Sunday, July 27, 2014

Gospel For Today: 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time


"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it."
-- Mt 13:44-46

I heard an economist once describe basic economic transactions as a means to grow in happiness.  The concept is not hard to understand.  Let's say you are in the pizza business.  You make good pizzas and need to set a price for them.  You've do the math, figure out how much it costs you to buy all the ingredients and make the pizza, factor in how much money you want to make for yourself from that pizza, and come up with the figure of $10.

Now I come along with $10 and I'm feeling a bit peckish.  I see your pizzas and I want one.  In fact I want the pizza more than I want the $10 bill in my wallet.  So, happily, I give you the $10 for the pizza.  You, on the other hand, want my $10 more than you want your pizza.  So you happily accept my money.  To you, that $10 was worth more than the pizza.  To me, your pizza was worth more than my $10.  Both of us walk away from the transaction feeling like we have benefited.  

Scenarios like this play out a million times on our planet every day.  So everyone should be pretty happy about things all the time, right?  Well, it doesn't play out that way in the long haul.  We may both feel pretty good about our situations at the time, but we all know that this sort of happiness does not last forever.  That pizza may satisfy me for a short while, but after a few hours I am hungry again.  That $10 you made soon vanishes in when it is needed to pay a bill, or is spent on some frivolous and temporary pleasure (like a pizza).  

All of the things that make us happy in this world are like that.  They are temporary.  They are often fleeting, but even the things that tend to endure we know will not last forever.  

When Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven, He is offering us a happiness that will last forever.  This is the meaning of the pearl of great price, and the treasure buried in the field.  This is why the person who finds these things is willing to sell everything that he owns in order to obtain them.  I may think that a pizza is worth giving up $10 to acquire, but I'd balk at spending $100 for a pizza. Even less would I go out and sell my car or my home so I could buy that pizza (I've never been that hungry).  Because I know the happiness I would get from eating the pizza is not worth the sacrifice of my car or my house.  

The kingdom of heaven is not like this, however.  When we speak of the kingdom of heaven we mean eternal happiness with God.  We mean an eternal, loving union with our Creator.  We mean living life forever fulfilled as the people that God made us to be.  In the world of economic transactions, where we are constantly asked to evaluate the relative value of goods and services, we will never find something of greater value than this treasure.  Therefore anything else we have is worth giving up to attain it.

Christ, of course, is not asking us to give up our cars and houses.  He is not asking for money.  He is not asking us to sell our land.  One cannot buy one's way into heaven.  What Christ is asking us to give up is our attachment to sin.  

It is true, in order to attain heaven, we cannot love our wealth more than we love God.  This is not because material possessions themselves are sinful, but the inordinate love of created things above that of the Creator is sinful.  Love of self can be the same way; love of our own reputation, our own desires, our own passions.  Each time we sin, we say with our actions that we love something else more than we love God.  And that is foolish, because the happiness that come from sin is only ever temporary.  It is folly to give up something eternal for something fleeting.  But that is precisely what we do each time we sin.

We are called to love God above all things.  Today's Psalm (Ps 119) speaks of how valuable God's word truly is.  "The law of Your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces," the psalmist says.  "For I love Your command more than gold, however fine... every false way I hate."

Selling everything we own in order to obtain the pearl of great price means letting go of everything displeasing to God and following His commands.  It is as simple as that...  simple to say, but not always simple to do.  For we also love our sins.  We are attached to them.  Sometimes that attachment is strengthened by years of bad habits.  It can be difficult, sometimes requiring heroic effort even, to give those things up.  But we are called to that heroism.  This is the spiritual combat in which we are engaged.  Jesus tells us in today's parables that the struggle is worth all our effort.

In closing, I want to tell everyone who is struggling with sin (myself included in that number) to keep it up.  Continue to struggle.  Sometimes when we struggle over and over with the same sin we feel like we are losing the fight.  We feel that we can never overcome our temptations.  We can convince ourselves that if we really loved God it would be easier; it should be easier.  God would take away our temptations so we could love Him more perfectly.  We therefore must not love God if we struggle with sin.  But that is the devil's thought.  The saints all faced temptation.  Even Christ faced temptation.  

Loving God perfectly does not mean never being tempted.  It means loving God despite the temptations.  It means struggling with sin, and continuing to struggle, getting up when you fall (through sacramental Confession), relying on God's help, and never giving up the fight.  So if you struggle with sin, then good for you.  Keep struggling.  

St. Teresa of Avila says, "Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end."  The one who does not struggle with sin is the one who has given up, the one who has settled for something of lesser value.  Don't settle.  In Christ you have discovered a wondrous treasure.  Obtaining that treasure is worth the struggle.

WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gospel for Today: 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time


In today's gospel reading (Mt 13:24-43), Jesus gives us the parable of the wheat and the tares.  The sower (Jesus), sows good seed, but the enemy comes behind him and sows weeds.  When the two begin to grow together, the servants come to the master and ask if they should pull up the weeds.  The master tells them "No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.  Let them grow together until harvest."  Only at harvest time would the weeds be gathered up and burned, while the wheat would be collected into the master's barn.

The metaphor here is easy to see.  Jesus even explains it to the disciples toward the end of today's reading.  This is a metaphor for the Kingdom of Heaven.  The good seeds are the children of the kingdom, while the weeds are the children of the evil one, sown by the devil.  The harvest is the end of the age when evildoers will be thrown "into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth," while "the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father."

Plain enough.  All the same, there is a tendency to misunderstand this metaphor.  You see, we all think we are the wheat.  The weeds, of course, are all those other people in the Church that we might not like so much, or who are not as good as we think they should be.  If you do a Google search for "wheat and tares" you will come across all kinds of information warning us of the agents of Satan hidden within the Church, wolves in sheep's clothing, who will be discovered and cast out at the end of time.  We should watch out for those evil weeds.  It is so easy to divide the Church into "us" and "them."  It is so easy to judge others.  But the point of this parable is just the opposite.  The point of the parable is that it is impossible for us to make that judgement.  

Anyone who has spent any time in the garden may scratch their heads when the master instructs the servant not to pull the weeds until harvest time.  If you are a gardener, you know that planting the seed is only the beginning of the work.  The ongoing, constant work of the gardener is pulling the weeds to ensure that the good plants grow well.  So why would the master  want the weeds to remain until harvest?  More than likely, the weed Jesus was speaking of was something called darnel. This is a mildly poisonous plant that is almost indistinguishable from wheat until it is fully mature. Its similarity to wheat means that it would be very difficult to pull up the darnel growing in the field without pulling up a lot of wheat at the same time by mistake.  You can't tell one from the other until the very end.  Jesus is telling us that the evil and the righteous, too, can only be distinguished at the end.

It is wrong then, to assume that you are the good wheat and others you might not approve of are the weeds.  So far from being an encouragement to condemn others, look how the Church surrounds this gospel reading with calls for personal repentance.  The first reading praises God for permitting repentance (Wis 12: 13, 16-19).  The psalm today calls God "good and forgiving" (Ps 86).  In the second reading, St. Paul proclaims, "we do not know how to pray as we ought" (Rom 8:26-27).  Far from smug assurance of our being wheat, these other readings suggest that we should have serious concern about possibly being weeds!

Rather than judging our neighbors who should be judging our actions. This is the whole point of the moral teachings of the Church -- teaching us to make judgments about actions, chiefly our own.  All of our scripture readings today remind us that we are all very capable of falling short of the goodness God intends for us.  We are all very capable of being weeds, which means -- if we persist in our weediness -- eventually burning in the fire with the other useless weeds.  

But the gospel, as always, is good news.  Unlike weeds, which are weeds when they are planted, weeds as they grow, and weeds at the end, we do not need to remain weeds.  We can become wheat at any time.  Wisdom tells us that God's children have "good ground for hope" because God permits repentance.  This is why the wheat and the weeds cannot be distinguished until the harvest.  Because until the end, there is always hope that the sinner will repent.

A wise priest told me once that how we live is very important, but not as important as how we die.  Do we die in God's friendship (wheat), or as God's enemy (weed)?  Either possibility remains an option until the moment of our death.  Someone can live a holy life for decades, and earn a reputation for being a righteous person.  That reputation can then lead to pride, and that pride to a lack of repentance for sin.  The person begins to believe that they do not need saving and so fails to rely on God in the end.  Likewise a person can spend a life in sin and find themselves so deep in the evil mire that they see no way of getting out of it.  Such a person may, at the end, finally call on God's help because they come to realize that they cannot save themselves. 

Does this mean we are free to live a life of hedonism so long as we make sure to make a good confession before we die?  No, for this would be insincere and a huge risk, for none of us knows when we might meet our end.  But it does mean that repentance and forgiveness is always a possibility, until the last moment.  And falling away from God is always a possibility, until the last moment.  We must recognize both of these truths.

This means two things.  Number one, we should never give up on others.  Sometimes, it is tempting to throw up our hands and say, "that person is hopeless!"  We can foster anger and hatred for our enemies, forgetting that these are people who need God's mercy.  We should always strive to love them and pray for their good.  We should also never give up on ourselves.  We should never feel that we are beyond saving.  There is no sin we can commit that is stronger than God's mercy. 

Second, we should never rest on our own laurels.  The moment we start to presume that we will make it to heaven because of how good we are is the moment we forget that we need a savior.  Pride and presumption have lost many a soul. Pride prevents the sinner from recognizing his own sin.  When we think we are too good for repentance, we cut off the channel of God's mercy.  When we convince ourselves that we are wheat, we allow weeds to take root in our heart. 

The key is humility.  Recognize that you cannot judge whether others are wheat or weeds, because you yourself have the capacity to be either.  The way to insure that you turn out wheat in the end is to always live in the light of Christ.  For the light of Christ shows us both our own sinfulness and God's abundant mercy.  Let us praise God our Creator who gives us good ground for hope and permits repentance for our sins (Wis 12:19).  Let us never fail to give thanks for His love and forgiveness.

WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Gospel For Today: 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time


G. K. Chesterton is perhaps one of the most quoted Catholic writers of the twentieth century. He seems to have an applicable quote for every occasion.  In his collection of essays, Tremendous Trifles, he writes, "The object of my school is to show how many extraordinary things even a lazy and ordinary man may see if he can spur himself to the single activity of seeing."

Chesterton was not speaking about the physical act of seeing, but the inward act of understanding and appreciating what one sees.  Very few of us are truly blind in the physical sense.  But most of us walk by amazing, even miraculous sights every day without comprehending what it is our eyes are telling us.  When we finally see the things we have been looking at all along, we might be inclined to pause, take a breath, and say, "Oh, I see..."

I used to work in a small museum, and we had signs directing where our visitors needed to go.  The first thing you saw when you walked through the door was a large sign with bright red lettering saying "Welcome!  Museum entrance to the left."  There was even a bright red arrow pointing the way.  It never ceased to amaze (and annoy) the staff how many people would walk right past that large sign to the back of the room where there was a door with another sign that said, "Employees Only."  They would walk through that door looking for the entrance.  They all saw the signs. But many people were not looking, so they failed to comprehend what they were seeing.

Today in our gospel we hear the Parable of the Sower.  Some of the sower's seed falls on the bare path where it is eaten by birds, some falls on rocky soil and cannot establish roots, and some falls among thorns which choke out their growth.  But some of the seed falls on fertile ground and grows well.  The seed is the same in all cases, only the ground is different.

After He preaches this parable to the large crowd, Jesus speaks just to His disciples and explains the meaning of His words.  His parable describes different responses to hearing the "word of the kingdom" (Mt 13:19).  Even though we all may hear the word of God, there are various distractions that can prevent us from allowing the word to take root in our hearts and bear fruit.  These are the world, the flesh, and the devil, represented here by the path, the rocky soil, and the thorns.  

Jesus does not always take the time to explain the meaning of His words.  Think of the Bread of Life discourse in the sixth chapter of John, when the majority of His followers leave after being told they must eat His flesh and drink His blood.  Or think of Jesus' somewhat quizzical replies to the questions of Pilate during His trial.  But here He explains to the disciples plainly the meaning of His words.  It is almost as if Christ is saying, "Look, everyone heard me; they will either understand what I am saying or they won't.  It doesn't matter how plainly I explain it; if they are not really listening, they won't get it."

He says, quoting the prophet Isaiah, "They look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand."  But to the faithful disciples, He says, "But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear."

Jesus spoke His words in public, for all to hear, but only some were willing to listen.  Just like the sower cast his seed upon all terrains, but only in some was it able to take root.  The same seed was cast over all.  The difference was in the condition of the soil.  This is a metaphor for our faith.  When we begin to learn the Catechism, which is a study of our creed, the first thing we learn about is faith.  The first thing we say in our creed is "I believe," which in Latin is credo.  That's where our English word "creed" comes from.  So our study of the creed begins with faith, and faith is kind of a mysterious thing.  

Our Catechism defines faith as, "Both a gift of God and a human act by which the believer gives personal adherence to God... and freely assents to the whole truth that God has revealed."  How can faith be a free gift from God but also something we humans have to do?  If faith is a gift, does God give faith only to some people and not others? If I am struggling with my faith does that mean God has't given me as much as He gives others?  These are honest questions.  It can be a bit confusing to be told that faith is a gift from God and at the same time our response to God.

This is where the parable of the sower helps.  Just as the sower casts the same seed on all grounds, God gives the same gift of faith to all of us.  But the purpose of the seed is to take root, grow, and bear fruit.  To do that, it must have fertile soil.  That is our part.  The fertile soil is our act of faith, allowing God's word to take root.   There are many things that can keep us from doing that.  We could not be open to hearing the word at all.  We could hear it, but be anxious or fearful to fully open our lives to it.  Or we could allow the many distractions of this world to crowd it out.  

Everyone in the crowd heard Jesus preach His parable.  But only a few understood because only a few were truly open to listening to the Word of God.  Some were made deaf by cynicism, or concern for things of this world, or attachment to sin.  Others were willing to hear the word of God and follow through, even if it meant a radical change in their lives.  This is a necessary condition of faith -- to be open to seeing what God is showing you, and hearing His word, and then following where He leads.  Open your eyes to see His beauty.  Open your hears to hear His wisdom.  And prepare your heart to be rich and fruitful soil, where His gift of faith can take root and prosper.  For "the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold" (Mt 13:23).

G. K. Chesterton said it is amazing what ordinary people can see if they decide to start seeing.  We can also say it is amazing what ordinary people can hear if they decide to start listening.  Let us set ourselves to this task; the wonderful task of seeing and hearing the spirit of God active in our lives.

WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Gospel For Today: 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time


Everyone reading this today has a father.  This is an indisputable fact of nature.  There are certain things which all of humanity holds in common, and the nuts and bolts of our generation is one of those things.  We all come from somewhere.  And though modern science is able to supplant the natural process of conception in some cases, the need for the raw material remains.  It takes 46 chromosomes to make a human; half from our mother and half given from our father. 

Some of us will have very good, close relationships with our fathers.  Others not so much.  Some may have had abusive fathers, or absent fathers, or distracted  fathers.  Many of us thankfully have excellent fathers.  Whether you just hugged your father this morning, or you haven't spoken to him in years, the fact remains that you have a father.

Neither the failings of our earthly fathers due to sin, nor the attempt by modern society to marginalize the role of the father diminish the ideal of fatherhood.  Whether we look into our father's eyes and see a man who strove nobly to meet that ideal, or if we consider our father as one who fell short of the mark, we hold the ideal of fatherhood in our hearts.  That ideal has its origin somewhere.  It has a fulfillment.  That ideal is realized in God.

The fourth commandment teaches us to honor our fathers and mothers.  Note there is no clause attached.  Nowhere does it say, "if they deserve it," or "if they behave as parents ought to."  Our earthly parents are human beings, struggling against sin and temptation and striving for salvation just as we their children are.  They are sinners in need of forgiveness, just as we are.  So we do not honor them because deserve it.  We honor them because the role of parent has a dignity which our human failings cannot diminish.  We honor them because in their parenthood they reflect to a degree the parenthood of God.

It is right to honor our fathers and mothers because without them we would not be here.  Half your genetic material from Dad, and half from Mom, and you were made.  If they did nothing else, your parents gave you life, the fundamental fact of your existence.  But they did not do it alone.  Human beings are more than self-replicating strands of DNA.  We have a soul, as well.  The soul is the spiritual component of humanity, and as an immaterial thing it is not made up of composite parts.  A soul cannot be "made" from DNA or anything else.  It must be created.  Just as your mother and father contributed the material components of who you are, your heavenly Father gave you your soul.  We call the act of human parenthood procreation but what God does is creation itself.  

In truth, if we were to go back to the roots of all of this, we see that God is ultimately responsible for the physical aspect of our being, as well.  Your parents may have given you their DNA, but where did the DNA come from?  Where did your parents come from?  Your grandparents?  We all come from somewhere, and logic dictates that there has to be a first.  Modern genetic science tells us of a woman from whom all human beings alive today are descended.  Scientists call her "mitochondrial Eve" and suggest she lived about 150,000 years ago.  Similarly, there is a male ancestor they call "Y-chromosome Adam" that also lived about 150,000 years ago (give or take a few millennia). The fact that we descend from a common ancestor comes of no surprise to those who read and believe the book of Genesis.

But we could go back even further and ask, "Where did it all come from?"  Not humanity and DNA, but the basic building blocks -- the elements, the molecules and atoms.  Science tells us that all the elements we know of were forged in the furnace of stars and spat out into the universe over billions of years.  And if you rewind the cosmic clock far enough backward you come to the origin of it all, when the universe itself was compacted into an infinitely small singularity which exploded outward into what we see today -- the Big Bang, a theory first proposed by astronomer and Jesuit Father George Lemaitre in the 1920s.   And before the Big Bang?  The best that our human reason can indicate, time itself started at that moment.  Which means that before that moment there was, quite literally, nothing.

Creation ex nihilo is the expression theologians and philosophers use to describe God's act of creation out of nothing.   It is an act of infinite power and majesty.  Human beings create only metaphorically.  We can make a thing only given the proper materials.  We do not truly create; we manipulate, transforming raw material into a new form.  The gap between nothing and something is infinite, and so only an omnipotent God could bridge that gap.  And so we have God to thank for everything that has existence.  This includes the universe and all the stars and galaxies in it.  It also includes you and I.  Our God is a wonderful Father, indeed.

At Mass, the priest invites us, "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God," to which we reply, "It is right and just."  Dignum et justum est.  Just as it is right and just to honor your earthly parents for their role in your creation, even more is it right and just to honor God the Father who made not only you, but all of heaven and earth as well, and who continues to sustain you in your existence.

Jesus exclaims in today's gospel (Mt 11:25-30), "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth."  Jesus shows us that praise is the proper response to God's act of Fatherhood.  Our catechism teaches, "Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: He is Father not only in being Creator; He is eternally Father in relation to His only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to His Father" (CCC 240).  

In the Old Testament, Israel knew God the Father as Creator of the world, and giver of the covenant and law to His people.  With the New Covenant, Jesus teaches us not only to recognize God as Father, but as Abba, which is best translated as the familiar term, "Daddy."  

Again, the catechism teaches: "By calling God 'Father,' the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that He is at the same time goodness and loving care for all His children... The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man.  But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood... [God] transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although He is their origin and standard.  No one is father as God is Father" (CCC 239).

By recognizing God as Father, we also recognize ourselves as His children.  It is right to praise God for His act of creation, for the gift of our existence.  It is also right to praise God for His act of love, His gift of our redemption.  The love of the Father is manifested chiefly in the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.  "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him" (Mt 11:27).  

When we recognize God as Father, and ourselves as His children, the only proper response is praise and thanksgiving.  This we do at Mass, by participating fully and prayerfully in our worship.  But this we also must do at all times in our lives.  In times of joy, in times of sorrow; in times of contemplation and times of frustration.  At all times and every moment it is right and just to have an attitude of praise and gratitude for the Father who loves us into existence. Start the practice today.  Dedicate this day as an offering of praise to your heavenly Father.  Let us today sing with the psalmist: "I will extol you, O my God and King, and I will bless your name forever and ever.  Every day will I bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever" (Ps 145:1-2).

WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Facts to know about Hobby Lobby

With the recent 5-4 decision of the US Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case, Facebook and the blogosphere are abuzz once more with argument and debate from either side.  In your own discussions over this issue, here are some pertinent facts to keep in mind.

1.  Hobby Lobby's owners are not Catholic.
Not that this fact matters to the issue at hand, but it should be kept in mind.  Many Catholics (rightly) have supported Hobby Lobby's struggle against the Federal government's HHS mandate, and I have found that because of this some people have assumed Hobby Lobby to be a Catholic-owned business.  The Green family that owns Hobby Lobby are evangelical Protestants.  David Green, the founder, is the son of an Assemblies of God preacher.

2. Hobby Lobby is not against contraception.
Since the owners of Hobby Lobby are not Catholic, no one should be scandalized that they offer coverage for contraceptives and sterilizations as part of their employee health care insurance.  I have heard some people claim that the Hobby Lobby owners are hypocritical for claiming to be against contraception while at the same time covering it in their employee insurance.  Hobby Lobby has never stated they are against contraception.  What they object to are certain specific drugs, sold as "contraception," which in fact cause early abortions.  This is about abortion, not contraception.  (However, the two are closely related, and the increased debate this has created about contraception in this country has been a good thing).

3. An abortion is an abortion is an abortion.
Some news sources say the drugs in question cause abortion and others say this is not true.  So who is correct?  And why the discrepancy?  It has to do with how you define the start of pregnancy.  Some do not consider a woman to be pregnant until the embryo has implanted in the uterus, which can take place as much as a week after conception.  By defining pregnancy as beginning at implantation, pharmaceutical companies can make the claim that drugs which kill a healthy embryo after conception but before implantation do not cause abortion.  However, the end result is the same -- a dead unborn human.  Some have called these early medically induced abortions "mini abortions," but you can no more have a "mini abortion" than you can be "a little bit pregnant."

4.  It's not really about religion.
Some are calling this a victory for Religious Freedom, and I suppose that is true.  But this case does not have anything to do with whether people may practice a given religion or not, or if people of faith deserve special exemptions to the rules.  Hobby Lobby's owners are against abortion, but there are pro-life people who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, agnostics and atheists.  I even know a few pro-life pagans!  You can be pro-life without being religious, and religious or not, no one should be forced into violating their conscience.  This ruling is about Religious Freedom inasmuch as it allows people of faith to follow their conscience the world; but it also affords that same right to people with no faith, and that's important.  (More on freedom of conscience later).

5. Hobby Lobby's treatment of its employees.
I've never worked for Hobby Lobby.  I doubt many of the naysayers I'm reading online complaining about Hobby Lobby have either.  To hear them, though, Hobby Lobby is an evil corporation who is denying basic human rights to its wage-slave employees.  So just to recap, Hobby Lobby does offer health insurance to employees; and that insurance covers a wide array of contraception -- just not abortion-inducing ones.  And Hobby Lobby is not saying their employees can't purchase those drugs; they would simply have to pay for them on their own.  Which they probably could, given the fact that Hobby Lobby's minimum pay for part-time employees is $9.50 hour, while it's minimum pay for full time workers is $14.00 per hour, nearly twice the national minimum wage of $7.50.

6. Hobby Lobby is not anti-woman.
This is a canard.  Refusing to pay for abortion-causing drugs does not make you anti-woman.  For the record, most people involved in the pro-life movement are women.  (It is also worth noting that most babies killed by abortion world-wide are female).

7. Corporations are people.  Sort of.
Some have complained that a corporation cannot have "religious freedom" because corporations are not religious.  However, we must remember the basic fact that corporations are made up of human beings who own and operate them.  We do not leave our humanity behind when we enter the workplace.  Plus, corporations are considered "persons" under US law for many different purposes, so this is hardly a new concept.

8. Hobby Lobby's investments.
Some are calling Hobby Lobby hypocritical because it apparently invests some of its money in companies which make the same drugs it is objecting to.  From what I have been able to tell, as part of its 401(k) retirement investments, Hobby Lobby (like most businesses) invests in a diversified portfolio which includes some pharmaceutical companies which make many different drugs, including some of the ones Hobby Lobby objects to.  Is this hypocritical?  Maybe.  In the world of moral philosophy, this is something called remote material cooperation.  Without getting to pedantic about it, by investing their money in a portfolio that includes some companies that make some products which are morally objectionable, Hobby Lobby is cooperating in that moral evil, but in a rather removed sort of way.  Whether they are morally culpable for this depends on a variety of factors, but it is not the same as directly and intentionally funding those morally objectionable things.  But that's something that the Hobby Lobby owners need to work out (and probably are).  And it has no bearing at all on the matter at hand, which is whether the federal government can compel individuals or businesses to pay for something they hold to be morally evil and thus violate their conscience.

(It is also worth noting that Hobby Lobby gives half of its pre-tax income annually to charities, and founder David Green has also personally pledged to give half of his wealth to charity before he dies).

9. Conscience Rights
The principle really at stake here is the freedom of individuals to live according to their conscience; a freedom which should apply whether you are at home, at school, at church, or in the workplace, whether you are the founder of a business, CEO of a corporation, or a lowly wage-earner.  Some are making the ridiculous claim that by refusing to cover abortion-inducing drugs, Hobby Lobby is somehow "forcing its beliefs" upon its workers, thereby violating their workers' rights.  But having your employer pay for your contraceptives (abortion causing or not) is not a right.  Being able to live according to your conscience is.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, "in all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right" (CCC 1778). Our Church further teaches:

Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions.  "He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience.  Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience..."  (CCC 1781, quoting the Second Vatican Council document Dignitatis Humanae 3, 2).

 This teaching of the Catholic Church is true not only for Catholics but for all of humanity.  The Supreme Court ruling on Hobby Lobby is a victory for conscience rights, and for that reason is a victory for us all.