Sunday, January 13, 2019

Aiming for chicken excellence

Some time ago I picked up a recipe from Father Zuhlsdorf for baked chicken. It is on this blog somewhere, but as it is awkward to compose this post on my tablet, as I am, there will be no hyperlinks, sorry. But it involves rosemary, lemon, butter, salt and pepper.

That said, I have finessed this recipe. I routinely brine the bird first, using red pepper, rosemary, black pepper and, of course, salt. No sugar. After brining, I allow the chicken to sit naked in the fridge for several days, to dry out the skin. Brining makes the flesh moist and flavorful; yet I crave crispy, crackly skin perfection. I have not achieved it yet.

Fr. Z recommends blasting the pullet with high heat for the first 30 mins., but I have neglected that lately. Thing is, I frequently have to leave it unattended -- i.e., to hear confessions and offer Mass, as was the case last night -- so I have opted instead for a low temp at first, and blasted it at the end. So I may return to this method.

In the meantime, I have tried other expediencies, such as the lengthy drying-out of the skin. Oh, and I might add here that I usually cook el pollo upside down; that is, breast down, and then flip it for that last bit. This is primarily aimed to make the breast even more juicy, as it is both protected, and the deposits of fat on the bird's back are melted and thus cascade down over the creature. This has the subsidiary benefit of the back skin being more cooked, and not soggy.

However, this works at cross purposes to my goal of parchment like skin. So my experiments continue.

With this last chicken, I tried several things:

- For the drying, I used the beer-can chicken stand, so the bird sat more or less upright, and thus dried on all sides. I don't know why I didn't think of that before.

- Le poulet sat a-drying two days longer than planned. I wondered if that was too long (it wasn't).

- I applied a technique I have left unused forcawhile. Before baking, I loosened the skin on the front and back, and shoved some butter and rosemary between the skin and flesh, and smoothed it out a bit. This does risk tearing the skin, but it works if you are careful.

-- On advice of friends, I rubbed the whole thing with baking powder. First time I tried this.

-- As a result of the latter, I wondered if I should still rub it all over with butter or oil as per usual. I opted not to.

-- When I then sprinkled salt and pepper, the seasoning did not adhere to the powdered skin. I did not anticipate this.

So what happened?

About three hours later -- after confessions and Mass -- the chicken was almost ready, but the skin still looked too pale. I could see the baking powder still. Not good. What to do?

I took out el pollo, as it was time to flip it. I decided not applying fat to the skin was a mistake, but I remedied this by spraying it with cooking oil. I hiked the oven to over 400, and put back in while I made a Martini.

Well, the chicken was soon sizzling away. After a while, I flipped it, sprayed more oil, applied salt and pepper, and used the broiler to give the breast side -- now up -- some crisp and color.

When time came to taste it, with a side of sauteed spinach and a glass of Chardonnay, it turned out to be very tasty,one of mybest! Not overcooked at all. The skin was better, but not there yet.

So what next?

I will try the baking powder again, but follow it with butter or olive oil (better than whatever bland oil was in the spray can). And I may return to using high heat at the outset. I am not ready to give up on the upsidedown method.

Any suggestions?

What does Jesus' baptism mean to you? (Sunday homily)

Today we recall the moment Jesus showed up 
on the banks of the Jordan River and asked to be baptized.

We might wonder, first: why did he do this, and second, 
why is this important to us? What does it mean?

First, consider the scene, as it is so striking.

John was baptizing people as an expression 
of their sorrow and repentance. 
In other words, they were admitting they were sinners. 
A crowd of them were waiting on the riverbank for their turn. 
And Jesus gets in that line.

It would be almost exactly like coming into church 
and people are waiting for confession – and Jesus himself joins them!  
The obvious question: Jesus, what are you doing here? 

And the answer is simple: 
Jesus came into the world to save sinners – namely, us. 
To that end, he puts himself squarely with us; in our situation. 
We recall that Jesus was always willing to go wherever it took, 
and he was criticized precisely for this. 
“How can he eat and associate with such people?” they said.

But this is a sign of something even more profound. 
Jesus came to earth as the new Adam. 
The first Adam rebelled and failed to keep God’s law, 
and that set the whole, sorry story of human history in motion. 
Jesus is the Son who is obedient. 
He fully does his Father’s will. He chooses God’s will over his own. 
And even more than that, Jesus accepts the punishment for sin 
that otherwise was due to Adam and all the rest of us.

So when Jesus came to be baptized, this meant he was accepting – 
before heaven and before the world – 
his vocation as the faithful Son, the new Adam, the Messiah.

So what is this baptism about? It’s about who Jesus is.
And, who you and I are when we belong to Jesus.

In his baptism, Jesus accepts the Cross, and all that would go with it.

Remember, that is precisely what your baptism and mine mean, too.
You didn’t realize it, but when you were baptized, 
you rejected sin and the devil, and you accepted the Cross.

You became part of Jesus; born again of water and the Holy Spirit.
In baptism, you died with Christ!
And you rose again to the new life 
he showed us in his own resurrection.

You didn’t know you did that, then.
But every time you renew your baptism, you choose it anew.
So that’s what the sprinkling of water a few minutes ago meant.
And that’s what our Creed means at each Mass.

You are accepting the Cross with Jesus.
He took our punishment and death; we take his, 
so that we may share his Resurrection. That’s the deal.
What’s more, in baptism, when we become part of Jesus, 
you and I also gain God as our Father. 
As Saint Paul said, we become “heirs of hope of eternal life.”
When Paul calls us “heirs,” that is no metaphor.
He means that literally.

Children not only inherit all the material wealth their parents owned, 
they inherit all that their parents are.

When children are conceived and born, 
What do people say? “You have your mother’s eyes!”
“You look just like your daddy!”
And as we grow to adulthood, like it or not,
it becomes more and more evident that we are their children.

So just think about what it means, then, to say, 
You and I are “heirs” with Jesus! 

It means, for one, that when the Father said, 
"You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased,”
He didn’t only say it to Jesus!
He said it to you and me, too!

He said it to you and to me, too!

That’s what it means to be a Christian.
Jesus takes our life with all that is shameful;
He gives us his life, with all that is glorious.

Of course, when we sin, when we forget Jesus, leave him behind,
the Father does not say, “I am well pleased.” 

But he did say that when you were baptized.
And when we come home again? When we go to confession? 
“I am well pleased,” he says.
When you and I live our vocation, however uncertainly, he says:
“This is my beloved son or daughter: with you I am well pleased!”

There are a lot of things that are hard about being a Christian, 
and challenging in each of our vocations.
Maybe you are single and wondering, what does God have for me?
Are you called to be a priest or in religious life?
That seems so scary and you may think, I’m not holy enough.
And by the way, you’re not. No one is. Don’t let that stop you!

Or, you are married, 
and you despair of ever being a good enough parent. 
Every mistake is always on your mind.

Perhaps you are a young person, and you hate being asked, 
“what are you going to do with your life?” Because you have no clue!

In recent homilies, I’ve talked about 
how sometimes people don’t fit the usual mold, the usual expectations. 
That can be really, really difficult, 
and by our words and actions, you and I can make it worse, 
or we can be a beacon of hope and friendship.

But here’s the thing. A lot more people, especially young people,
find they don’t fit in, feel like they are odd or different.
No one wants to admit it, but everyone feels that! 

No matter who you are, Jesus got in line with you!
The Holy Spirit came down on you!
And the Father says to you: “You are my beloved child. 
With you I am well pleased!”

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Movies I'm watching

Today is "fun with photos" day in Russia!

I suspect I'm one of the last six people worldwide who subscribes to Netflix DVD. I've been working through a long list of films, and I was just checking my queue. Here it is in three screenshots. What do you think?

I'm going to watch A Matter of Life and Death tonight. Shape of Water isn't here yet, I expect it on Monday. I can watch The Wild Bunch on Netflix streaming anytime. FYI, the last set aren't available. Sometimes they become available. Meanwhile, I look for them on other streaming services.

Feel free to ask any questions, such as, "why in the world is THAT on your list?" Sometimes these decisions are on the spur of the moment. Sometimes months lapse between when I slot the film in the queue, and it finally gets to the top; and I have no earthly idea why I chose it. (That happened last night.)

Snowy in Russia (Ohio)

It's finally snowing in Russia. That is, today is the first real snowfall of the winter; we had a little in December. This looks to be several inches. So many times the weather channel threatens snow -- and everyone on Facebook gets worked up! -- and it fizzles. No fizzle here.

No problem here, either. Folks in these parts don't intimidate easily; certainly not at snow. Saturday morning Mass was about the same number of folks, including older folks who have every legitimate excuse to stay home on a day like this; and no one but me had to be there. Still, they came!

After a busy morning, I decided to take a walk. I was delayed by a headache with my voice mail. It seems that if you call the emergency number, and it starts recording a message, even the sound of hanging up counts as a "message"; and then the office voicemail calls my cell phone over and over. I fixed it.

This is a monument to one of my predecessors, Father Didier in the cemetery (two of my predecessors are buried here). It usually has a large crucifix on it, but that was taken down so the stone capping this monument -- which is badly cracked -- can be replaced. The cross itself is also being repaired.

Mine are the only footsteps I find in the snow...

A view of St. Remy:

Bushurs' Market is in full operation; I stop in to say hi. Steaks on sale!

As I sat down to write this post, I heard some loud thumps from outside. It's the company that clears our parking lots. They are very reliable! Alas, I suspect I'll hear those thumps again at 5:30 tomorrow morning, but I'm grateful all the same.

And here's me, with some hot tea, finishing this post...

After posting this last pic, I examined it closely to be sure nothing embarrassing or confidential appeared! I didn't find anything; but you may find some curiosities, if you care to ask...

Update 2 minutes later...

I decided to take this picture:

Which led to this picture...

Can I achieve more repetition of the images? My gears are working...

One more:

I suppose I could keep going with this, but I have better things to do, and anyway, the tea is gone. I'll "have to go" soon, in more ways than one...

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

'Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria' -- the latest 'transgender' menace

Things are moving fast. I'm just going to link this by Rod Dreher, writing at The American Conservative. (I don't endorse everything at that site, or even in Mr. Dreher's blog.) He is doing great work sounding the alarm. He, in turn, points to this site: 4thWaveNow.

But what Mr. Dreher points out is that "gender dysphoria" -- i.e., the phenomenon in which individuals, often children, begin to question whether their true identity is actually other than their biological sex -- is spreading as a kind of "social contagion." Parents are waking up to the sudden declaration by their teenagers -- more often girls -- are doubting their identity and already several steps down the road to "transitioning." These parents are finding NO help or support anywhere. Indeed, in many states it is illegal for therapists to challenge the young people's self-perception; rather, they are required by law only to "affirm" it.

This is happening in small towns and the "best" of families. Don't think for a second that it will only be someone else. This is real. Go check out the links I gave you; there's a lot more there.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

What do you want to be? (Epiphany homily)

Click on the image to buy this scene at Etsy. See? I didn't steal the image; I'm giving free advertising!

Let me start with a straightforward question:
“What does it mean to be a faithful Christian?”
If you were pressed to answer, what would you say?

Maybe someone would say, you receive your sacraments.
Or, you go to Mass faithfully and go to confession.
Or, you give to charity and the church, you live a good life.
Or some combination of the above.

These aren’t bad answers, but they are incomplete, 
especially if people end up talking about following rules 
or checking off items on a spiritual to-do list.

Here’s the answer I’m going to propose to you:
To be a Christian is to be another Christ;
And I want to put a big, bold line under the word “be” in that sentence.

This isn’t just a matter of things we DO.
Rather, it’s all about who and what you and I are:
It is what you and I become
which happens with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Today is the Solemnity of the Epiphany.
Epiphany represents the first 
revealing and sending-out of the Good News of a Savior, 
of God coming into the world to set a longed-for change in motion. 

Or to put it another way:
If on Christmas we were given the present,
On Epiphany, we open it up and shout out to others around us, 
“Hey, look at the great gift God sent me! And you! And you!”

On Christmas, I called to mind the startling words of St. Athanasius: 
“God became man so that men might become God.”
Epiphany – with the arrival of foreigners to venerate the child King – 
is when this astounding news, seemingly too good to be true – 
began to be revealed to the world.

Now, someone might say those words sound a little dodgy. 
After all, isn’t that what the devil wanted? To be God?
Here’s the difference.
Satan wanted to kick God out of heaven.
What God wants is to have us join him and be united to him.
So when God offers you heaven, it’s not a sin to accept!

So back to my opening question: 
What does it mean to be a faithful Christian?
It’s about who we become. Little Christs. 
People filled with the light of Christ, changed by it, 
made pure, made new, made heavenly.

A few days ago I watched a great Christmas movie – 
You’ve probably seen it, even in the last week – 
called “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

At one point, the hero, George is trying woo his wife-to-be, Mary.
He romantically offers to lasso the moon for her.
And then he says, “you could swallow it, and it'd all dissolve, see? 
And moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes, 
and the ends of your hair.”

Let me ask you:
Am I the only one who, hearing that, thinks of the Holy Eucharist?
God gives us, not the moon, but the light of heaven. 
He literally gives himself to us, holding nothing back.
What happens when we receive God fully, not fighting him?

If there is a challenge or an “action item” here, how about this?
In this new year of our Lord 2019, pray and think about 
how you will let that heavenly light penetrate you, change you – 
and to shine out of you.

Let’s you and me think about our life as a Christian, 
not in terms of what you have to DO – although that is important – 
but rather, in terms of WHO YOU ARE, and who you WILL BE.

All of us go to confession. I go, you go. We all need it.
But sin isn’t just about things we do; it’s about what we will become.
If I lie, once, twice, five times, over and over…
At some point, it’s what I am. I am a liar.

If I get into the habit of sneaking glances at dark things on my phone;
I’m bored with my job, my family, I’m at odds with my spouse, 
and I’m seeking pleasure and happiness in images and videos?
At some point, it is a part of my life. 
And if you think your wife, your husband, your kids don’t know? 

They may not know the whole story, 
but they know something is getting part ownership of you.
Is that who and what you want to be?

Last week I gave a homily on a tough subject.
There are grave trials ahead for us as Christians.
Being a Catholic – not just checking the boxes but living the Faith – 
has always been a challenge, and so it will be in the time ahead. 

If you and I make it only about checking boxes and following rules,
There will come a time when you suddenly realize,
“I don’t know why we do these things.”
And people don’t usually do the tough things without a good reason.

The “why” comes from knowing who you want to be:
who and what you are willing to make sacrifices to become.

Jesus came into the world to show you, me, everyone 
what it means to be not twisted and broken, but fully alive in God. 
Truly free, not enslaved by sin and habit.
Full of grace; full of life. Full of heaven. Full of God. 
“God became man so that men and women might become God.”

So, the choices we face? That’s how we sort it out: 
These things don’t get me there. They take me nowhere!
So as much as I love them, I want something else more.
If I want to become that person, I need Mass every Sunday.
I need time talking and listening to Jesus every single day.

Who do you want to be? What will you do to get there?

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Sad Christmas songs and perfect Martinis

Image "borrowed" from Epicurious

No, Christmas is NOT over, not by a longshot. Are you confused? See? That's what you get when start Christmas the day after Labor Day. Today is just the last day of Christmas DAY. Sunday is Epiphany, just as big as Christmas itself. Then another week till the Baptism. I am in the CENTER of Christmas here. Too bad you are missing out!

So, after a busy morning, I have been reading and listening to Christmas music. A channel called "Rockin' Christmas" on Pandora, with stuff like the Ronettes, Michael Buble, Elvis, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and whatever else Pandora's box spits out. If it goes off focus, I down-vote it. Works pretty well, and free! (To me.)

After a few hours of this, I hopped in the shower. Ever notice how a shower works both ways? I mean, if I shower before bed, I go right to sleep. But if I feel like a wrung out rag, a shower can perk me up. Now I am well perked. This motivated me to prepare a little antipasto and a perfect Martini.

What IS a perfect Martini (actually, I should say near-perfect, because I believe the perfect Martini is impossible. I don't know if I will get around to explaining that in this post), I hear you longingly inquire? Well, as it IS Christmas, I will tell you. Here is my recipe, never published anywhere before:*

Five parts vodka (use something cheap like Smirnoff, not expensive stuff that you barely know is there), 1 part gin (I like good stuff like Tanqueray). Booze must be chilled at least. I keep mine in the freezer. Shake vigorously on ice, but not too long. Since the liquor is already really cold, the purpose of shaking it is some dilution, and those nice little chips of ice. If the hootch is warm, it will get too diluted. I like my drink to taste like a drink, not water. Then take a fully chilled Martini glass and swirl a little dry Vermouth in it. Pour out excess. You want -- that is, I want -- just a little Vermouth. Strain drink carefully into glass and garnish with two olives, stuffed with bleu cheese. Stuff them yourself, the store-bought kind are worthless. Now, if only I had a Martini glass that stayed frosty cold for an hour, then I would really have something! But, probably not perfect even then, as that is likely impossible.

So, I am enjoying my Christmas music, and I was thinking earlier about sad Christmas songs. There are so many of them! Why is that? Obviously, lots of people are sad at Christmas. I have been, too. I wonder, though, if there is more to it than that?

For Christians, Christmas is JOY JOY JOY JOY JOY, right? (The answer is yes, trust me, I am a certified expert.) So why so much sadness? Beyond the ordinary sadnesses of life, felt so much more acutely at this time of year, there is the sadness of unbelief. It always strikes me, when I read what passes for literature, especially in the last 100 years, how many authors are wistful about their loss of faith. Thats how Updike and and that bore from Mississippi -- Faulkner, it just came to me -- and others like them struck me. How can you not be sad at Christmas if you don't believe in Jesus, yet you celebrate? The only really happy part of Christmas comes from believing in Him!

Still, even for Christians, there is sadness: we know Jesus is born to die, we know Mary will suffer, the martyrs will suffer, beginning with the Holy Innocents. Right during the Christmas Octave, we have three martyrs' days. And then, we are sad because the Messianic Age Jesus promises to bring is obviously not here, amd we, ourselves, are not who wish to be.

Oh well, these are usually not what sad Christmas songs are about. They are about wrecked romance, or being unable to come home, or people being poor, hungry or lonely, or family members treating each other badly, or people dying...

Oh, hell, now I am depressed!

Haha! No, I am not! I feel great! But anyway, what do you think about sad Christmas songs? I think even "I saw mama kissing Santa Claus" is sad, don't you? What about "White Christmas," do you find it a little melancholy? What Christmas songs do you find sad? And, if you prefer, what "sad" songs do you actually not find sad?

If you want to hear about my Martini theory, you will have to ask in the comments. Mine is getting warm.

* This may not actually be true, but I don't care.

Our consecration to Mary (Mother of God homily)

As you probably know, during the past month, 
many of us have been reading together the book, 
Thirty-three Days to Morning Glory
all in preparation for making a consecration to Jesus through Mary, after this Mass, 
or after the 11 am Mass tomorrow.

I realize not everyone here will participate, and that’s OK. 
You may want to make your consecration privately, 
or on your own timetable.

But for those who will be staying after Mass tonight 
or coming for the consecration after the 11 am Mass, 
here are a few particulars.

We’ll pause a few minutes, as folks make their exit.
I’ll have some business to tend to in the back of church.
Then I’ll come back into church, and I have some papers to pass out.
It will have the prayers we’ll pray together, 
and it will also give you a copy of the consecration 
you can sign and keep for yourself.

From what I can gather from the cards turned back in, 
it looks like maybe 50 to 100 folks will take part in the consecration. 
And I assume many others will do so on their own.

By the way, I also want to mention that many said 
they’d like to be part of a Militia Immaculata prayer group; 
and I’ll follow up with each of you on that in the next couple of weeks.

I’m excited, because I believe this will bear great fruit for our parish, 
and for each person taking part.

But what does a “Marian Consecration” mean?

Well, let me first point out what it does not mean.
It doesn’t mean that after today, you will no longer face
struggles in prayer, or in finding time to learn the Faith, 
or against temptation. 

This consecration doesn’t replace the daily tasks of the spiritual life.
Rather, what we are doing is inviting Mary 
to take a special role in helping us in our spiritual lives, going forward.

Some people may not be entirely sold on this – and that’s OK!
No one has to do this. This is an opportunity, not an obligation.

But I might mention, that whether you like it or not, 
Mary already is taking a role in your spiritual life!
Today we honor her as Mother of God, and so she is:
This affirms that her Son is not only certainly and 100% human, 
having taken flesh from Mary herself – 
but he is also divine: True God from true God, begotten, not made.

Yet there is more! Mary is not only Jesus’ mother, she is ours.
Jesus himself says so. 
He said that whoever hears and keeps the word of God, 
is his mother, and brother and sister.

And he tells us that we are members of his Body.
Jesus came to make us one with him, and one with the Holy Trinity.
Remember the quote I shared on Christmas?
“God became man so that men might become God.”

And of course we remember that Jesus himself 
gave Mary to us as mother at the cross, when he said, 
“Behold your mother,” and to Mary, he said, “behold your son.”

That means each of us! Without doubt, from the first instant 
Mary became aware that she would conceive 
and give birth to the Messiah – as soon as she became a mother – 
all her thought and prayer was on this mission.

It occurred to me the other day that when she was a girl, 
Mary surely realized there was something special about her.
We don’t know exactly what she knew, or how much, 
but she knew something. 

She could see that her parents were older when they had her.
Surely Joachim and Ann must have told her all they knew.
Mary saw that she was an only child. 
And then her parents brought her to the temple.
She must have realized she was powerfully graced, 
long before the Archangel called her, “Full of Grace.”

So when Gabriel said, you are to bear the Messiah, 
I just wonder if that’s when all the lights starting going on for Mary?
And she realized, Ah! THIS is what it’s all been about!

Maybe this is one reason Mary was preserved from Original Sin.

Imagine being her, realizing how everything, from the very beginning, 
from Adam and Eve, down through the centuries, all led to YOU?
That you were at the hinge of all history?
That you were chosen to be the God-bearer?
What a colossal temptation that could have been!

So instead of it being all about her: “Look at me! I’m the Queen!”
Instead, Mary is all about being mother – 
to Jesus, and all that would be begotten by faith in him.

“Mother” isn’t just a title – it is who she is; not just one child, 
but all the brothers and sisters of Jesus.
Whether you knew it or not, she has been involved with you, with me, 
from the beginning – from before the beginning!

So what is this consecration? It is our response. 
Mary already has given her all to Jesus, and to us.
For 33 days, we’ve been praying and preparing 
so you and I can take this moment to imitate her giving all.
We want to be like her, the most devoted disciple of Jesus.
She is always at his side; so if we stay with her, 
that’s where you and I are sure to be.

And if you’re here, and listening, and wishing you’d taken part, fret not!
Some of the books are still at the exits; or you can order a copy;
And you too can start the journey 
to your own consecration to Mary our Mother whenever you wish. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

'Transgender' war on humanity, family and God (Sunday homily)

Today is this feast of the Holy Family, 
And I want to talk about a particular question regarding the family.
I’m sorry, but this isn’t going to be a “feel good” homily;
I’ll just tell you that right out of the gate.

What is “family”?
This is not actually a religious question at all.
You don’t have to believe in God to know what family is, 
because everyone, no matter who you are,  
you were born of mother and a father.

Now, we know that families are not always intact. 
Death, money troubles, divorce, war, and many other things 
disrupt and re-shape our families.

Some parents heroically raise children alone.
Or they marry again, creating blended families.
Some parents seek out children to welcome into their homes.

That they don’t all match the traditional template
does not keep us from knowing what a family IS, 
and what works best for human flourishing.

Now, family life has always faced trials and disruption.
But a very different storm is brewing now, 
It’s coming fast and strong, across our whole country.
It’s not just Hollywood or a few big cities; it’s everywhere.
I am talking about the denial – the cancelling out – of the family itself.

Do you know what “transgender” refers to?
This is a real situation some people face.
Sometimes a man or a boy is not at peace with himself, and wonders, 
maybe I am not a man, but a woman; and the same in reverse.

This is not a joke. The suffering is real. 
Why it happens isn’t altogether clear, 
but often it has to do with broken relationships, violence or trauma. 
Pornography makes it worse.  
Along with this comes depression, destructive behavior, even suicide. 
All this merits our compassion and concern.

Now, I’m going to say some tough things, 
but they aren’t directed to the suffering people I mentioned. 
Rather, I’m talking about powerful forces 
who are manipulating this moment. They have an agenda. 

In government, the media, and outside pressure-groups 
see this as the moment to call into question, and entirely reshape, 
what it means to be human and be a family.

Here’s what these folks are saying:
That there is nothing special about a father, or a mother.
Two dads; three moms? It makes no difference.

They claim:
To be a boy or to be a girl is no more than a matter of choice – 
it has nothing to do with the body you have. 
With a straight face, they say: men can have babies. 

You can laugh, but this agenda is showing up everywhere. 
Well-funded lawyers are seeking out sympathetic judges 
and rewriting our laws daily.

You know who’s all in? Not only the entertainment industry.
How about the largest publishers of books…for children.

The medical profession is being targeted.
Doctors and other health-care professionals 
are under intense pressure to give it their seal of approval, 
and worst of all, to participate in so-called “therapy.”

None of this has anything to do with science, it’s garbage.
Again: I’m not talking about people’s suffering. That’s real.
But all this about bodies don’t matter? 
That you and I can simply reinvent ourselves with hormones or surgery? 
It is all a lie.

That’s not just me saying that.
There was a doctor who pioneered this sort of surgery 70 years ago. 
He did it for decades, till I finally quit and said, it was a lie.

Some will say, why should I care? Let people do what they want.

Across the country, children are being encouraged to say, 
“I’m not a girl, I’m a boy.” And when they reach puberty, 
these girls wrap tight bindings around their chest, 
to hide their natural development.
The result is chronic pain and lasting physical damage.

Other children are being given drugs 
to prevent puberty from beginning. 
Or they are given powerful doses of hormones, 
so that if they are a girl, their body will develop male characteristics,
and if they are boys, to develop in female ways.

And worst of all is surgery, that amputates healthy body parts 
and creates fake body parts, to perpetuate the delusion.

To repeat: this isn’t just adults doing this, but also children.
And when parents refuse to go along, judges take their children away!
That happened here in Ohio, just last year.

And I might add that even after all this, 
people who “transition” still have terrible problems – both physical, 
because of the damage done to their bodies – and emotional. 
Suicide is very common.

I’ve come a long way from the Holy Family, I know.
And the obvious question is, so what do we do?

I wish I had an easy, three-step plan, but I don’t.
You and I not only live in a post-Christian era, but increasingly, 
we are discovering that this is a post-truth era.

“Post-truth”? What does that mean?
It means that for lots of people, 
reason and facts and explanation do not matter.
All that matters is people getting what they want.

That’s the heart of this problem: 
Instead if the truth governing desire; it’s the opposite:
my desire creates my “truth.”

So if you come to me and say, look, science, look, medicine, 
look, human development; in other words, you lay out an argument…

The post-truth me is going to wave it all away, and say,
“I make my own truth! Give me what I want, or you are a bigot!”
And right now, people are being fired and ruined over this.
This is going to get a lot worse.

So, what do you and I do? Hold on to two things:
Truth…and Love.
There is no authentic love without the truth;
And without love, truth becomes a merciless weapon.

There is never a need to humiliate or berate anyone.
We don’t have to be spoiling for a fight.
All the same, brace yourself with prayer and study and encouragement, 
because the wind may blow more suddenly fiercer than you imagine.

At the outset I asked, “what is family?” 
And the highest truth about the family is that,
as important as it is for our well-being,
it is also the sign God created to reveal himself.
The family – father, mother, child – is an icon of God the Trinity.

So now you know why this is happening.
Behind lots of people doing different things for different reasons, 
there is a ruthless enemy striking at the family 
in order to strike at God. 

The devil hates us as much as he hates God;
And his aim is to disconnect us from our true selves, 
along the way to separating us from the God who created us for communion with him.

In the coming storm, there may not be much more 
you and I can do than to brace ourselves on the Rock of Truth, 
and to say, “You can hate me, you can punish me, but I will not lie. 
I will not deny the truth about who you are, who I am, and who God is.”