Category Archives: Christians/Christianity

Sunday Devotional: Not everyone goes to Heaven

Luke 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”

Coming HomeA 2005 ABC News poll found that 89% of Americans believed in Heaven, which is consistent with data going back 30 years. More interesting is the fact that among those who believed in Heaven, 85% thought they would personally go there, such is our preening narcissism.

Today’s Gospel reading from Luke, however, is a sober reminder that we flatter ourselves when we imagine that we are destined for Heaven, for our Lord Jesus Christ said the gate is “narrow” and many “will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

Recall that although we read and hear about near-death experiences (NDE) of what appears to be Heaven, there are NDE accounts of being in a dark place, full of demons. As an example, during his 2004 quadruple bypass surgery, Bill Clinton had a frightening near-death experience in which he found himself in a dark hellish place. As he recounted in an interview on ABC’s Primetime Live:

“I saw, like, dark masks crushing, like, death masks being crushed, in series, and then I’d see these great circles of light and then, like, Hillary’s picture or Chelsea’s face would appear on the light, and then they’d fly off into the dark.”

See also:

The road to Heaven is a rigorous and demanding one. Afterall, Jesus did say “I have come to set the earth on fire” (Luke 12:49). So we are to look upon our life on this mortal coil as a trial by fire, wherein we must rid “ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters,
You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time,
all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

Only the holy go to Heaven. I want to be holy, and I so want you all to be holy. So let’s help each other trod that hard and “narrow” path of goodness, no matter the slings and arrows, the trials and tribulations. And at all times, “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1,2).

Christ crucifiedThe Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

Jesus, I love you.

Rejoice that we have lived to see another glorious Sunday! And may the love and peace and joy and goodness of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!

~Eowyn

Sharp Shooter: Kim Rhode wins bronze, makes Olympic history

Obvious Bonus: She’s pro-Second Amendment.

From USA Today: Make it six straight for Kim Rhode. The 37-year-old American won a medal for her sixth consecutive Olympics on Friday, capturing bronze in the skeet shooting event at the Olympic Shooting Center.

It’s a stunning accomplishment from Rhode, who becomes the first female Olympian to medal in six consecutive games, and the first summer Olympian as well. Only Italian luger Armin Zoeggeler has done it on the men’s side.

Rhode’s bronze medal match ended in a shoot-off, after both she and China’s Meng Wei hit 15 of 16 clays. Rhode missed a clay in her first round of the shoot-off, but Meng followed by missing one of her own. Three rounds later, Meng missed her final clay to hand the bronze to Rhode.

Rhode lifted her arm to the sky when she realized she’d done it. She then walked over to the stands, where her husband handed her their 3-year-old son for a long hug. “Being a mom, having a son here, it’s amazing,” she said. “I hope that he remembers this. We’ve taken tons of pictures trying to capture the moment.”

Afterward, she said history was on her mind as she was shooting. “Most definitely,” she said. “When you’re in that bronze medal match, and you know you can walk away going for Olympic history or [nothing], yes, that was definitely on my mind.”

The crowd rose to give Rhode a standing ovation after the announcer told them history had just been made. Italians Chiara Cainero and Diana Bacosi won silver and gold, respectively.

kim rhode

Rhode’s Olympic history has been nothing short of dominant. She won gold in the 1996 Games in double trap at the age of 17, then followed up with bronze in Sydney, gold in Athens, silver in Beijing, and then gold in London. “Standing up there on the podium, it’s addicting,” Rhode said. “It keeps me coming back for more.” IOC president Thomas Bach was in the crowd for the event, catching a seat for history.

American Morgan Craft, 23, also competed in the event, but was eliminated in a semifinal shoot-off. Craft said after the final that she respected Rhode’s longevity, but doesn’t see herself competing in that many Olympics – her dream is to become a physician’s assistant.

Rhode has become an outspoken defendant of the second amendment in the United States. In a news conference before the start of the Games, Rhode spoke out about what it meant to her.

“We should have the right to keep and bear arms, to protect ourselves and our family,” she said. “The second amendment was put in there not just so we can go shoot skeet or go shoot trap. It was put in so we could defend our first amendment, the freedom of speech, and also to defend ourselves against our own government.”

DCG

Guess what women have the lowest divorce rate?

Answer: Virgin brides!

Reporting for Family Studies, June 6, 2016, Professor of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah Nicholas H. Wolfinger arrived at that finding by using data from the three most recent waves of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) collected in 2002, 2006-2010, and 2011-2013. For women marrying since the start of the new millennium:

  • Women with 10 or more partners were the most likely to divorce, but this only became true in recent years;
  • Women with 3-9 partners were less likely to divorce than women with 2 partners; and,
  • Women with 0-1 partners were the least likely to divorce.

Wolfinger’s finding confirms earlier research that found that having multiple sex partners prior to marriage could lead to less happy marriages and often increased the odds of divorce. But Wolfinger did uncover news findings, including:

  • The proportion of women who get married having had only one sex partner (in most cases, their future husbands) declined from 43% in the 1970s to 21% by the 2000s, to only 5% by the 2010s. The pace of decline quickened after 2000.
  • At the other end of the distribution, the number of future wives who had 10 or more pre-martial sex partners increased from 2% in the 1970s to 14% in the 2000s, and then to 18% in the 2010s.
  • Unfortunately, the NSFG doesn’t have full data on men’s premarital sexual behavior, and in any event they recall their own marital histories less reliably than do women.

The following chart (Figure 1) depicts the percentage of first marriages ending in divorce within 5 years of wedlock according to the decade the wedding took place and how many sex partners a woman had prior to marriage.

number of premarital sex partners & divorceConsistent with prior research, those with fewer sex partners were less likely to divorce. However, there are considerable differences by marriage cohort, i.e., when the marriage took place — in the 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s.

  • For all three cohorts, women who married as virgins had the lowest divorce rates by far.
  • The percentage of virgin marriages (on the part of the woman, at least) that dissolved within 5 years was 11% in the 1980s, 8% in the 1990s, and 6% in the 2000s.
  • The highest 5-year divorce rates of all are associated with marrying in the 2000s and having 10 or more premarital sex partners: 33%.
  • Before the 2000s, however, it was women with 2 partners prior to marriage, instead of those with 10 or more pre-marital sex partners, who had the highest divorce rates. Wolfinger’s “best guess” is that two partners may lead to uncertainty, but having a few more apparently leads to greater clarity about the right man to marry. While Wolfinger conncludes that “The odds of divorce are lowest with zero or one premarital partners, but otherwise sowing one’s oats seems compatible with having a lasting marriage,” he warns “But not too many oats” because women who married after 2000 who had had 10 or premarital sex partners had the highest divorce rates of all, of 33%. A lot of partners means a lot of baggage, which makes a stable marriage less tenable.

Religion and Divorce

Wolfinger hypothesized that religion may explain the low divorce rates of people with minimal sexual experience prior to marriage, and the NSFG data support such an interpretation, as seen in Figure 2 below.

number of premarital sex partners & church attendanceAs shown by the above Figure 2:

  • Women who marry as virgins are far more likely than other women to attend church at least once a week.
  • More interesting still is that the effect of religion became stronger in recent years — the divorce rate for virgin brides continued to drop for religious women between the 1980s and 2000s.
  • In general, people who attend church frequently have lower divorce rates than do non-participants.
  • Generally speaking, women who have multiple sex partners are less likely to be regular churchgoers.

Some other explanatory factors for the relationship between number of pre-marital sex partners and divorce are:

  1. Children: Women who marry with no or just one pre-marital sex partners are unlikely to have had children with another man. Getting married with a child already in tow has a profound negative effect on marital happiness and disproportionately high divorce rates.
  2. Personal history: People who suffered childhood sexual abuse are more likely to have extensive sexual histories and pre-marital sex. Childhood abuse also increases the odds of a problematic marriage.
  3. Race: Caucasian and African American women had similar premarital sexual behavior, but Latinas and members of the “Other” population group had notably fewer sex partners and lower divorce rates than either whites or blacks.
  4. Family history of divorce: People who grew up without both parents had more sex partners and divorced more.

Wolfinger’s most recent book is Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Children, and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos, coauthored with W. Bradford Wilcox (Oxford University Press, 2016). 

Recently, there was a discussion among some commenters on FOTM on the increasing prevalence of brides wearing strapless gowns like this:

strapless wedding gownThe discussion centered on why overweight brides would wear those strapless gowns. My question is why any woman, overweight or not, would wear a strapless wedding gown that’s more suitable for a nightclub because I don’t understand why a bride’s motive is to look “sexy” in a church before a throng of family and friends.

I suggest that Professor Wolfinger consider the popularity of strapless wedding gowns as an indicator of pre-marital sex, and as a predictor of divorce.

~Eowyn

98% of Catholic Relief Services’ contributions go to pro-abort politicians

The Catholic Church’s position on abortion has always been and remains one of abortion being an “intrinsic evil,” which means no amount or variety of excuse or rationalization can justify the killing of a wholly, 100% innocent human life in the womb.

APersonsAPersonAnd yet a study by the Lepanto Institute found that a shocking 98%, i.e., nearly all of the political donations by employees of the Catholic Relief Services go to pro-abortion political candidates.

Note: Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is an international charity organization founded in 1943 by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. It is said to provide assistance to 130 million people in more than 90 countries and territories across the world. The Lepanto Institute for the Restoration of All Things in Christ is a research and education organization dedicated to the defense of the Catholic Church against assaults from without as well as from within.

First, let’s look at Lepanto Institute‘s methodology.

As explained by Michael Hichborn for the Lepanto Institute, August 8, 2016, contributions that Americans give to political campaigns are recorded and made available as public information in order to ensure transparency in the political process. Donors are asked to provide information on their employer or what line of work they are in. Anyone can search the donor database by location, job type, sex, or religion. In fact, political parties and research organizations mine this data to look for demographic trends by location, job type, sex, or religion.

The Lepanto Institute (LI) did just that. It conducted a general search on www.opensecrets.org for the search term “Catholic” listed under employer/occupation and found 6,293 records for listings such as “Catholic priest,” “Catholic Health,” “Catholic High School,” and even “Catholic Relief Services.”

LI then narrowed the search to employees of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and found the contribution records of 52 CRS employees, who made a total of 191 political contributions. 50 of the 52 (i.e., 96.16%) CRS employees had donated to openly pro-abortion politicians, accounting for 187 or 98% of the total 191 contributions.

Hichborn points out the obvious, which is that “Statistically, this indicates an overwhelming one-sidedness, with almost no diversity of opinion among those working for CRS.”

He concludes:

“What this data reveals is that the culture of Catholic Relief Services is not one that is friendly to pre-born babies or the Catholic faith it claims to serve. In fact, as we see that employees of CRS are donating almost exclusively to candidates diametrically opposed to the Catholic Church, we can easily conclude that it’s because their faith isn’t Catholicism — it’s the Democratic Party. And given this, it becomes a little clearer why CRS would annually facilitate tens of millions of dollars to organizations that commit abortion, perform sterilizations, and distribute contraception. It also explains the bevy of other problems found at CRS, such as its publication of manuals and programs promoting condom use, the implementation of contraception-promoting programs like Healthy Choices 2 and Shuga.

This is why I’d long stopped donating to Catholic Relief Services because every penny I give also goes to the salaries of its evil employees.

And if you’re Catholic, I urge you to stop donating to CRS, but tell your pastor and bishop why. Just print out this post, put it in an envelope, and drop it in the donation basket.

And the U.S. Catholic Church wonders why Mass attendance is down, there is a priest shortage, and dioceses are closing down empty parishes . . . .

See also “Abortion is the leading cause of death in U.S.

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: ‘I have come to set the earth on fire’

Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

I don’t know how and when it happened, but sometime in the ages, our Lord Jesus Christ, who chose hard work as a brawny carpenter and who instructed that “if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36), became depicted as an effeminate whimp tossing rainbows and sprinkling fairy-dust, while spouting facile words of “peace” and “love”.

But the above passage from Luke 12 is a sober reminder that Jesus didn’t say following Him would be easy. Once you are committed to good, there can be no compromise with evil and with those who choose and support evil — even when they are your family and friends.

As St. Paul reminds us, we are part of a much larger war: “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12)

And though we may “grow weary and lose heart,” we must “persevere in running the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:3,1).

How?

By ridding “ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us” and “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1,2).

Ephesians 6:13-16

Therefore, put on the armor of God,
that you may be able to resist on the evil day and,
having done everything, to hold your ground.
So stand fast with your loins girded in truth,
clothed with righteousness as a breastplate,
and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances,
hold faith as a shield,
to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Armor of God I can do all things through Christ
The Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

And may the courage of St. Paul, and the strength and serenity and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you this glorious Sunday!

~Eowyn

Italian sailor uses mouth-to-mouth to revive kitten!

Photos from Italian Coast Guard

Photos from Italian Coast Guard

Via Fox News: The Italian coast guard rescued and revived a drowning kitten at a Sicilian port on Friday, after children on shore drew attention to its plight.

A sailor jumped in the sea to rescue the cat, which was floating apparently lifeless in the water, as the coast guard ship entered the port Marsala after a patrol mission.

A video released Friday showed crew members administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and massaging the kitten to remove water from its lungs, encouraging it: “Breathe, breathe. Wake up.” After a few minutes, the kitten emitted a few weak “meows.”

charlie rescued

A veterinarian on shore said the kitten is now in good health. He has been given a home at the Marsala maritime district office and has been named Charlie.

DCG

Sunday Devotional: He will never break your heart

Luke 12:32-40

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
Sell your belongings and give alms.
Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out,
an inexhaustible treasure in heaven
that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.”

Last Sunday, my pastor, who is the official exorcist of my diocese, delivered a profoundly true and wise homily. Below is my woefully inadequate summary of what he said:

At some point in our lives, we wonder if this is all there is, disappointed that our lives have not turned out the way we had hoped and dreamed.

It may be wealth or professonal achievement. We worked hard, got an education, performed our jobs in an exemplary fashion, but still our financial goal eludes us, or we have not received due recognition and accolade.

It may be relationships — with our spouses, children, friends, colleagues, priests, parishioners — which disappoint and break our hearts, for we are imperfect humans and no one person can fulfill all our needs.

But God never disappoints.

God satisfies all our needs.

We don’t have to work hard for His love.

And Jesus will never break your heart.

I will be with you always

For “you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” -St. Augustine, Confessions

May the love and joy and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you this beautiful Sunday!

~Eowyn