children! All of this nonsense regarding gun control legislation, the supposedly inconsistent pro-life ethic, and the maligning of self-defense would be laughable were it not so damn pertinent and morbid.

The Error

First off, the charge that the anti-abortion folks are inconsistent in their supposed lack of outrage of murder by guns is nonsensical. Why? Well, foremost, because the corollary to banning guns in order to prevent gun-homicide is to ban the instruments of medicine. The instruments are not THE problem.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. The gun may not be THE problem, but the gun is a lynch pin. Removing the gun from the equation doesn’t solve the existence of suicidal-homicidal sociopaths, but it takes away their capacity for mass murder. (You were thinking that, right?) And you are right. You’d also be right to assert that guns are not as beneficial to society as the medical instruments utilized during infanticide. No argument from me on the validity of these ideas.

What I do object to is the infantile notion that gun control legislation to prevent the continued slaughter of already-born innocents is going to be remotely effective anytime in the next ten years. I’m not saying to not pursue it, but I am objecting to tackling one of the most contentious issues in American politics before doing something to protect our children in the immediate. That is as foolish and reckless as brandishing a handgun in a city park.

The Solution

When I was a student at the University of Cincinnati, I received frequent email notifications about local crime. One of the most frequent events was mugging. Late night, inebriated college kids walking alone make for easy targets. So, every few days, so it seemed, I would read about how a mugger, maybe three, would flash a gun (briefly remove it and then return it to his pocket) and demand some kid’s possessions. In every case, the victim gave up his/her things.

No, I’m not going to take issue with someone turning over her belongings under coercion; I’m not suggesting that they should have risked life or limb to save an cell phone or a laptop. However, I would like to praise the single individual whose response was to pull pepper spray from her pocket and use it on her mugger. That girl got away safely, and the jackass who tried to harm her (caught or not) was in a world of hurt.

Perhaps my point is not obvious, so I’ll state it outright. In the immediate, providing non-lethal force to be used as a defensive mechanism is the best course of action. And I am specifically recommending instruments that temporarily blind assailants. Save for live ammunition, there is not a more effective way to neutralize gun-wielding murderers than to blind them.

The Way Forward

So, why is the conversation not about effective, immediate means to deter this violence? Seriously, why? Realistically, even if a ban on all guns (outside of law enforcement and private security) occurred tomorrow, when would enough guns be confiscated to be reasonably confident that events like those at Sandy Hook would never happen again? Ten years? Fifteen years? Even then, you’d never be able to prevent a cop of member of the armed forces from going off the deep end (and taking a few lives with him)–something that has happened more than once in the last few years.

In the meantime, murderous rampages continue. As for me and my house, we will not waste our breath. First, give some hope of survival for when the rampages occur. Second, address the fact that mental health issues are practically ignored by the government. They are the most stigmatized and disenfranchised people in our world, and services to treat them (without pocketfuls of cash) are few and far between. Finally, only after these more immediate concerns have been addressed, then turn to gun regulations.

True religion (in the 21st Century) before God the Father is this: to care for the mentally ill and fetuses in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (staining includes following red herrings and acting like an idiot).