Can non-Catholics be saved?

Quite recently, on the Catholic blogosphere, the question was raised of whether non-Catholics can be saved. Let me answer that question with a question: if you were in a house that was engulfed in flames, would you be able to survive by staying inside? Of course you could; the odds would be significantly against it, but if you wanted to bet your life on it there technically is a chance.

Likewise, non-Catholics have the possibility of being saved; only God can see into the soul of a (wo)man and see if there exists a reflection of Himself (supernatural Charity), a quality without which we cannot be saved. To receive and maintain this quality of the soul God gave us the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. Could you obtain and maintain this quality of the soul without formal membership in the Christ's Church? Technically yes... but do you really want to bet your soul on it?


The sole reason why society is perishing...

"The sole reason why society is perishing is because it has refused to hear the word of the Church, which is the work of life, the word of God. All plans for salvation will be sterile if the great word of the Catholic Church is not restored in all its fullness.

"The right to preach and instruct the people which the Church has received from God Himself in the persons of the Apostles, has been usurped by a crowd of prattling newspapermen and the ignorant babblers. The ministry of the word of God, which is the most elevated and important of all -- because by it the earth has been conquered -- has turned from a ministry of salvation to an abominable ministry of ruin. As nothing or nobody could check the triumph of the word of God in the time of the Apostles, so also will no one or nothing be able to repress the ravages of false preaching and doctrines unless by opposing them with the preaching of priests and by the distribution of abundant good books and other holy and profitable works."

-- Saint Anthony Mary Claret, The Autobiography, Chapter 28, Part 3. St. Anthony's feast day was this past weekend.


Follow up: Wolves become superfluous

A couple days ago I posted on Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke addresses to Human Life international. The speech can be read (PDF) and watched on Real Catholic TV's website.


Wolves become superfluous

Last week Archbishop Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke addressed Human Life international with a speech that was not only directed at the faithful, but also specifically directed at our bishops.

"When shepherds of the flock are obedient to the magisterium entrusted to their exercise, then surely the numbers of the flock grow in obedience," he said. "If the shepherd isn't obedient, the flock easily gives way to confusion and error." Quoting the Prophet Zechariah, he said the shepherd can be "especially tempted" by the assaults of Satan who, "if he can strike him, the work of scattering the flock is made easy."

"Faith is first of all personal adherence of man to God," underlined Archbishop Burke, and recalled the words of a wise professor of canon law he knew who would often tell his classes: "Where there are problems of chastity, there are problems of obedience." Rebellion against the moral truth, Archbishop Burke noted, "is a rebellion against God and all that he teaches us."


"When a person has culpably espoused and cooperated in gravely sinful acts, leading many into error and confusion over fundamental questions regarding respect for life and integrity of marriage and family, his repentance of such actions must also be public," Archbishop Burke added, referring to Catholic politicians who support abortion and same-sex marriage. ... He stressed that responsibility is "especially heavy" for political leaders.


The "perennial discipline of the Church [has] prohibited the giving of Holy Communion or the granting of a Church funeral to those who persist after admonition in the grave violation of the moral law," he noted. "It is said that these disciplines which the Church has consistently observed down the centuries presume to pass judgment on eternal judgment of a soul, a judgment that belongs to God alone, and therefore can be abandoned."


"A unity which is not founded on the truth of the moral law is not unity..."

See the Zenit article for more information.

The following videos were sparked off after the speech by Archbishop Raymond Burke, and provide some interesting insight.

Don't Steal: The Government Hates Competition...

When the government is guilty of so many crimes against morality and prudence, is it any wonder that the contractors they hire (at the lowest bid, no less) will resort to unethical practices as well? As it turns out, the contractor whom the CIA hired to work on the targeting system for the Predator drones used pirated software. Not surprisingly the company who makes the stolen software is suing; they also assert that the stolen software was incomplete when it was stolen, which could result in targeting errors on the part of the drones.

So in summary: a shadowy government agency hires software pirates to work on the targeting systems for drones which are then used to conduct "surgical strikes" in Pakistan... and the faulty targeting systems means the CIA will be hitting the wrong targets (read: people). I guess it's a less overt way of picking a fight with the Pakistanis than appointing a Koran burning pastor as U. S. ambassador to Pakistan.


Well, anyway, happy Feast of St. Teresa of Jesus!

Since my fellow bloggers have current (sad) events pretty well covered, they free me up to post about the Feast of St. Teresa of Jesus, also known as St. Teresa of Avila. The Discalced Carmelites claim her as their Mother, as indeed she is, after Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, of course.

An excerpt from St. Teresa's "Life", taken from the Carmelite Office of Readings for this feast:

Whoever lives in the presence of so good a friend and excellent a leader as is Jesus Christ can endure all things. Christ helps us and strengthens us and never fails; He is a true friend. And I see clearly that God desires that if we are going to please him and receive his great favours this must come about through the most sacred humanity of Christ, in whom he takes his delight.

Many, many times have I perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we desire His sovereign Majesty to show us great secrets. A person should desire no other path, even if he be at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. This Lord of ours is the one through whom all blessings come to us. He will teach us these things. In beholding his life we find that he is the best example.

What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side, who will not abandon us in our labours and tribulations, as friends in the world do? Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Let us consider the glorious St. Paul: it doesn't seem that any other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, as coming from one who kept the Lord close to his heart. Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered that lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they hadn't taken any pther path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God's hands. If His Majesty should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept gladly.

As often as we think of Christ we should recall the love with which he bestowed on us so many favours and the great things God showed in giving us a pledge like this of his love; for love begets love. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to waken ourselves to love. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the favour of impressing this love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall carry out our tasks quickly and without much effort.

What does it mean to "live in the presence" of Jesus? I'm not sure I know how to go about carrying this out, practically speaking. Prayer? I think that is what St. Teresa would say. Of all kinds-- most especially a certain amount of every day given in meditative prayer. Simple? Yes, but hard for me to do. I'm very attached to "my" time. But if I never give Him my time, when will the opportunity come that of the Lord "impressing this love on my heart"?

St. Teresa, pray for us, especially that we may be strong enough to give up the illusion that we are masters of our own "time".


Who owns your mortgage?

By now you should have heard about the foreclosure fraud. Keep in mind that even if you are not risk for foreclosure this may still effect you. These "documentation problems" have the potential "to cloud title on not just foreclosed mortgages but on performing mortgages."

The mortgage is still owed, but there's going to be a problem figuring out who actually holds the mortgage, and they would be the ones bringing the foreclosure. You have a trust that has been getting payments from borrowers for years that it has no right to receive. So you might see borrowers suing the trusts saying give me my money back, you're stealing my money. You're going to then have trusts that don't have any assets that have been issuing securities that say they're backed by a whole bunch of assets, and you're going to have investors suing the trustees for failing to inspect the collateral files, which the trustees say they're going to do, and you're going to have trustees suing the securitization sponsors for violating their representations and warrantees about what they were transferring.

The SEIU currently has a webpage that helps you to create a form letter to send to your mortgage lender. I would not recommend submitting your personal data to the SEIU, but the form letter generated is well written.

To: Mortgage Lending Department
Subject: Request for original mortgage note and additional information


This is a qualified written request under Section 6 of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). I own the property at the address listed above, and your bank services my mortgage.

Over the last several weeks there have been many stories documenting the problem that banks are foreclosing on homes without proof that they own the loan. I have learned that in many cases, banks like yours do not even know who owns the loans you service. Employees at several leading banks have admitted to rubber stamping tens of thousands of foreclosures every month, without even checking to make sure that the bank had a legal right to proceed with foreclosure. In some cases, banks allegedly falsified mortgage documents to cover up their mistakes. There have been reports of two banks trying to foreclose on the same home, banks foreclosing on homeowners who were current on their payments, and even of a bank foreclosing on a home where the homeowner had never taken out a mortgage to begin with. This is not merely a "technical problem"--it is the difference between having a warm bed at night and being out on the street.

As a homeowner and a customer of your bank, I am horrified. I had always believed that it I played by the rules, I would be protected, but now I know that banks like yours think the rules don't apply to them.

To protect myself and my family, I need to know who owns my mortgage. Within sixty days, I would like to know the name, address, and phone number of the bank or investor that owns my mortgage. Furthermore, in light of the recent allegations of foreclosure fraud, I demand to see the original mortgage note proving ownership over my home loan. If you fail to produce a mortgage note proving that you have a right to collect my mortgage payments, I will be forced to consider all options available to me to ensure that my family and my home are protected.

I ask that I receive my response in writing. I understand that under Section 6 of RESPA you are legally required to acknowledge my request within twenty business days and must try to resolve the issue within sixty days.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Guaranteed Retirement Account

Most of you are familiar with Aesop's fable The Ant and the Grasshopper. The story is about the hard working ants who prepare for the hard winter, while the grasshopper plays and sings. Winter comes and the grasshopper starves to death.

Today's fable is slightly different. The ant still works hard in preparation for the winter. The honey bee is added as a character to the story. The honey bee is like the ant... working hard in preparation for the winter, but as Fall approaches, the honey bee's winter stores are robbed leaving hardly enough for winter survival. The ants comes by unscathed from robbers, but harvest was light. The grasshopper is still focused on playing and singing with little care to the upcoming winter... but it is because he knows that the ants and the bees will be required to share with him.

Say goodbye to your retirement accounts. If to date you managed to miss the effects of the economy stealing a large portion of you nest egg, the government now plans to utilize your funds for the sake of the rest of the community.

In a nutshell, under the GRA [Guaranteed Retirement Account] system government would seize private 401(k) accounts, setting up an additional 5% mandatory payroll tax to dole out a "fair" pension to everyone using that confiscated money coupled with the mandated contributions. This would, of course, be a sister government ponzi scheme working in tandem with Social Security, the primary purpose being to give big government politicians additional taxpayer funds to raid to pay for their out-of-control spending.

From written hearing testimony (PDF / HTML) submitted by Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Vice President Ross Eisenbrey:

We need a comprehensive solution that addresses interrelated problems. For example, a system that places most of the burden for retirement saving on individuals will always have to wrestle with the problem of pre-retirement loans and withdrawals (simply plugging these leaks will not work, because many workers would stop contributing to the system). A system that relies on tax incentives to promote individual retirement savings will necessarily tend to favor high-income workers who can afford to save more and who benefit the most from these tax breaks. Conversely, a truly universal system would need to shield low-income workers from out-of-pocket costs or wage cuts. EPI has published and advocated what we feel would be an excellent national supplemental retirement plan, the Guaranteed Retirement Account which was authored by Prof. Teresa Ghilarducci, Director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research.

If you would like to read more on the topic see New Lame Duck Threat to Bailout Union Pensions.


Imagine there's no god? That's so gay...

Having used up whatever genius I have in coming up with that title, I'll simply include the Catholic League's latest press release -- which you can find here with their title -- without modification:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on last night's episode of the Fox show, "Glee":

The producers of "Glee" decided to address religion. A gay atheist was treated with sympathy for his victim status, the victimizer being Christianity, especially Catholicism. Judaism was treated with kid gloves and Islam got a pass. In other words, it was the usual Hollywood stuff.

The show revolved around a football player who sees an image of Jesus in his grilled cheese sandwich, labeling it "Grilled Cheesus." Throughout the show the audience was treated to such lines as "I think God is kind of like Santa Claus for adults. Otherwise, God's kind of a jerk, isn't he?"; "Asking someone to believe in a fantasy [religion]…however comforting, isn't a moral thing to do. It's cruel." References to Catholicism included mocking quips about "Sweet Holy Mother of God Academy."

The pivotal remark, which set the tone, was made by the gay atheist: "The reason I don't go to church is because most churches don't think very much of gay people. Or women. Or science."

The lines mouthed by the characters are a reflection of what Hollywood script writers and producers believe. Back in 1986, S. Robert Lichter, Stanley Rothman and Linda Lichter wrote a landmark book, The Media Elite. The three social scientists, not affiliated with conservative causes, found that the media elite had nothing in common with most Americans on the subject of religion: while 94 percent of Americans identified themselves as religious, only 50 percent of the media elite did. Even more striking, while 86 percent of the public said religion was important to them, 86 percent of the media elite said they seldom or never attend church. Studies since have shown that nothing much has changed.

Homosexuality and atheism are all the rage these days with the cultural elite. As "Glee" showed last night, so is ripping on Christians.

Contact Fox's VP for Communications: gaude.paez@fox.com


Firefighters let home burn

Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in the September 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat.

Mr. Cranick called 911 after the fire started but the fire department would not respond. Mr. Cranick had failed to pay an annual $75 fee to cover fire protection for rural residents.

Firefighters did eventually show up, but only to fight the fire on the neighboring property, whose owner had paid the fee.

It is an interesting story for sure. Immediate thoughts might be: "If the firefighters where there, why didn't they help the Cranick family?"

Firefighting is not free. There is a cost associated, and the annual $75 fee is a small price to pay for insuring that those services are available when needed. (Keep in mind that many locations include support of firefighting with the collected taxes... this location required a separate annual fee.) Another option would be to simply charge the individual for the cost involved to fight the fire... which would be significantly more than $75. Paying the annual fee amount the day of a fire does not make much sense, because then no one would end up paying enough to cover the fire fighting costs.

A strong parallel can be made to health care. Health care is not free. There is a cost associated, and insurance rates are a small price to pay for insuring that those services are available when needed. (Keep in mind that some countries include payment for health care via taxation... for the most part in America, we pay for health care individually.) Another option would be to simply charge the individual for the cost involved to provide the health insurance... which would be significantly more than typical insurance rates. Paying the insurance rates on the day of an emergency (or with a pre-existing condition) does not make much sense because then no one would end up paying enough to cover the health care costs.



No Pressure

When I first came across this video, I assumed it was a spoof... an attempt at anti-environmentalism. After spending a bit of time learning about the background behind the video, I was shocked to find out that the intent was to support the lowering of carbon emissions. I know that this video is an attempt at very very dry humor, but I often find that dry humor can be a form a brutal honesty. I did not post this video because I thought it was humorous. I posted because I think this video highlights the awful truth behind the climate change movement.

I warn you... this video contains gore (not the former VP and presidential candidate):

The video was created by Richard Curtis in support of the 10:10 campaign.

In October 2010, a short film created by Curtis entitled No Pressure was released by the 10:10 campaign in Britain to spread awareness of climate change. The video was subsequently taken down from the organization's website due to negative reception and offense taken at the attempt at black comedy. However, it is still available in several places, including YouTube. It depicted a series of scenes in which people were asked if they were going to participate in 10:10. Those who indicated they weren't planning on participating were told "no pressure" and then blown up in a gory explosion at the press of a red button.


St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Carmel

Happy Feast of St. Therese!

Marie-Francoise-Therese Martin was born January 3rd, 1873, in Alencon, France, to Zelie and Louis Martin. Her father wrote a rather prophetic poem to commemorate her birth:

Smile and grow quickly
Everything promises you happiness
Tender care, tender Love
Yes, smile at the Dawn,
Bud that just blossomed,
One day you will be a Rose.

After a serious health scare in the first months of her life, she grew healthy, happy and lovely, the openly professed favorite of her sisters and her parents. After her mother died in 1877, Therese entered what she calls the "winter of her life". The death was very hard for her, as she says herself, "I must admit, Mother [Reverend Mother Agnes of Jesus], my happy disposition completely changed after Mama's death. I, once so full of life, become timid and retiring, sensitive to an excessive degree." Still, surrounded by a very loving and tender family, her innocence and purity guarded very carefully by her father, she grew in piety and holiness from a very young age.

She remembers very clearly a turning point for her, when she says she "grew up in an intant", leaving behind her childish, overly-sensitive ways, to take on the strength and courage of Christ. "It was December 25, 1886, that I received the grace of leaving my childhood, in a word, the grace of my complete conversion." She says she "felt charity enter into my soul, and the need to forget myself and to please others, and since then, I've been happy."

Her desire to enter Carmel grew rapidly during this time, causing her to even go so far as pleading with the Pope for permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux earlier than normally permitted. After a period of intense waiting, she was finally granted permission by the Bishop, and entered Carmel April 9, 1888, at the age of 15.

St. Therese speaks of two great gifts she received in her years as a postulant and novice. Firstly, soon after her entrance, she made a general confession to Father Pichon, where he said, "In the presence of God, the Blessed Virgin, and all the saints, I DECLARE THAT YOU HAVE NEVER COMMITTED A MORTAL SIN.... Thank God for what He has done for you; had he abandoned you, instead of being a little angel, you would have become a little demon." St. Therese says, "I had no difficulty in believing it; I felt how weak and imperfect I was and gratitude flooded by soul. I had such a great fear of soiling my baptismal robe...."

Secondly, she says that "God permitted that [Mother Prioress Genevieve of St. Teresa] was VERY SEVERE without her even being aware of it. I was unable to meet her without having to kiss the floor, and it was the the same thing on those rare occasions when she gave me spiritual direction. What an inestimable grace!... What if I had become the "pet" of the community as some of the Sisters believed?" Instead, she says, "The little flower transplanted to Mount Carmel was to expand under the shadow of the cross. The tears and blood of Jesus were to be her dew, and her Sun was His adorable Face veiled with tears."

She was professed on September 8, 1890. "Mary's nativity! What a beautiful feast on which to become the spouse of Jesus! It was the little Blessed Virgin, one day old, who was presenting her little flower to the little Jesus. Everything was little that day except the graces and the peace I received...." From then until 1897, just a few months before her death, she participated fully in the life of the Lisieux Carmel, offering up her "little sufferings", learning what it means to love as Jesus loves, welcoming joyfully each and every trial. "Now, abandonment alone guides me. I have no other compass! I can no longer ask for anything with fervor except the accomplishment of God's will in my soul without any creature being able to set obstacles in the way."

In April, 1896, St. Therese had the first clear indication that she was suffering from tuberculosis, though she had been evincing smaller symptoms for two years prior. Knowing that she was in her last months, her sister, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, asked her to write one final chapter. "You asked me, dear Sister, to write to you my dream and 'my little doctrine' as you call it. I did this in the these following pages...." What follows is the analogy of the little bird, which is the best description of her Little Way. Also, she tells about her final joy:


"Then, in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my love.... my vocation, at last I have found it.... MY VOCATION IS LOVE!"

Her 'little doctrine' flows from this, and can best be summarized in her own words, "I have no other means of proving my love for you other than that of strewing flowers, that is, not allowing one little sacrifice to escape, not one look, one word, profiting by all the smallest things and doing them through love. I desire to suffer for love and even to rejoice through love; and in this way I shall strew flowers before Your throne."

From this time until her death 18 months later, her physical suffering was intense, but it was nothing in comparison to her spiritual and mental suffering due to a great trial of Faith, when she was given the grace to know the darkness of those who refuse to acknowledge the existence and Kingship of God. "During those joyful days of the Easter Season (1897), Jesus made me feel that there were really souls who have no faith, and who, through the abuse of grace, lost this precious treasure, the source of the only real and pure joys. He permitted my soul to be invaded by the thickest darkness, and that the thought of heaven, up until then so sweet to me, be no longer anything but the cause of struggle and torment. This trial was to last not a few days or a few weeks, it was not to be extinguished until the hour set by God Himself, and this hour has not yet come."

Even though burdened by this darkness, St. Therese continued to make many acts of Faith, "...while I do not have the joy of Faith, I am trying to carry out its works, at least."

This severe trial lasted until the day of her death. She was taken to God at about 7:20 in the evening of September 30th, 1897. Her last words, while gazing at a crucifix, were, "Oh! I love him. My God, I love you!"

She was canonized May 17, 1925, by Pope Pius XI.

St. Therese, ora pro nobis!

[This has been condensed from the Study Edition of "Story of a Soul, the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux", translated by John Clarke O.C.D., prepared by Marc Foley O.C.D. ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, DC. 2005.]