1. Lent has begun. We went to the 6pm mass, so I wasn’t out in public with my ashes on my forehead. I would like to make it more of a real season of preparation for Easter this year, but I always seem to get derailed. I contemplated giving up my blog stats (not sure how to do that anyways; people talk about locking it… and I like to see what people read and looked for…), but settled on chocolate. But chocolate milk doesn’t count. Every time I would’ve reached for a bit of chocolate, I stop. It’s a bit annoying, but isn’t that the point? To think of all those suffering over greater temptations, and all I’m giving up is this measely piece of chocolate that I don’t really need. Plus, Jen over at Conversion Diary said something about treating our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit… which means no junk going in the mouth. *sigh* Dratted converts keep coming up with good ideas I should’ve known in the first place!
2. Spring is almost here. A wonderful reminder that God is an optimist, no matter what particular stupidities we have committed over the long, dark winter (and we’ve committed quite a few this winter). The daffodils are blooming, it was in the upper 60’s today, and I was going to go out and do a bunch of gardening as soon as we got through with our homeschool lessons… which took much longer than usual and were extremely frustrating… and then the front came through, high winds, temperature dropped fifteen degrees. Ah, yes, spring is also a wonderful reminder that God’s plans are not our plans.
3. Government as ultimate charity. On Glenn Beck’s program on Fox News today, he had some survey results about what people thought the government should be doing. 68% of the people surveyed thought that the government should provide food to people who need it. 66% thought government should provide health care. 52% said government should provide housing. 51% said government should make sure everyone has a job who wants one… I remember a government like this. It was the Soviet Union. And that guaranteed job and housing might be a useless job sweeping sidewalks by hand for a pittance of a salary and a barely heated one room apartment with a shared bathroom for the entire floor. The standard of living did not improve under the Soviet Union, despite communism’s claims that they were going to provide for everyone. When you try to mandate provision for everyone, you will impoverish everyone.
4. On a related note… EWTN’s news show tonight featured Fr. Robert Siroco of the Acton Institute discussing, among other things, the plans to end the Bush tax cuts on “the rich” (defined this time as “couples making $250,000 or more”) and eliminating tax deductions (mortgage and charitable giving, specifically). Although it sounds good to “stick it to the rich” and make them pay for caring for the poor, the math doesn’t work. Fr. Siroco was estimating that the tax changes would actually eliminate $179 billion in contributions to charity by removing some of the incentives to donate. The president claims he’ll put $100 billion into similar government programs… except, of course, that that $100 billion will be filtered through the bureaucracy, so it won’t really be $100 billion worth of help. And, more important from a Catholic perspective, if the government is doing the giving for us, then we aren’t… and charity is good not just for the recipient, but for the giver.
5. Subsidiarity. This is a wonderful, and highly pertinent, concept in Catholic social doctrine. Basically, it says that problems should be solved at the lowest level possible. If families can and/or should solve the problem, then it is wrong for the local government to do it. If the local government can do it, it is wrong for the federal government to get their fingers into it. Which, at this point, would require a massive restructuring of our government and the abandonment of half the buildings in Washington, DC.
6. Quote of the week: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” President Gerald Ford, but generally mistakenly attributed to Thomas Jefferson (yes, I thought it was Jefferson, too, until I checked)
7. Weird excitement. Also on EWTN’s news show tonight, Raymond Arroyo, the anchor, mentioned that the pope has a new encyclical coming out. The British press are rumoring that it’s about tax havens. Arroyo pointed out that the British press are famously unconcerned with facts and love chasing rumors… and are usually wrong. But, yes, there is a new encyclical coming that has been somewhat postponed; something about making it speak more directly to the concrete realities. So, apparently, it is something about economics. If you’d told me in high school that I’d be this excited about a new papal encyclical coming out, I would’ve told you that you were absolutely crazy.
Thank God that we don’t stop changing in high school!
And, as usual, remember to go check out Jen at Conversion Diary. Her 7 Quick Takes includes some truly eye-opening stories about the rapidly escalating violence in Mexico. But don’t expect any more info from her on the subject any time soon; she’s due to be induced on Monday for child #4!