By Fr. George Welzbacher
April 10, 2011
As today we enter that final phase of Lent traditionally known as Passiontide, reports from the ongoing war along the Morality front are mixed. You win some, you lose some. May I offer a sampling drawn from a single issue (April 4) of The National Review: GOOD NEWS from Maryland vis-à-vis the defense of the institution of marriage; redundant evidence of just how absurdly DISTORTED is the lens through which leading lords of the media pass their moral judgments; and a dramatic illustration of how totally ALIEN the ABC's of Christian MORAL teaching have come to seem to our cultural partner across the Atlantic, radically secularized Britain. (Ditto that for Western Europe!). Here goes!
* * * * *In another blow to the "gay marriage is inevitable" narrative, legislation recognizing same-sex marriage has FAILED in Maryland. All signals had pointed to a DIFFERENT end. The bill had passed the state Senate and Democratic governor Martin O'Malley had promised to sign it. But in the House, where there are 98 Democrats and 43 Republicans, the bill could NOT muster the 71 votes required for passage and was sent back to committee, an action that effectively killed it for this year. What changed was an outpouring of opposition, most notably from black-church members. The wave of the future isn't hitting Maryland's shore.
* * * * *When incompatible mandates of political correctness collide, the results can be amusing. But they can also be appalling, as in the New York Time's recent coverage of the gang-rape of an eleven-year-old girl in Texas. The men charged - there are eighteen of them, mind you - range in age from their early teens to their later twenties, and all of them are black, and the victim is Hispanic. The Times being the Times, racial polarization became the dominant aspect of its coverage, and its account dwelled on the fate of the poor young men whose lives will no doubt be DISRUPTED if they are held criminally accountable for the gang-rape of a child - one who, as the Times helpfully reported, was said to have "dressed older than her age, wearing make-up and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20's." The paper's readers howled in outrage, but the editors replied that their beclowned reporter, James C. McKinley, was merely repeating what he'd been told - a dunderheaded excuse in the circumstances. The Times staff apologist, Arthur Brisbane, eventually was shamed into conceding that the story "LACKED BALANCE....."
* * * * *Owen and Eunice Johns are a couple in their early sixties living in Derby, England. They have four children and six grandchildren of their own, and since their nest emptied they have been foster parents to 15 other children. Social workers have praised them as "kind and hospitable people" who "respond sensitively to youngsters." But when the Johnses recently applied to foster more children, the municipal authorities turned them down. The Johnses appealed to Britain's highest court, but they lost there too. The High Court judges ruled that Biblical CHRISTIAN beliefs may be "INIMICAL" to children - the Johnses, Pentecostal Christians, consider homosexual activity sinful - and they upheld a submission by Britain's sinister Equality and Human Rights Commission that children risk being "INFECTED" by Christian moral beliefs. Mrs. Johns said, "All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing." Said Mr. Johns: "We wanted to offer love and stability and security to a vulnerable child. Eight-year-olds we have looked after want to play, not talk about their sexuality." In that respect they are quite unlike the people who serve on human-rights commissions. [Emphasis added].
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The three reports above are reprinted from The National Review for April 4. All in all, there do come days when, after absorbing the news, you want to shout: "Let me out of here!" At which point, especially now that the onset of spring can add to the pleasure of a long drive, why not consider a one-or-two day pilgrimage to the beautiful Shrine of Our Lady of the Americas just outside of LaCrosse, Wisconsin or to the recently officially approved shrine commemorating Our Blessed Mother's appearances to Adele Brise back in the 1800's outside of Champion, Wisconsin, near Green Bay. A brief account of the rapidly growing popularity of the shrine near Champion, The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, recently appeared online in WBAY.com/Global story. May I share it with you here as I wish you a prayerful and spiritually productive observance of the holy season of Passiontide.* * * * *
Thousands Flock to Local Shrine for a Miracle from the Virgin Mary* * * * *
By Jeff Alexander
WBAY. com/Global Story
They're coming from all over the state, and soon, there will be pilgrimages from all over the world to a newly-proclaimed Marian shrine just outside of Green Bay.
Back in December, Green Bay Bishop David Ricken made it official: After years of research, the Catholic bishop proclaimed The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion an official site where the Virgin Mary appeared.
More than 150 years ago, a young Belgian woman, Adele Brise, claimed Mary appeared to her where the shrine is located today.
In the century-and-a-half since, hundreds of visitors have reported blessings and healings taking place after they visited the shrine.
It's one of only 12 confirmed Marian apparition sites in the world and the only one in the United States.
The shrine's tour director says already thousands of people are visiting each week, and that could just scratch the surface of what's to come this spring and summer.
Even on dreary winter days, they come.
Beatrice Marx drove three hours from Hartford, seeking healing for her eyes and aching knees and back.
"I do believe there are miracles and I do believe there have been miracles here and I would like Mary to hear me, too," she said.
Starting next month, the shrine's tour director, Karen Tipps, says tour bus groups will arrive daily.
Her big concern is making sure they find the shrine, which is nestled in rural- farmland off Highway K.
"Better signage is definitely needed. When you have that many more bus groups coming out here, the frustration level really increases when they're lost out in the country and they don't know where you are. We had sometimes where they're 20 miles past us down the road," Tipps said.
Even locals making first time visits are becoming lost.
"I actually drove by the place and had to turn around and come back because I missed the sign. It could be done a whole lot better," Paul Stimpson from Green Bay said.
And that's top priority for tourism leaders like Brad Toll, whose office is also fielding calls from tour groups around the country and world.
He's meeting this month with the county highway department, sheriff's department, executive's office, and the diocese to make sure everyone's ready for all the traffic.
"To tell them which way to travel out there, the best traffic route and where to park, those kinds of things so we want to put a meeting together to make certain we're telling visitors the right thing," Toll said.
Toll says potentially, the number of visitors is staggering.
"Average attendance at similar shrines like this around the world is about 12 million."
And finally, à propos of a matter that could have widespread implications, an interesting anecdote from the syndicated columnist, Joseph Farah, from the Washington Times (national edition), March 28, 2011:* * * * *
.... I recently conducted a little experiment. I called three passport offices with the following apocryphal tale: I said I needed to apply for a passport but only had a SHORT- FORM CERTIFICATION of live birth from Hawaii. Would that suffice?
The three passport offices contacted were in Hawaii, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Hawaii said "no problem." Washington and Virginia both said "NO WAY!" Same country but different responses.
In fact, if you visit most passport offices around the country, you will see signs posted about passport application requirements that specifically say, "NO [mere SHORT form] certifications of live birth ...... [The long form must be provided].
....And the reason for that is obvious. It [the short form] is NOT RELIABLE.
It's not real hard evidence of an actual birth to specific parents at a specific time and a specific place. There are too many ways to get one dishonestly. And they are easy to forge.
Which is why I question, in this age of rampant identity theft and digital manipulation, the move by Hawaii and other states to accept such unreliable documents.
It's much harder to forge an actual birth CERTIFICATE, the kind signed by a doctor, the kind that is a contemporaneous record of an eyewitness event....
May I wish you again a prayerful and productive observance of the holy season of Passiontide.