Thursday, October 7, 2021

Quote of the Day

"I would like to recall the importance and the beauty of the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Reciting the Hail Mary, we are led to contemplate the mysteries of Jesus, to reflect, that is, on the central moments of his life, so that, as for Mary and for St. Joseph, He may be the center of our thoughts, our attention and our actions."

--Pope Francis, General Audience, May 1, 2013

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Election Watch 2021: The Battle for Virginia

by Justin Soutar

As some readers of this blog may be aware, I enjoy writing about off-year and midterm elections here in the United States. New Jersey and Virginia are the only two states in the country that elect their governors every four years in the year following a presidential election. Their gubernatorial election campaigns typically generate a fair amount of national media and public interest because both the pre-election surveys of likely voters and the actual election outcomes tend to offer a glimpse of the issues and concerns that matter most to Americans in general, as well as a preview of the results that may be expected in the nationwide midterm elections the following year. My adopted home state of the Commonwealth of Virginia is particularly interesting to watch because it is one of a handful of "bellwether" states whose election outcome offers a reliable indicator of the general direction the nation is heading. The fact that no governor of Virginia may serve two consecutive terms, which means the contest for governor is always an open race, only adds to the interest level.

Formerly a southern Republican stronghold, Virginia has been occupied by Democratic agents from the Clinton-Obama-Biden political cartel in recent years, who have poured millions of advertising dollars into the state to win it for Barack Obama in 2008 and to take control of all five statewide offices--governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and both U.S. Senate offices--from 2013 to the present. It's been a long eight years under Democratic Governors Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam as their corrupt and tyrannical administrations have imposed crushing tax burdens on Virginians, increased the number and complexity of business regulations, supported ObamaCare and the HHS mandate, imposed unconstitutional and economically damaging anti-COVID mandates, shoved gender ideology and critical race theory into the public schools, attacked our religious freedom, further liberalized our abortion laws, and even attempted to legalize infanticide. Furthermore, McAuliffe and Northam have given scandal by claiming to be Catholic while advancing public policies that violate natural law and Church teaching on the sanctity of life, marriage, and religious liberty.

A year ago at this time, few Virginians knew who Glenn Youngkin was. This unfamiliar contender for the office of governor shrewdly adapted the Donald Trump presidential campaign model of a successful businessman and political outsider taking on the corrupt establishment to his own primary campaign for the Virginia governorship, and it worked: by May, he had sufficiently overcome his lack of name recognition to secure the Republican nomination for governor. Since his Democratic opponent and former governor Terry McAuliffe galloped into the race with huge name recognition and fundraising advantages, it was no surprise that he was far ahead of Youngkin in the polls for months. Despite his considerable handicaps, however, Youngkin steadily gained momentum across the Commonwealth, and by late August, much to the alarm of the political establishment, he was actually tied in the polls with McAuliffe. But the momentum didn't stop there. On September 8, a WPA Intelligence survey showed Youngkin running slightly ahead of McAuliffe, 48 to 46 percent. The latest poll by the University of Mary Washington, released yesterday, showed Youngkin leading McAuliffe by a healthy margin, 48 to 43 percent.

This steady upward trajectory from obscurity to front-runner is remarkable considering that McAuliffe's campaign has been outspending Youngkin's campaign by a significant amount throughout the race. The fact that the Republican gubernatorial ticket includes the first African-American female candidate for lieutenant governor, Winsome Sears, and the first Cuban-American candidate for attorney general, Jason Miyares, has played a role in this climb out of the doldrums, as these two candidates are certainly pulling some minority voters away from the Democratic Party of Virginia. More significantly, however, Youngkin's surprise ascendancy indicates that increasing numbers of Virginia's likely voters are losing confidence in the unprincipled leadership of McAuliffe and Northam and are rejecting the radical liberal agenda of the incumbent Democratic Party. These two governors have been profoundly out of touch with the daily problems and concerns, not to mention the traditional religious and moral values, of the silent majority of ordinary Virginians. People want an honest and trustworthy governor who will truly advance the common good, not an establishment politician who will exploit the office for personal gain.

It looks like we're in for a repeat of 2009, when New Jersey and Virginia elected Republican governors one year after Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama carried both states. In fact, to the surprise of many observers, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell won Virginia with 59 percent of the vote. This landslide rejection of the party controlling both houses of Congress and the White House by Virginia voters was a foretaste of the 2010 midterms, when Republicans regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, expanded their strength in the Senate, and picked up many more state governorships. Virginians' mounting dissatisfaction with their Democratic governor reflects the increasing disapproval of American citizens with their illegitimate president Joe Biden, who stole the White House from President Donald Trump through massive organized vote fraud in violation of the U.S. Constitution and federal and state election law. They've already had more than enough of the Biden administration's executive overreach, fiscal recklessness, monetary inflation, tax hikes, pork-barrel spending, immigration irresponsibility, abortion expansion, vaccine mandates, and radical secularism. They're increasingly realizing that Biden is a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party whose treasonous agenda serves the interests of Red China, not those of the American people. 

If New Jersey and Virginia voters elect Republican governors by substantial margins in November 2021, then it is highly likely that Republicans will win many victories across the nation in November 2022. The Democratic political establishment knows this and is very fearful of losing its grip on power, which is why George Soros recently donated $250,000 to Terry McAuliffe's campaign for governor, and why Youngkin signs are being vandalized and stolen across the Commonwealth. McAuliffe and his Democratic cronies will use all the cash they can haul in and every dirty trick in the book from mudslinging to vote fraud to try to keep Glenn Youngkin out of the Governor's Mansion in Richmond, but their efforts seem doomed to failure. The citizens of the Old Dominion have apparently made up their minds to elect a Republican leader who will put their interests first and govern in accordance with the state constitution and traditional values grounded in natural law. If this is any indication of a national trend, tens of millions of American voters will follow suit next year, resulting in a "red wave" election that will return the U.S. Senate and House and other state governorships to the Republican Party.

In conclusion, it must be candidly observed that Virginia and the United States remain perilously divided. While great leaders such as Trump and Youngkin may gain large followings and unite millions of people in support of their philosophy, agenda, and accomplishments, a large minority of their people will remain their bitter enemies for ideological reasons. Virginia played a leading role in the founding of the United States of America on the basis of common religious and moral philosophy and values that are rejected and attacked by today's adherents of radical secularism. We need to pray for the conversion of these militant secularists in the Democratic Party, Hollywood, Big Tech, academia, the courts, and elsewhere who threaten to drag our country into a second civil war and to destroy our traditional American society and culture. May such a catastrophe be averted, and may we return to being "one nation under God" before it's too late.

Here's to Glenn Youngkin as the next Governor of Virginia!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Quote of the Day

"Do we remember our roots? Those of our parents, our grandparents? And are we connected to our grandparents, who are a treasure? 'But they are old…' No, no: they give you lifeblood, you must go to them so as to grow and to go forward... 'Everything that blooms on the tree comes from what it has underground'. You can grow to the extent that you are united with your roots: your strength comes from there. If you cut the roots, so that everything is new, new ideologies, this will lead you nowhere, it will not let you grow: you will end up badly."

--Pope Francis, General Audience, September 22, 2021

Monday, September 13, 2021

Quote of the Day

"We should not bear it with bad grace if the answer to our prayer is long delayed. Rather let us because of this show great patience and resignation. For He delays for this reason: that we may offer Him a fitting occasion of honoring us through His divine providence."

--Saint John Chrysostom

Monday, August 16, 2021

The Night Sky: An Endangered Species

by Justin Soutar

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.”
–Psalm 19:2

“Lead me on kindly Light of Truth, amid the encircling gloom…”
--Saint John Henry Newman, 1833

“Today we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars of the sky are no longer visible. Is this not an image of the problems caused by our version of enlightenment? With regard to material things, our knowledge and our technical accomplishments are legion, but what reaches beyond, the things of God and the question of good, we can no longer identify.”
--Benedict XVI, April 8, 2012

The famous nineteenth-century poem, “The Pillar of the Cloud,” better known by its hymn title, “Lead, Kindly Light,” was authored by a brilliant and influential young Anglican priest-scholar during a twofold physical and spiritual journey. Father John Henry Newman, who was sailing northwestward across the Mediterranean Sea from Italy to France in June of 1833, had also embarked on an earnest quest for the fullness of Christian truth. When his orange boat was becalmed for a week in the Strait of Bonifacio, he penned these simple, evocative lines, humbly beseeching the gentle light of divine truth to guide him one step at a time through the darkness of doubt, uncertainty, and error. God heard and answered Newman’s prayer, leading him gradually to the fullness of divinely revealed truth in the Catholic Church.

Christianity and Catholicism teach that God created “the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) out of nothing, ex nihilo, and entrusted to humanity, his masterpiece, the responsibility to develop and care for his creation. The importance of protecting nature was frequently stressed by Pope Benedict XVI, who installed solar panels on the roof of the Paul VI Hall in 2008, and it has been a dominant theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate, discussed in detail in his groundbreaking 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ (Praise Be to You). For sincere Christians and Catholics, faith in the Creator of nature and good stewardship of the natural environment go hand in hand, and care for creation is both an individual and a communal responsibility.

In his important 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), Benedict XVI, echoing his predecessors, heartily affirmed the basic goodness of the scientific progress and technological advancements that have marked the Industrial and Digital Ages. At the same time, in continuity with recent papal thinking, Benedict soberly observed that scientific and technological development detached from fundamental religious and moral values inevitably has destructive consequences for humanity and the natural environment. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis rightly criticizes the many forms of environmental degradation and pollution with which unscrupulous human beings have flooded the earth since the dawn of the Industrial Age, driven by a lust for profit that trumped concern for our common home.

One form of environmental contamination not mentioned in either encyclical (or, to this author’s knowledge, in any official Church document, for that matter) and generally overlooked today is light pollution. Since the invention of the long-lasting incandescent light bulb by American inventor Thomas Edison in 1878, electric lighting has become a ubiquitous and essential hallmark of modern civilization throughout the developed world and has become increasingly widespread in developing countries. During the past century and a half, the marvels of incandescent, fluorescent, and LED lighting have replaced candles, kerosene lamps, and gaslights as our primary light sources, making all aspects of human life and activity much easier and safer, especially during the nighttime hours.

Unfortunately, in recent decades, especially in North America, Europe, and Asia, the steady growth of artificial illumination at night has gradually deprived the great majority of Earth’s population of a sight our ancient forebears took for granted: the starry sky on a clear, moonless night. Our naked-eye view of the majestic heavens, unprecedentedly enhanced by sophisticated telescopes and cameras, is now increasingly threatened by our excessive and irresponsible use of electric lighting, particularly in urban and suburban areas.

Satellite cameras continuously monitoring our planet since the 1960s have candidly documented the rising number and intensity of artificial light sources across populated areas of the continents at night. Conversely, these satellites have revealed that locations across the globe that enjoy truly dark nighttime skies have been constantly shrinking and vanishing. Worse yet, more recent satellite photographs indicate that this phenomenon of ever-increasing light pollution has accelerated dramatically since 2010--even as human population growth in developed countries has been slackening during this time because of the culture of death—-due to the rapid spread and largely unregulated use of outdoor LED illumination.

In his infinite goodness and perfect wisdom, our loving Creator designed Earth’s atmosphere to be transparent to visible light, allowing us to explore from our home planet the vast and beautiful cosmos that he fashioned to surround it. In a truly dark rural location on a clear summer or winter night when the Moon is absent or less than half illuminated, the gentle glow of a star-spangled sky bisected by the delicate white ribbon of the Milky Way Galaxy is a marvelous sight to behold. The light from most of the 3,000 individual stars sprinkled across the firmament has taken anywhere from dozens to hundreds of years to reach our eyes because of their great distances from us; yet these are only our nearest neighbors in space. The Milky Way itself is visible to the unaided eye thanks to the combined light of many billions of stars so much further distant that they appear to form solid masses despite most of them being light-years apart from each other. Binoculars, telescopes, and megapixel CCD cameras allow us to penetrate much deeper into the universe and further back in time to see many more stars, as well as nebulae and other galaxies, as they appeared long ago.

The great medieval philosopher and theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote that human beings come to know about God through their senses. By seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting the amazing variety of good things God has created, we can learn something about the nature of their Creator. The intricate design, sheer diversity, and mutual interdependence of plant and animal life on Earth’s surface and in the rivers and oceans reveals to us God’s intelligence, wisdom and providence. While Scripture tells us that all aspects of creation manifest the glory of God, it says so most specifically of the heavens. And while a person can conceivably come to know God by seeing only what he has created on this Earth as well as the Sun and Moon, for so many of our contemporaries to go through their entire lives without ever witnessing the gentle light of the Creator’s celestial handiwork in a dark sky with their own eyes is a terrible impoverishment!

In far too many places in our country and the world today, more electric lighting is used than is necessary for the purposes it serves, and it is installed and utilized without any consideration for the cumulative side effects of artificial light emissions on humanity and the natural environment. This is especially true of the harsh and unfriendly LED lighting that has gradually invaded every nook and cranny of our nighttime lives from streetlights and car headlights to flashlights and solar lights within the past ten years, rightly hailed for its cheapness and energy efficiency. Apart from its aesthetic offensiveness to which we have been dulled by constant exposure and increasing evidence of its negative effects on human health, the major problem with this currently dominant form of artificial illumination is that most of it radiates strongly in the blue portion of the visible light spectrum. As professional and amateur astronomers are painfully aware, blue light scatters very easily throughout the atmosphere, rendering it the primary cause of the global light pollution disaster we now face. With the inexorable spread of “white” (i.e., blue-emitting) LED brilliance into rural areas, even the last remaining bastions of dark sky country are now at risk of being lost.

Regrettably, there is so little knowledge and awareness, let alone discussion and debate, among the general public on the issue of light pollution that it is not even on the radar screen of most local, state, and national policymakers. Until citizens are sufficiently informed and motivated to insist on legal protections for the vanishing treasure of the starry heavens, there will be no reason for our elected representatives at any level of government to enact direly needed artificial lighting emission regulations or to provide incentives for the general manufacture and installation of environmentally friendly lighting.

The principle of subsidiarity, a core tenet of Catholic social teaching, indicates that wherever possible, change for the better should begin at the grassroots level, one person at a time. Regardless of whether we live in an urban, suburban, or rural location, our individual choices and examples can contribute to either exacerbating or eradicating the modern plague of light pollution.

I live in the mountains of western Virginia where nighttime skies are still some of the darkest in the eastern half of the continental United States. Even here, however, within the past several years there has been a perceptible increase in artificial skyglow on the southern horizon caused mainly by gradual LED infiltration in the nearby small town. As a longtime amateur astronomer who has been concerned about this issue for many years, I decided to take a few simple measures to make my own home more dark-sky friendly.

The biggest offender on my premises was a heart-shaped rosary light on the east-facing wall of the house almost entirely made up of bright blue LEDs (the worst kind), which threw a lot of stray light into the eastern front yard and the sky above even with a substantial porch roof overhang. Rather than turn it off altogether, I tried applying an inch or two of masking tape to each of the 53 blue light bulbs. This dramatically cut the blue light emission into the yard while allowing the harmless red and nearly harmless orange bulbs to show up better, and the whole rosary light pattern is still clearly visible from half a mile away. This is a win-win situation as I can witness my Catholic faith and protect creation at the same time.

Another significant source of light pollution was the set of inexpensive solar-powered lights in my yard. A few years ago, I had purchased and installed twenty of these to illuminate the walkway leading from my driveway to the kitchen door. While observing the night sky one evening, I glanced over and was alarmed at the brilliant glow of bluish-white light they were collectively emitting in the western front yard. I quickly reduced their number to ten and subsequently lowered it to just six, which provided adequate illumination with much less light pollution.

Additionally, I have good old-fashioned 60-watt incandescent light bulbs in the two porch lights on the north and west sides of the house. Unlike fluorescents and LEDs, this traditional bulb type radiates mainly in the red portion of the visible light spectrum. Red light does not scatter, so it does not contribute to light pollution. However, incandescent bulbs do also emit quite a bit of yellow light, which scatters somewhat, so I decided not to use any 75 or 100-watt bulbs outside.

Finally, the emergency propane-run electric generator on the west side of the house has a little bright green light on the side to indicate that the unit is functioning properly. Green light is terrible for the night sky because it scatters nearly as much as blue light does, so I cut out a square piece of plastic from a one-gallon water bottle and attached it to the generator with masking tape. The green light is still easily seen at night but without unnecessary radiation into the yard.

The global epidemic of artificial light pollution is getting worse all the time, with fewer and fewer people able to see the star-spangled, Milky Way-strewn night sky as the Creator intended it to be seen, and very little is being done to address this problem. The good news is that, unlike some other forms of environmental contamination, light pollution is entirely reversible. The night sky may be a critically endangered species, but with a bit of common-sense research, planning, ingenuity, and legislation, it can and should be well preserved for current and future generations of humanity. This author makes the following recommendations for the United States:

1) All incorporated cities, metropolitan areas, towns, and counties throughout the nation should enact lighting ordinances to reduce and eliminate sources of excessive and poorly designed outdoor artificial illumination that contribute to light pollution at night. These emission regulations should be tailored to the specific needs of each community; for example, a densely populated urban area with severe light pollution will require far more stringent and detailed laws than a sparsely inhabited rural location that enjoys dark skies. These ordinances should restrict both the types and amount of outdoor artificial lighting installed and employed along public thoroughfares and in commercial, industrial, residential, and rural areas during nighttime hours. They should set target dates for full implementation that allow their communities sufficient time to make the necessary changes in outdoor lighting infrastructure. Finally, they should carry fines for noncompliance.

2) These outdoor lighting emission regulations should be most strict during—or could even only apply to—the fully dark hours of the night between evening and morning astronomical twilight, when the Sun’s light is completely absent from the sky and the faintest and most distant stars and galaxies are visible to the naked eye and through binoculars and telescopes. While astronomical darkness typically begins about two hours after sunset and ends about two hours before sunrise, this varies considerably with latitude and time of year, so lawmakers in each locality will need to consult accurate sunrise/sunset and astronomical darkness timetables to determine what portion of night the ordinance should be in effect during each part of the year. (Due to perpetual twilight, locations north of 50° north latitude, including Alaska, do not experience any astronomical darkness from mid-May through late July.)

3) By state law, the number of flashing blue lights on state police cars at night should be limited to four of 200 lumens each, with no more than two illuminated at any given moment.

4) By federal law, all LED, fluorescent, and other light bulbs and fixtures designed for outdoor use, whether manufactured here or imported from abroad, should be subject to spectral analysis before they reach the market to determine the colors of light they emit. Any bulb or fixture producing more than 500 lumens that radiates primarily in the green, blue and/or violet portions of the visible light spectrum should be banned or limited to indoor use only. This policy would eliminate most factory installed and aftermarket LED headlights in automobiles, semi-trucks, motorcycles, and ATVs, which are now major contributors to light pollution nationwide; it would also proscribe green and blue LED price signs at gas stations and holiday light strings consisting entirely of green, blue, violet, or white LEDs. Finally, this rule would require that green LED traffic and railroad signals either be dimmed slightly at night or replaced with another type of green bulb to reduce glare.

5) Congress and the president should reverse the legislative ban in effect since 2012 on the domestic manufacture of incandescent light bulbs. They should also enact legislation that includes tax incentives to encourage the domestic research and development of artificial outdoor lighting that is both dark-sky friendly and energy efficient.

6) Also by federal law, permanent zones of specially restricted outdoor lighting should include and surround each of our national parks, extending at least ten miles from their borders to protect the darkness of their skies.

The idea is to form an interlocking matrix of local, state, and federal outdoor lighting emission regulations that would effectively halt and reverse the raging pandemic of artificial light pollution. Regardless of whether they live in the inner city, the suburbs, a small town, or the countryside, all Americans who can see should have access to sufficiently dark skies that at least a few hundred stars are always visible on a clear night when the Moon is absent or less than half full.

It is no accident that the recent worldwide jump in visible light pollution has occurred at the same time, in the same places, and in the same proportion as the spiritual light of faith in God has been dimmed and extinguished in modern society. Indifference to the Creator and disrespect for his creation go hand in hand. As Benedict XVI wisely points out in the quote at the beginning of this article, the polluted night sky is merely a symptom of our version of enlightenment in which we are so dazzled by our own inventions and accomplishments that we can no longer see beyond them to the great religious and moral truths of our own existence or the origin, destiny, and meaning of the universe itself. The kindly light of divinely revealed truth has a difficult time penetrating the bubble of a radically secularized society and culture determined to navigate by human lights alone.

As believers in the perennial truths that an infinitely good and loving God created the cosmos and that human beings are stewards of creation, Catholics and other Christians should be at the forefront of a mass movement to restore, improve, and protect the visibility of the night sky in the United States and around the world. They should work together with people of goodwill everywhere to ensure that the open book of the Creator’s handiwork in the firmament above can be read by anyone with eyes to see. When that day finally comes, then the “kindly light of Truth” will have a chance to penetrate the darkness of error enshrouding the minds of so many more modern men and women, beckoning them to emerge from their self-constructed cocoons and embark on the fulfilling adventure of faith.

Copyright © 2021 Justin D. Soutar. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Quote of the Day

"The spirit of prayer gives back time to God, it steps away from the obsession of a life that is always lacking time, it rediscovers the peace of necessary things, and discovers the joy of unexpected gifts. Good guides in this are the two sisters Martha and Mary, spoken of in the Gospel we just heard: they learned from God the harmony of family rhythms: the beauty of celebration, the serenity of work, the spirit of prayer (cf. Luke 10:38-42). The visit of Jesus, whom they really loved, was their celebration. However, one day Martha learned that the work of hospitality, though important, is not everything, but that to listen to the Lord, as Mary did, was really the essential thing, the 'better part' of time. Prayer flows from listening to Jesus, from the reading of the Gospel."

--Pope Francis, General Audience, August 26, 2015

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Quote of the Day

"The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim 'to interfere in any way in the politics of States.' She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance, for a society that is attuned to man, to his dignity, to his vocation…Fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom (cf. Jn 8:32) and of the possibility of integral human development."

--Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, no. 9

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Quote of the Day

"This is called social friendship: to seek the common good. Social enmity destroys. A family is destroyed by enmity. A country is destroyed by enmity. The world is destroyed by enmity. And the biggest enmity is war. And today we see that the world is destroying itself with war because people are incapable of sitting down and talking. OK, let’s negotiate. What can we do in common? In what things are we not going to give in? But let’s not kill more people. When there is division, there is death, death in the soul because we are killing the capacity to unite. We are killing social friendship. And that’s what I ask of you today: be capable of creating social friendship."

--Pope Francis, Address to Young People in Cuba, September 20, 2015

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Pentecost Reflection

"Look at the apostles: they were alone that morning, alone and bewildered, cowering behind closed doors, living in fear and overwhelmed by their weaknesses, failings and their sins, for they had denied Christ. The years they had spent with Jesus had not changed them: they were no different than they had been. Then, they received the Spirit and everything changed: the problems and failings remained, yet they were no longer afraid of them, nor of any who would be hostile to them. They sensed comfort within and they wanted to overflow with the comfort of God. Before, they were fearful; now their only fear was that of not testifying to the love they had received. Jesus had foretold this: '[The Spirit] will testify on my behalf; you also are to testify' (Jn 15:26-27)."

--Pope Francis, Homily, May 23, 2021

Monday, April 5, 2021

Easter Reflection

"Galilee was an outpost: the people living in that diverse and disparate region were those farthest from the ritual purity of Jerusalem.  Yet that is where Jesus began his mission.  There he brought his message to those struggling to live from day to day, the excluded, the vulnerable and the poor.  There he brought the face and presence of God, who tirelessly seeks out those who are discouraged or lost, who goes to the very peripheries of existence, since in his eyes no one is least, no one is excluded.  The Risen Lord is asking his disciples to go there even now: he asks us to go to Galilee, to the real “Galilee” of daily life, the streets we travel every day, the corners of our cities.  There the Lord goes ahead of us and makes himself present in the lives of those around us, those who share in our day, our home, our work, our difficulties and hopes.  In Galilee we learn that we can find the Risen One in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the enthusiasm of those who dream and the resignation of those who are discouraged, in the smiles of those who rejoice and the tears of those who suffer, and above all in the poor and those on the fringes.  We will be amazed how the greatness of God is revealed in littleness, how his beauty shines forth in the poor and simple."


--Pope Francis, Homily at Easter Vigil Mass, April 3, 2021

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Triduum Reflection

"It does not occur to them [the Sanhedrin] that by mocking and striking Jesus, they are causing the destiny of the Suffering Servant to be literally fulfilled in him. Abasement and exaltation are mysteriously intertwined. As the one enduring blows, he is the Son of Man, coming in the cloud of concealment from God and establishing the kingdom of the Son of Man, the kingdom of the humanity that proceeds from God. 'Hereafter you will see...', Jesus had said in Matthew's account (26:64), in a striking paradox. Hereafter--something new is beginning. All through history, people look upon the disfigured face of Jesus, and there they recognize the glory of God."

--Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (Ignatius Press, 2011), p. 182

Friday, February 26, 2021

Quote of the Day

"We are subject to numerous temptations. Each of us knows the difficulties we have to face. And it is sad to note that, when faced with the ever-varying circumstances of our daily lives, there are voices raised that take advantage of pain and uncertainty; the only thing they aim to do is sow distrust. If the fruit of faith is charity – as Mother Teresa often used to say – then the fruit of distrust is apathy and resignation. Distrust, apathy and resignation: these are demons that deaden and paralyze the soul of a believing people. Lent is the ideal time to unmask these and other temptations, to allow our hearts to beat once more in tune with the vibrant heart of Jesus."

--Pope Francis, Homily, February 14, 2018

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Quote of the Day

"In the sick one finds Jesus, and in the loving care of those tending to the wounds of the neighbor, there is the way to meet Jesus. Those who take care of the little ones are on the side of God and defeat the culture of waste, which, on the contrary, prefers the powerful and deems the poor useless. Those who prefer the little ones proclaim a prophecy of life against the prophets of death of all time, even today, who discard people, discard children, the elderly, because they are not needed."

--Pope Francis, Homily, March 17, 2018

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Two Letters on the 2020 General Election

The following letter to then-Vice President Mike Pence was written by members of the Virginia House of Delegates, including my own Delegate, Ronnie R. Campbell (VA-24), and sent January 5, 2021:

*****

Dear Sir:

This letter is written to you by elected members of the Virginia General Assembly, notifying you that we hereby ask you to nullify the Certificate of Ascertainment of Presidential Electors issued by the governor of our state. Further, we request a stay of designation of any designation of Presidential Electors from our state until such time as a comprehensive forensic audit of the November 3, 2020, election has taken place to determine the actual winner.

The reported vote margin in Virginia between the electoral slates is 451,138 votes. In compliance with the unconstitutional 2020 Special Session legislation SB 5120 (CHAP0001), at least 215,140 ballots were deposited in unsecured "drop boxes" otherwise prohibited in the Commonwealth (39 localities, including some larger ones, were not able to provide actual counts or estimates of "drop box" ballots received).

As members of the state legislature of Virginia, we make the following findings: We find that SB 5120 (CHAP0001), purportedly enacted by our state legislature during the 2020 Special Session, was enacted in violation of the Constitution of Virginia, and thus laws which should have governed the election of Presidential Electors were not followed. SB 5120 was intended to change election laws with an emergency enactment date in violation of the Constitution of Virginia's Article IV, Section 13's requirement that "all laws enacted at a special session, including laws which are enacted by reason of actions taken during the reconvened session following a special session but excluding a general appropriation law, shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month following the month of adjournment of the special session; unless in the case of an emergency (which emergency shall be expressed in the body of the bill) the General Assembly shall specify an earlier date by a vote of four-fifths of the members voting in each house..."

We have received written correspondence from most of the 133 registrars in Virginia. There is a clear consensus among them that the last-minute changes to election law, (which were passed in an unconstitutional act of the Virginia General Assembly), were communicated poorly, required significant additional labor to execute, came with little additional funding, and greatly compromised the ability of registrars to conduct the 2020 election.

We further find that numerous changes to the laws of Virginia enacted in the 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly led to greatly increased opportunities for massive voter fraud and election fraud. In Virginia, the race for President, the U.S. Senate race, and five Congressional races had their vote tallies shifted by large, late-night reporting from central absentee precincts, which do not provide the data necessary to establish the authenticity and validity of these counts. This is a significant issue which has not arisen in years past, as nearly two-thirds of Virginia's vote was counted in central absentee precincts. This absence of data has made the election impossible to verify. This is a serious concern, as the means, motive, and opportunity for large-scale vote fraud exists in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In the process of investigating the 2020 General Election, many additional serious irregularities have been shown to exist, including improper third-party payments to local governments, late-night ballot counting inconsistent with state guidance, untimely execution of certifications for machine logic and accuracy testing, improper political activities by registrars and at polling locations, and much more.

It is our fervent request that the date of this joint session of Congress be deferred until the completion of the forensic audit of the election.

Should you, as Vice President, announce a winner based on a tally of unconstitutionally and fraudulently elected Presidential Electors, it would create a rent in the fabric of the nation. Our Country is based on the consent of the governed, and if half of the country were to believe that their votes no longer matter, we fear for the consequences for the union.

*****

Here is the letter I wrote and sent this morning to Delegate Campbell in response:

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Dear Delegate Campbell:

Thank you very much for signing and sending a truthful and informative letter to Vice President Mike Pence on January 5, in which you and fellow delegates briefly summarized many grave problems with the conduct and processing of the 2020 presidential, Senate, and House elections in the Commonwealth of Virginia in violation of our state Constitution, and called upon him to nullify the fraudulent Certificate of Ascertainment of Presidential Electors issued by Governor Ralph Northam.

Like many Virginians and Americans, I have been appalled to witness an increasingly radicalized Democratic Party employ large-scale illegal voter fraud, roll out a highly sophisticated disinformation campaign through traditional and social media, and use corruption, manipulation, intimidation, blackmail, character assassination, and even impeachment to steal federal and state elections from principled Republican candidates and to silence and destroy their opponents in their unbridled greed for power and domination. And like millions of Americans, I was greatly disappointed that the Vice President, instead of upholding the Constitution of the United States in favor of the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election, chose to ratify the Electoral College vote of January 6 based on fraudulent ascertainment of presidential electors from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and several other states.

It is painfully obvious to any candid observer that the integrity of our national elections has been compromised on a massive and unprecedented scale in favor of a wholesale takeover of the legislative and executive branches by a thoroughly dishonest and corrupt Democratic Party.

Amid the grave injustice of this dangerous situation for our beloved country, which continues to cry out to Heaven for redress and rectification in spite of all attempts to repress and conceal it, we the people of Virginia and the United States find great consolation in the presence in Richmond and Washington, D.C. of honest, dedicated, and God-fearing Representatives like yourself who still act and govern in accordance with right reason, the common good, and the laws of our state and federal Constitutions.

As you assume the great challenge of carrying out exemplary service to our state and our nation while fighting against the new tyrannical Democratic regime, please be assured of my continued support and prayers.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Justin Soutar

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Sunday, January 10, 2021

Reflection on the Baptism of the Lord

"John's baptism with water has received its full meaning through the Baptism of Jesus' own life and death. To accept the invitation to be baptized now means to go to the place of Jesus' Baptism. It is to go where he identifies himself with us and to receive there our identification with him. The point where he anticipates death has now become the point where we anticipate rising again with him."

--Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Part One: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration (New York: Doubleday, 2007), p. 18