October 3, 2020 Column Father De Celles

Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Last Saturday President Trump nominated Judge Amy Barrett to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. Of course whenever a Republican president names a new Justice the Democrats and all the radical left try to block the nomination by destroying the good name of the nominee. There are lots of reasons for this, but the most fundamental is that the Democrats et al embrace the right to kill unborn babies as if it were a sacrament and Republican presidents nominate people they think will overturn the right to abort.

            This time they will certainly try to destroy Judge Barrett. Just as they tried to destroy so many in the past, like Clarence Thomas, Robert Bork, and Brett Kavanaugh.

            But I want you to know: Amy Barrett is a wonderful woman. I know, because she’s a friend of my family, very close to my sister and her family, with whom she lived for several years when she worked in Washington.

            Besides being a brilliant lawyer, she’s an amazing mother of 7 children, one of whom has Down Syndrome, and two of whom were adopted from Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

            But what I imagine the opposition, including most of the press, will focus on is her membership in a Charismatic covenant community based out of South Bend, Indiana called “People of Praise” (POP). As Newsweek wrote last week, she “…is affiliated with a type of Christian religious group that served as inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.” Of course, the next day they had to admit that POP has nothing to do with that stupid novel: “A New Yorker profile of the author from 2017 mentions …a different charismatic Catholic group, People of Hope. Newsweek regrets the error.” LIES.

            Here’s the deal. Three of my siblings belong to POP, and my uncle was the head honcho at POP for about 10 years. They are not some kind of kooky cult, just a group of devout Christians (90% Catholic) who seek to establish a more committed form of life in Christ. They are free to come and go. There is no brainwashing. They work in cooperation with priests and bishops, and the Catholics are very orthodox in their doctrinal beliefs and active in their parishes. My experience with the Catholics in the group has been very positive, even though I don’t agree with the charismatic form of prayer and worship.

            But it’s not POP that will bother the opposition—it is abortion.

            So pray for our sister in Christ, for her strength, courage and peace. And pray for those who will persecute her—and us—that they will be thwarted in their efforts. St. Raymond of Peñafort, patron saint of lawyers, pray for us.

Attorney General Barr. On September 23, 2020, our country’s Catholic AG gave an amazing speech at the virtual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. Here is an excerpt I’d like you to take to heart:

“In joining together to pray for the strength and health of our country, we carry on a tradition that goes back to the beginning of the Republic.  During the summer of 1783, General George Washington gave his first major address following the Revolutionary War….  He delivered a famous prayer that continues to be read aloud every day at Mount Vernon.  He asked God not only to protect the nation from external threats, but to maintain the character of its citizens:  as he put it, to “dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy,” and to comport ourselves “with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the divine author of our blessed religion,” and without which “we can never hope to be a happy Nation.”

“As Washington and his fellow Founders understood, religion is at the heart of the American experiment in self-government.  In his Farewell Address, Washington said:  “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”…   

“That crucial link between religion and liberty, so well understood at the Founding, is all too often forgotten today.  In American public discourse, perhaps no concept is more misunderstood than the notion of “separation of church and state.”  Militant secularists have long seized on that slogan as a facile justification for attempting to drive religion from the public square and to exclude religious people from bringing a religious perspective to bear on conversations about the common good.

“Yet…separation of church and state does not mean, and never did mean, separation of religion and civics.  As late as 1952, Justice William O. Douglas could write for a majority of the Supreme Court that “we are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”  Alexis de Tocqueville, the keenest observer of the early American republic, praised America’s separation of church and state while extolling America’s union of the “spirit of religion” and the “spirit of liberty” as the key to its success.  And Tocqueville identified religion as perhaps the greatest bulwark against a descent into tyranny.

“How does religion preserve liberty?  In the first place, as our Founders recognized, religion assists in the formation of virtuous citizens who are prepared to exercise liberty responsibly.  Whereas in democratic times, individuals have a tendency to withdraw from public life and pursue private self-gratification, religion builds community, strengthens social cohesion, and turns our attention to the common good.  At the same time, religion safeguards individual rights by warding off what Tocqueville called the “impious maxim” that “everything is permitted in the interest of society.”  For all of these reasons, Tocqueville referred to Americans’ religion as “the first of their political institutions.”

“Unfortunately, in the last half century, that foundation of our free society has increasingly been under siege.  Traditional morality has eroded, and secularists have often succeeded not only in eliminating religion from schools and the public square, but in replacing it with new orthodoxies that are actively hostile to religion.  The consequences of this hollowing out of religion have been predictably dire.  Over the past 50 years, we have seen striking increases in urban violence, drug abuse, and broken families.  Problems like these have fed the rise of an ever more powerful central government, one that increasingly saps individual initiative, coopts civil society, crowds out religious institutions, and ultimately reduces citizens to wards of the State.

“As patriotic Americans and people of faith, we cannot be complacent about these trends….”

Emotional Impact of Shutdown. The COVID crisis has been a huge strain on all of us. But I ask you to particularly consider the emotional and spiritual effect on children.             Think particularly about the fear they see around them—especially in us. We should ask ourselves if the panic and fear we generate is really appropriate, especially when it radiates from us to affect our kids. Especially when they are restricted from their normal lives, their normal emotional and spiritual supports, and even hanging out with their friends.

And then consider, are you offering your children the peace that only comes from Jesus by praying with them, bringing them to Mass and Confession, and—so importantly—letting that peace show forth in your life?

 Think about this. Pray about this.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles