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The Confession of St. Patrick

“St. Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland”, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Macon, GA, Source Flickr, Author Andy Coan (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

  1. I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful…had for father the deacon Calpurnius…a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age.  I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people…
  2. And there the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that…I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son.
  3. Therefore, indeed, I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favours and graces has the Lord deigned to bestow on me in the land of my captivity. For after chastisement from God, and recognizing him, our way to repay him is to exalt him and confess his wonders before every nation under heaven.
  4. For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father, who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe.  And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds.  And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us…

Read more…

Hidden Obstacles

Physics classroom, Lake Howell High School, Author Steevven1 (CC Attribution 4.0 International)

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy” (Prov. 14: 31).

An interesting book called Bridges Out of Poverty by RK Payne, et al, explores the hidden obstacles that keep people in poverty, including the values with which children in poverty are raised.

Contrary to the assumption of many better off, the values of the poor are not frivolous.  Nor are they intentionally self-destructive.  They stem rather from survival techniques which go unrecognized by the middle and upper classes, and are often counter-productive toward upward mobility.

The goal of the book is not to criticize these values but to identify them, so that government agencies and others can relate more effectively to those struggling with poverty.

What Bridges Out of Poverty has to say about obstacles to learning is particularly striking.


Basic survival is a driving force.  Is there enough food for another day?  This urgency places the focus on the present.  The future may never arrive.


Life is chaotic for the poor.  Situations constantly arise over which they have no control.

Planning, scheduling, and prioritizing are not, therefore, taught.  As a result, children cannot follow directions and cannot fully complete tasks at school.  This can be remedied.  But learning new skills takes time.


Language itself can be an obstacle.  According to Bridges Out of Poverty, those raised in poverty use casual language almost exclusively.  The formal language used at school and work may be completely unknown to children and adults alike.

Catholic school teachers, for instance, tend to speak as if school were a shared experience.  “We must pay attention” or “We must study”.  Public school teachers create more verbal distance from their students.  “Which of you can answer that question?  Anyone?  You there.”  In college, teachers are likely to speak in an even more detached manner.  “One must be prepared.  One must study.”

All this is foreign to the poor. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW – My Grandfather’s Son, Part 2

My Grandfather’s Son by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is the story of remarkable achievement by a much vilified man.

Political Views

Briefly radicalized during college, Justice Thomas came to feel that violence was not an answer and that the color of his skin should not dictate his politics.

It was while employed at the Missouri Attorney General’s Office that Justice Thomas’ opposition to busing began to crystallize.

“Even in a segregated world, education was our sole road to true independence, and what mattered most was the quality of the education that black children received, not the color of the students sitting next to them…[T]he problems faced by blacks in America would take quite some time to solve, and the responsibility for solving them would fall largely on black people themselves.”

Justice Thomas’ disillusionment with affirmative action took shape at Monsanto.  There he saw capable black managers – the “proof” of Monsanto’s compliance – routinely passed over for promotion.

“I no longer believed in utopian solutions, or the cynical politicians who used them to sucker voters, claiming to care about the poor while actually exploiting them.”

Only after taking a position on Capitol Hill did Justice Thomas actually become a Republican.

Read more…

BOOK REVIEW – My Grandfather’s Son, Part 1

My Grandfather’s Son by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is nothing short of a revelation.

Since the explosive testimony by Anita Hill during his confirmation hearing, Justice Thomas has been characterized as a boor and a bully – a man of limited intellect who became a traitor to his race, advocating reactionary ideas for the sake of personal advancement.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

A Childhood Spent in Poverty

Justice Thomas begins this candid autobiography by describing his Georgia childhood in abject poverty.

“The house in which I was born was a shanty with no bathroom and no electricity except for a single light in the living room.  Kerosene lamps lit the rest of the house.  In the wintertime we plugged up the cracks and holes in the walls with old newspapers.  Water came from a nearby faucet, and we carried it through the woods in old lard buckets.”

Self-Reliance and a Strong Work Ethic

Raised by a strict and stern grandfather, Justice Thomas credits his early upbringing with instilling in him a belief in self-reliance, a strong work ethic, and an independent frame of mind.

Segregation and racial prejudice were as much a fact of existence as were summers of backbreaking labor.

“Our small, soft hands blistered quickly at the start of each summer, but Daddy [the term Justice Thomas used for his grandfather] never let us wear work gloves, which he considered a sign of weakness.  After a few weeks of constant work, the bloody blisters gave way to hard-earned calluses that protected us from pain.  Long after the fact, it occurred to me that this was a metaphor for life – blisters come before calluses, vulnerability before maturity…”

Education and Faith

Thanks to his grandfather, Justice Thomas received a parochial school education.  Justice Thomas traces his rigorous intellectual training from St. John Vianney Seminary, and Immaculate Conception Abbey, through Holy Cross College (where he was one of six black students in a class of about 550), and finally Yale Law School.

A man of faith, Justice Thomas seriously considered the priesthood.  He abandoned that career path when the Catholic Church failed to take a stand on civil rights.  However, his faith stood him in good stead during the ordeal of the confirmation process.

This review will conclude next week.



Josephine Clofullia a/k/a “The Bearded Lady of Geneva” (1853), Source, Author Thomas Martin Easterly (PD)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Americans use the acronym TLC in a variety of contexts.

Shorthand for “tender loving care” in common parlance, the acronym in a real estate context implies that a property will require anything from small improvements to a total renovation by the buyer.  In car sales, it means much the same thing, i.e. that a vehicle has been neglected and is in need of repairs.

Titillation and A Disturbing Identity

On cable television, the initials identify what was originally known as The Learning Channel.  Initially, TLC favored home improvement, and personal make-over shows.

In recent years, however, the channel has taken on a new and disturbing identity.  TLC seems to have decided that titillation is the route to a wider audience.  The more bizarre the subject matter, the better.

A few examples of the programs featured are listed below:

  • “My Strange Addiction” (2010 to 2015), a reality show profiling individuals engaged in compulsive behaviors ranging from extreme body building to the ingestion of bathroom cleanser and toilet paper.
  • “Sister Wives” (2010 to present), a reality show about a polygamist with four wives and 18 children.
  • “Seeking Sister Wife” (2018 to present), another reality show about polygamous relationships.
  • “My 600-Lb Life” (2012 to present), a reality show which follows morbidly obese men and women.
  • “I Am Jazz” (2015 to present), a reality show about a teenage boy who views himself as transgender.
  • “Dr. Pimple Popper” (2018 to present), a reality show about a dermatologist who treats disfiguring skin ailments, in gruesome detail.

To be fair, WE now features a program called “Extreme Love” which profiles individuals with “incredible and unusual” relationships, to quote the advertising.  These include a man in his 30s involved with women twice and three times his age; a man obsessed with sex dolls; and a man encouraging his 700 lb girlfriend to gain additional weight.

Lifetime, another cable channel, has a reality show titled “Married at First Sight” in which individuals legally marry a complete stranger.

A 21st Century Freak Show

The argument is put forward that such programs normalize people living on the fringe, removing the burden of shame from them.  These shows are said to broaden the mind, and enlarge our definition of what it is to be human.

In fact, the very opposite is true.  Viewers are participating in the creation of a 21st Century freak show, making a spectacle of the suffering of others, and glamorizing what was once recognized as depraved.

All in the name of enlightenment and entertainment. Read more…

Led to Christ by ISIS

National Evangelical Church of Aleppo, heavily damaged by Syrian Civil War, Author Preacher lad (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

I pass along to you an amazing story by Yuliya Talmazan of NBC News about how ISIS is – inadvertently – leading Syrian Muslims to Christ.  Praise God!

“Four years have passed since the Islamic State group’s fighters were run out of Kobani, a strategic city on the Syrian-Turkish border [northeast of Aleppo], but the militants’ violent and extreme interpretation of Islam has left some questioning their faith.

A new church is attracting converts.  It is the first local Christian place of worship for decades.

‘If ISIS represents Islam, I don’t want to be a Muslim anymore,’ Farhad Jasim, 23, who attends the Church of the Brethren, told NBC News.  ‘Their God is not my God.’

Religious conversions are rare and taboo in Syria, with those who abandon Islam often ostracized by their families and communities.

‘Even under the Syrian regime before the revolution, it was strictly forbidden to change religion from Islam to Christianity or the opposite,’ said Omar, 38, who serves as an administrator at the Protestant church.  (He asked for his last name not to be revealed for safety reasons.  The church’s priest declined to be interviewed.)

‘Changing your religion under ISIS wasn’t even imaginable.  ISIS would kill you immediately,’ he added.

While residents are still dealing with the emotional scars left by the brutality of ISIS, Omar says many people in Kobani have been open-minded about Christianity…”[Continued at ]


Life Under Siege

A Virginia late-term abortion bill would allow abortion during labor.

Though the bill has for the moment been tabled, Gov. Ralph Northam in a radio address assured listeners that if a child survived such an abortion, “the infant would be kept comfortable.  [And] the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue [1].” (Emphasis added.)

This is nothing less than infanticide.

Approximately one in three pregnancies in New York City already ends in abortion [2A].

New York’s Reproductive Health Act now views abortion as a woman’s “fundamental right”, allowed during the third trimester in the absence of fetal viability or to protect the life and health of the mother [2B].

But the term “health” can be broadly interpreted to include both the emotional and psychological health of the mother.  There are no objective medical criteria established.  And any licensed health care practitioner (presumably including a physician’s assistant) can make the determination.

Women’s rights are, in other words, at odds with the rights of the children they bear.  The law, in fact, goes further.

“…because there is no longer any reference whatsoever to unborn children as possible victims of homicide, the law now effectively excludes them from the definition of ‘human person.’ ”

– Sam Sawyer, “What New York’s new abortion law does and doesn’t do” [2C]

New York’s decriminalization of abortion means that domestic violence offenders who cause their partners to lose a child can no longer be prosecuted as severely [4]. Read more…

“Fortress” by Nicodemas Plus Three

Ruins of Byzantine fortress of Nymphea (“Frourio Nimfaias”), Greece, Author User:Gia (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Some readers may be offended by this post, because of its political content.  For that I extend my sincere apologies.  But I do not write this in an effort to advance a political agenda or support a particular party. 

I am neither an expert on border security, nor an advocate of “open” borders.  Certainly, the traffic in illegal drugs, weapons, and human beings is a grave concern.  For all I know, a wall may, in certain locations, constitute as legitimate an element of border defense as electronic surveillance and increased patrols.

Unfortunately, the demand for a wall has come to mean something more. 

The demand for a wall is a demand for security at all costs; for protection against change, and an invading hoard of barbarians; for exclusion of all those “different”, therefore, dangerous.  The demand for a wall has racist overtones, acknowledged or not.

The demand for a wall is prompted by fear, and belief in a zero sum game.  One side must lose, for the other to win.  That both might derive benefit is not a possibility.  So we are told.

Ours is a wealthy nation in a world of poverty.  We can turn our backs on those in need, or find a way to share our resources.  The choice is ours. 

The poem I have reblogged here captures my anxiety – for the welfare of the poor and the welfare of this nation, should we forget them.

“It was snowing that night the wall was completed, not many noticed, tired of the fight.

Yet some…rejoiced in their victory, believing the Enemy was defeated and that they could rest in their holiness once again.

However, the angels in Texas, bowed their heads with tears in their eyes,

began praying for all those stuck inside the Fortress, for those believing that somehow,

in some way, they were righteous, and so having turned their backs

on the poor.”

-Reblogged courtesy of Nicodemas Plus Three

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31:8-9).

The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God.  But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish” (Ps. 9: 17-18).


Liam’s Lunches of Love

A sixth grader has fed over 2000 homeless men and women in Cambridge, MA.  Liam Hannon makes and distributes lunches, including a handwritten message of encouragement with each [1].

Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22: 37-40).

[1]  CBS Boston, WBZ News 4, “12-Year-Old Delivering Lunches, Message Of Kindness To Homeless In Cambridge” by Tashanea Whitlow, 1/13/19,


Religious Freedom at School

Little Red Schoolhouse on Route 662, Talbot County, Maryland, Author Nyttend (PD)

The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees both freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  However, the right to express Christian beliefs in a public school setting is often misunderstood.

In interpreting that right, courts frequently rely on the following [1]:

The Equal Access Act of 1984 – This Act requires public secondary schools to allow students to meet for religious speech (including prayer, Bible study, and worship) on the same basis as other student groups which do not relate to curriculum.  The Act is triggered if a school permits at least one such group to meet.  Though the Act by its terms applies only to secondary schools, the Supreme Court in 2001 extended the equal access principle, also, to elementary schools. Read more…