Trying to catch up…

I have not been keeping up with this blog very well. Between Rosary Around the Lake, and now our new report on homosexuality and the Catholic priesthood, I have been running around like crazy.

I’m going to take some time to add in the articles I have written, along with the articles that have been written about the Ruth Institute’s new report. The backlog is pretty intense….

Hurricane Protection Prayer

Hurricane Prayer cardOk, Irma is coming. Jose is coming right behind her.  Please pray this Hurricane Protection Prayer.  Catholic parishes in Lake Charles say this prayer regularly during hurricane season, roughly June 1 through November 30. Look at the track of Hurricane Harvey. It went up the coast of Texas, headed for Louisiana and then: nothing. It turned aside. We were spared in Lake Charles.

Doubters: you can believe what you want to believe. I’ll believe what I want to believe. I believe we should all swallow our pride and ask for Divine Protection. Ok?

 

“O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed your orders and returned to its former quietude. You are still the Master of the land and sea. We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control: the Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awaken from its seeming lethargy, and overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land, and spread chaos and disaster.
During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving Father. Spare us from past tragedies, whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time. O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son on our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area, and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem, where a stormless eternity awaits us.  Amen.”
Penned by The Most Reverend Maurice Schexnayder, Bishop of Lafayette, in 1957, following Hurricane Audrey.

Please join the parishes in the Lake Charles diocese in saying this prayer. Share with everyone you know, especially those in the regions in the path of Irma, and anyone near the Gulf of Mexico.

PS: If anyone has a better image of this holy card, please share it. This is a cell phone picture I took.

PPS: Do any of my Lake Charles friends know: When did the Diocese start saying this prayer? How many hurricanes have hit Lake Charles since 1957?  I know we had Rita in 2005, but none since then. Locals, please add to my knowledge here!

Thank you Jimmy Akin

Around 2010, my daughter struggled with anorexia. I gained 15 pounds during her recovery at home. (“Eat, child, eat!!) Never could lose it.

I gained 10 pounds, after moving to Louisiana. Cajun food is the best food in America. No joke.

I have beat myself up about it for years, but could never seem to do anything about it.

Enter Jimmy Akin, Catholic Apologist Extraordinaire. He has been chronicling his weight loss journey on his website and his Facebook page. He has lost over 100 pounds. Fasting has been a key to his success. By fasting, he means, skipping a meal. Or two. A day.

Jimmy Akin after losing 100 pounds.

So I tried it. I found that I can do it. I tell myself at the beginning of the day, I am skipping breakfast, or “I am not eating until dinner.” I find that I do not get all that hungry. If I do, I drink water. I aim to drink 2 liters of water a day. Or I drink diet soda. Generally, the urge to eat passes.

If I’m really hungry, I may drink a chocolate milk. That is it.

I have discovered how often I have the urge to eat because I’m tired, or bored, or think it is time to eat. But I’m not even really hungry.

I’ve lost my Cajun 10. I’m working on my anorexic 15. Thanks Jimmy.

Poor Kids Deserve Their Own Parents, too.

The Federal government’s programs for poor relief undermine the ability of the poorest people in society to get married and stay married.

Consider these facts:

  • For women with a high-school degree and maybe some college, 58% percent of their firstborn children are born out of wedlock. These children end up having limited contact and relationships with their fathers.

    wilcoxpic1
    Dr. Brad Wilcox of the Institute for Family Studies and the University of Virginia. He and his colleagues crunched a bunch of these numbers.
  • The percent having their first birth out of wedlock is 55% for white women, 69% for Hispanic women, and 87% for African American women. [1]
  • Some of the most significant income support programs have significant marriage penalties for some people. People these situations are better off cohabiting, or not living together at all, rather than getting married. These programs include the Earned Income Tax, Child Tax Credits, Medicaid, SNAP, TANF and WIC.  [2]
  • Children living with cohabiting parents are more likely to experience the separation of their parents than children whose parents are married. This separation diminishes the chances of the children having continuous relationships with both their parents, especially their fathers.
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Elaine Maag of the Urban Institute: “I believe that we can work toward providing a strong safety net for all people—and that the tax system will always be an important part of that effort.” You go, girl!

Marriage benefits children. There is no longer any serious doubt about this. Why then, is our government creating incentives for parents to not marry? Poor children need their own parents and a stable family life every bit as much as children of the middle and upper classes.

My references below include people from across the political spectrum. In spite of this, nothing has been done to remove the marriage penalties from federal income support programs. My guess is that many of the “liberals” are fearful of marriage as something that could be oppressive to abused women. My further guess is that many of the “conservatives” are fearful of the increased taxpayer costs that removing the marriage penalties might create.

joseph-price
Dr. Joe Price of Brigham Young University. He too, crunched some of these numbers. A coalition of BYU and the Urban Institute: it can be done!

Social conservatives have the ear of the current Administration, more so than any time I can recall.  I urge social conservatives inside the Trump administration to remove the marriage penalties from these programs. I suggest convening a commission of the authors listed in the notes below, along with Pat Fagan of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation, and Isabell Sawhill of the Brookings Institute.

Together, they could come up with something. We owe it to the least among us to stop undermining the formation and stability of their families.

 

1. “Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America,” Kay Hymowitz, Jason Carroll, W. Bradford Wilcox, Kelleen Kay, 2013 by The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and The Relate Institute. http://twentysomethingmarriage.org/the-great-crossover/ (Last accessed November 15, 2016.)

2. Elaine Maag and Gregory Acs, “The Financial Consequences of Marriage for Cohabiting Couples with Children,” (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute, September 2015.)   http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/2000366-The-Financial-Consequences-of-Marriage-for-Cohabiting-Couples-with-Children%20.pdf  

W. Bradford Wilcox, Joseph P. Price and Angela Rachidi, “Marriage, Penalized”: Does Social-Welfare Policy Affect Family Formation?” (Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute and Institute for Family Studies, 2016). https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IFS-HomeEconReport-2016-Final-072616.pdf

Spencer Rand, “The Real Marriage Penalty: How Welfare Law Discourages Marriage Despite Public Policy Statements to the Contrary—and What can be done about it.” University of the District of Columbia Law Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2015, pp. 93-143. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2685206

Robert Rector, “How Welfare Undermines Marriage and What to Do About it,” (Washington DC: The Heritage Foundation, 2014). http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/11/how-welfare-undermines-marriage-and-what-to-do-about-it

A Critique of the Critique of the Critics of Amoris Laetitia

Austin Ivereigh has another critique of the critics of Amoris Laetitia. This time, he tells them they should look at concrete cases. In case they can’t think of any, he supplies one. (I utilize the Fr. Z protocol of placing my own commentary in color.) austin-ivereigh

To take an obvious example, a woman abandoned by her abusive husband who remarries to provide for her children might be in the same legal category as the philandering playboy who ditches his wife for a younger model, but no one could claim that both are in the same moral category.  Ah, that distinction between legal and moral. 

Imagine that the woman in the first case, over time, experienced a radical conversion in her life, and is today an active member of the church community. I remember when I appeared before a tribunal seeking an annulment. I was asked, “are you a practicing Catholic?” I said, thinking myself clever, “That is what this hearing will decide.” Father was not amused. “Are you going to Mass?” “Yes, Father,” says I. So much for cleverness. Let us suppose she cannot, for technical reasons, obtain an annulment (these are rare cases), and the first husband has long since remarried.

Apply Canon 915, and she is an adulterer obstinately persisting in sin who must be barred not just from the sacraments but from taking part in the life of the Church as a reader or catechist. But, you just said she is an “active member of the church community.”  One has to be a reader or catechist to be an “active” member? 

At no point does Amoris say – as Burke puts it – “that’s all right, go ahead, and you can live that way and still receive the Sacraments.” It says that many such cases require an individual discernment because they cannot simply be lumped together as ‘adultery.’ But wait: she is having sex with someone to whom she is not validly married: what is that, if not adultery? 

What Amoris says is that a pastor approved by his bishop should arrange for, in effect, a long retreat involving an examination of conscience, a facing-up to truth, a light-and-shadows discernment, applying the truths of Catholic doctrine on indissolubility and the Eucharist to this particular, unique, concrete situation. Really? Where, Austin, does it say that? I don’t remember Amoris proposing a new procedure. Wouldn’t that amount to a new round of legalism? But I digress.

dustbowl-motherAs it happens, my father once told me about a case very much like this. In his Polish coal mining/farming community in Southern Ohio, he knew a woman with many children whose husband had abandoned the family. My father: “The priest made it so she could get married again.”  I didn’t think to ask him what the priest did, but I assume that back in the 1930’s or thereabouts, he helped her get an annulment.

What I did ask my father was, “Why did she want to get married again?” My father looked at me like I had lost my mind. “She couldn’t make it on her own.” Alot of small children. A farm. Grinding poverty to begin with. No social assistance state. No employment opportunities for mothers.

The priest accompanied her through the annulment process.

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Cardinal Burke at work.
cardinal-carraffa
Cardinal Carraffa, founder of the JPII Institute on Marriage and the Family

Our poor moderns imagine they are the first ones to think of these cases, the first ones to find humane and truly moral solutions to them. It strains the imagination to think that a canon lawyer of Cardinal Burke’s stature has never considered any concrete cases. Cardinal Carraffa, another of the Four Cardinals, was the founding president of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. He has no doubt, considered numerous difficult cases. Rather than find ways to redefine terms to accommodate modern life, he chose to teach the fullness of the Catholic faith on marriage.

This is the essential point that the redefiners of doctrine refuse to face: the solution to our problems is to teach the Catholic faith. As St. Paul said to Timothy, “preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.”  (2 Tim 4:2)

So what if it is currently out of season?

No Ideologue Zone

I posted a question on my Facebook page yesterday.

Pro-life friends: Suppose a woman is raped and impregnated. She keeps her baby. Should the father have parental rights? Why or why not? Have any of you encountered this situation?

 A friend of mine was recently elected to a state legislature. He wrote to

depressed-young-woman
An Anguishing Question

me and told me they were considering legislation on this subject, and did I know of anything written about this. Well, no, I didn’t. So I posted the above, thinking we would get a good discussion.

And indeed, we did. No one attacked anyone else. Most people had strong opinions. Many people raised considerations that others had not thought of. The analytically-inclined came up with general principles and supplied reasons. The practioners came up with tough cases, and individual circumstances with lots of detailed countervailing circumstances. A few people had experience with laws in other states. Someone pointed us to a set of model legislation. Everyone was polite and respectful.
civil-conversationchallenge
Civil Conversation: a No-Ideologue Zone

This is what can happen when we are genuinely trying to solve a problem, rather than trying to score points against an opponent. This question defies easy answers, and requires that someone, somewhere along the line, exercise some judgment and discernment.

I do believe my friend learned what he hoped to learn from the discussion. Hooray for open conversation. It can be done.

 

Introducing Dr. J’s Blog

I write for numerous publications. I write for the Ruth Institute, the organization I founded. I’ve written 5 books, contributed to many more, and have written numerous academic articles. Why a personal blog?

This is where I will ruminate anything that interests me, whether it is connected with the Ruth Institute or not. I hope to foster a healthy discussion about marriage, family, and human sexuality, as well as the political, economic, cultural and religious influences on the family. Join me.