You Ought to Act Like a Human

You Ought to Act Like a Human.

You Ought to Act Like a Human

Did you ever think about how human beings and trees differ? Trees are what they are. Any element, molecule, compound, computer chip, rocket ship, or plant exists according to a certain orderliness of matter. But the human being exists as a being in a radically different manner from inanimate matter or other living things. Even the noblest creatures are what they are independent of their own reason or will. No one can convince a dog, for instance, that he ought to act like a real dog (I’ve tried). Not so with humans.

The difference is our power of virtue.

Consider physical power. The power of a machine refers to the physical ability to do work. Hence, the maximum potential output from an engine is measured as mechanical horsepower, a comparison to the work that horses can do. When the machine achieves its maximum potential, we say the machine has reached the fullest expression of its capacity.

St. Thomas Aquinas defined virtue for human beings similarly as an ultimum potentiae. The German philosopher, Josef Pieper, interpreted this to mean “the utmost best a person can be.” Unlike elements, machines, plants, or animals, human virtue implies a lifelong perfection of the spiritual powers of intellect and will. Humans have rational souls, which instill us with the power to act rationally, to make choices, to love, to seek God.

Children, therefore, need to be taught to practice virtue so they can realize their fullest potential, worth, and goodness. To do this, they need love. Virtue begins with the highest love, caritas. Aquinas called this love the “mother and the root of all the virtues.” From their earliest age, children need to be told that God loves them, so they can discover true hope. They need to be told they ought to love God and reach beyond themselves for Him. Children need to be told they ought to find the goodness in the existence of God, nature, others, and themselves. In realizing such meaning and purpose, children need to be taught they ought to listen for the voice of God in faith.

Then children need to be taught they ought to be prudent, to have an openness to reality and to accept honestly the unveiling of truth through reason. Children need to be taught they ought to be just, to respect and love others, and give others their due. Children need to be taught they ought to be brave, and they ought to realize the good in the world, willing in fortitude to accept injury for the sake of truth and justice. Children need to be taught they ought to practice self-discipline so as to protect themselves from self-destruction. Children need to hear, “You ought to act like a human.”

Because they will if they are raised up in love.

In this modern materialistic age, most children never hear such things. Many children are treated as mere commodities, trophies, or inconveniences—but that doesn’t make them any less human. It only chains them from becoming who they were meant to be.

Sources and Further Reading:

  • Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, I-II, Questions 55 and 62.
  • Josef Pieper, An Anthology (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989), Essays “The Ultimate,” “Ought To” and “Seven Statements,” p. 3-8.

Examining Lust

In an online forum, a Christian one, someone wanted to know what constitutes ‘lust’.  In light of the world today, it’s an important question..

The basic definition of lust is having a self-absorbed desire for an object, person, or experience. The Bible has a lot to say about lust. The Bible further defines lust as the root of all evil. Lust puts material things above God. It is not material things or money that is evil; it is the lust of material things that supercedes our love of God that is evil. Lust is worshiping or idolizing anything above God.

I think that lust is the opposite of love.  Love is sacrificial-you want what’s best for the other, regardless of what it costs you.  Mother Teresa loved.  She gave herself totally to take care of the poorest of the poor, including using monetary gifts, such as the Nobel Prize she received, to build facilities to help the poor.  She died, having never seen her mother after she consecrated herself to Christ.  She died with nothing.  That’s love.  It’s when you put others’ needs before your own.  If you love dolphins, you’ll do anything for them, even if it makes you suffer, even unto death. Lust, on the other hand, is the love for others because of what they do for you.  So if your married, and you demand sexual favors from your spouse, not caring what it costs the other person, that’s lust.  You can lust after food, possessions, alcohol, people, places, and so on.  It’s lust if you love dolphins because you want them to do flips in the air on demand.

So, is it lust to enjoy looking at physical beauty?  Before we examine the aspect of physical HUMAN beauty, let’s look at natural beauty.  Do you appreciate a landscape, mountainscape or seascape?  Who doesn’t?  But can you lust after natural beauty. To carry it forward, suppose you love dolphins so much you want to have one living in your pool.  It’s not good for the dolphin, but it makes you feel good.

I think this shows pretty well what lust is.  So how can you evaluate if you’re glances at human beauty to determine whether you’re engaging in lust?  I think it’s personal, just like how alcohol affects certain people.  The question is, what is your thought of possession of the object of your eyes? Do you want to own it, even for a moment? You might be engaging in lust.  If you admire beauty for the sake of beauty (thinking of God’s great love), there is no worry.  For example, I used to love a certain actress.  I would watch any movie with her in it, regardless of the content or subject of the movie.  This was certainly a degree of lust.  It’s sorta like folks who love certain types of technology (phones and the like) who will keep tabs on when the next greatest phone is coming out, and be willing to spend the night in line waiting for the release.

It is not lust to admire God’s beauty, or even the way a man or woman is dressed, or any aspect of their appeal.  What is lustful is when you want to draw this beauty to yourself, for your own use, for your own benefit.

Ten Things to Remember if Pope Francis Upsets You

Ten Things to Remember if Pope Francis Upsets You


Many conservative Catholics are experiencing a range of negative feelings about Pope Francis. When a headline screams that he stated that 2% of Catholic clergy are pedophiles, that he “promises to solve the celibacy problem” that he doesn’t want to convert Evangelicals or that he doesn’t judge a homosexual who “searches for the Lord and has goodwill” they experience confusion, anger, resentment, bewilderment and fear. Some have given up on Pope Francis. Others say he is “the false prophet” who will accompany the anti Christ in the end times. Others don’t like his dress sense, grumble about his media gaffes and some think they are all intentional and that he is a very shrewd Jesuit who wants to undermine the Catholic faith. The sensationalism doesn’t do any good. These folks should step back and realize they are (in their own way) being just as sensational about Pope Francis as liberals were about Pope Benedict when they called him “God’s Rottweiler” or “Nazi Ratzi” and said he was a closet homosexual and a hater of women.




You cannot have it all!

Dear Harris Faulkner,

I watched Outnumbered yesterday, and wanted to write you about the segment regarding what the CEO of PepsiCo said.  More specifically, to your reaction.  For those who want to watch, here‘s a link.

Harris, I know you’re not making the kind of money she is.  But think about it!  Every day we make decisions.  We give up, or postpone, one thing in favor of another.  And sadly, for women with careers, they often give up raising their children in order to have a career.  Look at yourself-you’re on television every day, Monday through Sunday.  Admit it, please, Harris-you’ve made trade-offs in your life.  Some things have been postponed (you’re 48, married 10 years, so you married late and had children late).  I’m not criticizing your life choices-those are yours.  But you have made choices.

The point is, life isn’t meant for us to have everything.  We cannot see everything, do everything, be everything to everybody.  You sacrificed some of motherhood in order to pursue a career. (again, not judging, in any way, shape, or form)  What Mrs. Indra Nooyi said is just that-in order for her to move up to her position, she had to put aside her family, and let others manage them.  And again, I’m not judging.  That’s what she chose.  I chose what I did, to take a lesser salary in order to have a quality of life like no other with my wife.  I know her very intimately.  My life is simple.  God first, wife second, children (hers) and grandchildren next, and others.  Then me.  Mrs. Nooyi sacrificed her family for her career, and you have as well.

We cannot have it all.  We weren’t meant to have it all.  We were meant to do what God intended us to do.  Maybe you’re doing it.  Maybe she’s doing it.  Maybe I’m doing it.  I sure hope so.  We make thousands of decisions every day.  We put things aside in favor of other things.  If I buy shrimp for dinner, I won’t be able to get that jewelry for my wife.  Everything is a trade-off.  I wake up to catch a bus, and take me away from the home I work so hard for, in order to be able to afford the roof over my head.  That’s a choice.  No matter how much wealth we accumulate on this earth, we cannot have everything, and when we leave this life, we will take none of it with us.  God won’t ask us, when we get to the pearly gates “How much square footage did you have in your home?”  He’ll ask how many homeless people you helped shelter.  He won’t ask what kind of car do you drive, what your favorite designer is, and so on.  He’s going to want to know how you took care of the poor, hungry, thirsty, naked, and imprisoned.

Harris, I can take offense at how Mrs. Nooyi said what she said, but her content is clear, and she’s right.  And at the same time, I can listen to you ladies (and one gent), and not worry about how much thigh you’re showing, paying attention to only what you’re discussing.

Life is a bridge, Harris.  We don’t build our estate on that bridge.  We build it where we want to live forever.  In heaven.  Life is not the destination, it’s the road to help us get to our destination.  God bless.

My take on the Hobby Lobby decision in the SCOTUS

I believe it didn’t go far enough…

Liberals are railing against the Supreme Court decision (after crowing about the one they made on the ACA), because they say it impacts women’s health.  It’s really hard to raise this question, when the decision at hand approves the business to allow 16 forms of birth control, only banning those that would kill a potential human.  Morning after pills.

That being said, what business is it of my employers to provide me sexual freedom? An employer is responsible to pay you for work done, and give you a certain amount of security regarding your health and welfare.  Personally, medical coverage is a benefit, not an expectation.  I’m glad I can buy good coverage through the group plan my employer offers.  But it is not their responsibility to offer health care insurance to me.  They could pay me better, and allow me to purchase my own, for example.  I have worked as a contractor for companies, and not been offered health coverage, or offered inferior health coverage, or overpriced health coverage, and chosen to go it alone, even though I had a condition that put me in a higher premium bracket, and it was still cheaper than some that were offered.  So while I think it’s great that many companies do offer health coverage to their employees, I don’t believe it’s their responsibility to do so.

Secondly,  this decision does not prohibit women from going out and getting the pills (the left) says women want.  It is available at most pharmacies, at about $50.  I know, it makes sex more expensive.  But that is as it should be.  Sex has consequences, and people make mistakes.  I know.  I’m living with all mine.  None of them involve having a child.

What the SCOTUS decided was that an employer is not responsible for someone’s irresponsibility when it is against the employer’s religious convictions.  I heard arguments on TV saying that Jim Crow laws were, at one time “religious convictions”.  And all I can say is-who’s to say?  Is it for government to tell us what our religious convictions can and cannot be?  If I want to discriminate against someone in my business, and I’m up front about it, what’s wrong?  It’s a business decision, such as the decision to sell exclusively kosher food, or hal-el food.  Every business has a target consumer.  So why can’t I target Jews, or Muslims, or Christians?  Why can’t I say “I’m Orthodox, and fundamentally opposed to Catholics”?  I can require gentlemen to wear ties, and ladies to wear dresses.  But I can’t decide whom I will serve?  I mean, I believe it’s self-limiting to do so, honestly.  I want, if I’m a business owner, as much business to flow in as I can handle.  I don’t want to limit or exclude anyone.  But if I wanted to, isn’t it my right?  I make decisions I believe will benefit my business all the time, if I’m a business man.  So then, if my religion requires that I abstain from meat on Friday, I can also only serve fish in the cafeteria on Fridays.  So, if my religion says that killing unborn babies is wrong, I can tell people when I hire them, that health coverage at this company does not include “morning after” pills.

A similar case has been brought up in the diocese of Oakland.  Teachers in diocesan schools are required to sign a contract that says they will live the faith and morals, and teach the faith and morals, of the Catholic Church.  And a few have refused to agree.  That’s their prerogative-they can go work somewhere else.  But it seems fair to expect employees that work for an entity that espouses a certain belief to also share that belief.  I mean, if you work Clorox, wouldn’t you use products made by Clorox?

OK, We Won. But the Hobby Lobby Vote should have been 9 – 0. Wake up, America. Your liberty is on the line!

OK, We Won. But the Hobby Lobby Vote should have been 9 – 0. Wake up, America. Your liberty is on the line!. By Msgr. Charles Pope

Okay, so we won today in the Supreme Court. The Hobby Lobby case went our way; score one for religious liberty.

But here’s a concern: why didn’t the Justices vote 9–0? To be even more clear, if religious liberty, a right given us by God and legally enshrined in the First Amendment, prevailed by only one vote where are we as a country? And how long will that one vote prevail? So, we can celebrate a narrow victory, but why was it narrow?

How have we reached the point in this country that those who hold a sincere religious belief contrary to the contraceptive mindset of the world, and who also sincerely oppose the killing of children through abortion, only narrowly escaped being required to both provide for and even pay for these sorts of things?

Where are all the liberals who march under the banners of tolerance? Where are the First Amendment zealots willing to stand with us? They are nowhere to be found, I suspect because it touches on abortion and contraception, which have become like sacraments for them.

I would like to think that, though I love the Scriptures and want everyone to have them, I would oppose in principle a law requiring every business to provide free bibles to all their employees or customers. I’d like to think that, if a Muslim business owner (or a pagan one for that matter) objected to being required to do this, I would stand with him in principle and oppose this requirement. Thus even if a non-Catholic doesn’t understand or agree with my principled opposition to contraception and abortifacients, is it really so much to ask that most justices (not just 5 out of 9) and most Americans agree that I ought not be required to provide and pay for these things?

Go with me to the Jewish delicatessen example of Bishop Lori some years ago as I adapt it just a bit. What if the current Administration or the Federal Government were to say to all Jewish deli owners, “It is just an outrage and downright un-American that you don’t sell pork sausage and hot dogs. Every American deli MUST provide these by law. And you must comply or face big fines”? Even though most Americans don’t understand or share the Jewish aversion to pork, I would think they would still be outraged by such an action.

Now suppose further that after the outrage the government proposed a compromise: “OK, you don’t have to provide the pork, but you must let us set up a kiosk inside your deli where we will offer it free of charge to your customers and employees, because, by gosh, whether you like it or not, you are going to offer pork in your Jewish deli!” Again, the outrageousness of such a stance would provoke great protests from most Americans regardless of how comfortable they are with eating pork themselves.

It is simply outrageous that four Supreme Court Justices, and many Americans, cannot see the clear and offensive proposition of the Government in this regard. And even if they don’t share our opposition, they ought to stand with us in principle.

But they do not. And this once again underscores the serious condition of our Nation and our Constitution. It is another example of the growing tyranny of relativism wherein reasoned recourse to agreed-upon principles is no longer possible. Thus, they win who are the most powerful, or have the most money, or have the most access. Granted, we won today, but barely, and by one vote; it could easily have gone differently.

Everyone, no matter his political or moral stance, should be very concerned about the growing intrusiveness and raw power of a government that thinks it can force people to act against their faith and to cooperate in what they think is evil. Catholic opposition to abortion and contraception is nothing new. It goes all the way back to Scripture, which condemned the use of “pharmakeia” (e.g., Gal 5:20, Rev 9:21, and 18:23). The Didache and countless documents of the Fathers and the Magisterium have always upheld these views. We have not changed, the culture has. To compel us to provide and even pay for what we consider evil is wrong and un-American. It is shocking that so few Americans understand or appreciate this.

But wake up, fellow Americans. You may even find it amusing for the Catholic Church or conservative Christians to be attacked. But if this can happen to us, it can happen to you. Think twice, and then think a third time too. You have every reason to stand with us, and only bigotry and the desires of the flesh to oppose us. Make no mistake; you will be next. The Government will not cease its encroachment on basic liberties at the exit door of the Catholic Church. The steamroller is heading for you next. Stand with us.

We won today, but barely. It should have been 9–0. Wake up, America; your religious and other liberties are hanging by the thread of one vote.

Sacrificial love

I’ve known for several years now what sacrificial (agape) love is.  It means putting others before yourself, even if it’s inconvenient to you.  I wanted to recommend it to you.  Yes, you.  Especially when you’re involved with someone else, like a spouse.

The example I am going to use is a Drum and Bugle Corps show we went to Saturday evening.  When we got the flyer in the mail, I mentioned to my wife that I would like us to go to the event.  I checked off a couple of possible hindrances, such as work and day of the week, but didn’t think about my wife’s desire to be home after 8:00 pm any night.  In my excitement, I bought tickets.  She distressed a bit about the late evening, but not much, all things considered.  I ran into some health issues in the last month, and so did she.  I won’t detail those, but let’s just say being far away from home wasn’t a great choice.  When I say far, I mean half-hour distance.  So the doctor gave her some strong antibiotics which made her tired and nauseous.  So after a morning working in the yard Saturday, we rested for most of the afternoon.  It was really touch and go as to whether we’d go or not.  She made some comments about me going without her, but she knows I won’t do that, except in special cases, like traveling for work, or recreational SCUBA.  She dosed a bit, and got up to get ready to go.  I will point out now that if it were up to her (and it really was), she would not go.  But she knew I was excited, she knew that she was part of that excitement (because I was sharing a glimpse of my young life where she wasn’t a part yet), that I wouldn’t really enjoy myself without her, and she decided to tough it out, regardless of nausea and cramps.  Thankfully, neither of those things manifested itself, and she was able to fully enjoy it, even if it was a late night.

What my wife did for me Saturday night was sacrificial love.  She did it simply because she wanted me to enjoy myself.  What it evoked from me was a sense of awe.  She knows that I will do the same for her (and have), but more than anything, It just makes me love her all the more.

I have seen relationships where the couple is not engaged in anything together.  They work apart, they play apart, and all they have together is their children.  My own step-daughter has been married close to 20 years, and will not, under any circumstances, sit down and watch a sports event with her husband.  I haven’t seen many times they’ve been on vacation together.  My suggestion is to become involved.  Intimate.  Know the other person’s likes and dislikes.  Get to understand why.  Learn about something they like, come to enjoy sharing that with them, and you have made a life-long friend.