Solidarity HealthShare: The Catholic Answer to the Healthcare Dilemma

Through a group of friends here in Phoenix, I recently discovered the Catholic answer to the healthcare dilemma that faces many people in our country today. With the rise of medical costs for so many from the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as ObamaCare), Solidarity HealthShare, which understands the commonality to care for each other as stated in the Sacred Scriptures, stands to be the answer for so many that would be subjected to astronomical costs from the ACA or otherwise go without medical care.

If you are one of the many Americans enduring this crisis of rising medical costs, I would encourage you to check out and join a community of health focused American Christians who seek to practice quality healthcare rooted in Catholic principles. If you are seeking to control your healthcare and the healthcare of your family as you see fit, then Solidarity HealthShare is the answer for you. Solidarity HealthShare brings together like-minded Christians to share together medical costs and as the Gospel of Matthew states, to be “reconciled to one another” (Mt. 5:21) in unity.

Solidarity HealthShare desires to rebuild and restore a true healthcare system that is Catholic in every way as well as promote the teachings and traditions of the Church through her social teachings, which are rooted in self-sacrificial love and the sanctity of all human life. As Christians families, you will “practice the sharing of material and spiritual goods (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) #1948) and promote a network of members who will pray for each other and share in their Monthly Share Amount while growing together in a “human and Christian brotherhood” (CCC, 1939).

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Solidarity HealthShare received approval from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix on October 4, 2016. In his letter, Bishop Olmsted says the following,

“At a time when many Catholics and other people of faith face challenges in making the best healthcare decisions for themselves and their families, Solidarity HealthShare can provide critical assistance to navigate options that are available.”

The CEO of Solidarity HealthShare, Bradley Hahn, is very hopeful that this ministry will be the answer for so many families seeking another avenue to care for their loved ones healthcare –

“We have spent several years searching for a way to help other like-minded individuals, families and organizations pay for medical costs without violating their consciences or breaking their bank accounts…I’m happy and grateful to God that we have found and can now offer this ministry to the many people who have been waiting for it.”

For more information on Solidarity HealthShare, I would encourage you to visit their website and see the options available. If you are aware of a family member or friend that is need of healthcare, and they refuse to subscribe to the Affordable Care Act, please forward this onto them as well.

I would also encourage you to Like and Follow Solidarity HealthShare on Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t pass up this great opportunity to be member of a great Catholic community that will provide you with ethical and affordable options for your healthcare.

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Morality of Human Acts

In light of the rather troubling and disturbing videos that have been coming out about Planned Parenthood and their selling/harvesting of human body parts, I found today to be a excellent opportunity to examine what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on the Morality of Human Acts. To say the least, these videos have been showing the horror and evil that lies with this organization.

To make matters worse, now it seems that the alleged hacking of the Planned Parenthood website was a PR stunt to produce hatred towards the Pro-Life movement. I have to ask myself – who comes up with these ideas? How can someone’s conscience be so distorted to think that these ideas are a good thing and are beneficial to the common good? To try to blame the Pro-Life movement for such a ploy harkens back to what the Roman Emperor Nero tried to do with the Christians. Nero tried to blame the Christians for the burning of Rome, when in fact; it was Nero himself who gave that order.

Human acts are either good or evil – there is no other way around it. In light of the evil acts we are seeing from Planned Parenthood and organizations associated with them, mainly those that are defending their actions, let’s see what the Catechism teaches on such matters –

The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the three “sources” of the morality of human acts. [#1757]

The object chosen morally specifies the act of willing accordingly as reason recognizes and judges it good or evil. [#1785]

“An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention” (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means. [#1759]

A morally good act requires the goodness of its object, of its end, and of its circumstances together. [#1760]

There are concrete acts that it is always wrong to choose, because their choice entails a disorder of the will, i.e., a moral evil. One may not do evil so that good may result from it. [#1761]

To read more on the Morality of Human Acts, I would suggest reading paragraphs 1749-1756 in the Catechism.

Next week, I will publish another Quick Lessons from the Catechism focusing on the Moral Conscience.

Lastly, as difficult as it may be, please pray for the conversion of the hearts of those people who are involved in the Abortion industry. Jesus Christ conquered evil so there is hope for them, but…they need our prayers!! Read about the story of Abby Johnson, it will give you hope in these times.

Do You Feel Happy, Punk?

That’s an interesting way to start a blog post about happiness, but it’s a good question. Yes, it’s in the Dirty Harry motif, and yes, it got your attention to read this blog. Admit it…you are reading this post because you are imagining Dirty Harry (or Dirty Happy) saying, “Do you feel happy, punk? Well, do ya?”

Do you feel happy, punk

So do you feel happy? Are you full of joy? Is today happier than yesterday? Has the whole week been happy? Are you happy where you life is right now at this very moment? Are you seeking out happiness? How can you find happiness?

All valid questions and all very similar to what the Rich Young Man in the Gospel of Saint Matthew was asking Jesus (Mt 19:16-30).  Here is the actual question asked – “what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” Although the Rich Young Man was asking about eternal life, he was really asking Jesus, how do I seek out happiness on earth so I can have eternal life?

Without getting into the exegesis of this scripture verse, let’s understand that to attain eternal life one needs to have a moral life. We all want to be happy! If you don’t want to be happy, I would suggest going to your physician and asking for some pills, because something is not right with you (← sarcasm).

There is a Christological Incarnation that is happening in this scripture passage. When we live a good life on this side of Heaven, there is a good chance, no, a great chance of eternal life. Following all the teachings of Jesus and His Church (not just the ones that fit your life) can help you get to Heaven.

The Rich Young Man walks away melancholic for he has many possessions and can’t give them up, even when Jesus, the good teacher, tells him what to do for eternal life, and a happy life. Possessions in this case aren’t just material objects, but it’s the inability to give up his life. He can’t give himself up! Self-Possession exists when you give yourself away. Making a gift of your self to others is what all things depend on. We must learn to give ourselves away to others.

So for us, where is happiness found definitively? As Catholics, happiness is rooted in living a good moral life, focusing on the moral teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church. It also exists in the New Law, the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are the characteristics of the Kingdom of God citizens. Above all the other virtues, Love is the greatest and the center of the moral life. But in the end, and the above encompass this; our happiness lies in God and the person of Jesus Christ.

By developing a personal friendship with Jesus Christ through Prayer, the Holy Scriptures, and the Sacraments, we will find true joy and happiness in this life and the life to come.

During his Papal Visit of England in September 2010, Pope Benedict XVI gave the young students at St. Mary’s University the secret to happiness, when he said,

“When I invite you to become saints, I am asking you not to be content with second best. I am asking you not to pursue one limited goal and ignore all the others. Having money makes it possible to be generous and to do good in the world, but on its own, it is not enough to make us happy. Being highly skilled in some activity or profession is good, but it will not satisfy us unless we aim for something greater still. It might make us famous, but it will not make us happy. Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.”

So in the end, the question remains, as Clint would ask it, “Do you feel happy, punk?” If the answer is no, then you need to find God, because that’s the simple secret of it all in the end…Jesus Christ.

Suggested YouTube Video of the Day…it will make you get up and dance too.

350th Blog Post

Standing Up to Fight for Life and Humanity

March for Life 2013Today, hundreds of thousands will gather in Washington, D.C. for the March for Life, and on Saturday, ten of thousands will gather for the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, CA. The Main Stream Media (composed of liberals who promote tolerance and justice, unless of course you disagree with them – see Andrew Cuomo’s comments from last week) will not cover either event, however, their avoidance of not choosing to report about these two events will not stop us from gathering to defend the importance of human life, which begins at conception.

We now have entered the 41st year of this war on abortion. The battle lines have been drawn and the ranks just continue to grow on the Pro-Life front. The numbers have not decreased, as some wish they would, but they have doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled over the years. Trust me my friends, this is a war and it is between good and evil. Let’s not forget the venomous and vile behavior we all witnessed from the hateful individuals in Texas who shouted, “Hail, Satan!”

The Culture of Death, a phrase coined by the soon to be Pope Saint John Paul II, is seeking to destroy all that is good and beautiful about the human person. As Christians, we must rise up and defend human life from conception to natural death. We must stand for marriage between one man and one woman, we must fight against the evils of contraception, in-vitro fertilization, cloning, stem-cell research that destroys human embryos, and child abuse. In the end, we must fight for the very good of humanity itself!

The Culture of Death is not just about Abortion, but it envelops all the forces of destruction that I have mentioned, which in the long run seek to destroy today’s civilization. These evils will only continue to disrupt and demonize humanity in the years to come. We can see it currently with the destruction of the traditional family, the great strife in relationships, and the annihilation of the glory of the human person.

With 56 million children dead – I say enough is enough! We must stand up and fight for the unborn — for the beauty of the human person. Standing up for Life against the evils of Abortion is what we are called to do. It’s our very duty in this time of human history.

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis says,

“Defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right…It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be.”

Armor of God - Eph 6We are no longer fighting just battles, but it’s an all out war against the Culture of Death. We are not just engaging our fellow humans, who justify Abortion as a “law” or because it’s the easy way out, but we are fighting against the spiritual world as well (See Eph 6:10-18). As Christians, we must “put on the whole armor of God” so that we too can stand against the attacks from the devil. We must gird our loins and engage the battle that is in front of us.

The Culture of Life must be the engaging force against this “present darkness.” With Jesus Christ as our source and summit, it is our fundamental duty as Christians to engage the culture, counteract the culture, and do all that we can to show the Light of the World to the world. Our Lord is not a light that should be kept under a bushel basket, but He is the greatest light, the light brighter than a thousand Suns – Christ is the Light that will pierce the darkness.

Jesus Christ is the Heart – the very Core, of the Culture of Life, for He is Life itself. With Him…all things are possible!

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Standing Up For Life and Humanity

Today, thousands will gather in San Francisco for the West Coast Walk for Life (estimated crowd of 50,000), and yesterday, 500,000 – yes, ½ March for Life 2013million (some estimates claiming 650,000) people gathered for the March for Life in Washington, D.C. (even though the State-Run Liberal “Journalists” denied it was that large). Yesterday was the largest gathering of Pro-Lifers in this 40-year historical war between the forces of good and evil. Mark my words! – This is a war, and it is between good and evil. The Culture of Death, a phrase coined by Blessed John Paul II, is seeking to destroy all that is good and beautiful about the human person. As Christians, we must rise up and defend human life from conception to natural death. We must stand for marriage between one man and one woman (France, just did it!), we must fight against the evils of contraception, in vitro fertilization, cloning, stem-cell research that destroys human embryos, and child abuse. In the end, we must fight for the very good of humanity itself!!

The Culture of Death is not just about Abortion, but it contains all the forces of destruction that I have mentioned, which in the long haul will destroy civilization, as we know it. The effect these evils are having currently will only continue to disrupt and demonize humanity in the years to come. We can see it currently with the destruction of the family, the great strife between men and women in relationships, and the annihilation of the human person.

With 55 million children dead – 55 million children who had their lives in front of them – I say enough is enough! We must continue to fight for the unborn and for the beauty of the human person. Standing up for Life against the evils of Abortion is what we must do. It’s now part of who we are as humans in this historical period. In the words of William Wallace in the film, Braveheart, “Are you ready for a war?!” We are no longer fighting just battles, but it’s an all out war against the Culture of Death. We are not just fighting fellow humans, who justify Abortion as a “law” or because it’s the easy way out, but we are fighting against the spiritual world as well (Read Ephesians 6:10-18). As Christians, we must “put on the whole armor of God” so that we too can stand against the attacks by the devil. St. Paul knew this well – we must come to know it, live it, and fight for it, just like he did.

The Culture of Life must be the engaging force against “the present darkness.” With Jesus Christ as our source and summit, it is our fundamental duty as Christians to engage the culture, counteract the culture, and do all that we can to show the Light of the World to the culture. Our Lord is not a light that should be kept under a bushel basket, but He is the greatest light, the light brighter than a thousand Suns – Christ is the light that will pierce the darkness. Jesus Christ is the Heart – the very Core, of the Culture of Life, for He is Life itself. With Him…all things are possible!

The Erroneous Conscience

The Erroneous Conscience is the last post in a series that I have been writing the past couple of weeks. Technically, this should be Conscience Formation 104, but I chose the title from the theme. I have given my readers and anyone else that stops by the blog some good things to think about over the past three posts. Today, I will discuss the characteristics of an erroneous conscience as well as what the Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us in regards to this subject. At the end, I will use the film, The Emperors Club, to clarify my points.

The first characteristic of an erroneous conscience is ignorance. Ignorance can occur if someone bypassed an important point or was never taught the truth about a moral issue. A young person may never have been raised to know that stealing property that belongs to another is a serious moral issue. I speak of this particular issue because I’ve seen this first hand and have dealt with students that did not understand why it was wrong to take the property of others. In this case, I am speaking of the stealing of cell phones and IPODS/MP3 players.  These individuals had a distorted view of freedom since they thought freedom allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do at that moment. Stealing for the sake of stealing destroyed their relationship with God, although they may not have seen it at the time. Stealing not only violates freedom but also destroys the dignity of the person doing the stealing and the dignity of those who lose their belongings. Just ask St. Augustine of Hippo who writes about stealing in The Confessions. He talks about how he would steal apples from other orchards just for the sake of stealing, even though his family had plenty of apples in their orchards.

The second characteristic of an erroneous conscience is insincerity. This is where an individual makes no effort to learn the importance of truth or goodness when it comes to moral issues. Idleness and intellectual stubbornness dominate this person. Let’s say someone tells this person something in secret about a moral action, instead of speaking to a mentor or someone that has experience in this particular situation, this person pulls out his megaphone and tells everyone what he knows. This person should have taken the time to figure out a good course of action instead of doing what he did.  If insincerity is not corrected, the person can fall into bad habits that increase in magnitude, often leading to some very evil actions. Let’s take the same scenario from above – a person who perpetually steals has turned into a thief. The stealing has become a habit and the person has no recompense to even correct the behavior. He will say – that’s what I do. This habitual sin leads to greater sins and will potentially destroy the individual. However, there is the chance that the person can repent and do the good (as in the case of St. Augustine).

Paragraph 1792 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that that these factors can also lead to poor conscience decisions: “Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, mistaken notion of autonomy [“No one can tell me what to do…I am my own law”], rejection of Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and lack of charity (love).”

To clarify the erroneous conscience, I now turn to the film, The Emperors Club. The film is about an educator, William Hundert (Kevin Kline) who teaches Greek and Roman Philosophy at St. Benedict’s School for Boys. It’s an elite school where many of the students go on to Ivy League institutions upon graduating. Mr. Hundert clearly loves to teach and has a passion for Ancient Philosophy.  During the early part of the film, a student transfers into the school and begins to give Mr. Hundert a difficult time about the subject matter. The name of the student is Sedgewick Bell (Emile Hirsch) and he is an overall nuisance to the classroom. Because he seems to be “cool” and pushes the authority of the school, his fellow classmates like him and follow him blindly.

It seems that Mr. Hundert eventually gets through to Sedgewick (his father is a US Senator who never has time for his son).  There is an interesting dialogue between Mr. Hundert and Senator Bell about education and formation in this film as well. Sedgewick’s attitude and grades improve so much that he is chosen to be one of three boys in the “Mr. Julius Caesar” contest that assesses knowledge on Roman History. Now there is moral dilemma on the part of Mr. Hundert, but you are going to have to watch the film to see it…I can’t give the whole story away. During the “Mr. Julius Caesar” contest, Mr. Hundert realizes that Sedgewick is cheating and tells the headmaster. The headmaster tells Hundert to ignore it (another moral dilemma…Senator Bell is in the audience). Mr. Hundert eventually asks Sedgewick a question that does not pertain to Roman History and knocks Sedgewick out of the contest.  After one of the other boys wins the contest, Mr. Hundert proceeds to Sedegwick’s dorm room to question him. Watch how Sedgewick admits to cheating (starts at 00:58).

It’s very clear from what we have discussed above, that this boy was never properly taught the importance of forming his conscience. He is clearly insincere in his attitude towards his teacher and the actions that he committed. He knows that he can get away with it because of who is and his position in life.

As the film moves on, 20 years later, Mr. Hundert is asked by the school (they are going to receive a big donation) to re-do the contest that Sedgewick Bell competed in as a boy. Actually, it’s Sedgewick Bell that wants to “regain his intellectual integrity.” By this time, he is a very successful businessman and decides to hold the contest at a country club that he owns. All the boys from the graduating class are found and invited. They are all very successful men by this time in life. Once again, the contest is held, and once again, Mr. Hundert realizes that Sedgewick is cheating. Hundert fools him again with another question and the boy who lost it as a child again loses it as a man. To make matters worse, Sedgewick announces after the contest that he is going to make a run for the same Senate seat that his father once served in. He uses Mr. Hundert for his virtue, principles, and integrity.  As you can see, Sedgewick Bell never developed a well formed conscience and continued to cheat and lie later in life. He remained ignorant and insincere although he made it seem that he discovered the errors in his decisions as a boy.  His cheating becomes so habitual that his entire moral code is a distortion of truth and goodness. Sedgewick Bell is the poster child for the erroneous conscience.

This clip is the scene between Mr. Hundert and Sedgewick after the second contest…but Sedgewick gets a surprise he never intends to receive…someone overhears the conversation. Can you figure out who it is?

Our conscience is important and it must be developed well. This will not happen over night – it’s a life long process. It will also make mistakes since it’s not infallible. As Catholic Christians, we must do all that we can to form our conscience.  We must strive to have an upright conscience by acting virtuously, using our God-given reason and freedom, look to others as models of holiness and virtue, hold each other responsible in a community and pray that with God’s grace we are given the necessary tools to have a pure and good conscience.

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Conscience Formation 103

In the previous two posts, I spoke about what conscience is not (see CF 101 – below) and what conscience is (see CF 102 – below). Now I want to focus my attention on how the conscience works. In our daily lives, most of the decisions we make come very easily; they are habitual. A virtue, according to CCC 1803,  “is an firm and habitual disposition to do the good.” Not only will a person perform acts well, but also the best of who he is will come through.  On the flip side of virtue, we have vice. A vice is a bad habit that pushes us to bad/evil choices.

Virtue and vice can slightly be compared to the Jedi and Sith philosophies in the Star Wars films. The Jedis were the more virtuous of the two since most of their decisions were well thought out, they lived for others, and they always tried to choose the good in all situations. The Sith were ones of vice and often chose evil things such as killing all the Jedis or conquering the entire universe. They were always about themselves as we see clearly in Return of the Jedi and how the Emperor has no concern for Vader or Luke. Not all Jedis were virtuous such as the case of Anakin Skywalker (see Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith). Anakin Skywalker was never virtuous, struggled with his many vices, and they eventually lead him to Darth Vader.  Anakin was given chance again and again to mend his ways, but chose not to and ended up in vice rather than virtue. Many of his choices contradicted the Jedi philosophy and he could never conform his behavior to do the good.

Although most of our decisions tend to be habitual, there is an importance for us to learn how to be virtuous in all that we do (let me tell you…it’s not easy). The virtues are like “spiritual muscles” that help us grow in responsible acts without any effort at all. Our bad habits, which we must learn to identify first, have to be avoided at all cost. Our bad habits will only be overcome with the grace of God. For us Catholics, we have the great Sacrament of Reconciliation (and the other sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist) that dispense grace upon us. Learning to be virtuous and avoiding vices are part of our spiritual training at Catholic Christians and a major characteristic of forming our Christian consciences.

Most of our daily decisions are made with ease habitually, but what about those major decisions, those important decisions that take time to deliberate and could have a monumental impact on our conscience? What do we do then?

When making those major decisions we must deliberate, choose, perform, and assess. As I stated in CF 102 (see below), Blessed John Paul II said that conscience is not a decision, but a judgment made with the intellect. Our conscience is about the discovery of objective truth, not about feelings and emotions. Emotions and feelings come and go. A fundamental element of Catholic morality is to inform our consciences and to continue inform them by careful deliberation. Before we make a major decision, we must gather all the information about the decision at hand and consider all the good and bad consequences that will stem from this decision. We should keep in account the Golden Rule, love your neighbor as yourself, and understand that evil actions will not produce a good result. In deliberation, we should look towards those individuals that have mentored us in the past as well as the teachings of Jesus Christ that are safeguarded in the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Our decisions as Catholic Christians should be in conformity with that of Jesus Christ and his Church.

After deliberation, we should then choose the best course of action that reflects Jesus Christ and person that we are as God’s creation. A key factor in the choosing step is PRAYER. Prayer allows us to communicate with God and He with us. Prayer aids us to remember that we are created in God’s image and dignity. It also slows us down to focus on him and the decision at hand. Listening to God helps us make rational decisions and not just go with our gut or what feels good at the moment. There is an old saying – God gave us one mouth and two ears. Its is so we will listen twice as much than we talk. We should that the Holy Spirit will direct us towards God’s will for our lives.

Once a choice has been established, we must now perform the action. In this step, we see the importance of responsibility coming into play. Listening to our conscience is important because if we go against our conscience, we sin. We should never react here. Temperance (self-control) is a fundamental aspect of this step. We must always be as mature as possible. Being responsible and staying the course is the most difficult part of this entire process.

The last step in our conscience formation process is to assess our actions. Our conscience is not just about deliberating, choosing, and performing the actions we will perform, but it also aids in the actions that we have already committed. When we follow the steps given above, our conscience will be clear for we know we made good choices, the virtuous choices. If we have not made the correct decision, our conscience will let us know by calling us to reconciliation and penance.

If you pray the Liturgy of Hours (official prayer of the Catholic Church), Night Prayer includes an Examination of Conscience. It’s here where we can review the day and examine our good decisions and actions that contrasted those decisions. You don’t have to pray the Liturgy of Hours to do this either. Making a simple examination a “habit” will ensure that your day was reviewed before you laid your head to rest. It will also help you to grow in holiness and to do God’s will in your life.

As Christians with God’s help, we must form our conscience, continue to form it and to follow it. The formation of our conscience is a life long process and it is not always correct. Blessed John Paul II in Veritatis splendor said, “conscience is not an infallible judgment, it can make mistakes.”

After this post, you should understand more clearly why the HHS Mandate from the Obama Administration is such an evil proclamation that violates our religious freedom (this is the BIG issue).  As Catholics, we know by our consciences that sterilization, contraceptives, and abortifacients are intrinsically evil – that means they are always wrong! How does the Obama Administration want us to violate our consciences when we clearly see these methods as evil?! This is what Cardinal-Elect Timothy Dolan meant when he said that the President has given us a year to violate our consciences. As Catholics who should be forming our consciences, we must stand up against this tyranny that is upon us. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix said in his letter to the Diocese of Phoenix, “We cannot- we will not – comply with this unjust law.”