An Unalienable Right

Yesterday, more than a million Americans gathered to protest America’s violation of the very first right God gave us – the right to life. While there are marches across the country, the focus is always Washington, where the violation of the right was first condoned, and where it will be restored one day.

From The Catholic Herald.

‘This is a movement founded on love and grounded in the nobility and dignity of every human life,’ President Trump said

The March for Life again gathered myriad pro-life advocates to mark the anniversary of legalized abortion in America, and in a surprise appearance Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence introduced a pre-recorded message from President Donald Trump.

“This is a movement founded on love and grounded in the nobility and dignity of every human life,” President Trump said in a pre-recorded message to the massive January 18 rally, before the crowd began its march through the streets of Washington, D.C.

“When we look into the eyes of a newborn child we see the beauty of the human soul and the majesty of God’s creation, we know that every life has meaning and every life is worth protecting.”

“I will always protect the first right in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life,” he said.

Trump touted his administration’s new expansion of the Mexico City Policy, which restricts funds for international organizations that promote or perform abortions. He promoted his administration’s actions to protect religious freedom for medical professionals and religious charities, as well as support for adoption and foster care. Among new proposals are limits barring Title X funds for clinics that perform abortions; and making permanent the Hyde Amendment budget restrictions on abortion funding. […]

“Every child is a sacred gift from God,” he said. “Each person is unique from day one. That’s a very important phrase. Unique from day one. And so true… Together we will work to save the lives of unborn children.”

Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence appeared in person to introduce the president and to give their own remarks.

“We gather here because we stand for life,” the vice president said. “We gather here because we stand for compassion. We gather here because we believe as our founders did because we believe all of us, born and unborn, are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights and first among these rights is the right to life.”

Pence said that the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision “turned its back on that right,” but that decision gave birth to “a movement born by compassion and love a movement animated by faith and truth, a movement that’s been winning hearts and minds every day since.”

Because of those gathered here, he said, “we know in our hearts that life is winning once again.”

Pence praised and thanked pregnancy center volunteers, adoptive families, and “courageous men and women who step forward to serve in public office” in the U.S. capitol and state legislatures. He urged pro-life advocates to “stand strong” and give reasons for their hope “with gentleness and respect.”

“They will attack you, they will question your hearts to silence others but don’t listen to them. Listen to the truth,” he said. He told marchers that God will not forsake them and they do not stand alone.

“Know that you have an unwavering ally in this vice president and this family. And you have a champion in the President of the United States, President Donald Trump.”

He’s right, we are winning finally, a clear majority of Americans want abortion severely restricted or outlawed. It’s up to us to continue the fight, it’s far from over.

It is time, nay, it is well past time for America to again recognize abortion as what it is, infanticide, and treat it as it should be. We owe it to the Founders, and we owe it the over 60 million American dead from this abomination. We best respect their right by continuing the struggle to end abortion in the United States.

 

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Sometimes the Good Die Young

It’s funny how our lives develop. When I was in sixth grade, dad asked me out of the blue, whether I wanted to continue in the township school I was attending, or switch to the new consolidated one, next door. He didn’t attempt to influence my decision in any way, although he did mention that they were going to have a football team. 🙂

Well, if you looked at me, even then, it was pretty obvious that basketball wasn’t my sport, but football might well be. That’s what I saw in the mirror as well. It was a pretty easy choice, really, and academics did enter into it, new chem labs, and all new stuff in the shop (that I would only manage to find 6 weeks for in high school).

But football was important too. The striving to be the best, the physical conditioning, and especially the teamwork Intermural sports are probably one of the best features of American education.

Then that fall, dad came home on Friday with three tickets to a Purdue Game. Then, as now, Purdue was kind of a spotty team. Any given day, they could beat the best in the nation, but you could be pretty sure this was not that day. Len Dawson was long since graduated and Bob Griese was a few years in the future. (Yep, I saw him play four times in college).

And that is how I became a Purdue fan and has a fair amount to do with how I became a Purdue Alumni, as well. My grades weren’t bad, and a fair number of people said I was smarter than the grades indicated. That’s certainly possible, high school bored me silly. So I did the sensible thing, I applied to the school my sisters attended, Valparaiso University, the one my brother in law attended, Purdue, and another local school, Notre Dame.

Rather a bit like kicking the can down the road, all accepted me. Purdue won, not least because it was affordable, being the Indiana Land Grant college. My BIL, a Purdue civil engineer, said I could do the work of an engineer, but would never make it through school. Truer words were never spoken. I didn’t, and I’ve done the work for 40 years.

Probably a lot of stories much like this, about Purdue, and other Universities, all over the world. I’m nothing special, after all. But some are.

If you watch college football, you likely saw the Purdue – Ohio State game last fall, where Purdue ran all over the number 2 team in the country. If so you heard something new. Purdue base chant for more or less ever has been “IU Sucks” always appropriate given our feelings for that place down south. It wasn’t heard that night though, it had changed to “Cancer Sucks”. All due to one man.

That man was Tyler Trent, he was a twenty-year-old sophomore, who had to withdraw from his beloved Purdue, and died shortly after Purdue’s bowl game.

Hammer and Rails says it this way:

Coach Brohm also stopped by that evening, and even though Tyler was in the middle of his second cancer fight, his story took off from there. In 15 months he would participate in the Iowa Wave, work for the Exponent covering Purdue’s NCAA Tournament run, continue his fight against cancer, and inspire a nation. When Purdue stunned Ohio State in October it was Tyler’s night. He nearly did not make it to that game, but I am convinced that the energy of that night lifted him these last two and a half months. It sustained him past what his doctors thought. Unfortunately, cancer sucks. Hard. Tyler fought, but now his fight is over.

In the last 15 months the nation has gotten to know Tyler. What amazed me throughout was that it was never about his own fight. When Tyler would tweet it would rarely be about his condition. He only gave updates when they were major, like when he was forced to withdraw from school. Instead, he wrote about about what he could do for others. Here was a young man that knew his time was limited, but he spent every second doing what he could for others. He inspired others. He encouraged others. He strengthened them. His upcoming book is about pulling off an upset of cancer even though it will not physically benefit him. He spoke of how he was encouraged that samples of his tumor might lead to a cure someday, ignoring that meant there was no cure yet for him.

I was always in awe of his humility and his desire to serve.

Mark 10:45 says: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This is the example we are called to follow, and Tyler knew what it meant to serve. Even though his body was failing him, his final tweet from two days ago was about that service:

He’s entirely correct, and it says much about the Big 10 that after the ESPN Interview, at the Ohio State Game, all year both sides joined in the chant: “Cancer Sucks” It does, and its not often that the President of one of the great American Universities takes time to remember a sophomore who has died. But Mitch Daniels did

And so he’s gone, but we of Purdue, and many others will always remember him, and try to emulate him, for I suspect that this is a lesson that John Purdue would teach us as well.

The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 6 p.m. at College Park Church in Indianapolis. It will be live-streamed here.

#Tyler Strong, indeed, and Rest in Peace for your mission here is done.

The Sunday Funnies on Wednesday

Christmas being on Tuesday, gave me a problem, so I hope these are still relevant. 🙂

From 2012, and more true now.

And of course

And a Christmas bonus.

 

 

 

Have yourself a Merry Christmas

savior-of-the-world_t_nt

As I look back on the year, and the years, many of them are marked by Christmas, as indeed this one is. I find myself missing my sisters and brothers in law. That’s what happens as we get older. Well, I’ll see them again, in the next world, and that day isn’t so far off, and as for my old partner and dearest friend, well never say never. I have my memories and a few pictures, and yes, some tears will be shed. But this day brings that promise, that I shall see them again, and it provides a good excuse to read Jessica’s words once again because she wrote it so beautifully. And so the Christmas post that has become traditional here. I will again be with my nieces, as I prefer to be, and so you will be mostly on your own.

And so we come to the day when the world opens its presents – and we do the same, but we celebrate the greatest present ever – the gift of ever-lasting life. Paul is right, our minds cannot encompass what it means, or what it will be like, but we can know what it is to be covered by the blood of the Lamb and to know that our sins are forgiven, and that our souls are being healed; that’s what Christmas means for us all – it’s just that only some of us ‘get it’.

The most (in the proper meaning of the word) awesome aspect of what we celebrate today is that the eternal Word, who was with God from the beginning, who created the world, came into it in human form, assuming our flesh and healing it. We say these things so easily, but how marvelous that the Lord of all things should have condescended to be one of us, to share our fate, to live among us, as one of us. It isn’t surprising that early heresies centred around trying to explain that away, because the ancient world was used enough to gods who took on human form, but it was just that – an act, an appearance, a guise for some purpose (often amorous) which was later dropped. The notion of God as one of us (cue the song) – note that contra the song there is no ‘if’ – he was one of us – was and remains revolutionary. At a stroke, in the twinkling of an eye, we poor sinners are rich beyond our deserts – all that was ruined, all that was broken is made whole.

That is why Christians celebrate this day. It is the day God’s love was incarnate, and the Apostles saw Him, they touched Him, they lived with Him – the Word made flesh dwelt with men and though the world saw Him not, enough did that two thousand years on, we celebrate it. This is something we can share with Jesus.

The Lord’s first miracle was at a celebration – a wedding – and it was something which helped the celebration along – good wine at that stage of the proceedings must have been greatly welcomed – and there might have been a few sore heads in the morning. If anyone here has been to a Jewish wedding, you’ll know how joyous it can be, and how the dancing and the eating fuse together into a celebration of life itself. That’s a reminder to us all that the new life we have in Christ is a cause for huge celebration. It is good to go to Church and to give thanks to God for all our blessings – and then to go home and be with some of them – our family and friends.

If you get bored enough, I’ll likely be around some today, I’ll be with some friends, but will probably be in and out some. Going to be rather quiet here today, I expect.

A very holy and Merry Christmas from me! Neo.

Earthrise

Fifty years ago, Christmas was. like it is this year, a welcome balm. 1968 was a year when we thought the United States might get ripped apart, even as it seems now. But it ended up with something that while not a miracle, was about as close as men have ever come, Apollo 8 orbited the moon. The chant USA wasn’t invented till the1980 Olympics, but that is how it felt.  Howard Chang and Jordan Lorence writing in The Federalist reminds us how it happened.

Many say Apollo 8 redeemed 1968. The first manned space mission to circle the Moon did so on Christmas Eve, and gave hope to weary millions jolted by the chaotic tumult of events in 1968.

The year that ended with the unifying wonder of Apollo 8 began with the aggressive attacks of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam in late January, followed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. in April and Robert F. Kennedy in June. Riots engulfed cities with fire and rage, and violent protests later that summer rocked the Democratic convention in Chicago, leading to a bitter, divisive presidential election that November.

The growing cascade of fury made it seem that everything was falling apart. But then, one bright hope crowned 1968: for the first time in history, humans flew around the Moon.

NASA’s Hard Year

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) designated Apollo 8 as the mission to pioneer sending people to the Moon, but they planned it with great apprehension. Less than two years earlier, NASA had lost three astronauts during the Apollo 1 launch pad fire. Neither the public, nor Congress, would accept three more dead astronauts.

Had their extensive work fixed all of the problems? The new mission was far from a sure thing: Apollo 8 would be only the second human launch since the Apollo 1 fire; humans had not flown using the massive Saturn V rocket required to reach the Moon; the farthest humans had left Earth’s orbit was 850 miles, during the Gemini missions, as compared to the 240,000 miles necessary to reach the Moon’s orbit; during orbit, the spacecraft would periodically pass behind the Moon and lose contact with Earth; and if the engine failed to fire while trying to return to Earth, the crew would be forever trapped in space.

Do read the rest, but the key is this, on that long ago Christmas Eve, as we all watched the Earth rise above the horizon, the very first Earthrise man had witnessed. As they did so they read this to us.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry landEarth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it wasgood.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there islife, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

And suddenly the world changed, even before they got home two days later.

The Anglo Saxon O Antiphons

The Trinity, surrounded by angels with multi-coloured wings
(from the Grimbald Gospels, made in Canterbury in the 11th century, BL Add. 34890, f. 114v)

A Clerk of Oxford always manages to give us an appreciation of how much we owe to the Anglo-Saxons. Many of us who are Anglophone Christians are likely aware of the O Antiphons, which we share with the Catholics, but how many of us know that there are Anglo Saxon versions of them. There are, and they are quite beautiful, and echo down in our liturgies as well. Here is one she calls O Beautiful Trinity and you really should read her article, I’m simply pulling her translation here, and the article is fascinating.

O beautiful, plenteous in honours,
high and holy, heavenly Trinity
blessed far abroad across the spacious plains,
who by right speech-bearers,
wretched earth-dwellers, should supremely praise
with all their power, now God, true to his pledge,
has revealed a Saviour to us, that we may know him.
And so the ones swift in action, endowed with glory,
that truth-fast race of seraphim
and the angels above, ever praising,
sing with untiring strength
on high with resounding voices,
most beautifully far and near. They have
a special office with the King: to them Christ granted
that they might enjoy his presence with their eyes,
forever without end, radiantly adorned,
worship the Ruler afar and wide,
and with their wings guard the face
of the Lord almighty, eternal God,
and eagerly throng around the prince’s throne,
whichever of them can swoop in flight
nearest to our Saviour in those courts of peace.
They adore the Beloved One, and within the light
speak these words to him, and worship
the noble originator of all created things:
‘Holy are you, holy, Prince of the high angels,
true Lord of Victories, forever are you holy,
Lord of Lords! Your glory will remain eternally
on earth among mortals in every age,
honoured far and wide. You are the God of hosts,
for you have filled earth and heaven
with your glory, Shelter of warriors,
Helm of all creatures. Eternal salvation
be to you on high, and on earth praise,
bright among men. Dearly blessed are you,
who come in the name of the Lord to the multitudes,
to be a comfort to the lowly. To you be eternal praise
in the heights, forever without end.’

And here in a post called O Wondrous Exchange, she brings us the last section of these. Again, I’m merely giving you the translated poetry, its story is fascinating.

O, that is a wondrous exchange in the life of men!
that mankind’s merciful Creator
received from a maiden flesh unmarred,
and she had not known the love of a man,
nor did the Lord of Victory come
by the seed of a human on earth; but that was a more skilful art
than all earth-dwellers could comprehend
in its mystery, how he, glory of the skies,
high lord of the heavens, brought help
to the race of men through his mother’s womb.
And coming forth thus, the Saviour of the peoples
deals out his forgiveness every day
to help mankind, Lord of hosts.
And so we, eager for glory, praise him
devotedly in deeds and words. That is high wisdom
in every person who has understanding,
ever to most often and most intently
and most eagerly praise God.
He will grant him the reward of grace,
the holy Saviour himself,
even in that homeland where he never before came,
in the joy of the land of the living,
where he will dwell, blessed, from thenceforth,
live forever without end. Amen.

How glorious these are, even in translation, how wonderful they must have seemed a thousand years ago, in the language of the people. Then at the very end is a promise in a wonderful muddle of pronouns. Let’s let the Clerk explain and then it follows.

This individual with whom the poem closes is anyone who chooses to gather up the powers of their mind, to reflect upon the mysterious ‘exchange’ of human flesh and holy spirit, and – here at the end of the poem – to hold in memory all that has come before. By doing so this ‘he’ (who is any of us) comes to an eternal joy which is expressed, oddly but rather beautifully, in a closing muddle of pronouns:

He him þære lisse lean forgildeð, 
se gehalgoda hælend sylfa, 
efne in þam eðle þær he ær ne cwom, 
in lifgendra londes wynne, 
þær he gesælig siþþan eardað, 
ealne widan feorh wunað butan ende. 

He will grant him the reward of grace,
the holy Saviour himself,

even in that homeland where he never came before,
in the joy of the land of the living,
where he will dwell, blessed, from thenceforth,
live forever without end.

Who is ‘he’ here? Sometimes clearly Christ, and sometimes the mindful man, but the last, at least, might well be both. Perhaps they become one in that strange place, a final wonder from a poem full of marvels: a land where humans have never yet been, but which is their true home.

Have a wondrous Christmas week.

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