Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Quote of the Day

“Tribulations, if we bear them patiently for the love of God, appear bitter at first, but they grow sweet, when one gets accustomed to the taste.”  
--St. Philip Neri

Friday, May 15, 2015

Quote of the Day

"The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way....We share in the merits and joy of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart."

--Pope Francis

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Another Earthquake in Nepal

As most of us know, the densely populated Himalayan country of Nepal was struck by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on April 25, killing at least 8,000 people and leaving more than one million survivors homeless. Now, just this morning, only seventeen days later, Nepal has suffered another major earthquake, this one magnitude 7.3. I don't know what the odds are of two seventh-magnitude earthquakes striking the same location less than three weeks apart, but I don't think I've ever heard of this happening before. There is considerable evidence (widely touted by creationists, and largely ignored by evolutionists) that the Himalayan mountains themselves are the result of a tremendous collision between two large tectonic plates during the Great Flood of Genesis. Now the Indian plate is slowly pushing northward over time into the larger main Asian plate, and occasional bumps and rough spots in this process can trigger earthquakes in the region. I also know that India and Pakistan, the two powerful rival nations of South Asia, both have nuclear weapons and occasionally perform underground nuclear tests, especially when they are preparing for war, which can also trigger earthquakes in the Himalayas. I'm not sure what the causes of these two particular earthquakes were, but since I'm not aware of any nuclear testing activities or heightened hostility between India and Pakistan at the moment, I will for now assume natural causes were responsible for these two events.

Although I felt several tremors when I was growing up in California and experienced the magnitude 5.9 quake that shook Virginia on August 23, 2011 at my home more than 100 miles from the epicenter, I have been blessed so far to have never directly experienced a truly destructive earthquake. I can only imagine the gut-wrenching situation in which the people of Nepal now find themselves and what they must be going through at this moment, having lost homes and loved ones just weeks ago, and now with their lives and nerves having been shattered yet again while recovery and rebuilding efforts from the first quake had only just begun. Let's keep the victims of this rare double earthquake in our prayers and compassion and do what we can to help them. Thankfully, Catholic Relief Services has responded to the initial disaster with its accustomed timely, well-organized and professional approach to humanitarian relief, and the agency is now redoubling its efforts to address the latest crisis. I cannot recommend their work highly enough, and I encourage all readers who are able to do so to donate to CRS earthquake relief.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Quote of the Day

"The exodus experience is paradigmatic of the Christian life, particularly in the case of those who have embraced a vocation of special dedication to the Gospel. This calls for a constantly renewed attitude of conversion and transformation, an incessant moving forward, a passage from death to life like that celebrated in every liturgy, an experience of passover. From the call of Abraham to that of Moses, from Israel’s pilgrim journey through the desert to the conversion preached by the prophets, up to the missionary journey of Jesus which culminates in his death and resurrection, vocation is always a work of God. He leads us beyond our initial situation, frees us from every enslavement, breaks down our habits and our indifference, and brings us to the joy of communion with him and with our brothers and sisters. Responding to God’s call, then, means allowing him to help us leave ourselves and our false security behind, and to strike out on the path which leads to Jesus Christ, the origin and destiny of our life and our happiness."

--Pope Francis

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Reflection for Today

"'The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep' (John 10:11). While Jesus was saying these words, the Apostles did not realize that he was referring to himself. Not even his beloved Apostle John knew it. He understood on Calvary, at the foot of the Cross, when he saw Jesus silently giving up his life for 'his sheep.' When the time came for John and the other Apostles to assume this same mission, they then remembered his words. They realized that they would be able to fulfill their mission only because he had assured them that he himself would be working among them."

--St. John Paul II, October 16, 2003

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Quote of the Day

"The Apostles, who saw with their own eyes the Risen Christ, could not keep silent about their extraordinary experience. He had revealed himself to them so that the truth of his resurrection could reach everyone through their witness. And the Church has the duty to prolong this mission, every baptized person is called to give witness, with their words and with their lives, that Jesus is risen, that He is alive and present among us. We all are called to give witness that Jesus is alive! We can ask ourselves: who is the witness? The witness is one who has seen, who remembers and who recounts. To see, to remember and to tell are the three verbs that describes the identity and mission....

"May Mary, our Mother, sustain us through Her intercession, so that we can become, with our limitations, but with the grace of faith, witnesses of the Risen Lord, bringing to the people who we find the Easter gifts of joy and peace."

--Pope Francis

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Global Warming Is a Hoax

Deep down I have felt and believed for a number of years now that the ongoing global warming hysteria, much like the Darwinian theory of evolution, was a convenient, politically correct, money-driven and agenda-driven scientific hoax. Now my hunch has been confirmed by the compelling new research of a former U.S. government insider named John Casey, a retired NASA scientist and well-respected climate change expert. In his recently released book entitled Dark Winter, Casey debunks the entire global warming hypothesis using NASA weather and climate data that actually indicate a worldwide cooling trend in recent years, and he convincingly demonstrates that fluctuations in solar activity are the leading cause of global climate change. Furthermore, Casey’s book blows the lid off a disturbing conspiracy by corrupt U.S. government officials, corporate CEOs and global warming “experts” to discredit the truth of his findings while fostering the myth of a dramatic and irreversible increase in global temperatures fueled by increasing carbon emissions, also known as the “runaway greenhouse effect,” for their own profit to the tune of $22 billion a year.

Based on my own research in recent years, I have come to the conviction that man-made carbon dioxide emissions play only a minor role in affecting Earth's climate, while changes in solar activity and the sunspot cycle are in fact the leading cause of climate change over periods of decades and centuries. Furthermore, as an amateur weather and climate observer, it has dawned on me that the noticeable and undeniable slight warming trend we experienced in the first decade of this century reached its peak in 2010 and has been followed by an equally noticeable and undeniable, if perhaps a bit sharper, cooling trend over the last few years. Nor is mine an isolated observation: faced with extremely precise and reliable meteorological and climatological data from our network of highly advanced Earth-orbiting weather and climate satellites, many honest professional climate scientists around the world are now candidly acknowledging the “inconvenient truth” of a recent drop in average global temperatures (my apologies to Al Gore for stealing his favorite catchphrase) and openly challenging the once-sacrosanct global warming dogma. Casey’s research also confirms what I have intuitively come to realize and understand regarding the seemingly complex science of climate change.

Thanks to a thorough brainwashing by several decades’ worth of human-induced global warming nonsense at a time when the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is the highest it has ever been, this unexpected phenomenon of global cooling has caught most of us completely off guard. There was a somewhat humorous news blurb in the March/April issue of the Crusade last year (a magazine of America Needs Fatima and the Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property) about global warming scientists in Antarctica who had gotten stuck in ice that was thicker than they had expected, delaying their return to the inhabited continents. Newsmax ran a story last summer about the first six months of 2014 being the coolest first half of a year for the U.S. so far this century, with recorded temperatures hovering just one-tenth of a degree above the twentieth-century average. Also last summer, a related Newsmax story mentioned the interesting fact that Death Valley, California, the hottest place in the country, was experiencing an unusually cool summer: in fact, on August 3, the high temperature there was only 87 degrees Fahrenheit, the lowest high for that date since 1915. And then there has been my personal experience of cooler weather here in the southern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Last summer was noticeably cooler than average, with high temperatures mainly in the upper 60s to middle 80s, and a few days in July with highs of just 60 to 65 degrees (mid 70s to mid 90s being more typical readings for midsummer), while we broke multiple record lows across the state this past winter, which was much colder than average for this area, and so far this spring has been the coolest since I have lived here, with the trees still 90 percent bare as of mid-April.

As Casey demonstrates in his book, NASA weather, climate and solar activity data show that while Earth did undergo a slight (.35 degree) warming trend from 1979 to 1998, our planet has been experiencing a general but unmistakable cooling trend since 1998; these trends parallel a general but unmistakable rise and decline in the solar sunspot cycle over the same period of time. According to Casey, the sun has recently entered a multi-decadal phase of reduced activity that astrophysicists call the solar minimum, which is characterized by an unusual scarcity of sunspots; the last such phase occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s, resulting in severe winters around the world. Although the reasons for the intriguing link and how it works are still shrouded in mystery, it is nonetheless a well-established historical and scientific fact that, generally speaking, more sunspots always result in warmer weather for the Earth as a whole, while fewer sunspots always result in cooler weather. Based on this information, Casey predicts that worldwide temperatures will dip somewhat below their twentieth-century average for the next few decades as the current solar minimum runs its course.

In short, all the hard scientific data and my own rather limited observations indicate that our planet has now entered a cooling down phase, in blatant contradiction and defiance of the shrill claims of global warming alarmists. So much for the wild-eyed predictions of a catastrophic increase in global temperatures that will do away with polar ice and submerge the Florida peninsula if we don’t act now to drastically reduce our carbon emissions. Such claims can now be safely relegated to the dustbin of scientific history alongside Ptolemy’s epicycles, Martian canals, and spontaneous generation. Human-induced global warming having now been exposed for the hoax that it is, it would be wise to begin making preparations for the next few decades of cooler weather.

Copyright © 2015 Justin D. Soutar. All rights reserved.

P.S. My appetite for a truthful alternative to the global warming nonsense having now been whetted, I eagerly look forward to reading Casey’s book cover to cover. Stay tuned for my review of Dark Winter. In the meantime, additional interesting facts about the author, the compelling scientific basis for his claims, and the conspiracy by certain government officials, corporate CEOs and global warming “experts” to discredit the truth of his findings can be found here:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Faced with the tragic events of human history we can feel crushed at times, asking ourselves, 'Why?' Humanity’s evil can appear in the world like an abyss, a great void: empty of love, empty of goodness, empty of life.  And so we ask: how can we fill this abyss?  For us it is impossible; only God can fill this emptiness that evil brings to our hearts and to human history.  It is Jesus, God made man, who died on the Cross and who fills the abyss of sin with the depth of his mercy."

--Pope Francis

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter Reflection

Women at the Empty Tomb, Fra Angelico (ca. 1440)
 "Easter is the feast of the new creation. Jesus is risen and dies no more. He has opened the door to a new life, one that no longer knows illness and death. He has taken mankind up into God himself. 'Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God', Saint Paul says in the First Letter to the Corinthians (15:50). On the subject of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection, the Church writer Tertullian in the third century was bold enough to write: 'Rest assured, flesh and blood, through Christ you have gained your place in heaven and in the Kingdom of God' (CCL II, 994). A new dimension has opened up for mankind. Creation has become greater and broader. Easter Day ushers in a new creation....

"Jesus rises from the grave. Life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies. The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and himself becomes God’s pure light. But this applies not only to him, not only to the darkness of those days. With the resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew. He draws all of us after him into the new light of the resurrection and he conquers all darkness. He is God’s new day, new for all of us."

--Benedict XVI, Homily at Easter Vigil, April 7, 2012

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Reflection for Holy Thursday

Today is Holy Thursday, the sacred day on which we commemorate Jesus' institution of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood and give thanks to our loving God for the abundant graces he so generously showers upon us through these two sacraments of the Church. Today, April 2, also marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of Saint John Paul II. In the Gospel reading for tonight's Mass of the Lord's Supper, it says of Jesus, "having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (Jn 13:1). These words can be fittingly applied to John Paul II as well. He was such a Christ-like pope who generously gave of himself and spent himself for the good of the Church and the world. He was truly a loving father to all of us who loved us right to the very end--and now he is in Heaven praying and interceding for us.

In honor of this holy day and this great champion of our faith, I would like to offer for reflection a brief passage from one of his final written works, the book Rise, Let Us Be on our Way (Warner Books, 2004), which offers a beautiful and intensely personal teaching on the vocation, ministry, and responsibilities of a Catholic bishop. This wonderful book, written from the heart of a man of deep faith, courageous hope, and fatherly love, offers an unforgettable glimpse into the soul of John Paul II. Marked by the profound spiritual intensity, penetrating theological vision, and untiring pastoral solicitude for which he was so well known, it is a  lost treasure that deserves to be rediscovered. The following passage is taken from pages 215--216:

"When 'His hour' had come, Jesus said to those who were with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, to Peter, James, and John, his closest disciples: 'Rise, let us be on our way' (Mark 14:42). Not only must He 'be on his way' to fulfill His Father's will: they too must go with Him.

"That invitation, 'Rise, let us be on our way,' is addressed particularly to us bishops, His chosen friends. Even if these words indicate a time of trial, great effort, and a painful cross, we must not allow ourselves to give way to fear. They are also words of peace and joy, the fruit of faith. On another occasion, to the same three disciples, Jesus said: 'Rise, and do not be afraid!' (Matt. 17:7). God's love does not impose burdens on us that we cannot carry, nor make demands of us that we cannot fulfill. For whatever He asks of us, He provides the help that is needed.

"I say this from the place to which the love of Christ Our Savior has led me, asking of me that I should leave my native land so as to bring forth fruit elsewhere through his grace--fruit that will last (John 15:16). Echoing the words of our Lord and Master, I, too, say to each one of you, dear brothers in the episcopate: 'Rise, let us be on our way!' Let us go forth full of trust in Christ. He will accompany us as we journey toward the goal that He alone knows."

A blessed Triduum and Easter to everyone!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the Book of Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.

"This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be “holy” for us too!"

--Pope Francis

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reflection for Palm Sunday

Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, Pietro Lorenzetti (1320)
"The ultimate goal of Jesus' 'ascent' [to Jerusalem] is his self-offering on the Cross, which supplants the old sacrifices; it is the ascent that the Letter to the Hebrews describes as going up, not to a sanctuary made by human hands, but to heaven itself, into the presence of God (9:24). This ascent into God's presence leads via the Cross--it is the ascent toward 'loving to the end' (cf. Jn 13:1), which is the real mountain of God."

--Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth--Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (Ignatius Press, 2011), p. 2

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Boehner the Traitor

(This article originally appeared on the Intellectual Conservative March 16, 2015 at http://intellectualconservative.com/boehner-the-traitor/ )

House Speaker John Boehner is a traitor to the U.S. Constitution and the American people.

By agreeing to fund ObamaCare as well as President Obama’s Executive Amnesty for illegal immigrants—and by shamefully attacking his Tea Party Republican colleagues who refuse to go along with such travesties—Speaker Boehner has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has abandoned all pretense of being a Tea Party leader (if he ever was in the first place) and that he is now simply part of the corrupt Washington, D.C. political establishment.

Like any well-trained politician, Speaker Boehner talks a great game right before and after an election. But when the time comes to get down to business and actually start delivering on his campaign promises—which would naturally entail a nasty, all-out confrontation with the Obama administration—Boehner instead shows his true colors as a remarkably compliant Obama lackey, a politically correct Republican In Name Only whose chief function is to guard and protect the disastrous, hated, and ultimately unsustainable Washington status quo.

Instead of courageously standing up to President Obama and his Democratic cronies and putting a stop to their malicious and unconstitutional Big Government agenda as he pledged to do and as he ought to do, Boehner simply rolls over and gives our corrupt and lawless Chief Executive exactly what he wants, when he wants it, no questions asked and no strings attached. Furthermore, he seems determined to blackmail as many of his Tea Party colleagues as possible into abandoning their principles, turning their backs on their constituents, and jumping aboard the establishment bandwagon.

At the ballot box last November, we the American people made it unmistakably clear that we are fed up with the moral, fiscal and legal insanity known as “business as usual” in Washington. We elected the largest number of Republican senators and representatives to Congress in seventy years. There are now more Republicans in Congress than before most of us were born, including more Tea Party Republicans than ever before. By overwhelmingly embracing Republican and Tea Party candidates, we the voters sent a powerful message to our elected representatives that we want them to reject President Obama’s radically secularist, unconstitutional, Big-Government socialist agenda and start getting our country back on track in accord with the vision of the Founders.

As Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner’s official role is to represent the American people in that house of Congress and to promote policies that will advance the best interests of this country as a whole. He should be leading the charge against President Obama’s bullying tactics, holding him accountable for his egregious abuses of power. He should be rallying his Republican colleagues to defund and repeal ObamaCare without delay. Instead, Boehner is doing just the opposite: enabling the sinister establishment agenda to progress essentially unhindered, allowing the president’s impeachable offenses to slide as if they never occurred, and bullying his principled colleagues—true statesmen and women, true servants of the people—who rightly refuse to submit to this madness.

In short, Speaker Boehner has become the Obama administration’s Trojan horse in the House. He is a creature of the corrupt Washington establishment; a convenient pawn of the major corporate interests and lobby groups that make the establishment go round. His job is to keep the House functioning effectively under establishment control—i.e., to ensure that it does not throw up any serious roadblocks that would halt the progress of President Obama’s agenda.

Millions of Americans are rightly disappointed and angry with Speaker Boehner’s recent actions, which make a mockery of the true leadership our country so desperately needs at this critical time. Boehner has betrayed the trust of his constituents, ignored the U.S. Constitution, and acted in a manner totally unworthy of an honorable elected representative. For these reasons, he should no longer serve as Speaker of the House.

Make no mistake: Boehner must be held accountable for his immoral and corrupt behavior. We the people did not give Republicans full control of Congress just to have a single establishment loser effectively nullify that control. We must make it clear to Mr. Boehner that his unjust bullying tactics on behalf of President Obama will not be tolerated—that he must either change course or lose his job as Speaker of the House. And if he refuses to change course, we must then demand that our elected representatives replace this establishment career politician with a principled Tea Party leader who will stand up to the reckless Obama administration and facilitate good government on behalf of the American people.

Our country has had enough of Speaker Boehner and his unfortunate policy of subservience and appeasement to President Obama. It’s time to put a true leader in his place.

Copyright © 2015 Justin D. Soutar.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Lent is a favorable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like him. This happens whenever we hear the word of God and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what we receive: the Body of Christ. In this body there is no room for the indifference which so often seems to possess our hearts. For whoever is of Christ, belongs to one body, and in him we cannot be indifferent to one another. 'If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy' (1 Cor 12:26)."

--Pope Francis

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Saint Who Was Stolen Twice

Today is the feast of Saint Patrick (c. 381--456), the legendary Apostle of Ireland and one of the world's best-known Catholic saints. He is right up there with Saint Nicolas in terms of the traditional legends and folklore surrounding his life, the permanence of his impact on Christian culture, and the ubiquity of his popularity among the general public. In fact, as with Saint Nicolas, the legends and culture that have grown up around Saint Patrick sometimes tend to obscure the actual historical facts of his life.

Patrick was not native to Ireland, nor was he even of Irish ancestry. He was born to Scottish parents in pagan Britain, which was part of the declining Roman Empire. At the age of sixteen, he was captured by Irish pirates and sold into slavery in predominantly pagan Ireland, where he worked as a shepherd in captivity for six years. During this period, he underwent a profound change of life and converted to Christianity. He escaped back to Britain, where he heard God calling him to bring the true faith to the Irish people. He was ordained a priest and consecrated a bishop, and then returned to Ireland as a missionary. So we can really say that the Irish stole Patrick twice--first they stole his freedom, and then they stole his heart.

For the next thirty years, Patrick labored unceasingly, often amid great difficulties, to establish the Catholic Church in his adopted country by preaching and teaching, baptizing, ordaining priests and bishops, and founding churches. He was a man of deep faith, profound humility, constant prayer, and great penance to whom God gave the gift of working miracles. According to Fr. Albert J. Hebert, whose research is confined to reliable sources, Saint Patrick raised thirty-three people from the dead during his lifetime. By the time of his death, more than half of Ireland was Catholic. The scope of his monumental achievement is still remarkable today. Saint Patrick built some 700 churches, ordained 5,000 priests, and consecrated 350 bishops. He laid the foundation for Irish Catholicism so well that Ireland has remained a Catholic country for some 1,600 years--more than a millennium and a half. Although today the Emerald Isle is under attack by the forces of radical secularism, pockets of devout Irish Catholics ensure that the true faith will continue to live on in this great country for the foreseeable future.

Saint Patrick was truly one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the Church. It is plainly obvious that Divine Providence raised him up at that particular time and place to convert Ireland to the Catholic faith. A great saint like this should make us all proud to be Catholic. Yet he is just one of the best known of hundreds and hundreds of saints throughout the 2,000-year history of the Church. It is worth taking time to read at least part of the saint's own autobiography, the Confession of Saint Patrick, which has survived to our own day and which offers an unforgettable glimpse into the soul of this great man. I have just been blessed to stumble upon this forgotten classic of ancient Christian literature, which deserves to be rediscovered.

Saint Patrick, pray for us!

A happy Saint Patrick's Day to everyone!