Tuesday, February 23, 2010


  "My soul glorifies the Lord
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
     for he has been mindful
       of the humble state of his servant.
       From now on all generations will call me blessed,
     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
       holy is his name.
     His mercy extends to those who fear him,
       from generation to generation.
    He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
       he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
     He has brought down rulers from their thrones
       but has lifted up the humble.
    He has filled the hungry with good things
       but has sent the rich away empty.
    He has helped his servant Israel,
       remembering to be merciful
    to Abraham and his descendants forever,
       just as he promised our ancestors."
Please keep my husband, my family, and I as we prepare to welcome our newest miracle into the world this fall.  Praise the Lord!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wait a minute...Didn't we invade Iraq to help FREE it's citizens????

Killing Spree Forces Christians to Flee Mosul
4 Killed in Less Than a Week
MOSUL, Iraq, FEB. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Church's youngest archbishop is asking for prayers as more and more of his faithful leave Mosul because of a violent intimidation campaign that has brought four Christian deaths this week.

Archbishop Emil Shimoun Nona, 42, who has served as the head of the Mosul Archdiocese for less than a month, told Aid to the Church in Need today that the city's few remaining Christians are panicked. Under the pressures of a politically-motivated campaign to force Christians out of the city, many have fled.

Archbishop Nona, whose predecessor was kidnapped and killed in 2008, said if the situation does not improve, the ancient Christian community will disappear.

"If the situation continues as it has done, especially over the past few days, all the people will leave. It is very difficult to live in this kind of situation," he told the charity group. "It is panic -- panic always. The Christians don’t know what will happen to them -- it is the same everywhere: in the office, at school or even at home. They don’t know if somebody is going to kill them."

This week, a 20-year-old student teacher, an engineering student, and two traders have been killed in Mosul. Another student was injured. Another man was kidnapped from his home.

Archbishop Nona confirmed the attacks had prompted more Christians to leave the city, saying that Wednesday alone, he received news of up to 10 families fleeing Mosul.

In 2000, as many as 5,000 Christian families lived in Mosul. They have endured multiple attacks, particularly in September 2008, after which about half the Christian population fled the city. Many of those subsequently returned.

Still, according to the prelate, Mosul is the most dangerous place for Iraqi Christians.

He said there is a concerted effort to force Christians to leave the city, though he admits, "We don’t know who is behind the attacks."

"We think that they are politically-motivated -- that some group has something to gain if all Christians go," Archbishop Nona said.

He added that Mosul authorities have claimed it is impossible to improve security conditions for Christians, though Church leaders have repeatedly requested it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Hush of Winter

So I had the rare gift of waking up before dawn this morning, and as I sat there, musing over my coffee, I realized that February is that most deep part of the winter.  I compared it in my mind to those camping trips where you wake up in the middle of the night freezing cold, and you grab your kid and bring them to bed with you because you realize they're shivering in their sleep.  The coldest part of the night is not right after the sun goes down, and I don't find that the coldest point is even before the sun comes up.  Rather, the coldest part of the night is in the middle of the night, when the sun's been down for a few hours and it won't be up for a few hours.  It's that hush before dawn and after twilight, and that's when it hit me.  It's the absolute stillness of death before the Resurrection.  Looking to the dawn of that first Easter I feel the stillness, as if all of nature holds its breath for the second time in history after the Fiat.  The stillness of death gives itself over to life.  I think this is what Lent is calling me to do.   In this season of stillness, I am called to become more still, more quiet, more reflective, to become smaller and smaller, to become less and less.  To reflect more upon my "pearl of great price" my Faith.  I don't know that this Lent is calling me to Sacrifice something per say, except myself.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Matters of the Heart, a continuation of "A Still More Excellent Way"

There has been a lot of talk amongst my friends on the blogosphere about feelings, emotions, matters of the heart.  I read from some of my fellow women that this area is just a bunch of "touchy feely mumbo jumbo" and that there's  no room for it in the Faith life.  I ardently agree that the word "love" is the most abused word in the English language, just as it seems to be a tie-breaker between Americans as to whether sex or eating would be the most abused act.  I also agree that in the art of womanhood, emotions have been hijacked to be used as a form of manipulation for some of my sex to get what she wants from the world.  Afterall, victimization is the pathway to entitlement, and there are many women who can use this path to her own ruin.  I believe in our Faith life that we should strive to ensure there is only one victim, namely the "Paschal Victim" we will celebrate in a little over six weeks.  How can any man, woman, or child's daily sufferings in this life compare to that "greatest act of Love?"

However, I don't believe that an emotional tie to the Faith should be brushed off, or pushed aside, especially in regards to the Faith, and especially in the true feminine spiritual tradition.  I began to pursue this point in my blog post "A still more excellent way", and I will continue to elaborate on it here.  In this previous post, I focused on our sufferings, and uniting these sufferings to Christ.  I'd like to focus a little on the Marian tradition of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord, and how that can be tied directly to matters of the heart.

As a wife and mother in my Catholic vocation, I look to our Blessed Mother for my example of living.  It came to me in a Homily delivered on the Feast of the Presentation that Mary lived in accord with Jewish customs and traditions in a spirit of humility, obedience, and simplicity.  Wow!  How profound!  Those very attributes of Mary that I sought for out for comfort in my daily life, are one in the same with the attributes I am to emulate?  Mary knew, in a deeply profound way that she was "loved by the Lord".  She knew this in her most purest of pure hearts.  She knew this in her maternal bond with our Savior.  She knew this in her moment of her "shadowing" by her divine spouse the Holy Spirit.  Mary, that most beautiful and blessed of all women, became a source of blessing and grace for us in the Church.  She "treasured all these things in her heart", and still bears countless mercies in that same Immaculate Heart.

It was Mary's life, lived in humility, obedience, and simplicity, that formed her to become the Mother of God, to raise her most Holy Son, and to follow Him to His death.  This is where it gets hard for me.  As a mother, I can't bear to see any of my children suffer.  And yet, our Blessed Mother did not back down, she did not shy away, she stayed with Christ every moment and united herself to His Passion.  She bore all "these things in her heart" even as it was pierced by a sword.  And I believe she did this as an example to all women of the Church.  She knew, in her most simple and profound way, that we would need a model of Faith, that we would need to be shown how to engage our hearts in Christ's Passion.  The differences between a man and a woman, although becoming more and more blurred in our culture, should remain as individual as Jesus and Mary in our minds.  Men are called to unite their physical beings to their suffering, as husbands are called to "work the soil" to provide for their families and Priests are called in persona Christi to give of themselves on the Altar of Sacrifice, in the example of Christ.  I believe, as women, that we are called to do the same, but that unlike men, we women must to unite our hearts to Mary, and be a source of mercy and grace for our family.

The heart of the home - what an important title.  For in the heart, as we know from devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus lies well-springs of grace, mercy, and love.  Love was all Christ ever did, unto His death.  Love was all He ever taught.  Love was what drove Him to save us, the ancient text of the Scriptures enacted in the Flesh, a Lover seeking his Beloved.  Love was His great commandment to us "You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your soul, and your mind.  And...you shall love your neighbor as yourself."  Catholic motherhood affords the rare gift in the plan of salvation to model this love and to live in this love for our entire family, our Church, and our fallen world.  I strive every day to enthrone Christ upon my heart to guide me and form me from within, to be the King of my heart, and the King of my home.  In times of trial and tribulation I turn to my heart first, to "ponder these things" with my Lord, and to wait patiently for that still inner voice that speaks to me there.  I come to our Lord in all matters and in all ways, full of love and gratitude, full of fear and anxiety, full of sorrow and weariness.  He comforts me and lives with me there.  I give these trials to Him there, these little gifts to be laid at His feet, and carry on.  In turn, He points me to His mother, and aside from my Angel, she is my constant companion, my model in life and in death.

It makes sense then, that the Devil would work to plant seeds of discord and sin in our hearts.  That he would tempt us to distance ourselves from our emotion as mere "tom-foolery" when there are more important things to think and to do.  What if our role as wife and mother, our primary role, is to feel?  To be?  Our genuine response to the hardships of life may not be collected, gathered, and orderly thoughts.  It may be an emotional act that needs to be turned over to our Lord.  This is our unique and genuine role as women, to be vulnerable, to be merciful, to be grace-filled examples for our children of humility, simplicity, and obedience.  It might be a sneak attack from the devil for us to be tricked into believing that our emotions are worthless, that they shouldn't be recognized or dealt with.  If we are truly living in the grace of our Lord, in the example of His most Blessed Mother, why then should we fear our emotions?  Should we cut them out as if they were sinful tendencies?  I say to that "Welcome to femininity!"

My husband was built to be strong - like bull:)  He can work for hours every day, all day, on his feet, and then come home and help me with the evening routine and chores.  He is tough, but loving.  His hands are enormous!  He can literally wrap his fingers around my entire hand.  He can lift, carry,and handle loads alone that it would take me and four of my girlfriends to move in a day.  Yesterday, I was watching him change our baby's diaper.  His concentration was so intense you could cut it with a knife.  He can move three pieces of sheet rock at a time, but it took him double that effort to get those cumbersome hands to be gentle to our baby.  It was an endearing picture, one that I'll "treasure in my heart".  My husband can take on the problems of life, break them down, and solve them as quickly and effortlessly as my son does in his first grade word problems in math.    In about the same amount of time too:)  When I'm confronted with a problem, I sit and ponder it over at least two cups of coffee.  Then I might call a girlfriend or two and talk to them about it for their advice.  Then I might blog about it.  And then, when I'm confused and overwhelmed beyond belief, I'll call my husband to help me solve it, and ten minutes later he's got it knocked into line for me.  I just realized I should resolve to go to him first rather than stewing on it so much and wasting so much of my (and my girlfriends') time!  *lesson learned*  There are times when my sons get hurt (did I mention they like to wrestle?  It's like watching bear cubs sometimes!  Sheesh!)  and they will come to their father who will logically explain to them why they shouldn't have been doing that in the first place, that they exceeded the physical limits that one wrist or ankle could sustain, hence the reason its now sprained or bruised, all in a very matter-of-fact, logical way.  My youngest son, whom my husband has knicknamed "Fred" will wait until his father's conjecture is done, hold out his sore appendage to simply say "Will you kiss it Daddy?"  My husband must be confounded by this - no medicine?  No ace bandage?  No quantam physics?  All this boy wants is a "kiss"?! Our roles as husband and wife, as mother and father, are complimentary.  I've found that when I'm a woman living in the grace of the Church, in accord with Her teachings, and striving to live the example of our Blessed Mother, that I am at my best in my role of 'help meet' to my husband. 

I am not logical by nature, and I'm still learning how to be practical (it says a lot when I say that Anne Shirley was my role model growing up), but these simply were not my gifts.  I've been gifted with a heart as big as the ocean in love with my Lord, my husband, and my children, for all my dear loved ones.  I could no more deny my heart's longings, thoughts, emotions, prayers, then I could those of my own children.  And I don't think that that should be the path of any woman in the Faith.  If we love in humility, simplicity, and obedience, then we've nothing to fear.  Could our emotion lead us to sin?  Absolutely!  I can understand this over-correction of many of my fellow women for that very reason.  However, emotion can draw us ever closer, in the Marian mystery, to our Lord and His Passion too, and I don't think it can be discounted.   I must be resoundingly clear though, when I say that emotion can not be solely used as a gauge of salvation.  I've seen this reactive tendency in too many of my more liberal Catholic sisters: "I feel good about where I am with the Lord, I'm not going to change my lifestyle to some arbitrary Church teaching."  There must be some form of moderation.  But one question I can't wait to ask my Lord if/when I get to Heaven is "What is greater Lord,  Truth or Charity?  And somehow, as I'm standing there staring Truth and Charity in the face, I might begin to figure it out.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

What Catholic Women Want for Valentine's Day:)

What Catholic Women Want for Valentine's Day
Interview With Rebecca Ryskind Teti
By Genevieve Pollock

HYATTSVILLE, Maryland, FEB. 10, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, and many men are scrambling to prepare for what seems like a yearly comprehensive exam on the state of their relationships.

They wonder: Does she want something material this year, like diamonds and roses, or rather an evening out? Has she been dropping me hints that I've been deaf to? What if I thought I knew what she wanted, and then she said something that threw me for a loop again?

ZENIT asked Rebecca Ryskind Teti, a wife and mother herself, about the inside scoop on what women really want on this Feb. 14 celebration. Teti, who blogs daily at www.faithandfamilylive.com, asked her readers, women from across the country, about their plans and hopes for Sunday.

Teti, also a contributing editor to Faith & Family Magazine and the In Good Company columnist for Catholic News Agency, added some other ideas for making this day special for the whole family.

ZENIT: With Valentine's Day approaching, we are being bombarded with television commercials that give the impression that all women want this Feb. 14 are diamonds and cellular phones. Do these material things really make a woman happy? What is it that makes women happy?

Teti: Gifts do help! Ads exaggerate to sell particular products, but to the extent that a gift is a token of something deeper -- of love, affection, or appreciation -- of course it is delightful.

What sometimes offends us about advertising is the implication that women live for gifts, that presents must be extravagant to count, or that a token of affection can be coerced.

We shouldn't neglect the positive premise that's also present, though, which is the reminder to take time to show the people we love that we appreciate them.

Material things have no power to make us happy, but they do make our daily routine a little sweeter. We live not by bread alone, but by bread as well.

ZENIT: What do women, especially Catholic women, want this Valentine's Day?

Teti: Most of our readers mentioned looking forward to simple pleasures: a card, a little chocolate, perhaps a single rose. Some were hoping for an opportunity to dress up a little and go out; others were hoping for a quiet evening in.

Whatever form their fancy took, however, what all the married women who responded were hoping for was concentrated time with their husbands.

The desire seems to be to break the daily routine of chores and obligations, and just be able to enjoy each other's company for awhile.

One woman laughingly did ask for sapphire earrings, but said she wasn't expecting them this year. She was thinking many years down the road -- perhaps one extravagant Valentine's Day just once in her married life.

ZENIT: What do wives particularly look for from their husbands?

Teti: That is too big a question! I will narrow my answer to one thing that seems relevant to Valentine's Day.

Thanks to Venerable John Paul II's "Theology of the Body," the Church understands more deeply than ever the meaning of the line from Genesis: "male and female he created them."

In other words, man and woman together present to mankind an image of God.

The vocation of woman is to reveal God's beauty to the world.

Woman is made to be beautiful. Our culture's emphasis on physical beauty is not wrong, but it is shallow, and often misdirected.

The deepest way a woman is beautiful is when she reveals to others their own goodness by teaching them the love God has for them. This is the "feminine genius:" to reveal the goodness of the human person, and thus the beauty of God.

What Mother Teresa of Calcutta did for the poor, every woman can do in her environment, and certainly every mother does in her home for her husband and children.

This is the most satisfying and happy "work" of women, but there remains in every woman an emotional need to feel her beauty is appreciated.

So one of the best things a husband can do for his wife is give a little assurance now and then that she is still beautiful in his eyes: in spite of wrinkles, stretch marks, perhaps the weight gain that can come with bearing children, cooking for them, and taking more care of others than oneself.

That's the real meaning of a romantic gesture for most wives, I think: It's a sign she is appreciated not just as cook and chauffer and governess and maid, but as wife.

ZENIT: How can Catholic families celebrate St. Valentine's Day?

Teti: Faith & Family readers have lots of good ideas. Some of them study the various saints named Valentine.

Some make it a day to remember people who might otherwise be forgotten by taking valentine cards to sick or elderly shut-ins.

Almost everyone makes it an occasion to exchange cards with family members, celebrating the family's love for one another.

And, of course, there must be heart-shaped desserts.

ZENIT: Valentine's Day has its roots in Christianity. There are actually several St. Valentines who were martyrs in the early Church. What is it about this Christian holiday that appeals to popular culture so much that they have embraced it as well?

Teti: I think we have Geoffrey Chaucer to thank for that. Not much is known about any of the St. Valentines, but they were martyrs, and there does not seem to have been any association of the day with romance until Chaucer wrote a poem about the marriage of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia.

Chaucer made St. Valentine the patron saint of the marriage, and his poem also included allusions to Cupid and Venus. After that, there seems to have been a conflation of Cupid and St. Valentine, and Valentine's Day came to be associated with the "courtly love" of the medieval courts.

It's from the tradition of courtly love that the practice of sending a "valentine" in secret comes about. Or so the historians say!

ZENIT: In popular culture, it can seem that Valentine's day has become more of a day about sex and being sexy than about love. Is there a place for both on this day?

Teti: Catholicism isn't puritanical. The Catholic approach to culture has always been to embrace what is wholesome and overcome what is evil with good.

Of course there is no necessity to celebrate Valentine's Day; it's not a holy day of obligation!

But for those who choose to observe it, there's no reason it can't be an opportunity to celebrate human love in all its dimensions -- including the romantic and erotic, which are part of God's gift to husbands and wives.

--- --- ---

On the Net:

Rebecca Ryskind Teti's Faith and Family blog: www.faithandfamilylive.com

Global Warming: Is there anything it can't do?

From the Heritage Foundation:

Global Warming - Is There Anything It Can't Do?

Tomorrow, NBC (which is owned by General Electric) will begin broadcasting the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver, Canada. Only two events are scheduled for the opening day (alpine skiing and ski jumping), but even those events will be difficult to pull off. Why? There is no snow in Vancouver. And International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge knows exactly what is to blame: global warming. Rogge tells AFP: "Global warming of course is a worry, it is a worry for the entire world."

Considering that NBC/GE has already received billions in TARP bailout cash from the Obama administration and is actively lobbying for a global warming energy tax bill so that it can receive billions more in government green-energy subsidies on top of the millions it already receives, we are sure to hear lots from NBC announcers about how the lack of snow in Vancouver is just another reason Washington needs to act now to stop global warming.

But back in Washington, the global warming scare-monger crowd is singing a slightly different tune. Facing record snowfalls, Time is reporting: "Snowstorm: East Coast Blizzard Tied to Climate Change." But do not confuse this headline with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s column from two years ago claiming that global warming was causing "anemic winters" in the Washington region.

No snow, too much snow. It does not matter to the enviroleft crowd. For them, global warming always is to blame. That is the whole reason the movement made a deliberate decision earlier this decade to stop calling it "global warming" and start calling it "climate change." That way they could expand the universe of terrible things they could plausibly blame on global warming. One British citizen even maintains a comprehensive list of everything the enviroleft has tried to blame on global warming including: Atlantic ocean less salty, Atlantic ocean more salty, Earth slowing down, Earth spinning faster, fish bigger, fish shrinking, and (most importantly) beer better, beer worse.

The media are not the only ones complicit in the climate fear industry. The 2007 Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which is the most prestigious scientific body charged with determining what is and is not settled science) has also been found to be cooking the books. In just the past year, the IPCC's 2007 report has been exposed for overstating the science on glacier loss in the Himalayas, crop loss in Africa, Amazon rain forest depletion and damage from weather catastrophes.

Here is what we do know: the cap-and-trade system in Europe is completely failing to reduce carbon emissions; the cap-and-trade system proposed here in the United States would do nothing to affect global temperatures, but would do trillions of dollars of damage to the U.S. economy.

Something to think about while you shovel out your driveway today.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Please sign the petition to President Obama and the Congressional Leadership to make permanent and increase the child tax credit - and let parents decide how to spend the money they earn!
When It Comes to Child Care, Why Won't the President Let Parents Decide?
February 04, 2010 | Share with Friends
Dear Patricia,
When Congress passed tax relief for families in 2001 and 2003, some Members of Congress insisted the tax cuts be staggered and temporary, resulting in a large scheduled tax hike in 2011.
If these cuts are not made permanent,next year American families will face one of the largest tax increases in history. On average, taxes would increase $1,800 per taxpayer, and 48 million married couples will face an average hike of $3,007, with many paying more than if they merely cohabited. A family of four earning $40,000 would see a tax increase of over $2,300. If the President's tax relief is allowed to expire at the end of 2010, Americans will pay about $280 billion more in taxes each year.
Instead of addressing this problem, President Obama's recently submitted budget includes a proposal that seeks to increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. The proposal is limited only to families making less than $115,000 a year. To be clear, this is not an expansion of the Child Tax Credit, but an attempt to use the tax code for social engineering.
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit is for families where (a.) both parents work, (b.) there is only one parent and that parent is working, or (c.) one parent is working and the other is in school. Households where a parent stays at home to care for children get no break. This not only steers funds to government-approved daycare facilities, but also discriminates against families that have two working parents who might otherwise choose to have one parent stay home with the children.
In fairness to all, the President should first make permanent the Child Tax Credit, and then go further by increasing the credit to $5,000 for all households. This would let families decide how to spend the money they earn -- money that might even convince a parent to stay at home to care for their kids, which is the optimal environment for any child.
Please sign the petition asking Congress to empower parents to make the decisions that are best for their child. Increase the Child Tax Credit and make it permanent for all families!
Thank you for taking action today and God bless you.

Tony Perkins

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Latest on Superbowl "Tebow Ad" Planned Parenthood Responds!!

Olympic Medalist Al Joyner, Sean James Issue Pro-Abortion Reply to Tebow AdWashington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- Olympic Gold Medalist Al Joyner and former NFL football player Sean James have issued a pro-abortion video in response to the forthcoming Super Bowl ad featuring the pro-life birth story of college football star Tim Tebow.
Joyner, the brother of Olympic track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and James, who played for the Minnesota Vikings, issued the video for Planned Parenthood -- the nation's largest abortion business.
The men focus on the "respect for women's choices" in the video, meant to promote abortion in advance of the Focus on the Family ad touting Pam Tebow's pro-life "choice" to not have one.
In the video, James refers to the Focus ad featuring the Tebows and says "I respect and honor Mrs. Tebow's decision."
"My mom showed me that women are strong and wise," James continues. "She taught me that only women can make the best decisions about their health and their future." "We're working toward the day when every woman will be valued; where every woman's decision about her health and her family will be trusted and respected," James says, talking about the push to keep abortions legal.
Joyner follows and says: "I want my daughter to live in a world where everyone's decision is respected."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Feast of the Presentation!


Hope and Change We Can Believe In (FINALLY!!)

From Zenit:
Americans Looking for Real Political, Economic Change
Papal Encyclial Offers Roadmap to Markets With a Moral Compass
By Carl Anderson

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, FEB. 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Americans continue to see the country heading in the wrong direction.

During 2008, President Barack Obama clearly perceived this mood and brilliantly seized the day with the campaign slogan "Change We Can Believe In." Now, a year into his presidency, Washington appears incapable of delivering, and Americans are increasingly losing confidence in government.

A recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll found that while Obama has overall approval from a majority of the American people, nearly six in 10 have lost confidence in Washington's ability to handle the economic crisis.

In addition, 55% say that increased government regulation will only hurt the economy further.

But while the American people don't support more regulation and lack confidence in government's response to the economy, they are hardly giving Wall Street a pass.

In fact, even more people are unhappy with greed in the business community.

It will not be enough for business to simply oppose greater government regulation since most Americans don't want runaway regulation by the government, for by even wider margins they don't trust business leaders.

Some 81% of Americans believe that business leaders have a different set of ethical standards for work and their personal lives. And 75% say that's not right.

The public is looking for change from the business and financial communities.

People want a higher standard and stronger commitment to ethics in business.

This feeling of the American people can’t be dismissed as angry populism. Rather, Americans are insisting on a free market with rules that make sense. They see -- and rightly so -- that a moral compass is the essential foundational of free markets.

As Americans do in their own lives, they expect the market to value such standards as honesty, fair play and concern for one's neighbor. That has always been the best of the "American way," and that is the only way business leaders can rebuild their relationship with the American people.

Are today's corporate executives capable of delivering a free market version of "change we can believe in?"

Ethical business

Interestingly, in 1985, Benedict XVI -- then Cardinal Ratzinger -- warned of the consequences of a system that removed itself from its moral foundation. He said: "It is becoming an increasingly obvious fact of economic history that the development of economic systems which concentrate on the common good depends on a determinate ethical system, which in turn can be born and sustained only by strong religious convictions. Conversely, it has also become obvious that the decline of such discipline can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse."

We have seen ethics separated from the market, and we have seen the market collapse under the weight of greedy and selfish investment practices. The question is, can we achieve an ethical market system?

Last year, in a previous Knights of Columbus/Marist poll, we found that three-quarters of Americans and 94% of executives believed that a business could be ethical and successful. What is required is for that overwhelming majority to embrace moral decision-making.

If corporate executives are willing to step up their ethical standards, then they can provide the American people with a real alternative to government regulation -- which has shown itself unable to solve one crisis, let alone prevent the next one.

But if they won’t clean up their own houses, business leaders will leave Americans with the forced choice of tolerating sleight of hand on Wall Street or a heavy hand from Washington.

Little wonder that in addition to being pessimistic about the government’s prospects for solving the economic crisis, a majority of Americans see the crisis affecting them personally. In our poll, 55% said that their careers are likely to be negatively impacted by today’s economic environment.

With the majority of Americans believing they will be negatively impacted by the crisis, this is not a problem that will go away on its own.

Confidence no-vote

On Main Street, there is disappointment -- and opposition -- to both government regulation and corporate greed -- neither of which can solve the moral bankruptcy of those who have divorced ethics from the economy.

Until the American people see change they can believe in from both Washington and Wall Street, until they see business decisions made on a moral basis, the crisis in confidence among American workers and consumers will continue, and that bodes badly for all of us.

But there is hope. Indeed, for Catholics who are business owners, executives, investors and consumers, we must realize that our own lack of action -- or lack of public action -- is contributing to the silence surrounding the moral dimensions of the economic crisis.

We might say, with Shakespeare: "The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves," and once we realize that, we can realize too that this situation can be overcome.

Benedict XVI has given us a great roadmap for a future that includes ethics in its economics. For years, and especially in his most recent encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," he has shown us the way to a future in which ethics are at the center of the economy, not on the sidelines.

So we must -- by our example -- awaken the 75% of Americans and 94% of executives who believe money can be made ethically. With that sort of majority, it shouldn’t be difficult to make a real difference in the way business is done.
It's the sort of change three quarters of the country already believes in, and it could change the world into a better place for all of us.

* * *

Carl Anderson is the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus and a New York Times bestselling author.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Failure of Obama's Budget

From the Heritage Foundation:
President Barack Obama will submit a $3.8 trillion budget proposal for fiscal 2011 to Congress today. One might hope that given last year's $1.4 trillion budget deficit was an all-time high and the President promised a spending "freeze" in last week's State of the Union, this budget might signal a change in direction from the White House. No such luck. President Obama's new budget is full of billions of dollars in new spending for failed government programs, higher taxes on American families and businesses, and deficit spending for as far as the eye can see.

At the very least, the budget document President Obama is submitting today exposes his spending "freeze" promise for the fraud that it is. As outlined last week, the administration would halt spending increases for only a $447 billion sliver of our total budget, with a total of $15 billion to be saved. That is less than half a percent off of last year’s spending. Worse, this isn't even an across-the-board spending freeze; it is an aggregate one. So "spending cuts" in parts of the budget are immediately channeled to others. For example, even though the federal government does not need any money for the Census next year, President Obama counts the $5 billion spent this year as a "spending cut" that can be immediately spent on other government programs, such as a 16% increase in Department of Education funding, a 6.8% increase in Department of Energy funding, and increases for ineffective Health and Human Services programs like Head Start and sex education.

Given the best case scenario, the most the White House hopes to save from this supposed spending "freeze" is $15 billion. And that is easily dwarfed by just the $100 billion President Obama wants for his Economic Stimulus II plan. Then there are the tax hikes, including higher taxes on families earning more than $250,000 and a brand new tax on financial institutions to pay for the failed automobile union bailout.

And what is the end result of all of Obama's new taxes and spending? A record national debt. According to the White House Office of Management and Budgetthe United States will post a $1.556 trillion deficit in fiscal 2010, which the Obama administration claims will be reduced to $1.267 trillion in fiscal 2011, thanks to their budget. Given this administration's budget forecasting record, however, expect that final deficit number to go up. The Obama administration now forecasts $5.08 trillion in debt over the next five years; that is 35% more debt than they forecast just 12 months ago.

A common sense budget would move our country in a much different direction. For starters, the remaining TARP and stimulus funds should both be rescinded. Next, instead of the President’s fungible “aggregate” spending freeze, tough hard spending caps should be enacted. Finally, Congress should disclose the massive unfunded obligations of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; put those programs on long-term budgets; and enact the necessary entitlement and programmatic reforms that can keep government within those limits.